CHOICE membership

2 way UHF Radios


#1

I am looking at buying a 2 way UHF radio for our car when we start our trip with a caravan. Any recommendations as to make / type would be welcome


#2

Uniden or GME Electrophone are good products . Be careful with Chinese sourced radios as they usually do not conform to ACMA requirements which makes them illegal to operate in Australia .

Wouxon or Baofeng radios are Chinese . They offer quad band performance but one must have a ham radio licence to operate them as they can transmit on the 2 metre and 70 cm bands which are outside the UHF CB bandwith . Quality is a bit iffy with them as well .


#3

If cost is less of an issue, I’d go for an Icom or Kenwood depending on what level of portability you are after - Yaesu might have one also. Icom make a couple of really nice units in various forms - dash mount, remote head and portable. I think Kenwood only make the portable (walky talky or handy talky as our US friends call them from memory). These units tend to be commercial quality (even some variations MIL spec) and very tolerant of bad setup externally.

At a consumer level as @vax2000 suggested you are fairly safe with Uniden and GME - both big names and been around a long time. I would be disinclined to even consider Oricom or the cheapie EBay imports.

Features I look for are 5 watt and for portable the option to back off to a lower wattage to save power - not an issue with in-vehicle mounting - and things like CTCSS (sometimes called subaudible tone or tone squelch) and SelCall/Selective calling - both of which are only useful if the people you are communicating with have the same corresponding features. In lay terms, CTCSS will only open squelch when the incoming signal presents a certain subaudible tone on the audio, roughly 0-250 Hz (all parties who want to open each others squelch need to agree/coordinate the tone). SelCall in lay terms is roughly similar except each transmission is commenced with a coded sequence of tones that open squelch/etc on similarly configured receivers. Neither system offers security - they just cut out unintended listening to other conversations - they don’t stop other users interfering with a conversation either - but if you are on the road for long periods with a few other like minded people you might appreciate not listening to every man and his dog along the way, noting that it is usually considered bad form to use these systems on common use channels.

If you are installing in a vehicle and you are not familiar with cable termination techniques, particularly coaxial cable and connectors (UHF type/PL-259, N-Type, BNC, whatever your radio needs) then I’d recommend getting some good advice and probably paying for installation. I’m not a fan of buying pre-built coaxial setups - if I haven’t seen the braid I don’t know how good it is - and they are nearly always longer than needed, sometimes significantly. At 27 MHz this wasn’t much of an issue, but at ~477 MHz and only 5 watts to play with you don’t want 3 metres of cable coiled up under the dash - rf transmission line loss not only affects how much power your antenna radiates in the simple sense of how much power eventually arrives at the antenna feed point, but also affects your ability to accurately tune the antenna (match the impedance). Type of antenna and placement on the vehicle are also important factors to consider and well worth getting advice on - this will affect how long the transmission line will need to be, the effectiveness of the antenna in terms of efficiency and radiation pattern and the more practical aspects of how it is mounted and whether it needs some flexibility to tilt or handle impacts (spring)/etc.

Finding a decent store where you can get good advice can be tricky. If they cater to commercial sales they are likely to be more expensive but probably a better outcome, but you can still find the odd ‘CB shop’ around that does installs and has ‘been around forever’ - if they are still in business in todays market that might mean something (??) who knows. You’re probably not likely to get solid advice from a Supercheap or Autobarn, as much as those stores are often great for pricing and convenience …


#4

Thank you for your detailed suggestions.

I had a CB radio many years ago, but since then, the models have changed , as have the capacity and ability of the radios now.

The information that you have provided, confirms my investigations and i appreciate the time and effort given in the detailed response to me.

Thanks

Peter