Jump to content
  • 0

WHY??? Why is programming custom channels so limited??


dirkvan
 Share

Question

So I am curious as to why there are such limitations to programming GMRS radios.  In the vast preponderance of brands and models, programming custom channels is limited to a SMALL defined block of repeater channels.  Most allow you to change the name and CTCSS/DCS on a simplex channel but not to create a custom simplex channel.  For instance, my club likes to use GMRS simplex channel 4 (462.63750) with CTCSS 85.3.  I'd love to create a channel on my radio that is named "CLUB" and has those settings.  For almost all the radios I've looked at, i'd need to go into the programming and rename CH 4 "CLUB" and add my CTCSS codes, thereby losing the generic CH 4.  I'd have to keep entering and deleting the CTCSS codes anytime I wanted to use CH4 with non club members.  From a practical perspective, I don't really care since I pretty much only use the radio for club functions and occasional other stuff, so no big deal.  I'm just really curious why the programmable "slots" on GMRS radios are so limited.  The same is largely true for repeater pairs.  Many radios advertise they have 500 channels.  When you go into the programming, you quickly find that only a very few allow transmit, the rest are receive only.  WHY???  What is the limiting factor? Please, don't go on a rant about FCC type certs, i just want to understand the mechanics of it.  I freely admit that I am not an engineer or technical guru :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

  • 0

Is this just a complaint with all GMRS radios or just the cheap ones, mainly of Chinese manufacture?

I have a huge collection of LMR radios certified for Part 95 that have no such limitations. Then again they weren't cheap radios when new, and some are still sort of expensive used.

IMHO the cheap GMRS radios are using quickly modified firmware originally designed for the Ham version of the radios. It's probably easier to lock out whole banks of channels for TX programming rather than doing a major rewrite of the code to add in all of the necessary range checks to limit the frequencies to GMRS specific ones for the extra channels. The same goes with the radio's programming software too.

Then you look at the FRS radios. How many of those allow custom programming of channel names etc.? Same with CB radios. How many users of those really care? From a manufacture's perspective they look at a small group of users who use the full suite of custom features. They are not going to spend the design effort adding them in until the majority of the market demands it and the price will reflect it too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0

All of the radios I've seen and/or used that are part95 GMRS, are no more easier or difficult to program than any other radio.  Even some of the $30 specials (think UV5G) will let you name a preset channel and CTCSS tone, but you can't add custom transmit channels.  Unfortunately, it seems one needs to have a mid-high tier radio to program in custom channels.  The limitations you speak of have nothing to do with Part 95, and everything to do with the manufacturer.

You didn't actually say what radio you have?

I started with the a UV5G and quickly became annoyed with its limitations. Therefore, I recently obtained a KG-935G and the difference is extremely obvious.  However, so is the price, at $150.  That said, it's a great deal (with none of the limitations you described) and well worth the expense as others here will tell you.

With the KG-935G, I can erase the default channels and replace them with whatever I want, same frequency, different CTCSS (or DCS) or, just add them to any free memory.  I can choose the power, pretty much anything except transmitting on a non-GMRS frequency.

Bottom line, like anything, you need to 'invest' in a better product.

Alternatively, there are non Part 95 radios (business, part 90) that offer a lot of flexibility but not necessarily changes on the fly (from keypad, etc..)  Some of these radios can be found for under $100 (if you don't care about the part 95 certification).

I will say it pays to educate yourself and read/watch the reviews on different radios.  Where possible, download and read the user manual for a radio you think you might be interested in.  Many times that will give you a better perspective on what it is capable of.

Good Luck!

73

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
8 minutes ago, Lscott said:

 

IMHO the cheap GMRS radios are using quickly modified firmware originally designed for the Ham version of the radios. It's probably easier to lock out whole banks of channels for TX programming rather than doing a major rewrite of the code to add in all of the necessary range checks to limit the frequencies to GMRS specific ones for the extra channels. The same goes with the radio's programming software too.

 

This makes sense.  i wasn't trying to indict GMRS, just trying to understand why it is hard for a manufacturer to allow as many custom RX/TX channels as the on board memory will allow.  If I can program in 32 custom repeater channels, why not 320 or 3,200?  Why do I have to change a standard simplex channel rather than add a new one? I'm trying to understand what the cost and or technical limitations are? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
8 minutes ago, dirkvan said:

This makes sense.  i wasn't trying to indict GMRS, just trying to understand why it is hard for a manufacturer to allow as many custom RX/TX channels as the on board memory will allow.  If I can program in 32 custom repeater channels, why not 320 or 3,200?  Why do I have to change a standard simplex channel rather than add a new one? I'm trying to understand what the cost and or technical limitations are? 

It's not a hardware limitation. It's just the radio's programming software and firmware. A company see's they can make a few bucks selling an inexpensive GMRS radio so they give some firmware programmer a job to hack the current code, for one of their cheap Ham versions, enough to pass the FCC's certification requirements. Most likely they didn't want to spend much time and money on it, just do it quick and cheap. That's particular true if they don't see a huge market for the end product. They are not looking to make the radio highly customizable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
2 hours ago, dirkvan said:

For almost all the radios I've looked at...

OK: Please list all the radios that you have looked at and let us know which ones allow you to do what you want (since that sub-list will be smaller than the list of those that do not allow you to do what you want).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0

I haven't had much luck finding it again, but I ran across something once that implied that limiting the user configurable transmit channels (a la Btech) made for quicker certification.  That, combined with what @Lscott mentioned about manufacturers repurposing other hardware to meet minimum requirements (both user and certification) with minimal time invested, and here we are. 

It does seem that some manufacturers are responsive to user input (retevis comes to mind),  while others build to vendor specifications, and input from knowledgeable vendors is priceless (wouxun, via buytwowayradios and bettersaferradio).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
24 minutes ago, MichaelLAX said:

OK: Please list all the radios that you have looked at and let us know which ones allow you to do what you want (since that sub-list will be smaller than the list of those that do not allow you to do what you want).

No

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
2 hours ago, dirkvan said:

So I am curious as to why there are such limitations to programming GMRS radios.  In the vast preponderance of brands and models, programming custom channels is limited to a SMALL defined block of repeater channels.

Many of the radios I've seen do allow some programming of custom channels. Some do not. Are you looking specifically at mobile radios, handheld radios, or both?

Several manufacturers have updated the firmware of their radios to allow more customization to the programming than originally provided. Even though they were limited when they came out, they work much better now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
8 minutes ago, WyoJoe said:

Many of the radios I've seen do allow some programming of custom channels. Some do not. Are you looking specifically at mobile radios, handheld radios, or both?

Several manufacturers have updated the firmware of their radios to allow more customization to the programming than originally provided. Even though they were limited when they came out, they work much better now.

Both really.  I tend to use the HT more and only use the mobile when in convoy or bored to death on the road :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
43 minutes ago, MichaelLAX said:

OK: Please list all the radios that you have looked at and let us know which ones allow you to do what you want (since that sub-list will be smaller than the list of those that do not allow you to do what you want).

19 minutes ago, dirkvan said:

No

No matter how many question marks you put in your question, does not make it more important than any other question.

Since you will not supply us with the factual basis to your inquiry, I must answer your question with my anecdotal experience with those radios that I have purchased and/or used:

You're using the wrong radios.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
2 hours ago, WROZ250 said:



You didn't actually say what radio you have?



73

Radioddity GM-30 right now, contemplating a DB-20G in near future.  Also thinking about a used Moto or Kenwood to use as a base station, but reality is I just don't use GMRS that much.  I enjoy it when I do and there seems to be a growing user base here in VA.  Again, my point here was not to bash any particular radio or GMRS in general, just to try and understand whether there were specific technical or cost issues at play.  I tend to agree with those who have noted its mostly a cost and speed to market issue for manufacturers not wanting to develop custom features for the GMRS world.  Obviously at higher price points, the feature sets become richer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
10 minutes ago, PartsMan said:

I posted a similar complaint recently and was told that the Wouxen radios allow more custom transmit channels.

More money but could be worth it.

Agreed.  I don't feel like spending the money on a Wouxun at this stage, but they do seem to be the high-end of capability in GMRS for now.  I'm intrigued by what some of the second-hand Moto's and Kenwoods have to offer, although it seems like programming them can be a rabbit hole of its own!  I'd probably pull the trigger on a Moto CDM1250 or Kenwwod TK880 or the like, but I can't seem to find a definitive answer on what additional items are needed to program them and what version of software is needed.  I've seen some of them on ebay that require DOS-based programming and I am not about to go find an ancient computer for that, nor am I savvy enough to run emulators or virtual boxes on my Windows11 laptop :)  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
42 minutes ago, MichaelLAX said:

 

That is just not true with the currently offered GM-30. Maybe you need to upgrade its firmware.

@WyoJoeis one of the experts on the GM-30 on this forum; perhaps he will chime in again...

As far as I can tell, I'm running the most recent firmware. (ver 06.03.006).  The GM-30 radio has 250 "programmable" channel slots. There are no rows in the CPS where you can add in a simplex channel with rx and tx. In the CPS software, channels 1-22 are the standard GMRS simplex freqs and the user can modify attributes but not freqs; channels 22-30 are the standard GMRS repeater pairs, and again the user can edit attributes but not freqs. Channels 30-54 are configurable repeater pairs. The user selects one of the 8 rptr rx freqs and the software automatically fills in the corresponding tx channel with 5MhZ separation.  The remaining channels 55-250 only allow the user to enter an rx freq and desired attributes, the radio will not tx on these channels.

I believe what others have said, that this is mostly a cost-saving function by Radiddiodty (in this case) to shortcut their firmware development efforts.  I got what I paid for, no argument.  For the n'th time, I wasn't trying to start a fight about bands or brands, I was just trying to understand if there were technical limitations I wasn't aware of.  

Some radios have programmable buttons, and I've seen users program one or more of those buttons to automatically add a CTCSS tone to whatever channel the radio is on.  That seems pretty handy and a potential work-around to the issue of limited rx/tx slots.

If there are secrets to the Radioddity CPS that I'm unaware of, I am all ears and eager to learn!

WROA465

   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0

When I asked you to let us know which radios you are considering, you declined; but yet told another inquirer that you have the GM-30.

While I have a clone of the GM-30, the Pofung P15UV, I realized that I am not the best person to advise you about the GM-30 and deleted my responses.

Good luck to you with your GM-30.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
1 hour ago, dirkvan said:

Agreed.  I don't feel like spending the money on a Wouxun at this stage, but they do seem to be the high-end of capability in GMRS for now.  I'm intrigued by what some of the second-hand Moto's and Kenwoods have to offer, although it seems like programming them can be a rabbit hole of its own!  I'd probably pull the trigger on a Moto CDM1250 or Kenwwod TK880 or the like, but I can't seem to find a definitive answer on what additional items are needed to program them and what version of software is needed.  I've seen some of them on ebay that require DOS-based programming and I am not about to go find an ancient computer for that, nor am I savvy enough to run emulators or virtual boxes on my Windows11 laptop :)  

I just sent you a message. Kenwood TK-3140's can be had for the same price as the GM-30, and in my opinion works much better. You loose front panel programming, but lets be honest, with some good thinking, and the ability to program up to 250 channels, its not an issue by any means. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
57 minutes ago, dirkvan said:

Agreed.  I don't feel like spending the money on a Wouxun at this stage, but they do seem to be the high-end of capability in GMRS for now.  I'm intrigued by what some of the second-hand Moto's and Kenwoods have to offer, although it seems like programming them can be a rabbit hole of its own!  I'd probably pull the trigger on a Moto CDM1250 or Kenwwod TK880 or the like, but I can't seem to find a definitive answer on what additional items are needed to program them and what version of software is needed.  I've seen some of them on ebay that require DOS-based programming and I am not about to go find an ancient computer for that, nor am I savvy enough to run emulators or virtual boxes on my Windows11 laptop :)  

One of the first two things I do when looking at a radio model I don't presently own, typically the commercial versions, is find the manufacture's brochure for it and then look to see if the programming software with cable is available. 

The brochure answers most of the questions one might have about number of memory channels, power and other features of interest. It's better than trying to ask people on forums like this while trying to figure out if radio fits with your operating requirements.

Also if I can't get the programming software I have ZERO interest in the radio regardless of how good it looks. If I can't program it then it's just a paper weight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
19 minutes ago, MichaelLAX said:

When I asked you to let us know which radios you are considering, you declined; but yet told another inquirer that you have the GM-30.

While I have a clone of the GM-30, the Pofung P15UV, I realized that I am not the best person to advise you about the GM-30 and deleted my responses.

Good luck to you with your GM-30.

Chill out dude! You asked me to list all the radios I've looked at, which I correctly foresaw would lead to a flame about brands.  The other inquirer specifically asked what radio I'm using.  He did not proceed to tell me I'm "using the wrong radio," you did.  I never intended to pick a fight with you, but you decided to get all antagonistic anyway. I'm sorry you're having a bad day.  I appreciate your insights, when given, and I learn from everyone on here.  Just relax and breathe, its all ok.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
24 minutes ago, dirkvan said:

Chill out dude! 

That's MR DUDE to you!

And when you ask me for advice about the Radioddity DB20-G, that I do own (the clone Anytone AT-779UV), my answer will be:

2 hours ago, dirkvan said:

No

 

And here's an early Christmas gift to you:

club.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
16 minutes ago, tweiss3 said:

I just sent you a message. Kenwood TK-3140's can be had for the same price as the GM-30, and in my opinion works much better. You loose front panel programming, but lets be honest, with some good thinking, and the ability to program up to 250 channels, its not an issue by any means. 

These commercial radios are worth looking at. These are Kenwood radios. Some others here have recommendation for Motorola and other brands.

https://mra-raycom.com/wp-content/uploads/simple-file-list/Specifications/portables/TK-270G-370G-Product-Brochure.pdf

https://www.urci.com/downloads/kenwood/kenwood_tk_2170_3170_brochure.pdf

The TK-3173 is basically the same as the TK-3170, and uses the same software too, but includes trunking which you don't need for GMRS anyway.

http://www.swscomm.com/kenwood/TK-3173.pdf

http://www.swscomm.com/kenwood/TK-2140_3140.pdf

https://kenwoodsub.dealerarena.com/ProductPDFs/10/TK-2180&3180Brochure.pdf

The TK-3212L and TK-3212 are almost the same identical radios expect for several very minor feature differences.

https://orizonmobile.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/LIT_TK-2312_3312.pdf

https://literature.puertoricosupplier.com/044/FL43682.pdf

I have all these radios except for the TK-3312 at the moment so I have a good idea what they can and can't do.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
37 minutes ago, MichaelLAX said:

That's MR DUDE to you!

And when you ask me for advice about the Radioddity DB20-G, that I do own (the clone Anytone AT-779UV), my answer will be:

And here's an early Christmas gift to you:

club.jpg

I probably shouldn't respond, but can't help myself at times. Thank you for taking the time to open your software, edit the channel, take a screen shot and post it here. Had you read my earlier responses, you would have understood that I already know this can be done and how to do it. This is editing a preset channel.  I'm looking for a way to ADD another channel to my list, lets just randomly say channel 70, that is set up to RX and TX on 462.63750, with a tone and named "Club."  But thanks for playing dude.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
55 minutes ago, dirkvan said:

I probably shouldn't respond, but can't help myself at times. Thank you for taking the time to open your software, edit the channel, take a screen shot and post it here. Had you read my earlier responses, you would have understood that I already know this can be done and how to do it. This is editing a preset channel.  I'm looking for a way to ADD another channel to my list, lets just randomly say channel 70, that is set up to RX and TX on 462.63750, with a tone and named "Club."*  But thanks for playing dude.

No, that is NOT what you posted; but you are entitled to ask additional questions, just not in the misleading pretext that you had already asked them before:

6 hours ago, dirkvan said:

For instance, my club likes to use GMRS simplex channel 4 (462.63750) with CTCSS 85.3.  I'd love to create a channel on my radio that is named "CLUB" and has those settings.  For almost all the radios I've looked at, i'd need to go into the programming and rename CH 4 "CLUB" and add my CTCSS codes, thereby losing the generic CH 4.  I'd have to keep entering and deleting the CTCSS codes anytime I wanted to use CH4 with non club members.  

The way I showed you to program your GM-30 allows you to talk to both CLUB members and non-Club members with the same "CLUB" settings in Channel 4 without having to "keep entering and deleting the CTCSS codes anytime I wanted to use CH4 with non club members."

*You now want to add another channel 70 to do the exact same thing as Channel 4...

And, Jeff Lebowski is The Dude!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 0
24 minutes ago, MichaelLAX said:

No, that is NOT what you posted; but you are entitled to ask additional questions, just not in the misleading pretext that you had already asked them before:

The way I showed you to program your GM-30 allows you to talk to both CLUB members and non-Club members with the same "CLUB" settings in Channel 4.

Seriously dude, you're going to damage yourself if you keep getting this stressed over a forum chat.  In the section you nicely bolded and underlined, I wasn't actually asking a question, just setting up a scenario.  Since you apparently can't conceive beyond the explicit, I will lay it out further.  The club uses the tones as they are intended, as a noise filter to restrict received transmissions to those sent with the appropriate code. By adding only a tx tone to a preset channel, yes my fellow club members would hear me. I would, however, still be receiving all traffic on ch 4.  By editing the name on preset ch. 4, I now have to remember that ch 4 = "club" and that it has a tx tone enabled. While that works, it still doesn't do what I was hoping, which is to leave preset ch 4 as is and "clone" it somewhere else in my channel list with the name "club" and both tx and rx tones enabled.  The VERY NEXT sentence in my original post says that from a practical perspective, I really don't care.  My whole point was that most native radio programming schemes offer far fewer configurable TX/RX channels than their advertising leads one to believe.  I don't care about brands, etc., I was seeking to understand if there was a technical limitation that causes this to be true for many radios.  The more astute and altruistic responses on this thread confirmed my suspicion that in fact, there isn't necessarily a technical limitation, but rather an unwillingness by OEMs and VARs to spend money on bespoke GMRS firmware and software.  I hope this helps you sleep better.

Thank you for granting me permission to ask additional questions. I have to say I didn't know it was up to you to bestow this entitlement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Answer this question...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Guidelines.