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Where to learn about GMRS and repeaters?


Guest QuiltinMom

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Guest QuiltinMom

Where would be a good place to learn the very basics of GMRS?  We would like to embrace GMRS as a close range communication device.  We have Ham licenses and hubby has a GMRS that applies to our family.  We have a couple of small hand held (I believe, Midland) GMRS radios.  We also have a mobile GMRS that was purchased at a ham fest, so a used radio.  We have a ham tower at our house and have been approached by a local club about putting a GMRS repeater on it.  Before agreeing to the GMRS repeater we would like to source info outside of that club to make sure it won't interfere with our ham communications.

 

Can the small hand helds use a GMRS repeater?  I don't believe they can be programed and the antenna is not removable.  We plan to put up a GMRS antenna on our ham tower.  Will that only benefit the mobile radio and not the hand helds?  We would also like to incorporate GMRS with our local Jeep club, but probably only using the hand helds as I don't want another radio installed on the Jeep.

 

Sorry, lots and lots of questions, but don't know where to get the very very basic info.  Ham has been our focus, but I have interest in bringing in GMRS.  THANKS for the help!!!

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Guest QuiltinMom
13 minutes ago, WRXE944 said:

GMRS Hand-helds (HT) can access repeaters and can have removable antennas. It is FRS unlicensed HTs that have a fixed antenna.

Every GMRS radio can access repeaters including mobiles.

We won the hand helds at a small event.  Now I wonder if they are GMRS or just FRS because the antenna won't come off to be able to upgrade them.  Must be FRS, but they have the GMRS radio channels.  So confusing.

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Guest QuiltinMom
2 hours ago, WRXE944 said:

Indeed, the 2017 Reorganization of GMRS and FRS is confusing as now the first 22 channels are used by both services.  GMRS have additional channels 23-30 to allow access to repeaters.

FRS radios are limited to a maximum of 2 watts and GMRS can go up to 50 watts on certain channels, although GMRS HTs usually only go up to 5 watts (except on Channels 8-14, which are limited to 1/2 watt).

Some GMRS HTs do have fixed antennas just because the manufacturer did it that way.

What is the model numbers listed on these Midland HTs?

These are Midland GXT1050G model radios with 50 channels.  So will they just automatically grab a repeater if there is one near?  I can't confirm, but believe they are 5 watts.

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On 6/27/2023 at 3:04 PM, Guest QuiltinMom said:

These are Midland GXT1050G model radios with 50 channels.  So will they just automatically grab a repeater if there is one near?  I can't confirm, but believe they are 5 watts.

The 1050 series derive from pre-2017 "mixed FRS/GMRS" radios. Under the 2017 reorganization they qualify as GMRS only because they have H/M/L power settings and H exceeds the 2W FRS limit*. They are, in all other aspects, FRS radios with narrowband FM channels. Ignore the "50 channels" nonsense -- anything past #22 is a locked-in frequency/tone combination specific to Midland which just duplicates what one can set up by hand using the first 22 channels and looking up the desired tone code.

 

 

* I also have a set of pre-2017 Motorola "bubble-pack" that are now GMRS -- power is only 2W BUT these have the ability to operate with repeaters.

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On 6/27/2023 at 11:19 AM, Guest QuiltinMom said:

Where would be a good place to learn the very basics of GMRS?  We would like to embrace GMRS as a close range communication device.  We have Ham licenses and hubby has a GMRS that applies to our family.  We have a couple of small hand held (I believe, Midland) GMRS radios.  We also have a mobile GMRS that was purchased at a ham fest, so a used radio.  We have a ham tower at our house and have been approached by a local club about putting a GMRS repeater on it.  Before agreeing to the GMRS repeater we would like to source info outside of that club to make sure it won't interfere with our ham communications.

 

Can the small hand helds use a GMRS repeater?  I don't believe they can be programed and the antenna is not removable.  We plan to put up a GMRS antenna on our ham tower.  Will that only benefit the mobile radio and not the hand helds?  We would also like to incorporate GMRS with our local Jeep club, but probably only using the hand helds as I don't want another radio installed on the Jeep.

 

Sorry, lots and lots of questions, but don't know where to get the very very basic info.  Ham has been our focus, but I have interest in bringing in GMRS.  THANKS for the help!!!

Obviously, you're here on the MyGMRS.com. There are a lot of resources out there on GMRS repeaters and a lot more qualified individuals other than myself, that give you straight answers to questions that you may have.

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Couple places and it will depend on what you are wanting to learn.

If you are looking to learn about radio in general, get an ARRL handbook.  Yes, it's for ham radio..... but the important part is the RADIO.  UHF radio, be it ham, commercial or GMRS is still UHF radio.  That's where to learn how antenna's have gain, what coax loss is and how it really effects your signal.  Important stuff that is all in one book. 

They also printed a VHF/UHF operators manual that covers those parts of the spectrum fairly well.

 

Lastly is the FCC web site and the specific regulations and discussion of part 95 (the GMRS service).  That will explain a lot of the rules and what you can and can't do specific to the GMRS service

 

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Guest QuiltinMom

THANKS for all of the replies.  Sounds like the HT that we have are essentially FRS radios and that is fine.  I just couldn't figure out how a repeater would work with those since there isn't really any programming capabilities.  So do the GMRS repeaters work much in the same way as the ham repeaters with offsets and tones and what not?  If so, then that makes a whole lot more sense.  Just different frequencies and wattages available for use.

What brand would be a good true GMRS HT that works with repeaters, if there is such a thing?  I want a HT in my Jeep for minimal off roading.  Our Jeep club runs GMRS, but I want a hand held version and capable of repeaters IF possible.  (I like to keep my hubby on his toes with challenges of what to buy for me).  LOL  I have a Yaesu FTM300 mounted in the Jeep, but want GMRS to be hand held.  I want to be able to take it out of the Jeep and be able to walk to the top of a hill for better reception if needed, or be able to be out of the Jeep and still communicate via GMRS to other Jeepers.

I did apply for an account on this forum, but I am getting a funky warning about already having an account using my hubby GMRS license (the user name was Ilovespam or something like that).  I tried to start a different thread to reach an admin/mod on this forum, but I didn't receive a response that I have seen.  Will try again later to create a proper account and not just be a guest.

THANKS again!!!

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53 minutes ago, Guest QuiltinMom said:

So do the GMRS repeaters work much in the same way as the ham repeaters with offsets and tones and what not?  If so, then that makes a whole lot more sense. Just different frequencies and wattages available for use.

What brand would be a good true GMRS HT that works with repeaters, if there is such a thing?  I want an HT in my Jeep for minimal off roading.  Our Jeep club runs GMRS, but I want a hand held version and capable of repeaters IF possible.  (I like to keep my hubby on his toes with challenges of what to buy for me).  LOL  I have a Yaesu FTM300 mounted in the Jeep, but want GMRS to be hand held. I want to be able to take it out of the Jeep and be able to walk to the top of a hill for better reception if needed, or be able to be out of the Jeep and still communicate via GMRS to other Jeepers.

Yes. GMRS operates on UHF & uses a +5 MHz offset. Most of the time, but not always, GMRS repeaters use tones for both the input & the output frequencies, I believe that amateur repeaters usually use a tone just on the input, but I'm not a ham, so take that with a grain of salt just in case

GMRS h-t's are legally limited to 5 watts maximum output, mobiles, repeaters & base stations are limited to 50 watts maximum output

I don't know how much you want to budget for your h-t. At the inexpensive end is the Radioddity GM-30 for $39.99 https://www.radioddity.com/products/radioddity-gm-30

If you want to go a bit higher in price, there are several Wouxun GMRS h-t's that are popular & have good reputations that start at $99.99 & go up from there https://www.buytwowayradios.com/wouxun-two-way-radios.html?tw_service=783

Both the Radiodditty & the Wouxun h-t's are repeater capable as well as simplex

73

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14 minutes ago, WRCZ387 said:

Yes. GMRS operates on UHF & uses a +5 MHz offset. Most of the time, but not always, GMRS repeaters use tones for both the input & the output frequencies, I believe that amateur repeaters usually use a tone just on the input, but I'm not a ham, so take that with a grain of salt just in case

GMRS h-t's are legally limited to 5 watts maximum output, mobiles, repeaters & base stations are limited to 50 watts maximum output

I don't know how much you want to budget for your h-t. At the inexpensive end is the Radioddity GM-30 for $39.99 https://www.radioddity.com/products/radioddity-gm-30

If you want to go a bit higher in price, there are several Wouxun GMRS h-t's that are popular & have good reputations that start at $99.99 & go up from there https://www.buytwowayradios.com/wouxun-two-way-radios.html?tw_service=783

Both the Radiodditty & the Wouxun h-t's are repeater capable as well as simplex

73

Just a slight correction:

GMRS handhelds are not limited to 5 watts on the main frequencies.

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12 minutes ago, Sshannon said:

Just a slight correction:

GMRS handhelds are not limited to 5 watts on the main frequencies.

I stand corrected, I just went & reread the rules, my goof

I either misread something somewhere, or I was thinking of pre-2017

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9 minutes ago, WRCZ387 said:

I stand corrected, I just went & reread the rules, my goof

I either misread something somewhere, or I was thinking of pre-2017

It’s confusing because they limit handhelds on interstitial frequencies but on the main frequencies handhelds are treated like all other mobiles. 

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The only parts that I remembered clearly are h-t's only & 0.5 watts only on the 467 MHz interstitials

I still have my h-t's set at 2-2.5 watts on the 462 MHz interstitials

I guess that I need to do my homework

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1 hour ago, Sshannon said:

It’s confusing because they limit handhelds on interstitial frequencies but on the main frequencies handhelds are treated like all other mobiles. 

The limitation for HTs is by RF Exposure/SAR/MPE -- units that start going over 5W begin to encroach on the unsafe exposure limits. That's a totally different set of regulations and applies to all services, not just GMRS.

At 465MHz, the MPE (in power density) is 1.55mW/cm^2 averaged over 6 minutes (that's for controlled areas, for general population/uncontrolled it is 0.31 averaged over 30 minutes). If the distance between a person and any part of the antenna is less than 4.3 inches (at 440MHz) then the complicated computations need to be performed -- so a belt-worn HT with speaker/mic likely needs to be evaluated. Hand held, well... don't press the unit against your head 💀

There is a presumption that HT manufacturers have performed the tests/computations (as it is rather difficult for end users to embed sensors under the skin, etc.) and that the devices are at power levels that meet the above limits.

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Guest QuiltinMom
6 hours ago, WRCZ387 said:

Yes. GMRS operates on UHF & uses a +5 MHz offset. Most of the time, but not always, GMRS repeaters use tones for both the input & the output frequencies, I believe that amateur repeaters usually use a tone just on the input, but I'm not a ham, so take that with a grain of salt just in case

GMRS h-t's are legally limited to 5 watts maximum output, mobiles, repeaters & base stations are limited to 50 watts maximum output

I don't know how much you want to budget for your h-t. At the inexpensive end is the Radioddity GM-30 for $39.99 https://www.radioddity.com/products/radioddity-gm-30

If you want to go a bit higher in price, there are several Wouxun GMRS h-t's that are popular & have good reputations that start at $99.99 & go up from there https://www.buytwowayradios.com/wouxun-two-way-radios.html?tw_service=783

Both the Radiodditty & the Wouxun h-t's are repeater capable as well as simplex

73

THANK YOU.  We will research these two hand helds you have listed.

Do you feel like GMRS is an up and coming way of close communication?  It seems like our area doesn't really have very many GMRS repeaters, but there are people interested in getting more repeaters set up, hence them wanting to use our tower.  For ham radios it seems like we don't hear a lot of daily chit chat unless it is a weekly net set up.  Or people are in storm mode. 

 

THANKS for all of the help from everyone.  Sounds like I have some research to do on hand helds and figure out how far they can reach from home with out a repeater for now.

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2 hours ago, Guest QuiltinMom said:

THANK YOU.  We will research these two hand helds you have listed.

Do you feel like GMRS is an up and coming way of close communication?  It seems like our area doesn't really have very many GMRS repeaters, but there are people interested in getting more repeaters set up, hence them wanting to use our tower.  For ham radios it seems like we don't hear a lot of daily chit chat unless it is a weekly net set up.  Or people are in storm mode. 

 

THANKS for all of the help from everyone.  Sounds like I have some research to do on hand helds and figure out how far they can reach from home with out a repeater for now.

You're welcome :)

I would start by searching those models right here on myGMRS, check out the opinions+experiences of other users, plus read the user reviews on the radioddity & buytwowayradios web sites

GMRS is getting more popular, word is getting around about it

Some people use it for off-roading, some use it for family comms, some users are going on to chat & make friends, for some users: all of the above

I watched two YouTube videos a couple of years ago about a town in California where the residents are using GMRS for communicating with each other before/during/after wildfires

I think that the usage is going to depend on the area, whether it's ham or GMRS

Just tonight I was discussing ham radio usage with someone who uses both ham & GMRS, in this area [Tampa Bay, FL], the hams seem to be using 2 meter simplex more than the repeaters unless it's a net, the same may be happening in your area, there's more simplex usage vs the repeaters

It's an obvious point, but I'll say it anyway, no matter which radio you choose: antenna-antenna-antenna, it will make you or break you, whether base, mobile, or portable/hand-held

With GMRS being UHF: height is might, get your base antenna as high as possible, & use quality coax so you don't lose too much of your signal between the radio & the antenna, especially if you're going to use h-t's for now, you want as many of your 4-5 watts to get to the antenna

While I'm thinking about it, you may or may not want to replace the stock antennas on your h-t's, you'll have to test your situation out & see what results you get

73

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3 hours ago, WRXS600 said:

back4more70's cheat sheet indicates that GMRS radios cannot use detachable antennas on channels 8-14.  I don't think that's correct.

You’re right, that’s not correct. It’s dated 2017… 

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17 hours ago, Guest QuiltinMom said:

Do you feel like GMRS is an up and coming way of close communication?  It seems like our area doesn't really have very many GMRS repeaters, but there are people interested in getting more repeaters set up, hence them wanting to use our tower.  For ham radios it seems like we don't hear a lot of daily chit chat unless it is a weekly net set up.  Or people are in storm mode. 

Personally, I would look more towards MURS for trail use rather than GMRS. MURS, being VHF vice UHF, will have better penetration in wooded areas and follows the earth curvature better than GMRS. 2 watts on MURS will give you about the same coverage as 5W on GMRS.

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