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How popular is GMRS (in subjective terms)?


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#21 RickW

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 01:24 PM

There have been some very good comments on GMRS/FRS. I have probably mentioned this before, but if you want to have backup communications, especially for families, GMRS is one of the best ways that I have seen. Because GMRS and FRS and pretty much interoperable, that does create some downsides if you have someone running higher power GMRS equipment, especially with the allowance of external/gain antennas and they are not licensed, you can not easily determine this. 

 

For rural families that may not have the best cellphone coverage, GMRS can be useful. Even though retired, we continue to live on our small farm, but if we were large enough to need other workers, it would be possible to use a GMRS license for the family members and HT's for non-family. This would allow a good base station to mobile/portables. This could also work for any small family business that may have a few workers who are not part of the family.

 

While there is not much activity on GMRS, there are commercial users of FRS. This past year I kept hearing stations talking back and forth and it sounded like they were loading something. Comments went on like "OK, Joe, a little further, oops too far, back off, OK that is good right there." And this would go on for long periods. I finally found out that these were fiber optic installers who were working along my ridge. My base antenna is a gain GP-9 at 40 feet so gets good distance. I have talked to hunters over 10 miles away if there were close to the ridge. If I monitor MURS frequencies I can pick up some of the Walmart channel five users at times. They must have to be in certain locations to make that work over the 7+ miles distance. 

 

For a lot of off road folks, it seems like MURS would be pretty good if you did not want to get any license. And now we are finally seeing some legal MURS radios that are reasonably priced. In a really serious emergency, without any planning ahead of time, I suspect CB will be useful because so many folks have them. I wish they would have SSB, as we do, but that is not common. There are SSB CB nets in my area, but most of the stations are very weak except one ham about 20 miles away. He is net control for one night a week so I check in there from time to time. Or talk to him on 2 meter FM. 

 

Realistically, most people just do not want to study for an amateur radio license. At one time my daughter had her Technician Class (she accidentally let it expire) and my wife and I still keep our Amateur Extra Class licenses, but rarely use them anymore. No one else in our family has the slightest interest in ham radio.



#22 berkinet

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 01:43 PM

He can determine the channel and if it's a GMRS, report it and let the FCC make the determination.

 

That was the case prior to the last rules update in 2017. But now all 22 FRS channels are shared with GMRS. The only GMRS channels not allowed for FRS are the 8 GMRS repeater inputs.  Since simplex use on the repeater inputs is now permitted under some circumstances, if you heard unidentified traffic on those channels, then you could assume they were illegal. But, for the 22 other channels, there is no way to know.


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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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#23 RickW

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 07:52 PM

I might mention that though GMRS and FRS can interoperate, not all types of GMRS equipment can do this on all of the 22 channels. If you have a base or mobile unit on GMRS, you will likely find that the equipment does not have the 467 MHz interstitial channels 8-14. The rules specify that those channels can only be used by handheld portable units. And it makes sense because those channels are limited to 500 milliwatts ERP. 

 

We stay on one of the 8 main 462 MHz channels when operating simplex since we can transmit up to 50 watts output. Even on the 462 MHz interstitial channels 1 - 7, we are probably exceeding power levels at times since even GMRS radios are only allowed 5 watts ERP. With a modest gain antenna it would be possible to exceed 5 watts ERP if your output was 5 watts. On the 8 main channels you do not have an ERP limit for GMRS. Of course, FRS always has an ERP maximum allowable power level, but that is easy to do considering the fixed built-in antenna.

 

My thinking is that if I had FRS equipment, and I wanted to limit the distance the signals can travel, the use of the 500 mw channels might offer better security. This could be useful for close-in groups or especially for preppers.



#24 berkinet

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 08:57 PM

... GMRS radios are only allowed 5 watts ERP. ...

GMRS power output limits are specified as power output from the radio (I.e. at the antenna connector) rather than ERP.

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

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#25 marcspaz

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 10:42 PM

Talking about running low power... I have found that the distance coverage for usable comms is near unchanged, going from 5 watts to 40 or 50. Typically 1 s unit or less. I almost always just run 1 watt unless I am working a repeater that is more than 10 miles away or deaf.
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#26 RickW

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Posted 21 February 2020 - 10:34 AM

Berkinet had mentioned that: "GMRS power output limits are specified as power output from the radio (I.e. at the antenna connector) rather than ERP."

 

Based upon 95.1767 GMRS transmitting power limits, here is how I understand the rules and hopefully explains my earlier comments:

 

On the eight main/repeater 462/467 channels 15-22, GMRS stations are allowed to operate up to 50 watts output. 

 

On the seven 462 interstitial channels 1-7, GMRS mobile, hand-held portable and base stations must not exceed 5 watts ERP.

 

On the 467 interstitial channels 8-14, only hand-held portable GMRS units may be used and they must not exceed 0.5 watts ERP.

 

That is why channels 8-14 would not be found on legal GMRS mobile and base rigs since that type of equipment are not allowed on those channels. The hand-held units are allowed to operate on those channels under GMRS rules.

 

Even on the seven 462 interstitial channels 1-7, many of us may be exceeding the ERP levels since we may use higher gain antennas with low loss feedlines and I suspect most transmitters are typically preset for 5 watts output.

 

I wish the FCC had allowed GMRS stations to always use output power.  Imagine how difficult this is to understand for the casual GMRS operator. 

 

This is why we tend to operate on the main channels when using GMRS equipment.


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#27 berkinet

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Posted 21 February 2020 - 10:40 AM

...On the seven 462 interstitial channels 1-7, GMRS mobile, hand-held portable and base stations must not exceed 5 watts ERP.

 

On the 467 interstitial channels 8-14, only hand-held portable GMRS units may be used and they must not exceed 0.5 watts ERP....

Your are indeed right. I was thinking of the old regulations (pre-2017). I stand corrected.


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#28 bsbishop

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 11:34 AM

I just got back into it after 20 years. I had GMRS radios back around 2000 and used them for keeping track of my daughter in the neighborhood.

 

I recently got back into them because of the problem of text messaging while driving. I will go out with my daughter and her family and we'll follow each other in our cars to some site for a hike and text messaging is: 1) unsafe 2) a PITA to do while driving

 

GMRS radios fit this bill for this. You can just pick up the mic and say, "I think the trailhead is just ahead on the right," or, "We need to stop for a break - Exit 31"

 

That's much easier than trying to SMS the message. Also, you get into areas where maybe you don't have mobile service or maybe one of you has mobile service and the other doesn't (ie. Verizon vs AT&T).

 

GMRS make a lot of sense.

 

If I'm not caravanning then the radio just stays off and it's not of much use to me. I'm not looking to talk to randos on the road like how it was back in the CB days. As such, the GMRS channels seem pretty quiet, which is good. CB, back in the day, was always kind of a pain to use because of: 1) chatter 2) noise 3) limited distance. I think GMRS wins on all of those fronts.


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