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Need help with radio selection

Thewildguy

Newbie
Joined
Oct 23, 2020
Messages
2
Hello,
New here, sorry if this is on the wrong thread. I need help in selecting the best two way radio. I work for a company in Canada, who doesn’t have the budget or infrastructure to provide us with a radio system. Our employees in our local office want to purchase radios to meet our needs. We need something that is going to be both reliable, have the best range, yet not break the bank as we will have to purchase this ourselves. I understand how police radios have such good range (ie radio towers) so I don’t expect to get something with an almost unlimited range. However everything I have seen and read online just seems to be either expensive agency radios that require full systems to use, or unreliable cheep Walmart radios. Is there anything in between that someone can suggest we look into to meet our needs?
Thanks
 
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Cognomen

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2009
Messages
143
More info needed. Why do you need radios, where are you located, what sort of terrain is in the area, what sort of range do you need, how many radios does your company require, do you need to talk with anyone outside of your company, what other needs do you have, and what is your budget?
 
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mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
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Proper licensing is something you need to address, also.

'License Free' radios in Canada are not something I know a lot about, but you are likely limited to the FRS radios. Anything that is going to give you more range than that will require a license.
Best option is to contact a local two way radio shop. They'll be able to help you as well as address licensing.

Resist the urge to buy radios from Amazon and other online dealers. Most of the radios sold there will require a license, even if the seller says they don't.
 

WB9YBM

Active Member
Joined
May 6, 2019
Messages
581
Location
Niles, IL
Hello,
New here, sorry if this is on the wrong thread. I need help in selecting the best two way radio. I work for a company in Canada, who doesn’t have the budget or infrastructure to provide us with a radio system. Our employees in our local office want to purchase radios to meet our needs. We need something that is going to be both reliable, have the best range, yet not break the bank as we will have to purchase this ourselves. I understand how police radios have such good range (ie radio towers) so I don’t expect to get something with an almost unlimited range. However everything I have seen and read online just seems to be either expensive agency radios that require full systems to use, or unreliable cheep Walmart radios. Is there anything in between that someone can suggest we look into to meet our needs?
Thanks
Stick with name-brand radios (I've had bad luck with off-brands). Beyond that it's hard to say without knowing your needs. For example, if you need a certain amount of range you might need a repeater. Also consider security: I'm not sure what the Canadian equivalent is, but here in the U.S. there are three encryption levels: level 1, for civilian use, is some type of basic audio inversion technique so that casual users can't decript it (I've heard that used by taxicab companied before they went to CAD; newer cordless 'phones, etc.); level 2 is a more secure method used by certain government agencies (like police) and level 3 (the most secure) for military com. If you'll be discussing any kind of sensitive business on the radio, you might like to consider level 1 security.
 

mmckenna

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And keep in mind that the rules are different between the USA and Canada. What might be legal in the USA may not be up north. There are no legal waivers for "I didn't know", or "Some guy on the internet said it was OK". Getting professional help is always a good investment.
 

mmckenna

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And don't rule out push to talk over cellular as an option.
It'll be a lot cheaper in the long run, provide better coverage, will have encryption, and doesn't require a license.

Push to talk over cellular (PTToC) allows you to use your carriers entire network providing better coverage than you'd ever get with your own system. You can even utilize in-building WiFi.
You can run PTToC from your existing cell phone. There are also companies that produce more traditional two way radio looking devices, both mobile and portable.

If you want wide area coverage, encryption and don't have a big budget, PTToC is a much more logical approach.
 

WB9YBM

Active Member
Joined
May 6, 2019
Messages
581
Location
Niles, IL
Although they might not advertise in consumer yellow pages, I'm sure there are radio shops out there that'll even professionally install radio equipment (in addition to selling such equipment) that might provide a good resource for information...
 

Thewildguy

Newbie
Joined
Oct 23, 2020
Messages
2
Thanks for all the replies! My company does a lot of work in the woods doing surveys with plants and animals. We are sometimes upwards of 25km apart in hilly terrain. Again we will be going at this on our own without the support of our company (with our companies approval of course). Between the 4 of us our budget would be around 1000$ CAD.
 

WB9YBM

Active Member
Joined
May 6, 2019
Messages
581
Location
Niles, IL
Thanks for all the replies! My company does a lot of work in the woods doing surveys with plants and animals. We are sometimes upwards of 25km apart in hilly terrain. Again we will be going at this on our own without the support of our company (with our companies approval of course). Between the 4 of us our budget would be around 1000$ CAD.
25 km would definitely be a stretch for portables--hilltop to hilltop with a decent antenna maybe and even then it's stretching things a bit. There are two options that come to mind: 1. some type of mobile radio with an antenna mounted on the roof (if you want to communicate simplex), or 2. putting together a very simple, low-power repeater that can be put in a vehicle in the center of a 25 km radius (your desired coverage area). Sort of like the "mobile extenders" police use in squad cars when they want to use their portables from a basement to talk to their dispatcher.
 

chief21

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Joined
Mar 2, 2004
Messages
1,366
Location
Summer - Western NC; Winter - Tampa Bay FL
We are sometimes upwards of 25km apart in hilly terrain.
As mentioned, direct contacts over 25km would be difficult for almost any handheld radio and probably out of the question for any unlicensed/low-power service. Adding in the hilly terrain pretty much rules out the inexpensive possibilities. You'll likely need to rely on some type of infrastructure or, at the very least, move to high-power mobile radios. I think PTToC has already been mentioned. Rental radios (with supporting infrastructure) could be another option.
 

mmckenna

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25km in rolling hills is going to be tough without well located repeaters. And you won't get that for $1000.

-If there is cell coverage, the PTToC will fit in your budget.
-If there is no cell coverage, keeping within your budget is going to be extremely difficult. It's also going to require licensing.

While not a perfect solution, you may want to look into Garmin InReach units. These are small satellite communicators that will send location and text data. You can get the smallest unit, InReach Mini for around $300 each (maybe more in Canada), and link them to your cell phones via BlueTooth. The service will be expensive if you do a lot of messaging. I'm paying around $12/month for the lowest level service, but it does get messages in out of places with no cell/radio service in an emergency.

If you are really working out in the wild, I'm surprised your employer doesn't offer some sort of solution for getting help in an emergency.
 

vagrant

ker-muhj-uhn
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Messages
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Location
California
Alternatively, why not check with a radio shop local to you that rents/leases radios on their repeater system. Let them know the area you will be in and check about their radio repeater coverage there. You use their system, license, and radios for your group and pay a monthly fee.

As you are in Canada, I am unsure if you can operate under their license. Ask about that as well.
 

GlobalNorth

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
May 2, 2020
Messages
267
Yes, you can rent or lease portable radios in Canada and use them under the rental corporation license as is done in the US. While not exactly inexpensive, it can cover areas not covered by wireless phones, is quicker than having to type brief messages on a sat communicator, gives you state of the art radios that can be configured to your needs, and gives you a fixed cost every month.

A better idea than a sat communicator for immediacy is a satellite phone, but those too are expensive.
 
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