From our friends at Survive2balive thanks for the review GA!
Back in July we posted an article regarding redundancy with your communications ability. You can view that article here:
We always had concerns with grid issues and how we would communicate with each other in the event of a power down situation. This really isn’t too far of a stretch given the fact that we live smack dab in the middle of hurricane alley. We have lived through situations in the past where all power and cellular service was inoperable due to the wrath of tropical cyclones. We live in close proximity to other family members, less than three miles from each other, and wanted to make sure we had some redundancy built into our communication preparedness. This was when we acquired our Midland XT511.
We decided to go with the XT511 because of its versatility and price. The unit made sense to us because it offered several features of importance. The radio has GMRS/FRS operation, AM/FM, NOAA weather radio, LED flashlight, clock with alarm, crank battery charger, and a USB jack for phone charging.
The 2-way GMRS radio feature provides us with the ability to communicate with others in the group as long as they are within decent range. According to Midland, optimum range conditions are; over water, open rural areas without obstructions and flat areas where you can see the other person. The manual recommends the batteries be fully charged, the radio is operated in GMRS rather than FRS (FRS channels are restricted by the FCC to low power), set the radio on Hi power, and be certain to point the antenna upward.
We experimented with the radio in both a suburban environment and while hunting in a rural area. The radio operated as advertised in both settings. I was a little surprised with the results in the suburban setting. We were transmitting over a distance close to three miles, with a number of large buildings and trees between us and the other party. I was not anticipating these results and figured the little radio would not be effective in these surroundings. I was wrong.
We took the radio along with our handheld GMRS radios on a recent hunting trip. It also preformed up to the manufacturer’s claims in the field. It was a nice little addition to have with us, and all three of us in the group were able to effectively communicate our movements and activities with each other. I bagged a hog pretty early and was able to sit back in the stand and listen to some country music while waiting on the others. I plan on taking it in my hunting gear from now on.
The XT511 comes with 22 GMRS/FRS channels plus 121 privacy codes along with 7 different NOAA weather bands.
Don’t expect too much from this radio when it comes to range. Unless operating over repeater systems, your range will be limited to a couple miles. These radios are line of sight and do not push the type of power needed for long-distance applications. However, if you are looking for a good group communications device to have at your home or retreat, the XT511 offers the right amount of power.
AM / FM and weather features are always necessary in crisis events. The XT511 offers all three and a variety of ways to power the unit. The radio can operate via AC with the power cord supplied with it. Or, it can run off 4 AA batteries. The feature I like the most is the emergency Dynamo Crank Handle. If the lights go out for an extended period of time, this feature will keep your radio operating even without batteries. I have used the crank a number of times and it puts a nice charge on the NiMH battery pack. The USB jack on the radio allows for emergency charges of cell phones and other USB compatible devices. It really is a nice feature. I have used the radio to charge iphones and even our Kindle.
A microphone / shoulder mic hand set comes with the radio. I found the mic to be very handy while carrying the radio in my hunting pack. I was able to sling the mic over my shoulder for easy use while wearing the pack. This feature is a good design for bug out, stalking, or patrol activities. An earphone jack allows for silent listening when concerned with noise discipline.
The radio is lightweight and very compact. We found that XT511 fits easily into the radio pouch section of our ALICE
packs. It is constructed of plastic and I do have shock and moisture concerns with the unit. I make sure the radio is waterproofed prior to taking it out and very careful to do not drop it.
We purchased our Midland XT511 through Amazon. I have posted a link to it here on the site. These radios can be
purchased for approximately $60.00.
If you are looking to add a little redundancy to your communications and interested in a low-cost and versatile group radio system, check out the Midland XT511.
What are your group communications plans in a post-SHTF environment? Feel free to leave your comments in the blog.
Spe Labor Levis
- 72 Hour Bug Out Bag (BOB) (thesurvivalplaceblog.com)
- The Basic Bug Out Bag / Survival Kit (thesurvivalplaceblog.com)
- Review of SteriPen Traveler (idea for fast bug out bag use) (thesurvivalplaceblog.com)