• To anyone looking to acquire commercial radio programming software:

    Please do not make requests for copies of radio programming software which is sold (or was sold) by the manufacturer for any monetary value. All requests will be deleted and a forum infraction issued. Making a request such as this is attempting to engage in software piracy and this forum cannot be involved or associated with this activity. The same goes for any private transaction via Private Message. Even if you attempt to engage in this activity in PM's we will still enforce the forum rules. Your PM's are not private and the administration has the right to read them if there's a hint to criminal activity.

    If you are having trouble legally obtaining software please state so. We do not want any hurt feelings when your vague post is mistaken for a free request. It is YOUR responsibility to properly word your request.

    To obtain Motorola software see the Sticky in the Motorola forum.

    The various other vendors often permit their dealers to sell the software online (i.e., Kenwood). Please use Google or some other search engine to find a dealer that sells the software. Typically each series or individual radio requires its own software package. Often the Kenwood software is less than $100 so don't be a cheapskate; just purchase it.

    For M/A Com/Harris/GE, etc: there are two software packages that program all current and past radios. One package is for conventional programming and the other for trunked programming. The trunked package is in upwards of $2,500. The conventional package is more reasonable though is still several hundred dollars. The benefit is you do not need multiple versions for each radio (unlike Motorola).

    This is a large and very visible forum. We cannot jeopardize the ability to provide the RadioReference services by allowing this activity to occur. Please respect this.

Newbie looking for transceiver guidance

Status
Not open for further replies.

bfry

Newbie
Joined
Mar 23, 2020
Messages
4
Hi everyone...

Looking for recommendations on the best two-way for the following: communication between four in rugged outside environment while patrolling/securing integrity of property. Will not have any repeaters or base stations. Property is close to 3 miles across at widest point, but, like i said fairly rugged - tons of trees, ridges, small ravines, couple small ponds/lakes, etc. Prone to harsh weather. Durability and range are highest priority. Trying to keep budget to ~$300/per unit - willing to spend more if makes sense.

Any thoughts appreciated.

Thank you!

Forgot to mention - need to have the capability to have secure communication. Thanks.
 

SteveSimpkin

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
986
Location
Lancaster, CA
I'm afraid that's going to be a tall order. I suspect most handhelds will only reach 1/2 to 1 mile under the conditions you list. That's why Public Safety and business systems use base stations and repeaters with an antenna mounted high on a tower or mountain.
 

alcahuete

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 24, 2015
Messages
2,554
Location
Antelope Acres, California
You don't say whether or not this will be done mobile (i.e. in a car or ATV or such) or if you will be patrolling on foot. Huge difference. With a vehicle, you could run some powerful mobile radios with good antennas and might do fine. If you are looking at handhelds, it will likely be a tall order, as was mentioned.

Either way, VHF will likely be your best bet. At $300 with some form of encryption, you are looking at used radios, generally.
 

bfry

Newbie
Joined
Mar 23, 2020
Messages
4
Thanks for the replies - I kind of figured as much but being new I wanted to make sure I'm not missing something.

At the moment, would definitely all be on foot, but good to know if we had some ATV's or something it could be better but to be honest, there'd be a very limited area the ATV's could operate so likely wouldn't make sense.

Sounds like I need some kind of base station/repeaters but there is no electricity and I can only imagine how expensive it would be to have a solar set up for something like that - I would guess easily 5 figures.

Understood that VHF will be best bet. Again, just to show you how much I don't know, when reading online last night, I came across an article about encryption and my take away was encryption is something "civilians" are barred from using. The article was about some kind of Harris/L3 military handheld that sells for $1.5k-2k used and the author seemed to state that the only reason these were allowed to be sold was that the "encryption" had been removed/deactivated - I'm likely missing something it sounds like - I'm guessing it would have to do with the "strength" of the encryption?

Can I ask for a particular model that might fit the bill when you say used ones for around $300?

I also found something last night that is a bit more expensive, but it sounds VERY durable which has me thinking - BUT, it has encryption and I'm not sure I can buy it as a civilian? It was a Kirisun DP990 DMR.

I know I'm all over the place - I really appreciate the help - thank you again.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
24,384
Location
I am a lineman for the county.
Understood that VHF will be best bet. Again, just to show you how much I don't know, when reading online last night, I came across an article about encryption and my take away was encryption is something "civilians" are barred from using. The article was about some kind of Harris/L3 military handheld that sells for $1.5k-2k used and the author seemed to state that the only reason these were allowed to be sold was that the "encryption" had been removed/deactivated - I'm likely missing something it sounds like - I'm guessing it would have to do with the "strength" of the encryption?

Any answer we provide will depend on what country you are located in. Without knowing that, it's very difficult to give you accurate information. We don't care what city/state you are in, just the country.

Here in the USA, the FCC makes the rules, so most of the answers you will get are based off that. If you are located in a different country, all bets are off.

In the US, encryption is NOT illegal for civilians to use.
What you read about with the old military radios is called "De-mil" or Demilitarization, that is the remove the military specific modules of the radio. Since the US Military uses some different encryption modes that what others use, and there's no reason for them to be floating around out there in public, they are almost always removed before surplussing.

You can absolutely use encryption, but it depends on what radio service you plan on utilizing. Some radio services (amateur, MURS, FRS, GMRS, CB, etc) do not permit encryption in most cases, or any other way of hiding the meaning of the communications.

VHF is likely your best bet based on budget, but there are other options that will work. VHF Low band can work well in those environments. In some cases UHF can also.

Can I ask for a particular model that might fit the bill when you say used ones for around $300?

Before you go buying radios, there's some stuff you need to figure out.
Country you are in will have rules about licensing and access to certain frequencies. Doesn't matter what your use is, what your location is, or what your intents are, licensing of some type will be required in the USA, no exceptions.

Licensing will cost money. You need to figure out what radio service you are going to use before going any farther. Buying radios first is the wrong way to do this. Licensing first is the right way.

Once you have the licensing figured out, then start looking at radios. $300 per radio can be achievable IF you use either low tier Chinese radios or used commercial gear.

Recommending a specific brand/model will entirely depend on what your licensing is, what frequencies/bands you end up on, and what your exact needs are.

Most modern digital capable radios will do some level of encryption or scrambling. Purchasing used or Chinese low tier digital radios will get you something. But refer to the line above about -where- encryption is legal to use.

I also found something last night that is a bit more expensive, but it sounds VERY durable which has me thinking - BUT, it has encryption and I'm not sure I can buy it as a civilian? It was a Kirisun DP990 DMR.

Civilian or not doesn't have anything to do with it. Yes, you can buy it, but licensing still applies. Digital is legal in SOME radio services, but not all. Same with encryption, legal to use in SOME radio services.

But be careful buying the Chinese radios. Some are low tier junk that will give you problems. Kirisun seems to be one of the better brands, but you can really do better.

In addition to all this, you are going to need some way to program the radios. In most cases this won't be like a CB or FRS radio that comes pre-programmed out of the box. You'll need to program (or have the radios programmed) to the frequencies you are licensed for before you can use them. You can program them yourself, but it can be difficult and time consuming for those that don't have a background in communications. It's easy to make a mistake, and some mistakes can cause interference to other licensed users (even if you can't hear them), and that will lead to things you don't want.


So, before we get too far down this road:

-What country are you in?
-What is your technical background?
-What is your -real- budget?
 

krokus

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
6,071
Location
Southeastern Michigan
Sounds like I need some kind of base station/repeaters but there is no electricity and I can only imagine how expensive it would be to have a solar set up for something like that - I would guess easily 5 figures.

Solar could be done for much less than that, but an antenna support structure could get a bit expensive. Harbor Freight has a solar power system that is fairly inexpensive, is not the best, but is easily available.

Understood that VHF will be best bet. Again, just to show you how much I don't know, when reading online last night, I came across an article about encryption and my take away was encryption is something "civilians" are barred from using. The article was about some kind of Harris/L3 military handheld that sells for $1.5k-2k used and the author seemed to state that the only reason these were allowed to be sold was that the "encryption" had been removed/deactivated - I'm likely missing something it sounds like - I'm guessing it would have to do with the "strength" of the encryption?

There are some encryption systems that are government only, but plenty are available to citizens. What level of security are you wanting? Just wanting to keep the casual scanner listener from hearing your traffic?

Can I ask for a particular model that might fit the bill when you say used ones for around $300?

I also found something last night that is a bit more expensive, but it sounds VERY durable which has me thinking - BUT, it has encryption and I'm not sure I can buy it as a civilian? It was a Kirisun DP990 DMR.

That Kirisun looks the part, and it does offer various levels of encryption. You might need to buy optional software, or licenses, to use it.

One thing I have not seen asked, nor stated: Do you have a license for any frequencies? If not, start your search for available frequencies. (Or hire a consultant to do that for you, and file the paperwork.)
 

bfry

Newbie
Joined
Mar 23, 2020
Messages
4
I really appreciate all the help guys - sounds like this will end up saving me major headaches.

I’m in the U.S., technical background in comms is non-existent and as far as budget I really would like to keep it < $500-$600 per handset (seems like that is somewhat the price for new, very durable equipment?) and I have no idea what licensing would cost - maybe a couple grand? So all in, somewhere around $4.5-$5k.

Encryption - as strong as possible given my price point - the property is a place of refuge to be occupied in a time of crisis that would have material resources so keeping a low profile is important.

I appreciate the Harbor Freight tip about solar - I will check that out.

I do not have any frequency licenses - your point is well taken.

Thank you all!
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
24,384
Location
I am a lineman for the county.
and I have no idea what licensing would cost - maybe a couple grand? So all in, somewhere around $4.5-$5k.

Two options here….

Itinerant licenses use common/shared channels. You can license those without going through a frequency coordinator, however if your background in radio is not strong, doing all the FCC paperwork can be tough. Hiring a shop to do it for you would be worth the few hundred bucks it costs. I forget what the FCC charges for the 10 year license, but it's around $200 or so.

Hiring a frequency coordinator can help you get a non-shared channel. Frequency coordinators might charge $300-$400 per frequency, and can assist with filing the paperwork.

Depending on your location, if it's out in the boonies, the itinerant license can work just fine. Just keep in mind it's a shared resource.
 

SteveSimpkin

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
986
Location
Lancaster, CA
Something to keep in mind is that any VHF/UHF solution you come up with (with or without a repeater or encryption) can be detected while transmitting and located with radio direction finding equipment. One way to avoid this is to use a frequency hopping radio that constantly changes its frequency when transmitting. An example is the Motorola DTR700. While not encrypted, they offer reasonably secure communications in a rugged radio and do not require any licensing. I still don't think they will reach across the entire property but they do work surprisingly well considering they operate in the 900 MHz band. Before you go the licensing (and possibly repeater) route, it may be worth trying a couple of them to see how well they would work in your environment. If you could rent a pair, that would be ideal. If you had to buy them, make sure you can return them if they don't work out (Amazon for example). Just a thought and others may be able to chime in whether or not it has any merit.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
24,384
Location
I am a lineman for the county.
Maintaining more "normal" sounding comms is likely to attract less attention than adding encryption or using overly tactical codes and phrases.

I agree. Quickest way to draw attention to yourself is to try and hide.

Doesn't matter if you are using encryption or not, someone will hear the traffic, and if they really want into your prepper stash of 15 year old MRE's, they'll get them. Radio Direction Finding works, encryption or not.

Wanna hide? Use FRS or MURS, and just talk casually about stuff. Secret codes and encryption will just draw attention.
 

nd5y

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
11,467
Location
Wichita Falls, TX
- the property is a place of refuge to be occupied in a time of crisis that would have material resources so keeping a low profile is important.
You're SOL then. All FCC licenses and applications for licenses are public records. Licensee contact information and the locations of any base stations and repeaters will be available on the FCC web site (and others). This is even true for state and local governments.
Here is an example of a business license in the FCC database.
 

bfry

Newbie
Joined
Mar 23, 2020
Messages
4
Thanks again for all the responses - all the info & thoughts are great - definitely a lot of stuff I would never have thought of on my own.

Property is definitely in the BOONIES, I really mean the BOONIES. Talked to chief LE responsible for the area. Older guy, ex-service, very crusty - said "listen son, don't jam up my lines and I don't give a rat's ass what you do. No one is gonna bother you out here, especially since you all will be coming if it's a **** show out there - hell you probably won't even make here - HAHAHAH."

Gotta love it - but he has a point.

I have a lot to think about in implementing this the right way. Again, very helpful and if any other comments , please let me know.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top