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Needing radio system for farm and Ranch


Guest Wayne
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We are looking to invest in a new radio system for our farm and ranch. We are located in north west Texas close to the red river in the rolling plains district. We used the vhf radios back in the 80s in all our vehicles and equipment. It seems the vhf radios have changed since the 80s especially with pricing and licensing. Have looked at the GMRS radios with maybe a repeater as a more economical solution. Is the GMRS system reliable and will perform like all the ads say? Most of of our communication needs will be from from vehicle to vehicle or tractor to tractor. Probably a 3-5 mile range. Would one of the portable repeaters work as a permanent repeater? Also I still have an old antenna tower that we used as a base station with the vhf radios. Would the old vhf antenna work for the GMRS repeater?

Thanks for all the help

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GMRS would probably do what you want - and might be a really good fit, especially if you want to use hand held portables. GMRS runs on UHF frequencies - and you would not re-use your old VHF antenna(s) for GMRS.

 

If you're more interested in just having mounted radios in your vehicles, then VHF might still be a good option. Pricing for VHF vs UHF/GMRS radios would be comparable. The cost of a Repeater for UHF/GMRS would probably double the overall cost of your system.

 

I think that you should probably try to get some local help - someone who knows radios and could take a look at what you've got, and ask the right questions about what you want to accomplish, and give you some ideas of what might fit your budget.

 

Someone else will probably bring it up - but GMRS licenses run "per family" - ie: One license covers one set of relatives. If it's a family farm, it's pretty simple. If you've got unrelated employees, then potentially you would need to license each of them individually.  A VHF or UHF commercial/business License would not have those limitations, but it is more expensive to set up a License for that type of operation with the FCC.

 

I've got a nephew with a family farm out in Indiana. He's running GMRS with a repeater up in the barn, and he gets a good 3-5 miles with portables - even further with his mobiles.

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MURS is probably a better choice given the size of the property. Even with the limit of 2 watts there is no restriction on who may use the radio. It is possible to setup a cross-band repeater but may not be entirely permitted by FCC rules. The better option would be to obtain a coordinated frequency or pair so higher power radios can be used. Shopping for a coordinator will result in lower fees and some may also create the application and obtain the FRN for an additional fee. 

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MURS is probably a better choice [... ...] it is possible to setup a cross-band repeater but may not be entirely permitted by FCC rules....

May not be entirely permitted?  It is categorically prohibited.  if I had to choose a law to break, I’d much rather operate on GMRS without a license then set up a MURS repeater.  But, at only $70 per 10-year GMRS license, there in no need to do that.

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Well, I guess depends on how crowded the GMRS traffic is in your area... ideally you wouldn't break any laws...  

 

GMRS operators, being licensed, are more likely to report complains to the FCC of unlicensed lids blasting their 50W CCRs on their repeaters than bootleggers in MURS reporting to the FCC when you key up your brand new 50W CCR mobile... if you're jamming their rant, they'll simply get a bigger PA so the next time they can stomp on your puny signal...

 

G.

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I would definitely go with a GMRS (rather than an FRS -- aka walkie talkie) handheld -- as opposed to a mobile unit --:coupled with a good mobile antenna thru the manufacturer of your unit. Here's why: #1 -- On FRS frequencies, you are limited to 2 watts output. On GMRS channels, you can use a handheld with 8 watts of output. If your working area is flatland, 8 watts will get you a lot farther since UHF frequencies are line of sight. A handheld putting out 1 or 2 watts might do OK for your purposes if it's flat land, but you never know when those extra 6 or 7 watts might come in handy. Like if you ever travel past the homestead. #2: Going with handhelds rather than sticking a mobile unit in every vehicle makes you a bit nore versatile. Every modern, quality handheld comes with a screw-on "rubber duck" antenna, ansort of rubbery stubby 6" antenna. Hooked up to a 12-16" mobile antenna, you've got a mobile with wider range than the rubber duck. But if you need to get out of the truck/tractor and communicate,myou can unscrew from the mobile antenna, screw in the rubber duck, and you're good to walk and talk around the back 40. #3: The main downside is that you need a GMRS license to broadcast on GMRS frequencies.  A GMRS license costs $70, and it's good for 10 years. Just apply for one with the FCC online, pay your $70 and within a day or two, you get your call sign and liceinse (both emailed and a paper copy). Now the main upside: You don't need separate licenses for family relatives, offspring, etcetc. -- you all are covered under the same license. (I dunno about employees. You'll have to look into that.) Anyway, GMRS was made for short-range communications but youre able to use handhelds with a lot more power than ordinary walkie-talkie thingamajigs. Hope this was helpful.

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Verbatim from the FCC Rules “(2) Any individual who holds an individual license may allow his or her immediate family members to operate his or her GMRS station or stations. Immediate family members are the licensee's spouse, children, grandchildren, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and in-laws. “ and “(3) Any individual who holds an individual license may allow anyone to operate his or her GMRS station if necessary to communicate an emergency message. “. When read in full context, it is clear the licenses are individual user licenses only, ones that may be extended to immediate family members but with licensee permission only.

 

Just thought I would inject this because of the “I dunno about employees” statement.

 

Regards

 

Michael

WRHS965

KE8PLM

 

 

...Now the main upside: You don't need separate licenses for family relatives, offspring, etcetc. -- you all are covered under the same license. (I dunno about employees. You'll have to look into that.)...

 

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Just thought I would inject this because of the “I dunno about employees” statement.

 

Unless all your employees are at least cousins, then no. Just. No. Not Allowed.

 

The FCC has defined one's "family" very broadly, and includes anyone related to the licensee except for any "outlaws..."  :P

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I am agreeing with you 100%. At least the family definition is sufficiently broad that I can give just about any close blood relative one of my radios when camping or other event and we can remain legal.

 

Unless all your employees are at least cousins, then no. Just. No. Not Allowed.

 

The FCC has defined one's "family" very broadly, and includes anyone related to the licensee except for any "outlaws..." :P

 

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Normally, I don't research for others just to make a point, but in this case I'll just do it.

 

47 CFR 95.1767 b

 

Couldn't be any more explicit.

 

I read that a bit differently than you.  The only limits specific to hand-helds are for the interstitial channels.  In those cases, the limit for all radios is 5 watts on the 462mHz portion of the band and 0.5 watts on the 467 portion. Note also, these are both ERP (effective radiated power) limitations.  This may be a significant factor if the radio is at the limit with its stock antenna (regardless of the loss or gain of that antenna).

 

For the main channels, both 462 and 476 mHz, the limit is 50 watts peak output power.  There is no power limitation stated for hand-holds on those frequencies. If you assume they are treated as mobiles, then they would be limited to 50 watts.  This is probably the case, since the FCC defines a hand-held as

47 CFR § 95.303  A physically small mobile station that can be operated while being held in the operator's hand.

 

For reference for other readers, here is § 95.1767 GMRS transmitting power limits.

This section contains transmitting power limits for GMRS stations. The maximum transmitting power depends on which channels are being used and the type of station.

a: 462/467 MHz main channels. The limits in this paragraph apply to stations transmitting on any of the 462 MHz main channels or any of the 467 MHz main channels. Each GMRS transmitter type must be capable of operating within the allowable power range. GMRS licensees are responsible for ensuring that their GMRS stations operate in compliance with these limits.

(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.

b: 462 MHz interstitial channels. The effective radiated power (ERP) of mobile, hand-held portable and base stations transmitting on the 462 MHz interstitial channels must not exceed 5 Watts.

c: 467 MHz interstitial channels. The effective radiated power (ERP) of hand-held portable units transmitting on the 467 MHz interstitial channels must not exceed 0.5 Watt. Each GMRS transmitter type capable of transmitting on these channels must be designed such that the ERP does not exceed 0.5 Watt.

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Good Day SuperGoo,

 

Thanks for posting the paragraph number. I am familiar with it and have read it again multiple times. In fact that is highlighted in my reference copy. Now I need your help once again.

 

There are two sub-paragraphs of 95.1767 in which the term “handheld” is used. In both cases it is used under headings of “462 MHz interstitial channels” and “467 MHz interstitial channels”. In these cases it is explicit that handhelds are limited to 5 watt on the 462 interstitials, and .5 watt on the 467 interstitials. No question there. Now, what I cannot seem to find is language that is similarly explicit that limits handhelds to 5 watt on the main GMRS frequencies.

 

Regards,

 

Michael

WRHS965

KE8PLM

 

Normally, I don't research for others just to make a point, but in this case I'll just do it.

 

47 CFR 95.1767 b

 

Couldn't be any more explicit.

 

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... and as usual, the topic has been sidetracked, the OP has disappeared never to be seen again, and we're left arguing minutia of the meaning of poorly written rules that aren't enforced anyway.

 

<sigh>.

No one arguing here. I will make one point that I think is worth noting. Rules written poorly will be twisted, turned and interpreted a million different ways. Well written ones are clear, concise and explicit. However when rules are written the latter way people will complain. They will say they are strict, to inflexible. <sigh>

 

Perhaps the FCC rules should be reclassified as “Recommendations”.

 

Michael

WRHS965

KE8PLM

 

 

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What the FCC is gonna do is refer to industrial standards, as they call out in the Part 95 top level personal radio service paragraphs. In practice, who makes a certified HT that does 8 watts on the main channels?

 They don't and primarily it has to do with specific absorption rate.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_absorption_rate

 

The labs that certify this gear must ensure that your body does not get heated above a certain level when RF device is operated nearby. You might see a 6 watt VHF radio, but that is pretty much the limit.

 

an example cert.

 

https://fccid.io/AZ489FT7087/RF-Exposure-Info/SAR-Report-1-of-2-3054950

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They don't and primarily it has to do with specific absorption rate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_absorption_rate

 

The labs that certify this gear must ensure that your body does not get heated above a certain level when RF device is operated nearby. You might see a 6 watt VHF radio, but that is pretty much the limit.

 

an example cert.

 

https://fccid.io/AZ489FT7087/RF-Exposure-Info/SAR-Report-1-of-2-3054950

BINGO!!!!! BINGO!!!!! BINGO!!!!!

 

It is not the FCC GMRS specifications (at least as currently written) that explicitly limits the output power of a hand-held transceiver across the board. Max overall power for the handheld is ultimately limited by the ability of the transceiver-antenna system to achieve SAR compliance on the frequencies of operation.

 

For those reading this post that do not already know this, amateur radio operators are required to know how to calculate or have the ability to measure this for equipment they own and operate. They are legally required to make sure that safe SAR levels are maintained, which applies to family and the public.

 

Kudos WPXM352!

 

Michael

WRHS965

KE8PLM

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

47 CFR 95.389 -> 47 CFR 2.1093.....calling out both IEEE and ANSI standards.

 

Last I checked, both the IEEE and ANSI are still industrial standards organizations.

 

---

§95.385   RF exposure evaluation.

(a) Personal Radio Services devices are subject to the radio frequency radiation exposure requirements specified in §§1.1307(b ), 2.1091 and 2.1093 of this chapter, as appropriate.

(b ) FCC certification (see §95.335) of transmitter types that are “portable devices,” as defined in §2.1093(b ) of this chapter, and are designed to operate in certain Personal Radio Services, is subject to rules requiring radiofrequency radiation exposure routine evaluation pursuant to §§1.1307(b ) and 2.1093 of this chapter. See §§95.2385 and 95.2585.

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