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FRS or MURS?

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#1
I'm new to these forums and recently new to the radio waves but I have a question.
MURS or FRS?
I own a little more than 100 acres of half-flat, half-hill property with extensive amount of trees and hills. My family and I, and sometimes friends, use this property (or as we call it, the "farm") for all sorts of activities from bush-hogging and grading to tree cutting, hiking, hunting, and four-wheeler riding. We currently used various sorts of "off the shelf" Motorola FRS radios both older and new. Over time these radios didn't hold up, due to clips breaking, extreme use, water situations, etc. Also I noticed on these consumer radios, the range was never as it said on the box, and the speakers were never loud enough.
I've done research and I've looked into two things. One is Buying a radio such as a Baofeng UV-5RA, powering down, and lining up the channels with other FRS radios, and going. The second was using the MURS channels and also buying a Baofeng ( because of the price) and etc. The reason I ask this question is due to the legality. I've heard both sides, and I think using the Baofeng radio on the MURS is legal compared to FRS but I just don't know.
What would you do?
 
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#2
Baofeng radios are not FCC Part 95 certified. They are not legal for MURS, FRS or GMRS use.
They have a relatively poor receiver and stock antenna. You would probably have better luck with Motorola or Dakota Alert MURS radios.
 

SteveC0625

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#3
I'm new to these forums and recently new to the radio waves but I have a question.
MURS or FRS?
I own a little more than 100 acres of half-flat, half-hill property with extensive amount of trees and hills. My family and I, and sometimes friends, use this property (or as we call it, the "farm") for all sorts of activities from bush-hogging and grading to tree cutting, hiking, hunting, and four-wheeler riding. We currently used various sorts of "off the shelf" Motorola FRS radios both older and new. Over time these radios didn't hold up, due to clips breaking, extreme use, water situations, etc. Also I noticed on these consumer radios, the range was never as it said on the box, and the speakers were never loud enough.
I've done research and I've looked into two things. One is Buying a radio such as a Baofeng UV-5RA, powering down, and lining up the channels with other FRS radios, and going. The second was using the MURS channels and also buying a Baofeng ( because of the price) and etc. The reason I ask this question is due to the legality. I've heard both sides, and I think using the Baofeng radio on the MURS is legal compared to FRS but I just don't know.
What would you do?
And the physical quality won't be any better than the FRS unit. It may be worse depending on what you compare it to. As was already said, the Baofeng's are not Part 95, period.

I have three Motorola FRS Talk Abouts that I have had for nearly 15 years. One took a dunking and they've all been dropped several times. They all still work fine. Never broke a clip either. I use belt holsters sometimes to protect them. I've also got a speaker mic, headset, and earwig. If you use a headset or speaker mic, the radio stays protected in a holster or inside pocket. Mine are only the low power kind. They're great for car-to-car on the road and staying in contact when camping.

I am presuming that you're using the FRS units at the legal half watt setting? You may be pushing the range limits on your property if there are obstructing hills. Get a GMRS license which covers your immediate family and use the higher power setting. That should give you decent coverage on 100 acres.

VHF MURS at two watts should cover 100 acres well.
 
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#4
If you expect commercial quality, you need a commercial radio.
The baofengs are marketed as commercial radios by some sellers and some users report that they hold up to the rigors of daily use but as has been pointed out they are not legal to use on murs or frs, even if you turn down the power.

FRS and murs requires the use of certified radios that are all, for the most part, consumer grade. Some of the MURS radios are business grade but aren't especially rugged. GMRS opens up a lot more possibilities radio wise but does require a rather expensive license.
 
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#5
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

I am not going to tell you what radio use,but for range I would go with MUR.
 
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#6
So if I were to buy a VHF radio online (or a dual band: 136-174/400-480 MHz) could I legally operate on only the MURS bands? or would I have to buy a strictly MURS radio?
The reason I ask is because I'd like to buy a fixed-install mobile set for certain vehicles we use, like a truck and a Side-by-Side, and it seems that FRS and MURS really don't have any fixed mobile platforms.
 
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#7
You can legally only use a Part 95 certified radio on MURS frequencies and any radio certified for MURS use will not be capable of operation on any other frequencies outside of the 5 MURS frequencies.
The exception is a few radios that were manufactured prior to 2002 that were certified for Part 95 and 90.

Besides MURS, FRS, CB and certain other very low power short range equipmment, there are no radios or frequencies that you can legally use in the USA without having an FCC station or operator license.
 
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#9
Rapidcharger,
The number of radios depends on the price honestly. After seeing the ratings and price of the Baofengs, it's hard to say. Price point: around 100 dollars maybe more. Planning out in my head, my ideal setup would be 4 handhelds, 1 mobile for truck, 1 mobile for UTV, and 1 mobile to convert into a pseudo base station.
Please tell me if these are unreasonable requests, and what you would do! Thanks!
 
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#10
The number of radios depends on the price honestly. After seeing the ratings and price of the Baofengs, it's hard to say. Price point: around 100 dollars maybe more. Planning out in my head, my ideal setup would be 4 handhelds, 1 mobile for truck, 1 mobile for UTV, and 1 mobile to convert into a pseudo base station.
Please tell me if these are unreasonable requests, and what you would do! Thanks!
Now I am not looking for a lecture or argument from anyone about the law - morals - scruples etc.

You are out in the woods - I doubt that you will be interfering with anyone else's communications. First, remember - you get what you pay for and only YOU can decide what works for you and lets you sleep at night.

All that having been said - I know people in the same situation as you - they own 100 - 250 acres and just wanted somewhat reliable communications around their own property, cells phones do not work in his area. They use both Baofeng and Wouxun radio's on their property recently he tested the new Baofeng GT-3 vs a Wouxun 6D. They are similar radios different price points. He tested both hand held units - side by side - same antenna - same conditions - fully charged batteries in each unit to a hand held Wouxun 6D 1.5 miles away. The Wouxun was clear an readable - the 2 Wouxun's could communicate effectively between each unit. The Baofeng could not reach the Wouxun 1.5 miles away.

Keep in mind the Baofeng radio was around $55.00 and the Wouxun was around $140.00.

He still likes the Baofeng radio and expects that it will work fine around his property because he is installing a repeater which both of these radio's will work with.

While neither of these radios are legal - not FCC type accepted for use on FRS or MURS or GMRS - primarily because they can be field programed from the keypad on the radio. They both work on FRS - GMRS - MURS - and ham radio frequencies and unfortunately on frequencies used by the government for Police - Fire - EMS - public works and business bands.

He uses them anyway - has taken the position that he is out in the middle of the woods - has obtained a GMRS license and had had someone program the radio's and then lock the keypad so they cannot be accidentally reprogrammed to use other frequencies than MURS and GMRS.

Is his operation legal - I would say NO - is it functional - yes. Other than the radio's not being authorized because of the ability to be field programmable he pretty much comply with the rules.

He has done exactly want you say you want to do - he as a Wouxun mobile as a desktop base unit - for now until he installs a repeater on the property - he has the Wouxun 920P in his truck - jeep and in each of two John Deere Gator UTV's he uses on the property. Once he has the repeater set up he will not need a base unit as each walkie talkie will be able to reach the repeater and then be rebroadcast at the repeater strength which could be up to 50 watts.

Again - everything can work effectively and not interfere with anyone - however none of his system is legal because he is using radios that are not legal for MURS and GMRS use.

So Bottom line - technically it works but it's illegal. He can sleep at night - you have to do what works for you.
 
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#11
You are out in the woods - I doubt that you will be interfering with anyone else's communications.
But there's no way to be certain of that. Like you said, you "doubt". Radio signals don't end where someone's baofeng portable stops receiving them. They end wherever the path is either blocked by terrain or the curvature of the earth and even then it depends on the receiving station. The rules may seem unreasonable but there's a reason we have usable radio services here unlike the Congo.
 
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#12
Please tell me if these are unreasonable requests, and what you would do! Thanks!
With your expectations of loud audio and durability, The only way I can think of to do that with your budget is buy old, used equipment or to buy about half as many radios.

If you can increase your budget some or adjust the quantity of radios, you might be interested in this for MURS...
Amazon.com: Motorola RDM2020 Portable VHF MURS Two-Way Radio: Car Electronics

They are more durable than the FRS consumer radios and they have much louder audio. That amazon listing says its 2000mW audio output... That is NOT accurate. The RF output is 2000mW but audio output is probably 500mW. I would look for something with at least 500mW, maybe even a little louder.

As far as the mobiles go, back in the early 90's there used to be some readily available mobiles that would be grandfathered in today for use on MURS. I actually have one and it is crystalled for one of murs frequencies already. But radios like that are pretty old and I'm guessing increasingly harder to find in good shape that can be programmed with actual software and have modern features and not have to be crystalled. They weren't the best radios 25 years ago and they're not going to be even as good as that now. One exception that everyone like to bring up is the MaxTrac 2w forklift radios. I just did a cursory scan of Ebay for one of those and did not find any. They have always been pretty rare and finding them in VHF is going to be even harder.

Since MURS limits you to power output anyway but does allow the use of external antennas, I would, if sticking strictly with MURS, convert one of those RDM portables to a mobile using an external antenna and speaker mic and possible convert it to run on the vehicle's electricity and I would do the same for your base station needs. That gives you the flexibility to convert back to portables if needed and if you ever want to resell... unlike the FRS radios, the RDM series should actually have some resale value to them provided they aren't soaked in mud and still work, you'll have an easier time reselling a modern MURS portable.

So that would be my suggestion. You get what you pay for. It's not going to be as good as a $400 radio but it will give you drastically improved durability and louder audio, and should the time come where you want to take it to the next level and get your GMRS license or Ham license, you can sell the RDMs and get some of your money back. 2 watts will probably be fine. I operate on 1-2 watts almost daily (depending on the radio) to talk over a hilly wooded area of about 3/10 of a mile as the crow flies. Granted, one end of that does have a base station antenna. The software to set those radios up is available for free download from Motorola Solutions' website. And they come with a 1 year warranty.

Why not get a couple and try them out? If they don't work for you, send them back and go back to the drawing board.

I have a friend is is a big fan of the Baofengs. He's always telling me I should get one. He says they're durable but he's not using his in the field or on ATVs or even in an industrial environment. He's using his in his living room.
 
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SteveC0625

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#13
But there's no way to be certain of that. Like you said, you "doubt". Radio signals don't end where someone's baofeng portable stops receiving them. They end wherever the path is either blocked by terrain or the curvature of the earth and even then it depends on the receiving station. The rules may seem unreasonable but there's a reason we have usable radio services here unlike the Congo.
+1

There's a thread on another forum about an XTS3000 portable installed in a helocopter and doing some funky things. Everyone was centering in on possible shady programming until someone pointed out that elevation matters dramatically. Signals that we would normally expect to only travel a couple of miles on the ground can actually travel 10 to 20 times further if a couple of thousand feet (or more) of elevation is added to the mix.

So much as we might like to think that a non-type accepted radio won't cause problems out in the middle of the hundred acre wood (apologies to A.A. Milne!), the potential for major issues is still there.
 
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#14
Could my problem with trying to stick to the FRS, MURS bands be solved by getting my ham license and choosing whatever frequency has no traffic? Or should I go the GMRS route, which still leaves me at a crossroads with the radio/mobile situation?
 
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#15
WOW - answers are all over the place - but the issue is simple - they can and will work for what he wants/needs to do.

The radio's are type accepted for other bands - so it's not like they are inherently defective equipment - they do not meet all of the administrative requirements - mostly being field programmable - that prevents them from being type accepted.

I said I doubt that he will be causing any interference with anyone else and I still do - but feel free to make up whatever kind of scenario floats your boat. Helicopters, boats, space ships, aliens, etc. I think a majority of people understand antenna height generally increases effective distance - even more so than an increase in transmitter power.

Everyone does not have $400.00 to pay per radio - but people still have a need for effective communications. For $400.00 he could have 8 Baofeng radios and address all of his communication needs around his property.

I have read some people's comments here and looked their comments elsewhere - for whatever reason - some people just want to be argumentative - knock ya self out !

Once again - not legal but will work.

(everything that works is not legal and everything that is legal does not necessarily work)

As far as the potential for "major issues" I am curious what major issues you expect simply because the radio is not type accepted for the particular license the user is going to buy. He could get a Ham license and use the exact same radio on a frequency very close to MURS or GMRS and be totally legit - but you expect "major issues" if he uses it on a frequency a few Mhz away.
 
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#16
MURS or get DTR radios.

Legal issues aside, MURS would be best per your question. The other posters are correct on legal and range issues.

Another option that would be legal would be the Motorola DTR radios. These are 900MHz spread spectrum and frequency hopping. These would be legal, no license required and have the range.

I have used DTR410 radios for several years now, riding ATV's and hiking the countryside. Mostly in about 120-140 acres area. They also work in about a 1 mile radius in a suburban setting.
 
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#18
Once again - not legal but will work.)))
I don't advocate that people do things that are illegal. Sorry.
It's easy enough to do this legally.
The OP has a couple hundred acres of land. I'm guessing they've got a ways to fall if they get in trouble. Is it really worth it to save a few hundred bucks?

I don't have first hand experience with Baofengs. I have heard good things about them and I have also read of their shortcomings and more importantly I see who is selling them and what kind of support or lack thereof one can expect if one has an issue with their radio while it is under warranty if there even is a warranty. I know about Motorola Solutions warranty service. I do not know about Baofeng. What? Do you have to ship it back to china? And what if the radio only lasts a year. Or two. Or four. The RDM radios can be expected to last longer than that and will actually have value if they want to sell them. You can't say that about used Baofengs.

Remember, the OP is tired of throwing money down the toilet on crap that doesn't stand the test of time. I read that to mean they are open to spending a little more to get something that will last. I can relate to that. I prefer buying things that will perform better and last a lot longer even if it costs more initially. That's why I buy $150 pillows and $250 pairs of shoes and $20 LED light bulbs. And that's also why I spend a little more on my radios and on my batteries which I insist are OEM. I not only want it to work, I want it to work well and work for a long time.

People scoff at that, meanwhile how many made in china pairs of shoes do you have to replace constantly? Made in china radios and batteries? Pillows that go flat and you wake up with a sore neck? Lightbulbs that cost $5 a month in electricity? And so on and so forth? If you like to buy cheap chinese crap and aren't tired yet of throwing it away and replacing it all the time, then buying the lowest cost radio is the way to go. But in the OP, he clearly states he wants something better.

(((As far as the potential for "major issues" I am curious what major issues you expect simply because the radio is not type accepted for the particular license the user is going to buy. He could get a Ham license and use the exact same radio on a frequency very close to MURS or GMRS and be totally legit - but you expect "major issues" if he uses it on a frequency a few Mhz away.
If you start a new topic I will be happy to discuss this. It is sort of off topic and I'm running out of get out of jail cards on the forum.
 

robertmac

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#20
Since this is MURS thread, could post your question about CB in the CB forum. I did not search in that thread but I know the question of CB hand held has been discussed countless times. Too put it simply and not to high jack this thread, CB would be crappy.
 
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