KJ6VU Camping & Radio Communications Home Page

Tent Trailer packing checklist text version, or Excel file.

Wilderness radio protocol - where to listen and when while in the campground and on the trail.

Pop-up tent trailer news group: alt.rv.pop-up-trailers

Campers often want information about using two-way radios to keep in touch while camping. This web site is intended to provide my fellow pop-up camper owners with an introduction to radio communications for use in camping.

Family Radio Service

The new Family Radio Service radios are great. There is finally a license free radio service that uses good quality radio equipment for recreational use. The "FRS" radios are all about the same. They are low power, UHF (462 MHz) FM two-way radios. Basically the same technology used by your local police or fire department.

FM radios have good sound quality and a squelch circuit that keeps the radio quiet until a station transmits. This is light-years better than the old noisy / clunky / chunky CB radios!

These kind of radios provide "line of sight" range. This means that if you can see it, you can talk to it. You can get several miles range between units if you can see the other station. However, in practical use, where we camp where there are lots of trees, hills and other obstructions, the range can be greatly limited. The radios can easily communicate all around the campground and typically within a mile or so given the variation in terrain.

As far as equipment is concerned, all manufacturers have about the same basic specs... 14 Channels 0.3 to 0.5 watts Non-removable antanna Operates on two or three "AA" batteries From the feature point of view, they are all the same. Given they all sell for about $110 to $150 I personally would stick with THE top name in two-way commercial radio... Motorola. Motorola TalkAbout FRS radios. The other guys are a bit cheaper and will work about as well, but I would stick with the the old "batwing" (motorola).

By the way, don't be fooled by the 32 "privacy codes" or whatever they call this feature, the ads from the retail or catalog suppliers imply that you get 14 channels times 32 privacy codes which could be misinterpreted as 400+ channels. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. The privacy codes allow multiple users to share the same channel (1 of 14) and not hear the other users of the channel unless they dial in the same code. However, only one person may transmit at a time to be heard.


Equipment Reviews

FCC Federal Communications Commission Family Radio Service page.

Amateur Radio (aka: Ham Radio)

We use portable UHF FM ham radios that are very similar and they work graeat. While providing basically the same capability as FRS radios, the advantages of using ham radio equipment is... - Lots more frequencies (100's and 100's compared to FRS) - Higher power (.5 watts to 5 watts on a hand held) - Higher gain antennas - High powered mobile radios 10 watts to 50 watts - Access to thousands of repeater stations on mountain tops and towers located all accross the US to greatly extend your range.

If you are interested in checking out more about ham radio, you should check out the following web sites...

Ham radio overview: http://www.arrl.org/hamradio.html

Or check out my web site: http://www.qsl.net/kj6vu

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Web site maintained by George, KJ6VU.