Every fall I go hunting with three other guys.
Since we're usually out in the backwoods, we like to have radios on hand for communications.
While there are many different options out there, I've settled on using the "Baofeng UV-5RA X+".
Of the many different things these things offer I like the following:
- Higher output than the standard handhelds you find at sporting good stores.
- Batteries last a long time.
- They monitor two different channels at once. (This is useful as I'll describe later)
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Seem to be pretty durable. We use them in some pretty rough conditions.
I am not very well versed in the radio culture. There are a ton of people and sites that could probably get a lot more out of these things than I ever will. These are mini HAM radios and I considering getting trained and licensed in the future. However, no matter what level of knowledge you have, it is universally accepted that you should not attempt to setup these using the instruction manuals they come with. It seems to be a classic Chinese to English situation where the intent does not get communicated well.
USB cable and Software
Get the USB cable. You need be sure to get the correct one. There are old ones being sold that don't have the correct chip/hardware for modern computers. It won't work.
Software: Download CHIRP.
This basically allows you to program the radios in a spreadsheet format. Just plug in the band/frequency/channel setup that you want.
It also includes a list of standard frequencies which I used.
The great part here is since I got four of these and need them to all work the same, once I set up one, I save the config and simply copied it to the other three. Now I have all four devices operating identically.
Here's how we use this set up.
All devices are set up the same, usually with all standard FRS and GMRS channels in the available memory slots.
When we're out hunting, we usually split up into pairs. Each pair selects their own 'private' channel to communicate on using the "A" channel. For example Kevin and I will use GMRS8 and Mike and Brian will use GMRS6. The pairs can communicate information that is only pertinent between them.
On the "B" channel we'll all agree to use GMRS 2 for example. Now for communications within the group we can all transmit and receive on a common channel.
Now, depending the amount of radio traffic where you are at, you'll need to pick the channels to use that will avoid the chatter.
These radios are able to private side-channel communications, and a ton of other features, but that'll be for a different post.
As you can see, since we're out it the elements most of the time, I've picked up some rubber cases. They don't seal the radios, but do a fine job of just adding a layer between the radio and all the dirt and brush.
Also, for grins I picked up a remote speaker.
Hopefully you'll be able to get some useful information here.
Let me know how it goes.