Jump to content

BuyTwoWayRadios.com

Photo

If GMRS, Then Why VHF/UHF Amateur?


  • Please log in to reply
65 replies to this topic

#1 SeldomSeen

SeldomSeen

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 35 posts
  • LocationLyons, Colorado
  • GMRS Callsign:WRFP275
  • Ham Callsign:KF0ACC

Posted 26 April 2020 - 02:48 PM

I've been studying for the Technician exam for a couple of weeks now. I'm sure I could pass it right now. Last week I purchased a very good GMRS HT with full repeater capability and a mobile antenna. Listening to both GMRS and the 2 meter band on my scanner, I can not tell any difference between the efficacy of either. If you already have a good GMRS stetup, the Amateur repeater bands seem redundant. Sadly I am beginning to lose my motivation for the latter. Are the Amateur repeater bands just a somewhat glorified version of GMRS? Sure, Technician class is a stepping stone to General privileges but I am definitely not interested in HF. The equipment poses an endlessly fascinating prospect but the great majority of participants there do not appeal. Their average age seems to be about eighty, they all sound like the late great Ben Johnson (of John Wayne film fame) and only talk about their equipment or Conservative ideology which gets pretty vitriolic at times. The VHF/UHF folks are an order of magnitude more eclectic. Incidentally I am a moderate so neither paradigm appeals to any great extent. Both bands are obviously geared toward mobile communication. Neither have dedicated base rigs. I wonder how many VHF/UHF proponents actually use their mobile units for a base station. Sitting in a comfortable chair in front of a nice warm fire listening to and or commenting on casual conversations is what I am interested in. So once again I ask, Is the Technician class really worth It?

 

 

 

 


  • berkinet likes this

"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." - Mae West


#2 wayoverthere

wayoverthere

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 97 posts
  • Locationmiddle of CA
  • GMRS Callsign:ask

Posted 26 April 2020 - 05:17 PM

Minor disagreement on base rigs. While I think a lot DO use mobile units for a base, there ARE still a few dedicated ham base units out there.

https://waycooldigit...-base-stations/

On topic, it depends what you want out of radio. There's a lot more people and options in ham, so more potential variety to converse. You might look into regular nets in your area, or you could take an interest in counting your contacts, distances and such.
  • SeldomSeen likes this

#3 WRAK968

WRAK968

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 291 posts
  • GMRS Callsign:WRAK968
  • Ham Callsign:KC2YQW

Posted 26 April 2020 - 06:17 PM

The main difference between VHF and UHF is that VHF seems to travel better over long distances, while UHF is better at punching through obstacles like walls and trees. This is why the US railroad frequency list and marine frequency list are mostly made up of VHF frequencies. UHF also has better bandwidth occupancy if I recall


  • SeldomSeen likes this

#4 marcspaz

marcspaz

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 625 posts
  • LocationLocation Location

Posted 26 April 2020 - 08:33 PM

There is a tremendous amount of benefits with Amateur Radio vs. GMRS.  First, lets just talk about voice. 

 

On GMRS simplex, the absolute very best you can expect from a perfect setup, is going to be about 70 miles.  Likely less. That would be mobile or base. 

 

With Amateur Radio VHF and UHF, the power limits are 1500 watts with no radiated power restrictions.  That means with a little elevation, you are talking coast to coast on the higher portions of VHF and the lower portions of UHF.  On the lower portions of VHF, you can talk to Europe, Mediterranean, Northern Africa, etc.  Even in my mobile, I can talk to NY from Virginia on VHF simplex.

 

With things other than voice... there is no limit to what you can do beyond no encryption.  If you can dream it, you can do it on amateur radio.  There is APRS, which provides transceiver location services. There FLDigi which is used for texting and simple messaging.  There is WinLink which is a 100% radio-based email service that allows you to email other operators as well as people on the public internet.  And much, much more.

 

The benefit of HF and MF is, the ease of global comms as you drop in frequency.  I was driving around in my Jeep today on an HF frequency that Tech license holders have access to.  I talked to people in 3 different countries on 2 different continents with a simple 100 watt mobile radio and a whip antenna.  It's really a lot of fun.

 

As far as a base station goes, I don't use mobile radios for base a station.  I have base station radios that I use for VHF, and a VHF/UHF repeater.  I talk on VHF on the base for several hours a week, sitting in my executive desk chair. 

 

As far as the quality of conversation... I can't really say much about that.  I would assume there are plenty of people to talk to without getting into religion, politics, etc.  I avoid them like the plague.

 

With regard to if it's worth it... that is a personal choice that each person needs to decide for themselves.  I think it is.  I held my Tech license for 17+ years before I got my General and had a great time.  I also think the GMRS and FRS are great radio service and fill a nice niche.


  • mainehazmt, Q2BWail, Elkhunter521 and 1 other like this

#5 SeldomSeen

SeldomSeen

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 35 posts
  • LocationLyons, Colorado
  • GMRS Callsign:WRFP275
  • Ham Callsign:KF0ACC

Posted 27 April 2020 - 12:03 AM

Marc et all: I think you just boosted the gain on my motivation.


  • n4gix, marcspaz and JJM like this

"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." - Mae West


#6 berkinet

berkinet

    Senior expert on absolutely nothing

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 708 posts
  • GMRS Callsign:WQYR510
  • Ham Callsign:WB6TAE

Posted 27 April 2020 - 08:11 AM

... So once again I ask, Is the Technician class really worth It?

 

Honestly, the only person who can answer that is you. What does the term radio mean to you? Listening, talking, near, far, people you know, people you have never met? Data, voice, TV, morse code?  Electronics, designing, building, repairing, tuning, kits? Academic theory, knowledge, understanding?

 

I could go on. But, in regards to the items listed above, GMRS ticks off a lot fewer items than ham radio. Pretty much limited to speaking to nearby people, generally those you already know, about anything you want to talk about. Fiddling with radios is out, though you can mess with antennas.

 

On the other hand, ham radio ticks almost the items, except a biggie, you cannot communicate about anything remotely commercial. So, talk tend to be about: your equipment, the weather, your job/career/interests/politics. 

 

I'd sum up by saying if all you want is to talk to your family or a close group of nearby friends, GMRS is probably all you will ever want or need. OTOH, if your interests go beyond that, then go ahead and get the tech license, and start studying for the general - it's not that much more difficult. In fact, if you are taking the tech license test, ask to take the general as well. There is no downside in trying.

 

CAVEAT: I have made a lot of generalizations in this post. Some may be truer for you than ot

hers.  For example, with linked repeaters, you can talk to people all over the US on GMRS - but, then you can do that on Zello too.

 

Good luck on the exam.


  • SeldomSeen likes this

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

-- Marcus Aurelius


#7 SeldomSeen

SeldomSeen

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 35 posts
  • LocationLyons, Colorado
  • GMRS Callsign:WRFP275
  • Ham Callsign:KF0ACC

Posted 27 April 2020 - 09:21 AM

Regardless of how this turns out, the exam will still be taken. Learning new things is a lifelong passion for me. At sixty-nine however there is not a moment to lose.


  • berkinet, Elkhunter521 and marcspaz like this

"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." - Mae West


#8 Jones

Jones

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 398 posts
  • GMRS Callsign:WQYM541
  • Ham Callsign:KB0HAW

Posted 27 April 2020 - 09:30 AM

One thing that VHF and UHF ham radio has over GMRS is the ability to use modes other than FM.

 

Keep in mind that it is a whole different world on 2-meter and 70cm when you start playing with CW, (Morse code), TV, (yes, Television), Data, (Packet, APRS), FAX imaging, AM, and single-sideband phone modes.  You will find that there are thousands of other hams playing with those modes also.


  • marcspaz and SeldomSeen like this

#9 marcspaz

marcspaz

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 625 posts
  • LocationLocation Location

Posted 27 April 2020 - 09:44 AM

One thing that VHF and UHF ham radio has over GMRS is the ability to use modes other than FM.

 

Keep in mind that it is a whole different world on 2-meter and 70cm when you start playing with CW, (Morse code), TV, (yes, Television), Data, (Packet, APRS), FAX imaging, AM, and single-sideband phone modes.  You will find that there are thousands of other hams playing with those modes also.

 

 

Great points!  I forgot to mention that most of my VHF DX stuff is upper side band.  Its a great mode.  The transceivers don't run as hot, have a higher duty cycle and are much more efficient than FM or AM.


  • Jones and SeldomSeen like this

#10 Soladaddy

Soladaddy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 49 posts
  • LocationTampa, FL
  • GMRS Callsign:WRAP***
  • Ham Callsign:KG4***

Posted 27 April 2020 - 09:04 PM

GMRS - mainly talking to people you know within a limited distance - 2 - 50 miles. (unless you are in N GA). Mostly utilitarian communications.

 

ham - mainly talking to people you don't know (unless local repeaters and simplex VHF/UHF). Mostly experimental communications. Last weekend I talked 250 miles on VHF with an omni-directional antenna. That same evening some people with beams were getting 800 miles. All done via FM mode.


  • SeldomSeen likes this

#11 SeldomSeen

SeldomSeen

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 35 posts
  • LocationLyons, Colorado
  • GMRS Callsign:WRFP275
  • Ham Callsign:KF0ACC

Posted 29 April 2020 - 01:34 PM

There may be a problem reaching repeaters and or using simplex even with tons of wattage on FM. I can hear plenty of 2m and 70cm traffic on my scanner though. The attached image link shows where I live in a Rocky Mountain foothill valley. The view is looking south. My house is circled in red near the center of the image. The plains which are just over these hills, including Denver, Boulder and Longmont are to the east and south east (left side of the image). Forget north. Behind me is a mountain that is 2,300' higher than my house. I did manage to access a GMRS repeater that is near Boulder to the southeast about twenty miles away (with a 4W HT from my driveway with a mobile antenna on top of my pickup). The person acknowledging my signal report said I was faint and fading in and out but readable. This has to work from my home because I ain't movin' from my beautiful valley.

 

https://s1203.photob...html?sort=3&o=0


"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." - Mae West


#12 berkinet

berkinet

    Senior expert on absolutely nothing

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 708 posts
  • GMRS Callsign:WQYR510
  • Ham Callsign:WB6TAE

Posted 29 April 2020 - 02:59 PM

...The person acknowledging my signal report said I was faint and fading in and out but readable. ...

Are you certain you were talking to him through the repeater and not just directly on the output?

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

-- Marcus Aurelius


#13 Soladaddy

Soladaddy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 49 posts
  • LocationTampa, FL
  • GMRS Callsign:WRAP***
  • Ham Callsign:KG4***

Posted 29 April 2020 - 09:21 PM

Nice. I wouldn't move either. VHF can bend over a ridge and 6m can do it more than 2m. In the 6m band SSB mode is a bit more popular than FM and that can be used to local comms as well as skipping a few states over.  For UHF, its a bit different and repeaters will be a bit more appealing to use. Might need a small beam to access repeaters with a good signal. 



#14 SeldomSeen

SeldomSeen

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 35 posts
  • LocationLyons, Colorado
  • GMRS Callsign:WRFP275
  • Ham Callsign:KF0ACC

Posted 29 April 2020 - 11:00 PM

Are you certain you were talking to him through the repeater and not just directly on the output?

The way my radio is set up it could only have been on the repeater. Deb and I were filling the water tank on our pickup today and I took the radio out on the plains. On that same frequency I was able to talk with two other stations with perfect clarity and strength.


"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." - Mae West


#15 kidphc

kidphc

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 234 posts
  • LocationPotomac, MD
  • GMRS Callsign:WRDD287
  • Ham Callsign:W3HRD

Posted 02 May 2020 - 10:32 PM

One thing that VHF and UHF ham radio has over GMRS is the ability to use modes other than FM.

 

Keep in mind that it is a whole different world on 2-meter and 70cm when you start playing with CW, (Morse code), TV, (yes, Television), Data, (Packet, APRS), FAX imaging, AM, and single-sideband phone modes.  You will find that there are thousands of other hams playing with those modes also. on

Multiple post hit the nail on the head. I am working on the general ticket now. Boy just researching the antennas is giving me a headache. As an early birthday gift I got to choose a radio. So as I type this I am listening to the FT991a. Why that radio? 2 fold, 1 all band so I can utilize my tech fully. SSB, data, SSTV yada yada. 2. all band (HF)... so I can grow a bit without having to blow tons of money on another radio immediately.

 

There just so many aspects to amateur radio then just calling CQ randomly. There are a million things to learn and do.

 

Gmrs is great...2m is much more fun. From personal experience. The one thing that doesn't have to really do with the radio directly that amateur radio has over GMRS (for the most part) is the community. It is small but omg... never met a better bunch of people. Most will share advice, experience and even gear to get you on the air.


  • n4gix and marcspaz like this

#16 SeldomSeen

SeldomSeen

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 35 posts
  • LocationLyons, Colorado
  • GMRS Callsign:WRFP275
  • Ham Callsign:KF0ACC

Posted 04 May 2020 - 12:36 PM

Perhaps I should obtain a technician and general class ticket after all. That way you get both HF and FM and only need to purchase one radio. I am not interested in digital over the Internet communications. That just seems so millennial. I wouldn't know an iPad from an ink pad and have never even owned a cell phone (no cell towers in my valley).


  • n4gix and Elkhunter521 like this

"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." - Mae West


#17 kidphc

kidphc

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 234 posts
  • LocationPotomac, MD
  • GMRS Callsign:WRDD287
  • Ham Callsign:W3HRD

Posted 04 May 2020 - 04:26 PM

Perhaps I should obtain a technician and general class ticket after all. That way you get both HF and FM and only need to purchase one radio. I am not interested in digital over the Internet communications. That just seems so millennial. I wouldn't know an iPad from an ink pad and have never even owned a cell phone (no cell towers in my valley).

Definetly do get the tech and general. Pretty much on a lot of hf bands there is a huge amount of digital. Band conditions you know. I am not going to lie. Uhf/vhf is like tripping down the stairs. A lot of it comes quickly and easily. Hf for a noob like me is more akin to falling down an elevator shaft both in knowledge and money. Just when you think you understand something you realize the shaft still has a lot further to go. Find the spark... what appeals to you...and let that fire burn baby.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk



#18 shillson

shillson

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • GMRS Callsign:WRFN674
  • Ham Callsign:K1SEH

Posted 07 May 2020 - 11:58 AM

Also, don't forget the other stuff you can do, like EHF, Satellite communications, etc.


  • kidphc likes this

#19 SeldomSeen

SeldomSeen

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 35 posts
  • LocationLyons, Colorado
  • GMRS Callsign:WRFP275
  • Ham Callsign:KF0ACC

Posted 09 May 2020 - 11:42 AM

I passed the Tech exam this morning by remote! I missed one question. Now it's time for some serious thought about which radio. That FT-991a is sure tempting but I may just start out simple with a dual-band unit.


  • berkinet and wayoverthere like this

"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." - Mae West


#20 kidphc

kidphc

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 234 posts
  • LocationPotomac, MD
  • GMRS Callsign:WRDD287
  • Ham Callsign:W3HRD

Posted 09 May 2020 - 11:57 AM

I passed the Tech exam this morning by remote! I missed one question. Now it's time for some serious thought about which radio. That FT-991a is sure tempting but I may just start out simple with a dual-band unit.

 

Congrats!!!. I have the FT991a... it's an awesome radio. Well minus the menu system, 99 memory slots and lack of a true second vfo. I personally bought it for an intermediate radio. I wanted a 10m,6m,2m,70cm radio, really to utilize a lot of the technician license. I really hope to have the fan dipole, 2m vertical and 2m horizontal up soon. If you want something like that to grow into there is also the IC 7100. Then you have the likes of icom 706 mk2, Icom 7000, Yaesu FT857d that should be considered. 

 

Even a baofeng will get you on the air. As soon as you get your call, you'll be legal on the 2m and 70cm bands with that radio. Which you already knew. However, I would suggest you spend a little more and get something like a Yaesu 60r. If looking at HTs. Don't exclude some of the mono band mobile units for base station usage.

 

Oh talk to club members. Again a lot of them will loan stuff till you get your own gear. Just to get you on the air.






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users