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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’ve been looking at 2 way radios. The tyt th-8600 seems to be popular. I keep hearing people say to buy it instead of a rugged radio and just program it yourself. What does “programming” do? If I just want basic car to car comm on 1 channel, can I do that without programming? If my buddy buys one too, what’s involved in the set up?
 

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There's tons of info on programming these radios. There's free software called CHIRP that is relatively user friendly and you will probably need to buy the cable as most of the radios I looked at didn't include it. Some radios don't support CHIRP and uses other software that appears to be more complicated for a not so geeky gearhead like me.
CHIRP
There's others on the forum using these radios that can give more detail WRT setting them up. Betner Communications is popular in the SXS community, might be worth contacting them. They offer high-power, preprogrammed radios at a reasonable cost and reportedly have great customer service.
2 Way Radios

For my purposes, the Midland MXT 115 met the requirements albeit at a little less power and slightly higher cost. No cables or software needed, just plug and play. I did purchase an upgraded antennae to replace the one that come with the radio since it needed a metal ground plane for operation. So far it's working well for me but YMMV.
 

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I went with the same radio through sxs radios for our group. Got and installed 5 of them, all worked like a champ out of the box. Picked a channel and away we went.
 

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If you buy a stock radio it will do nothing without programming. The included software is decent and all of them we have got came with a programming cable. If you dont want to deal with it's only like $20 more for one SXSRadios that come with GMRS channels. It's worth learning to do yourself just for the other options it opens up.

FWIW, GMRS does require a license and the 8600 can not legally be used as a GMRS radio.
 
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Thanks all! So it does not come programmed. I still don't understand what "programming" is. Are you telling it to look for the 22 gmrs channels at certain frequencies? Is it like a TV and auto searches for channels? Please dumb this down for me./
 

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Programming is setting the frequencies for each channel you want to use. For instance, Channel 1 on GMRS is 462.5750 mhz (not sure about exact number but you should get the point.) You can do other channels. But some radios are not legal to be programmed that way but many are doing it. However, if not on GMRS frequencies, I think you now are in the Ham radio world and it requires other training and licensing to be legal. There are some youtubes to watch that will show how to program.
GMRS radios are preprogrammed and remove a lot of tech hassle, at some sacrifice but are most convenient for most.
 
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I believe if you program only GMRS frequencies which are approved for high power with these other rigs you'll be ok even though the Midlands etc are not 5 watt but 15 watts you're not on the 500 mw channels. Just don't program any of them to be used. Anyone you talk to would then be using them. What I would do anyway.
 

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SXSRADIOS.COM has the th-8600 in stock already programmed, and have complete kits with antennas. great small company. Great radios.
 

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Thanks all! So it does not come programmed. I still don't understand what "programming" is. Are you telling it to look for the 22 gmrs channels at certain frequencies? Is it like a TV and auto searches for channels? Please dumb this down for me./
Not quite that simple. You need to program a TX freq, RX freq, power output, bandwidth and a channel name for each channel. If you want to hit repeaters it becomes a little more complex. Its not as bad as it sounds. Doing it your self allows more options for more channels, MURS if you got a dual band antenna and plenty of channels to program listen only. It also allows you program how you want the screen work, dual watch, power on screen and few other things I'm forgetting.

 
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