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One of the newest methods of communication within a small geographical area is the new Spread Spectrum Communications equipment available from different sources. This equipment enables you to choose from one of ten billion channels, practically ensuring completely private communications between different members.
I recently purchased a pair of these neat little hand held transceivers from eBay, and they work great out to about five to ten miles apart, depending on terrain, whether you are inside or outside, etc.
You select a channel number from one of 10 billion, and if no one else knows your channel, they don't even know you are there.
You can use your 10 digit telephone number, or any other number selected at random, the only requirement is that both radios have the same number programmed in.
You can check them out here http://cgi.ebay.com/TRISQUARE-TSX300R-2 ... 20af2e55fd
they are not cheap, running sixty to eighty bucks a pair, but the privacy issue is worth it. No one can monitor you without your secret code number, unlike a CB radio, FRS radio, or even amateur radio. The only drawback, in my mind, is the relatively short range.
For a less expensive version, the TSX100 version only has 1 billion channels.
Worth looking in to.
I too have been burning brain cells on this topic, but finally decided on a different route. While I initially was thinking in terms of "must have secure," it occurred to me that the security would also prevent it from being used as a general communication device. The only people I would be able to communicate with would be the ones that knew my secret code. Not good if I need to send a general SOS call, or want to be a good neighbor and help out where I can. In addition, I wondered about how many electronic devices I was going to end up with. While I am an old hand with a map and compass (yes, real paper, real magnetic needle!), I do like a good GPS with terrain maps. And I also know that the constant weather broadcasts can really save your hide. In addition, it would be really neat if I knew where my family and friends were at. I expect GPS will continue in most any disaster, and there is a reasonable chance that weather broadcasts could as well, depending on the severity of the disaster. I have all of this in one device, the Garmin Rhino series of GPS/radios. Specifically concerning the radio, it is FRS/GMRS radio that does have unique squelch codes. While not secured, they do offer a level of privacy in that a listening party must dial in the same channel and squelch code to listen. I have the added advantage of public channel availability, channel scanner, weather radio, GPS, buddy locator (my family and friends location shows up on my GPS screen), texting and more. All in one unit!
After saying all of that, as one would imagine these units are much more expensive than big44man's radios! If the budget however allows it, take a look at the Rhino selection. It is a huge amount of capability in a small package.
The Rhino peer-to-peer positioning works via the FRS/GMRS radio, and so is limited to five to six miles. And although the Rhino does support repeater channels for voice comms, positioning does not work through repeaters.