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 Post subject: Portable radios
PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:00 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:07 pm
Posts: 115
Location: Surrey, B.C.
We are in the market for portable radios. I'm just wondering what brand and model seems to work for your organization?
We operate a heritage 1912 BCER interurban on a 5 mile track and are looking to get a decently priced radio for the crew. I have researched the Motorola HT 1250 as used by Transport Canada which they mentioned was used by a number of RR in Canada, but the price is not in the budget. Discussed the Motorola BPR40, decent price, but wonder if it not suitable for a rail environment? Also looking at the Kenwood brand.
Thanks for any input
Robert Ashton
FVHRS
http://www.fvhrs.com


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 12:19 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:38 pm
Posts: 54
We use the Icom ICF-F3001 portable radio and the Icom IC-F121s mobile radio. The portable radios are fairly small, so it is easier to put in a pocket and hide if that is needed. They have 16 channels. We have used them for switching and I have not had any problems about hearing the other person. I have not heard about radios The only thing that I do not like about the mobile radio is that it only has the hand mic, not the mic on the front like our old Motorola locomotive radio. That is a rather minor thing though.

We got these radios several years ago, and I do not recall what they cost, but I do know that they were fairly inexpensive.

Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:33 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:39 am
Posts: 33
What bands are you liscensed to operate on? It makes a difference if you can only operate on FRS radio frequencies vs. business frequencies. How many radios? Do you want handheld mics for the radio? Any moble (vehicle mounted) or base station's in there. Only makes a difference in that they all need to be able to use the same frequencies.

Yaesu makes some nice ones.
http://www.yaesu.com/
Products->VHF/UHF handhelds is what you want.

As does I-Com, Motorolla, and Kenwood. I'm a ham radio operator, and I personally have a Yaaesu I got second hand. Its almost 20 years old, and the only thing wrong with it was the previous owner let the batter sit too long and die. New battery and it works just fine. My room mate is one of the editors for the ARRL (American radio relay league) magizine, and that's what he has for his handheld. He also uses an I-Com as his mobile (vehicle mounted). Yaseu and I-Com tend to be a little cheaper, but it all depends on what deals you find. There's a lot of used equipment out there from all these companies, and you can get some good deals sometimes.


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:38 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 342
Location: Kingston NY
We're a small operation with a grand total of four handheld radios. They are all Motorola; three are CP200 and one is BPR40. The CP200's are about four years old and the BPR40 is one year old. The lapel mics and antennas are interchangeable between the two models. No problems with the radios so far. (We never bothered to get a VHF RR band frequency, so we're on a shared UHF commercial frequency with private line.)

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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 973
Location: Back in NE Ohio
Having had experience with hand sets as an active duty Class I railroader, let me just say that the Icom radios I've dealt with were technically, crap. Muddy sound reproduction, and lack of range being the two worst problems I've experienced. My assigned radio was an older 8 channel Motorola P 110, and it could run rings around those Icoms. Granted you are probably not trying to talk to a conductor nearly 10,000 feet away attempting to re-arm an EOT over a hill, but you might be trying to use one to call a station or dispatcher. It is a truism, but you get what you pay for.


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 4:35 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
I asked a radio professional with railfan cred to chime in, but he hasn't yet, so let me chime in with what little I can:

Motorola radios are/were considered the "Volvos" of radios, much like Nikons were for 35mm photography. We don't call the handheld transcievers "bricks" just because of the weight or physical resemblance. Pricy, and last forever, and easily survive operator klutziness/incompetence/etc.

Yaesu is probably considered the EMD or GM of the ham radio hobby by now. Kenwood would be the GE or Ford. Icomm would probably be the Chrysler or Toyota of the GM/Ford field.

Some aspects of "industrial-use" transcievers have gotten increasingly proprietary over the years; the ability to swap out mics, for example, has largely disappeared as they've gone from standard plug-ins to custom interfaces.

If you have a small operation and need a limited number of units, you MIGHT want to check with a local radio rental outfit to see if they may be upgrading one of their rental systems and have a few used HTs (handheld transcievers) and a base station available for resale.


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:23 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 427
This is a question with many correct and many wrong answers.

You said you run one car on a five mile line.

Do you have any radios now?

If you do are they RR band or business band or ? ?

Is the line hilly or flat?

Is the line straight or curved?

Is the station at one end or somewhere in the middle?

Are there any radio towers on or near the line?

What about work equipment?

Do you have a secure location for a base station?

And on and on, but it's a start.

-Hudsonl (N0NMX)


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:22 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 5:04 am
Posts: 5
Had a friend drop a Motorola from atop a boxcar to the ballast.

Still works like new.


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:31 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:56 am
Posts: 1330
Location: Roanoke Va.
We've been using these for several years...programmable on both commercial and AAR frequencies. They have been very reliable, they are light and portable, and are fairly inexpensive. By shopping around, you can find them for well under $200 apiece.

http://blackboxradios.com/users/awp.php?ln=714379

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Gary


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:43 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:07 pm
Posts: 115
Location: Surrey, B.C.
HudsonL wrote:
This is a question with many correct and many wrong answers.

You said you run one car on a five mile line.

Do you have any radios now?

If you do are they RR band or business band or ? ?

Is the line hilly or flat?

Is the line straight or curved?

Is the station at one end or somewhere in the middle?

Are there any radio towers on or near the line?

What about work equipment?

Do you have a secure location for a base station?

And on and on, but it's a start.

-Hudsonl (N0NMX)

thank you....
This is a question with many correct and many wrong answers.

You said you run one car on a five mile line.
Yes

Do you have any radios now?
As we run on a working railroad we do have a stationary locomotive radio with antenna on top of our car. This is used to get clearance from the Railroad’s RTC.

If you do are they RR band or business band or ? ?
RR

Is the line hilly or flat?
Flat

Is the line straight or curved?
Curved

Is the station at one end or somewhere in the middle?
East end

Are there any radio towers on or near the line?
Yes

What about work equipment?
?

Do you have a secure location for a base station?
Yes


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:52 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:07 pm
Posts: 115
Location: Surrey, B.C.
Evan wrote:
We're a small operation with a grand total of four handheld radios. They are all Motorola; three are CP200 and one is BPR40. The CP200's are about four years old and the BPR40 is one year old. The lapel mics and antennas are interchangeable between the two models. No problems with the radios so far. (We never bothered to get a VHF RR band frequency, so we're on a shared UHF commercial frequency with private line.)


Evan
As this was our first year operating we just used cell phones when we wanted to communicate from the station to the car operator who, as mentioned may be 5 miles away. Since the cell phones were volunteers it could cause a problem if the owners did not show up. As such our search for a portable radio
We were offered the BPR40. With your experience using it would it reach the distance we need? Or any other info on this unit you would care to offer

Thanks for any info
Robert


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 5:30 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 342
Location: Kingston NY
Robert,
Our line is 1.5 miles long but with the trees and buildings the signal has to bounce through that seems to be close to the range limit of the radios. But we're using UHF simplex. Things which will improve range: VHF, less scatter (minimize objects in the line of sight), using a base station, etc. Before you commit to buying radios, see if you can test them in your conditions with the distance you need.

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--Evan


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:34 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:53 pm
Posts: 39
Location: Georgetown, CO
At the GLRR (Colorado) we had several Motorola HT 750 handheld radios that we were able to narrowband with the requirement to do so last year. To supplement our portable radios we purchased some Kenwood TK-2402 handheld radios. While they are smaller, lighter and technically rated at the same 5 watts of power as the Motorola HT 750's the Motorola's are the first to go out each day when the crews come in to work (first come - first served). Pretty much speaks for itself.

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:08 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:29 am
Posts: 211
PhilJ is right Motorola is the way to go....
If it were me...I would look at ebay or some such. you want motorola HT 1000,750 or better.
1K's and 750's are older radios now, but should be able to be narrow banded and reconditioned as needed by a competent radio shop.
I've used Motorola's on several railroads, in places like Colorado's mountains,
Arizona deserts and Florida swamps....They are good durable,reliable radios. They can take quite a bit of abuse.....that's not saying they are indestructable, just tougher than junk like Kenwood,etc.
Things to watch out for: keep them dry, as they aren't water proof...you can get bags for them to use in the rain. If they get wet, they should be fine once they dry out.
If you drop them, watch out for broken tabs on the batterys and the radio itself. Once the radio tabs are broken its pretty much done.... unless you want to use a rubber band to hold it together.....
HT 1000's put out a bit more power than 750's and are a bit bigger.
Both can be had with keypads, if you have remote crossings those are handy.
There are also MT's and JT's, such as JT 1250's...they are newer, usually more expensive.....
If you want to get a set I can help you out.


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 Post subject: Re: Portable radios
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:36 pm 

Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 10:40 am
Posts: 119
Careful with the Motorola HT-1000. Some of them are narrow band compatible and some are not.


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