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


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#41 danielh3

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 03:07 PM

What options are available to someone who lives in an area where there are not any GMRS repeaters?  Our hand held radios work within less than a mile range with obstructions.



#42 berkinet

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 03:08 PM

What are the options for someone who lives in an area where there are no repeaters?  

Talk to others directly, radio-to-radio.  If there is nobody to talk to, then a repeater won't help.


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Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

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#43 Roberttosa

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Posted 25 July 2020 - 11:25 PM

I’m new to radio with a ham technician ticket and the GMRS license too. No desire to set up a repeater but that’s because Corey and the other repeater owners on MIDWEST GMRS have setup such a wonderful system. Thanks Corey, Buddy, Scott ...etal...for making these repeaters available to us. You guys are very generous and we all appreciate your contribution to GMRS radio.
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---

Why? Why not?


#44 Man_Solo

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Posted 12 August 2020 - 07:15 PM

Sage advice, thanks for providing us with the reality of what it is to have our own repeater.  


If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
- Albert Einstein

#45 mbrun

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Posted 13 August 2020 - 07:03 PM

Oh how I wish there was a repeater near me that I could use with my HT. I hear multiple repeaters perfectly and I have connected multiple times, but my input to the repeater is so low that quality outbound communications cannot occur so I have stopped trying. As best I know, they are all 20+ miles away. It is for this reason alone that even the thought of doing it myself even crosses my mind. I recognize the expense of doing it right and expense is currently a deterrent to doing it at all.

Anyone have repeater in Clermont County Ohio I could use? PM me.

Until then, my focus is on just trying to achieve good local simplex range. And that too is a challenge.


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#46 berkinet

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 03:45 AM

... my input to the repeater is so low that quality outbound communications cannot occur so I have stopped trying. ...

When you say "low" do you mean low audio volume, or signal strength?  If the issue is volume, make sure your channel is set for wide-band (12.5kHz deviation). If the issue is signal strength, try an outside antenna. You won't need anything fancy. You can just make a simple 1/4 wave antenna and attach it to the top of a painters pole to get it up off the ground. For coax, just use whatever you can find or buy inexpensively.  For a short run, even RG58U would be fine. Then, all you need is an adapter from your radio to the coax and the right connector on the other end of the coax to connect to your antenna.

 

If that works, then you can start thinking about a better antenna, one with more gain, either omni or uni directional depending on your needs.  If you want to get the antenna up higher, you can also think about better coax.  But, don't try to wring every 0.1dm loss out of the system, it won't make any practical difference.

 

Here is one site with plans for a home-brew antenna, there are many, many more: https://www.localmer...-plane-antenna/


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#47 mbrun

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 04:11 PM

Thanks for the input berkinet.

When I say low, I believe signal level to repeater is low. My HT are operating Wideband. Local simplex communications between my radios is fantastic and receive audio quality from one of my HT to the other is on par with or better than some repeater traffic I hear.

I know I am hitting the repeater sometimes using just the HT and rubber duck. I know this because I hear the repeater’s squelch tail when I un-key my radio. I can hit the repeater with slightly more reliability when I hook the HT up to my Comet 712EFC antenna. Even then, it seems others only hear part of my transmission. I have had a couple of 10-15 minute conversations but I could tell the other party was struggling to hear/understand all my audio. At present however, I have not personally heard exactly what I sound like via the repeater. I have tried listening through one of my radio while transmitting on another, but I think the close proximity might be desensing RX just enough that it does not break squelch until after I un-key the TX. Both radios open to let me hear the repeater squelch tail when I un-key.

I think I have a good antenna (the Comet) and I do have good coax to use between HT to Comet (official LMR-400). The Comet is rated at 9dBi of gain. I have also own a Midland MXTA26. It is better than the HT Rubber Duck, and not as good as the Comet.

What I do not know for certain is what power the radios are actually putting out (they should be 4w or more). Nor do i know if the Comet SWR is less that 1.5 as advertised. Need to buy or borrow and SWR and Power meter to check both of those. I just may have to try my hand at the DIY one you referenced.

My best conversation thus far was has been with the Comet at 41’, but still not perfect.

[quote name="berkinet" post="17879" timestamp="1597394701"]When you say "low" do you mean low audio volume, or signal strength? If the issue is volume, make sure your channel is set for wide-band (12.5kHz deviation). If the issue is signal strength, try an outside antenna. You won't need anything fancy. You can just make a simple 1/4 wave antenna and attach it to the top of a painters pole to get it up off the ground. For coax, just use whatever you can find or buy inexpensively. For a short run, even RG58U would be fine. Then, all you need is an adapter from your radio to the coax and the right connector on the other end of the coax to connect to your antenna.

If that works, then you can start thinking about a better antenna, one with more gain, either omni or uni directional depending on your needs. If you want to get the antenna up higher, you can also think about better coax. But, don't try to wring every 0.1dm loss out of the system, it won't make any practical difference.


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#48 Photoman5000

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 10:20 AM

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.


I know I'm the new guy here but your dead wrong if you think a mobile repeater is useless. Like everything they have thier uses and thier place. The key is knowing that place and that use. It's a tool like a knife or a screw driver. And like any tool using it for its purpose will provide better results then using the wrong tool. I get it mobile repeaters are not a cool and sexy as a stationary set up up on some high tower someplace, so what, it doesn't mean they don't work or are pointless. What they do is allow you to have a capability someplace you wouldn't normally have it because there are plenty of places in this world you can't just build a tower and put up a repeater. From my personal experience with them they work for thier intended purpose and when built correctly work very well for that purpose.

I hunt out in the lacrosse area. We used to hunt with this old marine who served in ww2 and korea. He was a comms junkie lived, breathed, ate radio. He had an awesome portable system that worked great in that area. And yes we would put it rather high up on the bluffs or up on the rock out croppings above the valley we would be hunting in. They made a night and day difference in our ability to communicate. Not just down in the valley but with people up top as well.

We also used a similar system regularly at a friends house in the Reedsburg area and it again improved the ability to communicate effectivly and clearly over the areas where we were working on his property. Put the antenna up on am old grain silo on his property so it was up almost 100ft above us put the box with everything at the base of the silo and bam done. Clear wonderful communications.

Are they perfect for every situation? No, no they are not however they have thier place as well.

I'm in Racine I have a friend that lives 2 miles away from me. We both run hand helds. You know what I can't hit him on when he is at home in his house or when he is working in his basement? A simplex channel. Yup cant have anything close to a clear convo simplex at 2 miles in Racine. You know what I can hit him on and have a clear convo? The little mobile repeater we set up.

Racine doesn't have a lot of tall buildings to get in the way of signals and seeing that neither of us has an option to put an external antenna on the houses we live in simply putting up an external antenna to solve the issue isnt an option.

Do I need it to cover Racine and parts of mke or keno? Nope, will it? Sure if it's high enough and I kick up the wattage to 45w-50w. But I have no intention of doing that. Why? Because i can hit two repeaters from my house if i want to talk to other people.

The sole purpose of the little repeater we made was to improve the ability for US to talk within our little 2mile bubble without having to use the local repeaters and for an emergency situation or for camping/hunting/fishing trips. It does exactly that. We no longer have to be outside of our houses to be able to clearly communicate and with the weather turning cold I appreciate not having to be outside to have a convo with him lol.

I also have a system I can take with me camping and hunting in which I can vastly increase coverage range of communications if need be because I can if I want put this antenna 100-200ft up using multiple methods. And let's face it an antenna 100-200ft up above you pushing 45w-50w signal is going to have some reach. Even if it's 50-70ft up its going to make a difference especially if that gets it above most obstructions.

The other thing I have is emergency access to a repeater should something bad happen and the local repeaters are down. Stationary repeaters are all well and good till they lose power, get damaged in a storm or any number of things that can make them go down either temporary or permanently. Since my primary reason for having radio comms is for emergencies I'm not going to assume that the local repeaters will be up and running in said emergency. I have a second option by having the mobile set up and that second option gives me a warm fuzzy feeling even more so because I know the system works.

Would i prefer my own repeater on some tower some place sure. Is it practical for me? Is a mobile repeater the best option for me? Yes, yes it is based on what i use it for.

Its a tool and like all tools its meant for a spesific task. Mobile repeaters have a place and as long as you understand the limitations of the system and what you need to do so you can get the most out of them they are effective tools that have thier place. My opinion on this is based on actual use of several mobile repeater systems in real world conditions. Are you going to be able to run as much traffic as I hear over say armored1? No but these are not intended for that. I have had 20 people on my mobile system in the past and it's held up just fine. But the traffic wasn't 20min long convos like u hear on armored1 either. It was hey we need this material or that material or need this person here or just quick updates on people's locations etc. but the thing is the system worked and wasn't overloaded.

For a guy like me who is used to using radios for work listening to armored1 is a trip because it's traffic I'm not used to hearing. I'm used to radio comms being short to the point work/task related not casual convos that would be better had on a phone. And most of my radio comms is still that work/task oriented type of comms. Which I think also plays into how people view the whole repeaters/mobile repeaters thing too your use is going to dictate how you look at the subject. While most of you look at it from the hobbyist prospective I look at it from a more work/service/tool for doing a job use prospective.

Again perfect for everything? No. Perfect for some things, yes. Does everyone need one? No but most people will come to that realisation as they start looking into building one and thinking about where in thier life they would actually use it.

#49 berkinet

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 10:56 AM

...Unless your car is at a substantial height advantage you will not have any better coverage then simplex....

...your dead wrong if you think a mobile repeater is useless. ...

 

...most people will come to that realisation as they start looking into building [a portable repeater] and thinking about where in thier life they would actually use it.

 

I do not think anyone would argue with your points about the potential benefit of a portable repeater. However, I do think you took @Corey's post out of context. He was responding to an earlier post in this thread which proclaimed Low-altitude, low-power, and transportable systems can be extremely valuable. Given the specifics of the original post, I would have to agree, a low power low altitude (car top) repeater is not likely to offer any improvement over simplex operation on the same terrain.

 

However, the examples you provided did not match that criteria. They were either effectively not-portable or temporary and well situated, like between you or your friend, or used antennas mounted at a significant height above ground level.

 

As to your last statement, it would be nice if that were true. But sadly, I think there are an awful lot of cases where that didn't happen.


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#50 BoxCar

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 12:28 PM

The in-vehicle repeaters are useful for extending the range of a hand-held and little more. It's what public safety does with them.


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Old and wise infers you were once young and stupid


#51 berkinet

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 12:40 PM

The in-vehicle repeaters are useful for extending the range of a hand-held and little more. It's what public safety does with them.

With the caveat that the "extension" effectively allows the hand-held to act as a remote microphone for the mobile radio in the car. And, the mobile radio itself may work through another repeater. Of course, in many cases the mobile is down around 10mHz and talks directly to the dispatch center.  In other words the in-vehicle repeater is not connecting two local hand-helds.


Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

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#52 gman1971

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 02:22 PM

I don't think anyone here disputed portable or mobile repeaters... I use them on all my cars...

 

If Racine is anything like Madison WI (in terms of terrain), then you DO need repeaters to get any decent range, the terrain here is just too rough/hilly with a lot of dead spots for just simplex portable-portable operation.

 

G.



#53 STTScott

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Posted 16 November 2020 - 07:52 PM

I've noticed that, too. It just seems to me that it makes more sense to find a repeater nearby. And if there ain't one nearby, well then tough turds or try to find local traffic on your radio's own power and go from there. Personally, to me, making your own repeater station is a major PITA if you're not knee-deep into this hobby with deep-ish pockets.

 

Just my $.02.

 

Scott

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#54 n4gix

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Posted 16 November 2020 - 08:43 PM

Personally, to me, making your own repeater station is a major PITA if you're not knee-deep into this hobby with deep-ish pockets.

 

Scott, I could not agree more! Unless you have the $$$'s to rent space on a tall tower (200' or more), then it is an exercise in futility.


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#55 gman1971

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Posted 17 November 2020 - 01:06 AM

With 40-60' AGL you can have some decent performance for a family repeater network.

 

Also while height is very important, its not the only thing you'll need to have a decent usable range... high quality radios, preselectors, cavities, duplexer, coax, connectors, and most importantly a good antenna, will make a huuuuge difference in how well the repeater works, and that is applicable whether its placed at 40 feet or 200 feet.

 

G.

 

Scott, I could not agree more! Unless you have the $$$'s to rent space on a tall tower (200' or more), then it is an exercise in futility.



#56 1URFE57

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Posted 17 November 2020 - 11:11 AM

This pandemic makes me spend more time with radios lately and speaking of Repeaters I just put up one last weekend, got a cheap XPR8300 off Ebay and I have EVX-R70 on the way for a cheap too this is not a high end setup like Heliax cable, Celwave duplexers, hundred foot tower and so on I bet anyone would laugh and shake their head if they see it... :D...All I want is to cover my usual route of 10 miles around town but right now I got 18 miles which is good I think. 


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#57 gman1971

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Posted 18 November 2020 - 02:04 AM

Nice... 18 miles is not bad for a home setup... terrain helps a lot... here in Madison WI reaching 18 miles is very difficult without some elevation... XPR repeaters are bargains in a box... the R70 is basically an 8400 with different firmware... :)

 

Congrats.

 

G.



#58 1URFE57

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 10:34 AM

Nice... 18 miles is not bad for a home setup... terrain helps a lot... here in Madison WI reaching 18 miles is very difficult without some elevation... XPR repeaters are bargains in a box... the R70 is basically an 8400 with different firmware... :)

 

Congrats.

 

G.

Thanks! I agree with terrain dependant with regards to coverage on the North side I only managing 7 miles max due buildings and elevation while in the South side of the repeater 16-18 miles since this is an less building elevation is lower and mostly plain along a Toll way. I have received my EVX-R70 and another good buy very clean unit likes new I will alternate this with the 8300, my next project will be the MTR's I know SLR's are the future but it's too expensive at the moment.


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#59 gman1971

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 10:44 PM

Yes, SLR is where its at.. these have the same amazing receiver as the XPR5550e mobiles... which is darn good.. but the XPR8x00 repeater is not bad either.

 

G.

 

Thanks! I agree with terrain dependant with regards to coverage on the North side I only managing 7 miles max due buildings and elevation while in the South side of the repeater 16-18 miles since this is an less building elevation is lower and mostly plain along a Toll way. I have received my EVX-R70 and another good buy very clean unit likes new I will alternate this with the 8300, my next project will be the MTR's I know SLR's are the future but it's too expensive at the moment.



#60 1URFE57

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Posted 21 November 2020 - 08:54 AM

Yes, SLR is where its at.. these have the same amazing receiver as the XPR5550e mobiles... which is darn good.. but the XPR8x00 repeater is not bad either.

 

G.

I totally agree these XPR repeaters are flooding ebay right now with different price range, Ok I'm putting the R70 today for a test run its funny that Motorola skip built-in CWID on this one... :rolleyes:


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