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The more I learn about the FCC's General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), the more I am fascinated by RF in general. It touches everyone's lives every second of every day, yet few people pay much attention. How cool is it that after 42 years and 14 billion miles away, the 22-Watt radio on Voyager 1 is still sending data back to earth every day (how important is that antenna?). So why aren't more people interested in GMRS or RF in general? There's no test to get a license like amateur (ham) radio. It's $70 for a 10-year license, and is really easy to get started. So here are some theories. People don't know: GMRS exists Why GMRS exists Why they'd want to use GMRS How to envision themselves participating in GMRS What it takes to get started with GMRS What it takes to continue and improve with GMRS Technical information they should know about GMRS Etiquette when transmitting (TX) on GMRS What a GMRS "Net" is and why Most people within the GMRS community are helpful once you're in, but the community is very inviting in a go-figure-it-out-yourself way, and no one has assembled everything you need to know about GMRS all in one place. We GMRS people are putting the onus on outsiders to sift through thousands of painfully esoteric webpages with a winnowing fork, separating useful info from useless, poorly written, or incomplete info. When I first heard about GMRS on a 4x4 trip, I arrived home and Googled around and settled on a Midland MXT-275 because it seemed perfect for mounting on my truck dashboard. At the time, I had no idea that Midland doesn't manufacture a GMRS radio capable of operating on split-tone repeaters (Dear Midland, I know you're reading this: why do you squander so much potential?). Edit 6/28/2021: Midland heard our cry! They just updated the MXT-275 to include split-tone programming on repeater channels. So for example, now this radio is able to reach a repeater that receives (RX) incoming transmissions on 467.550 with a PL tone of 103.5 and repeats the transmission (TX) at 462.550 with a PL tone of 88.5. I didn't even know what "split tone" was or even what "tone" meant, or carrier or squelch or hundreds of other little things you all take for granted. Since then, I realized that if the big, bad manufacturers like Midland, Kenwood, Motorola, and iCom can't even invite the public to learn more and provide useful content for each stage of the customer journey—Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, and Loyalty—the 2-way radio industry has much deeper problems and aren't there to help guys like me. As we get involved deeper into GMRS, there's little-to-no hand-holding going on at each level of knowledge. I ending up relying on the Ham community here and there and a guy who is basically a saint at a little radio shop in Phoenix, Arizona (hope Tim over at Procomm and the others at the nonprofit AZGMRS.org don't mind me giving them a shout-out). Edit 4/14/2020: By the way, AZGMRS made this awesome list of FCC-approved GMRS radios that they recommend. If you live anywhere near Arizona and are reading this, now would be a great time to become a member. Their repeater network covers some 100 miles around Phoenix with more and more repeaters joining the network (check out their sweet coverage map). But it's still frustrating. I wish a GMRS expert—presumably a manufacturer—would just come out and say exactly what a total newbie needs at each stage of their involvement or level of need. Two-way radio manufacturers should stop wasting time trying to sell, and start marketing and branding, which means educating the public about the 5 W's (Who, What, Where, When, Why [+how, +how much]) without trying to sell to them. Most new users don't know what they need because they don't know what's possible. For example, I wish I knew that manufacturers don't typically include the best antenna on their radios right out of the box. It took me over a year to realize that the best bang for the buck for a portable base antenna to include in my go bag is N9TAX's Slimjim and that Smiley Antenna makes the best bang for the buck antennas for hand-held radios (which by the way, everyone just assumes newbies are supposed to know that hand-held walkie-talkie radios are called "HT" for "Handy-talkie" and what a "QSO" is). How would a newbie know that the cheap Nagoya 771 "upgrade" antenna for Baofengs that everyone talks about actually isn't the best bang for the buck for the GMRS frequency band of 462–467? How would a newbie know that antennas work best when tuned exactly to what they call a "center" frequency that accommodates 5 Megahertz in each direction (+5 and -5 Megahertz) at the expense of hearing other frequencies? I learned the hard way that in order to properly install an NMO antenna mount on the roof of my truck, I would need a drill bit specifically made for drilling NMO antenna mount holes, and that yes, it is worth the money to do it right the first time. I'm still in the middle of learning how a "quarter-wave" or "5/8 wave" antenna works, the difference between dB gain vs. dBi gain, mic gain, antenna gain, because again, everyone seems to just assume I already know what all this means. I still don't understand what antenna "tuning" means and why you have to "cut" an antenna to "tune" it. Can I make my own antenna right now in a pinch with a copper wire in my garage? Ok, show me! How do I measure it or test it? What is SWR? Can I measure it myself? What do I need in order to measure it? Is one SWR meter better than another for my level as a newbie? Is there something I should learn to make it worth buying the better meter that opens up a whole new world of capability? Is it worth learning all that? This graphic did a great job beginning to explain what dBd gain means for those of us who know next to nothing about it, but now I need to go find out on my own and sift through a thousand webpages to find out if dBd is something new I need to know. Speaking of dB, I know that "dB" is a decibel, but is it the same as my stereo volume? Why do I see manufacturers saying that the microphone and cable have a dB rating? What is going on here? This is madness! We can Google things all day, but which info is true and correct and the most helpful? I think that the entire industry is sitting on a Gold Mine of consumers sitting at home for weeks on end who would love to buy GMRS equipment and communicate via GMRS to friends, family, neighbors, and other GMRS users. Whoever provides the most useful, relevant, and engaging content that stops making assumptions about what people know or don't know will win. STOP ASSUMING. START EDUCATING.
My sons are 4 and 6. The older one is in kindergarten, and all the schools and parks are closed for COVID-19. They're at home all day, every day. We ride bikes and whatnot, but it's not the same as going to school and hanging with friends. I'm not paying for a phone for a 6 year old. So, why not get a few families in the neighborhood to get a GMRS license so all the kids can talk to one another any time they want? They're not close enough for FRS, but I think certainly GMRS will work. We haven't even bought devices, yet. I genuinely want to know if this is a bad idea before we move forward. To me, it seems like a great way to take advantage of the current "STAY HOME" situation to get kids interested in communications. Will other GMRS users be pissed off by a bunch of kids talking to each other all day? I plan to lock all their devices on a specific frequency, so they can't annoy anyone. How do we find a semi-private frequency no one is likely to use? If we need to use a local repeater to get across a hill, is it ok to ask, or would we get laughed at, or is it too big of an ask since they'll probably talk to each other way more than adults? We live in a small town in Alabama, about 6,500 population, all within 2 miles, and situated in a valley between mountains. One subdivision is over a hill, but the whole rest of town is probably in line-of-sight. Thanks for any advice.
Please forgive me in advance, for the length of this post describing my situation and concerns... I'm new to GMRS and am concerned about safety for each of my family members. When traveling, there are many things that can go wrong and put the safety of a loved one at risk. With this in mind, I am in the process of putting together a Vehicle Emergency Kit, which consists of a first aid kit, and as many things I can think of to fit into a small backpack, that could help someone cope a little better in almost any emergency situation; and when an emergency takes place, the ability to have communication to get help is very high on the list, so as a last resort in the event that they have no cell signal, phone battery is dead etc., I'm putting a 2-way handheld radio, extra batteries, N-771 long range antenna etc. in the kit. Wanting to be in compliance with GMRS approved radios, I searched online every way I could think of, but cannot find Anywhere, a list of Which radios are approved for GMRS. When looking at radios on Amazon.com I came across the BaoFeng/Btech GMRS-V1, saw it had a keypad for programming so I bought 6 of them to put one in each kit, even though they were more costly than I had hoped; but of course I asked myself "how much is the safety of my family members worth?". I've spent hours upon hours searching for all the GMRS frequencies I could find in the state of Oregon, entered all the information needed (I think), using the Chirp programming software. I got all the frequencies programmed into the GMRS-V1 but continuously ran into the issue that I could not get the + 5.ooooo frequency duplex to be saved into the radio. I entered the information manually and it seemed to work, but when I went back to that channel to confirm I did things correctly, it was back to 000.000 time after time. I searched for help on this and found out that what I didn't realize is that you can only program receivable frequencies! With this being the case, there seem to be many GMRS frequencies throughout the state that are Not on the list of FCC approved frequencies permanently programmed into this particular radio, which in my case, is limiting the ability for my family members to be able to call for help if at all needed. So, at this point, I will be returning the radios and looking for another. I am contemplating at the least, getting the BaoFeng UV-82 5 watt radio, but am considering the UV-82HP for the extra 2 to 3 watts in case 5 watts isn't strong enough to reach out for help. For occasional use, I plan to get a couple GMRS radios and hopefully when my wife goes to town and I'm at home, we can keep in contact. So now my biggest concern is: These radios will be tucked away in a small backpack and never used, unless "IF" someone finds themself in an emergency situation and as a last resort, needs to use the radio in an attempt to call for help. But, I am worried about getting into trouble with the FCC for any transmission that may or may not ever take place on these radios. Again, I apologize for the length of this post, for those who were willing to take the time to read it. Anyone have any thoughts?
Hello, I am new to this whole thing. I have a Baofeng UV-5R, and used CHIRP to program it sing Freqs I found on a Prepper site. I am confused on the repater usage and distances they achieve. Probably got way too many programmed and think I can figure out how to minimize them using CHIRP. Any advise and assistacne would be greatly appreciated. Thank You