Radio is the transmission of information through electromagnetism. You can get radios that transmit various different types of information over distances ranging from a few hundred feet to venus and back.
Radio communication devices are the individuals components used to make a communications systems.
Radio Communication Devices
These are a few basic types of devices for radio communications.
- Base Station Receiver - A base station receiver, such as a TV set or radio tuner, offers superior performance to handheld units, but is of little use while bugging out.
- Base Station Transceiver - A base station transceiver, such as a Ham Radio base station, offers significantly more power, flexibility, and features than a portable unit. While it used to be true that base station transceivers were big, bulky, heavy and only ran on house current (120vac) modern gear has blurred the line between base, portable and mobile, with many newer transceivers able to easily fill all three roles.
- Portable Receiver - Portable receivers, such as small AM/FM or Shortwave radios, allow you to collect publicly broadcast information on the go, but not communicate with anyone else.
- Portable Transceiver - Portable transceivers allow you to receive and broadcast while on the move, but will not typically have the range of a base station transceiver. These are self contained units with batteries that resemble base station radios. Portable transceivers usually give you the power of a base station unit with the flexibility of being transportable if you have to flee.
- Handheld Receiver - These are smaller handheld units, which offer a compromise between features with higher battery life and a smaller lighter form factor.
- Handheld Transceiver - These are generally lower power transmitter devices with suitable receive capabilities. They are often a trade-off between the power of a mobile, portable or base station unit for their small size and light weight. These are sometimes called Walkie Talkies.
- Mobile Transceiver - These are designed to be fitted into a vehicle. They can be run in the home off 12-13.8v DC (car batteries or power supply).
Selecting a Radio
There are general guidelines for selecting a radio that apply to all radios. It may be that you have different tasks that will require you to have multiple radios. Additionally, you may want to have multiple short range radios for members of your family or group so that you can communicate with them during a time of emergency.
Each different Radio communication technology has its own advantages and disadvantages. While many devices come with an antenna, often the performance is poor. You can increase your transmit and receive range by replacing the antenna with a better one. There are some easily constructed homebrew antennas that could be made to improve your transmit or receive performance.
In addition, you should review the legalities of each type of radio service. In a true life or death emergency it is legal for you to transmit on any frequency, using any equipment available, but if you have trained and practiced with your equipment you may not be able to get it to work. Obtaining the needed licenses and training, and regular practice, will ensure that when the time comes you won't be fumbling through the owner's manual.