Tactical Comms Gear - Lets see what you're using

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Comms gear in it's simplest form is 2 individual radios that can talk to each other. After that it can become a little confusing quickly. I suggest a focus on UHF/VHF frequency portables with an operating range of about 1 mile. Stuff non-hams can utilize and are easily available. If you're looking to communicate at distances longer than that, it's time to go to the HAM forum.

I'm pretty sure we start out the same way - a bubble pack with 2 radios from [insert chain store here] that run on AA batteries. Wow, cool stuff until you realize the limits and that the equipment is not commercial grade. There's a lot out there and getting 2 different manufacturers can be hit or miss unless you read the specs and get into it deeper.

Then it's time for commercial grade stuff - robust cases made for everyday abuse by police, fire, maintenance staff, etc. - Motorola, Kenwood, Vertex and so on all make commercial grade stuff that works. The problem is not finding it, it's programming and accessories.

Motorola is particularly fussy because of the way the obsolete equipment and programs - cables are all proprietary as is software. Most of the equipment is not "face programmable" so you have no option besides using a compute, cable and software to input channels.

Once you get your radios talking to each other it's time to start looking at the accessories to make comms simple so you can focus on your specific task.
Options include:
No accessories - just hand held/belt clip
Lapel Mic - Police are the most common users of this style.
Lapel Mic w/Ear bud - you can hear radio traffic but those around won't
Secret Squirrel Earbud - a few flavors, throat mic, push button in hand, lapel button, etc. Security personnel are the most common application - night clubs, etc.
Headsets - a few flavors like NASCAR pit crews, high noise environment stuff and base operations "telephone operator" styles for dispatching and the like.

Depending on your task the accessories can make all the difference in making comms easy - the task will drive the accessories in most cases. Figure out your conditions and pick the right gear.

That's about it for an intro.

Discuss.
 

jibbr71

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I am interested in this. Perusing the gear queer thread, that inexpensive B-feng set up Ben posted(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007H4VT7A?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00)seems almost too good to be true. Awesome reviews on Amazon, and a couple of people have said that it delivers a good value. I'm pretty ignorant wrt to this subject, only having used Motorola handhelds in a former job, but this looks like a good starting point and if they work out, then having several might come in real handy for a prolonged power outage, big storm, etc.

This will also push me toward getting my HAM operator ticket, which I'm SUPER ignorant about. time to to some research.
 

drgrant

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The Baofengs, Puxings, etc, work but they are pretty much junk grade, bad spurious emissions, etc... and programming completely blows chunks unless you have a PC interface for them, but depending on your application, none of that will matter. They're also cheap enough that they're basically throwaways. Oops junior dropped it in the lake, **** it, just unwrap and give him a new one. [laugh] They're pretty much the hi-point of radios.

-Mike
 

AllaSnackbah

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I started looking into comms a few years ago because a friend and I who did alot of shooting together wanted to have a method to communicate with each other while on the range and doing some coyote hunting.

Upon delving into it we realized its a bit more complicated than two walkie talkies, we wanted electronic headsets so we could cover hearing protection and comms together. I immediately looked at what does/did the military use at the time, peltor comtacs primarily. So I needed a radio that peltor made a PTT (push to talk) cable for. My friend on the other hand wanted to save some money by not buying the headsets and the ptt cables from peltor, so he convinced himself nacre quietpro, an in-ear type PTT unit that transmits your voice, was a better option. He also decided on ht1000 Motorola radios, the pain in the ass ones sprocket was talking about above. So we both ended up with HT1000's and the quietpro, which I hated, in-ear buds are uncomfortable for me and kinda nasty. So I bought a set of peltors and the ptt for the ht1000 and I've been happy since.

However, my friend is now gearing up to move to Tennessee, so now I have nobody to commo with unless I hook up with you guys. I'm not against going with whatever you guys want to use, my one stipulation is I'd like to keep my headsets.

A few questions for you sprocket if you know:

1) if I have an ht1000, and you a 750 or 1250, if we're on the same freq we can obviously still communicate correct?

2) do you know if the ptt for a 1000 is the same as a 750 or 1250? I think the 750 is different, the 1000/1250 may be the same.
 

jibbr71

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..... They're also cheap enough that they're basically throwaways. Oops junior dropped it in the lake, **** it, just unwrap and give him a new one. [laugh] They're pretty much the hi-point of radios.

-Mike

This is pretty much how I look at it. I did the same thing with my first AR. Bought something inexpensive, shot it a bunch. I still sucked at shooting it, but I had run it enough to know what I wanted in a rifle that would be MY rifle, and I put one together, and love it.
 
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My dad used to deal quality programmable radios to some of the Boston Public Schools. Mainly for fast response to fights, trespassing, etc. I'm checking on his recommendations to not break the bank, but maintain range, clarity, and reliability.

I'll pass along what I come up with.
 

edmorseiii

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I work with 750's on the boats. They are good radios and I have seen them used as everything from breaker bars on valve wheels to hammers and door stops. The only time I really have to replace them is after they fail the float test.

I never really thought about buying some of my own, but I would not hesitate given my experience with them.

This thread is going to cost money.
 

cockpitbob

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Communication distance boils down to wavelength (inverse of frequency). The above mentioned $25 BaoFeng uses roughly the same wavelength as the no-license FRS and GMRS radios (about 70cm). This wavelength needs "line of sight" and neither radio will work well in hilly terrain but will go several miles over very flat terrain: Kansas or over open water. The advertising claims of 20+ miles for GMRS radios is B.S. unless you are going hill top to hill top or over open water. The only real difference between FRS and GMRS radios is power. FRS = 0.5watts and GMRS=5watts. The hand held ham radios are also 5watts.

The $25 BaoFeng radios really area an outstanding value but are illegal without the ham license and won't get you any further than a good GMRS radio. They both have about the same power (5watts) and use the same 70cm band's frequencies.

CBs use the 11 meter band and are a bit better as they use ground wave propagation and aren't as bothered by short hills in the way. A good hand held CB would give more reliable communications over a few miles, but they are larger and cost more.

If you do get into ham radio you now have a big advantage in a not too serious SHTF situation. Hams set up repeaters on hill-tops and tall buildings. Because the repeater is up high, you can usually hit a repeater from 10-20 miles away with a 5 watt handheld, then the repeater retransmits your signal with 50-100watts and from its high vantage point people within 10-50 miles can receive your signal. In other words, going through a repeater I can talk to people 30+ miles away using my BaoFeng handheld.

Lastly, watch out for ham radio. It isn't a hobby; it's 99 hobbies. It's like guns in that there's so many aspects to it you'll find something to suck you in deeper than you expected.
 

xtry51

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I have a bunch of the BFs just because they are cheap and I wanted to mess around with them. My kids and I use them all the time just as regular walkies, they work great for what they are. I also have a bunch of the old Motorola basic walkies that are about 8 years old, but they still work and take AAA batteries so I kept them.

I'm in for buying a nice radio for my plate carrier to work with people on. Sounds currently like the 750 is what we're leaning towards?
 

edmorseiii

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I have a bunch of the BFs just because they are cheap and I wanted to mess around with them. My kids and I use them all the time just as regular walkies, they work great for what they are. I also have a bunch of the old Motorola basic walkies that are about 8 years old, but they still work and take AAA batteries so I kept them.

I'm in for buying a nice radio for my plate carrier to work with people on. Sounds currently like the 750 is what we're leaning towards?

Once I achieve hood rich status, and purchase everything else I need, that is what I am buying.
 

drgrant

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I started looking into comms a few years ago because a friend and I who did alot of shooting together wanted to have a method to communicate with each other while on the range and doing some coyote hunting.

Upon delving into it we realized its a bit more complicated than two walkie talkies, we wanted electronic headsets so we could cover hearing protection and comms together. I immediately looked at what does/did the military use at the time, peltor comtacs primarily. So I needed a radio that peltor made a PTT (push to talk) cable for. My friend on the other hand wanted to save some money by not buying the headsets and the ptt cables from peltor, so he convinced himself nacre quietpro, an in-ear type PTT unit that transmits your voice, was a better option. He also decided on ht1000 Motorola radios, the pain in the ass ones sprocket was talking about above. So we both ended up with HT1000's and the quietpro, which I hated, in-ear buds are uncomfortable for me and kinda nasty. So I bought a set of peltors and the ptt for the ht1000 and I've been happy since.

However, my friend is now gearing up to move to Tennessee, so now I have nobody to commo with unless I hook up with you guys. I'm not against going with whatever you guys want to use, my one stipulation is I'd like to keep my headsets.

A few questions for you sprocket if you know:

1) if I have an ht1000, and you a 750 or 1250, if we're on the same freq we can obviously still communicate correct?

2) do you know if the ptt for a 1000 is the same as a 750 or 1250? I think the 750 is different, the 1000/1250 may be the same.

The thing with Motos or other commercial radios is saying "HT1000" is like saying "I own a glock" but it doesn't tell you what the caliber, barrel length is, etc. For commercial radios you could easily have like 12 sub-versions of the same radio with 6 or 7 diff frequency bands etc. I'm guessing though you bought one that runs either in UHF mid territory (like 440-480) or VHF mid like 140-170 or 150-170. (I forget what the bandspltis are on motorolas, but the concept is the same).

If you're on the same frequency with the right PL/DPL then yeah, you can communicate. You could also talk to a guy that has the $50 Wuxing special, too, if everyone is using the same freq and tones (if desired... I always like running subaudible tones with my friends to cut out the stupid FRS kids swearing at each other, and misc static, etc.).

-Mike

- - - Updated - - -

I have a bunch of the BFs just because they are cheap and I wanted to mess around with them. My kids and I use them all the time just as regular walkies, they work great for what they are. I also have a bunch of the old Motorola basic walkies that are about 8 years old, but they still work and take AAA batteries so I kept them.

I'm in for buying a nice radio for my plate carrier to work with people on. Sounds currently like the 750 is what we're leaning towards?

What band you guys going for? UHF with FRS/GMRS overlap type deal?

-Mike
 

xtry51

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I'm assuming we're talking about an HT750? I see them around on EBay for under $100. Obviously I then need batteries, a charger and a headset. So we're talking about $300-400?

- - - Updated - - -

I'd think we'd want to be running GMRS for the higher output right?

I'm only talking about a radio for squad type communications right now, not HAM style long distance thing, which I would treat as a separate beast.
 

BostonVI

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I used to run comms for a small Campus Police Dept, so I have the luxury of already having access to programming equipment, chargers, spare batteries, remote mics, etc for Moto HTs. For what they lack in field program-ability and proprietary accessories, they make up for in durability and reliability. There's actually a hack available for the HTs that allow you to change the frequency spread if you're looking for something outside of the defaults. Since they all have removable antennas, GMRS frequencies are out, but if you're a HAM you can take advantage of 2M or 440 band models.

The 1250 has something like 128 channels that you can separate into 8 zones. Aside from the channels that I've programmed for comms, the rest are frequencies for PDs, FDs, etc local to me (programmed for Rx only). The radios also have a scanner feature, so in many cases they can be more straight forward to use as a scanner in an emergency situation than my Uniden.

Programming cables are pretty cheap. It's finding the software that's the hard part.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-5-IN-1-...rola-Radios-/171672699202?hash=item27f87d8142

The surveillance headsets aren't that expensive either.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Medium-Duty...X850-MTX950-/130988563972?hash=item1e7f86de04

1) if I have an ht1000, and you a 750 or 1250, if we're on the same freq we can obviously still communicate correct?
Yes.

2) do you know if the ptt for a 1000 is the same as a 750 or 1250? I think the 750 is different, the 1000/1250 may be the same.
No. The HT1000 uses a slightly different connector.
 

edmorseiii

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Yes.


No. The HT1000 uses a slightly different connector.

Would it be out of the realm of possibility to cut a 750 connector and splice his 1000 ptt in place? Are there any cheap Chinese knockoffs to practice on? It can be more then a few wires inside that cable.

It would get you operational while you bargain hunt for a 750.
 
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OK Gents let me address a couple things mentioned above:

A few questions for you sprocket if you know:

1) if I have an ht1000, and you a 750 or 1250, if we're on the same freq we can obviously still communicate correct?

2) do you know if the ptt for a 1000 is the same as a 750 or 1250? I think the 750 is different, the 1000/1250 may be the same.

1) yes - it's the frequency not the tool

2) as mentioned, the 1000 have a different interface than the 750 - However, is the cable from the PTT hard wired or is the PTT "universal" and takes different style cables? That's your answer.

3) Ask to get your code plug from the guy who programmed them - the code plug is key for knowing how to program your 1000 to anything else. Oh and see if he'll sell you his radio or sell yours and keep the pair together. Then you can start with a similar code plug to another set. Code Plug = list of freq's and setting in the radio.

As Dragnet said, It's about the frequency ranges. WalkAbout and other bubble pack radios are usually in UHF. There's a time and a place for each UHF and VHF but I've had handie-talkies (or HT's) talking at about 1.5 miles out in the open.

My rental fleet uses commercial "dot" frequencies - a set of freq's for temporary use such as carnivals, festivals, etc. This stuff is approved for non-hams and not FMS/GRMS either. The likelihood of "walking on" another agency is small and with multiple channels I can can just switch to another - PL tones help too.

To reiterate, this is not HAM bands. FRS/GMRS has it's own permit and rules from HAM.

My stuff is mostly 1250's but I have 750's as well. The difference being the 1250 has a display screen to show you bands and channels. The 750 is straight up 16 channel only - some are 4 or 5 channels only as well.

WRT cheap stuff on eBay, I've used some and generally you get what you pay for with it. Programming cables I'll purchase from a reputable maker - the china cable I got for my yaesu died...never again.

Software...finding it is tough to say the least.

As far as buying radios off ebay, I've done it but you gotta know what you're looking at - Some are better than others and most of the yellow/camo/red/non-black cased radios have been re-cased for the sale. Is re-casing a radio a big deal? No, I've done it and it's easy enough but I did 50+ not one or two...

I'm working with my sources for a couple 6-packs of radios for sale - right now I haven't found any but that's not to say I won't in 5 minutes.

As a show of hands, who's interested in buying a radio - regardless of make/model - and how many total? I can possibly buy a set and set them up with a code plug. There could be an NES channel and whatever channels/freq's you want. I'm willing to work with anyone here in getting set up and programmed.
 
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AllaSnackbah

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Would it be out of the realm of possibility to cut a 750 connector and splice his 1000 ptt in place? Are there any cheap Chinese knockoffs to practice on? It can be more then a few wires inside that cable.

It would get you operational while you bargain hunt for a 750.

I have a cheap knockoff the practice on. Them eBay deals. If its not impossible though if you guys get 750's hopefully I can tune my 1000 to work.
 

BostonVI

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Would it be out of the realm of possibility to cut a 750 connector and splice his 1000 ptt in place? Are there any cheap Chinese knockoffs to practice on? It can be more then a few wires inside that cable.

It would get you operational while you bargain hunt for a 750.

Good question. Finding accurate schematics for both connectors is proving to be a bit difficult. Chances are pretty high though that it's possible though.
 

edmorseiii

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Good question. Finding accurate schematics for both connectors is proving to be a bit difficult. Chances are pretty high though that it's possible though.

I found batlabs.com and they had a diagram of the pin out, and a metric shit ton of other Motorola information. Bookmarked that site for sure.
 

AllaSnackbah

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As a show of hands, who's interested in buying a radio - regardless of make/model - and how many total? I can possibly buy a set and set them up with a code plug. There could be an NES channel and whatever channels/freq's you want. I'm willing to work with anyone here in getting set up and programmed.

I'm literally up for anything. if the guys want to do a bunch of 750's id likely buy one or two on top of seeing if its possible to get my 1000 on the same freq. Im liquid man ill do whatever i just wanna be able to chit chat with all you guys, plus have a loaner or two for myself.

in the long run, I'm too stupid to understand any of this, so whatever you guys tell me i need, is what ill have.
 

xtry51

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I'm in for one, possibly two.

- - - Updated - - -

I'm literally up for anything. if the guys want to do a bunch of 750's id likely buy one or two on top of seeing if its possible to get my 1000 on the same freq. Im liquid man ill do whatever i just wanna be able to chit chat with all you guys, plus have a loaner or two for myself.

in the long run, I'm too stupid to understand any of this, so whatever you guys tell me i need, is what ill have.

Ditto. I need a cheat sheet and setup help. I have too many other things I need to know everything about already for work [laugh]
 

edmorseiii

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As a show of hands, who's interested in buying a radio - regardless of make/model - and how many total? I can possibly buy a set and set them up with a code plug. There could be an NES channel and whatever channels/freq's you want. I'm willing to work with anyone here in getting set up and programmed.

It really depends on price right now. I would like to have 2 or 3, but at the moment I am stashing cash away for ammo for next month. HT750's would be cool as I know them, but I also know what they go for new, and there is no way I can drop that.

Worst case, I can just program my cheap beaters to play and operate on a budget.
 
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Well, to be honest, I'm willing to set up a bunch here but remember one radio talks to who? If you have a team together then sure, everybody gets one.

I have a solo Vertex with 1 useable channel but the rest listen to pd/fd - no way to reprogram it now...
 

Jamie

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I'm in for one, possibly two.

- - - Updated - - -



Ditto. I need a cheat sheet and setup help. I have too many other things I need to know everything about already for work [laugh]

I'd be in for one or two, depending on total cost. Same with the cheat sheet. I have my Technician license, but I learned everything for one day just to take the test. I have no ambitions of doing anything with the license in the near future.
 

Jamie

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Well, to be honest, I'm willing to set up a bunch here but remember one radio talks to who? If you have a team together then sure, everybody gets one.

I have a solo Vertex with 1 useable channel but the rest listen to pd/fd - no way to reprogram it now...

I'd say it would be a sure bet that we could get a group together of 15 or so (radios) on the same frequency. Some folks want more than one, so 10 guys would most likely cover the spread. I'd start there as a base number. And thanks for heading this up. As far as dudes that I've personally met, you and Madballbag are the guys I would pick to put on point with this.
 

xtry51

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Well, to be honest, I'm willing to set up a bunch here but remember one radio talks to who? If you have a team together then sure, everybody gets one.

I have a solo Vertex with 1 useable channel but the rest listen to pd/fd - no way to reprogram it now...

I need to get 1 or 2 and work with it a bit with others here to see how I like it. I'm willing to go all in on 4-6 more later once I feel confident that I like them.

I have a goal on getting a real HAM setup for Christmas this year, so I need to control how much money I focus on this right now.
 
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Kev - I can loan you a couple no sweat. Anyone, ping me if you want to try a set out - I'm sure we can work something out.

What's 1k Federal 556 these days? $360/55gr. That's a good budget right there. Some shoot more than others but is that workable for you? That's up to you. Depending on the set up it can be cheaper and it can always be more - the high noise headsets are like $200 to start.

Also - if you are a HAM already, the best value for HT's is the Yaesu FT-60 - dual band, light weight, robust and can handle much more than a dedicated 16 channel UHF radio can. But now you're in HAMland, I thought shooting was expensive...
 
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warwickben

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0014d7506765285a6c01cde4fadc6fe8.jpg


Yeah after this weekend I realize it will broadcast cast on channels you need to be a ham licensed for lol.
Luckily the channel I was on you don't need that stuff for. I was out on the Mohawk trail and if you know the area the terrain is all over the place. we where able to talk little more then a mile apart .
For the cash you don't care if it gets broken.



I wish I was closer to you guys so I could play in the woods.
 
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xtry51

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I'm open to spending $400 on a setup. Guess I should look at the 1250 since I like the display to help my ineptness with regard to radios currently. Are there different versions of 1250s? If so which model should I shop for?
 

edmorseiii

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Also - if you are a HAM already, the best value for HT's is the Yaesu FT-60 - dual band, light weight, robust and can handle much more than a dedicated 16 channel UHF radio can. But now you're in HAMland, I thought shooting was expensive...

While I already have a handful of dual band handhelds, if this is becoming a thing amungst my friends, I want some HT750'S for their simplicity and toughness. It makes things a lot easier to explain to the lay person.
 

atmay

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In my quest to find THE PERFECT RADIO, I've come up with the following criteria:

1) IP rated; at least IPX5, preferably X8 or 68 // sturdy enough to survive being knocked about.
2) Capable of TX/RX on the following freq. bands: 2M HAM, 70CM HAM, Marine VHF, FRS, GMRS, MURS; RX NOAA WX channels and commerical FM radio
3) Lit display
4) 100+ programmable channels
5) VFO capable

I've yet to find anything that meets all the criteria. Which is weird, because all I'm really looking for is a sturdy, waterproof UV5R.
 
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