The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the use of handheld communications devices in cemeteries. You should always have the ability to communicate with a “buddy” when exploring a cemetery, whether for emergencies like a twisted ankle or those "semi-emergencies," such as, "Do you have the insect repellent?"
For many cemeteries, all you need is a cell phone. However, my ancestors seem to have a habit of being buried in rural cemeteries, far outside the range of cell towers. When walking in these cemeteries, my cell phone always displays "zero bars." Carrying a cell phone in those cemeteries is about as useful as carrying a brick.
I wrote earlier (at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=8913) about the use of inexpensive, handheld walkie-talkies. In fact, I take such walkie-talkies with me any time I go to a cemetery with a companion. We often "divide" the cemetery into sections, and each of us walks our assigned sections in search of specific tombstones.
Walkie-talkie radios are faster than cell phones (just push the button and talk), and you do not need to be within range of a cell phone tower. These two-way radios only need to be within range of each other. Since many of the cemeteries I have tromped through are in rural areas, the freedom from fixed cell towers is important to me.
With handheld two-way radios, there is no monthly air time charge or monthly service commitment. Cell phones typically charge $30 a month or more, just to be able to use them. With handheld two-way radios, the on-air time is free.
These popular handheld two-way radios also have many uses other than cemeteries, however. I often see families carrying them in shopping malls to provide communications between parents and children. They are useful when traveling, especially when a group of people travels in two or more automobiles. You can find dozens of other uses as well.
One major disadvantage is the lack of privacy. As I wrote earlier, "Since FRS channels are open to everyone, it is possible that you will occasionally hear other people talking on their FRS radios." This won't be much of a problem in isolated, rural cemeteries. However, when using it around my home in an urbanized area, I frequently hear chatter from other people using similar two-way radios. Sharing the channel isn't much of a problem except that I find it irritating at times. I'd rather have a "private line," something that has been difficult on shared channels on two-way radios… until now.
Luckily, a new product allows for private conversations using walkie-talkies. You will never hear anyone else (unless you want to), and no one else will be able to listen in on your conversations. The drawback is that the walkie-talkies with privacy are somewhat more expensive than the ones I described earlier.
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