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If GMRS, Then Why VHF/UHF Amateur?


SeldomSeen
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If you both on mountain tops. Repeaters in Sacramento area can easily be worked from Emigrant Gap in Sierra Nevada with 40W mobile, and that's about 70 miles as bird flies. In fact, I can hear mt Diablo repeaters (K6POU) way into Sierra, that will be more than 100 miles. Though, never tried to work it from that distance. Certainty not reliable, because as the road turns, you lose line-of-sight and communications. But strategically places fixed station, or long hike to the top of local hill will make comms reliable.

I've been meaning to try something along that line with one of the local repeaters; with a not great base setup (gmrs 50x1, 5/8 wave whip in the attic), I can reach one ~60 miles to the southwest. Been curious if I can hit it from the hills on the east side of the valley (which would be in the neighborhood of 90 miles). closures due to last Summer's wildfires put that on hold though.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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.

 

I thought all rf was line of sight? So vhf can curve around the earth and go over/through mountains and stuff?

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I thought all rf was line of sight? So vhf can curve around the earth and go over/through mountains and stuff?

VHF and UHF and shorter frequencies are mostly line of sight. The HF (aka shortwave) is reflected from ionosphere and gives you a global reach. VHF and UHF sometimes are too reflected from atmospheric layers (tunneling) and from ionosphere (E-layer reflections), but this type of propagation is accidental, not reliable at all. VHF and UHF can be reflected and diffracted from and by any sort of things - meteors, airplanes, buildings, rocky canyons. This is how you get non- line of site communications on V- and UHF. Hams do these modes for fun, you can look up airplane scattering.

 

There is also a ground wave - when RF truly goes around the the curvature of this miserable planet, over the mountains and oceans. But the shorter the the wavelength, the less pronounced the effect. It's pretty much nonexistent on 40m and shorter. Best examples of ground wave are MW and LW radio broadcasts.

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  • 4 months later...

I started with GMRS, bought 2 Wouxun KG-805Gs with Nagoya 771G antennas and my son and I have enjoyed them immensely. I still studied for and recently passed my Tech cert and I can tell you why in one word....repeaters. I live on the Colorado Front Range, a place as wide open as the wide open gets. We have vast flat high tundra grasslands and the densest collection of 14,000 foot mountains in the country so you might think GMRS would be a big deal here right? Wrong. Repeaters are virtually non-existent. You ain't talking to anyone on GMRS around here. Ham repeaters on the other hand are the exact opposite. The entire region is linked by the Colorado Connection (www.colcon.org) and there are a great many independent and club repeaters available for use. I'd guess it's similar everywhere. People just aren't turned on to GMRS in general. 

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Happy for you... We all get into Ham for all kinds or reasons.  I was asked by may Ham/GMRS men to think about it.  I too also started with same GMRS radios for the family and did got my Ham Ticket with my 12 yo grand daughter who was my study buddy.  We both passed and enjoy being with the the local Ham club but in our area we have a great GMRS repeater and more private to our family needs.  We also put up our own Family Private Repeater and enjoy it.

MacJack

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VHF and UHF and shorter frequencies are mostly line of sight. The HF (aka shortwave) is reflected from ionosphere and gives you a global reach. VHF and UHF sometimes are too reflected from atmospheric layers (tunneling) and from ionosphere (E-layer reflections), but this type of propagation is accidental, not reliable at all. VHF and UHF can be reflected and diffracted from and by any sort of things - meteors, airplanes, buildings, rocky canyons. This is how you get non- line of site communications on V- and UHF. Hams do these modes for fun, you can look up airplane scattering.
 
There is also a ground wave - when RF truly goes around the the curvature of this miserable planet, over the mountains and oceans. But the shorter the the wavelength, the less pronounced the effect. It's pretty much nonexistent on 40m and shorter. Best examples of ground wave are MW and LW radio broadcasts.
Got some awesome knife edge. I have to imagine it was knife edge propagation.

Was in west Virginia driving through the mountains. On route 48, I was hitting k3erm, on the FTM 400, in Frederick, MD. Some 84 miles through the mountains. Couldn't hit a digitpeater some 20 miles away though.

Had to double check repeaterbook. There are no other wire-x repeaters on that frequency any closer. Thought it was pretty cool. Always intresting what happens.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk


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6 minutes ago, kidphc said:

Got some awesome knife edge.

 

Yes, propagation in the mountains surprised me many times. I grew up and got my first Ham callsign in the rolling hills area, and was always skeptical of "wife's tales" about how far UHF can go in the mountain region. When me and family started to actively use GMRS in California, in Sierra Nevada with it's granite cliffs, sharp mountain ridges and not dense forestation, these wife's tales became a reality. Important is that knife-edge and other diffraction-reflection modes are a reliable modes, repeatable day after a day, unlike some other methods of propagation.

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I'll add to this. Why, because VHF low band, i.e. 6M. A tech has full use of 6 meters, which can be quite open. I have 958 miles on SSB voice, and 2036 miles on FT8 (digital) at 50W. Plus, 10 meters has been insane, and even techs have 28.00-28.50MHz privileges (digital and SSB only), which I've had contacts as far as 2200 miles SSB and 5400 miles FT8.

 

These are simply impossible for UHF, you can't possibly get high enough to make that contact on UHF, without the use of a satellite to repeat your signal.

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I'll add to this. Why, because VHF low band, i.e. 6M. A tech has full use of 6 meters, which can be quite open. I have 958 miles on SSB voice, and 2036 miles on FT8 (digital) at 50W. Plus, 10 meters has been insane, and even techs have 28.00-28.50MHz privileges (digital and SSB only), which I've had contacts as far as 2200 miles SSB and 5400 miles FT8.
 
These are simply impossible for UHF, you can't possibly get high enough to make that contact on UHF, without the use of a satellite to repeat your signal.
Yup. Too bad my random wire blows for 6m. I could get out so far was about 10miles.

Picked up a dxcommander, need to build it. I am hoping I can have it setup so I can catch the early band openings.

Random wire did get out to Tenessee a couple of weeks ago during a 10m opening. Did it on Olde 28.400 ssb.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

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