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Author: Subject: Hook (and others) get in this thread and help me with a Baja comms package
JZ
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[*] posted on 6-25-2018 at 04:23 PM
Hook (and others) get in this thread and help me with a Baja comms package


Goal: radios for 2-3 bikes and the truck.

Objective: best distance out riding.

Limitations:
- don't want to hard wire anything into the truck
- don't want to program any radios, unless it is super simple (too busy to fool around with it right now)

Anyone want to suggest some products?


A while back Hook wrote:

"There are a lot of really good deals on Baofeng radios through Amazon Prime. Just make sure you get a package with a lithium ion battery and charger, belt clip, lanyard, etc.

A really sweet setup would be to get a magnet mount antenna, an antenna adaptor and maybe a 12v power plug. Clip the radio to your sun visor in the car. Your range would be dramatically increased, even line of sight. You would probably still be well under 100.00.

And have a lot more capability and distance than a Motorola FRS radio. Disconnect the external mag mount antenna, slap on the rubber duckie and you have a walk-about radio."




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[*] posted on 6-25-2018 at 06:18 PM


Baofeng BF-888 radios are about $15 but only 2W Tx power. Wouxun KG-833 radios are better performers and 4+ W Tx but about $80. Mag mount antenna on truck will help a lot but range will be limited by the handheld radio antennas. Mag mounts on the bikes would be a hassle but would give better range. It is very hard to predict radio range in hill country. If the truck is on a hill top the range will be good to surrounding low terrain. Depending on terrain you might be better off with VHF radios rather than UHF but hard to say for sure.
I maintain a fleet of UHF radios at a ski area but we have repeaters to solve the range problem. I do have quite a few BF-888s and KG-833s and know them well. It is hard to beat the BF-888 because at under $15 if you are not happy with them then throw them away. Both radios come with Li batteries and chargers.

[Edited on 6-26-2018 by taoswheat]

[Edited on 6-26-2018 by taoswheat]

[Edited on 6-26-2018 by taoswheat]
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[*] posted on 6-25-2018 at 08:10 PM


If you don't want to DIY then just get a VHF package from PCI or Rugged. You can use a handheld in the truck or just set the mobile unit on the seat ( but not best). Range on mobile unit is greater so bikes will hear but not be able to reply until truck is in range of bike unit.

[Edited on 6-26-2018 by mjs]
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advrider
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[*] posted on 6-25-2018 at 08:33 PM


Just won a set of Ruggeds at a SXS event, haven't used them yet but they have good reviews.
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[*] posted on 6-25-2018 at 08:35 PM


The truck setup is easy. A good 50+ watt mobile like a Yaesu with a mag mount antenna on the roof.

The problem is getting a helmet setup for the bikes. They are available but not cheap. You'll need an ear piece and a mic and a push to talk button. Unless you want to rely on batteries you'll need to integrate it into the bikes power system. I suggest you talk to Tim Morton at BajaBoundMoto and get his take on what to do.

His email is info@bajaboundmoto.com or talk to PCI.

Also check with some of the motorcycle shops that deal in street bike communication system.
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[*] posted on 6-25-2018 at 10:12 PM


TMW's advice is pretty right on, especially with respect to a VHF radio in the truck. Yaesu now makes the FT-2980, which is 80 watts. But you should be able to find an older FT-2900 on ebay. Those are 75 watts. Then, perform the MARS mod, easily found on the internet, and you can use it with any of the 5 watt marine hand held radios you have. Not legal to operate this in the US, of course; probably not in Mexico, either, but............maybe thousands of radios have had this done by amateurs. It will make a great base station in the truck or home for talking to boats at sea, too. 75-80 watts will have you talking from San Carlos to the East Cape (over water, of course) at times.

You should probably mount a bracket in the truck (since it will be used in rough conditions) but the radio can be removed quickly and easily. Heck, even the bracket could be removed in 30 seconds with an electric screwdriver, if you dont want it in there at home.

I prefer to have it hard-wired to the battery with a fuse in between and then have a removable power plug between the inline fuse holder and the radio. Radio comes out in the time it takes you to unplug the power plug and back off the antenna connection. Another 30 seconds. I dont like using any of the cig lighter type power plugs. Some can handle the power but they are too valuable for other devices.

I do like having an external speaker with my truck radio. I really like the tone of the Yaesu MLS-100. I just throw it unmounted up on the dash or down on the floor over the transmission, pointing up. If I get out of the truck, it has enough extension to set it on the roof, pointing outward.

For the mag mount antennae, go with a Diamond or a Larsen. I would avoid MFJ.

Unless the bikes are willing to stop to call the truck, then a helmet radio is the only way. They wont hear anything else. An ear bud, maybe, but it takes a good noise-cancelling mic to eliminate the exhaust sound, if they want to talk back. But if they are willing to stop to call, then the VHF marine HT (hand held) radios can work. This can still work as an emergency setup if you get the kids to check in on a timetable.

But they wont get a signal back to the truck if there are rock outcrops in between. VHF is GENERALLY line of sight. But the power of the truck radio will often get to the HTs by some reflection and just powering up and over some obstructions.

I am not a moto rider, so maybe there are better options for a moto. Check with the guy TMW recommends.
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JZ
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[*] posted on 6-26-2018 at 08:32 AM


Quote: Originally posted by TMW  
The truck setup is easy. A good 50+ watt mobile like a Yaesu with a mag mount antenna on the roof.

The problem is getting a helmet setup for the bikes. They are available but not cheap. You'll need an ear piece and a mic and a push to talk button. Unless you want to rely on batteries you'll need to integrate it into the bikes power system. I suggest you talk to Tim Morton at BajaBoundMoto and get his take on what to do.

His email is info@bajaboundmoto.com or talk to PCI.

Also check with some of the motorcycle shops that deal in street bike communication system.


Thanks for the Yaesu tip.

To clarify, I wasn't necessarily thinking about helmet setup. Handhelds.


[Edited on 6-26-2018 by JZ]




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Ever wanted to camp on a deserted island in the Sea of Cortez? https://youtu.be/g3ThXCm3XSA



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[*] posted on 6-26-2018 at 09:04 AM


Thx Hook, appreciate the details info. I'll go with the Yaesu you recommended.

I have a couple questions. Treat me like I'm a 5 yo on some of these, as I'm pretty much a complete newbie regarding radios.


Questions:
- Do I want to go for VHF bands over UHF? Somewhere I read UHF was a little better when you don't have line of sight. I lost a couple of my VHF marine handhelds, so I need to get new radios regardless. If they perform as well, VHF handhelds would make sense.

- What does the MARS mod do? Is this just installing software on it or something?

- What Diamond or Larsen mag mount is good?





See Baja California in 4K: https://youtu.be/4VNTIhRa6q0

Ever wanted to camp on a deserted island in the Sea of Cortez? https://youtu.be/g3ThXCm3XSA



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[*] posted on 6-26-2018 at 10:43 AM


VHF is better over a longer distance than UHF. The race promoters use VHF as well so if you are at an off road race you can listen and/or communicate if necessary, like an emergency.

I'm not sure what MARS means but my guess is that it mods a ham radio to communicate in a wide frequency band. For example 151.625mhz is the SCORE frequency so modifying a ham radio would allow you to use that frequency. All off road race teams use a frequency in that grouping.

I use a Tram mag mount antenna that is 19 inches tall. I'm not saying it is the best just that it works for me.
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[*] posted on 6-26-2018 at 11:20 AM


Yes, a MARS modification is a means of opening up the frequencies that the radio can transmit on. Generally speaking, 2 meter ham radios can often LISTEN on the VHF Marine frequencies, but can't transmit on them. The MARS mod opens them up to transmitting on those freqs.

For every radio that I have owned and read about, it is a simply matter of taking a low-wattage pencil soldering iron and separating a "bridge" of solder on a circuit board, so that they are no longer connected. Many examples on you tube or the internet, in general. I suspect this bypasses some type of circuit that prevents transmission on specific frequencies.

But if your marine HTs are gone, then you are starting from scratch. I GUESS you could look at some of the inexpensive ham HT units but I have no history with them. Based on a previous post above, go with the one that guy recommends that is 4 watts. 2 watts is not much. They will talk to your mobile unit in the truck without the MARS mod.

Of course, these radios do legally need an FCC license for all that operate them in a non-emergency situation. It involves a test, but Morse code is no longer required. If you are just using them in Mexico, I probably wouldnt bother. But you could get yourself in trouble if you use them on a frequency that is monitored by other hams in the US. So maybe stick to a ship to ship, simplex (transmits and receives on the same freq) marine frequency that is not used in the area you are in. The common ones are ARE often in use (and should be avoided) are 68, 69, 71, 72, 74, 77, 78. Some of these are ship to shore but boaters use them ship to ship all the time.

No time to research the mag mount antennas right now. Maybe tomorrow.
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[*] posted on 6-26-2018 at 11:34 AM


The Baofeng UV-5R handheld is cheap and in my experience works pretty good. I'm told that the longer antenna, I think 7 inches is better than what it comes with. I have 4 radios plus 4 extra batteries. I like the fact you can lock out the keys so someone can't accidently press a key and screw it up. The UHF and VHF covers a wide range. At $30 on Amazon it's hard to beat.

From Amazon: BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF) Includes Full Kit with Large Battery.

Of course the new radio is twice the price at $62.




[Edited on 6-26-2018 by TMW]
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[*] posted on 6-26-2018 at 12:08 PM


Quote: Originally posted by TMW  
The Baofeng UV-5R handheld is cheap and in my experience works pretty good. I'm told that the longer antenna, I think 7 inches is better than what it comes with. I have 4 radios plus 4 extra batteries. I like the fact you can lock out the keys so someone can't accidently press a key and screw it up. The UHF and VHF covers a wide range. At $30 on Amazon it's hard to beat.

From Amazon: BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF) Includes Full Kit with Large Battery.

Of course the new radio is twice the price at $62.

thats because it is 8 watt instead of 2.

I appreciate the info, heading out on camping hiking with family, just picked up the 5 watt Baefung , 5 radios, chargers earpieces etc - for 62 bucks, free next day shipping (prime) shipping
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0728KY23S/ref=od_aui_deta...

although I believe the radios I bought are much more likely 2 watts - Chineese discriptions don't seem to be bounded by actual facts!



[Edited on 6-26-2018 by TMW]


[Edited on 6-26-2018 by caj13]
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[*] posted on 6-26-2018 at 12:23 PM


Quote: Originally posted by TMW  
The Baofeng UV-5R handheld is cheap and in my experience works pretty good. I'm told that the longer antenna, I think 7 inches is better than what it comes with. I have 4 radios plus 4 extra batteries. I like the fact you can lock out the keys so someone can't accidently press a key and screw it up. The UHF and VHF covers a wide range. At $30 on Amazon it's hard to beat.

From Amazon: BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF) Includes Full Kit with Large Battery.

Of course the new radio is twice the price at $62.




[Edited on 6-26-2018 by TMW]


Thinking about getting the newer BaoFeng. How easy is it to pick a frequency and get started? There are all these videos on YouTube talking about "programming" the thing.

I hope you can just enter the frequency easy enough, like plug in 156.425 to get channel 68.

https://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-BF-F8HP-Two-Way-136-174MHz-40...


[Edited on 6-26-2018 by JZ]




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[*] posted on 6-26-2018 at 12:38 PM


Hook, this one looks like it comes with the mod already done for you:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0779CN8X9/ref=ox_sc_act_t...

Now I just need to find the right antenna.


[Edited on 6-26-2018 by JZ]




See Baja California in 4K: https://youtu.be/4VNTIhRa6q0

Ever wanted to camp on a deserted island in the Sea of Cortez? https://youtu.be/g3ThXCm3XSA



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[*] posted on 6-26-2018 at 12:58 PM


So here's what I just ordered. Hopefully it will all work together and I can get it setup fairly easily.

Truck radio:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0779CN8X9/ref=ox_sc_act_t...

Two handhelds for the bikes:
https://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-BF-F8HP-Two-Way-136-174MHz-40...

Mag mount antenna:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018EUB8DU/ref=oh_aui_deta...

12 volt adapter:
https://www.amazon.com/CigBuddy-Portable-Cigarette-Anderson-...



[Edited on 6-27-2018 by JZ]




See Baja California in 4K: https://youtu.be/4VNTIhRa6q0

Ever wanted to camp on a deserted island in the Sea of Cortez? https://youtu.be/g3ThXCm3XSA



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[*] posted on 6-26-2018 at 03:04 PM


I have a 10w iCom handheld that I use on my bike, helmet wired, PTT button. The problem is, my range is very limited, 100m is pushing limits. Is my range problem due to lack of power or lack of antenna or other?



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[*] posted on 6-27-2018 at 05:23 PM


I have the Baogeng VU-5R and they are real easy to program the frequency.

JZ the mag mount antenna looks kind of small at the base where the mag mount is. The antenna mounts I have are about 3-4 inches in diameter. Making it harded to get knocked off the roof.

SS your lack of range is mainly a lack of antenna and any ground plain for it. That's the problem with all handheld radios. As far as power goes when you double the power the range(distance) increases by the sq root. For example if 10 watts will go 10 mile then 20 watts will go 14 miles, 40 watts will go 20 miles etc. Over water it's different, it will go much farther, especially salt water. I have friends who have told me using a 5 watt VHF handheld and a mag mount roof top antenna they have talked from Rocky Point to San Felipe.
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[*] posted on 6-27-2018 at 08:24 PM


Quote: Originally posted by StuckSucks  
I have a 10w iCom handheld that I use on my bike, helmet wired, PTT button. The problem is, my range is very limited, 100m is pushing limits. Is my range problem due to lack of power or lack of antenna or other?


Are you powering it externally or internal batteries? What band is it?

Even with the limitations of antenna height and no ground plane, a 10w ANY FREQUENCY should go more than 100 meters.
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[*] posted on 6-27-2018 at 09:54 PM


Quote: Originally posted by TMW  
I have the Baogeng VU-5R and they are real easy to program the frequency.

JZ the mag mount antenna looks kind of small at the base where the mag mount is. The antenna mounts I have are about 3-4 inches in diameter. Making it harded to get knocked off the roof.



Looks like the antenna connects to the bigger dish magnet.

Good to hear it's easy to setup. Just got the HH's today. Told my 14yo that's his job for tomorrow.






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Ever wanted to camp on a deserted island in the Sea of Cortez? https://youtu.be/g3ThXCm3XSA



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[*] posted on 6-28-2018 at 05:40 AM


Stuck, you have a very good radio. Shop around for an extended whip antenna. Try the Ham radio shops. The one I have on my HH Yaesu is about 16" long. It replaces the rubber ducky one that came with the radio. My antenna change made a huge difference.
For use in my truck I have a fender mount 5/8 Db ant with a coax into the cab. Everybody I travel with are very impressed with my range. The Yaesu is a vintage 5 Watt unit.
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