Subject: Re: Walkie-Talkies Overseas

You make a good point about CB radios overseas.

I didn't include CB for four reasons. The handheld CBs are bulky, they are relatively expensive to buy and operate, performance can be marginal, and there are some frequency and compatibility issues in various places in UK/Europe. Which may explain why only two makers each sell two models.

The units range in size from 5 to 7 inches high, 2 inches wide, and 2 inches thick. Plus with a 7 inch long flexible rubber antenna on top, not exactly pocket size. They weigh anywhere from 1 to 1.5 pounds with the 6 to 9 AA batteries inside.

Cheapest prices were about $US 40 to over $US 100. I have one that I use to listen to the truckers while on road trips. It is a battery hog and is run on cigarette lighter power. Rechargeables would be an option, but 9 NiMHs plus charger and a backup set would be pricey and add extra weight.

Legal output is 4 watts to the antenna, however the inefficient rubber antenna that they come with sharply reduces radiated energy and useful coverage area to a matter of city blocks or less. Which is why those pickup trucks down the road from you in Green Valley all sport long whip antennae.

US handheld CB radios are 40 channels, AM only. Country by country in UK/Europe, frequencies, modes, and license requirements vary all over the map. In Finland, for example, one source indicates that a 4 watt US CB radio could be used, but only on channels 1-22. On channels 23-40, the AM limit there is just one watt. Also, in many countries, radios must operate on FM, not AM as in the US. License requirements are changing as additional countries ratify the "CEPT" international radio harmonization treaty. Best to check in advance to make sure.

Meanwhile, there's an even better solution. They could wait until they get to Ireland and buy locally a set of no- license PMR 525 walkie-talkies. These look just like US FRS radios but operate on the legal EU radio channels at the proper power.

I couldn't find a retail source in Ireland, but in the UK, Amazon UK offers a pair of Cobra PMR radios for 21.44 UK Pounds (about $US 40) with 1-2 week delivery. Among UK storefront discount retailers, Argos and Dixons don't sell two-way radios, but ASK has a Motorola model for 94 UK Pounds.

Since PMR radios can't be used in the US, on departure the radios would make a nice gift to a local friend or could be brought home and used on a subsequent trip.

Jerry in E TN