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Author Topic: *** PLEASE HELP *** non-HAM needs to talk 20 miles  (Read 925 times)

Posts: 2

« on: August 31, 2001, 03:07:43 AM »

Hello!  Thanks for offering to help.

Here is the deal:  I will be working on two islands, 20 miles apart, needing to coordinate aiming of microwave antennas at each other.  How in the world can I talk from one island to the other?  

Telephones arent available.

All the 2-way radios I have seen are limited to 5 miles.  

Could I do this with a CB radio?  Some other hand-held device?  We are going to be in the boonies, so if I needed to amplify the output of this radio device, I can't see how anyone could possibly be disturbed (or even know).

This is going to be outside of the US, and in the boonies like I said, so stuff like licensing and restrictions really is a non-issue.  

Thanks so much!

Scott the Clueless

Posts: 2

« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2001, 10:25:26 AM »

I think a few people have missed the point of the question.  Let me retry:

For a ONE-TIME (or maybe a few more) antenna aiming, I need to communicate about 20 miles, from the top of a tower on an island mountain to another tower top across the water.

I need some sort of mobile (semi-mobile?) radio to make this happen.

I am not a ham.  I do not care to BE a ham (no offense, but getting a license isn't solving my problem).  I do not care at all about the implications of unlicensed broadcasting at higher-than-allowed wattage, because where we will be, NO ONE ELSE IS.

So, is there a rather inexpensive radio that I could buy and then perhaps "juice up"?  I don't know amplifier fundamentals, but I am handy with electronics (soldering, etc).  If I went the CB route, am I gonna have to tote a 10' antenna up with me?  That would be ok, but not desirable.  Regarding amplification, I could carry batteries for that, or it is even possible that we could run an extension cord to power each side of our temporary link.

Thanks so much for your previous advice, and for any more that may follow!

Posts: 120

« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2001, 09:38:23 AM »

Yes, CB could do it easily for you.  It is not the radio that makes the "range", it is the efficiency of your antenna system.  I work stations all over the world with 5 watts.

Secondly, you could pick up a book and get your ham licenses.  All it takes is a little study time and taking a test.  The entry class license doesn't even require the knowledge of morse code.

Swing by the and check it out.  Also, remember "antenna efficiency" that will be your key.  Good luck!

« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2001, 06:16:23 PM »


Please research the laws of the land where
you are working in.

You could be getting in over your head
using any radio if it is not legal in the
land you are in.

In other words, you are a guest in another
country and will be subject to the laws or
lack of laws in the country.

Here in the US we have and enjoy many rights
that are not recognized by other countries.

Many countries can jail you for an undetermined
amount of time without charging you with a crime.

Please take the time to check it out.


Posts: 303

« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2001, 10:42:25 AM »

If you where to go with a CB radio I beleive it would be best to get a Single Side Band (SSB) rig. and take
advantage of more power. In the U.S. a regular CB
is limited to only 4 watts !! that will get you about 10 miles AT BEST.
SSB mode is 12 watts output and at 20 miles you'll need all of that.
The next most important factor is the antenna.
I don't know how much you may have to change locations
or what type of tower (mast) you can have.
HEIGHT is important, get as high as possible on both
islands. Next if possible get a beam type (directional)
antenna as that will concentrate your signal (like these dishes your aiming) to the other station.

Good Luck !

Posts: 26

« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2001, 02:39:03 AM »

To the devil with CB!

Get your ham license!  Its not as hard as you may think, and you will have a ball as I have had over the past 20 years.

Feel free to e mail me with any questions, I can point you in the right direction toward finding people who will help you get your ham ticket.


« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2001, 08:20:10 AM »

Ham License?  Worthless.  The question was asked regarding needing a radio for WORKING on an island.  This precludes any sort of AMATEUR license as far as I know.

Please investigate the local laws. There is likely some form of commercial radio equipment useful for this purpose.  If something similar to CB exists, use that.  In the US, CB is on 27 MHz.  With a full 5W and a decent antenna, it's really easy to go FAR more than 20 miles.  Since you'll be aiming microwave antennas, it sounds like you'll be way up in the air and in the clear.  Should be a snap even with lower power and a crummy antenna.

Posts: 23

« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2001, 01:04:32 PM »


You say that you are setting up Microwave Links between the two islands, so you must have line of site between them. You might look into getting a couple of GMRS handheld radios, they are in the 460 MHz band. you could get a couple of beam antennas if you need the extra erp.
I hope this helps.
Tom Ellis

« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2001, 10:48:03 AM »

You could lease satellite phones.

Posts: 1

« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2001, 08:11:32 PM »

I can think of several options; you do not say what country is involved, so I am not sure what services are allowed.
20 miles is NOT that far away, only the distance across a US county or even a larger city. 20 miles over open water is line of sight.

You can use Inmarsat - if money is no object.
You can try VHF Marine - perhaps a yagi antenna at both ends of the link. 25watts into a good antenna at 30 feet above the water should get you many miles, higher the better, but not high enough to catch hurricanes or typoons.
You could use CB - depending on WHERE you are, depends on what bands/channels are legal. I would suggest SSB if it is legal on your island.

Have you looked at HF Marine? This may be overkill for only 20 mile communications. If you needed 100 mile or more, a fixed HF marine system with a NVIS antenna system...

If this was a link that should be reliable, Inmarsat would be the best, but you should also consider multi-band, a VHF Marine radio link AND the CB link as a secondary system.

Posts: 7

« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2003, 09:41:16 AM »

Well you have a few things you can do.

1) Use a CB system, esp. SSB, if you are gonna be out there on 'remote' islands, the 27 MHz band should be pretty free, and you might just be able to use a few junk radioshack CB radios (just make sure you get a nice antenna) and make it work.

2) Use a MURS system, the new MURS channels are pretty much used all over the world now (illegal yes, but FRS is illegal in many places, and it is used)
The MURS radios are pretty much VHF business band frequencies that are license-free. My advice would be to get some nice VHF base stations, and some nice virtical antennas (Ringos, maybe?) and then use the MURS channels (151.820, 151.880, 151.940, 154.570, and 154.600 MHz).  With a nice antenna, 20 miles should be no problem.

3) Use a GMRS system, although 20 miles would be a strech, because GMRS is UHF, i would go with either the CB system or MURS system.  (the CB idea would be cheaper.

As far as Marine HF goes, it is overkill, unless you use it on the CB band (26.965 to 27.405) or the Business Radio HF Channels (27.430, 27.450, 27.470, 27.490, 29.710, 29.730, 29.750 MHz)

thanks, and if you have any questions, e-mail me at

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