Author Topic: Question: GMRS radios  (Read 10405 times)

Offline Nate

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Question: GMRS radios
« on: December 30, 2008, 10:32:13 PM »
I have been researching the GMRS radios that Sportsman's guide has on sale occasionally.  I came across a website that had lots of information on FRS and GMRS radios.  I cant remember the site right now.  Anyway, this website said that to legally operate a GMRS radio you must have a license.  Is this true?  Does this apply to the radio's Sportsman's guide and the Big Box stores sell?

I just want to make sure.  I don't want guys showing up at my door one morning wearing black and toting machine guns.  ;)  Thanks! 

I am also pretty radio stupid.  I don't understand a lot of the technical jargon associated with radio waves, frequencies ect.  Thanks for understanding! 

Tommy Jefferson

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2008, 10:38:27 PM »
Legally you must get a license from the government to transmit on the GMRS frequencies.

In reality, no men with badges will ever show up at your door for transmitting on GMRS frequencies because the government does not enforce that law.  You can break that law all you want without any real fear of punishment.

Will you follow the law and get a license before you begin using the radios from Sportsman's Guide, or will you be a criminal?

Offline ColdHaven

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2008, 11:16:03 PM »
I have a pair of Motorola FRS/GRMS radios that also have NOAA. I can honestly say you can buy one of those and have pretty of leeway as far as communications go. With the channels and the sub-channel codes you will have plenty of options. I believe there are 8 main channels that are FRS/GRMS available without a license. At least they were the last time I looked up that information. Now there are GRMS specific ranges too which you would need a license for them. I do not use those channels, and I thought of getting a license, but it did not seem economically sound. You essentially pony up a lot of money each year just so you can broadcast on those frequencies? BS. I will use the other channels which have just as much range and I do not need a license. However, in an emergency, you bet your a$$ I would be trying those frequencies as well. I don't think anyone could blame you for that.

With that said, they are not going to knock down your door to enforce this. You see how well they enforced the CB license law.  ;D

Offline Tactical Badger

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2009, 05:22:25 PM »
Some good info here...

http://www.geocities.com/gmrspage/frs.html

on the frequencies.

On your FRS/GMRS radio, you can use channels 1-7 without a license.  Those are the FRS frequencies.

The license to use GMRS frequencies is simply a form to fill out and mail in.  The cost, however, is $80.

Offline Ultio1

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2009, 07:33:27 AM »
Legally you must get a license from the government to transmit on the GMRS frequencies.

In reality, no men with badges will ever show up at your door for transmitting on GMRS frequencies because the government does not enforce that law.  You can break that law all you want without any real fear of punishment.

Will you follow the law and get a license before you begin using the radios from Sportsman's Guide, or will you be a criminal?

What about 2 meter?

Offline Tactical Badger

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2009, 08:26:20 AM »
I don't know what Nate's situation is, but, as for myself...I don't see the wife getting her license.  As much as I wish she would, I don't think I have a snowball's chance in Hell of convincing her to do it.  The same for other people I know.  Of the people I would like to be able to communicate with in some sort of disaster, only one of them has a HAM license.

On the other side of the argument though, 2M is far superior to FRS/GMRS.  If for no other reason than it's repeaters.  I'm not sure how that argument would hold up in a true SHTF scenario.  I don't know if the repeaters would stay in operation.  There is always simplex communication though.  And you can legally pump out a whole lot more wattage on 2M than FRS/GMRS if you're limited to simplex comm's.

Offline Triple8

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2009, 09:30:08 PM »
Tactical Badger

I just got a set of FRS/GMRS Motorolas for xmas. They work good up to about maybe 1 mile from my house, a far cry from the claim of 18 miles. While I feel they are a good start it has sparked my interest in getting my technician license so I can get on the 2m band. Without a repeater, is performance noticeably better? It seems most of the handheld's for the 2m put out like 5 watts while my FRS/GMRS puts out like .5 or 1 watt.   

Offline firetoad

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2009, 11:18:44 PM »
Nutmeg,

2M radio performance and output far exceeds the FRS/GMRS radios.  Obviously, the FRS/GMRS radios have their place, but ability to communicate over longer distances, even with just a Tech license, is just magnitudes greater!  As an example, I have a rinky-dink, homemade antenna in my attic with a 65W base radio and I can communicate/hit repeaters 60+ miles away!  And, if you can communicate via a repeater, if you have a person that has a reasonable setup themselves on the other end, you should be able to communicate simplex, i.e. without repeaters.  If someone 60 miles away had a similar setup as mine (and mine is very simple and nowhere near optimum), I should be able to talk directly to them (although noisy).  I could probably get even further distances but have not had time to play around with it too much lately. 

Offline Tactical Badger

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2009, 03:44:55 AM »
Tactical Badger

I just got a set of FRS/GMRS Motorolas for xmas. They work good up to about maybe 1 mile from my house, a far cry from the claim of 18 miles. While I feel they are a good start it has sparked my interest in getting my technician license so I can get on the 2m band. Without a repeater, is performance noticeably better? It seems most of the handheld's for the 2m put out like 5 watts while my FRS/GMRS puts out like .5 or 1 watt.   

That seems to be a universal truth about FRS/GMRS radios...their range is no where near what the manufacturer claims.  Make sure you read the directions though.  Most FRS/GMRS radios will let you adjust the output power.  You should be able to transmit at 5 watts on the GMRS channels.  Granted...illegally without a liscense.  The FRS channels are normally internally regulated to limit their output to I believe 1 watt maximum.

FRS/GMRS radios have their place.  And they SHOULD be part of your comm's plan.  I think a comprehensive comm's plan would inlcude CB's radios, FRS/GMRS Radios, and amateur radios.

Something no one ever talks about though is this...*cue the paranoia theme music*...If you're communicating by radio, you can be found by anyone with a directional antenna.  In a true TEOWAWKI situation, anyone trying to find you, will if you broadcast at all.  You can minimize the likelyhood of this by keeping radio transmissions as short as possible.

That aside, I would come up with some sort of "code" to use when using radio communications with your friends or family so that anyone listening doesn't know what what you're saying.  There is, after all, no such thing as "private" conversations on radio frequencies.

*paranoia theme music fades*

Badger...out. ;D

Offline cajunkraut

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2009, 10:17:48 AM »
Does anyone have any experience with MURS radios (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-Use_Radio_Service) as an alternative to GMRS two-way radios?

Offline TimSuggs

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2009, 12:52:26 PM »
Does anyone have any experience with MURS radios (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-Use_Radio_Service) as an alternative to GMRS two-way radios?

I think I saw some MURS radios over on James Yeager's site  www.TacticalResponseGear.com  I wonder if that's the freqs that the Garmin Rhino's operate on since it's for data or voice?

Tim.


tash

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2009, 07:49:18 AM »
Having been a while since I used my GMRS radios I decided to see how far my actually worked this morning...

So I left for work with one and the wife had the other... I didn't get .5 miles before mine died of dead batteries...

It's a good thing I decided to test them and not wait until I really needed them...

Gonna get new batteries this week... I should have replaced the crappy rechargeable ones when I first got it...

Once I get some new batteries I'll try and throw up a short review of the ones I have

Offline Tactical Badger

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2009, 08:03:32 AM »
I did that very same thing a while ago.  Told the wife to start talking as she headed off to the office.  She got maybe a mile before we lost the signal comepletely.

Granted, talking on a handheld from inside a vehicle is quite possibly the absolute worst condition to be using a radio.  No radio is going to transmit very far if the antenna is inside a vehicle.

If you'e planning on using handheld radios as part of your comm's...make sure everyone knows to stop and get out of the vehicle before they try and make contact from any distance at all.

Rainman

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2009, 06:08:43 PM »
I bought two pair of Motorola FRS/GMRS radios and they suck, just like the Radio Man who called in said they would.  Yes GMRS supposedly requires a license, but these things are toys with a 1 to 2 mile range at best (even though the package advertised 25 for the ones I purchased).  So file under "Lessons Learned".  But my research has turned up some 900MHZ business class radios that frequency hop which makes tracking conversations more difficult and has an advertised range of about 30 miles.  They are called TriSquare XRS and have many great 5 star reviews on them on BestBuy.com and list for 69.95.  Now, I found them on eBay for about 10 bucks cheaper, but for only 80 bucks, a pair with headsets and NOAA Weather, free S & H.  I'm going to give them a shot and I'll be back to give them my own review here on the forum.  Oh yeah, my understanding is.... No license required for these and they even work inside buildings.  Good luck!

Offline radiomacgyver

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2009, 06:30:55 PM »
I bought two pair of Motorola FRS/GMRS radios and they suck, just like the Radio Man who called in said they would. 


Hi Rainman,

Thanks for mentioning my comments made and to Jack for playing it on the podcast.  FRS/GMRS are best used around .5 to 2 mile. There is a movement going on to try to get FRS channel 1 adopted as a call and or emergency channel. You may be impressed with the results of an experiment done here in Connecticut.

 Check : http://www.nationalsos.com/connecticutdrill.html

They are called TriSquare XRS and have many great 5 star reviews on them on BestBuy.com and list for 69.95.

Again Rainman, you get what you pay for. Regarding  TriSquare XRS, you have extra security, but not really more range.

Please check this article:  http://k7olr.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11:trisquare-xrs-900-mhz-ism-testing&catid=8:miscellaneous&Itemid=13

Hope this information is useful.

RadioMacGyver

Offline backwoods_engineer

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2009, 11:11:50 AM »
I think I saw some MURS radios over on James Yeager's site  www.TacticalResponseGear.com  I wonder if that's the freqs that the Garmin Rhino's operate on since it's for data or voice?
Tim.

Hi Tim,

Garmin Rino's use FRS/GMRS. 

However, I highly recommend MURS because of the much-longer ranges it offers, and also the possibility of digital communications.  See this thread for a discussion of encrypted digital voice over MURS:  http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=3252.0

Offline NightOwl

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2009, 06:18:48 PM »
I have a GMRS license to go with my pair of Midland radios.  It was money that would have been better spent elsewhere.  I also have 4 Moto FRS-only talkabouts - good luck finding plain FRS anymore - that are almost a decade old.  All six of the units went into my box of emergency stuff.

Tried my radios (don't recall which model) car to car on a huge wide freeway last fall.  Pathetic range.  They have their place in a family communications plan, but in general they're not worth the trouble.

Another time we used the FRS radios to talk car to car while driving in a snow storm.  The other car spun out off the road and we were out of range before the driver could put her hand on the radio to call us for help.  Much grumbling when she caught up with us at the next rally point.  (This was several years ago, when rural cell coverage was unreliable.)

This is why I've been studying for my Technician test.

Actually, with what I've already learned about signal propagation, I might be able to improve the range on my FRS radios without modifying the hardware...

I suspect that the radio makers are in a concerted effort to do to GMRS what they did to CB back in the 70s:  Flood the market with cheap units, put the license requirements in the fine print, and watch the licensing be honored more in the breach than the observance.  Then wait for the license to be scrapped.

ken

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Re: Question: GMRS radios
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2009, 07:16:54 PM »
While I am an Extra Class ham radio operator, slightly biased, ha, I do recommend having FRS/GMRS radios, they are very handy.  There are times when you need reliable (close in) communications, say a mile or so, and these work well for that purpose.     

To communicate within your family, or group, when not everyone is a ham.  To stay in contact between vehicles when driving with a group.  To have the ability to set up a neighborhood (party line) type communication service when the phones fail.  Even useful so your wife can locate you in wal-mart, ha.

I bought (mid price range) Midland (FRS/GMRS) radios when they went on sale, several pairs.  I use the radios to keep in contact with my house if I happen to be out on the property working out of sight.  I live in a very rural area, with few obstructions like big buildings so I reliably get over 2 mile range (clear line of sight), your experience may be different.  Several neighbors also bought radios to have a back up communication system should the phone system fail.  We live in an area that has had some big wildfires, having the ability to get moment by moment updates from neighbors closer to the fire is a real plus. 

Note, if you live in a large metropolitan area you should be aware of the possibility that there may be more people trying to use these radios than there are available channels in a real emergency.  It is possible that many people will have the same emergency communication plan as yours, so have a backup communication plan, or prearranged procedure to deal with any confusion.  With potentially hundreds of people in a large city trying to call at the same time,  you see the dilemma.  Ham radio has a similar limitation as there are a limited number of repeater frequencies available in an area, except ham radio operators have trained for this type situation and would go to a system with a net control operator to act like a traffic cop.