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New License Wants GMRS Repeater

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#1 orionsune

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 09:15 AM

I recently became GMRS licensed so that my family and myself could have some backup radio communications without everyone needing a HAM license. However I do hope it entices my brothers and some other family to try. Anyways, we all live very close by so it works out mostly well but we were disappointed to learn there are no GMRS repeaters in our area anymore. I lived in Clayton, NC with my family and recently moved to Raleigh, NC so now at least one family member could use a GMRS repeater. That is, unless every family member suddenly decides to become HAM licensed overnight.

 

I've read about homemade repeaters and have most of the components to build one and sling in a tree somewhere nearby. Before I went to such measure I wanted to ask around about the process and costs of installing a proper GMRS repeater on a radio tower. I'm a new HAM as well so I know very little of the radio tower world. I am a 20 year IT professional and know about co-locating hosts. I wonder if radio towers do something similar? Do we lease space from them like you would lease a spot in a datacenter to put your own server?

 

There was one HAM who had a GMRS repeater installed on a water tower at the State Fair grounds but when they took the water tower down the owner never bothered to re-install the GMRS repeater on another tower because it was rarely used. I asked him more through email regarding how one could go about getting space on a water tower or radio tower but i've never received a response yet. When I did speak with him on 2 meters, he explained that he was very busy maintaining radio tower equipment and has very little time so didn't want to push him. So i'm asking you all now.

 

I've read other posts on repeaters, towers and relative costs in terms like "expensive" and "costly" but nothing actionable or relevant to my locale.

 

If anyone out there in my area who knows a thing or two, is bored and willing to explain more about this I would greatly appreciate your efforts. I have a strong interest in having another GMRS repeater in the Raleigh area and if it is within my budget or I can get enough people to contribute I would like to install one. I simply don't know where to get started.



#2 Ian

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 10:16 PM

The colocation fee and lease is more or less similar to the data center environment you're used to.

 

I'm in the same boat, as a newbie wanting a repeater, but that much I got out of a buddy who's building a repeater.



#3 RCM

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 05:06 AM

Welcome to the forum, orionsune. What I do is just find a couple of cheap commercial radios and use one for the receiver and the other for the transmitter. I like to set them up so they can be swapped; for example if the wind blows the antenna down and the transmit radio burns out its finals trying to transmit into it, I can just swap the two radios and fix the antenna.

 

This is a good application for those cheap radios that only have a few (or even just one) channels.

You can build a very simple controller circuit for just a few dollars, or buy one for under $100.

A duplexer is the most expensive part, but I don't even use one. I just use separate transmit and receive antennas and space them far enough apart so the transmitter doesn't desense the receiver.

By doing this and building your own antennas, a complete repeater can cost less than $200.

 

BTW, "ham" is a word, not an acronym. Sorry. Pet peeve.



#4 kb2ztx

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 08:24 AM

Welcome to GMRS world. The tower stuff is a challenge and can be a handshake deal to a lease with a million dollar insurance policy. All depends on how hard you look. One thing I have noticed since I moved to the south is the amount of buildings with an old tower out back with no antenna or a damaged antenna on them. Alot of old car repair places, tractor supply and manufacturing buildings have them. Back home we found a warehouse that had multiple antennas on the roof. I was able to manage an agreement with the owner to use the UHF antenna for GMRS in trade for cleaning up the radio room and helping with some small projects. It worked well until he sold the building. The biggest issue with any tower owner is going to be access. The other thing many look for is done right work. Not saying it needs to be a $10,000 repeater but don't show up with 2 baofengs in a tupperware container. When doing the install use common sense and do what you can to make it correct. Proper cable, connectors, grounding is all key to a good working unit and a good looking unit. Another location I had one I was responsible for my own power. $35.00 a month i could do split between some buddies. 

 

I wouldn't even try to talk to American Tower or an of the big tower folks unless you have a few grand a month to burn a hole. Look for those like above. 


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#5 orionsune

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 11:54 PM

Welcome to the forum, orionsune. What I do is just find a couple of cheap commercial radios and use one for the receiver and the other for the transmitter. I like to set them up so they can be swapped; for example if the wind blows the antenna down and the transmit radio burns out its finals trying to transmit into it, I can just swap the two radios and fix the antenna.

 

This is a good application for those cheap radios that only have a few (or even just one) channels.

You can build a very simple controller circuit for just a few dollars, or buy one for under $100.

A duplexer is the most expensive part, but I don't even use one. I just use separate transmit and receive antennas and space them far enough apart so the transmitter doesn't desense the receiver.

By doing this and building your own antennas, a complete repeater can cost less than $200.

 

BTW, "ham" is a word, not an acronym. Sorry. Pet peeve.

I understand HAM isn't an ancronym. HAM was a pejorative term originally until over time, amateur radio operators managed to adopt the word HAM as some kind of badge of honor. At least that's what the ARRL tech manual says about HAMS.


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#6 RCM

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 12:32 AM

I understand HAM isn't an ancronym. HAM was a pejorative term originally until over time, amateur radio operators managed to adopt the word HAM as some kind of badge of honor. At least that's what the ARRL tech manual says about HAMS.

Then why all caps? Do it how you want, but to me all caps looks like someone who thinks it's an acronym.

But like I said, just a pet peeve. I hope this doesn't offend you, because that is not my intent.



#7 n4gix

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 02:46 PM

I posed this as a "Trivia Challenge" at last evening's club meeting (Lake County Amateur Radio Club). I asked, "Which of the following is correct?"

  1. HAM
  2. ham
  3. Ham

The majority (29 of 32) chose #2 as being correct. Some wag pointed out that #3 would be correct only if used as the first word in a sentence, which is nothing but proper grammar of course. :lol:


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#8 WRAK968

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Posted 13 February 2019 - 02:26 PM

Orion, first welcome to the group and congrats on becoming a GMRS license holder.

So, first thing everyone tries is a cheap system and trying to get up high. I know, I did it with poor results. I now have a RKR1225 and a good duplexer and antenna. When I started I actually used a flat pack duplexer, and a cheap antenna. I had about 4-5 blocks range. I changed the antenna to a diamond 200u when extended my rage to about 1 and a half miles, and when I upgraded the duplexer to a band pass I think it is, I now have 4 miles range at 15' high and 25W out. For now Im ok with that as really the repeater is used to boost our portable coverage and allows us to talk from portable to mobile.

What I'm getting at is, depending on what your needs are, consider setting up at your house first especially if your in a 2+ story residence. a 2 story building could easily get an antenna up 25-30 feet, and once your above the tree line your range will increase drastically. The nice thing is you can work out any problems or glitches with your setup right away without needing to wait for site access. Once everything is running and you know it all works and what your expectations are, then make plans for a tower location.


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#9 RCM

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 08:46 PM

Orion, first welcome to the group and congrats on becoming a GMRS license holder.

So, first thing everyone tries is a cheap system and trying to get up high. I know, I did it with poor results. I now have a RKR1225 and a good duplexer and antenna. When I started I actually used a flat pack duplexer, and a cheap antenna. I had about 4-5 blocks range. I changed the antenna to a diamond 200u when extended my rage to about 1 and a half miles, and when I upgraded the duplexer to a band pass I think it is, I now have 4 miles range at 15' high and 25W out. For now Im ok with that as really the repeater is used to boost our portable coverage and allows us to talk from portable to mobile.

What I'm getting at is, depending on what your needs are, consider setting up at your house first especially if your in a 2+ story residence. a 2 story building could easily get an antenna up 25-30 feet, and once your above the tree line your range will increase drastically. The nice thing is you can work out any problems or glitches with your setup right away without needing to wait for site access. Once everything is running and you know it all works and what your expectations are, then make plans for a tower location.

Great points. I'm in 100% agreement about setting up at your home first to work out the bugs. You might even like it so much that you continue to keep one set up at home, even after setting up another one at a better location.

Mine doesn't even have a duplexer; I just use two antennas with enough separation to avoid desense. I'm only running about 12 watts, but my range is approximately 7 miles.



#10 WRAK968

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 03:51 PM

Great points. I'm in 100% agreement about setting up at your home first to work out the bugs. You might even like it so much that you continue to keep one set up at home, even after setting up another one at a better location.

Mine doesn't even have a duplexer; I just use two antennas with enough separation to avoid desense. I'm only running about 12 watts, but my range is approximately 7 miles.

Just cause I'm curious, How high are your antennas, and are you on the peak of a hill? :) Thats range sounds awesome for being on a house :)


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#11 n4gix

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 07:59 PM

Just cause I'm curious, How high are your antennas, and are you on the peak of a hill? smile.png Thats range sounds awesome for being on a house smile.png

When I had my repeater here at the house on a dedicated UFH antenna at 32' I was getting about 10 miles HT, 15 miles mobile.

#12 RCM

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 10:42 PM

Just cause I'm curious, How high are your antennas, and are you on the peak of a hill? :) Thats range sounds awesome for being on a house :)

I'm in a valley with a mountain directly behind me (which limits range in that direction), and my antennas are at approximately 20 feet.



#13 jimndfw

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 05:22 AM

I recently became GMRS licensed so that my family and myself could have some backup radio communications without everyone needing a HAM license. However I do hope it entices my brothers and some other family to try. Anyways, we all live very close by so it works out mostly well but we were disappointed to learn there are no GMRS repeaters in our area anymore. I lived in Clayton, NC with my family and recently moved to Raleigh, NC so now at least one family member could use a GMRS repeater. That is, unless every family member suddenly decides to become HAM licensed overnight.

 

I've read about homemade repeaters and have most of the components to build one and sling in a tree somewhere nearby. Before I went to such measure I wanted to ask around about the process and costs of installing a proper GMRS repeater on a radio tower. I'm a new HAM as well so I know very little of the radio tower world. I am a 20 year IT professional and know about co-locating hosts. I wonder if radio towers do something similar? Do we lease space from them like you would lease a spot in a datacenter to put your own server?

 

There was one HAM who had a GMRS repeater installed on a water tower at the State Fair grounds but when they took the water tower down the owner never bothered to re-install the GMRS repeater on another tower because it was rarely used. I asked him more through email regarding how one could go about getting space on a water tower or radio tower but i've never received a response yet. When I did speak with him on 2 meters, he explained that he was very busy maintaining radio tower equipment and has very little time so didn't want to push him. So i'm asking you all now.

 

I've read other posts on repeaters, towers and relative costs in terms like "expensive" and "costly" but nothing actionable or relevant to my locale.

 

If anyone out there in my area who knows a thing or two, is bored and willing to explain more about this I would greatly appreciate your efforts. I have a strong interest in having another GMRS repeater in the Raleigh area and if it is within my budget or I can get enough people to contribute I would like to install one. I simply don't know where to get started.

 

I recently became GMRS licensed so that my family and myself could have some backup radio communications without everyone needing a HAM license. However I do hope it entices my brothers and some other family to try. Anyways, we all live very close by so it works out mostly well but we were disappointed to learn there are no GMRS repeaters in our area anymore. I lived in Clayton, NC with my family and recently moved to Raleigh, NC so now at least one family member could use a GMRS repeater. That is, unless every family member suddenly decides to become HAM licensed overnight.

 

I've read about homemade repeaters and have most of the components to build one and sling in a tree somewhere nearby. Before I went to such measure I wanted to ask around about the process and costs of installing a proper GMRS repeater on a radio tower. I'm a new HAM as well so I know very little of the radio tower world. I am a 20 year IT professional and know about co-locating hosts. I wonder if radio towers do something similar? Do we lease space from them like you would lease a spot in a datacenter to put your own server?

 

There was one HAM who had a GMRS repeater installed on a water tower at the State Fair grounds but when they took the water tower down the owner never bothered to re-install the GMRS repeater on another tower because it was rarely used. I asked him more through email regarding how one could go about getting space on a water tower or radio tower but i've never received a response yet. When I did speak with him on 2 meters, he explained that he was very busy maintaining radio tower equipment and has very little time so didn't want to push him. So i'm asking you all now.

 

I've read other posts on repeaters, towers and relative costs in terms like "expensive" and "costly" but nothing actionable or relevant to my locale.

 

If anyone out there in my area who knows a thing or two, is bored and willing to explain more about this I would greatly appreciate your efforts. I have a strong interest in having another GMRS repeater in the Raleigh area and if it is within my budget or I can get enough people to contribute I would like to install one. I simply don't know where to get started.

What is your budget to work with? 







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