Simple Methods Of Communications With Hand Held Walkie Talkies
Let’s talk about an inexpensive way to communicate with inexpensive radios. Small hand-held walkie talkies are cheap and can be purchased at many places. Used ones can be purchased at flea markets, garage sales, etc. Or they can be purchased new at WalMart, sporting goods stores, just about any retailers now carry them. Beware of all the advertisements stating the range of these radios. They will not effectively operate the “32 mile range” they often advertise. Effective range of these radios was covered in another section of this article. These radios have multiple channels (frequencies) they operate on. It would be best if you test these radios out in your particular area you wish to operate in. Have the people you wish to communicate with test the effective range of them by operating them in the areas you plan on being when the need arises to communicate. Test them at different times of the day/night. If the channel you choose is being used by someone else, you can change channels and test out each one until you find the most effective channel for your use. All of these radios operate off replaceable AA batteries or AAA batteries. Some may even have rechargeable batteries.
CB radios are also available at many retailers, garage sales, flea markets, truck stops, etc. Use of the CB radios will require additional extras that are not required by the hand-held walkie talkies.
Here are the things needed to operate a CB Radio:
1. External 12 volt power supply
2. External microphone
3. External antenna
Do not let these external extras scare you away. Most CB radios you purchase normally have the microphone included, some may even have an antenna included. In regards to the 12 volt power supply, many choices are available here. They can be hooked up to any 12 volt car battery. They can be wired into your vehicle through the cigarette lighter socket, or wired directly to the battery itself. You can also use a 12 volt power supply which operates off household electrical power and converts the 120 volt AC power to 12 volts DC. But remember, these power supplies will do you no good if you have no electrical power in the area you plan to use the CB radios. There are also solar panels available which will supply enough power to operate a CB radio. However, it may take several solar panels to provide enough current to operate them. I would choose to operate a CB off a 12 volt battery and use a solar panel to help keep the 12 volt battery charged up at all times. Now the next thing you need to operate a CB radio is the antenna. The next paragraph will discuss this.
CB Radio Antennas
In order to operate a CB radio for its maximum range of communications, you need a good antenna hooked up to it. Most CB’s in use today in automobiles use a simple magnet mounted vertical antenna. These are specially made to operate on the CB frequencies, have a magnet on the base so they will stick to any metal surface, a 10-15 foot piece of coaxial cable which connects to the CB radio antenna connection. This antenna will normally provide 5-10 mile radius communication. If you want better performance for your CB radio, you could use another type of antenna. These antennas normally are mounted on a small tower, pole, rooftop, or any other external surface which is outside. You do not need an expensive tall tower, or exotic beam type antenna. One could just use the magnet base vertical antenna and mount it up as high in the air as you can and use the proper length of coaxial cable to reach the radio. If you want an antenna with better performance, you would need to either purchase one, or build one yourself. We will discuss these options later, or you can search the internet now and see what suits your needs and budget for external, high gain CB antennas.
Which Radios Do I Use
Choosing which radio to use depends on the area/range of people you wish to communicate with. Any long range communications beyond 10-15 miles will require the use of a network of others using the same types of radios (walkie talkies or CB) you use. Examples are listed next:
Let’s assume I need to have a network of people in my neighborhood. If we all live within 4-5 miles from each other, I would use the walkie talkies.
If I need to communicate with others in local cities/towns which are 20-50 miles apart, or further, a network of other people will need to be established. Using a relay system can be used effectively by organizing a simple network of others who will meet on a specific frequency (channel) at a specific time. After the network has been established, backup plans could also be established in case the channel is busy with others, or atmospheric conditions are not good enough to allow good communications. Once the network has been established, it needs to be tested regularly.
Think of a network like this: Point A is the originating station. Point B is 15 miles away. Point C is 30 miles away. Point D is 60 miles away. Point E is 80 miles away, etc. The station in point A establishes contact with Point B, and asks that station to relay to Point C. Point C established contact with the station in Point D and asks that station to relay on to Point D. The relay continues until the message has reached it final destination. Then it could be used in the same fashion if the end Point needed to relay back to the originating Point. This same type of relay network could also be used with the walkie talkie radios.
High power amplifiers are often talked about when a CB radio is used for long range communications. Remember, we may be operating in Emergency Conditions. The use of high power amplifiers for CB radios requires additional equipment and power supply requirements. You do not necessarily need a high power amplifier to communicate over long ranges when a simple network of operators can be used.
Use of HAM Radio communication will be discussed, if needed, in a separate section of this Group.
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