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In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:40 pm
by ssgcmw
Hi all,

Recently completed my training program with the local search and rescue team and getting geared up. I'm in the market for a VHF handheld radio, and the team suggested the following list:
  • Icom F3011
  • Motorola HT750 (16 channel version)
  • Motorola HT1250
  • Motorola XTS1500
  • Motorola APEX 4000
Anyone have any other suggestions to look at (or maybe something gathering dust in a closet that you would part with at a decent price)?

Re: In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:43 pm
by NT2C
ssgcmw wrote:Hi all,

Recently completed my training program with the local search and rescue team and getting geared up. I'm in the market for a VHF handheld radio, and the team suggested the following list:
  • Icom F3011
  • Motorola HT750 (16 channel version)
  • Motorola HT1250
  • Motorola XTS1500
  • Motorola APEX 4000
Anyone have any other suggestions to look at (or maybe something gathering dust in a closet that you would part with at a decent price)?
They're making you buy your own radio and not issuing one? Something about this doesn't sound right to me.

Re: In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:58 pm
by ssgcmw
*Making* me buy one, no. However the team's funds are limited, and the situation is "you may be without a radio for a while if you are waiting for us to issue one to you".

Re: In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:14 pm
by woodsghost
Well, in that case, I"m interested too! Please, folks, recommend away! One of these days I"ll get a good HT.

Re: In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:24 pm
by NT2C
ssgcmw wrote:*Making* me buy one, no. However the team's funds are limited, and the situation is "you may be without a radio for a while if you are waiting for us to issue one to you".
Ah, yes, that's more like the SAR groups I'm familiar with. Are they strictly analog then? And what band? (As would be indicated by the choices you listed)

I have a Motorola XTS2500i (front panel programmable) that I'm really very fond of and would hate to part with, but it has many siblings listed on eBay that can be had for somewhat reasonable prices (once you toss the high and low listings in the trash). There's a lot of similar Motos on eBay these days due to departments shifting to different bands and going narrowband.

Re: In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:45 pm
by ssgcmw
We primarily operate VHF between 150 and 163 MHz, although occasionally UHF to talk with other agencies. I know there are radios out there that will do both UHF and VHF, but I'm told that they are kinda like a swiss army knife - not bad, but not as good as a dedicated tool.

If the radios listed above are analog, then we are analog.

Re: In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:46 pm
by NT2C
ssgcmw wrote:We primarily operate VHF between 150 and 163 MHz, although occasionally UHF to talk with other agencies. I know there are radios out there that will do both UHF and VHF, but I'm told that they are kinda like a swiss army knife - not bad, but not as good as a dedicated tool.

If the radios listed above are analog, then we are analog.
All but the first are both analog and digital. The first is pure analog though. Okay, that simplifies things then, you're looking for a good, basic, rugged VHF analog rig that won't break the bank. There's tons of those out there, both new and used.

One more question before I make some recommendations: Do they need to be compatible with any specific codeplug, and who will be doing the programming?

Re: In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:53 am
by KYZHunters
KJ4VOV wrote:
One more question before I make some recommendations: Do they need to be compatible with any specific codeplug, and who will be doing the programming?
This was my first thought. Our local 911 center programs all radios for responders in a two county area and I’d ask them first if they have the software for any particular radio/manufacturer.

You can program some radios yourself of course but it might be nice to have the same package as all of your teammates. When someone says you need to roll to a certain freq to talk to another agency they will probably say, “Go to channel 7.” It might not be at a time when you have the luxury of messing around to see what freq/tone combination that is set on your ht.

Re: In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:06 am
by ssgcmw
I've got the freq/tone list for the channels we typically use. If I pick from the list above, the "radio guy" on our team is happy to program the radio for me (and could possibly program something else). If I pick off the list, I may need to track down a USB cable and software to program.

SOP for our team is to tape a cheat sheet to the radio so that if Incident Command says "we will be communicating on VSAR 16" then I know to turn my radio to channel X.

Re: In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:43 am
by NT2C
ssgcmw wrote:I've got the freq/tone list for the channels we typically use. If I pick from the list above, the "radio guy" on our team is happy to program the radio for me (and could possibly program something else). If I pick off the list, I may need to track down a USB cable and software to program.

SOP for our team is to tape a cheat sheet to the radio so that if Incident Command says "we will be communicating on VSAR 16" then I know to turn my radio to channel X.
In that case, just about any VHF Part 90 certificated HT that's ruggedized should do. There's quite a few used ones on eBay for good prices, or you can try some of the better Chinese imports, such as this BaoFeng model. I'd grab the programming cable, remote mic, and a couple extra batteries and have a reasonably good setup for under $150. Or how about a pair of TYT brand radios (I've recently started using a TYT DMR portable and been impressed with the brand) for $125, so you have a whole spare radio as a backup.

Re: In the market for a radio, looking for advice

Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 3:13 pm
by ssgcmw
Thanks!