Looking for information/book/manual

An organisation I volunteer for is in the process of replacing their current radio systems with a new one.

I was only ever in the OTC, but secretly found some of the signals stuff quite interesting. I'm looking for a bit of advice on where I can find literature on how we can make the most of our new system.

I've not got all the details yet, but it's on the UHF band and has the capability for using both analogue and digital. Within the digital capabilities I believe we can have anywhere between 32 and 160 channels. There are also GPS units built in to the radios to provide real-time updates of the radio whereabouts to the base unit - as well as the capability for the base unit to control the mobile units (turn mic off/on etc).

Now, to me digital sounds like a fecking nightmare, but only because I remember staff complaining about BOWMAN a few years ago and I'm not normally keen on the "high-tech" solution. Then again, better than the 349s which couldn't communicate further than we could shout...

So, what I think I need to know is how to make the most of the ranges on the base unit, repeaters and handheld units - through use of antenna, placement and anything else that might be useful. The radios have to perform decently as two way radios through heavy woodland with medium to steep relief, which I know is not ideal.

I'm really rather a novice at this, but no-one else within the area has specific signals knowledge, so I thought I'd try and pick up some info the help out.
Firstly I'd say don't be put off by the idea of digital radios. Bowman had, and still has, numerous faults but the use of digital radios isn't one of them. The individual radios themselves are a vast improvement on what they replaced.

Without far more detail about the specific equipment, terrain, requirements and budgetary constraints it isn't possible to give any detail about the best setup and deployment of your equipment however I can try to give you some general pointers.

As a general rule you won't have much flexibility in the mobile units, unless you have the ability to stop and erect masts when you want to communicate then you are going to be limited to the antennas which are fixed to the equipment. If, as you allude to in your post, you are going to be using repeaters then these are going to have the most impact on your comms. UHF is restricted to line of sight so the placement of the repeaters needs to be done so that they give unobscured coverage of the required area. A golden rule with line of sight is that height beats power; getting your repeater's antenna on as high a mast or feature as possible will generally give the best coverage.

UHF comms are also more degraded by foliage than lower frequencies so if you are working in heavily wooded areas then don't expect to get anything like the ranges claimed by the manufacturers.

If you need more specific advice then feel free to PM me with more detail about your requirements and I'll do my best to help.

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