Okanogan Highlands Communications Group
Radio Q and A
Last Up-Dated - 05/01/2022
Question: Does radio work just like my Cell Phone?
*Today's modern cell phones use “Cell Towers” to boost their frequency/range to get your signal out further and or to connect you to the internet.
*VHF/UHF Radio (“CB”, MURS, FRS, GMRS) work by “Line-of-Sight” watch can be up to 25 to 35 miles at the very very best.
Question: What do I need to do to make sure that I’m getting the very best signal range from my radio?
Answer: “TESTING” and Make sure to follow these steps first -
*Go outside and look around; Find the best area around your home that you are able to see the furthest.
*Now from that spot what kind of things are in your way/blocking your “Line-of-Sight” 360*?
(Trees and shrubs, power lines, other homes and or buildings, hillsides and so on)
ONLY after finding these things out, can you start planning your next steps.
Your next steps -
*Antenna Height (The mast)- How high do I need to go to get my antenna “Above” any obstacles that may be blocking my “Line-of-Sight”? And can this be done Safely?
(Try to keep your mast to 20’ to 30’ in height or at least 20’ above your roof)
*The Type of Antenna - Make sure no matter what to get a antenna with a very “hygain”
(We live in a not so radio friendly area; lots of hills, valleys and mountains all around us)
*Coax Cable “your antenna feedline” - This is the last piece of your puzzle, once again “DON'T” skip on the quality of your coax. Cheap coax will have a higher loss of gain (this is not good for trying to get your signal out). And then you have your “feedline run”; The shorter the length of your coax the better….from your antenna to your transceiver/radio.
Question: So what is the best Antenna to get?
Answer: That is and always has been the hundred-thousand-dollar question? And it will be different for everyone but, that's where “Testing” and “networking” with others from your area will help to get you started.
Some Antenna “101” that may help
Question: I live up a valley on a dirt road and my home is located at the bottom of the valley?
Answer: A “Yagi” / “Beam” Antenna maybe the best way to get your signal out
Question: I live in the North Oroville area, just South of the Canadian border, what kind of antenna should I be thinking about getting for my home station?
Answer: I would look into getting a “Yagi” / “Beam” Antenna; this way you can direct your signal better in the needed direction to pick-up other signals.
Question: I live in town? (Oroville, Tonasket or Omak) what is a good antenna set-up for me to go with for my home station?
Answer: Go with a good 2m/70cm “hygain” vertical base antenna, this will get your signal out 360* around you.
Question: I do not have a license and just use GMRS, what kind of antenna should I be looking at for my home station?
Answer: Once again go with a 2m/70cm antenna; because most GMRS Radios are able to be used as a scanner also.
*GMRS works on the 70cm frequencies
*And a lot of the newer GMRS radios are able to receive (ONLY) 2m frequencies; like a scanner.
Question: I rent and do not own the place where I live, what can I do as for setting up an antenna?
Answer: There are some very “stealthy” antennas on the market and some that you can make also, some even are “HOA” approved (kind of, lol..)
Question: Why do you NOT recommend FRS radios; They work just fine for me while out camping, hunting or ATV’ing?
Answer: First, yes they do work OK for “SHORT” range work/fun but, that's it…
Now days it’s well worth the extra price of a GMRS radio, here’s why:
Most GMRS radios can also be used as a scanner.
With a GMRS License your whole family is covered under one license (up to 10 people)
With your GMRS License you can use GMRS repeaters; in other words your range can go up to 50 to 75 miles in some cases…
And last, GMRS radio can go up to 50watts of power.