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Business Radio

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by PGLC, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. PGLC

    PGLC Junior Member
    Messages: 27

    I'm looking for a good business radio that can reach at least 5 miles with good clarity to use while on the job. We have been using vehicle mounted CB's but want to move to a hand held unit. Does anyone have experience with a good radio that can be used in vehicles and outdoors with a range of at least 5 miles? Thanks in advance for your help.
  2. RepoMan207

    RepoMan207 PlowSite Fanatic
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,039

    Your best bet is to seek out a VHF radio equipment shop locally. There is a charge for the use of the frequency every month (license), but it is worth it. Not to mention alot of them lease, if not sell used radios. They can get pretty expensive per unit otherwise. UHF handhelds are good for about a mile, but thats about it unless your on unobstructed ground, and even then, it' not much more then that. There designed for big warehouses and such. Handheld VHF marine radios might work for you too, but there also prime for unobstructed ground.
  3. mcfly89

    mcfly89 Senior Member
    Messages: 306

    VHF radios will be your best bet if you have mounted mobiles in your rigs...UNLESS you intend to setup a tall tower with a repeater. the nice thing about UHF is you can take a 1/2 mile radius walkie and bounce it off the repeater to a mobile 10 miles away. Even the best VHF handheld can't do that and you cant use a repeater with VHF. Mobile to mobile is best with vhf, but walkie to repeater to walkie or mobile is best for long ranges with hand helds.
  4. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    I run UHF mobiles and portables on a repeater system. Works great and is very nice to have. I have a mobile in every truck or piece of equipment and I have a portable on every shoveler and a mobile in the spare office which during an event we use as a "dispatch office". There is a computer in there that will be used for GPS tracking this year. The radios I use (all kenwood) also have the ability of adding a GPS module to them and tracking from the radios to the trucks which I will be doing this year on the trucks only.

    Having this system has been great and I will never be left without it. At the touch of a button I'm in instant contact with every person on our crews.
  5. mcfly89

    mcfly89 Senior Member
    Messages: 306

    we have motorola sm50 mobiles (LOVE EM) and a couple motorola walkies as well as a couple kenwood walkies...the kenwoods are a very nice unit
  6. JRSlawn

    JRSlawn Senior Member
    Messages: 347

    Have any of you guys tried FRS band radios? They have some out now that are rated for up to 35 miles I doubt you could get 35 miles out of them but even if you could get 5 miles I would be happy to use them while we were at a site.
  7. jimspro

    jimspro Senior Member
    Messages: 200

    we switched to nextells about 10 years ago, depending where you live, they have great coverage area, we get unlimited 2 way talking and it costs like 40 per month per phone, like them better than the old radio's and can take them anywhere
  8. JRSlawn

    JRSlawn Senior Member
    Messages: 347

    We have verizons version but they suck hardly ever can get connected and it takes just as long to make a phone call.
  9. TreeClimber57

    TreeClimber57 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Note: I don't use radios between trucks, but do have my Amateur Radio License and have been licensed by the Federal Govt.. and using radios for over 30 years ranging from HF, to VHF to UHF. I have 2 meter (144 MHz) radios in all my vehicles.

    You can run VHF through a repeater, assuming the radio is designed for repeater use (needs to use two frequencies - one for transmit and one for receive). We have been running licensed VHF radios through repeaters for over 20 years (right now I use mostly Icom (but also some Kenwood) radios). As far as mobiles, depends on what you have for an antenna, but they typically are good for a few miles (also depends on what you can legally transmit for power). Having said above, you are not going to be putting towers and repeaters up for zero cost regardless of frequency used. Without repeaters, VHF do have a better range than UHF using same conditions and power. With above radios I can hit repeaters typically in a radius of around 40 miles.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  10. TreeClimber57

    TreeClimber57 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Depends upon terrain. But my experience with GMRS (NOT FRS) is maybe 3 miles (FRS frankly in our area is good for about 1 mile with any degree of reliability maximum). As they are unlicensed, the power is limited and for any reliable service they are useless. (well I think you need to license GMRS in the U.S.)
  11. TreeClimber57

    TreeClimber57 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    For reliable service, this is likely best. You don't have headaches of maintaining towers, and they work for miles. No initial capital outlay, no maintenance.. only a monthly fee.
  12. cubicinches

    cubicinches PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,415

    Around here, at least, Nextel is about the worst option if you want reliable service. They work OK if you're sitting next to one of their towers. Otherwise, you're better off with a couple old soup cans and a piece of string.
  13. TreeClimber57

    TreeClimber57 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    It does depend upon your carrier. In Canada most of our carriers are national, and have very reliable service - but we pay through the nose for the service as well compared to most countries. More competition is on the way.. but this may lower prices.. but may also cause more unreliable service as you have experienced.
  14. scottL

    scottL PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,613

    The family radio's with the 5watts of power can get up to a real 8 miles. However, this means limited hills, holding the radio antenna up and having good batteries. I don't know how they will do when snow is flying ( yes, that will affect it's range ) ... but, for the cost it's worth a test.

    Nextel....You can winter lease these and for the most part they are great, distance is no issue and they have a low monthly entry cost.

    VHF ... you can lease the equipment and repeater time. This starts adding up and costs more than setting folks up with cell phones.

    The question is how will you really benefit from having direct communication ( not cell phone calls ). If this is just for chatting while in a near by parking lot together go the FRS route. ANything else and your paying more.
  15. Be careful about using amateur (HAM) radio for your plowing business. It's one thing to chat with a friend or even another plower while you're out plowing. But using amateur frequencies for business purposes is prohibited by FCC regs.

  16. mcfly89

    mcfly89 Senior Member
    Messages: 306

    using repeaters with VHF would definitely get the best range, but its illegal in missouri because emergency services use it. I assumed it was the same elsewhere.
  17. TreeClimber57

    TreeClimber57 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    You are correct terrain is a limiting factor, and we have a lot of hills full of rocks around here.

    If you are transmitting with 5 watts, then you are using the FRS/GMRS radio - which most are today, and on channels 1 through 7. FRS only radios are limited to 1/2 watt by law.

    But you need to use the correct channels to get full power. Combo FRS/GMRS radios will transmitt their full 5 watts on channels 1 through 7. They will transmitt only 1/2 watt on channels 8 through 14. They will again transmit their full 5 watts on channels 15 through 22 (the GMRS only frequencies). I am not srue the actual rules in the U.S. to use GMRS frequencies, but it is governed by the FCC and is a controlled/restricted set of channels as I understand it.

    And agreed for the cost give them a try, and many places allow returns/refunds on them so not a huge issue.

    Agreed.. try them out at least and see how they go.

    For interest in reading, I did search on Internet to see what I could find.

    This has some interesting reading on actual real world tests, don't know anything about the tests done or conditions so take at face value and do research:

  18. TreeClimber57

    TreeClimber57 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    DO NOT use Ham radio for plowing business. The use for business is prohibited in both the U.S. and Canada.

    I happen to have my license, but do not use for any business purposes. I have them in my own vehicles - but only for legitimate use. (Am part of ARES and CanWarn services)
  19. TreeClimber57

    TreeClimber57 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Furthermore by law, you need to have an Industry Canada or FCC license to even transmit on these units.
  20. TreeClimber57

    TreeClimber57 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Didn't know that.

    We do have VHF repeaters around here for commercial use.

    Ham Radio operators have VHF repeaters in every state and province (I have a book that lists them for each city if I travel) - these however are licensed by the federal government in the U.S. and Canada.