A tip of the boonie hat and a deep genuflection to Irregular Stan for forwarding the links below about the Wouxun KG-UV2D hand-held radio.
Militia fire-team and squad radios, to the extent that most folks can afford, are GMRS/FRS hand-held "family" sets. On the border with the Minutemen in October 2005, we used these with an antenna range "booster" which consisted of nothing more than a a length of copper wire coiled at the base for attachment to the existing stub antenna. With ear buds and external mics they can be made into a reasonable tool for tactical communication. The problem has been, of course, range. With a capable command set of greater capability and range these can be made into a decent tactical net. The problem has been affordability. I'm not a radio geek by a long shot, but this looks promising:
Empty Skull posts at CalGuns.net: "Budget Comm (Radio) Gear Review: Wouxun."
Thought I'd post a review of a couple of handheld radios that I picked up to stuff in my BOB & GHB's. They are the Wouxun KG-UV2D models (don't ask me how to pronounce that, no idea). They go for around $110 to $129 depending on where you get them from (you can find them on Ebay for $88 plus some insane shipping fee from Hong Kong. Id suggest you go with a US dealer, less headache plus a local dealer can warranty it for you...)
A bit of background on these, there are 3 different models in the "KG-UVD" series, the KG-UVD1P, KG-UV2D, & KG-UV3D. They are ALL THE SAME internally, except for a few firmware differences and different plastic. Its kind of like how Best Buy and Circuit City used to have different "model" numbers on TV's so that they could claim exclusivity (and prevent you from price matching).
These radios are Dual Band UHF & VHF (70cm & 2m for you ham geeks), and also have the ability to recieve FM Broadcast (76 to 108 MHz). Within these 3 "models" you can get them in 3 different "versions", ie frequency cuts in:
136-174 & 216-280 (VHF & 220 MHz)
136-174 & 350-470 (VHF & low cut UHF)
136-174 & 420-520 (VHF & high cut UHF) this is the version I chose.
I think there are a few more 220 MHz versions but you probably wont see them here in the US, they're more for foreign bandplans.
You can software modify these radios to transmit out of Ham bands with free unlock software available on the net. The out of band unlock lets you transmit on the entire range, including public safety (police) frequencies, Marine frequencies and GMRS / FRS frequencies (the radios can receive these frequencies out of the box, just not transmit). The standard programming software is free and available for download on Wouxuns website or their dealer websites.
I know some of you Hamsters are already screaming bloody murder at your screens as you read the above, but these radios ARE type certified by the FCC as COMMERCIAL radios, which also lets them weeze their way into being legal for use as Ham radios.
The reason I bring that up, and also one of the reasons I bought these radios was for the ability to program and transmit on the GMRS / FRS frequencies aka: the cheapie Walmart/Target walkie talkies. In a SHTF scenario, not everybody will have Ham or Commercial Comm gear, but a good percentage of them may have these GMRS radios. I've programmed my radios with these frequencies so I can talk to them if I need to.
These radios come with a dual voltage charging pocket (only the AC cord is included, it can take a 12v input also (cigarette lighter adapter extra)). A dual band antenna, 1700 mAh Lithium Ion battery, belt clip, and a manual. The software is not included in the box but may be downloaded for free. Seriously not a bad deal for $110. Another accessory that is useful, and another reason I bought this radio was the "AA" battery holder pack, It lets you stuff 5 "AA" batteries in it for use when you don't have a way to charge the Li-ion pack that it comes with. Perfect for the BOB/GHB.
I have these radios programmed with a wide range of channels (128 channel capacity on these) I've got Public Safety, Ham, Weather, Marine & GMRS frequencies and the radio transmits and receives on all of them flawlessly. Power output is right at the rated 5 Watts (measured on a wattmeter). Using the "AA" battery pack the transmit drops to about 3½ watts (I think thats due to the crap batteries I was using, there doesn't appear to be any kind of "sensing" circuit or different contacts used on the battery pack vs the Li-ion pack). Audio is clean and LOUD. Receive sensitivity is surprisingly good, probably too good, it probably doesn't have tight rejection filtering.
Construction is above average for Chinese wares, its surprisingly sturdy, the plastic is on par with a commercial Kenwood radio. The channel naming is limited to 6 characters. Decent backlight (bluish white) on the display and keypad. Buttons & knobs have a decent "click" when pushed or turned. An interesting "bonus" is that there is a built in LED Light on the top of the radio, that is meant to function as a flashlight. As mentioned before, the radio can receive FM broadcast stations & has 2 banks of 9 memory spots just for the FM radio.
About the only cheesy thing is the "rat tail" antenna that is included with it. I just cant get used to the thing, it looks like a 10ga wire with heat shrink on it. That being said, the antenna is quite sturdy and survives severe bending with no problem, and actually recieves better than some of my other commercial radio antennas. The other cheesy thing, that actually isnt so cheesy if your visually impaired is that the radio is capable of voice prompts. Every button you press or channel change is followed with a voice prompt out of the speaker. You have your choice of English, Chinese or None. Yeah I got sick of the little Chinese accented girl so I killed that option right quick.
Speaking of, I expected the user manual to be written in crappy "Chinglish" but that surprisingly was not the case, well until the back cover... lol. It was well written and easy to understand, however you will WANT buy a programming cable and use the programming software. Programming the radio with the built in menus is doable but not fun.
Overall a great buy and a bargain at $110 for all that it does, especially if youre just gonna throw it in your BOB/GHB.
You can get them from:
or at HRO (Ham Radio Outlet) http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-010931
Speaking of HRO, dont let the Ham snobs / connoisseurs / fanboys that hang out there try and talk you out of buying the radio. I went into a HRO and asked to see the model that they had (they stock the UV3D) and I got a bunch of fanboy lip from some geek customer that had to put his 2 cents in. "Well I'm sorry I'm asking about one of the cheapest radios on the planet, BLOW ME." Geez, some of the Hamster mentality kills me. I also own high end Commercial & Ham gear but I don't feel the need to go fanboy and gush about it.
Empty Skull has also helpfully given us a thread index to tips & links:
See post #9 for a screenshot of the FCC grant authorization letter for this radio.
See post #16 for a "how to" on unlocking this radio for out of Ham band use.
See post #17 & 25 for Unlicensed MURS frequencies & info
See post #42 for rough estimates and explanation on range
See post #48 for available accessories & a primer on the antenna SMA connectors used on this radio
See post #52 for programming the FM Broadcast station memory
See post #116 & 117 for changing "channel increments"
See post #135 for disassembly of radio (warning, probably voids warranty... FYI)
More reviews here.
Empty Skull gives us this estimate of range:
With absolutely NOTHING in the way, on a clear day, and no interference: about 25 miles (Think mountaintop or hilltop to ground). Suburban neighborhoods (think flat land, houses, no taller than 2 stories & not too much concrete) around 3 to 5 miles. Realistic range in urban environments (say downtown LA) with a lot of concrete buildings probably 1 mile MAX with lots of dead spots. If you're inside concrete building ¼ mile max.
Remember, these radios can talk to repeaters also. Repeat function aside, the repeater has to be able to hear whats transmitting, essentially a radio on a hilltop or tower. Handhelds are no different. Granted, the antennas aren't nearly as good as whats on a repeater tower, but if you took that handheld up at the same level as a repeater, you should be able to talk to a similar handheld at roughly the same distance (again, obstructions and interference not withstanding.)
So, if any readers have experience with these units, please comment below.