Short Range Handhelds: My thoughts.

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    • #118657
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

        As it comes up frequently and particularly when I shoot down the Boafeng crowd here are my thoughts on handhelds.

        Consider this…

        Finally depending on actual use; particularly the so called “boogaloo” type event, too many put far too much emphasis on communications use!

        In many scenarios there will be many who are killed because they didn’t appreciate the vulnerabilities to themselves such use creates!

        Against a modern OPFOR; which includes those with experienced HAM’s, will be found and fixed quickly. A modern military can fix you in seconds accurately enough to immediately engage you should they wish.

        Think about that!

        Sure you want to be the cool guy just like your favorite SOCOM dude, but remember he’s got an almost unlimited budget and is fighting a relatively low tech insurgent.

        Without out some significant review and training that SOCOM dude is going to die in a peer to peer conflict!

        There is off the shelf low cost equipment to DF your position and the Government is ready to do this accurately enough to engage with standoff weaponry in seconds.

        We would be dealing thousands of more terrorists if they never touched cellphones and radios. ;-)

        Hopefully the point is made!

        Handhelds, first I am looking for a IP68 rating, though I maybe able to deal with a IP67 rating depending on my expected missions.

        IP67 Protected from total dust ingress. Protected from immersion between 15 centimeters and 1 meter in depth.

        IP68 Protected from total dust ingress. Protected from long term immersion up to a specified pressure.

        Maybe your mission can be supported by something else?

        Mine can’t! B-)

        IP Rating ChartLearn what IP means and what rating is best for your application.

        So for the most part this excludes all Amateur Radios, yes all those expensive HAM radios don’t make my cut.

        Basically I am looking at commercial grade radios built to withstand military and first responders use.

        So there are two routes to take, surplus/used and new.

        Due to shifting availability as older systems are replaced I can’t really give you hard data on surplus/used. What frequencies you need and what support equipment is available at a affordable price will guide you.

        A big factor for both new and used is programming these radios. The software maybe beyond your price range for say your own Motorola programing setup. So you need to identify “how” long before you purchase anything.

        Some of the older systems could be found with even the keying equipment for encrypting your own radios. Yes, encryption is illegal for most now, but there could be a time when that doesn’t matter to you.

        For new radios here a few examples of radios I would use. Again what are your requirements?

        In no particular order…

        Icom F4400D for around $650.

        Motorola XPR7550e for around $680.

        If I could make do with IP67 rating to save a few bucks…

        Icom IC-V86 or IC-U86 $130. (only amateur radio to make my list)

        Midland MB400 $250.

        Motorola XPR3000e $300.

        Again sort out your programming before you buy. Ideally you want to be able to program them yourself and remember some that you pay to program won’t be flexible to your needs.

        Hypothetically I would lean towards using GMRS and MURS frequencies if I wasn’t a HAM, keep to the restrictions of those bands and you most likely won’t be caught unless stupid.

        Again this is an overview of my thoughts. I can point you in my version of the correct direction, but you really need to consider what you truly need and research. If your going to put that much effort in it kind of makes sense to become a HAM.

        If you won’t put the effort in to learning them I would buy IP67/68 rated GMRS handhelds, two GMRS mobiles, and two SSB CB mobiles with amplifers (emergency use). These would put you way above most with little effort.

      • #118666
        Civilianresponder
        Participant

          Thanks for the great info!

        • #118678
          Joe (G.W.N.S.)
          Moderator

            I just became aware of a version of the Baofeng that may be worth looking at.

            It’s the Baofeng UV-9R Plus and it is IP67 rated. There seems to be little written about them in US, but many European write ups.

            The biggest problem with these Baofeng radios is there are many model numbers for what are essentially the same radio. There are also counterfeit versions, though I suspect these are radios that don’t pass quality control and are sold and distributed through other channels, possibly with Baofengs knowledge as a cost savings measure.

            Remember essentially all business in China is run by Military regardless if they wear suits or uniforms. ;-)

            The multiple model designations also seems to help them ignore our rules and regulations by obscurity. Don’t blame them, why not if you can get away with it? ;-)

            Lastly remember China is capable of building high quality products, but will provide adequate products if you wish. The price will reflect the level of quality.

            I will order one for me to review, I suspect they won’t meet Icom quality standards, but in theory should be better for our purposes than something like the UV-5RTP which is an adequate hobby radio.

          • #118781
            SeanT
            Keymaster

              Direction finding
              Doppler Systems

              This is only one example.

            • #122069
              D Close
              Moderator

                I use Motorola DTR 550 radios for our home plan. To Joe’s point:

                Rugged and reliable, DTR Series radios undergo rigorous testing in the design process using U.S. Military 810 C, D, E and F Standards—so you can rest assured it will hold up under demanding conditions. These tests are designed to simulate harsh environments, including:
                Blowing Rain: Steady rainfall and wind for 30 minutes on every surface
                Salt Fog: 48 hours of exposure
                Vibration: Up to nine hours of exposure to vibration that
                simulates the rigors that a radio could undergo while being carried or transported
                Blowing Dust: Six hours of blowing dust on all surfaces Shock: 18 shocks with a minimum G force of 40 G each
                Temperature Storage: Multiple hours of exposure to storage temperatures as low as -67° F and as high as 160° F

                This covers most of what I would expect in my AO. It is a compromise and not as rugged as the radios Joe cites above. I like the frequency hopping. I like the programming features. I like the price point ~$300. The performance has been good in a lite urban area. It does well in structures. It does not integrate well into my GMRS or amateur band systems. It has performed well, surprisingly, at MVT.

              • #122130
                JC
                Participant

                  Good thread. I’ll have to pay more attention to IP ratings. I have bofengs, but don’t recommend them – they are just not robust.

                  One technique I learned while attending a Brushbeater class is to use directional antennas for field communications. This provides a degree of security from interception and DF over the use of omnidirectional antennas.

                  For this, you will want to use 70 cm (much shorter antenna vs 2 m) and employ two Yagi handheld antennas. I use the Arrow II (Model 440-3) from Arrow Antennas. The antennas break-down for easy transport. http://www.arrowantennas.com/arrowii/440-3ii.html

                  One good application for this is to have a mobile team communicate back to base. For maximum security, the base need not transmit at all. You will need to test this in your OA to see what kinds of range you can get.

                  By using this technique, along with strict radio discipline, and regularly switching frequencies (work up a procedure for this) you can keep your comms relatively secure.

                  However, against a sophisticated opponent, you are advised to go dark!

                • #122158
                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                  Moderator

                    I use Motorola DTR 550 radios for our home plan.

                    The DTR series Motorola’s are outstanding radios that I recommend.

                    Yes they lack some versatility when working with others using traditional radios, but would make an excellent choice for a group standard, particularly if they don’t want to want to get into more technical aspects of radio use.

                    At one time they had a accessory keyboard to allow longer text communications, if I remember correctly they can still use basic preprogrammed text. I had thought it would be great to adapt a small tablet to interface with them for this.

                    However, against a sophisticated opponent, you are advised to go dark!

                    This can’t be emphasized enough, better to assume greater danger until proven otherwise than to be guinea pig to test it.

                  • #122285
                    DiznNC
                    Participant

                      Can you recommend user friendly sources to this stuff? I go to these websites and my eyes glaze over. I’m looking at the Motorola’s you recommended. There’s a place down in Fla (I don’t have the name off-hand) but they splice your radio plug type onto mil-spec PTT and earphone jacks. So you could get one of these types of radios and still use a GI PTT and Peltor earphones. This is what I’ve done for my UV-8; is this what you guys all do as well?

                      • #122426
                        D Close
                        Moderator

                          Diz, I like the Peltor setup.

                          I have a couple setups I run. In both cases, I prefer an external mic, not the one attached to the headset. These are corded and are easily replaced if damaged. I use a surveillance type earpiece or a Sordin noise cancelling headset. The patrol set-up I’ve chosen does not use the headset. I simply tape the earpiece in my ear for added security. The earpiece plugs into a jack on the hand mic. This is a common feature. The two pin Motorola plug is common for the mic. I know you can adapt to most common radios. The earpiece is a single 3.5mm type.
                          Cost was a factor. The Peltor is very expensive. I use boom mics at work and they are good in a vehicle. I prefer the hand mic on a chest rig or a low profile under a jacket if necessary. The PTT switch is of course built into the hand mic. I can afford numerous spares compared to the Peltor and a separate PTT. YMMV.
                          I used this setup successfully during training and in the field for testing. I use the Sordins at home with my armor setup for indoor hearing protection, sound amplification, donning speed and stealth. The cables are all routed through MOLLE and the PTT can be activated with either hand. It has minimal interference with weapon manipulation. If the Sordins go down, I can use this setup with my Howard Leights as well. During a month long scenario, this all seemed to make the most sense. I still may get the Peltors one day because they look cool. ;-)

                          I will send a separate post on current vendors. I have had good luck on Ebay with a couple DTR radios.

                      • #122341
                        Average Joe
                        Participant

                          Interesting stuff.

                          Just wondering if radios that have texting capabilites would act like a burst tramsmission making it more difficult to track.

                          Anyone have any thoughts on the subjuect?

                          Y’all have a nice day.

                          • #122427
                            D Close
                            Moderator

                              As Joe mentions, the DTR keyboard is cool but is hard to find these days. You might find one on Ebay. You can change the text on the DTR to suit your needs. I use things like: CALL ME. or STANDBY. The frequency hopping is the security. Using a sound card attachment or even the audio jack on your computer, you can transmit digital text over the air. The AmRRON standard digital mode format for UHF/VHF is MT-63 but you can use any that works for you. I have used this from a parked vehicle on UHF to my home station and it works very well using a Toughbook. You can use a small computer called a Raspberry Pi ($35) and use Bluetooth keyboards or tablets all day long. Bandwidth gives you speed. The larger the bandwidth, the faster you can send information. SHTF, you can encrypt if necessary. You can use brevity codes. I wouldn’t chase a radio just for the text capability. You can buy a good radio and add data through the audio ports with a little technical effort.
                              There are mesh systems out there that allow you to text to a group from your phone outside of the cell infrastructure. I’ve read mixed reviews but it could be a part of a system if texting is important to you.

                              • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  D Close.
                          • #122432
                            Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                            Moderator

                              There are mesh systems out there that allow you to text to a group from your phone outside of the cell infrastructure. I’ve read mixed reviews but it could be a part of a system if texting is important to you.

                              Off the shelf or locally manufactured tactical mesh networks are in there infancy. The military is far ahead of those efforts. I personally think this is the future of tactical comms. Encrypted self healing networks that provide situation awareness from the individual up to the JCS.

                              HUD through your integrated NODS/FLIR, think Modern Warfare video games. Surprising to some, much of this is off the shelf even today, but I guesstimate a cost per individual at this time of around $30,000 per individual. Of course remember when large flat screen TV’s were $20,000? Now you get a bigger more reliable TV at Wal-Mart for $700.

                              A little imaginative thread drift.

                            • #122450
                              SeanT
                              Keymaster

                                Interesting stuff.

                                Just wondering if radios that have texting capabilites would act like a burst tramsmission making it more difficult to track.

                                Anyone have any thoughts on the subjuect?

                                Y’all have a nice day.

                                Difficult to eavesdrop but the radio is still an emiter that can be tracked using direction finding methods. The more you emit, the faster you can be found.
                                This is a radio sport really.
                                Direction Finding

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