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extremily newbie, please advice

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asl

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Hello gents,

I am looking for a setup for the following situation,

The setting is a ski resort, smallish, around 4 square miles measured top down with google maps.

Distance from base to last lift tower is 2,5 miles.

cell phone coverage is spotty at best,

AFAIK there are no repeaters in the area,

the resort is not in the US,

we have an apartment at the base of the resort that has direct LOS over most of the ski ground, but not all,

the intention is to keep communication between a group of four skiers, use will be exclusively outdoors,

as of now we are using Motorola MR350R two way radios using a GMRS frequency (19),

experience with the MR350R has been mixed, very good communication as long as there is LOS, but complete lack of it even with the tiniest hill between radios,

we are looking forward to a more relieble setup,

as from what I have read in this forum, at this point I suppose Beofeng UV5R+ would be a good starting point, probably best bang for the money,

but trying to expand on our options, and considering that the size of the radios in our particular case comes as a premium (without antenna, the smaller the better) I want to explore the merits of smaller radios, like the Yaesu VX-3R. I know it's much more expensive than the Beofeng but for the sake of learning I would like to know...

so, first extremely ignorant question (and believe me, I have googled the matter), only regarding coverage, is there any advantage for the VX-3R transmitting VHF 1.5 watt over the Motorola MR350R transmitting GMRS 1 watt?

second question, if not the Yaesu VX-3R, what radio would you suggest considering the following order of relevance:
1.- coverage in the aforementioned setting
2.- size (smaller is better)
3.- all the rest is secondary (multiple bands, digital, sturdiness, water resistant, etc.)

third question, again extremily basic, is there any advantage on setting up a bigger (ie more powerful) unit at the apartment if the only intention is to communicate with the handhelds? can a more powerful unit "repeat/relay" the communication between two handhelds that don´t have LOS between them but that both can see the base unit (please don´t laugh)?

thanks in advance for any help and I sincerily apologize if the answers are obvious,

Aleck
 

rapidcharger

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VHF is more forgiving when it comes to terrain and imperfect line of sight.

Since you posted this in the Industry room and not Ham Radio, I'm going to assume you're not an amateur radio operator with operating privileges in the ham band. Am I right?

The Yaesu VX-3R is a ham radio. You can only use the frequencies it operates on if you have a ham radio license and all the others in your group have their own license as well.

So since you asked in the industry room, lets first establish what country you want to operate in and what the rules and laws and available radio services are available. Then we can talk radios.
 

asl

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Aug 19, 2014
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Hello,

thanks for your quick reply,
you are absolutely right, as of now I am not a licensed ham radio operator,
the country is Chile,
at this point in this quest, I have no knowledge about my countries FCC equivalent rules,
I do know that GMRS radios are sold at Home Depot and are operated unlicensed all over the country (this might be in fact illegal, I don´t know)
the reason I chose to ask at this forum is that if, in fact, there is a benefit in ham radio over GMRS for my setting, including the portability of the radios, it would be worth the process of going through ham radio licensing (if there is one over here)

thanks again,

Aleck
 

freddaniel

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Since you are out of the USA, we will not comment on the legal issues, as we would expect you to do your homework.
Regarding the radios, there are some simple rules of thumb. The VHF [150 MHz] band will typically provide better non-line-of-sight coverage than the UHF [450 MHz] band. However, when using handhelds, the antennas for VHF are inefficient as they are significantly smaller than the 18 inches required for peak performance. Using UHF the antennas are more efficient. Therefore, UHF will often work better than VHF because of the better antenna efficiency.
Last, using a repeater at a location that has the greatest line-of-sight to the area served is recommended. You need to determine that location visually or by actual radio testing. That could be at the top of the sky lift, or maybe at the bottom, a short distance away from the lift to allow the best coverage. However, if you use a repeater, you must make sure it is reliable and use good material, as all communication will depend upon it. Using a good antenna is very important.
The Beofeng UV5R+ is a great radio and is VASTLY better than any GMRS radio. Not all radios are the same, even if the specs say they are.
Good luck...
 

rapidcharger

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Hello,

thanks for your quick reply,
you are absolutely right, as of now I am not a licensed ham radio operator,
the country is Chile,
at this point in this quest, I have no knowledge about my countries FCC equivalent rules,
I do know that GMRS radios are sold at Home Depot and are operated unlicensed all over the country (this might be in fact illegal, I don´t know)
the reason I chose to ask at this forum is that if, in fact, there is a benefit in ham radio over GMRS for my setting, including the portability of the radios, it would be worth the process of going through ham radio licensing (if there is one over here)

thanks again,

Aleck
I'm not familiar with the laws in Chile so I don't want to say something and then you get in trouble so I can't comment. But when it comes to the radios sold at places like Home Depot (you have those in Chile?!?) those are what we call "bubble pack radios", they're generally low power, have fixed plastic antennas and do not perform very well. The ham radios are better, higher power, better antennas. It doesn't have to be one or the other though. There's lots of commercial radios out there that would probably be more suitable for a commercial operation like a ski resort.
 

asl

Member
Joined
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Messages
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Since my last post I did my homework and researched chilean regulations regarding ham radios,
actually it´s quite comprehensive with a clear path (at least in paper) towards full ham radio licensing, a whole world I didn´t know about,

I hadn´t realized how tall VHF antennas have to be in order to be efficient, to the point that it would actually be better (as in better coverage in a ski resort) to use UHF than a short VHF antenna.

Yes, we do have Home Depot in Chile, and what we are using now are Motorola MR350R "bubble pack radios". The use is definetively not commercial, just a group of four adults trying to keep in touch.

The more I read about the topic though, the clearer it becomes to me that 4-5 watt ham radios (like the Baofeng UV-5R) are much better than GMRS "bubble pack radios".

The question though, is what role low power ham radios play, like the Yaesu VX-3R or the Baofeng UV-3R. They can both transmit VHF and UHF, but power is 1-2 watt. How much better are these radios over the better GMRS "bubble pack radios"?

thanks again for your replies,

Aleck
 

freddaniel

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Messages
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Location
Newport Beach, CA
The GMRS "bubble pack radios" are usually a disappointment. They are built to sell cheap. The typical HAM radio is usually vastly superior. The power output makes little difference between 2 and 4 watts. The real difference is quality control.
Also, the Beofeng UV5R+ radio uses a new SINGLE IC or chip to do most of the work. A Wouxun UV2D also works great, but it costs about $100 each. Do like everyone else, buy and try to gain real experience.
 

rapidcharger

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Since my last post I did my homework and researched chilean regulations regarding ham radios,
actually it´s quite comprehensive with a clear path (at least in paper) towards full ham radio licensing, a whole world I didn´t know about,)))
And can you believe that some of us do this just for fun :) ?

((( The use is definetively not commercial, just a group of four adults trying to keep in touch.)))
Okay. I was thinking you were operating a ski resort yourself and needed radios to coordinate personnel etc.

(((The more I read about the topic though, the clearer it becomes to me that 4-5 watt ham radios (like the Baofeng UV-5R) are much better than GMRS "bubble pack radios".)))
They're all in the consumer realm in terms of quality. I don't mean to start a war over that opinion and at risk of sounding like a radio snob, I expect, and am willing to pay for performance and radios I can use for hours a day, every day for years and years. Most casual vacationers do not require high spec radios. You probably don't. The Chinese quasi-business radios have more features. Some of them have a built in flashlight, FM radio and back scratcher. But set your expectations accordingly as the price is extremely low and there's a reason for that. Definitely look for the newer models, like the UVB-82 (or whatever the heck its called). They are lightyears ahead of the older uv5r from what I've heard.

If I had to choose a radio from the list you provided, I'd go with the Po-Dung (formerly baofeng) uvb-82 . Even tho that wasn't on your list. Of course where I can legally operate it in this country would be limited to the ham bands and possibly the business band depending on your interpretation of an erroneous emission designator.

(((The question though, is what role low power ham radios play, like the Yaesu VX-3R or the Baofeng UV-3R. They can both transmit VHF and UHF, but power is 1-2 watt. How much better are these radios over the better GMRS "bubble pack radios"?)))
I'm not sure I understand the question because I think the power goes up to 4 or 5 watts on everything but the bubble packs, those are usually capped at half a watt or 2 watts on GMRS frequencies. In the real world, if you have a clean signal on a portable at 5 watts, you can probably have at least a marginal signal on 1 watt. But the extra power may come in handy considering you are not using repeaters or anything. Having selectable power levels enables you to conserve battery juice. Use low power when possible. Save the high power for when you're buried under the avalanche and need to call for help. Pardon my active imagination.
 

asl

Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2014
Messages
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Hello and thank you both for the input,

the Yaesu VX-3R is a ham radio with an output power of 1 watt in UHF and 1,5 watt in VHF,

the reason I keep on asking about this radio in particular is because in our setting, size is really important. I understand that to you the size difference to more popular 5 watt radios might sound marginal, but to us it is worth the question,

so, I guess what I should be asking is what the experience with the Yaesu VX-3R has been amongst members of this forum. I have googled the matter and it seems to be a competent radio, despite the low power output. I just want the opinion of people from this forum,

thanks again,

Aleck
 

KF5YDR

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Jul 24, 2014
Messages
176
A VHF signal will do better than a UHF one in that terrain regardless of what antenna you're using. It's not a gain issue, it's a propagation issue. UHF RF isn't going to bend over a hill.

The 3" UHF duck on the bubblepack radio and a 6" VHF duck represent the same fraction of their respective wavelengths, and should have nominally the same amount of (negative) gain.
 
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