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#1 Glider

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Posted 07 April 2019 - 01:02 PM

Need some help from you good folks here.

First, yes, I have my GMRS License as do my friends and other family BUT I know next to nothing about radios.

USE: Moved away from CB Radio and want to upgrade my GMRS equipment for better performance and distance – HOPEFULLY.

We use GMRS in our Vehicles, Home, Boats and Handhelds. Using PRIMARILY for family communications.

Vehicles: usually never more than 30 miles, normally 10 to 15 miles. Daily travel and 4X4ing.
Homes/Base Stations: average 10 miles.
Boats: Using handheld units to talk with vehicles other boats and family camping and hanging out on islands sunbathing while we are out fishing.
Handheld Units: used to communicate while walking, camping, boating and when visiting theme parks etc.

Would like radios and antenna’s that could do this directly without use of a repeater but also be able to use the repeater as well.

This all started as a result of needing something easy and not requiring testing for every user (like HAM) but something hopefully better than CB without those inherent issues and problems.

Purchased the Midland MXT 400 it has worked OK for short distance stuff (probably because I only have one 40 watt radio). I do have potential access to 2 repeaters in my area but they are wide band repeaters not narrow so the MXT 400 won’t work with them.

SO, I would like to slowly build our GMRS radios with QUALITY equipment that can operate as far as possible by themselves and eventually and if needed access the local repeaters as well.

I will want to set up a Base Station at my house and one for my folks at their house (my buddies can do their own but also looking for suggestions). I have three vehicles I would like to install radios in as well.

For the Base Station I also want a high-quality antenna (one will go on a 40’ tower and one on a 30’ pushup pole.) and want to use quality coax but not sure if these can use the coax I have for the CB Base station. Presently running RG400 and LMR400.)

I want to use through roof solid installs or permanent NMO mount antennas.  Someone told me to use one or a type that started with an L – something like LUND, LAIRD, LARSEN or something said they worked great on their county and police vehicles.

So here is my -

Present GMRS capable equipment:

·        Midland MXT 400

·        Cobra MR HH450 DUAL – GMRS, MARINE, WEATHER

·        Standard Horizon HX471S – FRS, Marine, MURS, FM, AM, AIR, MARINE

·        Midland GXT1000

·        4’ Base Antenna

·        Mag Mount Mobile Antenna

 

But am wanting to purchase (QULAITY GMRS equipment) and need recommendations for:

·        GMRS Mobile Radio (for vehicles) – I think 50 watts is max and, well, why not.

·        Mobile Antenna (permanent NMO mount)

·        GMRS Base Radio (can use a mobile with power supply) - I think 50 watts is max and, well, why not.

·        GMRS Base Antenna

·        COAX for Base Antenna

Think for starting out I would like to keep radios around the $200 to $400 range per radio.
Willing to spend what it takes for a good base antenna.
Mobile antenna’s not even sure of my options.

So SUGGESTIONS ???

 

Glider /TimD
WQYV590



#2 marcspaz

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Posted 07 April 2019 - 02:55 PM

Wow... So, there is a lot to unpack there. So, I am not going to be much help with what specific hardware to buy, but I can help you understand the technology a little better, which may help you make better choices.

The first thing I want to address is a statement you made... you stated that your narrow band radio isn't compatible with wide band repeaters. That is not a true statement. While its not optimal, wide band and narrow band equipment is cross compatible and 100% usable. If you have a narrow band radio and you can't get it to work with a wide band radio or repeater, its an equipment problem, not a technology compatibility issue.

HF is great for distance. UHF is great for increased fidelity and increased data transfer rates. Do you know for sure GMRS is the platform that is going to work best for you?

I regularly get 25-30 miles, station to station, on HF with as little as 2 watts, but I only get about 2.5 to 3 miles of simplex coverage with my 40 watt GMRS equipment in the same area. I think that in most cases on simplex, even with wide band equipment, you can forget 10-15 miles on GMRS with mobile and handhelds, even with 50 watts. Unless you are in a situation where you can literally see the other station, you are going to be limited by your environment. Only in line of sight (LOS) applications such as open water, plains, mountain top to mountain top, will you get 50-60 miles on 50 watts. LOS is more like 7 to 10 miles on a 5 watt handheld, too.

If you legitimately need to talk 10+ miles, non-LOS, you are likely going to have to rely on a repeater if you want to use GMRS (or UHF in general).

As far as coax goes, you need to have the correct coax based on your desired frequency and power levels. That means the cable needs to have a specific length, the conductors need to be a specific diameter, and the shielding needs to have a specific distance/isolator combo around the center conductor to get to the proper impedance for the frequency you intend to use, etc. Typically, pre-cut coax tuned for CB (HF) is not going to work for UHF.

Also, keep in mind that a fix based station is only allowed to have 15 watts. An antenna that is only 40 feet off the ground barely clears many homes and practically no wooded areas. That is going to limit your range as well.

 

I am sure the folks that have been doing GMRS for awhile will have some great advice on specific hardware. This site has helped me out tremendously.

Good luck and enjoy.


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#3 JohnE

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Posted 07 April 2019 - 03:21 PM

post deleted


Powered by Kenwood, Motorola, EF Johnson,Cresend  Milcom and Henry


#4 Glider

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Posted 07 April 2019 - 03:28 PM

marcspaz thank you for your reply,

I must have an equipment issue as we were unable to get the 400 to work with the repeater. I can safely say that it can be and most likely is my lack of knowledge. I did seek assistance from others more knowledgeable than I still without luck.

I am not certain that GMRS is the correct platform for me by any means as I know very little about it. For HF do I not need a HAM license along with each who use it?

Line of sight is indeed an issue as our area if not homes are very tall trees, well over my 40’ tower.

I thought being a personal base station primarily talking with mobile units that they could run 50 watts.

I indeed have a lot to learn it would seem about GMRS, radios, coax and the rules.



#5 marcspaz

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Posted 07 April 2019 - 03:45 PM

 

marcspaz thank you for your reply,

I must have an equipment issue as we were unable to get the 400 to work with the repeater. I can safely say that it can be and most likely is my lack of knowledge. I did seek assistance from others more knowledgeable than I still without luck.

 

No problem.  I will do my best to help where I can.

 

As far as the MXT400's, the Gen 1 versions are known to have some repeater issues.  I would contact Midland at the number listed in the owner's manual.  I had an issue with one of mine and they sent me a new gen 2 in just 3 days.

 

 

 

I am not certain that GMRS is the correct platform for me by any means as I know very little about it. For HF do I not need a HAM license along with each who use it?

 

 

The HF frequencies are broken up into different segments.  Use of some frequencies require a license while some do not.  Citizens Band (CB) is an HF service that doesn't require a proper license. 

 

I noticed you said you are trying to get away from CB.  Is it a performance issue?  I ask because 100% of every person I have ever met that was not happy with their CB's distance performance did not have their equipment setup correctly.  Most of that is due to marketing from companies trying to make a quick buck.  Done correctly, it is a great long distance ground wave service.

 

I have to admit, if you can get UHF to do what you need it to, the FM fidelity is much, much better than HF and AM.

 

 

 

 

I thought being a personal base station primarily talking with mobile units that they could run 50 watts.

 

 

Unfortunately not.  A "base station" or "fixed station" is defined by its lack of portability/mobility.  Regardless of what hardware you use, you will need to adhere to "base station" rules for a "fixed station".  Only repeater's are exempt from the 15 watt power restrictions.

 

Many people use mobile radios as base stations due to cost, availability and options that may be available in a mobile that may not be available in a base station type radio.

 

 

 

I indeed have a lot to learn it would seem about GMRS, radios, coax and the rules.

 

 

 

We all start somewhere.  You are doing the right research and asking questions. 

 

As far as rules go... the FCC has them published on their website.  If you haven't read through Part 95 rules, I would highly recommend it.



#6 Corey

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Posted 07 April 2019 - 04:33 PM

I Regularly talk 25 miles simplex on my GMRS base, I also use it while traveling in groups 10 to 15 miles simplex. Quality equipment, thru roof nmo mount with a 1/4 wave antenna.

 

As far as narrow band equipment on a wide band repeater, the narrow band radios clip the audio real bad and the wide band people can hardly hear them.

 

Its been debated and answered in detail here and every other GMRS forum i belong to, as far as a base stations power limits, it is 50W. You are free to call or email the FCC as I an several 100 other people have, you will also be told 50W.

 

If you got rid of the narrow band radios and went to full legal power commercial part 90 wide band mobiles and portables you would see a huge improvement. 

 

With your base units don't skimp on the antennas or coax as this is the best place to see gains on UHF.


Just My $.02

 

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https://mwgmrs.com


#7 marcspaz

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Posted 07 April 2019 - 04:45 PM

@Corey, the clipping I read about here was with the first gen MXT400's. Are other brands having the same issue? I ask l because I have several gen 2 MXT400's and there are only wide band repeaters around me. Everyone has been telling me they can't believe how good my radios sound.

You have a great mobile setup. I would love to mimic it, but I have a fabric roof. I do get a good 15-17 miles mobile on my wide band 70cm rig... but OP is using a MXT400. He would have to ditch that hardware before he gets any distance out of it.

#8 BoxCar

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Posted 07 April 2019 - 08:42 PM

As far as narrow band equipment on a wide band repeater, the narrow band radios clip the audio real bad and the wide band people can hardly hear them.

 

Its been debated and answered in detail here and every other GMRS forum i belong to, as far as a base stations power limits, it is 50W. You are free to call or email the FCC as I an several 100 other people have, you will also be told 50W.

 

If you got rid of the narrow band radios and went to full legal power commercial part 90 wide band mobiles and portables you would see a huge improvement. 

 

With your base units don't skimp on the antennas or coax as this is the best place to see gains on UHF.

From my work in Part 90 a NB radio is down 3dB from a WB in both range and S/N. This was a common complaint during the Narrow Banding that slice of spectrum had to go through. Don't get me started on the mess MotoTRBO brought to the scene.


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Old and wise infers you were once young and stupid


#9 Jones

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Posted 08 April 2019 - 10:32 AM

I do have one of those smaller Midland Micro-mobiles, (5-watt version) and they are not really a bad little radio. The weak link in the chain is the crappy little antenna that is provided by Midland. Even Midland's "Upgrade" antennas are junk.  I am using a cheap Tram-Browning UHF antenna on my Midland, and it works vastly superior to the Midland stock mag mount.

 

I think the biggest problem with the Midland antennas is the fact they use that small-sized RG-176-type coaxial cable. I have not measured it, but I'll bet the loss is somewhere around 60-70% of your signal.

 

You can get a solid signal out with a cheap radio and a good antenna, but if you put a crappy antenna on a 100 Watt Motorola, you still can't talk anywhere.  Antenna and coaxial cable quality is VERY important in radio communications.  One size does NOT fit all applications. Make sure you are using the correct type of antenna for your vehicle or application.... such as a half-wave no-ground-plane type antenna for that ragtop mentioned earlier.


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#10 RickW

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Posted 08 April 2019 - 07:38 PM

Marcspaz wrote:

 

"A "base station" or "fixed station" is defined by its lack of portability/mobility.  Regardless of what hardware you use, you will need to adhere to "base station" rules for a "fixed station".  Only repeater's are exempt from the 15 watt power restrictions."

- - - - - 

This would not be correct under current rules.

 

Based upon the comments in the Report and Order adopted 18 May 2017, the FCC defined different stations by stating:

 

" Repeater stations are fixed stations with antennas in favorable locations that greatly extend the communications range of mobile and hand-held portable units by receiving their signals on one channel and simultaneously retransmitting these signals on another channel.  Control stations are fixed stations that communicate with mobile stations (and other control stations) through repeater stations in a similar fashion.  Base stations are fixed stations that communicate directly with mobile stations and with other base stations.

 

But ... under 95.303 Definitions the rule says:

 

Fixed station. A station at a fixed location that directly communicates with other fixed stations only.

 

It appears that the the definitions are not being kept consistent which then makes it confusing. Maybe they consider a fixed station different than fixed stations (plural)? 

 

But ...

 

95.1767 GMRS transmitting power limits 

 

for the main 462/467 MHz channels:

 

(a)(1) The transmitter output power of mobile, repeater and base stations must not exceed 50 Watts.

 

(2) The transmitter output power of fixed stations must not exceed 15 Watts.

 

The fixed stations seem to be from an earlier rule and grandfathered? I doubt that many (any?) of us are operating such a station. We operate mobile, repeater, portable hand-helds and base stations. Note that the term control station is not mentioned under transmitting power limits. But it is mentioned under GMRS channels.

 

When the FCC uses the term base stations, they mean stations are directly communicating with mobiles and other base stations. The same station is then called a control station when it uses a repeater. That is why only mobile, hand-held portable, control and fixed stations can transmit on the eight main 467 MHz channels (repeater channels). What the FCC calls a base station can not use repeaters. What we call a base station, whether for simplex or duplex use, the FCC uses the different terms of base or control. 

 

To me this is absurd and much more confusing that it needs. I expect that most typical non technical users of GMRS would be hard pressed to understand these nuances.



#11 Radioguy7268

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Posted 08 April 2019 - 08:25 PM

Base stations transmit on the 462.xxx frequencies. Repeaters are just base stations that operate in duplex mode, simultaneously re-transmitting what they receive.  Base stations transmitting on the 462.xxx main channels can transmit at 50 watts.

 

A fixed station transmits most often through a repeater - and can transmit at 15 watts on a 467.xxx frequency (listening on the repeater's base output of 462.xxx)

 

A fixed station can operate also on a 462.xxx frequency, but when it does that, it's more often referred to as a base station, and it is operating in simplex mode (not going through a repeater). When it transmits on the base 462.xxx frequency, then it can operate at 50 watts.

 

I was always taught to call the lower side of a frequency pair the 'Base' frequency. The higher side of the frequency pair was referred to as the 'mobile transmit'.

 

My understanding of the rules is mine, and mine alone. I'm not sure what the FCC means. I just know what seems to work.



#12 Corey

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Posted 08 April 2019 - 08:31 PM

A fixed station would be an RF link from one repeater to another.


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Just My $.02

 

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#13 marcspaz

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Posted 08 April 2019 - 10:03 PM

It looks like I am indeed incorrect.  Rick W. seems to have found the proper code to reflect the definitions.  Corey provided a good example of what a fixed station could be used for.

 

Links to the Part 95 definitions

§95.303 -

https://www.ecfr.gov...5_1303&rgn=div8

Base station. A station at a fixed location that communicates directly with mobile stations and other base stations.
Fixed station. A station at a fixed location that directly communicates with other fixed stations only.

 

§95.1767 -

https://www.ecfr.gov..._11767&rgn=div8

 

(1) The transmitter output power of mobile, repeater and base stations must not exceed 50 Watts.

(2) The transmitter output power of fixed stations must not exceed 15 Watts.

 

 

Since there is no restriction based on hardware type, but rather only in practical application, you can run a 50 watt radio out of your house/apartment/condo/etc., assuming you are talking to any of the other types of units beyond just a fixed station.

 

 

 

The following is just my opinion...

 

Call it what you want, GMRS licensing is intended for families to use to make their life easier and more entertaining.  I am making this assumption because my license is valid for everyone in my immediate family.  This is too much for a family to use as a tool and "know" they are in compliance. 

 

The worst part is, I am sure that many of us are professional geeks in IT or RF... and we are struggling to come to a consensus. 

 

The best part is, at least no one is arguing and we are working together to figure out the right answers.  That says a lot about the group.  You guys are awesome...


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#14 Ian

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 05:57 AM

The following is just my opinion...

 

Call it what you want, GMRS licensing is intended for families to use to make their life easier and more entertaining.  I am making this assumption because my license is valid for everyone in my immediate family.  This is too much for a family to use as a tool and "know" they are in compliance. 

 

The worst part is, I am sure that many of us are professional geeks in IT or RF... and we are struggling to come to a consensus. 

 

The best part is, at least no one is arguing and we are working together to figure out the right answers.  That says a lot about the group.  You guys are awesome...

 

Emphasis mine.  I'll second this sentiment.   :D


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