Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

You just got your GMRS license, now you want your own repeater?


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 Corey

Corey

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 305 posts
  • LocationWisconsin
  • GMRS Callsign:WQVA593
  • Ham Callsign:KD9HCW

Posted 18 March 2019 - 10:29 AM

Why does every new license holder want to setup a repeater? I would like to shed a little light on some of the important things to consider if you recently got your GMRS license and now want your own repeater.

 

First thing to consider, are there any open well placed repeaters in your area that you are able to use? I can assure you most repeater owners want people to use there repeater. Owning several repeaters I can assure you all are welcome and encouraged to use my machines.

 

Do you have access to a location to host your repeater? If your answer is your garage roof you should reconsider. Your garage roof will give you about the same coverage as simplex. Unless you’re on top of a mountain and all your users are at the bottom you will never be happy with this setup.

 

GMRS is not as popular as one would like to think, unless your repeater covers 20 miles or more you may find you only have 1 or 2 users in the area. Unless you already have a group of friends together you may want to consider this before spending money on a decent well positioned site to install your repeater.

 

So you found a nice high site and the price is right, all you need to do is get the repeater installed, sounds simple right? Some thigs to consider first and foremost are the costs because they can add up quickly. Are you on a commercial tower that requires a license and bonded climber? If so this could be by far your largest expense depending on your area. I have spent $600 to $1200 on a climber; I have had quotes as high as $2500 depending on the amount of work and heights involved.  Keep in mind commercial sites require certified mounts, hard line cable, cable clamps, engineered grounding solutions and commercial grade antennas. No tower owner is going to let you install a comet antenna and 200’ of braided shield coax.

 

This brings me to my next point, the antenna. Because of the costs involved with climbers you will want to expend your budget on the antenna. Remember a $2000 repeater on a $200 antenna is going to work about as good as a $200 repeater.  Whereas a $200 repeater on a $2000 antenna is going to work like a $2000 repeater. On my first repeater I was gifted use of a 150’ tower, I installed a DB-420 on the top and 160’ of 7/8 hardline. Total cost of equipment for the antenna install was $2500, with the climbers labor coming in at an additional $800. This left me with enough to purchase an old Motorola R100 repeater running at 25W. To my surprise it had 30 miles of coverage, all due to the cash spent on the antenna and waiting for a decent spot.

 

Things happen, more so if you have an antenna 200’ in the air with a conductive cable connected to sensitive electronics. Antenna issues, feedline issues, repeater issues all cost money and I promise at some point you will have issues that need repair and require your money!

 

It is my opinion that the GMRS community does not need another 2 to 5 miles repeater as it just becomes background noise. What use is a public listed repeater if somebody in a mobile can’t use it 5 miles away while moving or the portable coverage is only a mile? If after reading this you are still going to build a repeater for your garage more power to you, just don’t expect 20 people to show up if it only reaches a mile.

 

As the owner of several GMRS and Commercial repeaters I can attest to the amount of money and effort go into my repeaters. I have only touched on the basics, if you add in any kind of testing services, duplexer tuning, addition of a combiner channel to an existing tower system, RF engineering, rent and insurance your costs can sky rocket. The best advice I can give any new licensee is to try and use the available systems in the area. Take the time to learn a little about what you’re doing and to assess the usability of the service before investing in a repeater for the sole reason of saying you own one.


  • JohnE, quarterwave, kb2ztx and 7 others like this

Just My $.02

 

Corey

 

Midwest GMRS

https://mwgmrs.com


#2 shaine

shaine

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • LocationMission, TX
  • GMRS Callsign:WRCQ616

Posted 18 March 2019 - 11:44 AM

I am fortunate that a local amateur radio operator has a repeater available. It is done properly on a 400 ft tower. The repeater covers the entire county and portions of adjacent counties.

My initial itch for my own repeater was because I live in a low lying area and needed help getting over a hump to reach my wife’s mobile when she is at work. Once I discovered the local amateur radio club, I joined and got access to the repeater. It eliminated all desire to set up my own repeater.

Like you mention, GMRS is not wildly popular. For the most part it is only we two who use it, with the occasional visit from one of the hams.

If the repeater owner ever decides to stop maintaining the repeater, I may very well become interested in building my own again. Fortunately, my coverage needs are modest, about 10 miles. We probably could blast through most of that distance on 40 Watt simplex, except for the hump right in the middle.
  • Corey likes this

Shaine Mata

WRCQ616


#3 WRCY896

WRCY896

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 31 posts
  • GMRS Callsign:WRCY896

Posted 18 March 2019 - 02:46 PM

I got into GMRS because I needed another layer of communication with my family. I also understood the limitations of FRS, and discovered the possibility of repeaters for GMRS. I stumbled into a working repeater, which will be programmed this week.

There are no other repeaters that get into the country I typically venture into.

I was just on a mountain top this morning, and am starting the process of the application for a solar site on that mountain with the BLM. I tested my V-1 radios to the house HT to HT and had clear communication at about 15 miles with a friend who lives 4 miles south of me.

This repeater, will give an incredible amount of coverage to where I spend about 80% of my time in the hills. Add to that, cell phones and SPOT, and I am set quite well communication wise.
  • Corey and kipandlee like this

#4 quarterwave

quarterwave

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 246 posts
  • LocationOh-io
  • GMRS Callsign:On-File

Posted 18 March 2019 - 05:24 PM

Amen, Corey. 


  • Corey and jimndfw like this

#5 Ian

Ian

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 90 posts
  • GMRS Callsign:WRCH569

Posted 19 March 2019 - 09:51 PM

Ultimately, my goal with a garage repeater is essentially a chunky base station radio with a pocket-sized "terminal".  But I live in a coverage gap between all the repeaters in the area.  When conditions are good, I can occasionally hear one ID.  95% of the time, I hear nothing from them; 100% of the time, I can't open them up.

 

I think there's a role for the garage repeater, but that role goes away if there's preexisting good coverage.



#6 PastorGary

PastorGary

    Senior Tropical Weather Analyst, TSRC, Gulf Shores, Alabama

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1459 posts
  • LocationMultiple locations in USA seasonally.

Posted 20 March 2019 - 04:56 AM

Staff Memo - The subject of this thread is important enough, for newly licensed user reference, to pin it to the top of this posting area.


  • JohnE, SteveC7010, Corey and 1 other like this
PastorGary -

Weather postings Copyrighted © TSRC, All Rights Reserved

#7 kb2ztx

kb2ztx

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 99 posts
  • LocationEast Coast
  • GMRS Callsign:WQLY948
  • Ham Callsign:KB2ZTX

Posted 25 March 2019 - 06:03 AM

Corey is dead on. I spent many thousands of dollars on each repeater system i have online and have money sitting in new repeaters waiting for towers. It is not uncommon to spend upwards of $10,000 if buying all new gear. My last repeater that went online was a MTR3000 ($6500.00), Duplexer ($1800.00), 7/8" Hardline (175' @ 2.50'), DB408 - ($800.00), plus connectors, hangers, cable pulls, ground kits, ground wire. Yes we can all do this stuff for a lot less but it really depends on what you want out of the repeater.

 

If you start your post with "Currently running on two Baofeng 5R with limited range" then its not a repeater that we should be putting in a database nor one that will benefit you or others. The goal is to have a repeater that is beneficial to the end user. 

 

Since I moved south I have 2 repeaters, antenna's and hard line. Neither are up yet as i want it to be worthwhile. One is waiting on a tower for my house and the other will be on a 400' tower if i can ever work out an agreement with the owners. 



#8 Ian

Ian

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 90 posts
  • GMRS Callsign:WRCH569

Posted 27 March 2019 - 02:22 AM

Corey is dead on. I spent many thousands of dollars on each repeater system i have online and have money sitting in new repeaters waiting for towers. It is not uncommon to spend upwards of $10,000 if buying all new gear. My last repeater that went online was a MTR3000 ($6500.00), Duplexer ($1800.00), 7/8" Hardline (175' @ 2.50'), DB408 - ($800.00), plus connectors, hangers, cable pulls, ground kits, ground wire. Yes we can all do this stuff for a lot less but it really depends on what you want out of the repeater.

 

If you start your post with "Currently running on two Baofeng 5R with limited range" then its not a repeater that we should be putting in a database nor one that will benefit you or others. The goal is to have a repeater that is beneficial to the end user. 

 

Since I moved south I have 2 repeaters, antenna's and hard line. Neither are up yet as i want it to be worthwhile. One is waiting on a tower for my house and the other will be on a 400' tower if i can ever work out an agreement with the owners. 

"A repeater that is beneficial to the end user" can be quite limited in reach, if it covers a small, user-dense, area with no cellphone coverage, though.  Low-altitude, low-power, and transportable systems can be extremely valuable.  You just can't pretend you're going to blanket a whole ZIP code with two potatofengs.  Understanding and evaluating your requirements is the first step in speccing out any system, be it radio, computer, or chemical plant, for that matter.  Frankly, festivals and such are probably 30% of my use case, all of which can be covered by a truck mounted repeater without much trouble.  (It helps that the fairgrounds slope away from the parking area, in my case - but again, understanding and evaluating requirements.)

 

Mobile Repeaters can be done!



#9 Corey

Corey

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 305 posts
  • LocationWisconsin
  • GMRS Callsign:WQVA593
  • Ham Callsign:KD9HCW

Posted 27 March 2019 - 07:16 AM

"A repeater that is beneficial to the end user" can be quite limited in reach, if it covers a small, user-dense, area with no cellphone coverage, though.  Low-altitude, low-power, and transportable systems can be extremely valuable.  You just can't pretend you're going to blanket a whole ZIP code with two potatofengs.  Understanding and evaluating your requirements is the first step in speccing out any system, be it radio, computer, or chemical plant, for that matter.  Frankly, festivals and such are probably 30% of my use case, all of which can be covered by a truck mounted repeater without much trouble.  (It helps that the fairgrounds slope away from the parking area, in my case - but again, understanding and evaluating requirements.)

 

Mobile Repeaters can be done!

 

That's not a mobile repeater in that pic, its a HAM operating HF. As far as a mobile repeater it really is a waste of time. I have done this already and it was a total disappointment.. Unless your car is at a substantial height advantage you will not have any better coverage then simplex. Again you can and will try to explain or reason away my logic without listening to what I and others have been trying to tell you. I have tried the mobile repeater, the setup was a 50W Motorola SLR 5700 with a 4 cavity BP/BR duplexer connected to a 5.5dB gain antenna on the top of my truck. After testing for about month I realized it had no practical use and only offered slightly more range than simplex, best part I ended up needing a jump after a day at the fair. Mind you this was a $2400 repeater, $800 duplexer with an antenna that was tuned using an Anritsu S331D. I promise I nor anybody on this site will try to steer you wrong, I hold a Commercial, Amateur and GMRS license, own and operate several large repeaters and have all the gear for building, testing and maintaining these kinds of systems.


  • kb2ztx, jimndfw, berkinet and 1 other like this

Just My $.02

 

Corey

 

Midwest GMRS

https://mwgmrs.com


#10 jimndfw

jimndfw

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 39 posts
  • GMRS Callsign:WQWI959

Posted 27 March 2019 - 08:31 AM

Corey

 

 Great information. 


  • Corey likes this

#11 marcspaz

marcspaz

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 192 posts
  • LocationLocation Location

Posted 27 March 2019 - 11:18 AM

Good post... Nice read to let new-comers know what the reality is.

 

As far as "mobile repeaters" go... to do it right, its much more expensive and difficult than a fixed-station repeater, with nowhere near the performance advantage.  I built a portable repeater system for a government emergency response team.  It cost  a bit over $16,500.

 

The antenna alone was a massive project.  It was on a 10' tall tripod (mast mount centered half way up) with a 30' fixed mast and a 30' crank extension, for a total of 65' of elevation.  The equipment and batteries were extremely heavy and had to be installed in vented enclosures to keep them dry and cool.  The repeater had to be trucked to a location and dropped at a high-point.  Setting up the portable tower took a huge amount of labor and real estate to get it stood up and staked out so it was straight and wouldn't fall over in 20-30 mph winds.

 

And unless you have a babysitter, you need self-contained GPS tracking and local alarm on the transceiver in the event that some knucklehead finds your repeater and decides to leave with it.



#12 shaine

shaine

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • LocationMission, TX
  • GMRS Callsign:WRCQ616

Posted 28 March 2019 - 02:51 PM

I used to set up a trailer with 40 ft crank up tower, solar panels, and outriggers. We used it for oilfield PTP communications and also for MotoTRBO demos. All we needed was an S-10 pickup with a hitch ball to drag it around.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  • RCM likes this

Shaine Mata

WRCQ616





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users