RUGGED HANDHELD TRANSCEIVER

CHAZZZZ

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I’m looking for a very rugged handheld. I checked out the Yaesu VX-6R and some of the others that are supposed to be rugged but they weren't rugged enough. What I’m looking for is IPX8 water resistance and MIL STD 810 toughness. The only thing I’ve found this though is military and police radios. Could I buy something like a Motorola SRX2200, Tait TP9300, or Kenwood NX-5200 and use it as I would a Baofeng UV-5R? Or are these radios made only for groups with full-time administrators that can set them up? I realize they're way more expensive but let's not worry about that for now, please.
 

Australia4001

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The SRX is a good choice , if you can find one , what about Xts5000R , r for ruggedized, or the APX line , they are of course P25 Digital / analog,

What are you planning on doing with it ?
Amateur?
Licences frequencies?
 

jaspence

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I have a RACAL Thales 25 that was used by the forest service. The case is machined aluminum. It has FPP and a very good menu driven system for on the fly programming. Batteries are not cheap but a couple of weeks ago I checked and they are still available. There is also an AA battery case for backup use that gives a lower power output. The receiver is very good, and I can hit repeaters 10 miles away. You didn't mention what band, but they are VHF FM only. Thales/RACAL25 RACAL 23386 4101256-503 RADIO | eBay
 

kayn1n32008

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I abused the crap out of a VX-231 for years. -30->+35, rain, snow, ice. From industrial construction to out in the bush working in the oil fields of western Alberta. It never missed a beat.

the VX-6 is a pretty rugged radio. What are you using a radio for that you feel this isn’t good enough?
 

mmckenna

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I’m looking for a very rugged handheld. I checked out the Yaesu VX-6R and some of the others that are supposed to be rugged but they weren't rugged enough.
What's the application? Is this for amateur radio, or something else? Letting us know how you use the radio and what the environment is like would be helpful.

What I’m looking for is IPX8 water resistance and MIL STD 810 toughness.
IPX8 is pretty extreme. That's going to be a limiting factor. IPX7 is a bit more common. Unless you plan on going swimming with your radio, the IPX7 might make it a whole lot easier. If full submersion is needed, waterproof bags can work better.

810 doesn't really mean anything on it's own. It covers everything from fungus, gunfire shock, dust intrusion, water, etc. Then there are levels for each one. I've found a lot of amateur products will claim very vague "MIL STD 810" rated, with little in the way of qualifiers.


The only thing I’ve found this though is military and police radios. Could I buy something like a Motorola SRX2200, Tait TP9300, or Kenwood NX-5200 and use it as I would a Baofeng UV-5R?
"Baofeng UV-5R"? Again, we'd need to know what the application is. Comparing Motorola, Kenwood and Tait to Baofeng is sort of like asking if you can use sports car like you use your rusty old lawn tractor. Big difference in application.

Or are these radios made only for groups with full-time administrators that can set them up? I realize they're way more expensive but let's not worry about that for now, please.
Any 'real' commercial/public safety radio you buy will need to be programmed. That will require -expensive- software and programming cables. Some do have an option for "Front panel programming", but it's limited in what you can do. Also, the front panel programming will void type certification for some applications. Again, knowing what you want to do with the radio would help us make some suggestions.

I realize they're way more expensive but let's not worry about that for now, please.
I get that. However, we hear that a lot. I think some may not understand just how expensive we're talking about. Defining a budget will help. A new radio like the ones you mentioned, with all the accessories, programming software, cables, etc. can run north of $2,000.00 depending on how you have them spec'd out. If your budget won't allow that, going with a use radio may make more sense.
 

CHAZZZZ

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The SRX is a good choice , if you can find one , what about Xts5000R , r for ruggedized, or the APX line , they are of course P25 Digital / analog,

What are you planning on doing with it ?
Amateur?
Licences frequencies?
Really nothing specific. I've got a cousin who's a Ham that wants me to get into it. And it just seems like a good idea since I'm in south Florida where hurricanes are often a threat. If one takes a bunch of cell towers down radios are gonna be the primary form of distance communication. I'm an amateur and I still have to take my Technician test.
 

CHAZZZZ

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I abused the crap out of a VX-231 for years. -30->+35, rain, snow, ice. From industrial construction to out in the bush working in the oil fields of western Alberta. It never missed a beat.

the VX-6 is a pretty rugged radio. What are you using a radio for that you feel this isn’t good enough?
No particular use. Like I'm not skydiving into volcanoes or anything. I just don't like to worry about or baby my posessions. I like to buy the best, but one time only. I'd prefer an indestructible radio that casts $3K over a pretty durable radio for $300.
 

mmckenna

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No particular use. Like I'm not skydiving into volcanoes or anything. I just don't like to worry about or baby my posessions. I like to buy the best, but one time only. I'd prefer an indestructible radio that casts $3K over a pretty durable radio for $300.
Well, any of the radios you mentioned above will work.
But be careful, it's really easy to buy too much radio and it would be money wasted to blow $3K for amateur radio use.

Many of the "big 3" amateur radio brands will satisfy durability requirements for just about anything an amateur radio operator can throw at it. Kenwood, Icom and Yaesu amateur radios will work well. I used to have a Yaesu VX-170. It was a small 2 meter radio. I used it while riding ATV's. It would get rained/snowed on, covered in mud, dust, etc. I'd get back to camp and rinse it off under a tap or in a bucket of water. Even survived a roll over accident. While no longer made, they were in the <$150.00 range.

The trouble with amateur radio for "emergency communications" is that you need to figure out who it is you are going to talk to, and then design around that. While 2 meters/70 centimeters band is very common, it's going to be short range. You can utilize repeaters to extend your reach, but the same hurricanes that take down cell towers will take down an amateur radio tower. In fact, most commercial stuff is built to higher standards than most amateur radio systems are. But I understand not wanting to rely on cellular for all your communications.

Depending on who it is you want to talk to, you might want to consider an HF radio setup. While not as portable as a hand held radio, it can work without the infrastructure needed for hand held radios.

But then again, for $3000, you can buy a basic satellite telephone and many years of basic service and talk to anyone, anywhere.
 

bb911

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MIL-STD-810 is a flexible standard that allows users to tailor test methods to fit the application. As a result, a vendor's claims of "...compliance to MIL-STD-810..." can be misleading, because no commercial organization or agency certifies compliance, commercial vendors can create the test methods or approaches to fit their product. Suppliers can—and some do—take significant latitude with how they test their products, and how they report the test results." Wikipedia
 

prcguy

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You can get a Motorola XTS-2500i in VHF or UHF that covers the ham bands and more with front panel programming and super rugged for mid to high $200 range. I believe the 2500i is even submersible for a short period of time. I have many of the radios mentioned here including the Racal/Thales T25, which is a great radio by the way, but batteries and accys for that model are getting hard to find. Everything is available for the XTS-2500 series.
 

CHAZZZZ

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You can get a Motorola XTS-2500i in VHF or UHF that covers the ham bands and more with front panel programming and super rugged for mid to high $200 range. I believe the 2500i is even submersible for a short period of time. I have many of the radios mentioned here including the Racal/Thales T25, which is a great radio by the way, but batteries and accys for that model are getting hard to find. Everything is available for the XTS-2500 series.
It's extremely similar to the Baofeng GT-3WP and the UV-9R including that they're all IP67 which is good enough for now I've decided. My plan until you wrote was to just buy both the Baofengs, get educated, then buy something like a Motorola APX or a Harris later. Do you think the XTS2500 is better than the Baofengs?
 

W9BU

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Do you think the XTS2500 is better than the Baofengs?
Better in what regard?

Built for long-term reliability in very tough environments or built as a throw-away radio to an absolutely rock-bottom price? Which is "better" to you?

Built to meet FCC Part 90 emissions standards or built without regard for FCC rules? Which is "better" to you?

Built by a company with a long reputation or built by a company you've never heard of before and which could disappear in an instant? Which is "better" to you?

I don't mean this as an insult, but if you have to ask which is better a Baofeng or a Motorola XTS2500, then you have much to learn about two-way radios.
 

CHAZZZZ

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Good answer! I believe I saw that Motorola quit making them. Do you know if and where I can still get one new?
 

prcguy

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I have a number of Baofengs, five I think but I lost track. They are cheap and they perform like cheap radios with poor RF performance in real world situations, meaning they might test very sensitive on a service monitor but outside on a hill top they will get blitzed by strong out of band signals preventing them from hearing signals that another radio sitting right next to it can pick up just fine. The user interface on most Baofengs is not very user friendly, but they are cheap and are usually worth the cheap prices they sell for.

However, you cannot compare them in any way to a high performance radio like a modern Motorola or other high end commercial grade radio. Using them side by side their differences will be obvious within seconds, everything from the transmit and receive audio quality to the lack of interference to the ability to fall out of a moving vehicle, bounce down the roadway and still be perfectly usable, etc.

I'm fairly new to the mid generation Motorolas like the XTS series but I've purchased a few within the last few weeks and am thrilled with the XTS-2500 series. Its newer and smaller than the XTS-5000 with similar features and they are not that much $$ these days. Programming software and cables are readily available and the front panel programming feature offered on some is much easier than programming a Baofeng on the fly. I'm loving my XTS-2500s and I will probably buy more. At this point in my life I think I'm done buying Baofengs.

I also think an XTS-2500 is a better stepping stone to an APX or Harris and if you can master the Motorola CPS for XTS you can probably handle most any software. You can find lots of XTS-2500s on Ebay, some new but a little pricey and I find nothing wrong with an older retired unit that has been checked out and maybe the case replaced and guaranteed by the seller if they are a known and respected seller of that model.

It's extremely similar to the Baofeng GT-3WP and the UV-9R including that they're all IP67 which is good enough for now I've decided. My plan until you wrote was to just buy both the Baofengs, get educated, then buy something like a Motorola APX or a Harris later. Do you think the XTS2500 is better than the Baofengs?
 

chief21

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Could I buy something like a Motorola SRX2200, Tait TP9300, or Kenwood NX-5200 and use it as I would a Baofeng UV-5R?
Based on the way this thread is going, I feel like I need to caution the OP that the Front-Panel Programming (FPP) option available on some of the professional radios is probably not exactly what it sounds like. It is certainly not as agile as most typical amateur radios. You also won't find too many dual or multi-band professional radios. It would be prudent to do your due diligence before you buy anything.
 

prcguy

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Yes, the OP should experience whatever he is looking to buy before spending $$. With that, I find the XTS-2500 FPP to be just fine. You can program any transmit/receive frequency within the radios usable range, and PL/DPL tones. For P25 digital channels you can change the frequency and NAC on the fly. You can also nuisance delete busy channels in a scan list but it will not do some things that amateur type radios can on the fly but many amateur radios are not easy to program from the front panel either.

There are multiband radios with some basic FPP functions like the Harris Unity, which is older and cheaper than an APX8000 but you pay much more for a professional quality multiband radio.

Based on the way this thread is going, I feel like I need to caution the OP that the Front-Panel Programming (FPP) option available on some of the professional radios is probably not exactly what it sounds like. It is certainly not as agile as most typical amateur radios. You also won't find too many dual or multi-band professional radios. It would be prudent to do your due diligence before you buy anything.
 

sloop

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I have had both the Yaesu VX-170 (now the VX-270) and the VX-6R. Both are extremely durable and excellent radios. I used the VX-170 for Army MARS applications in all types of weather without a problem. If you only want 2 meters I would get the VX-270, but if you want a tri-bander(144, 220, 440) that will recieve everything from AM up past 440 then the VX-6R is the radio. I have had Alinco. Icom, and Baofeng radios and none came close to the durability of the two I mentioned for the cost. Also which ever radio you decide on getting make sure it has an optional "AA" battery case and get it; that way you can use the radio if you cant recharge it.
 

N4KVE

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While the XTS2500 has FPP, you will still need the ability to program it through the computer to set up the function of buttons, switches, menus, audio levels, scan modes, how often it beeps on a weak battery, and many other parameters. And comparing a Baofeng to a XTS2500 is like looking down and seeing a penny, & a $50 bill, and wondering which to pick up.
 

prcguy

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Programming cables are cheap on Epay and programming software (R20.01.00 CPS with late firmware) is usually on Epay for around $37.

While the XTS2500 has FPP, you will still need the ability to program it through the computer to set up the function of buttons, switches, menus, audio levels, scan modes, how often it beeps on a weak battery, and many other parameters. And comparing a Baofeng to a XTS2500 is like looking down and seeing a penny, & a $50 bill, and wondering which to pick up.
 
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