I am new to GMRS and basically a novice in UHF in general. My ham life has pretty much consisted of using 2 meter repeaters plus (to a much greater extent) HF and 6 meter voice and digital.
I am thinking about setting up one or two GMRS repeaters to provide service to some areas along the midcoast of Maine. At least initially I want to avoid the bureaucratic hassle of trying to locate the repeaters on commercial towers. So, our group is looking at who amongst us has houses that are in somewhat favorable (from a coverage perspective) locations. For example, although I am basically at sea level on the coast, it does appear that I can give good coverage to most of the nearby towns as well as possibly to some of the nearby islands.
This all brings up the use of coverage prediction software and the proper application of those tools. I am coming up the learning curve with Radio Mobile but it looks like many of the people here use the online calculator that's at http://lrcov.crc.ca/. Compared with Radio Mobile, this one is very easy to use, at least for first order coverage estimates. Radio Mobile allows you to provide a pretty complete profile for all stations in the network as required to complete the full two-way picture whereas the online tool only gives estimates of field strength around the transmitter.
That said, I'm curious as to what tools the people here are using and, especially for the online tool, how you evaluate the
3 default field strength ranges (45-60, 60-75, 75-100 dBuV/m) to actual useful coverage for mobile and fixed users. Also, anything else in your experience that relates these tools to real life.
Below is a sample plot using the online tool.