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Thinking of ways to leverage cheap radios to maximize their value

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I see leveraging very inexpensive dual-band radios into a robust neighborhood communications system even if you don’t have a repeater.  Within the context of a neighborhood (or mutual assistance) group, I envision the following:
One frequency programmed up with the name “Group”.  One side of your radio is always listening on this channel for emergency information or announcements where the whole group needs to hear.  This can be the local repeater if one exists.

The way this system works is one side of your radio is always listening the group channel.  This example uses separate frequencies, but the same thing can be done with just one frequency by using CTCSS tones.

Any information you need the entire neighborhood to be aware of is sent on to the group “channel”.  If you just want to chat with someone in another household, you switch the secondary side of your radio to their channel.  This memory channel on your radio is programmed to transmit on the specific neighbor’s frequency and receive on your own.

Once they hear you calling, they switch the secondary side of their radio labeled with your family name.  Their radio is now going to transmit on the frequency your family is assigned, but still receive on their own family’s channel.

In this way, you both continue to monitor the “emergency” or group channel and can still receive incoming calls on your own channel.  While the conversation is not private, it doesn’t distract everyone in the neighborhood each time someone has something to say.  All without the users having to remember channel numbers or frequencies.

Within your own household, your own channel would connect you with the rest of your family.

Any thoughts?

that is pretty much what I do daily now

I think it would be way, way easier to simplify your system by establishing a single "emergency" channel everyone listens to and maybe one other "traffic/group" channel for general non-emergency business. Using a CTCSS tone is optional depending on how crowded the band is in your area.

As for set-aside channels for family use, don't get involved with any complex plans. Let each family deal with that on their own. It really would not matter who uses what frequency as long as it was agreed to stay off the two group channels unless some group need is being addressed. Each family would responsible for figuring out for themselves how or if they will monitor the group channels.

Also, there are tons of cheap dual band/dual VFO radios but none I'm aware of that will monitor two frequencies at once. You may have to set them to memory scan mode, which would get very close to what you're trying to do. 

You have a good idea but don't needlessly complicate it. All you really need to do is come up with two reserved group channels.

All of the Wouxun and the Baofengs will monitor both VFO's.  They switch back and forth in a mode called "Dual-Watch".  Any traffic lighting up one channel will light up both.  In addition, the Baofeng UV-82 can not only be configured to monitor both channels, but it will accommodate dual push-to-talk buttons so either side can be transmitted on depending on which button you press.  The Wouxun KG-UV8D will actually listen on both simultaneously, blending the channels into the single speaker.

My intention in setting up channels for a neighborhood is that during an outage, such a system would replace telephone communications between residents.  Most residents would be hard pressed to understand how to set things up or even remember channels.  This is why I'm thinking of using channel names.  A single frequency would be more than adequate with the use of CTCSS tones for normal house to house calls, but if used much, there would be the same issues any party line situation would produce. 

A big plus in such a system would be that if you hear anything on the radio, it probably pertains to you.  Either it is on the group frequency (essentially that is the emergency frequency) or on your own frequency (or pl tone).  There wouldn't be a need for a general traffic "hailing" frequency with a system like this.  If people are subjected to too much chatter, they might grow to ignore traffic.

I think oen can further benefit from the priority channels feature soem of the Chinese radios have. (actiavted through PC programming)
If it works like my kenwood does, one is listening to the two channels displayed, but once there is signal in the priority channels, the radio turns to them, (for listening only)). helps you monitor oter frequencies ;-) or otehr neighborhoods.


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