Hammin'-it-up

HAM'in About Radio Communication

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1. Magnet mount antennas work well on Cherokees and the Liberty, but not so well on Wranglers. You generally end up routing the antenna cable through a door, which weakens the wire every time you shut the door on it. Also, trees just love magnet mount antennas. I would recommend a magnet mount antenna only for a temporary solution.

2. The 102” whip antenna is going to be the most efficient, however its reliability isn’t that great as it is unmanageably large and will hit every tree on the trail. Anything shorter than about 36” and you’ll get greater range out of a megaphone. I’ve found that fiberglass whips in the 42” to 54” length range are the best compromise.

FRS Radios: Fun for the Family )))

JPF: What do you think of those small Talk-About style radios?

AK: The short answer is they have their place, but they are a poor choice for expedition communication. These are known as FRS radios. It stands for Family Radio Service. They are small handheld radios that use a special set of frequencies allocated by the FCC, and operate on the UHF radio band and are FM (frequency modulated). This makes them much quieter than CB radios or the old walkie-talkies we use to play with as kids, which operate on the HF band and are AM (amplitude modulated). FRS radios are best suited for use around the campsite or where short-range communication is needed.

JPF: What are the upsides and downsides to FRS?

AK:

Pros:

1. They are cheap to buy and easy to operate.

2. They are small, lightweight, easy to carry, and do not require any type of license to operate.

Cons:

1. They are severely limited in their range due to the output power they are allowed to transmit with.

2. The ability to operate or use a repeater on the FRS band is prohibited to make sure they are used for short-range communication.

3. An FRS radio would do you little to no good if you broke down in the backcountry and needed to call out for help.

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