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GMRS Repeater Extend Coverage


ISkiBum1
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Hi all!

 

My first blog post!  My family has a ranch where we utilize a GMRS repeater that was installed by a local amateur radio group.  We have a side of the ranch that has some deep canyons.  We loose our ability to reach the repeater with handhelds in the canyons.  Is there a way/equipment that can be used to increase the repeaters coverage?  I realize we could install another repeater but then we have to "monitor" two channels.  Our radios can do that with Dual Watch but it would be nice to just have one channel for our ranch communications.  I was told maybe a Distributed antenna system system may work.  Any/all ideas would be appreciated.  I am happy to explain any further details.  Thank you!

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There are many ways to "extend" a system but all involve money and technological know how. There is voting systems that would allow for receive input to be better and simulcast but thats gets pretty expensive pretty quick. I have a similar issue in my area and solved it via the "poor" mans voter system. I use the same repeater pair on the second repeater, however the receive input PL is different. This way I can still hear both repeaters and if i can't get to one i switch channels and try the other. As long as someone is in range of both it will work well. Some LEO's in the state used a similar system with a North and South repeater but used the same transmit so if they forget to change "zones" they still hear dispatch. This is definately a user training issue but is probably  the cheapest way to do what you want to do. 

 

I guess you could also install a tower tall enough to get into those canyons but i doubt the cost would benefit the advantages.

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I'm not a repeater expert, but unfortunately I think your options are going to fall into 2 categories: (1) move the repeater, or (2) add another repeater.

 

You could try using one of the MURS frequencies from the canyon and see if you get better coverage, though if you already need a repeater I suspect a 2W handheld won't have the necessary juice to get out and back to your base on simplex.

 

Would it be feasible to relocate the repeater to an area on the property with better coverage of the canyons? For the home base station, you could configure a directional antenna so that even if the repeater is farther away you would still be able to hit it.

 

You could also haul out some portable direction-finding gear and do a bounce-path survey of the canyon territory. UHF does marginally well bouncing off rock faces, mountains, cliffs, etc... so there may be spots from within the canyons where there is actually an RF pathway to the repeater. Wouldn't be a quick/simple task to find them, but if there are a few then you could at least mark the spots in some way and then not have to climb all the way back out to call home. (This might also require a smaller handheld directional antenna to travel with you.)

 

Interesting situation. Would be interested in hearing more details if you are willing to share them.

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I think the most critical detail that the OP mentioned is that the repeater is not "theirs" at all! belongs to the local amateur radio club and they apparently are simply using it. I honestly cannot think of a single thing they could do to improve coverage in the side canyons.

 

Possibly a remote receiver and link would allow for improved coverage, but it likely would not cover all of the affected areas, and a link would require using one of the seven other available GMRS frequencies.

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If you are friendly with the other sysop, there are many ways to link repeaters even a simple talkback repeater could be used with permission, I like 2.4 or 5.8 ghz Nanobeam for point to point. But if you do not have LOS, maybe two UHF yagi's for the link. I know some have used the Internet for the link, but seems to break the rules on not interfacing with telephone system. a repeater can get real expensive especially with a link. sometimes there is a much simpler solution that matches then need. 

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Thanks everyone for the ideas!  I am friendly with the repeater operators but moving it or modifying any of their equipment probably isn't an option.  I am not the only user.  Keep the ideas coming...so far it sounds like I am going to have to install another repeater.

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Unlike Logan I try to stay away from the Nanostations. Ive noticed some issues when using them as SMs in noisy areas. I much prefer the NanoBridge and NanoBeam (the Lite version is my favorite for price and ease of use).

 

Anyway, unless you have a spare receiver and a way to backhaul it to the repeater, a repeater with a different PL input on your land would be the easiest solution.

 

PSA…for those who haven't priced them, the pricing difference between a voting/simulcast analog repeater and a P25 version is less than $500. That's why more P25 simulcast systems began to pop up commercially.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I only mentioned nano beam, because I have learned it will do it. not that I own one yet. I am still learning about Rocket, Bullet, M2 and M5, always very careful before I spend any money. I just got my antenna support structure installed, so I am excited to play with some nice new equipment. I am thinking the Rocket M2, because it has 2 antenna connectors and can be flashed with DD-wrt or open-wrt, I have a number of 2.4 ghz antennas, not as pretty as the Ubiquity nano units. still holden onto my cash till I know what I really want. It's only a hobby.

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I only mentioned nano beam, because I have learned it will do it. not that I own one yet. I am still learning about Rocket, Bullet, M2 and M5, always very careful before I spend any money. I just got my antenna support structure installed, so I am excited to play with some nice new equipment. I am thinking the Rocket M2, because it has 2 antenna connectors and can be flashed with DD-wrt or open-wrt, I have a number of 2.4 ghz antennas, not as pretty as the Ubiquity nano units. still holden onto my cash till I know what I really want. It's only a hobby.

AirOS is G2G. I don't see a need for aftermarket firmware. Only thing I wish was there was MAC Telnet like RouterOS is capable of.

 

There's a lot more room in 5 GHz. Current firmware UBNT can be unlocked for 5.1-5.9 GHz out of the box while still scanning on the DFS channels to ensure that a local radar station is not being interfered with).

 

Personal preferences, Bullets and AirGrids are only single chain aka single polarization (150 Mbps max on a 40 MHz channel and a 20 dB SNR) while everything else M series is dual chain. I love Rockets and have started playing with the new AC variants (now that full 5GHz is available). AC actually have front end filtering and have some slightly better RX.

 

As far as antennas go, favorite brand is RF Elements. They have nice symmetrical sectors, traditional sectors and a PTP dish that all feature the camlock connector of theirs (allows for quick radio changes, even to a different manufacturer, without a need to realign).

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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