Walkie Talkie Question

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2002
Reaction score
I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with some of the walkie talkies on the market. I am thinking about getting a pair for my wife and me. I need some decent range, say a couple of miles. I like motorola but it's not breaking point.
Thanks in advance!!
Get the kind with multiple channels that you can change.

They get kinda popular at the malls for keeping track of kids and wives.

Great for caravaning too!

My 2cents
Get the ones with the 14 channels AND the 38 privacy 'sub-channels'.
The type with the Triple A batteries are not as good as the Double A.
The Motorola's are one of the best, many others are very good also.
I own a motorola talkabout T6320...14 channels FRS with the 38 privacy subchannels...also has temperature/altimeter/compass/barometer/timer/clock/noaa weather alert

get one with the rechargable batteries....
I have two sets of the Motorola walkie talkies. I bought the first set when my son and I went on a vacation summer of ..... 1999? 2000? Anyway, it was a 10 day vacation, and we drove out to visit a friend of mine in Minnesota (we live in North Carolina). We spent a lot of time planning the trip, including certain purchases that we wanted to make. While we were in Minnesota, we visited a big Cabela's store and that's where we bought a set of Motorola Talkabout 250's. These have 14 channels on the FRS band and 38 privacy sub-codes. They run on 3 AA batteries. The range *can* be 2 miles if the terrain is fairly flat. We have used them in the mountains of West Virginia, and sometimes we get less than a mile there.

Remember, this was 3 or 4 years ago. We bought a number of accessories (ear buds and throat mikes, carrying cases, etc) for the talkies, and the bill for them was a bit over $200.

Like Sandman says, they do work great for mobile caravaning, and we have used them a *lot* for that.

Just this past summer, my wife and I had rented a rather large beach house, and we ended up taking a number of people with us, and we were going to have a 4 car caravan to the beach. My wife *demanded* that I get a second set of W-T's so that everyone would have a radio on the trip over to the beach. I grudgingly (yeah, right...) carried out her instructions.

And.... I lucked out. Radio Shack happened to have a great sale on a pair of Motorola 5720s. For $59.99 plus tax, I got the two radios, complete with belt clips, nicad battery packs, and a charger. These have 22 channels - 7 on FRS, 7 on FRS/GMRS, and 8 GMRS. It also has the 38 subcodes for all the channels. The range on the FRS only channels is again about the 2 miles. The range on the FRS/GMRS or the GMRS channels is about 5 miles. Use of the GMRS channels requires an FCC license, but you can apply for that online. I don't remember the cost ($50, $100?) but I do remember that I got the license in about a week. Again, your range on the GMRS channels will vary according to terrain, but it is definitely farther than the FRS. My son and I have tested this, by using FRS channels and intentionally going out of range, then switching to a GMRS channel and reestablishing communication. The old set and the new set work fine together on the common FRS channels.

If I was going to buy a pair today, I think I would go for the 5920 model, which has 7 FRS, 7 FRS/GMRS, 8 GMRS channels, but it has NINETY-NINE privacy sub-codes. At Best Buy, the current price for the 5720 model is $69.99, and for the 5920 model it is $79.99.

These radios are VERY HANDY at rocket launches. Mark Brown has a set, I always bring all of mine, and we use them quite a bit.
What happens if you don't apply for a license? $50 or $100 seems alot for using otherwise free ether. Like a tax on air if you ask me.
But I digress. The "2 mile" claim is extremely optomistic, in my experience. There is a park down in the valley from my house where I go to walk when the weather permits. It is about a mile, line of sight. At night you can see my dusk to dawn light from the top of one hill in the park. Anyway, unless the batteries are brand new, it is difficult to get good signal. If not for the $100 license fee, I'd go for the "5 mile" set. Or maybe I'd "evaluate" them for a while before I bought the license.
What happens if you don't get a license? Why... nothing... if you don't get caught.

Yeah, the two mile range is pretty optimistic. But, it's like anything else - you get the maximum possible quoted in the product specs. Pretty much like everything else in the world.
I use my old "cheap" ones on my sailboat.

The range is doubled over water!


If I remember my radio theory ; the water acts like a big ground plane and makes the antenna radiate more effectively.

I believe the effect he is seeing is caused by a ducting layer. Depending on weather conditions, he might not see such an increase in range.
Originally posted by sandman
The range is doubled over water!

On all the radio's I've seen they've quoted 2 miles 'over water.'

The prices have come down quite a bit in recent years and they're great at rocket launches.