I have read a great deal of the 15 pages or so on this portion of the Expo regarding Ham, CB, GMRS/FRS radios, etc. It seems a lot of us are requesting similar info in different ways but ultimately it is what types of communication devices people are using, for what purposes, in what areas and what channels/frequencies. Primarily we want to talk teach other on trips, maybe even others (not in our group) in the same area and most importantly emergency situations.
As an engineer (I like to be organized and research the heck out of stuff before I go further), and a relatively new Ham operator (FT7800R), I have been researching how people use their radios (all of them/above) so I can be the most flexible and as you, stay in touch. I also travel solo on most of my trips and hope to connect with various people I have met in person, on ExPo, etc. on my travels.
Here is a summary of what I have found out as I feel there are sufficient newbies out there like me, as well as a few more expert users in all categories.
CBs (Citizen Band): been around a long time, easy to find, cheap generally, no licensing required and no identification required (at least in Kanukistan, usually quite small and relatively easy to install. They operate on 40 channels in the 27 MHz range (you can internet search "CB Channels" and get the actual freq. for each channel), have a very limited range (having a top notch antenna tuned correctly [with SWR meter] has everything to do with range) usually within 1-5 miles but can get more under excellent/freak conditions. Most I ever got with my Cobra 75 WX ST with a Wilson Trucker 2000 was a bit over 5 miles on those straight stretches going across Nevada chatting with a couple of truckers. We wanted to see how far we could get apart and still hear each other.
CH 9 is the emergency channel, although I have monitored it on more lonely times of the highways travelling solo, I have never heard anyone on this channel.
CH 19 has been adopted by the truckers but most use Cell phones and other radios to cummunicate now. CBs are considered old school now that there is a plethora of other comm devices out there.
Some have 10 weather channels (mine does in English and French - Kanukistani) which repeat the forecast constantly. You cannot TX (=transmit/RX is receive) on these.
These are a great, cheap way to stay in touch within your group when travelling on blacktop as well as on the trail provided you are quite close to each other, say within a mile or less, depending on mountains, bush and road bends. I suggest using CH 22/23 as they have the largest freq difference (.03/.02) between them and other freq which limit interference. Others with smaller differences are CH 3/7/11/15/19/25. All the rest have a .01 difference and hence are quite close to each other in frequency.
Haven't been able to figure out how one can TX/RX CB freq on any other radio than on the CB. Any one know any different? Apparently the more expensive high-end Yaesu units have some of the frequencies.
GMRS/FRS (General Radio Mobile Service/Family Radio Service): These are relatively small, cheap, no license and no identification required (in Kanukistan at least), hand held radios. Great for trail rides or convoys and have taken over where CBs have left off. Limited range but much better than CBs, I have Cobra LI6000 which has a range of about 20 miles or so (again conditions vary). They also have the 10 NOAA weather stations preset. Various technologies within these units (with 19 subchannels) allow for privacy on frequencies depending on how you set them up. Lots of more features (depending on model chosen) than a CB but then do your really use/need them all?
They operate in 22 channels in the 462/467 MHz range (again internet search will give you exact frequencies/channels) and a Ham radio can be modified to TX/RX these freq. (no legal stuff please, BTDT!).
First 7 channels are both GMRS/FRS, 8 -14 are FRS only and 15 - 22 are GMRS only. Easy to figure out where you want to be (both) and again the channel with the largest difference between it and others is CH 4, my preferred channel. USA requires a license for all GMRS frequencies use, in Kanukistan, no such requirement as we like to chat with each other a lot in Kanukistani.
Some other freqencies which are useful to know are:
Commercial frequencies (used by itinerant businesses [special industrial], commercial use (common/itinerant mobile/base VHF/UHF, low power), truckers, TV, radio, businesses [low power] etc.): 150-158/464-469 MHz for which you need a license and must identify yourself.
MURS (Multi-Use Radio Services): no license, no identification require, can operate anywhere a CB can, limited range (up to 20+ miles depending on antenna, installation and conditions). Operates on 5 channels in 151 MHz. Ham can be modified to TX/RX.
Wilderness Monitoring Protocol: Everyone should know of this and how it works as it could mean the difference between life/death for you one day or you maybe in a position to help someone else out. This was written up on one of the threads (can't remember which one) in this section but I will summarize it here.
Primary frequency is 146.52 MHz, Secondary are 52.525/223.5/446.0/1294.5 MHz. Although these frequencies are also used for non emergencies, they are meant to be in common usage to allow users to monitor them in case some one is calling for help. They are monitored from 7:00 AM local time onward every three hours at 5 minutes past the hour. It is during this time that all on these frequencies should take a break from TX and just listen...just in case!
Ham Radios: Won't get into this too far as lots of info on the internet (Yaesu, Icon, Kenwood, etc.) and on this section of ExPo. Operates in the multi band (frequency ranges) depending on unit bought. Most common is 2 Metre and 70 centimetre bands (144-148 MHZ/430-450MHz), many others exist (10M, 6M, 1.25M, 33 CM, 23 CM, etc.). Most have 10 NOAA weather stations preset, have extensive range capability (+/-50 miles without repeater, and even more with repeaters used), can make phone calls (land/cell) with right equipment with the right setup and repeaters, can utilize internet, and many other features I don't even know about yet. Would be good if someone [experts] can do a layman's write up on how these features work and can be used, in separate write ups [1. phone calls, 2. Internet access, etc.)