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Can't hit repeater but am in indicated coverage area


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#1 SocailForester

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 01:37 PM


I am very much a newbie to GMRS so bear with me. I have requested use of the Tuscaloosa repeater which indicates approx. 60 mile coverage. Now I have Motorola ms350r radios with advertised 35 mi range and I lie within the mapped coverage area near Union AL. But cannot trigger repeater from there and only am able to do so after crossing the Black Warrior river on I 59 N. is this a radio prob. Should I use a different radio?

#2 JeremyM

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 01:50 PM

Hey and welcome! You live in the south, like me, and are plagued with a radio nuisance called pine trees. Due to the physical shape and water retention properties of the pine needles, they absorb EMR (electro-magnetic radiation or RF).

 

Additionally, due to the nature of the GMRS frequencies (460-470 MHz), your signal will be GREATLY impacted by elevation changes as well as other natural and man-made obstructions. The radios you are using (bubble pack radios) also make use of what is known as a "rubber duck" or "stubbie" antenna. These antennas do not have good reception in heavy foliage or areas with elevation changes.

 

The effective radiated power or ERP of your radios is likely less than the advertised power. This is because the power output at the transceiver (which is where the wattage reported on the packaging is measured) is less than the actual power transmitted from the antenna. Your model radio uses 0.5 watts on FRS channels and 1.0 watts on GMRS channels. Combined with the elevation changes in your area and the heavy foliage, I would estimate your actual transmit distance at an average of 0.6 - 0.75 miles and that is being generous.

 

Keep in mind, the distance estimates on the package are in perfect conditions. Weather, altitude, terrain, foliage, etc. all play into the effective distance of your radio. If you want a decent handheld with some range without paying an arm and a leg, I would suggest looking into the Wouxun or Baofeng line of portables. Others here will definitely be able to provide other suggestions as well.


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#3 JeremyM

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 01:55 PM

I don't mean to insinuate that your purchase was a poor one. Those radios are very good for what they were intended: hunting, hiking, car to car on interstate, family use at theme parks, etc. The application you wish to use them for is just a bit beyond their capabilities unless you can get within 0.5 miles of the repeater you wish to use.


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#4 PastorGary

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 02:08 PM

Hello, Don - Welcome to the Forum.

 

Jeremy's advice is solid. The area that you are mentioning is a bit hilly, has vast expanses of southern yellow pines, mineral deposits, and high humidity most of the year... I go through there frequently as well as on I-65 from Tennessee line to Mobile and even simplex mobile to moble with a 50 watt ERP only gets us 6 to 9 miles most of the time.

 

The rated 'mileage' on bubble pack radios is an advertising ploy to sell radios.  The mileage rating is statistically from the top of one mountain to another mountain with nothing in the way, so solar flares, no sun spots, no ambient static white noise and low humidity.  Realistic mileages for most bubble pack radios unit to unit at street level is about a mile or two on a good day.  If you are hitting the repeater from around I-59 mile markers 69-70, that's about all that you can expect without going to a 25 to 50 watt moble unit and a 5.6 db gain mobile antenna.

 

Wish that we had better news for y'all.


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#5 SteveH

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 04:23 PM

And another Welcome to the Forum also. I am also new to GMRS but trying to learn the ins and outs. Typical "bubble pack" radios always (or at least usually) don't have the capability to key a repeater as you have to program in the Rx/Tx offset (the radio transmits on one frequency then shifts to another for receive). The bubble pack radios only transmit and receive on the same frequency (simplex). However, nothing (except propagation) will prevent you from listening to a repeater.

 

Steve



#6 Logan5

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 05:19 PM

Actually the Motorola ms350r radio does have offset and PL tone ability and do work with repeaters. all though not very well.



#7 SteveH

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 05:43 PM

Actually the Motorola ms350r radio does have offset and PL tone ability and do work with repeaters. all though not very well.

 

Interesting. Didn't know any of these radios were repeater capable.

 

Steve



#8 SocailForester

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 10:11 PM

Thanks for all the information folks.  I actually bought these to use just around the farm/house/yard but was reading about the GMRS and it peaked my interest.  It is a shame they can advertise these radios to have the range they do.  All the while knowing that the "ideal" situation is NOT what most folks will have.  Guess i wasted $85.00 +/- on the radio b/c they really do now work well even around the farm here and another 85 dollars on the GMRS liscense.  Oh well!  Are there any handheld units that will work.  Or maybe a mobile unit in a vehicle and a handheld combination

 

Any recommendations for the newbie as far as particular radios or setups that would get me in business from a GMRS standpoint; Would be appreciated.  I grew up on CB's but after the airways got so crowded i just packed it all in.  I really have no idea of how to get back into they radio scene and it may be cost prohibitive but i am interested in getting on the air again somehow..



#9 JohnE

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 10:15 PM

PG its 35mi between 2 mountain tops in a vacuum.

I would really like to know where and how they came up w/that.


Powered by Kenwood, Motorola, EF Johnson,Cresend  Milcom and Henry


#10 JeremyM

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 01:45 AM

Thanks for all the information folks.  I actually bought these to use just around the farm/house/yard but was reading about the GMRS and it peaked my interest.  It is a shame they can advertise these radios to have the range they do.  All the while knowing that the "ideal" situation is NOT what most folks will have.  Guess i wasted $85.00 +/- on the radio b/c they really do now work well even around the farm here and another 85 dollars on the GMRS liscense.  Oh well!  Are there any handheld units that will work.  Or maybe a mobile unit in a vehicle and a handheld combination

 

Any recommendations for the newbie as far as particular radios or setups that would get me in business from a GMRS standpoint; Would be appreciated.  I grew up on CB's but after the airways got so crowded i just packed it all in.  I really have no idea of how to get back into they radio scene and it may be cost prohibitive but i am interested in getting on the air again somehow..

 

I have a Wouxun KG-UVD1P and it works very well for me. You can pick one up for around $120.00 on Amazon. There is also the Baofeng UV5R which I hear works pretty good and those can be had for $50-$75. These radios are Chinese builds so the owner's manual is in Engrish. The radios are a big pain to program by hand but can be done with enough patience. I really recommend getting the programming cable (about $15) and downloading the software from the manufacturer's website. The antennas they come with are significantly better than the ones on the Moto units you purchased and they are removable so you can swap out to better antennas. I have an after-market 15" whip for my Wouxun which ran me about $25 and it is at least twice as good as the stock one. I was able to get 2.3 miles in a heavily wooded area with extremely clear reception on both ends. Was able to get 3.5 miles in heavy foliage and down into a holler with mild static, could still be heard and hear clearly. This was out in the country, flat land, minimal houses.

 

Be careful with these units, they are FCC part 90 which means they will work on bands other than GMRS. It is OK to listen in, but transmitting on these bands without the proper license could land you in a bit of trouble if you get caught. With these radios you can hit the MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service) which does not require a license. The frequency is in the 151MHz and 154MHz range, with 5 total channels. Since the frequency is much lower it will travel farther than the 460-470MHz or 70cm band. Operating in those lower channels puts you closer to HAM frequencies and the 2 meter band. In areas like yours they are less likely to see traffic so you could use them to get more distance without needing a license.

 

Ultimately if you want range you are going to need elevation. For example, I have mounted a omnidirectional fiberglass antenna to my house and ran the cable inside to my radio. I am just using my Wouxun connected to it but am able to transmit over 2 miles with only a 5 watt output in a residential area with some elevation changes and pine trees. When I get my mobile unit I will have a 40 watt output and should be able to get somewhere around 10-12 miles. The higher the antenna the better. Mine is only at 25' and the improvement is remarkable even on my little portable.


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#11 JeremyM

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 01:50 AM

As a side note, you are used to lower frequencies in the 27MHz range. Thats where CB is and those frequencies can really travel. GMRS is made for more short range, not long range. GMRS is also a bit more expensive than CB or HAM. If you are wanting long range, then you might want to look into getting your HAM license. The difference is you have to take a test to get your HAM. The cost is very low, usually somewhere around $15. The equipment is also a bit more available and might cost less than GMRS.

 

This is just from my own observations on HAM. Others here might be able to provide more insight/clarity.


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#12 PastorGary

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 05:15 AM

As an example of possibilities for the Tuscaloosa repeater...

 

If you had something like a Kenwood TK-863G 25 watt mobile unit attached to a 5.6 db gain type mobile antenna in your vehicle, you could hit the repeater from your residence most of the time. If you had the same type of radio inside your residence attached to a base station antenna roughly 15 feet above your residence, your family could chat with you in your vehicle from your place near Union, all the way to Bessemer just west of Birmingham.

 

This is the style of radio that I am referring to below and software/program cables are available:

 

http://www.used-radi...-25w-256ch.aspx

 

 



#13 SteveH

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 07:29 AM

I've purchased a few Motorola GM300 radios off of eBay. These are 25 or 40 watt mobiles and have 8-16 channels. Best auction prices seem to run in the $40-$65 range depending upon accessories included. Some sellers will program for free. There is a freeware called RadioDoctor that can program the GM300s and I'm setting up that software now. Crossing fingers.

 

Steve



#14 PastorGary

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 08:25 AM

Just a reminder - GMRS was not affected by the band-plan and narrowbanding because it is a Part 95 service - not Part 90.

 

There are TONS of UHF radios out there that are programmable using available software,  that were phased out from Part 90 service before January 01.  Some are type accepted for Part 95 and some are not, but if you can find the proper equipment at a good price - keep it wideband until mandated to do otherwise because range will be greater and audio clarity will be a touch better in wideband mode. [20K0F3E]






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