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  1. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    378
    For comparison when he comes back with a price, 2 of the baofeng radios, 2 shoulder mics, and a programming cord (optional but suggested) ran me $80 from Amazon.

    From what I've read the bca links are good "bubble pack" radios with excellent controls on the mic. So you'll lose some overall radio quality but gain the ability to do a handful of things with gloves on.

    I decided that it was essentially a nice but $100+ mic for a talkie similar to any old Talkabout. That's why I went with the Baofeng instead. I am totally new to this though. If I made the wrong call, I'll return the radios and try the Link or other options.

  2. #27
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Couloirfornia
    Posts
    8,717
    The Baofengs double as emergency radios, weather, scanner, etc. And if you're touring near a repeater, you can tag somebody WAY farther out than a GRS/FMRS unit, in addition to the distance advantage from unit-to-unit. You made the right call.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ernest_Hemingway View Post
    I realize there is not much hope for a bullfighting forum. I understand that most of you would prefer to discuss the ingredients of jacket fabrics than the ingredients of a brave man. I know nothing of the former. But the latter is made of courage, and skill, and grace in the presence of the possibility of death. If someone could make a jacket of those three things it would no doubt be the most popular and prized item in all of your closets.

  3. #28
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    [a] Van [down by the river]
    Posts
    1,231
    what baofeng model did you end up picking up?

  4. #29
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    378
    UV5R



    The receipt is slightly confusing. The radios are $30ish each, but the mics are 2 for $10/$6 each.

  5. #30
    WestCoastPDR Guest
    By the time you buy a pair of them on 3 . 5. And pay shipping. You would have over 2x as much invested compared to that deal on Amazon

  6. #31
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    28,703
    Will listen in on patrol for openings?

  7. #32
    WestCoastPDR Guest
    Gotta ask ski'n Ian about that

  8. #33
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    439
    Those of you using the UV-5R, what, if any, antenna replacement are you using?

    Are you just programming them to one of the GMRS frequencies / 5w?

    I'm really tempted to get a set of them myself. I was considering the BCA Links, but they're so damn expensive in comparison ($100, limited to 1 on Promotive, $120 on sale at mountaingear.com right now).

  9. #34
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    142
    Quote Originally Posted by splat View Post
    Will listen in on patrol for openings?
    Yup

  10. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    378
    From what I've read, the stock antenna is better than anything that doesn't cost more than the radio itself.

    I received them today. Build quality is good, function is good, size is good. I'd take them over a talkabout or similar for sure. Programming is relatively easy on a PC but haven't figured it out on apple yet. Setting it to use frs/gmrs via the chirp software can be done super easily (they are a preloaded option). That said, it's still illegal because they aren't the right type of radios for that use.

    I didn't do any remotely scientific testing, but the radios worked a couple miles of hilly wooded residential land apart. That was without making use of repeaters (or doing any proper set up for that matter). The signal/call quality was (unsurprisingly) much better than the frs/grms types I've used in the past.

    I don't really understand most of the deeper options or settings. I have a ton of learning to do. The learning curve feels pretty steep to me. I think I'll get my license just as an attempt to learn the basics.

    Most of us should easily be able to program the things, very few of will know what we are doing for the first several years at a minimum I'd guess.

    My initial impression is that these are a great buy and the right tool for the job, but you are going to pay for it in some headaches learning the ins and outs of "real" radios.

    It seems to me that if you are going to operate without a license your best bet is to stay on the frs/gmrs freauencies. This is still illegal. I'd get a license before hopping on any repeaters. The people that operate will care, and will be able to tell. Using repeaters will give you a massively extended range so it's well worth the short/cheap test.
    Last edited by TexasGortex; 10-16-2014 at 07:00 AM.

  11. #36
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    804
    Thanks for the beta on the Baofeng radio's. I think I am going to get a set and test them against the BCA Link's. Here's our BCA Review video


  12. #37
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Denver/Silverthorne
    Posts
    5,487

    Two way radios for bc riding

    Cheap, tiny, and they work in the short distances us skiers deal with. I use a pair I found at Walmart that has a recharging plug. Pretty convenient. About the same price. About the same size as the speaker part of the BCA Links, but no extra shit to deal with. Fits comfortably in my jacket's breast pocket.

    http://www.rei.com/product/834000/mi...y-radio-2-pack

  13. #38
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    CB
    Posts
    811

    Two way radios for bc riding

    ^
    I've been using these for the past couple seasons and they work well. I like the compact form factor for chest or arm pocket as Lindahl mentioned.

  14. #39
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Your Mom's House
    Posts
    6,236
    Just to add to this thread, now that I've used my Baofengs... basically any FRS/GMRS radios like the Motorolas, Midlands, etc. mentioned above work great for typical BC day touring in a small group. I have some Motorolas, not sure which model, that have worked fine for things like communicating with a partner between the top and bottom of a 1000' open bowl. They are nearly worthless over longer distances though, and definitely useless when major terrain features (ridgelines, etc.) are in the way.

    The Baofengs (I have a pair of UV5Rs) are WAY more powerful. Slightly bigger and heavier for sure, not as user friendly, but they can easily communicate 5-7mi with a relatively clear line of sight (in terms of major mountains, trees and such are fine), and a couple miles with a ridgeline in the way. They've been super useful for us on hut trips where different groups are coming into the hut at different times, or when multiple parties need to communicate with each other. I didn't realize there was a shoulder mic set available, I will probably order a pair of those as that would make the Baofengs even more useful.

    Another mag programmed mine so I can't speak to how easy/difficult that is. It didn't look particularly easy, but not particularly hard either.

  15. #40
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    [a] Van [down by the river]
    Posts
    1,231
    bumpity bump...

    Any reason why an external mic like this:
    https://www.motorolasolutions.com/en_us/products/two-way-radio-accessories/audio-accessories/remote-speaker-microphones/pmmn4029.html

    wouldn't work with the baofeng? I feel like there's more to it than just the fact that the plugs match...

    What are you guys using for shoulder mics? Anything waterproof? Been through the warranty process with BCA about 4-5 times now with their Link mics... way too wet up here to use anything that isn't waterproof.

  16. #41
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Bethel, Maine
    Posts
    558
    Quote Originally Posted by kalisto View Post
    bumpity bump...

    Any reason why an external mic like this:
    https://www.motorolasolutions.com/en_us/products/two-way-radio-accessories/audio-accessories/remote-speaker-microphones/pmmn4029.html

    wouldn't work with the baofeng? I feel like there's more to it than just the fact that the plugs match...

    What are you guys using for shoulder mics? Anything waterproof? Been through the warranty process with BCA about 4-5 times now with their Link mics... way too wet up here to use anything that isn't waterproof.
    Pretty sure the speaker-mic plugs on the Baofengs are Kenwood-compatible, not Motorola, but I haven't shopped that stuff in a while. II used a Kenwood-compatible adapter with a Bluetooth module so I could have earbuds and an in-helmet mic.

    I've got an older Baofeng that I used while moto-reffing bicycle races back in Vermont, and I never had any trouble with it, even in the rain. I did get my ham license, but that was mostly so I could be on the radio while working car-racing events. I don't think I've heard any horror stories about Baofeng stuff crapping out due to rain, which is pretty impressive when it's used on motorcycles.

  17. #42
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    [a] Van [down by the river]
    Posts
    1,231
    Thanks for the info.

    Did some research, the kenwoods do indeed work.
    https://www.amazon.com/Kenwood-KMC-4.../dp/B01CJKZQX4

    That'll work on the UV-* baofengs, trying to see if I can find something IPx7. I think that one is rated to IP55

  18. #43
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Simi Valley, CA
    Posts
    5,070
    I'll have to look it up, but there's a no-license freq band intended for warehouse radios that you can use with Baofengs. Handy way to use high power without needing a license or stomping on the FRS/GMRS freqs.

  19. #44
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    337

    Radios

    I'm have an amateur radio license, and I use the Baofeng radios - so let me chime in a bit.

    There's no portable radio, that's going to do 10 miles through the trees, ham or not. VHF will probably do better, than UHF [eg. 146 mhz vs 440 mhz] but they're still line of sight. Even a vastly better antenna isn't going to help all that much, if the other radio is over the next ridge and several miles away. To fix those problems, you're looking at hitting a repeater. That probably means amateur radio. [Though there are some GMRS repeaters, but they are usually in urban areas - and not way out in the sticks, and aren't placed as high/optimally as 2m/70cm ham radio.]

    So, as long as you're not going too far, FRS can work. GMRS is better, since you're not limited to 500mw, and can go to 5W. [I'm giving detail off the top of my head. So check my work with the FCC.] I actually think that GMRS currently isn't legally limited to 5W - I believe that's a future proposal. But any portable radio isn't going to output much over 5W in any case. FRS requires no license, and GMRS does. But it's a trivial "registration and money" thing, no test.

    FRS/GMRS radios are _supposed_ to be Part 95 [iirc] certified. None of the general purpose Baofengs are P95 cert'd.
    That said, lots of people do use them for FRS/GMRS.

    To be as legal as possible - even if your radio isn't P95 cert'd - buy a GMRS license from the FCC. [$75, IIRC] for 5 years, and it licenses everyone in your whole family. [Kids, brothers, grandmothers, in-laws etc.] This will let you transmit at 5w, which will get you a little more range.

    Theoretically, it would be handy to have something like the Baofeng UV5R [or better yet, one of the newer variants for slightly more $.] and program it for both ham 2m/70cm and FRS/GMRS. Then buy a GMRS license. Finally get an amateur radio license. That would allow you to interop with FRS/GMRS, and then also be able to use the radio for more critical things, like getting help in the back-country, using one of the repeaters we talked about ^^ up there. This is still super cheap - like <$50-75 per radio, and perhaps as cheap as $25-30 - depending on which radio you buy. [The UV5R is very cheap (~$25), newer better versions like the GT-5TP are a bit more (~$45). A hand mic is ~$5 and the USB cable is $10-20.

    For friends/family, the Baofeng BF-888s *with a handmic* is ~$15 per radio and can be programmed do FRS/GMRS - but albeit, in a technically not compliant way! [FRS/GMRS is policed very lightly. As long as you really attempt to not be an ass, and program your radios to comply with the power-limits and proper frequencies, you're exceptionally unlikely to run afoul of the FCC, IMO.]

    That's pretty hard to beat. You *will* have to program either of the suggested radios. [CHIRP software and the USB cable are great. Easiest on Windows, but do-able on a Mac.]

    A radio is VASTLY easier to use with the handmic. Especially if you're geared up and communicate more than super occasionally. You'll hear someone calling a lot better than just stuffing the radio in a pocket too.

    As for water worries: Heck, these radios are just super freeking cheap. If the radio itself is inside your pocket, it's unlikely to get enough water on it to matter. If the handmic gets wet, nothing is likely to happen, other than it might not work. But even if you completely ruin it, you're out like $5.

    I had a 20oz mostly full water-bottle open up and drench the inside of my pack this last week. [The bottle was empty when I found it, and everything in the bottom of the pack was super wet.] I had a couple of BF-888's in the pack, below the water-bottle. They were powered off. After realizing what had happened, I removed the batteries, antenna and handmics and put them in ziplock bag with some dry rice for 12h or so. Pulled them out, put the batteries back in, etc. They powered up and worked just fine.

    I've also skied full days in big storm [snow] conditions with the *radio itself* clipped to the shoulder-strap of my pack [Baofeng UV5R] and it never had any problem at all. I think it's unlikely that outside of a massive rain-storm, with the radio completely exposed to the elements that you'll have issues with water.

    Finally Ham license: There's apps for Android and iOS that will help you study for the ham tests. I'd guess most people could spend 8-10 hours of studying and pass the Tech license. [And you won't need more than that for 2m/70cm stuff.] Cost for the test is quite reasonable - probably $15. Each person transmitting on 2m/70cm amateur bands will need their own license.

    HTH

    -Greg

  20. #45
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Waterloo, Canada
    Posts
    102
    ^^^ super informative, thanks !

  21. #46
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    PNW
    Posts
    4,996
    Yes, thanks Greg.
    PE, Mechanical Engineering
    University of Bridger Bowl Alumnus
    Alpental Creeper

  22. #47
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    17,225
    wow thanks for all that info.

  23. #48
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    9,300ft
    Posts
    17,507
    Good post Greg.

    I'm an expired amateur.

    I'll add that the FCC probably won't care if you violate type certs by modifying radios to use on FRS/GMRS freqs... or rather you'd have to be repeatedly abusive for them to bother looking for you.

    But be aware that those HAM radios can use licensed frequencies and can even be modded to broadcast on business and government frequencies. So know what the hell you are doing, be careful not to transmit outside of GMRS/FRS freqs... because they WILL come looking for you or a bored bug hunter (amateur radio direction finder) will sniff you out and report you and you will be fined/charged.

    Or... get an Amateur Radio license! It is easy and lasts 10 years!
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  24. #49
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    the Low Sierra
    Posts
    11,944
    Good info guys. Just picked up some UV5R. Going to get my license.

  25. #50
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    337
    A few additions...
    2m radio:
    If you're up a bit [elevation], and can hit a repeater, it's not at all crazy to expect 40-80 mile connects. The other party could be nearly anywhere else that can also get to that same repeater.

    From the summit of Hood quite a number of years ago, I did a simplex [radio-to-radio, not via repeater] conversation - with a 14" whip antenna at 5w to someone close to 70 miles away. [IIRC, they were using a simple hand-held too - so no big antenna or massive power here. Just somewhere in the far, far west PDX metro area - so not to another guy on a mountain-top. That seemed pretty impressive.]

    IMO, for rescue and/or other emergency stuff, it's hard to beat 2m radio. [And Canada and the USA, I'm pretty sure, honour each other's ham licensing. So, you can get licensed here in the US and still operate in Canada without getting licensed there too.] Being able to use the same radios you'd carry for emergencies to communicate amongst your party is just a big fat, nice bonus.

    Given that kind of range, I'm not aware of many places here in the PNW you couldn't get to a repeater from nearly anywhere in the back-country. Perhaps there are places in Montana or Wyoming where you could be somewhere you absolutely couldn't get a repeater, but there can't be too many, I think. [Perhaps someone else has data on that - I'd be interested if so.]

    And yes, the UV5R [and variants] will TRANSMIT *anywhere* from something like 136-174 mhz and 400-520 mhz. But there are specific frequencies and deviations you're expected to use, depending on what you're doing. FRS/GMRS is more strict in deviation/bandwidth than 2m/70cm for example. So, as noted - be sure you program it correctly. [I'm glad to help with using CHIRP, but the docs and Google will almost certainly do you fine.]

    One other feature that's kinda handy is this:
    I'll program in frequencies for other stuff and lock-out/prevent transmit. For example: Ski Patrol, DOT, Forest-service etc. It's handy to hear when ski patrol is going to open the gates to different areas, rather than have to sit there and wait. And lots of other interesting stuff often occurs. And if you block transmit, you don't have to worry about accidentally transmitting on a frequency you shouldn't.

    Since they're "dual watch" capable radios, I can put two different channels up and it will scan between the two and stop to listen to the first active one. [The downside is when both channels are active a lot, you can miss things while the radio is paused listening to one channel and something happens on the other non-active channel.]

    Lastly: Your ham radio license is valid for 10 years - but there's no test or fee [or hasn't been so far] to renew. Just don't let it lapse for too long - otherwise you will have to re-test. [But there's no Morse Code requirements now - which is quite nice. Or, according to some old-timers; "That no Morse requirement let the riff-raff in! Get offa my lawn! Damn kids!"]

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