Hey TechPB family!
Me and some friends are hoping to be able to come to LL7 this summer and one thing we want to get is a radio set up to talk. We have no idea what works well and what not to get, so could you guys help us out? We have 4-6 people that will be coming so we would like the radio network to support all four. Thanks!
Unless you have an FCC-issued license, you may restricted to one option at present:
Family Radio Service (FRS) Two Way Radios. Some things to know about these radios:
FRS radios are often combined with General Mobile Radio Service radios. The end result is a radio that can broadcast on FRS and GMRS frequencies. However, if you don't have a GMRS license, you can only broadcast at 1/2watt. Most radios manage this by allocating a handful of channels (i.e. 1-7) to low power mode, and upper channels (8-16) to high power mode (up to 2watts is common). Some radios may allow you to choose a channel and then specify hi or low power.
I've not heard of anyone getting prosectuted for using GMRS without a license. The license isn't too expensive nor time consuming so I got one just as a matter of precaution a few years ago. However, at a big event like this one, there will be a metric butt ton of FRS/GMRS radios and it can lead to a lot of interference (folks walking over your transmissions, preventing your folks from receiving transmissions) some of it is intentional, some of it is accidental (noobs leaving the VOX on).
For these types of radios, a longer antenna will be better at receiving the signals.
Midland GXT1000 is my personal favorite. you can even set privacy filters so nobody can listen in on your conversation. You can pick up a pair on amazon with charger base for around $60.
You have completely misunderstood what privacy filters are and are not.
Here's how they work:
You (and your buddies) choose a channel (let's say 5) on your radio (as most people do)
You (and your buddies) choose a privacy filter (CTCSS, DCS, etc) of 15
Group B chooses a channel, and happens to choose the same channel as you (5) but, chooses privacy filter 23.
I choose Channel 5 but, I don't set a privacy filter (on most radios this is represented by 0)
When you press the key to transmit, the radio first sends an inaudible tone associated with 15 to all of the radios listening to channel 5:
- Your buddies hear you because you they received the correct tone and the radio lets the rest of the signal get turned into sound.
- Nobody in Group B hears you because they received the signal, but since it didn't have the correct tone, it doesn't get turned into sound.
- I hear you perfectly fine because I didn't set a filter.
If Group B transmits the results will be switched. Your group won't hear them but, I still would.
If I transmit, nobody will hear me.
The FCC recently opened up a new slice of spectrum for unlicensed use and TriSquare stepped in and developed spread spectrum frequency hopping radios. These are as private as you can get without encryption but, they are not compatible with any other radios. I've used them for the last couple of years at Living Legends but, rumor has it that they've gone out of business.