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New to radio - questions on use for at home

JNE78

Newbie
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
3
I'm VERY new to radio. I wanted to buy a couple of radios/walkies that my family could use around the homestead and possibly with a friend that is several miles away (15~).

I started looking into things and found that radio is much more complex that I once thought and am not sure where to start to learn...

What I'd like to have:
Ability to have a channel set up so wife and I can talk within a couple mile distance on the homestead and also be able to have the device scan or listen at the same time for my friend as well. Is that possible? I'd like to program it so that I can listen to local NOAA weather reports, police, etc.
 

tweiss3

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Apr 24, 2020
Messages
134
Location
Ohio
Do you or your wife have any radio licenses? You both will have to be covered by a radio license to get on the air for communications.

It sounds like you would be looking for GMRS, which is a UHF based service. The license covers you and your family, and there is no test. It would not cover your friends, they would need to get licensed themselves.

Amateur Radio would also be a pretty decent way to go, but you each need to pass the test to get your license.
 

mrweather

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
990
GMRS sounds like the way to go in this scenario. Since NOAA weather radio is VHF, OP will need a separate radio to monitor that.

But, a 15 mile range using only handheld radios will be impossible without using a repeater.
 

tweiss3

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134
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Ohio
FYI, many GMRS radios have the ability to monitor NOAA radio.
 

W9WSS

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Dec 19, 2002
Messages
622
Location
Westmont, DuPage County, IL USA
There are commercial radios for sale that use a cellular network for communications but are actual walkie-talkies. If you ever used Zello on your smartphone, it's similar to that technology, but built in a walkie-talkie. They sell for under $100, but you must subscribe to a service with a monthly fee. I know a vendor who sells these to commercial customers, and instead of using a GMRS or other local repeater system, it uses this technology.

Speaking of Zello, that's a free service that once you download the app on your smartphone, you can talk individually, or in groups. Just leave the app running in the background, and if someone wants you, or a member of the group, they call you out. I haven't used it very much, but it sounds just like the way Nextel's worked back in the day.

Sorry if this is getting off the topic of this forum, but just wanted to mention this option for JNE78, the original individual who was looking for a possible solution for communications.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
13,835
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
What I'd like to have:
Ability to have a channel set up so wife and I can talk within a couple mile distance on the homestead and also be able to have the device scan or listen at the same time for my friend as well. Is that possible? I'd like to program it so that I can listen to local NOAA weather reports, police, etc.
Where are you located? That'll play in to your decision.
 

JNE78

Newbie
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
3
We looked at GMRS but it's too many rules for us. For my friend, that was more of a wish list at this point, the primary concern is for my family on the homestead. I'm looking at MURS but want to find a device that can listen to NOAA and Police frequencies as well.

I am in New England, where I am, our Police are not on digital.
 
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krokus

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Jun 9, 2006
Messages
4,525
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Southeastern Michigan
We looked at GMRS but it's too many rules for us. For my friend, that was more of a wish list at this point, the primary concern is for my family on the homestead. I'm looking at MURS but want to find a device that can listen to NOAA and Police frequencies as well.

I am in New England, where I am, our Police are not on digital.
How large is your homestead? MURS is a low power allocation, that limits your distance. If you have hills, they can block your signal.

As for listening to the police, were you wanting the handhelds to be doing that directly or having a central scanner, that repeats that traffic over your talk channel? Are all the police agencies you want to hear using the same frequency band? (Are they all VHF-high, UHF, or 800 MHz? If not, that mostly rules out your own handheld to listen to all of them.)
 

JNE78

Newbie
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
3
The police/fire look like they range from 151.4 - 155.49 and there's a point-to-point link (not sure what that is) on 465.475. I didn't know that you could have a central scanner to do such a thing. I probably would just want to tune in when I want to our if a trooper speeds by.

We would be want to use the radios over about 4 acres, maybe 8. Mostly fields, some trees.
 

ladn

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Oct 25, 2008
Messages
581
Location
Southern California and sometimes Owens Valley
We would be want to use the radios over about 4 acres, maybe 8. Mostly fields, some trees.
Consider a Part 90 commercial license. You will need a business purpose, but the "homestead" should be sufficient. Commercial licenses require frequency coordination, but you should be able to work with a frequency coordinator to find a VHF channel or two. That would then make it easy to have your radios programmed for your frequency as well as weather and local LEO. If I were getting a new commercial license today, I would apply for both conventional FM (11K3F3E) and one of the digital modes (probably DMR). Many commercial radios have dual mode capabilities. Find a way to include your friend's location in the license process so you'll be coordinated for adequate effective radiated power and decent antenna height.
 

mmckenna

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Messages
13,835
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
The police/fire look like they range from 151.4 - 155.49 and there's a point-to-point link (not sure what that is) on 465.475. I didn't know that you could have a central scanner to do such a thing. I probably would just want to tune in when I want to our if a trooper speeds by.

We would be want to use the radios over about 4 acres, maybe 8. Mostly fields, some trees.
I'd give MURS a try 8 acres isn't a lot, and going to Part 90 commercial stuff is a hassle, and likely not needed for what you are doing.
Ritron makes some decent MURS radios that are programmed out of the box. They cost more than most of the consumer grade radios you'll find, but they are built off a commercial radio with MURS specific programming. My brother in law has been using the PT-150M with his tower crews for many years: Commercial Grade Two Way Radios | Handheld 2 Way | Ritron Walkie Talkie

As for listening to police/fire, do yourself a favor and get a scanner. The MURS radios are locked down and you won't be able to easily add additional channels to them. A scanner will give you a lot more flexibility anyway.

Resist the urge to buy the Cheap Chinese Radios (CCR's) off e-Bay and Amazon. There's some legality issues involved in those that gets pretty complex. If you have the budget, stick with the know name brand companies. CCR's are 'throw away' radios. They can't be repaired, so you toss them in the trash and buy a new one.
 

popnokick

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Mar 21, 2004
Messages
2,085
Location
Northeast PA
For JNE78 who writes "... radio is much more complex that I once thought..." and who mainly wants to communicate within a couple miles of the other radio(s), a Part 90 license or Amateur Radio license will be major overkill, complexity, and investment of time and effort. The Motorola DLR / DTR radios are license-free, turn it on, push to talk, release to listen... and that's all there is to it. And unlike FRS, GMRS, Part 90, or ham... they are private communication that's not monitored on scanners, and with no need to "coordinate" or share a channel with other Part 90 or ham users. There are many other threads here on RR regarding these radios, but here are two with pertinent info -
Individual Business License?
Motorola DTR700 Portable Digital Radio 900Mhz
 

krokus

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
4,525
Location
Southeastern Michigan
The police/fire look like they range from 151.4 - 155.49 and there's a point-to-point link (not sure what that is) on 465.475. I didn't know that you could have a central scanner to do such a thing. I probably would just want to tune in when I want to our if a trooper speeds by.

We would be want to use the radios over about 4 acres, maybe 8. Mostly fields, some trees.
The point-to-point is typically a link from dispatch to a remote base radio. It is likely to be on directional antennas, and not something you could monitor.

A handheld scanner for just analog can be had fairly inexpensively, and gives you a lot of flexibility. More importantly, it doesn't take away your ability to talk to, or hear, your family. Besides that, by the time the trooper goes by, you have missed the dispatch info.

In your case, I think the DTR radios might be best bang for the buck. You can take them with you, if going to a fair, or Costco, etc. The downside would be not being able to connect to your friend, so far away. (The Ritron MURS radios mentioned would do the trick, too, but you are sharing those channels with other people.)
 

W5lz

Active Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
562
MURS, FRS, and several other types of radios could possibly work for what you want. I have no idea of their rules so won't recommend one of them. You can be sure that the typical 'plister-pack' radios at WalMart are not going to do well for you. Good luck.
 

jwt873

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Joined
Dec 1, 2015
Messages
991
Location
Woodlands, MB
Or even FRS...
Beat me to it :)

Yes, any 'bubble pack' FRS radio should work. (Midland, Cobra, Motorola, Uniden etc). I live in the country on 2 acres. I sometimes scan FRS/GMRS frequencies. I can hear people using them in a small town that's almost a mile away.
 
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