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  1. #1
    WoodburyHeights
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    Lightbulb dual band handheld portable radio?

    Looking for information on a dual band handheld portable radio. Our county works on UHF 500MHz, the nearby county uses 154 MHz VHF frequencies. We keep hearing that there are dual band portable radios on the market, but as of yet, have been able to identify one. Does anyone know if one is made? Manufacturer?

    Thanks,
    Steve Mower
    Station 15-1
    Woodbury Heights, NJ


  2. #2
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Your on 500MHz? Well, that isn't going to help you much.

    Vertex makes the only current Dual Band commercial radio but it only will go up to 490 in UHF. You may be able to special order it though Vertex to get all the way up into the 500's. If that doesn't work, there is no other portable out there. Mobiles are easy. Motorola and Kenwood both make setups to use two bands on one or two control heads. It simply uses two seperate trancievers and a connecting cable.

    I know someone will bring it up so I might as well dispell it right now. You could probably get a dual band Ham Radio to tune up into 500MHz. However, this is not legal and will not perform nearly as well as one designed to be on those frequencies. The Ham radio is tuned to be on 430/440, not 50Mhz higher on 500. And even if it did work, using a radio that is a violation of federal law is generally not good practice in a Fire Department. So just pretend the dual band ham radios do not exist.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  3. #3
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    There is a technical difficulty in getting a radio to transmit on two widely different frequencies involving antenna matching. Basically the length of the antenna must be a harmonic of the frequency of the transmitter. In VHF it is commonly 1/2 or 1/3 the wave length.

    The problem is that if you use an antenna which is the wrong length, some of the power transmitted by the radio will reflect back into the radio and fry its own circuits. This is why a cheap scanner can cover multiple bands, but not an expensive handheld transmitter.

    If I recall, there was one handheld on the market some years back which was both hi and lowbad VHF (154Mhz & 39Mhz) but you had to switch antennas before transmitting on the opposite band. It is possible that there are some radios which can use one antenna, but the freq's they use need to be harmonics of each other. This might limit you to two very narrow bands.

    I'm sure any two band radio would be alot more expensive than just buying a 2nd handheld.

    Just be glad you're not using 3 bands, Hi-VHF, 400Mhz, and 800Mhz as a city near me does. Yes, command carries 3 portables.

  4. #4
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    Whats up Heights

    We have Motorola's but we are getting Kenwoods for all the trucks. 5 portables on each truck. I dont know the setup but the kenwoods work here in westville and in Camden County. We use to have the Motorola's for the Gloucester County and the Kenwood's for Camden County. I dont know if this helps
    Rob aka Squinty

    The Fighting Seventy-Third

    Westville Fire Department
    Gloucester County
    New Jersey

  5. #5
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    It seems likely that most of the major radio manufacturers will have some type of dual or multi band radio available. Check the web site for Motorola or Kenwood. There are two other companies out there that make Ham equipment (but I don't know if they do otherwise- although it seems likely) and they are Yaesu and Icom.

    I operate regularly on 144 MHz and 450 Mhz from the same handheld (a dwarf by comparison to the 800 MHz portables our department uses) with the same antenna. Technology is changing rapidly and there is no reason that you shouldn't be able to find a radio to suit your needs. Just be ready to pay the price.

  6. #6
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Vertex is the commercial line from Yeasu. Same company, different name for the commercial line of radios.

    Icom America makes both Ham Radio and commercial radios. They make good stuff but nothing Dual Band.

    Kenwood also makes Ham Radio and Commercial radios. Again, nothing in dual band portable but still excellent quality.

    Motorola makes only commercial radios. They used to have a ham radio but I don't think they make it anymore. They also make everything else under the sun.

    As for antennas, there is a nifty gadget for your use. It is called a "Dual Band Antenna". They have been using them in Ham Radios for many many years. I use one myself on portable and mobile radios. You don't have to worry about trying to match a 1/4 wave VHF to 3/4 wave UHF etc etc etc. The antenans are designed with coils to work fine on both bands.

    So basicly, from what I know of, you are SOL unless you can special order something from Vertex. They may start getting pricy though. For having communication with ONE mutual aid dept, I don't know if that would justify the cost. It may be better to just get a few VHF portables, maybe one for each unit. It all depends on your situation.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  7. #7
    WoodburyHeights
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    Post more about mobile units?

    YOH WESTVILLE! Guess you know where we’re going with this…
    You probably have the answer, as you’ve been doin’ it all along.

    Thanks to everyone else for taking the time to respond, this is helping us out.

    I know this tread started with dual band “portables”, but we would like to expound a little on what nmfire said about mobile units. He writes that Motorola and Kenwood mobile units can be set up to run two transceivers under one control head with a connecting cable. Does anyone have a setup such as this? Should I expect a Motorola or Kenwood installer to be familiar with this set-up, or is this something that a couple of guys are going to have to put together from a back issue of Popular Science Magazine? Again just to refresh, we would like to work on a 500 MHz UHF frequency, and a 154 MHz VHF frequency off of the same mobile (head) unit.

    As far as portables, I think we are going to find (as suggested in an earlier post) separate portables to be the most economic way to go.
    Thanks for your help,
    Steve Mower
    Station 15-1
    Woodbury Heights, NJ

  8. #8
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    One option for you might be an in vehicle cross band repeater. The way this would work is you would still use the 500 mHz portables that you use now but you would have an extra channel. This channel would talk to the in vehicle unit on 500 mHz and link you to the VHF channel you need. The disadvantage is that you would only be able to talk to 1 channel on the other band at a time so you would have to change the channel at the truck to talk on a different VHF channel.
    Hope this helps!

  9. #9
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    In regards to the two radio one control head question, a full line Motorola dealer should be able to do this with out problem but it is expensive. I know it works with the Spectra series radios and my also work with the CDM and MCS radios but I am not sure about those. The set up requires to compute radios (one VHF and one UHF) plus a special control unit. Expect to pay about 2 and a half time the cost of a single radio for the complete set up. I think this would be about $5,000 or $6,000 all together but it may be less I’m not sure.

  10. #10
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    The dual band mobiles that Motorola and Kenwood make are quite standard. No back issues of Popular Science. There is standard connecting cable and the software is designed for it. Any decent Kenwood or Motorola sales shop (not some rinky dink place) should know it exists and what you need.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  11. #11
    IACOJ - Proud member.
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    Default Cross band repeater

    Our county dispatchs on low band, and gives us a few other low band channels for fire gound ops.

    About 5 years ago, my dept went out and licensed ourselves on 3 VHF frequencies. We've always carried 2 portable because of this.

    I'm working on pricing out a cross band repeater system by Motorola that would be placed at a station to replace an antiquated base station radio. (Rather surprised by cost, approximately $3,000 for both radios, RIC, 1 antenna & power supply.)

    In a nutshell, I will be able to carry 1 VHF radio, communicate will our 3 VHF fireground frequencies, and if necessary, have the repeater kick me out to low band dispatch frequency.

    Limitations
    Repeater is located at station, not on apparatus, so coverage from the portable may be an issue.
    Locked into only being able to cross talk to the 1 frequency on low band.

    Advantages
    Cost (low band equipment is very expensive),also not buying 2 portables for every officer.
    Simplicity, just switch to channel X and can transmit on low band.

    Also looking at the Kenwood dual-band mobiles: like nmfire said, pretty straight forward (tab A goes into slot A, & very user friendly when set-up)
    Chief Jim Bator
    www.hopewellfire.org

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    I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine. ~Kurt Vonnegut

  12. #12
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    nmfire,

    I don't want to start an argument, however I am familiar with and use a mutil band hand-held radio that is capable of 50MHz,144MHz and 440MHz in a package that is 5" tall 3"wide and 1.3" deep including battery. Motorola makes a radio that is capable of 144,222,and 440 Mhz's in the same size. These are nothing more than multiple radios attached to the same head. In fact, on my Yaesu- I can listen to two separate frequencies at the same time. Or scan two separate fqcy's likewise.

    Also, if the company makes a radio like what you're looking for, guaranteed that it will come with an antenna that works.

    Call your Vertex or Motorola rep. I'm sure they will have more solutions than you can imagine. After all- this is their business.

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