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Guest Andy
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Hello!

I am trying to find a communications method for our off-roading trips. We sometimes have up to 20 or so vehicles and a lot of them are new to off-roading and don't have communicaitons equipment. I am trying to find an effective method of communications that would allow me to speak to the group during the ride and have the capability to also speak privately to the other trail guides if needed. We would like to purchase a large quantity of radios for the drivers and have a good quality radio for the 2 or 3 trail guides. My initial thought is that we could just purchase some FRS radios to hand out to the drivers and the trail guides have GMRS, but that leads me to some questions about compatability and signal strength. Would the FRS pick up the GMRS signal at longer distances since the GMRS has a stronger signal and vice versa? Any thoughts or suggestions would be helpful since I'm new to this and in research mode. Thanks.

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The best answer is depends. Higher power doesn't always mean better coverage/distance. One of the biggest problems with FRS is the antenna on the individual radio. You can't change it to use a better/longer one. The radio and its antenna are fixed by FCC rule. Your better choice is GMRS radios with mag mount antennas. Those not licensed for GMRS would be restricted to the FRS channels. Their using GMRS capable radios is a grey area because GMRS radios do have more output power on FRS channels and removeable antennas. The other option is MURS, a VHF service limited to 2W but because its lower frequency it will have a marginally better range than the UHF GMRS/FRS units.

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The other option is MURS, a VHF service limited to 2W but because its lower frequency it will have a marginally better range than the UHF GMRS/FRS units.

Boxcar has a good suggestion. A few more points about MURS. You can use external antennas and the VHF signal seems to propagate further through trees etc. And finally you don't need a license to use MURS radios, but they must be FCC certified. GMRS radios everyone needs to have their own license unless they are a qualified family member of someone who is licensed.

 

One thing I have noticed about operating FRS radios inside vehicles, the range is poor, around 1/2 mile is typical.

 

If you use GMRS radios you REALLY need to use a roof mounted antenna, even with a handheld radio. Same point about MURS radios too.

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As a follow-up, you need radios you can field program as well. Whomever is acting as your communications coordinator needs to have the software to program the radios and a chart listing which channels are to be used. Those operating on FRS only need the GMRS channels disabled while those having licenses need to know what GMRS channels are used as well as the FRS. If you are using MURS, then the channel usage charts are easier with one channel for group, one for trail bosses.

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...Those operating on FRS only need the GMRS channels disabled...

 

As there are no more GMRS or FRS channels, there is no need to block transmission on any frequencies other than the GMRS repeater inputs on those radios that are repeater capable*. OTOH, depending on the default configuration of the radio, it may be necessary to adjust bandwidth and power settings on some channels for FRS users.

 

* EDIT Footnote added. There were never many GMRS/FRS combined radios that were repeater capable anyway. And, any new FRS certified radios don't need to (can't?) be configured.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I run a large (~700-800 member) off-road group and we regularly host off-road events ranging in size from 20 to 175 vehicles - and we recently switched from CB to GMRS/FRS..  We use frequency 462.575 (simplex) because any Baofeng or bubble wrap type radio will work on that freq...  If I'm at the front of a 40+ convoy of Jeeps in the desert, I may not be able to hear some of the bubble-wrap radios, but they can hear me on my 8W Baofeng F8HP (with my head out the window). When we have 50+ (largest group so far was 175) the line of vehicles can stretch for 2-3 miles (and is quite a site to see on the freeway!) so we will designate several human "repeaters" to relay comms from the leader all the way back to the tailgunner

 

The trail leaders/spotters use Baofeng UV5R radios which can monitor two frequencies and switch between them easily, for private comms. Took us a few tries to work out the kinks, but its been working great for us..

That's real nice, but on this forum, we generally try not to recommend people doing illegal things.  Keep in mind that Baofeng UV-5 series and F8 series radios are not type accepted for use on GMRS, thus, you are in fact breaking the law.

 

If you were running a Part 95 accepted 25-40 Watt radio such as a Kenwood, Motorola, or even a Midland MXT400 with a quarter-wave antenna on your roof, you would be able to easily reach the back of your convoy at 3-5 Miles, legally.

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That's real nice, but on this forum, we generally try not to recommend people doing illegal things.  Keep in mind that Baofeng UV-5 series and F8 series radios are not type accepted for use on GMRS, thus, you are in fact breaking the law....

 

I'd add, since the radios being used are not certified for either GMRS or FRS, they do not automatically set or limit bandwidth and power in accordance with the channel requirements.  This means it is quite possible someone is transmitting wideband at 5 watts on a channel designated for narrowband at 0.5 watts.  Note also, a certified radio blocks the possibility of operating simplex on the GMRS repeater input frequencies (not allowed by the rules). But, this is possible with the radios you are using.

 

While operating a non-certified radio is a technical violation of the law, it generally will not cause harm to other people's communications. However, running too much power in wideband mode on the wrong channel could easily interfere with other users, both simplex and through a repeater.

 

Personally, I don't care what kind of equipment people run on GMRS, as long as the equipment has a clean transmitter, they otherwise conform to the rules, and don't advertise the fact they are running non-certified equipment.  

 

However, flagrant violation of the FCC regulations can become especially notable when there are 175 cars in a long queue on the highway. So, you might want to make sure your group at least adheres to the operating rules.

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  • 7 months later...

Reviving this old thread with some new info. One good solution is for the trail leaders to have fixed Wouxun KG-1000G radios and all the participants with bubble pack radios. The KG-1000G can simultaneously operate on two channels so the “a” side could be set to communicate with the bubble pack radios and the “b” side to just the leader, tail gunner, and other trail leaders. I believe the bubble pack radios can operate on channel 1 for example, without a license (low power frs) and the fixed radio operators would need GMRS licenses to be able to operate on ch 1 at higher power and then also have something like Ch 16 at 50w for leader comms.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I have an "out of the box" idea and JUST NOW testing this option.  I setup on Zello.com as an example a Jeep Trip account and then added a network server call it whatever.  This will allow all the folks to use cell phones as a GMRS radio and everyone in the Channel hear and talk...  As I said just playing with it... Note users have to have either WiFi or cell connection as the repeater will be back at base camp and connected to internet...  Remember I'm still working on this and awaiting for my cable to make it happen but feel really good that you can have this site in your hotel via WiFi and it will work... https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08XS61CCR/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 is what I ordered for $33 and had a free GMRS VOX able radio... Remember your cell needs to have a ear jack like my older iPad Air with Zello working and WiFi as well.

 

Hope this helps.

Jack

 

P.S. I do have a local repeater to make this happen as well.  I will write up my setup in a week or so.

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[Title 47, Volume 5, Parts 80 to End]
[Revised as of October 1, 1999]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
[CITE: 47CFR95.141]

[Page 519]

TITLE 47--TELECOMMUNICATION

PART 95--PERSONAL RADIO SERVICES--Table of Contents

Subpart A--General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)

Sec. 95.141 Interconnection prohibited.

No station in a GMRS system may be interconnected to the public
switched telephone network except as and in accordance with the
requirements and restrictions applied to a wireline control link (see
Sec. 95.127).

[53 FR 47717, Nov. 25, 1988]
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Good Day BoxCar.

 

The rules changed in 2017. 95.141 no longer exists as originally written. In the 2017 that section redirects as follows:

 

Old 95.141 ‘Interconnection prohibited’ replaced with 95.349, 95.1749

 

The following excerpts are from the 2017 rules.

 

§ 95.345 Remote control.

 

Operation of Personal Radio Services stations by remote control is prohibited, unless otherwise allowed for a particular Personal Radio Service by rules in the subpart governing that specific service. See e.g., §§ 95.945 and 95.1745.

 

§ 95.347 Automatic control.

 

Operation of Personal Radio Services stations under automatic control is prohibited, unless otherwise allowed for a particular Personal Radio Service by rules in the subpart governing that specific service. See e.g., §§ 95.1747, 95.2347, and 95.2547.

 

§ 95.349 Network connection.

 

Operation of Personal Radio Services stations connected with the public switched network is prohibited, unless otherwise allowed for a particular Personal Radio Service by rules in the subpart governing that specific service. See e.g., §§ 95.949 and 95.2749.

 

§ 95.945 Remote control of a CBRS station.

 

This section sets forth the conditions under which a CBRS station may be operated by remote control, pursuant to the exception in § 95.345. Operation of a CBRS station using a hands-free or other type of cordless microphone or headset authorized under part 15 is not considered to be remote control. (a) Wireless remote control. No person shall operate a CBRS station by wireless remote control. (B) Wired remote control. Before operating an CBRS station by wired remote control, the operator must obtain specific approval from the FCC. To obtain FCC approval, the operator must explain why wired remote control is needed. See § 95.329 regarding contacting the FCC.

 

§ 95.1745 GMRS remote control.

 

Notwithstanding the prohibition in § 95.345, GMRS repeater, base and fixed stations may be operated by remote control.

 

§ 95.1747 GMRS automatic control.

 

Notwithstanding the prohibition in § 95.347, GMRS repeater stations may be operated by automatic control.

 

§ 95.1749 GMRS network connection.

 

Operation of a GMRS station with a telephone connection is prohibited, as in § 95.349. GMRS repeater, base and fixed stations, however, may be connected to the public switched network or other networks for the sole purpose of operation by remote control pursuant to § 95.1745.

 

 

...

Sec. 95.141 Interconnection prohibited.

 

No station in a GMRS system may be interconnected to the public

switched telephone network except as and in accordance with the

requirements and restrictions applied to a wireline control link (see

Sec. 95.127).

 

[53 FR 47717, Nov. 25, 1988]

 

Michael

WRHS965

KE8PLM

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I have an "out of the box" idea and JUST NOW testing this option.  I setup on Zello.com as an example a Jeep Trip account and then added a network server call it whatever.  This will allow all the folks to use cell phones as a GMRS radio and everyone in the Channel hear and talk...

Without getting into the complexities of remote control of GMRS radios, I would think the user would still need to be licensed, or would need to be an immediate family member of the licensed user, to operate a system like this. If you are causing a radio to transmit within the GMRS band, I'm thinking you would need the aforementioned license and would need to identify yourself (give your call-sign) as appropriate. The exception would be when you were using an FRS radio within the guidelines of that service.

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Without getting into the complexities of remote control of GMRS radios, I would think the user would still need to be licensed, or would need to be an immediate family member of the licensed user, to operate a system like this. If you are causing a radio to transmit within the GMRS band, I'm thinking you would need the aforementioned license and would need to identify yourself (give your call-sign) as appropriate. The exception would be when you were using an FRS radio within the guidelines of that service.

WyoJoe,

 

I agree 100% that each person that transmits would need to have a license. I also believe that if MAC’s station is the one that would be actually transmitting, he would be fully and solely responsible for the legal use of that station. Consequently the burden would be on him to make sure each user is licensed to gain initial access as well as to make sure that the user looses their access immediately when their license expires.

 

 

Michael

WRHS965

KE8PLM

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I agree with you on having a GMRS license...  I'm glad you covered that if others are not on same page.  

Jack

Without getting into the complexities of remote control of GMRS radios, I would think the user would still need to be licensed, or would need to be an immediate family member of the licensed user, to operate a system like this. If you are causing a radio to transmit within the GMRS band, I'm thinking you would need the aforementioned license and would need to identify yourself (give your call-sign) as appropriate. The exception would be when you were using an FRS radio within the guidelines of that service.

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I agree with your comments Michael.  What little I monitored and joined a channel or two on Zello, one most be license.  I can't speak for all channels, just the ones I had became a new members to a channel a monitor had to validated me.  It will be the same in my case and I will add the password feature.  So looking at setting up as a closed private Zello repeater, not promoted.  

 

This started with one of Kaylee class friend is moving 60 miles away and no repeaters in the area.

 

Thanks for all the comments, I'm a "play it by the book" kind of guy.

Jack 

WyoJoe,

I agree 100% that each person that transmits would need to have a license. I also believe that if MAC’s station is the one that would be actually transmitting, he would be fully and solely responsible for the legal use of that station. Consequently the burden would be on him to make sure each user is licensed to gain initial access as well as to make sure that the user looses their access immediately when their license expires.


Michael
WRHS965
KE8PLM

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