2 way radios or handheld CB radio with a station?

I'm deployed currently and i'm looking for a way to communicate unsecure for about 5+ miles. If I went with a CB radio and station I could have an antenna mounted at a pretty high elevation in relation to the surrounding area. I have no access to ICOMs and the ones I do have are going out and I need a replacement. These communications will not be for secure chatter just a way to stay in contact with my Soldiers as they are out and about on the FOB. Obviously 2 way radios would be preferred as they are smaller and easier to keep track of i'm just concerned with their range. We have a lot of concrete barriers so i'm assuming that the CB is going to be the best bet. If I have to go this route does anyone have some suggestions for the base and handheld units? I'm trying to keep the price down as this will be an out of pocket expense. Thanks for any answers!


Also, the batteries need to be rechargeable and as long lasting as possible as they will be on all the time. Thanks.

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I take it the ICOMs are the normal unsecured radios that are being used, probably working on DOD frequencies. Keep in mind the frequencies your ICOMs are using might be OK legally to use in country, but CB or other frequencies may not. You may want to ask around to see how kosher it is to operate on whatever frequency you want where you are. Of course, if you go too far up the chain when asking, you'll might eventually get some pencil-pushing wienie that will say no. For the sake of this discussion we'll assume you can operate where ever to want.

    You can go with CB. You might go with a leading brand name for quality like Uniden or Midland. There's not a lot of difference in performance between a hand-held (or HT for handy-talkie) and a mobile radio (both are 2-way radios BTW) because they both put out 4w (watts). The mobile might be a tad better quality. The mobile will have a SO-239 "UHF" jack and a HT will probably have a BNC female jack (ask). If you got some Britts around, ask them about UK CB. Their CB service is similar to the US except their mobiles are allowed to put out 25w. Galaxy is the leading brand name there.

    You might want to go with a VHF and/or UHF comm system instead. There are some commercial Chinese HT radios out, the Puxing PX-777 (5w VHF/4w UHF) that are being raved about, keyboard programmable. They are cheap but effective radios. I included a couple reviews of them. There are more on YouTube. They cost around $50.00. The Plus version has some encryption which will keep the casual ease-dropper from listening in. The manual says that they are VHF and UHF. Some ads just mention UHF or mention UHF models, I wouldn't assume VHF unless you ask just to be sure. Either way, they are great for the price! They use rechargeable 1200 Li-Ion packs (also surprisingly inexpensive). I have seen a dry-cell pack yet nor an external power jack. If your radios spend a day in the field and come back to base to charge, you're OK. The packs are cheap enough to buy extras though. On VHF, they cover 136-174 MHz. This covers the US Amateur 2-meter band and VHF commercial/public service band.

    There are some advantages to this VHF/UHF plan. The PX-777 HTs cost about the same as CB HTs. You have a little more flexibility with antennas. This is because a 1/4 wave antenna at 150 MHz (VHF) is 19 inches long, at CB frequencies, it's 104 inches. VHF HT antennas can be a full 1/4 wave or even 5/8 wave. CB HT antennas are always a compromise, especially if using a rubber duck. The standard CB antenna is a telescopic loaded (and fragile) antenna, although the only 5/8 waves VHF antennas I've seen are telescopic also. All this means VHF/UHF HT antennas have more gain. The same goes with base antennas. Shorter antenna makes VHF/UHF antennas a little easier to make.

    What really makes a base station a base station is the antenna. A HT can have the effectiveness of a base if it is hooked up to a decent base antenna. However, if you want to go a step farther with 50w output, you could go with an Amateur mobile like the 55w, Yaesu FT-1900R (144-148 Mhz) VHF radio for $139.00 from www.universal-radio.com. You can probably find mods to make it work out of band if needed. The only reason I've focused on VHF gear is that it's usually a tad cheaper than UHF.

    The PX-777 appears to be a SMA male as opposed to the normal female. Adapters to BNC are not to expensive though. If you use a CB mobile, you will need a 3A (amp) or 4A 12 VDC power supply. CBs draw about 2.2A. The FT-1900R draws 11A at 55w, 7A at 25w. I haven't used CB for a while so I can't attest for range but I can talk 15 miles on a HT to a base with a good antenna on VHF 100 feet up. Check out Ebay for the PX-777 as one source.

    One problem if you go with GMRS, MURS or other commercial systems, they are not keyboard programmable. You need a special cable, software and computer. All this costs. That's what's nice about the PX-777. HT radio designed for MURS might only put out 2w.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I would make sure you test that thing before you buy it as 50$ is kinda cheap. I have several cb radios one is a handheld and they arent very good either way you look at it. I do like midland though and if you only need about a mile of radius (2 if your lucky) pick that thing up and take it.

  • Oreo
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Get a 2 meter radio that the Hams use its great and no interference like CB's from skip or rude plp. A mobile is cheap now for little over $100. Works on 144-148 MZH

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Hand held CB's mainly get a range of a mile or less depending on any obstructions such as trees and buildings. Maybe look into GMRS or business band radios like the MURS radio service radios.

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