On-site radio communications for TDIfest2015?

n1das

TDIClub Enthusiast, Veteran Member
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I was thinking it might be useful for people attending TDIfest2015 to bring some GMRS/FRS "bubble pack" 2-way radios if they have them. They could be useful for local on-site 2-way chit-chat between fellow TDIclub members on-site at the 'fest and at events. They could also be useful when traveling as a group to/from TDIfest and for the group drive up Mt. Washington.

Given that I'm a ham radio guy (N1DAS) and also a GMRS licensee (KAE9013), I'm planning to bring some of my GMRS handhelds for myself and Lisa (g/f) to use. We always have them at events and other stuff where it is handy to have local on-site 2-way radio communications. In general we have found the more we use them the more uses we find for them. The relatively short communications range is not an issue since they are only used for local on-site communications. They are great in situations where people you need to communicate with are out of earshot but are still in the general area.

While there are plenty of smartphone apps that provide 2-way radio "walkie-talkie" functionality, there are many times where the simplicity of a pair of analog UHF handhelds works better and is overall more efficient for local on-site chit-chat. Since TDIfest2015 is in a rural area, cell phone network coverage may be spotty or nonexistent, depending on your carrier. YMMV. At least using conventional analog UHF handhelds doesn't require many millions of dollars of network infrastructure to be in place for them to work like a cell phone does.

Thoughts?
 
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Nash_TDI

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Pretty decent idea. Spotty coverage up there if I recall. We do this at the r32 even I go to every year cause there is No coverage.
 

VeeDubTDI

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This is a good idea and I recommend that people bring a pair of these with them if for nothing other than locating one another in the hotel and on the grounds.
 

n1das

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This is a good idea and I recommend that people bring a pair of these with them if for nothing other than locating one another in the hotel and on the grounds.
What VeeDubTDI said. :cool:

I recall my cell phone coverage at TDIfest2013 ranged from spotty to nonexistent. YMMV.

Here's a good source for radios:
http://radios.factoryoutletstore.com/cat/38252/2-Way-Recreational-Radios.html

Among the cheap GMRS/FRS "bubble pack" radios, the Motorola TalkAbout models are my favorites.
http://radios.factoryoutletstore.com/cat/38253/Motorola-Recreational-Radios-.html

I bought a few of the Motorola TalkAbout T465 radio to play with. I should receive these in a few days.
http://radios.factoryoutletstore.com/details/38253-170541/motorola-t465.html

The 35 mile range claims are a joke. Under most "normal" conditions, you'll be very lucky to get a mile or two out of them when outside. The claimed range is doable under ideal conditions though, i.e., with nothing in the way, like direct line of sight from mountaintop to mountaintop. YMMV. Anyhow, they are more than sufficient for local on-site chit-chat in the hotel and on the grounds. Could also come in handy for the Mt. Washington group drive!

Lisa and I are planning to be on TalkAbout channel 18 (462.625MHz) using Code #22 (141.3Hz CTCSS) while at the 'fest.
 
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Lug_Nut

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May I suggest that the fest organizers designate a channel, or two for their communication and monitoring and respectfully request that others use different channels for guest-to-guest chat?
Channel a for organizer to organizer logistics, channel b for guest to ping the organizers, and the other 20+ channels for the gab 'fest.
 

1854sailor

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I, personally, will be enjoying real time conversation. I'm happy that cell coverage on the mountain is spotty… My phone will be turned off.
 
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vwUMO

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I have 6-8 grams radios (and a license) as well as repeaters that we can use. Also a ham...
 

n1das

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I have 6-8 grams radios (and a license) as well as repeaters that we can use. Also a ham...
Same here, both ham and GMRS-licensed. :cool: I have commercial-grade handhelds and also some cheap "bubble pack" radios.

For 'fest activities I suggest keeping it simple with local simplex (direct) comms. Most of the GMRS/FRS bubble pack radios are not GMRS repeater-capable so they will be limited to local direct-only use.
 

Abacus

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I spoke to my brother about going since I'll bet his B4 would win the "been around the block" category hands down. But he's also a HAM instructor and geeks out with his radios, even hosting a local net a few times as week. He was on the fence until I mentioned some other ham people going, and that piqued his interest.
 

vwUMO

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I spoke to my brother about going since I'll bet his B4 would win the "been around the block" category hands down. But he's also a HAM instructor and geeks out with his radios, even hosting a local net a few times as week. He was on the fence until I mentioned some other ham people going, and that piqued his interest.
Cool. If he ends up attending, I'll show him my stealth HAM setup. Some would say its a dying artform but it always just works unlike other tech!
 

n1das

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Cool. If he ends up attending, I'll show him my stealth HAM setup. Some would say its a dying artform but it always just works unlike other tech!
I will be bringing a 2m/440 dual HT for ham chit-chat and also bringing my handheld scanner to listen to stuff.

I'd like to check out the stealth ham setup. My X5 35d is proving to be not very ham-friendly for mobile antenna installs. I'm open to suggestions for how to do a 2m/440 dual band antenna or 2 separate mobile antennas. The roof area above the headliner is jammed full with the retractable sunshade and pano roof mechanism.
 
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bhtooefr

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I'm assuming it has a satellite radio antenna? I'm figuring the area near that would have somewhere you could get a NMO mount in the roof. (Or, if you don't use satellite radio, just remove that antenna and put the NMO mount there.)

It's also worth asking BMW if they have suggested locations for two-way radio antenna mounting. (BMW USA may not, but BMW in Germany may, too.)

In any case, I'll bring a 2m/440 HT (probably won't use it much if at all, though), and probably bring something GMRS/FRS too.
 

n1das

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I'm assuming it has a satellite radio antenna? I'm figuring the area near that would have somewhere you could get a NMO mount in the roof. (Or, if you don't use satellite radio, just remove that antenna and put the NMO mount there.)

It's also worth asking BMW if they have suggested locations for two-way radio antenna mounting. (BMW USA may not, but BMW in Germany may, too.)

In any case, I'll bring a 2m/440 HT (probably won't use it much if at all, though), and probably bring something GMRS/FRS too.
It has the sharkfin antenna for sat radio. The area behind the sharkfin ant would be perfect for an NMO mount but access to that area is blocked by a structural support member of the car body. Can't get up in there without cutting a hole in that piece. Further up front of the sharkfin ant is blocked by the sliding pano roof parts. The sharkfin ant is located exactly where I could do an NMO mount if the sharkfin wasn't already there. It's not hard to pull the headliner down enough to see up there and see that all available roof area is already being used. We could pull it apart at the 'fest and study it. My other option are 2 single band glass mounts on the small rear side windows. So far it's proving to be not as ham-friendly as other car installs I've done in the past.

I'm planning to bring a 2m/440 HT, handheld scanner, several commercial-grade handhelds to use on GMRS, and several GMRS/FRS bubble packs.
 

n1das

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2014 BMW 535xd ///M-Sport, 2012 BMW X5 Xdrive35d, former 3x TDI owner
I found my talkabouts but can't find the charger. Any body have one it is a weird looking thing
I can't help with a charger. Some of the TalkAbouts had a mini-USB charging connector. Older non-USB chargeable models had to be dropped into a charging cradle. The newest generation has a micro-USB charging connector, like what just about all new cell phones have. All of the Motorola TalkAbout models can use AA or AAA alkaline batteries in place of the NiMH rechargeable pack.

As a Plan B I recommend bringing a stock of of fresh alkaline AA or AAA batts to use instead.

Good luck.
 

n1das

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2014 BMW 535xd ///M-Sport, 2012 BMW X5 Xdrive35d, former 3x TDI owner
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vwUMO

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The preferred communication method is smoke signal.
 
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