LET'S TALK RADIOS
STAYING CONNECTED ON THE TRAILS
The SCORCH Wrangler currently broadcasts with a dual-band VHF/UHF handheld radio until a way is determined how to mount a high powered radio without attracting theft. Each SCORCH ride's rear-gunner and mid-gunner rigs do have high-powered radios, so those drivers help relay messages up and down the line.
You need a ham radio license to broadcast on these channels. If an FCC officer happens to be hiding behind a rock in the extremely remote locations where we run our rides and is monitoring the channel we use (there are thousands of options and we do not post ours publicly) and can determine which rig out of the dozens with us you are broadcasting from at that exact moment and can prove it, then you might get a big ticket.
Fortunately, earning a ham radio license is fairly easy. It requires passing one examination totaling 35 questions on radio theory, regulations and operating practices. You do not need a license to buy a radio or use it for listening to transmissions. You can legally use it to keep up on the line chatter.
While not required for SCORCH rides, having a trail radio will enhance your experience. The trail boss provides narration for points of interest you pass, warnings about oncoming vehicles and trail hazards, specific directions to work around (or towards) optional challenges on the trail, occasional tales of rides past, and stories from the scouting runs that made your current event a reality. Most drivers at our events have radios and use them for social comms with other drivers as well as local warnings.
Having a radio also provides an opportunity to notify the group of an emergency, technical issue, mechanical problem, or need for a bathroom break. It's also handy just for asking questions (i.e "when are we stopping for lunch?").
Read on for three recommended radios by BaoFeng that you can easily get on Amazon (we make $$$ to help run this club if you use our links). Below that you will find easy instructions on how to program a BaoFeng radio by yourself. Do not buy the optional programing cable.
Top 3 Trail Radios
Three trail radio options from BaoFeng to meet different budgets
This supremely affordable 5-watt radio is a great option for trail rides and the used most often by our members. Programing in an "A" and "B" frequency, then switching between the two on the fly, is a snap. It is powerful enough to be heard up and down the line in clear terrain and still wildly capable for a handheld when obstructed. Under $25 on Amazon.
This 8-watt, third generation edition of Baofeng's most popular handheld radio is our go-to radio. It's got a solid range and surprising volume for a trail radio that fits into your cup holder. Unless you are the lead, rear, or middle-gunner rig in a long line of rigs, this is the radio that will do the trick at a nice price. Under $75 on Amazon.
This 50-watt monster from Baofeng is the most power you will find for your buck. If you've got the space to mount it in the front of the cabin then you'll have no problem being heard. This solution is ideal for dispersed off roading situations where the group breaks up, or for those playing a communications role in within a long line of rigs. Around $210 on Amazon.
Programming a BaoFeng Radio
BaoFeng translated means "Crappy Instructions"
Thank you if you purchased a BaoFeng radio using one of the above links. Your contribution to support SCORCH is appreciated. You will soon discover that the "manual" is straight up terrible.
Programing the radios are actually quite easy. First you will need to know the primary and secondary frequencies you want to program. SCORCH does not publicly post ours but are sent to RSVPers through Meetup. We use the same two channels for every ride, so once you set them you can leave them.
LET'S PROGRAM YOUR BAOFENG
Turn the radio on. Press the orange VFO/MR button to toggle between modes until you hear "Frequency Mode" then enter in the desired 6 digit frequency on the keypad (i.e. 148.000). That's it.
Set a backup channel by pressing the blue "A/B" button and notice the little black arrow moves to the bottom frequency on the screen. Repeat the above steps to enter a 2nd frequency (i.e. 149.000). Now pressing the A/B button when the radio is unlocked easily moves you between the two frequencies.
Hold down the # key a moment and you will hear "lock" and now the keys are locked so you can't accidentally change the frequency. You can still transmit and receive on the current channel. Hold it down again to unlock if you want to switch between A/B channels or want to program a new frequency.
Got the dash mount radio? Same deal except you are looking for "V/M" and "A/B/C/D"buttons on the head unit and using the handheld microphone keypad for the rest.