need radio advice & recommendation

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SnoSheriff

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Hi. I want to buy two hand held radios for my parents. They live in Manitoba and they go fishing on inland lakes and camping at various wooded camp grouds with their 5th wheel trailer. Dad also purchased an ATV that he will take on various trails. I want my dad to have a radio on his fishing boat that he can use for emergency calls and to communicate with my mom when she stays behind at the camper. I also want him to be able to use the radios for emergencies when ATVing. I doubt they'd want to go for any tests to use the 2way radio. I want them to have maximum range so they can reach out in emergency situations. So, what kind of radios would you suggest and why? Thank you.
 

robertmac

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Read the many other posts on here. The best for non licensed use, as always is GMRS/FRS. MURS not approved in Canada yet. Cell phone is always mentioned as well. Marine radio not legal for use you state on ATV. So read the many posts and decide from there.
 

RC286

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Depends. I used both GMRS and CB in the interlake out near Lac du Bonnet.
My friend and I have CBs in both of our vehicles, and a base set up at the cabin.

We have yet to find a spot out of range with the CB, its handy when one of us drives into town and we need to get ahold of them. (not all of us have cell service out there.)
We get better performance out of the CBs than GMRS operating at legal power. One evening I was chatting with my friend from my truck just after turing onto Hwy 317 off of Hwy59, he was operating the base at the cabin on CH 38 LSB. Keep in mind though we have a fairly large 5/8 wave antenna fed with low loss RG8U cable at the lake on the base. We switch to AM and take the handheld CBs on the boat when we go fishing. Most of the time I dont have to switch the handheld up to full 4w power.

GMRS is alot more portable than CB though, CBs are fairly large, and the size of the antennas may not be practical. they do tend to chew the batteries quicker if you run at full power. My GOOD handheld CB is an old X-tal controlled unit, 6 channels, with a large telescoping antenna nearly 4ft when fully extended. It weighs a bit, will not fit in your pocket, (its about 3"w x 10"h x 2"d) and sucks off of 10 (yes ten) AA batteries, it does however put out the full 4w legal max of power) My medeoker one is a smaller (but not by much) radio, PLL controled full 40CH, and a 12" rubber duck antenna. Sucks on 9 AA batteries. It claims full legal power but the crappy rubber duck antenna just sucks. The full telescoping works way better but is very unweildy.

If you use GMRS stay off of the FRS channels as they operate at significantly less power than GMRS.
Best thing to do is try a pair of GMRS radios, dont bother looking at the range printed on the package. try to find out the output power of the radio, buy one with as close to full legal (4w) as possible.
The antennas on those radios suck, they are poorly matched and low gain (if any gain at all).

I keep my GMRS for use around the lot, or if there is alot of CB skip activity. Otherwise CB seems to work well for me out there. There is also usually noone on the air up there.
 

SnoSheriff

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RC286, very interesting. He goes to Lac Du Bonnet, Whiteshell and Lake of the Woods. I don't know he'd want a large base in his camper.

How would the UHF radios perform for his needs? I learned that you don't need to take an exam and you simply apply and pay the annual fee. He may be up for that if that gives him better performance/range. Can a person have a radio that can operate on various bands (CB, FRS, GMRS, Marine (VHF), UHF)? That way you can pick the best one for given situation. Is there such radio?
 

robertmac

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I stand to be corrected but I thought the maximum GMRS/FRS power allowed in Canada was 2 watts. Even with 4 watts, I would not expect more than 5 kms of range, except as has been pointed out numerous times, when both people are standing line of sight on top of a mountain. And the OP stated he wanted it for "emergencies". With the current sun spot activity [I guess it is less than expected], coms. on CB is sporatic at times and I would not bet my life on it. Maybe in 4 or 5 years at the bottom of the cycle will be more reliable. And ham radio is not that tough of a deal today. Attending a ham club training course is best. From there the radios are more flexible, ie cross band repeat [not repeater], which would allow much greater coverage when set up properly, and would not be subject to sunspot activity on 2 m, 220, and 70 cms.. Not certain of the ham repeater coverage in his area but that would also extend the range considerably. Of course a ham certification does require a person not to act like the DX loud mouths on CB. But for emergency and confidence out in the woods or lakes shouldn't be hard to follow the regulations and proper operating procedures. An option if they do not want to be "tested" is to apply for their own frequency and pay Industry Canada for a license and buy decent commercial radios. And I will repeat again, look at the various posts on the Canadian threads of what people have said about hunting, fishing, hiking.
 

SnoSheriff

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I stand to be corrected but I thought the maximum GMRS/FRS power allowed in Canada was 2 watts. Even with 4 watts, I would not expect more than 5 kms of range, except as has been pointed out numerous times, when both people are standing line of sight on top of a mountain. And the OP stated he wanted it for "emergencies". With the current sun spot activity [I guess it is less than expected], coms. on CB is sporatic at times and I would not bet my life on it. Maybe in 4 or 5 years at the bottom of the cycle will be more reliable. And ham radio is not that tough of a deal today. Attending a ham club training course is best. From there the radios are more flexible, ie cross band repeat [not repeater], which would allow much greater coverage when set up properly, and would not be subject to sunspot activity on 2 m, 220, and 70 cms.. Not certain of the ham repeater coverage in his area but that would also extend the range considerably. Of course a ham certification does require a person not to act like the DX loud mouths on CB. But for emergency and confidence out in the woods or lakes shouldn't be hard to follow the regulations and proper operating procedures. An option if they do not want to be "tested" is to apply for their own frequency and pay Industry Canada for a license and buy decent commercial radios. And I will repeat again, look at the various posts on the Canadian threads of what people have said about hunting, fishing, hiking.
Yes, I doubt they'd want to go through the testing and ham route. I've been doing more research on the VHF/UHF topic. They could simply pay the license fee and get the UHF license. Will the UHF/VHF offer the best range without going into Ham?
 

RC286

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Right, yes it is 2W now that i think of it.
GMRS does not require licensing in canada. Licensing is a USA/FCC thing.
Just buy it and use it up here.

FRS falls along the same lines as GMRS. You would be hard pressed to find an FRS only radio up here now a days. Use the GMRS channels as FRS is IIRC 500mW (1/2W). GMRS/FRS also do now allow modifications to the antennas on the radios, they are fixed/moulded.

CB you get more power and typically more range, though the radios are bigger, as are the antennas.
The smallest antenna that will function reasonably will be 4 feet tall. and if the camper is fiberglass and not metal, some form of alternative ground plane would be needed. If its metal. a decent antenna (K-40 maybe?) with a magnet mount base may work. Then it can be easily set up/taken down.
The standard stud mount antennas can ave a quick release added to them, but the mounts must be physicaly and electrically attached to the vehicle. And like I said the mobile units are larger.

Marine is not legal to use as a land mobile service. So thats not an option. It also requires a license.

CB would probably work better for you, but is more expensive and cumbersome to set up.
GMRS is an out of the box solution and should work okay, but its one of those, you have to try it to know things.

Do either of you live in Winnipeg? I was at the XS Cargo on Regent ave the other day, they have a nice set of refurbished uniden GMRS radios for $40. 3 peice set with charger base. Very similar to the 2 pc uniden set I paid nearly $80 for.

In general HF (like CB) will offer better range (the higher wattage and full sized matched antennas help too) but HF is more prone to interferance and ionospheric effects. UHF (GMRS) will have a shorter over all range, and will be affected more by obstructions. (large rocks, trees, buildings) but doesnt suffer from interferance as much as HF.

Regardless GMRS are nice to have anyway. They are quick fast portable and usefull at a moments notice.
Just keep em charged. Also the unidens will also use standard alkaline AAA batteries in case the rechargeable pack runs low and there is no charging method available.

And on you question of UHF, yes with a decent radio you will get better performance and more range. Depending on the model, they will have quite a bit more power output than GMRS. Many of them also have the ability to change the antenna, so a higher gain antenna could be used to increase performace as well.
 
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SnoSheriff

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It seems that the Baofeng radios are very flexible and cheap. I'm thinking of buying 2 test radios for myself. Worst case, I'll just give them to my kids... Can these radios be used them when applying for UHF license with IC?

Can I use these radios for FRS, GMRS, UHF and VHF marine/non-marine frequencies?

BaoFeng has many models. Which model would you recommend and why?

Are there any other brands that I should consider for my test radios?
 
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robertmac

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I am not certain about these Chinese knock off radios being certified by Industry Canada [IC]. Besides they are a real pain to program. And you really want to be careful with programming and TRANSMITTING outside GMRS/FRS as ALL frequencies are assigned by IC [despite what some in the trucking industry think]. If you don't know what you are doing with the Chinese radios, you could be interfering with other licensed users in Manitoba. One of the reason most EMS/Police/Fire are moving to 700, 800 MHz frequencies is their older frequencies on VHF/UHF were being interfered with by unauthorized users. Calgary Police were on the GMRS/FRS frequencies and had to move before GMRS/FRS was approved in Canada. And there are still a lot of Fire/EMS on VHF/UHF in all provinces [but with MURS coming in, some are having to move]. I don't think Chinese cheapies are approved for GMRS/FRS as the antenna is removable which is not in the regulations as being approved by IC. One may be opening a whole can of worms by even thinking about using them. The question of which is better VHF, UHF has been discussed as well. Read some of the other posts. In summary, some people feel VHF is better in flat land like Manitoba and some feel UHF is better in towns and trees because of better penetration. But for your purposes it will end up as 6 of one and a half a dozen of another. Another solution is to rent REAL radios from a radio shop in Manitoba and try them out. Then that company may lease or sell them to you if your parents are going to get an IC license.
 

VE6E0

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If it was me, and was wanting to get licensed, I would get VHF low band stuff, would avoid UHF at all costs. Remember the Ontario government used that band for decades, especially in the NW portion of the province. Only in the last five years did they migrate to VHF-Hi, and their provincial parks and natural resources guys are still on low band.

Cheers
 
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