Long Range Survivor Radio: Antenna Range And GMRS Repeater Capable Radios

The other day a friend of mine was telling me about walkie talkies.  He was telling me that they had ranges of 25-30 miles.  Well, let me tell you something. Those are bogus claims. Walkie talkies communicate no further than the edge of the neighborhood. The painful thing about it is this. In an emergency, wrong expectations can be deadly.  What do I mean?  Well, what happens if you “think” your message is reaching miles away, when in reality its only reaching 3 houses over.  And no one is listening? So let’s talk about the idea of range and the things that can affect range.

Increasing Range With Your Antenna

First off, an antenna can be a factor that can increase or decrease your range. By swapping out antennas you can change the characteristics of the radio and increase your range.  Think about it like this.  An antenna radiates signals produced by your radio.  And by increasing the height of your antenna, you can improve the distance your signal radiates. Now there is one myth about antennas. Sometimes you’ll see a wattage rating attached to an antenna. And some people think that this is some kind of power rating.  But that’s not the power of the antenna.  An antenna doesn’t have its own strength.  All it does is radiate. So here’s what you want to do. Get your antenna as high up as possible.   That’s the simplest way you’ll increase its effectiveness, unless you want to take things a step further.

Another Idea: Repeaters

Now here’s another idea that most people don’t think about.  Repeaters. What is a repeater?  Very simply, its a device that receives and retransmits a signal.  They are used to increase radio ranges. So if you need range beyond line of sight, then repeaters become important.  Ham radios use repeaters. So where are these repeaters?  They are located in high spots like tops of mountains, buildings or towers.  That’s what gives them such long ranges. Now what’s interesting is GMRS radios can use repeaters too.  Matter of fact, some GMRS radios have repeater capabilities. Two examples are the Motorola MR355R or the Garmin Rhino 130 which has 8 repeater frequencies.

Now that I think about it, maybe ham isn’t the only way to go. Maybe a GMRS with repeater capable channels is the way to go! Check it out. For the price of a cheap license and a Motorola or Garmin Rhino, you might be long range ready!