Jump to content

Welcome to TheMalibuCrew!

As a guest, you are welcome to poke around and view the majority of the content that we have to offer, but in order to post, search, contact members, and get full use out of the website you will need to Register for an Account. It's free and it's easy, so don't hesitate to join the TheMalibuCrew Family today!

Sign in to follow this  
RanchDweller

Boat Communications to Camp

Recommended Posts

RanchDweller

How do you all keep in touch with camp? The little handheld FRS bubble pack walkie talkies do not cut it. Camp is usually a couple of miles away and it would be great to stay in touch for a number of reasons (boat problems, ran out of drinks, new rider just showed up). I was thinking about a handheld CB or GMRS with an external antenna that could be mounted to the wakeboard rack. Usually there is no cell phone service. Anyone have a setup like that? Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Malibuswany

No need to call them they are all on the boat. We use a cell phone for anything else.

Share this post


Link to post
Brad B

Uhh - cell phone.

Everyone on the boat has one.

Share this post


Link to post
CedarLakeSkier

They have some hand held radios now that they say are good for 18 miles.. pretty cheap too.

Do they work? That's the question. I would imagine if they were to actually work that distance it would happen on a lake with very few obstructions.

Share this post


Link to post
Candlewood East

NEXTEL. Works like radios and you can set up groups. Might be more cost effective.

Share this post


Link to post
JDubya

We use these. They are every bit as good as they say. I picked up a used pair on buy.com for $20 shipped. They have some good deals on ther from time to time. Only problem is hearing them over the radio on the boat.

http://cobra.com/products//CXT-425

Here is a similar pair...

http://www.buy.com/prod/cobra-li-7200-2wxvp-gmrs-2-way-radio-value-pack-with-27-mile-range/q/loc/111/207379692.html

Share this post


Link to post
boatswaiyn

We use these. They are every bit as good as they say. I picked up a used pair on buy.com for $20 shipped. They have some good deals on ther from time to time. Only problem is hearing them over the radio on the boat.

http://cobra.com/products//CXT-425

Here is a similar pair...

http://www.buy.com/prod/cobra-li-7200-2wxvp-gmrs-2-way-radio-value-pack-with-27-mile-range/q/loc/111/207379692.html

Would radios like these work in a place like Lake Powell? You can get a cell signal there if you are in the middle of the main channel, but down any canyon and you have no signal.

Share this post


Link to post
JDubya

Would radios like these work in a place like Lake Powell? You can get a cell signal there if you are in the middle of the main channel, but down any canyon and you have no signal.

Depends on the distance. I know I can reach camp from anywhere on our lake which is 12,000 acres. For Powell the terrain will be the biggest drawback. If you are using GMRS to transmit you will prob get 10-15 miles out of rough terrain but you need a license to "legally" use the radio in this frequency range, though I doubt it is enforceable. This is the same frq range as HAM radios.

In FRS mode (what two-ways and CB radios have used for years) you can get prob a mile or two depending on the mfg ratings. In rough terrin you can prob cut the suggested max distance in half....for open water you might get slightly better than the mfg says.

It is hard to beat a good pair of FRS/GMRS radios, it is prob your best option. I doubt anyone would care if you had to switch transmitted in GMRS mode.

Here is a good link to some further explination.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?guideID=1072288099473&type=page&id=cat12077

Edited by Ramman17

Share this post


Link to post
MalibuTime

Here you go, this is the only thing that will work *almost* everywhere. http://satellitephone.com/ I am often in lakes with no cell coverage, so we us Motorolas, but you generally need to have more-or-less line of sight once you get very far away.

Edit - you can also rent, so for a couple hundred bucks you could have a phone for a week+ and it would pretty much work anywhere at Powell. Nice to have if you are in an emergency.

Edited by MalibuTime

Share this post


Link to post
Wakes

Uhh - cell phone.

Everyone on the boat has one.

:rtfm: I have been waiting to use that one :). Just in fun.

Share this post


Link to post
wakeboy

I am sure if you just used it sparingly for communicating with your camp then I don't think anyone is going to care. Plus it is a good safety feature since you don't want to be stuck on a big lake with boat problems. My lake is not as big and has excellent cell phone coverage so I have not had any of these concerns before, but I think that it is a great point and I may consider it before my next trip to a large lake.

Share this post


Link to post
UberXY

Look for some used Motorola UHF portable radios on ebay. The handheld ones are five watts and that's good for a reasonable distance on water. We used them in race cars and now use them boating. Better yet, get a pair of 45 watt mobile units.

Ub

Share this post


Link to post
boatswaiyn

We have been stranded at Lake Powell when our engine threw a rod. It is pretty scary watching the sun go down and knowing you are a few miles from camp. Luckily some nice people stopped on their way back to the marina and towed us back to camp in the dark. If we had some radios we could have called camp a lot earlier. I'll have to buy some of these 2 way radios and give them a try this year at Powell. Most of the canyon walls in Powell are well over 100 feet tall so I am not sure if the radios will work a mile or two out but I guess we will see.

Share this post


Link to post
JDubya

A quick google search...

Sat phone rental $70/week...$1.80 a minute For piece of mind that ain't bad. Fax in form, phone comes in the mail...when your done mail it back. DONE!

http://www.satellitephonerentals.org/

Edited by Ramman17

Share this post


Link to post
chadwick02

Satellite phones, really? I wouldn't pay almost 2 per minute and 70 bucks a week for someone to call me to tell me there is another rider at the dock or that we are out of beer… Cell phones don't work at my lake at all, so we have devised several different types of radio communications that work very well.

This is also a small hobby of mine, so get ready for a long read.

Here it is in a nutshell:

Two things to keep in mind:

1) Cheap plastic "blister pack" or "bubble pack" 2-way radios from target, wallmart, radioshack…etc simply don't work well, even the expensive ones. They are essentially fancy walkie-talkies. They often don't go loud enough to be heard over engine noise, the speakers and Mic quality are inferior and make for sound that is difficult to understand…etc. For not much more money you can step up into professional equipment that works 100 times better.

2) Radio waves travel GREAT in line of sight over water. They do not travel through cliffs, walls, mountains, and earth well. If you do have line of sight (or almost) then you will be golden, if you are in canyons or going around cliffs or mountains then you could be in for a good challenge.

2 very common types of radios that have not even been mentioned in this thread:

CB radio's. These are slowly a dying breed, but will do exactly what you are looking for. Cobra, midland, unidin…etc all make good CB radios. Most of them are 5 watts which is more than enough power, and are available both in hand held units and mobile ones. They are inexpensive, easy and universal to find, good clear communication, and legal to use with no permits needed.

http://www.amazon.co...67068947&sr=8-9

http://www.amazon.co...67069182&sr=8-2

http://www.amazon.co...67069182&sr=8-3

VHF marine radio's. These radio's were designed for marine use. Very good quality, Very long range, and made for marine use…most of them are waterproof and durable!

http://www.amazon.co...+marine&x=0&y=0

GMRS / FRS radios are also a good option, BUT most of the blister pack radio's cruddy quality compared to the other above products. They are also very common at lakes and camp sites, so you might have a tough time finding a quiet channel. If you are dead set on GMRS or FRS frequency use (maybe because that is what everyone else in your family uses and you need to be able to communicate with them), then there are ways that UHF and HAM radio's can be programmed to operate on GMRS frequencies if you are looking to use a good quality radio. This can get expensive, complicated, and is of questionable legality, especially if you don't have a GMRS lisence.

So, my advice would be to decide on either a CB OR VHF marine system, and spend a few hundred bucks on a few good radio's. Hand held radio's work well (in terms of range and clairity), but over the years we have found that mobile units that are hard-wired work much better. They are easier to use and hold, on all day long and don't have to worry about dead batteries, have louder and clearer speakers, often operate at a higher power level, and most importantly allow you to attach an external antenna that will give you more range options. After years of going through this with the family, starting with FRS blister packs, then CB's, then UHFs…etc, we have finally hardwired a mobile unit to the boat that goes on with an accessory switch, AND have a unit hardwired in the house that is ALWAYS on. No dead batteries, no lost radios… Loud and Clear. This is as fail proof as it gets, and for years family, kids, parents, grandparents, even the drunk girls…everyone has been able to use and understand it.

If "camp" is a "camp ground" then you could hardwire a mobile to one of the vehicles (or any other 12v battery), or hardwire a mobile into the boat and carry a handheld with you at the camp if that is easier – that should work just fine. Just keep in mind the terrain.

You probably wont even need to do anything too fancy with antenna's. We didn't have too. Infact the antenna connected to the radio in the boat I have buried under the gunnel somewhere, I don't even think its vertical, and it works fine. Inside the lake house the radio is in the kitchen but the antenna is just resting up against an exterior wall in the attic.

I'll end here, but if you want more info, specific models, antennas..equipment post up and I'll keep going! You should be able to get a pair of new mobile CB's and antennas for under $150 or a pair of VHF radios under $250, +/-. Handheld units of either type will be a bit cheaper, but in the long run a hardwire mobile is a great way to go.

- Chad

Share this post


Link to post
MalibuTime

Satellite phones, really? I wouldn't pay almost 2 per minute and 70 bucks a week for someone to call me to tell me there is another rider at the dock or that we are out of beer…

I wouldn't either. But I would consider renting one for one week in a location with no cell coverage, like Lake Powell, in the event I needed to make an emergency call and ask for help from the NPS. Then I also wouldn't sweat the 20 bucks I would have to spend on airtime in that event.

Share this post


Link to post
RanchDweller

Chad-

You are awsome! Thanks for all of that information, that is exactly what I was looking for. I hear you on the mounted systems, ease of use (drunk chicks - Luv it), not running out of battery, etc. My ideal situation would be to use two handhelds with an optional antenna. I would like to use the radios between trucks as we caravan around everywhere with stubby antenna. I am not so much worried about using GMRS or FRS to communicate with everyone's blister packs so I think Marine frequencies or whatever penetrates terrain the farthest would be fine. I would like to be able to plug in an external antenna either on the camper at base camp or on the boat for extended range between camp and the boat (if i need to). I see that mainly Marine fequencies are VHF??? I have also been reading about UHF??? It sounds like VHF is better for the environment I am looking for and UHF is better for an interior concrete building. I wonder what kind of distances I would get with a handheld VHF without an external antenna? If I could get a few miles I would be fine. But like you say, there will be some canyons, hills, trees in the way. It looks like my best option is a Marine VHF Handheld. If you have any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. Once again, thanks for all of the great info.

Share this post


Link to post
mcbean7

Chad-

Great post! I'm following this thread with great interest. I've gone through the blister pack route already and am searching for something better. We do Powell once a year and have been unsuccessful with communication devices. This year, we have 2 boats, jetskis, and a houseboat as base camp. It would be nice to have a communication system that works and not break the bank. I guess I need to research marine VHF systems next.

Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
billb

we use vhf marine radios at our lake. range depends alot on terrain, but we all have them. they also have emergency channels and weather bands on them, so they're fairly handy to have. we've found that handhelds are pretty much just line of sight, but fixed mount units can reach a pretty good distance. We typically mount the antenna to the tower - higher is better.

Share this post


Link to post
water_junky

VHF marine radio's. These radio's were designed for marine use. Very good quality, Very long range, and made for marine use…most of them are waterproof and durable!

http://www.amazon.co...+marine&x=0&y=0

- Chad

I run a VHF marine radio in my boats, we use them a lot at Lake Powell to talk to the houseboat and between the speed boats. They work pretty good there but they are line of sight reception. They have come in very valuable before.

We were at Powell and about 30 miles from the marina when a 16 year old that was wake boarding fell and crack his head open on the wake board. It hit right next to his left eye really bad, you could see his skull. This happened about 8:30 at night, we gassed up the boat, loaded him up and headed for the marina as it was getting dark.about 15 miles out from the marina we were able to get them on the radio and told them what happened. They had an ambulance and doctors waiting for us at the boat dock when we arrived and had a plane on standby to fly him out if they saw any eye damage. They checked him out in the boat, loaded him up in the ambulance to the medical center and 32 stitches later he was fine.

Terry

Share this post


Link to post
martinarcher

I have been looking the the Marine VHF radio below. It appears to have everything I need. It floats, 5W transmitting power, removeable antenna to attach an external antenna. Any thoughts.

http://www.buytwoway...om/ic-m34s.aspx

That looks pretty nice. 5 Watts is a lot of transmitting power and should give you a pretty impressive range out on the water!

Share this post


Link to post
billb

That looks pretty nice. 5 Watts is a lot of transmitting power and should give you a pretty impressive range out on the water!

Funny, I was going to say that 5 watts wasn't much!! The handheld units are usually switchable between 1 and 5 watts, but the mounted radios have 25 watts, so they "haul the mail". If you're wanting to do more than line of sight, I'd strongly consider a fixed mount radio. Disclaimer: I've never tried using an external antenna with a handheld, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Faceplant409

I bought a pair of Icom VHF marine radios years ago for boat to boat use. They worked OK as my lake is not huge and most of the time we were only a cove or 2 away from each other...

My next step may be a hardwired Marine radio...

Share this post


Link to post
TheKiwi

Mounted VHF Marine radios. I'm a bit deaf and can't use them, but I'm never alone in the boat so its always handy. Everyone in the family has them, as we usually have 3 boats on the lake at a time.

There is also another mounted one inside the trailer at the park for contact.

Edited by TheKiwi

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...