Just so we’re all operating on the same wavelength, I do not own the featured image on this page. I give credit to whomever credit is due.
Between the summer and fall of 2001, my interest in radio electronics was taking off astronomically.
It began in the spring of 2001 but in reality, I had always been interested in radio electronics.
I discovered Family Radio Service in either late September or early October of 2001.
Later in October of 2001, I purchased my first FRS transceiver, a BellSouth 1010 Ranger Communicator, made by U.S. Electronics. And that is what this piece will be a review thereof.
I purchased this radio during one weekend of October 2001. I believe it was a Saturday. Of course, I was planning to purchase it for several weeks. The night before I purchased it, I saw several people using them at the Chackbay Firemen’s Fair.
When I got home, I installed the batteries and then began to use the scan feature.
Even though I wasn’t in a very populated area, I heard quite a few people talking on different channels. Some of them would answer me back in a friendly way, others would get annoyed that I tried to join their conversation.
Most of what I heard were spouses talking and hunters in the woods. Now and then, I heard people traveling in caravans. Once or twice I came across other teenagers.
I would soon discover that the maintenance crew at my school also used FRS transceivers at the time and that is how I began to befriend them. They gave me my first job in the summer of 2005.
FRS had two things going for it twenty years ago:
First, while the advertised range was only two miles, you actually could get two solid miles of communication range. This is unlike nowadays when the advertised range is maybe 35-50 miles but in practice, you’re doing well if you can get a few blocks of communication range.
Second, there were fewer people with cell phones because cell phones cost more two own and operate, weren’t as user-friendly, and could only call, text, and maybe play a few basic games. There also were very few if any people with unlimited calling plans. So this made FRS a much more cost-effective communications plan, at least for short-range communications.
Now in 2021, I am in a slightly more densely populated area and can set an FRS transceiver to scan and won’t hear anything for hours or if I do, it’s a GMRS repeater on one of the shared channels. Most of FRS traffic is antenna tower climbers and land surveyors. Although on Christmas Day, I’ll hear some kids and teenagers playing on the FRS transceivers they got for Christmas.
The BellSouth 1010 had amazing audio quality and despite being very affordable was built pretty solidly, although the belt clip was flimsy. It could also transmit the signal a solid two miles and hear units two miles away. It featured all fourteen channels (which was the legal limit back then), a backlit LCD, a scan function, volume control that was loud enough even on the lowest setting, a light to indicate the unit was transmitting, and a call tone feature. It operated on 4 AAA batteries and the run time was pretty generous for its time. An optional charging adaptor and batteries could be purchased. There were no CTCSS or DCS tones, but the radio made up for it with range and audio quality.
During Thanksgiving Week of 2001, we were eating at New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company when my parents’ car had an electrical problem. I used the radio to summon help and one person answered me and offered but the problem with the car was too complex, so eventually, they had to get it towed to a mechanic.
I had realized there were even more FRS users in larger metropolitan areas, much to my delight.
I carried this radio with me until August of 2002 when I upgraded to a BellSouth 2231 and I tried out several other FRS radios since. I have since bought duplicates for sentimental reasons.
It was FRS that got my feet wet with radio communications and would be one of the catalysts that caused me to get an Amateur Radio license. I now hold a General Class license and plan to start studying for my Extra Class.
I wish FRS transceivers were made this well in 2021. And it would be nice to add some of the modern features such as CTCSS, DCS, multiple call tones, waterproofing, weather radio, USB charging, to name a few.
If you’re wondering what FRS transceiver I am currently using, I now use a Motorola Talkabout T600.
For years though, I used a Motorola Talkabout T6250, which I initially purchased in October of 2003 and I wish Motorola would bring that model back!
I should write a review on both of those radios because I do like them as well. Stay tuned!
By the way, I give this radio 4.75 out of 5 stars! I took off a quarter-point because of the flimsy belt clip.
I suppose this concludes my review of the BellSouth 1010 Ranger Communicator.
I hope that you, the reader, have been informed, entertained, and enlightened.
May God richly bless you!