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Senior with a Situation.

PearlSnow6724

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Messages
13
Location
Windsor, N.Y.
Hello. I'm new to this world of CB/Ham radio. It's been over 40 years since I've used a CB radio. My late husband and his father introduced me to it then. Now, my brother and I would like to use a CB for our long-distance communications. Since I have health issues, I cannot drive. He and his wife live in their apartment 25 miles from my home. I'm in the center of very tall trees, with a mountain behind my tiny home. I feel I may require a "Ham" radio with a tall antenna at the top of my tree to get any radio signal. I don't own a professionally-trained monkey to climb and set up such an antenna, just 2 loveable dogs. Please advise me on my situation. Thank you for your time. .... Rita
 

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ladn

Explorer of the Frequency Spectrum
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623
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Southern California and sometimes Owens Valley
Hi Rita and welcome to Radio Reference.

I don't think CB is going to work for your situation because of the distance.

Amateur radio would likely work well, but there's the licensing and testing issue for both of you.

As an alternative, how about GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service)? While it would require a license for both you and your brother, the license process requires only some paperwork and a fee to the FCC. The radios and antennas are more compact than CB, and have vastly superior audio. GMRS radios operate in the 462 and 467 MHz frequency range and CB operates in the 27 Mhz frequency range. Unlike CB, GMRS radios can have up to 50 watts output and, because the radio wavelength is shorter, antennas can have considerable "gain" and still be a reasonable size.

If there is a GMRS repeater with a coverage area that includes both yours and your brother's homes, you could probably use a 5-watt handheld or low power base unit and wouldn't need a large outside antenna nor the services of professionally trained monkeys to install it. While there are no guarantees, the "idiot factor" on GMRS tends to be lower than on CB radio and you won't have to listen to good 'ol boys pushing 10kW and shooting skip.

There is a GMRS/FRS forum here on Radio Reference where you can get more specific information. I'm in California, and not the least bit familiar with your area, so I can't give you any details on GMRS repeaters in your community.
 

PearlSnow6724

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Aug 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location
Windsor, N.Y.
Hi. Thank you for contacting me so quickly. I really appreciate that.
Anyway, My brother and I live in The Broome County area. He in Endwell, and I in Windsor. I have a fixed budget, and don't want to invest an abundance of $$. So, I will go to this GMRS Forum you suggested, in the meantime.
I have much to learn and look into for my situation.
Thanks again, Iadn. (y):)
 

bharvey2

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Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,452
Welcome to Radio Reference. I'd have to agree with ladn that CB radio my not be very effective trying to span 25 miles. You'll likely have trouble with a number of modes (tech class ham radio, GMRS, etc.) without the benefit of a repeater in your area. ( Not sure of your knowledge of radio stuff but a repeater receives the signal from your low level transmitter and re-transmits it, usually from a greater vantage point and power, over a larger area) I did a quick check on www.mygmrs.com to look for GMRS repeaters in your area but couldn't find anything that would obvious work. However, I too am in California and am not familiar with the NY area. If you both have internet access in your respective homes and have computers, tablets or smartphones, there are a number of communication related applications available.
 

DaveJacobsen

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Oct 24, 2015
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Moving...
Your environment (trees, hills VS distance) are no ideal. I don't advocate for the use of amplifiers, but a small amp and a nice beam antenna (maybe horizontally polarized) on both ends would probably work.

I agree that gmrs with a good radio and external antenna (again using yagi) just might be more ideal. When I got my gmrs license, it was $75 and some paperwork, plus it covered immediate family.

Ham is overboard (time, Test, fees) for just communicating with one other person.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Messages
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In case you find that there are no GMRS repeaters that serve you and your brother. An economical solution is the linked GMRS network where you can install a small hot spot at each home and use radios to talk to each hot spot and each other. The internet becomes a bridge for each hot spot. You can even set up a private network. Some details here. The GMRS Linked Network

Single Sideband CB is a possibility if you both can install antennas. An 18 foot long horizontal dipole at each end would be required.
 

iMONITOR

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8,843
We all have to remember Rita said, "I don't own a professionally-trained monkey to climb and set up such an antenna". Nor does she have the ability to run and install coax and tune SWR, ETC. She's looking for a plug'n'play situation. I doubt she's looking to invest several hundreds of dollars to accomplish this. Same goes for her brother apparently.
 

bharvey2

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Mar 12, 2014
Messages
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In case you find that there are no GMRS repeaters that serve you and your brother. An economical solution is the linked GMRS network where you can install a small hot spot at each home and use radios to talk to each hot spot and each other. The internet becomes a bridge for each hot spot. You can even set up a private network. Some details here. The GMRS Linked Network

Single Sideband CB is a possibility if you both can install antennas. An 18 foot long horizontal dipole at each end would be required.

I have an Allstar setup like this for ham radio. I've always wondered why no one was doing it for GMRS. Seems I was wrong and I learned something new. Thanks RFI-EMI-GUY. I think I'll call it a day now.
 

K4EET

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Feb 18, 2015
Messages
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Location
Severn, Maryland, USA
Hi Rita and welcome to Radio Reference as well!

Even though @DaveJacobsen quickly dismissed Ham Radio (or Amateur Radio), you may be interested in the broader advantages that an Amateur Radio license brings to you. For starters, emergency communications when the power goes off (via a hand-held walkie-talkie to a repeater) among other emergencies, countywide to statewide to nationwide to worldwide communications with other hams (Amateur Radio operators) and a library full of other uses. For starters, you may want to take a peek at What is Ham Radio (just left-click that link) if you think that you might be remotely interested. As for licensing fees, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not impose any and many of the Volunteer Examiners (VEs) that administer the thirty-five question test do not charge anything. If they do, it usually is just $15 USD.

As for ham repeaters in Broome County, New York, I found the following. If they are located in your's and your brother's general area, there is a good probability that they would allow for communications between the two of you. The first three columns are the technical parameters of the repeaters for radios and scanners alike, the fourth and fifth columns are where the repeater is physically located, the sixth column is the FCC callsign of the repeater, the seventh column is whether or not it is a private repeater (none are in your county) and the last column is whether it is currently on-the-air (they are all operational).


145.3900-0.6 MHz123.0EndicottBroomeN2YROPEN+
145.4700-0.6 MHzCSQBinghamton TownshipBroomeW2EWMOPEN+
146.7300-0.6 MHz100.0Binghamton, Ingraham HillBroomeK2TDVOPEN+
146.8200-0.6 MHz146.2ColesvilleBroomeWA2QELOPEN+
146.8650-0.6 MHz146.2 / 146.2Binghamton, AirportBroomeWA2QELOPEN+
147.0750+0.6 MHzBinghamton, Trim StreetBroomeK2VQOPEN+
147.2550-0.6 MHz100.0EndicottBroomeWA2VCSOPEN+
224.4800-1.6 MHz88.5VestalBroomeAA2EQOPEN+
442.8000+5 MHz100.0 / 100.0Binghamton/EndicottBroomeAC2YSOPEN+
444.3000+5 MHzBinghamtonBroomeN2YOWOPEN+
444.5500+5 MHzBinghamtonBroomeAA2EQOPEN+
446.02500 MHzVestalBroomeKD2HNWOPEN+
But I probably wouldn't go the ham radio route just to talk to your brother. I would do it for more of a lifelong hobby that it is and the rewarding aspects that it will bring. If you want to, you can discuss some of those finer points with local ham radio clubs or other hams or with little old me. There are over 600 licensed hams in Broome County, NY, over 70 hams in Endwell, NY and over 90 hams in Windsor, NY. So you all are not without company to lend a helping hand when needed.

Let me know if you think you might be interested in eventually getting your Amateur Radio license. You can either respond here or you can send me a Private Message (PM). Either way I'll be sure to reply to you as soon as is possible.

Cheers! Dave
 

PearlSnow6724

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Joined
Aug 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location
Windsor, N.Y.
I have to ask the obvious, what's wrong with a landline, VoIP or Smart Phone?
Hello
We all have to remember Rita said, "I don't own a professionally-trained monkey to climb and set up such an antenna". Nor does she have the ability to run and install coax and tune SWR, ETC. She's looking for a plug'n'play situation. I doubt she's looking to invest several hundreds of dollars to accomplish this. Same goes for her brother apparently.
 

bharvey2

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Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,452
Rita, While you've answered a few questions with regarding to available monetary resources and physical capability, a few questions remain and might help others point you in the right direction. You mentioned CB usage in your past. Does you brother share the same familiarity with CB radio? Do either of you have any experience with two-way radios outside of a 40 year old CB past? Do either of you have an interest in pursuing radio as a hobby? If the answer is yes, you could probably get started for less than $100 ea. That would include taking and passing the tech exam and buying a cheap handheld radio. (after that, the sky is the limit with regard to ham radio costs) Whether this would benefit you would depend upon whether there are any local repeaters in or around you and your brother. A decent GMRS setup would cost you quite a bit more.

I think the big question though is, did you mention CB radio because there are no other methods of communication between you or because you enjoyed two way radio and would like to get back in to it? There is no wrong answer, just wondering what is the main motivator.
 

GrayJeep

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Jan 6, 2007
Messages
961
Location
N. Colo.
Just a reminder that any of the radios being discussed, CB, GMRS, ham, are not private. One would have an audience during the conversation. Most people use telephones for their conversations with family these days. Even hams aren't using telephone patches to talk to their spouses any more.
 

PearlSnow6724

Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location
Windsor, N.Y.
Hello. I don't use a monthly landline, but I do have small mobile phone that I charge just like everyone else. I like the idea of being prepared. I am not in the best of shape which is my reason for the "trained monkey" part. I did contact a member of my congregation earlier, and he is a Ham user. He told me he would help me as much as he possibly could. His father use to sell these radios years ago, overseas. You are correct, iMONITOR, I can't invest several hundreds of dollars as I am not in that position to do so. But, where there is a will...there is a way. However, my brother is more capable than I for such an endeavor.
I enjoyed reading your post very much. Thank you.

Rita, While you've answered a few questions with regarding to available monetary resources and physical capability, a few questions remain and might help others point you in the right direction. You mentioned CB usage in your past. Does you brother share the same familiarity with CB radio? Do either of you have any experience with two-way radios outside of a 40 year old CB past? Do either of you have an interest in pursuing radio as a hobby? If the answer is yes, you could probably get started for less than $100 ea. That would include taking and passing the tech exam and buying a cheap handheld radio. (after that, the sky is the limit with regard to ham radio costs) Whether this would benefit you would depend upon whether there are any local repeaters in or around you and your brother. A decent GMRS setup would cost you quite a bit more.

I think the big question though is, did you mention CB radio because there are no other methods of communication between you or because you enjoyed two way radio and would like to get back in to it? There is no wrong answer, just wondering what is the main motivator.
----------------------------------------------
Thank you for contacting me! My answers to your questions are:
Yes, I enjoyed my CB experience with my late husband years ago, and my brother did, as well. Yes, we would like to get back into it, to help with our congregations due to many seniors that have health issues, as well as long distances apart. Most live in rural areas, and are unfortunately isolated. These are difficult times to deal with, and we both feel it's best to be prepared.
Yes, this as a hobby seems interesting. Thank you for asking. ... Rita
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Dec 22, 2013
Messages
4,347
We all have to remember Rita said, "I don't own a professionally-trained monkey to climb and set up such an antenna". Nor does she have the ability to run and install coax and tune SWR, ETC. She's looking for a plug'n'play situation. I doubt she's looking to invest several hundreds of dollars to accomplish this. Same goes for her brother apparently.
A horizontal wire dipole antenna can be installed by throwing some rope over tree limbs and hoisting it up. I have done that many times. No climbing involved.
 

slowmover

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Aug 4, 2020
Messages
194
Location
Fort Worth
I'm confused.

Are we trying to connect two points- brother to sister 25 miles apart?

Or are we trying to create a church-based network of rural radio users?

Looks like they’re one and the same.

And it’s an excellent idea, though geography and available funds make it difficult.

A wire dipole in the trees is the likeliest “best” solution.

It’s worth the effort to get some folks closer than 25-miles apart to ask the congregation for their aid. The ones “in town”, so to speak. Test group. May be someone with a bucket truck the church could sponsor. Or a tree service.

An SSB-capable CB radio is (should be) the minimum.

Wire dipoles are DIY. Some coax and how to ground (against lightning ) are the other part.

The radio would need a 120V-to-12V power supply.

Radio
Coax
Antenna
Power Supply
Copper Grounding

A video worth watching is by Cryptic Cricket (102” Whip Base Station Antenna) as another type. Good grounding emphasis. (Those antennas are about $20, but shipping doubles that).

In return, I’d imagine the oldsters could come up with what irregular hours kept could be of service to the larger community.

This is where to start. Prayerful consideration through which the benefits are in both directions.

It’s enough that a friendly voice is available. “To listen” means more than putting the words together to derive meaning. They’re the form, . . but the real content may be hidden below.

If there’s a group all within a few miles of each other, then a morning hour or an evening hour where a volunteer agrees to be on-air, has been my first thought. A starting point only.

CB Radio is just a little doorbell.

Ripples spreading outwards from a centrally-located group.

I suppose I don’t need to remind a lady of tender sensibilities that CB can can get kinda rough with some users. That can be tamed. Patience. Love. Will make plenty of converts to better manners.

NY state has many citizens of life-long residence. This is a huge help. It gives me confidence to think of it. As there are ALSO bound to be some HAM radio operators in the area. (Tech expert).

See if there aren’t any HAM Radio (Amateur Radio) clubs in your region.

Boy Scouts used to have a corresponding merit badge.

Eagle Scouts have a service project to design and execute. Under a HAM operators guidance one can see the parallel.

A plan needed.

And a big uncle to knock together some unruly nephews heads to git’er dun (as they’d say here in Texas).

More locals with CBs in their cars & houses is a desired outgrowth. And who wants to go to a diner with that blasted TV turned on. Be a lot more fun if the local CB party line was heard.

Your own resources, Ma’am, are the key. Church members interested. Prayer and reflection. Please keep that first. Unity of Purpose. Let Him guide.

You’ve my prayer. (And that of others here). The tech stuff some of us are willing to help with. Your neighbors, the rest.

Your posting here caused me to think more on this. It’s been on my mind. Now is the time that all Citizens install and use this Radio.

Thank you

Best wishes.
 
Last edited:

bharvey2

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Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,452
My brother and I live about 7-8 miles apart. While we're both licensed for ham radio, we thought we'd give CB radio a try after a 40 yr hiatus. A few months ago, we each set up a stock CB (am only) and a wire dipole at about 25ft at our respective houses. Despite being pretty much line of site, we still couldn't make a reliable contact with each other. Granted, SSB would have been better but I'm just not sure how reliable it would be.
 

GrayJeep

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Messages
961
Location
N. Colo.
CB is great for 4WD convoys which is how I use mine but not so much for many other situations.

The 2-point problem could be solved with very high fidelity and reliability using ham licensing, ham HTs and ham repeaters. Yes, licensing takes a little effort but if 5 year old kids can pass the test, so can most adults who decide they can. (Are you as smart as a 5 year old??) $75 buys a nice Yaesu FT-4x and local repeaters usually work well. There might even be one on the mountain between brother and sister.

A rural network of church-goers would find the ham solution is just too much effort for most of the users as few would be willing to commit as much time as a 5 year old. Thus my question above.

A good friend of mine, an engineer, put many of his church members in a rural area onto GMRS but he had to run the repeater.

Years ago my father and I did a test with handheld CB radio to mag mount CB in my jeep in parallel with handheld FRS radios. It was afternoon so the CB band noise level was quite high. (a common situation in some parts of the sunspot cycle)

I left him on a dam high above town with both handhelds and I drove down into the flats below running a GPS for distance measuring. At half a mile we lost comms on the CB radios . He just faded into the noise. At 7 miles (line of sight due to the height of the dam overlooking town) the FRS radio was still loud and clear. Dad didn't want to hang around any more so we ended the test.

The handheld CB might have worked equivalently at night when the CB band noise level is low. But we didn't test for that.

It helps a lot if the problem is accurately stated so the solution can come closer to solving the problem. (Engineering experience speaking here....)
 

alcahuete

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Antelope Acres, California
CB is absolutely 100% not the answer for this. 25 miles is not going to be doable, aside from SSB, and even then, using large antennas...which still may or may not work, power supply, etc.

Either GMRS or amateur radio through repeaters is going to likely be the best/only option here, and if there is a close repeater you can use, you can sit in your comfy chair using a handheld radio that is hardly bigger than a smartphone...no outside antenna, no extra equipment necessary.
 
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