Letter Re: Which Band is Best for an Unlicensed Handheld Transceiver?

Mr. Rawles:
We would like to purchase a weather band radio, plus several walkie-talkies. We want radios that don’t need a license, for use around our house and around town, as well as for up at our cabin in the U.P. [Upper Peninsula] of Michigan, which we are stocking for a retreat. (My husband is a part-time building contractor. Last summer, we made a fairly narrow windowless utility room in the cabin “vanish” by removing its door and molding and sheetrocking it. The only entrance to the room is now via a secret door at the end of a paneled closet in an adjoining bedroom.) We have some low power [500 Milliwatt] walkie-talkies, but they don’t have the power to talk between our [Ford 4WD] Excursion and our Winnebago RV when we “convoy” on our trips to Michigan. What do you recommend? What band is best for walkie talkies? CB? MURS? Is MURS in the same band as a weather radio? Thank you for your time. – Alice in Akron

JWR Replies: Unless you want to go to the trouble of getting license, where 2 Meter band and GMRS have advantages, my advice is to get several MURS band hand-held radios. The MURS band is near the NOAA weather band, but in different allocated frequencies. NOAA weather alert radio stations all broadcast in a set-aside small band allocation from 162.400 to 162.550 MHz. Local frequencies can be found at a NOAA web page. Most police scanners, MURS radios, and 2 Meter Band radios can receive in the NOAA “WX” band. Dedicated WX band receive-only radios are available from Radio Shack for less than $30. As you might expect, broadcasting by anyone other than NOAA in this band restricted. Most MURS hand-held have four times the power of your current walkie-talkies. BTW, if you can order one or more MURS hand-held transceivers from $49 MURS Radios, they can program your local NOAA frequency (in receive-only mode) upon request. BTW, they can also program them to use a Dakota Alert “driveway alarm” intrusion detection system frequency. (These also use the MURS band.) That is exactly what they did for us, for the three MURS hand-helds that we recently bought to use here at the Rawles Ranch. BTW, I recently found a link to a useful FAQ on MURS. Among other things, the FAQ describes some of the advantages of MURS over FRS and 27 MHz CB, and spells out the FCC limitations on MURS external antennas, which are thankfully quite generous.