Walkie Talkies

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Within the last several years, FCC authorized "Family Radio Service". I know that many stores have great success with them. Though, they are not legal for use by business. Just families. Still, many stores use them.
They are seriously cheap on Ebay. And can be bought with rechargable batteries, and charge stands. So you're not spending piles of money on batteries.
Cheaper than using cell phone minutes for everything.
I like my gadgets. And FRS walkie talkies are on my list of neat gadgets I like to play with. Who has used them, and how did they work?
My major experience has been picnics. From picnic base to firewood team, they are good for chit chat. The only time I've used them for anything real, was one time I was pincic with a friend. His daughter wandered off. He went to look for her, and I stayed at the base.
Used them while working on a heating and AC job. They were a serious help, there. We could have guys in the cellar, or in the attic, and saved a lot of running around.
--
Christopher A. Young
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

There are 2 closely related flavors, FRS and GMRS, the slightly more expensive and powerful ones. GMRS technically requires a cheap license, but almost nobody bothers, and it does not seem to be enforced. Those are legal for business use. Some radios swing both ways, since the assigned frequency bands overlap.
They are cheap and useful, but not very durable, especially if you drop them in mud or on concrete. We use real walkie talkies at work, but they range from $750 for vanilla vhf, to ~$3k for the modern trunked digital ones.
-- aem sends...
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I got some with a 3 mile range and they didn't work from my house to the back of my property (over a hill about 1000 feet). I got some with a 7 mile range and they didn't work as well as the 3 mile range. About the only time I actually use them is while working on something when someone has to monitor one thing while someone else is 500 feet away working on the problem.
I was hoping they would work well enough so my wife or daughter could call if they got stuck in the mud where there is no cell phone service. It's less than a mile to the bad area and they don't work.
All-in-all I'd say they work a little better than the old four transistor walkie-talkies I had when I was a kid.
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"Ulysses" wrote:

Yeah, but it was funner playing Captain Spaceman back then.
Jon
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wrote:

When I was a kid watching "Flash Gordon" at noon and "Captain Video" at dinner...WTs were a huge dream at the war-surplus outlet (never had one). (I made 2 when I was about 12 that had a 100 ft range!)
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Was that 100 feet of string and 2 paper cups?
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The ranges given are a big joke. If you look at the fine print you may see something strange like from the top of a mountain. Some friends have communicated over 30 miles with them,but one was on top of Mt. Mitchell (highest point on east coast). At much over 500 feet they are like a big searchlight. If you can see it, you can talk. If there is a hill in the way , forget it.
As a ham operator I have used the talkies for over 25 years. You just have to know what can and can not be expected of them.
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No! That's confusing it with car gas mileage. It's great when you can take your foot off the gas and coast down hill! Unfortunately like with radio the earth not only curves but at some point you have to come back up the hill!
FMRS and GRS frequencies are allotted by the FCC and the appropriate regulatory authorities in many other countries, for relatively low cost radios operating at a pretty high frequency and very low power. They are not intended, no matter what some advertising may claim, for long distance communication, or broadcasting. That would rather be like claiming that because your car can do 150 mph it is 'possible' to drive at that speed across, say, New York or Pittsburgh in dense traffic!
Proper choice of WTs, application and use are similar to that for any other tool. For example; we have small wire welder. It works fine for what we need; but is not the machine we would choose if building a large steel ship or a bridge!
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I have read the specs on some walkies. The ones with AA batteries put out 500 miliwatts, the ones with AAA cells put out 300 miliwatts. So, it's very possible the one set of walkies worked better.
Other thing is antenna height. If she can get on top of a hill (or stand on the car) the range will be farther.
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And they further cripple the walkies by mandating a max antenna length of 4 inches. The resonant quarter wave is 6 inches. Like you say, they are low power, short range devices. My longest reach with them has been 0.7 miles.
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Well if your buddy couldn't hear you over the WT, you just yelled in it loud enough so they could hear you anyway.
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Pat wrote:

More to the point, CB's used a lower frequency that worked around hills and other obsticals. The modern ones are pretty much line-of-sight with the high frequency they use.
Back in the 70's, a friend of mine in Detroit had a conversation using a standard 5 watt CB one day with a guy in Venezuela. Skip was amazing sometimes.
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Yup that was/is phenomenom of the frequencies used for CB Citizen's Band (around 27 megahertz). Very close to the 10 metre (28 to 30 megahertz) Radio Amateur Band). But CB is also relatively low power (about 3 watts). Licensed radio amateurs use variuos output power and modes of transmission. Skip conditions depends on sunspots/solar radiation etc.
My neighbour a trucker, here in Eastern Canada once had an interesting 'contact' with a State Trooper rushing to an emergency in central USA! So under certain conditions very low power can transmit great distances.
Looking up to say the space station with nothing intervening (no hills in space!) very low power would work.
But to get all the radio frequency space or 'channels' needed equipment has gone to higher and higher frequencies. Using frequencies that would have been impossible to achieve, especially for cheap 'consumer electronics' only 50 years ago!
Our 900 megahertz cordless telephone works quite well for a couple of hundred feet; but maybe somewhat affected by the aluminum foil in walls of our house!
We once had a house trailer and despite the high power of the TV transmitter a few miles away, TV would just not work at all inside that metal shell!
And that's how radio goes; or doesn't.
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You're right, about all of that. CB skip was strange. Radios and TV don't work inside mobile homes. And the freq allocation is getting busier. None of that is good news.
However, those FRS walkies remain a lot of fun.
--
Christopher A. Young
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On May 24, 11:44am, "Stormin Mormon"

I've had some Motorola Talkabouts for over ten years and I love 'em. I use them when working to communicate between floors or from front to back of the house, when following people in cars (you can actually follow someone you're guiding when you have them, and you don't have to be within sight), use them at large events and parks to stay in contact (great way to give kids free rein and keep them in check at the same time).
R
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We use them whenever we travel and expect to be working an amusement park. In Legoland, SeaWorld, Phoenix Zoo, etc. our Motorola Radio Shack 21-1854 worked extremely well. The channels were clear and uncluttered, they also held a charge all day and well-into the night; I especially appreciate the quick-charge that can be done if you go back to your hotel room to nap between meals. Inside The Happiest Place on Earth, they were useless. Not only did 700 others share the same thought about that radio's usefulness, every one of them were holding dissertations on War & Peace. We've also used them during those first years where I allowed my older daughter-units a modicum of freedom (riding their bikes to friends' homes or to school daily.) They worked fine for those trips and short jaunts. <shrug>
The Ranger
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The Ranger wrote:

The ones with multiple "security codes" help eliminate a lot of the extra traffic. You don't have to listen to everyone else's talk.
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wrote:

You won't, but if two people on the same frequency are using two different PL tones (security codes), all you'll hear is garbled audio at best.
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To reply via e-mail, remove The Obvious from my e-mail address.

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How do you figure that? If I'm on one squelch code, I won't hear anything when the other guy talks.
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

No, but the frequency is still in use, and you won't be able to xmit a useful signal. Some of the fancier toy radios have a 'busy' indicator on the channel readout for this situation. You are supposed to look at it before you key up.
-- aem sends...
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