GMRS band congestion; MURS

Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
20
Location
Northfield, MN
#1
I'm thinking of getting some higher quality handheld GMRS radios for family comms. We would use PL tones. I'm wondering what level of congestion we should expect and any sort of situations where we should not expect GMRS to be usable due to traffic.

Moving up from bubble pack radios that have that awful "roger beep," no accessories, short battery life, insufficient volume, etc. Don't want to fork over the coin without being prepared for the limitations.

Also curious whether the traffic congestion is any better or worse with MURS. Either would work for us.

We have several use cases but one of the more compelling ones is communication between our boat and family members on shore. Technically marine VHF would work but we would have trouble staying in compliance with the regulations for "associated ship units," particularly that "associated ship units may be used from shore only adjacent to the waterway (such as on a dock or beach) where the ship is located."
 

iMONITOR

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Sep 20, 2006
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5,829
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MACOMB, MI.
#2
I'm thinking of getting some higher quality handheld GMRS radios for family comms. We would use PL tones. I'm wondering what level of congestion we should expect and any sort of situations where we should not expect GMRS to be usable due to traffic.

Moving up from bubble pack radios that have that awful "roger beep," no accessories, short battery life, insufficient volume, etc. Don't want to fork over the coin without being prepared for the limitations.

Also curious whether the traffic congestion is any better or worse with MURS. Either would work for us.

Have you actually tested FRS/GMRS radios in the area you intend to use them. The bands are pretty quiet in many areas I've check where I live and travel.


You can turn off the 'roger beep', and numerous accessories are available for most. I find battery life to be exceptional most of the time. Don't run higher wattage than you really need. In many cases FRS is good enough, especially over open water.
 

ko6jw_2

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May 18, 2008
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661
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Santa Ynez, CA
#3
I am currently experimenting with a pair of BTech GMRS-V1 radios. They have 5 watt output, can connect to external antennas and are FCC type accepted for GMRS. They have wideband receive, but will only transmit on GMRS channels. All channels are preprogrammed along with repeater pairs. You can change PL tones only - no frequency changes. Seem to be a little better made than Baofengs and are legal.

My interest is for CERT/ARES groups to facilitate communications with non-ham members.

You will need a license - $70 for ten years (was five). You apply on line and get the license in 24 hours.

There are open repeaters in some ares of the country. One license covers family groups. No business use allowed.

I live in a rural area and don't hear much. One private repeater nearby. Easily got permission from the owner to use it. Check out myGMRS.com
 

alcahuete

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Jul 24, 2015
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Antelope Acres, California
#4
I have no idea what higher quality GMRS handhelds cost these days, but you might want to try DTR radios. You won't find anybody there and they are crystal clear digital. They are 900 MHz. I use them for boat to shore all the time, without any problem.

As far as congestion on GMRS, unless you are at a big event or on a cruise ship or such, there should be plenty of free real estate as far as channels are concerned. GMRS is definitely busier than MURS.
 
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
8
Location
Punta Gorda Florida
#6
This just another random observation, but around here there is very little activity on GMRS. I hear FRS fairly often, but not so that you could consider it 'congested'. I also hear little activity on the narrow band MURS channels, but local stores are using the wideband ones.
 
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
88
Location
Strasburg, Va
#7
Gmrs frs murs

I'm thinking of getting some higher quality handheld GMRS radios for family comms. We would use PL tones. I'm wondering what level of congestion we should expect and any sort of situations where we should not expect GMRS to be usable due to traffic.

Moving up from bubble pack radios that have that awful "roger beep," no accessories, short battery life, insufficient volume, etc. Don't want to fork over the coin without being prepared for the limitations.

Also curious whether the traffic congestion is any better or worse with MURS. Either would work for us.

We have several use cases but one of the more compelling ones is communication between our boat and family members on shore. Technically marine VHF would work but we would have trouble staying in compliance with the regulations for "associated ship units," particularly that "associated ship units may be used from shore only adjacent to the waterway (such as on a dock or beach) where the ship is located."
Over water I would think FRS or GMRS would either work fine if u are talking to people on land at the shore. However if they are removed from the short a mile or in town with trees with leaves 450 on FRS and GMRS lose signal where there is foliage.An example is my Motorola 2050 MURS can communicate with the duck antenna 10 blocks from town to my home a mile away that is 100 feet higher then the town to another MUIRS portable in my house in the opposite side of my house from our town and the FRS cannot when leaves are on the trees. My neighbor hunting with FRS/GMRS found the same to be true hunting the 450MHz was fine person to person hunting but not to get back to his cabin however he didn't try my MURS radios I have heard Walmart on mine as well as Lowes but not from my home just when i was close to their stores FRS and GMRS and Murs all seem mostly inactive in my area of Strasburg,VA 22657
 

bpittman

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Jun 24, 2005
Messages
172
Location
Berkeley Springs, WV
#8
Have you actually tested FRS/GMRS radios in the area you intend to use them. The bands are pretty quiet in many areas I've check where I live and travel.


You can turn off the 'roger beep', and numerous accessories are available for most. I find battery life to be exceptional most of the time. Don't run higher wattage than you really need. In many cases FRS is good enough, especially over open water.
If you have a analog scanner, load in the freqs and check it out.

Bill
KC4YIH
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
20
Location
Northfield, MN
#9
Thank you for all the replies.

Have you actually tested FRS/GMRS radios in the area you intend to use them. The bands are pretty quiet in many areas I've check where I live and travel.
With the cheap, handheld FRS radios I have now, the band seems quiet.

You can turn off the 'roger beep', and numerous accessories are available for most. I find battery life to be exceptional most of the time. Don't run higher wattage than you really need. In many cases FRS is good enough, especially over open water.
The ones I have are cheap Cobra ones. They are, well, awful. You can't turn off the "roger beep," at least I haven't been able to figure out a way to do it and there's nothing in the instructions. I've tried, and looked.

I just did a search and see that there is a fairly broad range of headsets and microphones, thanks. That would help.

We've tried a number of use cases and run into various drawbacks. I tried to use them for coordination with my spotlight operators at a community theater production (I'm a lighting designer), and the roger beep was the main problem, disruptively loud even during rehearsal. Another time we tried to use them while traveling. My wife was at the beach and I was trying to find her while driving along a road a couple blocks away from the beach. She never heard me, and I'm unsure whether to hang that problem on range or on the speaker not being loud enough.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
20
Location
Northfield, MN
#10
Over water I would think FRS or GMRS would either work fine if u are talking to people on land at the shore. However if they are removed from the short a mile or in town with trees with leaves 450 on FRS and GMRS lose signal where there is foliage.An example is my Motorola 2050 MURS can communicate with the duck antenna 10 blocks from town to my home a mile away that is 100 feet higher then the town to another MUIRS portable in my house in the opposite side of my house from our town and the FRS cannot when leaves are on the trees. My neighbor hunting with FRS/GMRS found the same to be true hunting the 450MHz was fine person to person hunting but not to get back to his cabin however he didn't try my MURS radios I have heard Walmart on mine as well as Lowes but not from my home just when i was close to their stores FRS and GMRS and Murs all seem mostly inactive in my area of Strasburg,VA 22657
Thank you for your post. That is exactly the kind of information I'm looking for.
 
Joined
Dec 25, 2013
Messages
44
Location
Columbus, Indiana
#11
You know, for ship-shore transmissions like this, I think MURS is your better choice. 2W is 4 times more than your little FRS Cobras, and MURS being VHF means it has a further radio horizon that the UHF GMRS/FRS radios.

It is also closer to the Marine VHF, so propagation should be similar.

License free helps, too. Doesn't matter if business or personal use, so easy not to get messed up with that.

BTECH also makes the MURS-V1, which can transmit/receive on the MURS channels and will receive FM Radio as well.
 
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
173
Location
Ocala, Florida
#12
Homosassa, Gulf Coast Florida - MURS and GMRS dead - hear an occasional convoy of motor homes/ travel trailers passing thru for a couple of minutes. Some of the road construction crews use FRS for their flaggers and Wal Mart, which is not close uses MURS in their store about 15 miles away so I never hear them
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
20
Location
Northfield, MN
#15
It's pretty clear that the intent for GMRS is to allow individuals, families, and small ad hoc groups that don't qualify for a license from the commercial pool to have an alternative. The requirement for everyone to be licensed may not accomplish much, but it does preclude having the band co-opted by large users (who have better alternatives) as Walmart has done with MURS.
 
Joined
Dec 30, 2014
Messages
849
#17
It's pretty clear that the intent for GMRS is to allow individuals, families, and small ad hoc groups that don't qualify for a license from the commercial pool to have an alternative. The requirement for everyone to be licensed may not accomplish much, but it does preclude having the band co-opted by large users (who have better alternatives) as Walmart has done with MURS.
I was replying to ko6jw_2 post of "No business use allowed" for posterity as I find it to be a common misconception about FRS and GMRS.

But, yeah, your post is on spot.

ETA: I don't remember if it is covered in the thread but the rule changes allow license by rule operation on expanded FRS channels up to 2 watts or .5 watts depending on channel. That opens FRS up for a lot more use. I think the lack of appropriately certified, new production, quality handhelds is hurting FRS, GMRS, and MURS.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
20
Location
Northfield, MN
#18
I think the lack of appropriately certified, new production, quality handhelds is hurting FRS, GMRS, and MURS.
For MURS, there's the Motorola RMM2050, $189 street. It's a type approved, preprogrammed version of the very similar Motorola vhf commercial radio (unsure of model number).

Otherwise I agree. Midland makes some handhelds that are probably OK for FRS/GMRS. I'm ordering some to see how they work out. The reviews state that they have noisy receivers and don't hold up very well over time. $33 radio. The only better choices are commercial radios that are costly and not type approved.
 
Joined
Dec 30, 2014
Messages
849
#19
Yeah, there's a current Motorola model and that junky (IMHO) Dakota Alert model as well as a few CCR models. That's hardly enough good options. I would consider Motorola the only real quality option. So, that makes one.

After having some Midland gear in our AO, I'm moving away from liking them; especially the Micromobiles. Is Midland making any FRS only that are the full 2 watts?
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
20
Location
Northfield, MN
#20
The micromobiles are also sold under the Luiton brand, only in a field programmable rather than GMRS form, for much less money. I went through the Midland web site a couple of weeks ago and no, they don't seem to have updated their FRS offerings for 2 watts.

I don't think we'll see much product line updating until the existing stock of combined FRS/GMRS combination radios is depleted.
 
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