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Snowmobiler Looking for Answers

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arcticcatwill

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Hello,
I am new to this site and I'm hoping to learn some valuable knowledge. I've noticed many Backcountry snowmobilers using Baofeng and BCA radios. I assume most are using these illegally, so I am trying to go about this issue the correct(legal) way. Currently my Group is using Collett 2 way communicators on 900 Mhz. These are late 90's/ early 2000's helmet to helmet communicators and they are failing/ Company has gone out of business. Here lies the issue, All of the new communicators use cell phones or bluetooth to transmit. I need at least 3-4 mile range. This is where I am wondering if there is a way to use a handheld radio. I'm not opposed to getting my Technician License, However I think it will be difficult to get everyone in my group Licensed. So here are my questions.

1.) Is it possible to achieve what I've listed above on FRS/MURS radio Frequencies?
2.) If not, is there a way to do it without everyone becoming Technician licensed (I.E I get licensed and everyone falls under my license)
3.) We occasionally ride in Canada, will there be an issue using radios in another country?

I appreciate your responses. I am not well versed in radios, but I want to learn and do this the right way.
Thanks, Will
 

royldean

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I don't know why this was moved here, but:

1) Yes, with FRS. Although with terrain the 3 to 4 mile requirement may be difficult. I'm not sure if FRS allows for remote speaker/mics, though (doesn't allow remote antenna, from what I understand). Also not sure if FRS is legit in Canada.
2) If everybody else is just listening, then yes. Anybody that wants to transmit on the amateur bands must have an amateur callsign or be accompanied by a licensed control operator ("accompanied" means that they are right there, able to push the PTT themselves)
3) Canada has some VHF/UHF frequency differences, I think - but generally anybody with a US callsign should have no problem in canada (I believe you have to put a /Vxx suffix on your US callsign.

Others may have more details (or corrections).
 

dcr_inc

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FRS may not work but GMRS probably would. With 5 watts of power and only $75.00 for a 10 year license (each rider needs one unless they are a family member of a licensee)
 

rapidcharger

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The land of broken calculators.
i don't know about Canada but in the US, there is a small section of 900 mhz used for part 15 devices that don't require a license. That's more than likely where your helmet communicators are operating and you might look at the Motorola DTR series radios which also operate there and don't require obtaining a license. I have yet to hear of someone that doesn't like theirs. You can also look into the citizens bands like 27 mhz, FRS/GMRS in the 462 mhz neighborhood. CB being the most flexible for not requiring a license and lots of inexpensive equipment.
 

mmckenna

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Requiring legal use in USA and Canada is going to limit you to only a handful of options….

FRS under the most recent rules will give you 2 watts with a non-removable antenna and that would be legal in the USA and Canada. Speaker mics and helmet headsets are legal to use.
Getting 3-4 miles out of FRS is going to be difficult. At those UHF frequencies, it's line of sight, so if you and your buddies get separated with hills in between you, you're likely out of luck. Getting the radio up as high as you can on your body is going to help a bit, but 3-4 miles is probably unrealistic unless you are all standing on mountaintops. Do not buy the marketing claims on the FRS radio packaging, it says "Up to XX mile range". That's under perfectly ideal conditions, which you won't be in.

The higher power licensed GMRS used in the USA is not allowed in Canada, so that won't be an option.

MURS is not a thing in Canada, so that's out.

Amateur radio may be your best bet. Each rider carrying a 5 watt VHF hand held radio with a good antenna will probably be able to communicate reliably under those conditions. I did it for years on ATV's. However, we've since switched to UTV's with mobile radios and antennas mounted on the roll bars.

CB might be an option, but you'll need to mount antennas on your snow machines. Hand held CB radios have very inefficient antennas and will cause issues.

Cellular, if there is coverage in the areas you ride. Maybe as a backup, but not as a primary means of communications.

Be wary of the marketing used by recreational oriented radio manufacturers. Like the FRS claims, it's all hype and based on perfect conditions that you are unlikely to see. There is no magic license free radio service that is going to give you several miles range in all conditions unless it's a satellite based service.
 

kayn1n32008

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Your options are very limited in Canada.

Ham and GMRS.

You can forget GMRS. With 2w and fixed antennas(dummy loads) you will NOT get 3-4 miles of reliable comms.

Ham is a realistic choice, as long as you avoid Baofeng and other garbage CCR brands. The downside is everybody will require a tech level license in order to legally communicate on ham bands.

@articcatwill where do you sled in Canada?
 

mmckenna

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Yeah, I agree, GMRS/FRS is going to be a problem in most cases. Terrain really becomes an issue as you go up in frequency.

2 meter VHF amateur band is probably your best bet. And like Kayn1n said, if you want reliable communications, do NOT buy the Cheap Chinese Radios. Spend the money and get the right gear, especially if you are going to rely on it out in the snow.
 

arcticcatwill

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Thank you all for the Responses, @kayn1n32008 , I live in Maine, so once a year we ride in either New Brunswick or Quebec (Gaspe Peninsula). There are portions of the trail system that Cell service is non-existent, so communicating to others in the group or to Emergency personnel if needed becomes an issue. I know all the marketing claims are bogus, that is why i'm trying to find a quality radio capable of what i'm asking. My Brother in Law is familiar with ICOM, and recommended that brand over the cheaper Baofeng/Chinese Options. Ideally A push-to-talk setup mounted on the handlebars would be great, i've seen headphone/mic setups for 2 pin connectors listed. Another issue I see arising is, Talking within the group. the guys I ride with are use to just talking as you would in a conversation( No callsign). If we were all to get a technician license, I assume we would all have to state our callsign to be legal. Please Correct me if i'm wrong. Thank you all so much for your feedback this is really awesome.
 

kayn1n32008

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Thank you all for the Responses, @kayn1n32008 , I live in Maine, so once a year we ride in either New Brunswick or Quebec (Gaspe Peninsula)... If we were all to get a technician license, I assume we would all have to state our callsign to be legal. Please Correct me if i'm wrong. Thank you all so much for your feedback this is really awesome.
Roger out east. Other than Ham, your options are limited.
As for Ham, yes, if EVERY person got their Technician license, you would be fine to use ham when in Canada. Only caveat would be to carry a copy of your license with you, you would not need special permission as both our governments recognize each other’s ham licenses, ID in compliance with Canadian Regs(no every 10min here. Beginning and end of your conversations and when/if ever in between only) and add the proper prefix appended to your call XXxXXX/VE9 in New Brunswick and XXxXX/VE2 in Quebec. XXxXX being what ever each persons FCC issued call sign is.
 

kayn1n32008

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krokus

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I’m the bush, 5w VHF with decent antennas will be the best performer.
No way I would recommend FRS for comms in the bush.
FRS had been mentioned, even if not the best option. The same BT can be, potentially, interfaced with other radios, too. Pryme offers many options, for LMR, ham, and other radios.

 
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