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GRMS or HAM


Guest Pete M
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Hello,

 

Before I go down this journey, trying to figure out what the best option for my goals.  I have always enjoyed radio and have mostly used FRS for my hunting and hiking and recreational communication with family and friends.  I am from California and every year I go on week long trips to Colorado, Arizona, and parts of California in the mountains and I want to be able to set up a system (home unit, mobile unit in vehicle, and hand held radio) so I can communicate with my family or friends while I am hunting or hiking.  What system is better used for this?  obviously I would have to access repeaters.  Does GMRS allow for communication between state to state or is it just used more for local communication?  GMRS allows for immediate family to use radio and license, HAM only allows the person with the license to use radio, right?  If I am at camp in another state and no cell phone signal what is the best system to use radio to call home base unit?

 

Thank you

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Well in all honesty, nither system would work well for you as even the GMRS link repeaters are not always connected. Radio signals in general do not encapsulate the world offering unlimited distance (with VERY few exceptions) That said, if your not overly far away, GMRS would be the better option as you wouldn't need to have each family member take the ham test. With GMRS, your range is mostly line of sight, another-words if you can see it, chances are you can talk to it. If you cannot see it, your chances of communicating are reduced.

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Ham VS GMRS.

That's gonna depend on what YOU want to do with the radio hobby.  And the number of users in your area on GMRS and their willingness to talk to you.

GMRS is VERY limited as opposed to ham radio.  You have 8 repeater channels and 14 interstitial.  Ham has BANDS of frequencies and a number of modes of operation.

You can experiment in ham radio with any sort of communications technology... GMRS is wide band FM on UHF.  That's all there is and there ain't no more.

 

I am a communications hobbyist.  In short, I like radio.  I am a ham. I have a GMRS license (which I waited far to long to get) and I am a commercial radio tech as my chosen career path.

GMRS is a PART of my hobby.  But I can't build a GMRS radio,,, where I have built several ham radios.  Mostly single frequency HF low power stuff, but I built it and communicated with it.

 

The only person that will know if a ham ticket is the thing to get is you,  all we can do is explain the differences.

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For the stated purpose (communications when out of cell range) both Ham 2m/70cm and GMRS will work about the same for the same money spent. With mobile 40-50W radio in a car and handhelds the Ham and GMRS systems will be comparable. Both systems will allow to set up mobile repeater, for some additional range and convenience, but it's costly. 2m will reach a bit further in the forest, 70cm and GMRS will be better in the rocky canyons. Neither system will allow talking from Colorado to California. However, Ham has a thing called APRS, where you can exchange short texts between your radio and somebody's phone, but you'd need to be in the range of APRS repeater (digipeater), and only a very few HTs from Kenwood and Yaesu have the ability. No APRS infrastructure (like in most of Sierra Nevada) - no comms. You can even check email via APRS, but it is quite tedious to use. I, myself, settled on several pre-defined messages like "I'm on schedule", "short delay", "had to turn around", etc.

GMRS allows for easy interoperability with FRS, they share frequencies. You will be immediately compatible with your hunting buddies with their FRS handhelds.

There is more equipment for Ham, and it is generally cheaper, but quality Ham radios will cost similar to quality GMRS radios.

GMRS radios can be programmed in fool-proof way, where 5yo can use them. Ham equipment usually more feature-rich and usually more complex in operation. Not every 5yo can be trusted with Ham radio.

 

Years ago I went with GMRS to have a communications for family and friends when camping/hiking etc. It worked very well for us, and continues to work. With one license covering the whole family, it's very easy to adopt by people who have no clue about radio. Nowadays I'm mostly doing my outings alone, so now I usually carry Ham equipment: FT-1D or FT-817 if I'm in the mood for short-wave.

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Thank you   WRAK968   WRKC935 and axorlov !!!!

 

What I gather from your response is that there are good people and community in both systems.  You took time out of your schedule to provide some valuable insight and that says alot about what I am about to venture into.  I think that is one of the main reasons people invest into GMRS or HAM radio....is because of the people....Well it looks like GMRS is the best situation for me and my family at this time.  So I did a little research on some equipment (remember I would like to have a hard base unit in my truck and house and then have handheld units while me or the family while hunting, hiking, fishing, etc...) and I listed below what I read were some good units.  Can you please let me know what your thoughts are....The list below can be used together or separately.  Thank you again for your comments.

 

Handheld Wouxun KG805-G and Base Wouxun KG-1000G GMRS (50watt)

 

Handheld BTECH GMRS V1 and Base BTech GMRS 50X1 (50 watt)

 

Base Midland MXT400(40 watt) and Midland XTalker Handhelds

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