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Radio Communications

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As part of the preparedness goals I have, I’ve been mulling over various radio communications technologies. I like the idea of a ham radio, but at the moment don’t want to deal with getting a technician’s license, and it is illegal to transmit over one without a call sign. Additionally, a lot of the information that I want from the radio is traffic conditions around me, which are better determined by CB. Alternately, I was looking at police scanners and such that provide local information about the areas around you, but don’t allow you to transmit at all. I don’t see myself talking over any of these devices often, but the idea of being able to use, for example — channel 9 on a CB which is monitored by emergency services — sounds like a winning point.

I narrowed it down to the following units:

Ham Radio: Kenwood TM-D710GA – This pricey little ham radio is very popular for mobile use, and seems really nice. Ultimately, I’m not really interested in most aspects of amateur radio and opted to skip this option for now. There are much cheaper options to start with to get into the hobby, and if I decide to in the future, I will start with one of those. Most likely something like the Baofeng BF-F8HP. Because it is a long range radio, it is ultimately the best option for remote communications, but just not anything that we require at this time.

Scanner: Uniden BCD536HP – This is yet another pricey unit. It’s expensive because it supports trunking, allowing it to listen to the majority of current emergency communications (as long as they are not encrypted), unlike a standard scanner. It also has all of the weather channels and alerting features I was looking for. However, it seems like it would be a better supplement than a primary comm system, since you cannot transmit on it, so I opted out.

CB: Cobra C 75 WX ST – This unit is inexpensive and would work really well in our truck. It’s a mostly all in one unit that has the same power as a fullsize radio (on paper, but reviews indicate otherwise) that is composed of a base-station module and a handset/control module. Since the truck I have doesn’t appear to have a good mounting location at first glance, this seemed like one of the best options. It doesn’t support weather alerts which are pretty important to me, and that is the primary reason I decided not to go with this one.

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My interior is a different color, but as you can see there is little room for a full-size radio anywhere.

CB: Uniden BearCat 980SSB – This is the unit I ultimately decided to go with. While more expensive than the Cobra, it is significantly less than some of the other units I was looking at. Being a CB, I’ll have a range of 1-25 miles which is far more limited than a ham radio, but it is more likely to have useful chatter about surrounding road conditions. It’ll have access to channel 9 for emergency communications, channel 13 for RVers, and channel 19 for truckers. It supports NOAA weather channels, NOAA weather alerts, has an integrated SWR meter, and has generally great reviews. It supports sideband (SSB) communications, which I don’t think I will use, but it ended up only being a $4 premium over the Bearcat 880, which is the same radio without it.

I decided to go for a dual 4′ antenna setup, which is ideal for use with an RV. I picked up two Firestik II antennas, a RoadPro 18′ CoPhase Coax cable for dual antennas, two Firestik SS-3H springs in case the antennas ever have clearance issues and hit something, and two Firestick K4-A studs that I will use to mount them on the bed of my truck just in front of the Tonneau cover behind the cab. As I understand it, being close to the cab is a problem, but the 4′ length and dual setup should help to counteract this. I was considering the stake pockets but find this mounting option more aesthetically pleasing. In the end it should look somewhat like this, and the antennas will be easily removable (just unscrew them) when not in use:

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Because of the full console in my truck, there aren’t very many obvious locations to mount a radio. I moved my cupholders forward, and will mount it in the center console, just behind them:

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I’ll be routing the cables in behind the back seat, under the carpet, and up through the bottom of the console. The CB comes with a pivot mount that either elevates or suspends the unit, and in this case I will attach it in the elevation position and screw it into the console so that the mount faces the rear window of the truck, orientating the CB where it can be read from either of the front seats. It looks like there may even be enough room to add the scanner in the future if I decide I want one.

[amazonjs asin=”B00JK4IHIY” locale=”US” title=”Kenwood TM-D710G 144/440 MHz Amateur Mobile Transceiver APRS/TNC GPS/Echolink”] [amazonjs asin=”B00HZOW5K2″ locale=”US” title=”Uniden BCD536HP Digital Phase 2 Base/Mobile Scanner with HPDB and Wi-Fi”] [amazonjs asin=”B00005N5WW” locale=”US” title=”Cobra 75WXST 40-Channel CB Radio”] [amazonjs asin=”B007B5ZAES” locale=”US” title=”Uniden BEARCAT CB Radio With Sideband And WeatherBand (980SSB)”]

 

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