CB radio or just a set of the 2-ways?

Discussion in 'MINI' started by versus, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. versus

    versus Active Member

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    #1 versus, Sep 29, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
    Caught this NAM thread on CB radio's, Blimey contributed a lot, but it's kinda dead now. Anyway, it got me thinking about the merits of a CB radio in your MINI vs a pair of 2 way radios (walkie talkie's in my neck of the woods) or vise versa.

    NAM thread here

    A lot of people posted saying they enjoy being able to hear the truckers on a CB and it makes it a bit easier to know where LEO's are or why traffic is janky. Downsides: Massive antenna, power drain and you'd have to mount it somwhere.

    2 way radios are smaller and seem to be increasing their feature set all the time, so portability is a plus. Problems mentioned were range and charge life.

    Obviously there's no rule that says you can't have both:D. IF you do have a CB in your MINI please share photos of the install:Thumbsup:

    Thoughts?:popcorn:
     
  2. ZippyNH

    ZippyNH Well-Known Member

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    #2 ZippyNH, Sep 29, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
    Depends on what you want to do.
    I just installed a Cobra 19 IV with a Francis 4.5' Antenna....mounted with a Mirror mount on the rear tow hook...so zero permanent changes to the car. Performance is pretty good. About 4 miles, cost, about $90 or so, total. It fits perfectly on the Euro parcel shelf too!!
    Remember SIZE matters (with antennas anyway)I wanted the 5.5 foot, but shipping was too much, and the 4.5 is available in many truck-stops. A 102 inch Stainless Steel Whip (The ONLY GOOD ANTENNA at Radio-Shack) on a spring to give you 108 inch length is the BEST CB antenna possible, but almost comically long. Also I was told it would likely be hard to tune to get a good SWR reading (due to the hatchback)...too high, and it performs poorly, and can fry the radio!! Remember, CB's are AM radios (operating at about 27Mhz), operating at about 4 watts, so the draw is only about 1.5 amps, unless you spend big $$ and get a liner amp or "CW" , even then, the common ones put out about 100 watts, and are illegal of course. You could get a Cell phone look-a-like glass mount...but their performance is pretty poor....or get a magnetic mount on the roof if you don't have the sunroof....and take it for for local stuff.
    IF you want a CB...it depends on what you want....may trucks don't even have them on anymore....so even compared to 10 yrs ago...much has changed.
    A Walkie-talkie is great for club rides....it is unlikely somebody will have a CB in the group (in our groups in the NE anyways)!!
    I installed mine cause I will be driving 4 hours a day for 6 weeks or so...so it will be useful in supplementing my Radar detector.....even a good radar detector is useless against a smart cop with instant on!!
    Will it stay in the car when I am done with the driving...not sure...depends!!
    EDIT:One thing...if you do a bumper install and use a fiberglass antenna, be sure to get a top loaded antenna....many of the "trucker" style ones are middle or bottom loaded (the can looking thingy on some types)...just be sure the "load or coil" if it has a coil is ABOVE the roof...
    4.5' Francis Antenna CB25 4 1/2 foot Francis Hot Rod Antenna - Orange, Black or White
    This is the one I used...it is MUCH slimmer than many...blends in. The wires are internal, and it is pre-tuned for most installs. Other fiberglass antennas have the wire wrapped around the OUTSIDE, then have a plastic coating....so they are thicker.

    this pic is not mine....but similar mount!!
    [​IMG]
     
  3. versus

    versus Active Member

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    Thanks for the input! I've heard a lot about the Cobra units but I recently saw this one on buy.com, Buy.com - Midland 1001Z 40-Channel Mobile CB Radio with PA. It's a midland unit which I stumbled across while looking for good 2 way radios. Are there any features you need to look for avoid in 2 ways?
     
  4. ZippyNH

    ZippyNH Well-Known Member

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    I got the Cobra cause I found many posts saying it was the best of the "cheapies".
    The 19 IV does have a gain control. Found that statement in a few places.

    http://www.sparkyscbshack.com/recommended.html

     
  5. Justa Jim

    Justa Jim Well-Known Member
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    I had one like this on an old motorcycle. The hand device is the entire thing and the cord goes to a box that can be mounted anyplace, like under the bonnet.

    Cobra Electronics 75 WX ST 40-Ch Handheld CB Radio NICE - eBay (item 320596193711 end time Sep-29-10 21:41:59 PDT)

    Jim
     
  6. thirdraildesignlab

    thirdraildesignlab New Member

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    When I was doing the runs with the MINI Maverick group out here in Northern California, I used my two-ways, which were pretty inexpensive. I liked being the caboose, so it was easy enough to keep an eye out and get word up the road about anything untoward following us... small, loud enough to be heard, etc.
     
  7. versus

    versus Active Member

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    :Thumbsup: Thanks for the input. I'm thinking that with a 2-way I can at least have it on me. Might actually hear of those "phantom" runs up the dragon before they happen. :lol:
     
  8. ZippyNH

    ZippyNH Well-Known Member

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    Most 2-ways are about the same....
    They are basically line of sight...so when they quote "up to X miles" they mean if you are on the top of a mountain....you can talk to a person in the valley.
    Most units are pretty good...most have privacy codes, LOW/High power to save battery's....some units have jacks for earphones or remote mikes!!
    The frequency is higher than CB's, so they are less prone to interference....and they are smaller!! Most use 6-8 AAA batts...so a 12V adapter is nice...transmitting on HI power kills the batts very fast!!
     
  9. jcauseyfd

    jcauseyfd New Member

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    I really wish I could find a 2-way radio that I could mount in my MINI. Maybe with a good external speaker and a nice antenna and the ability to either tap in with a headset or a separate handheld mic (ala a CB mike). Twister sprung for a really expensive 2-way that is really powerful. I just don't like the handheld form factor.
     
  10. YeloMini

    YeloMini Member

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    #10 YeloMini, Oct 5, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2010
    Probably won't find a CB style FRS radio. But you'll find many with headsets. Like this one for example. Small earpiece with boom mic.

    [​IMG]

    For mounting a universal cell phone holder or something like a Proclip base with velcro or some kind of bracket to clip a belt clip on. There's always a way to mount things a vehicle. Might have to get creative on that part.

    Ones like those above will be hard to power from a vehicle though. They recharge, but not run from their power adapter.

    A vehicle powered option would be a Garmin Rino with the 12v adapter and earpiece/mic. It'll give you a GPS track as well to load on a computer later to see where you've been. And they have car mounts for them (suction cup or bar mounts). Might be able to find mounts from other companies as well. RAM makes some.

    Not in-expensive but as an example,

    Rino 110
    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=146&pID=6404
    12v Adapter
    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=833
    Earbud/Headset (click on the Accessory Tab then scroll down to Other)
    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=146&pID=6404#accessoryTab
    Suction cup mount
    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=859

    Radio Shack had this one but I don't think it's for sale any more.
    http://www.popularwireless.com/gmrsradioshack211850.html
     
  11. YeloMini

    YeloMini Member

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    Amazon has a set with earpieces in their gold box section today.

    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Midland-GXT1050VP4-36-Mile-50-Channel-Two-Way/dp/B001WM73P0"]Amazon.com: Midland GXT1050VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair) (Camo): [email protected]@[email protected]@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/[email protected]@[email protected]@51j-NAbnKRL[/ame]
     
  12. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I installed a 45 watt VHF radio (the hand-held FRS/GMRS radios are usually 2 watt) in my MINI for when I lead group drives. It doesn't have the random participation of a CB, but works great for a more controlled broadcast like for club drives and I can broadcast/recieve to the FRS/GMRS bubble-pack radios like those shown above.

    Pics and details are here: MINI COOPER :: North American Motoring - FRS/GMRS mobile repeater
     
  13. jcauseyfd

    jcauseyfd New Member

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    Thanks for linking that. I had pretty much figured out the ICom 221 was the way to go with it mounted in the cubby below the toggles. Can you comment on what the sound output is like? During club drives, I tend to keep my windows down, so lots of wind noise. Sometimes I use a "headphone" that goes in my ear with a mic, other times just use the radio directly (more often the case when I have a passenger).

    Can you hear the radio ok even with it mounted so low?
     
  14. ZippyNH

    ZippyNH Well-Known Member

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    I don't have any experance with that radio, but I have a CB sitting on a Euro Parcel rack under the steering wheel, with a downward facing speaker....the sound is OK for highways speeds, but with a window open, you might want a secondary amplified speaker, pointed in the right direction.
     
  15. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I'm cross-posting some of the pics for the discussion:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    #16 agranger, Dec 16, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010
    The volume capacity for this little radio is pretty good. The speaker projects out of the front of the unit and I usually drive windows down for club drives as well. Of course it will be easier to hear with the windows up, but the sound quality is more of a factor of the broadcasting unit with this radio than a limitation of the speaker quality/direction or volume.

    The one thing I do miss is the ability to use sub-channels. On my larger drives I don't like to use sub-channels as some folks have the cheapest of FRS handsets that don't have the sub-channel option. When you are at MOTD or some other large event where lots of people are using FRS, having your own sub-channel is nice so you are not stepping all over other conversations.

    When I was at Fontana, people up at Fontana village heard me broadcasting from the campground (base of the dam)... I couldn't hear them because their signal was too weak to cut through the trees, but someone heard me and mentioned it later at a party. On a large run that I lead every year, we split into 2 groups, a 'scenic' drive that I lead and and a 'spirited' drive that leaves 15 min later that Nathan has lead for the past several years. When I was at the top of a mountain, about 15 min (10 miles) away, Nathan's group heard me broadcasting like I was standing right next to them.

    I am loving the bracket that I made for the handset and it is still working great after 2-3 years. I think I made it from a bit of aluminum stock that I cut out of a door kickplate that I bought at Home Depot. The only thing that I would change is that I would try to set it just a tad bit lower... maybe 2-3mm is all. When I eject the CD, I have to catch it on the way out and lift the leading edge a bit so it doesn't snag on the top of the bracket. If I ever have to disassemble that downtube, I may oval out the mounting holes a bit to drop the bracket just a smidge.
     
  17. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    I find the FRS radios to work pretty well if the group is tight, not so much when they spread out. But, I don't want to be yakking on club drives anyway, as I'm supposed to be driving!

    When we do local KC club drives we all exchange cell phone numbers with the drive leaders, so if anyone gets lost they can find the group again.

    On a recent long trip caravanning with a couple others it was fun to have the FRS radios as we could chat to while away the time on the superslab - I found the batteries lasted pretty long, our drive was 8 hrs and they were still going strong when we got there. When we couldn't hook up over the radio due to traffic or distance, the cells worked fine.

    Do any of the new FRS units have Bluetooth compatability yet? Thay way you could possible use the same wireless headset (some have noise reduction built in for top down or windows open motoring) for either the radio or the cell.
     
  18. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I agree w/ you Dave. The FRS radios are great for a long, caravan road trip. I used rechargeable batteries and usually got 1 full day of full-time use (listening w/ occasional talking) on each charge.

    For club drives, by the time you get 15+ cars in a row, the hand-held units can't reach from the lead car to the far back car. That's why I went for the full-size unit. The handhelds broadcast at 2 watts. My base unit broadcasts at 45 watts (limited to 15 for some channels per legal requirements) and transmits much further. The very helpful guy at my radio shop swears up and down that what really helps reception/transmission is the exterior antenna. Either way, cars at the back of my 30 car chain can hear all of my transmissions very easily and I can generally hear the caboose as long as he/she has a decent handheld.

    When I just had a handheld unit, I paid $15 for a pair of earpieces with an integrated mic... it's like the iPod headphones... 2 earpieces with an in-line mic (with a push button to talk). I experimented on one of them and cut off one of the ear pieces. That way I could easily hear what was going on outside of the car and still keep up with the conversation with all of the windows down and the sunroof open. A VOX setup would have been nice and would have been hands-free, but then everyone might have heard me singing along (badly) to my Broadway showtunes CDs. :D I haven't seen a system w/ bluetooth yet.
     
  19. jcauseyfd

    jcauseyfd New Member

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    I was under the impression the 221 has CTCSS capabilities (aka sub-channels). Is that not correct?
     
  20. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    It's possible... I'm no radio expert. Perhaps if you use the config cable and dedicate one of the chanels to it, but I had no idea that it could do it. I was barely able to make small modifications to the channel map on my radio.
     

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