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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2-Way Radios for Emergency Kit or Preps



Communications. It is an integral part of modern life, and the number of electronic communication gadgets that are available to us today is staggering.
During an emergency survival situation, our common methods of communication might not be available to us. The power may be out, or we might not be located near enough to a cell phone tower to get signal.
Having a pair of 2-way radios is an excellent survival preparedness measure that will serve you during an emergency, and will provide you countless uses during normal times.
2-way radios do not rely on anything external like cell towers or network service providers to provide communications between radio units. They are used as a stand-alone system that can be used anywhere.

Uses for 2-way radios

  • Road trips – where two cars are traveling together
  • Camping – keeping in contact while others are out and about
  • Boating – staying in touch with your group on the shore
  • Hiking – emergency comms if you get separated
  • Security – comms between locations
  • Home – numerous use-case scenarios
  • Emergency – stay in contact while someone needs to venture away from home base

The FCC has allotted specific frequency bands for 2-way family radio service and there are quite a lot of associated 2-way radios to choose from on the market. Prices and features vary a bit, but overall, there are very good radios available for not too much money.
The radios transmit on two sets of frequencies, FRS and GMRS.
FRS is for Family Radio Service, it does not require a license, and is limited to half a watt transmitting power.
GMRS is for General Mobile Radio Service, it does require a license from the FCC if you intend to use the specific GMRS channels, and transmitting power up to 5 watts is allowed.
  • Channels 1 – 7 (FRS and GMRS) no license required
  • Channels 8 – 14 (FRS) no license required
  • Channels 15 – 22 (GMRS) license required
An FCC license can be obtained online by using their website, FCC Form 605

Having searched through many choices, prices, and features, here is an example of two 2-way radios that are very popular and highly reviewed compared to others, and are priced at two different price points because one model has more capabilities than the other (which not everyone will need or want). This will give you an idea of what is out there.
Both the Motorola MH230R (pair) and the Midland GXT1050 (pair) are best selling products. The MH230R in this example is a more simple radio that would fulfill most needs, while the GXT1050 is loaded with more features and may be desirable to those that could take advantage of them.

This feature list includes what I felt to be important if choosing between the radios.

Motorola MH230R and Midland GXT1050 feature comparison


One important note, when looking at the transmitting range that these manufacturers claim, you should know that they never are even close in the real world. Their measurements are under ideal conditions which do not exist in the real world. Hills, trees, buildings, or any obstacle will reduce range. You will get the best range on open land or over the water. Having said that, you could probably expect to get a mile or two in fairly poor conditions and many more as you transmit over the clear (your mileage may vary).
There are lots of 2-way radios out there, do your own due diligence, while the two examples given above are simply examples of two quality radios with slightly different feature sets and price points. I believe they should be part of everyone’s survival preparedness kits or preps.

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