FRS/GMRS radios in development for these specs?d

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Jul 1, 2018
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#1
Hello.

I am on a search team for lost/missing people in wilderness areas using dogs. We have been using the .5 watt FRS radios, and they cut out a bunch. So we resort to other apps to communicate among team members and Base, but these have their own shortcomings at times.

My question: Does anyone know if, among radio product developers, there is going to be a radio with FRS AND GMRS capability with a removable antenna to add a whip (note: BTech GMRS V-1 appears to be the only one at this time?). The problem with the V-1 is the very small number of channels and it not being rugged waterproof/dustproof as the Baofeng GT-3WP. The team covers the entire state and close-in region, and there aren't enough channels to include all of the repeaters, let alone NOAA weather channels (commercial FM radio would be a fun side feature). The bigger antenna, the capability of (much) greater number of channels, and waterproof feature would allow us a great deal of versatility - a "perfect" product.

If there is a product developer(s) reading this, the team I'm on has been active in evolving other technology products it is using.

Looking forward to your thoughts, resources, etc.
 
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#2
You may want to consider public safety grade mobile and portable radios on 155.160 MHz.

The National Interoperability Field Operations Guide, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Emergency Communication manual lists 155.160 as the national SAR frequency.

VHF is better in most suburban and rural areas. High quality surplus VHF radio are commonly available.

I suspect that third party professional frequency coordination for a mobile license for your group would not be very expensive. Probably cheaper than all of your team members getting individual GMRS licenses. Much easier to stay legal as well.

You mentioned NOAA weather channels. Again, VHF.
 

UPMan

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#3
Removable antenna is not allowed on FRS, so quick answer to your question is "no."


You might find some GMRS only radios that do (and also require a license to legally operate).
 
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#4
As stated, no removable antennas on FRS, even under the new rules.

Your options are to:

-Stick with just GMRS, but skip the Chinese crap radios. If this is search and rescue stuff, get some decent radios. Lots of Part 95 compliant hand held UHF radios out there. With IP-6x type ratings, 4 watts, much better receivers, and a helluva lot more durable than the CCR's, you'll have a better experience.

-As GMan said, get licensed for 155.160, the national SAR frequency. Get a couple of good portable radios, not the Chinese stuff, and you'll have some chance of interoperability with other SAR groups. VHF will likely perform better than UHF will. If you need to, get an additional frequency or two, maybe even a repeated pair with a properly licensed portable repeater.

Skip the consumer grade stuff if you are serious about this. Decent radios will be a big improvement over FRS/GMRS. And don't fall for the low priced Chinese stuff. Many of them do not have the proper FCC type certifications for this sort of stuff. Better quality radios, like Kenwood LMR, Icom LMR, etc is the way to go.
 

KK4JUG

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#5
Neither FRS nor GMRS are designed for the type of service you're concerned about because there are other radios/services for that. As was stated before, get some quality radios to minimize the chances of having problems in life-threatening situations,
 
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#6
Hello All. Thank you for your posts. I need to clarify something ... the team has VHF/UHF radios through a state agency for use at callouts, but we don't use them for our frequent trainings, and that is where I'm thinking GMRS might be helpful in assuring the safety of our team members and being able to communicate with them. FRS just does not work ... this is frequent and it is frustrating.

Looking forward to your re-thinking and thoughts.
 

belvdr

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#7
I would highly suggest using the same equipment in training that you will use during a real event. We did the same in the fire service years ago. It makes things, such as operating the radio, become second nature.
 
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#8
Thank you. Understood. Train like you fight, fight like you train ... is our motto. There is a logical reason the Commander does not use the VHF/UHF radios for training that is apparently not an option, hence the search for alternatives to FRS.

Keep the comments coming. I appreciate your help.
 

kb2ztx

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#9
I have done SAR for 25 years and what most have mentioned is what you should be looking to. FRS is not made for training's or missions. Our team tried GMRS, and I actually have 3 GMRS repeaters in our response area, however they dont get used. Why you may ask ? Because members spend money on gear and fuel for training and don't want to spend the $75.00 on a license to talk on a radio. We have 3 members out of 30 that spent the money so none of the stuff gets used.

Your best bet is some good used VHF radios as others stated. You can get your license for free if you are indeed a 501C3, however will most likely need to pay for coordination fee. Last I checked it was $250.00 for a single VHF public safety channel. You can get reasonable VHF radios all over the place.

I have watched other teams just as you are looking and basically throw away hundreds of dollars on junk when doing it the right way up front normally will save you lots of money and be more valuable in the future than you realize.
 

jaspence

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#11
SAR radios

Possibly a set of MURS radios would serve you if you can't use the assigned radios for training. They are license free in the same frequency range and would give you 2 watts . GMRS might also be a choice with higher power hand helds and mobiles , but each member must have his/her own license. The only problem there woulds be the difference in using the 462-467 frequencies, which have different coverage characteristics than the VHF of MURS or SAR.
 
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#12
Thanks for the perspective and comments. I will keep them in mind. No problem with our team members purchasing or not - if it is a requirement of being on the team, they will spend the money on the license - the team would supply the radios. We're the largest, and admired as the most technically savvy of SAR teams in the state, and will be sure to make our purchases thoughtfully (don't want to tarnish that reputation!).

I'm still seeking product developers (can be the big US brand names vs. Chinese) ... so far, no removable antennas or rugged features or greater number of channels ... I'm keeping fingers crossed some company "gets it" in helping groups like ours to meet our needs.

I will double check the current VHF/UHF restriction and see if we can do something about that.

Good comments!
 
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#14
Thanks to everyone for your great comments, perspectives and experience. I really appreciate the time and thought everyone put into their comments. It's been a real stickler to try to figure out. It's the first time I've used Radioreference in this way - great resource!

Perhaps I'll see you soon on another forum?

Enjoy your day and the upcoming US 4th holiday.
 
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#15
I'm still seeking product developers (can be the big US brand names vs. Chinese) ... so far, no removable antennas or rugged features or greater number of channels ... I'm keeping fingers crossed some company "gets it" in helping groups like ours to meet our needs.
It's not a product development issue. The FCC Part 95 rules have some very specific requirements for radios to be legally sold in the USA and used on FRS and GMRS. For FRS, removable antennas are not permitted in any way, shape or form.
For GMRS, the rules are a bit more relaxed, but most manufacturers have chosen to not go into the "GMRS Only" market.
As long as you are looking at the lower tier FRS/GMRS radios, you are going to be bound by those regulations.
You either need to have each family in the group get their GMRS license and get some decent UHF radios, or just stick with the low tier stuff. As I mentioned above, there are perfectly suitable Part 95 compliant UHF commercial radios that can be legally used on GMRS with more power, removable antennas, lots of channels, and much more durable. Add a valid GMRS license and you are good to go.

I will double check the current VHF/UHF restriction and see if we can do something about that.
Find out what your group is licensed for, or who's license you are operating under. Check with the licensee and get their written OK to add some additional "training" radios to their system. Program them up with 155.160 and you'd be good to go.

I agree with the others, train with the gear you'll be using in a real situation. That builds familiarity.
 
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#17
Thank you, mmckenna and All. I've learned much from your contributions, and this learning will be helpful in talking with the team and solving the frustrating FRS issue.

Pamela
 
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#18
I'm curious as to why your commander doesn't want to use the same radios for training that you use operationally?

Do they have to be requsitioned from the state agency that supplies them to your team? Is there a bunch of red tape that has to be cut through to get them issued? If so, why are they not in the team's possession so that they can be easily issued for training purposes?

Your team may need to either get those radios into their own possession, or buy your own set of radios, the same make and model, programmed the same way, for training and activations.

You really do need to be using all of the same equipment during training as you do for activations. This includes the radios.

John
Peoria, AZ
 
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#19
Hi there, John from AZ.

I'm not sure why we don't use the VHF at trainings. They _are_ in the team's possession. Today's million dollar question and the first to be asked by our default comms guy is why. The Commander's answers are most always good ones. He's built an AMAZING team!

Really, when it comes down to it, the problem is experienced at Base Comms (me) - the team is using their FRS radios to communicate with each other away from Base just fine - and there can be relays back to Base. I'm pretty much the one at Base having the FRS issues - your suggestion and that of the others has made it pretty clear where we need to get to. The team's default comms guy knew this already (when I told him of this thread I started today) and has it in his plan to present to the decision makers.

You all will have to please pardon me - radio is brand new to me (got my Tech license in April and am working on upgrading to General). All of the answers here have helped me learn about the FCC Part 95, GMRS, FRS, and MURS (BTW, MURS can't be used because the tracking dog collars use it).

I wonder why we can build our own ham radios, but that these PRS services are so restrictive in which radios can be used. Minor tweaks in Part 95 could make some really useful radios come about (for TRAINING) that stay off the other bands used by police, emergency, and etc. services. Well, that's a newbie for you ...

I think we've exhausted this thread? Hearty thanks to all!

Pamela
 
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#20
I wonder why we can build our own ham radios, but that these PRS services are so restrictive in which radios can be used. Minor tweaks in Part 95 could make some really useful radios come about (for TRAINING) that stay off the other bands used by police, emergency, and etc. services. Well, that's a newbie for you ...
As an amateur radio operator, there's the expectation that you will either know, or learn, how radios work and how to make sure the radios you use/build will not cause interference to other users.

As personal radio services go, FRS, GMRS, MURS, CB, etc. they are aimed at "consumers" and there are not requirements for technical knowledge. For that reason, modifying FRS/GMRS/MURS/CB, etc. is restricted by the FCC.

It's the difference between the radio services.
 
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