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Newbie question about GRMS and FRS

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evendave

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#1
I am a first-time scanner owner. I recently purchased a BCD396XT with a Watson SMA-881 Super Gainer. I am using ARC-XT Pro and RR to program and so far everything is going great. I live on the 17th floor in a condo so I am getting pretty good coverage on several local South Florida agencies. Tonight, I added GMRS, FRS, and MURS frequencies and I am not getting any legible reception. I am receiving numerous strong and loud hits on GMRS and a few FRS hits but they are all just a low growling sound that lasts a few seconds.

Are these illegible hits I am getting due to inadequate antenna? I am considering switching to a WAN-97A installed inside my condo. Or, could they be encrypted traffic? I have read that GMRS and FRS are not encrypted. Any education or advice will be appreciated. If there is a term that is used to describe these illegible growling transmissions I will be happy to look it up in the FAQs or forums to see if this has been covered elsewhere but being a newbie I wasn't sure what they are called.
 

nd5y

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Wichita Falls, TX
#2
If what you are hearing is on the actual frequency you programmed and not intermod or an image, it could be digital voice modes like DMR, NXDN, P25 or some non-voice digital data mode. It could also be intermod from paging base stations or some other kind of interference.
See if it sounds like one of the samples at: Digital*Modes*Samples
 

popnokick

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#3
The WAN-97A is going to be an improvement. However before you spend $90 you may want to try this:
Homebrewed Off-Center Fed Dipole - The RadioReference Wiki
You can easily assemble the wire version (2nd one shown - scroll down) for about $10 and 20 minutes of your time. You'll need an SMA to F adapter to connect your scanner to the RG-6 TV coax. With either antenna you should hang them vertically in a window and run the coax back to your scanner. The OCFD antenna produces amazing results for a simple and inexpensive indoor antenna, with many users reporting their results here on RR.
 

wtp

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Port Charlotte FL
#4
i have to ask

did you know that gmrs frs and murs are under service search on the radio and can be set to search with scan ? as for the noise the more you listen to the more interference you could run into.
 

evendave

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#5
If what you are hearing is on the actual frequency you programmed and not intermod or an image, it could be digital voice modes like DMR, NXDN, P25 or some non-voice digital data mode. It could also be intermod from paging base stations or some other kind of interference.
See if it sounds like one of the samples at: Digital*Modes*Samples
Thanks for the link to the sound samples ND5Y. I haven't made it through the entire list yet but the sounds I am hearing sound almost exactly like those listed as MDC4800 so it must be some sort of data transmission. I occasionally hear some faint voice transmissions on these frequencies but predominantly receive just these brief growling bursts.
 

evendave

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#6
The WAN-97A is going to be an improvement. However before you spend $90 you may want to try this:
Homebrewed Off-Center Fed Dipole - The RadioReference Wiki
You can easily assemble the wire version (2nd one shown - scroll down) for about $10 and 20 minutes of your time. You'll need an SMA to F adapter to connect your scanner to the RG-6 TV coax. With either antenna you should hang them vertically in a window and run the coax back to your scanner. The OCFD antenna produces amazing results for a simple and inexpensive indoor antenna, with many users reporting their results here on RR.
Thanks for the advice and link POPNOKICK!! I will definitely give that a try. It's just the type of project I enjoy. I am going to be traveling soon for vacation, so I won't get to do this for a few weeks but I am definitely going to build one. I will post my results as soon as I get a chance to tackle it. Thanks again!
 

evendave

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#7
Thanks for asking

did you know that gmrs frs and murs are under service search on the radio and can be set to search with scan ? as for the noise the more you listen to the more interference you could run into.
Thanks for the reply WTP. I apologize but I'm not sure I completely understand what you are saying. I downloaded the GRMS, FRS, and MURS frequencies from the RR frequency database using my ARC-XT Pro software. I placed all three groups under the same Quick Key so they are either all on or all off. I have turned off all other Quick Key groups and I am scanning only the GRMS, FRS, and MURS frequencies. I get the same growling bursts about every few seconds. Occasionally I hear some faint voice transmission but it is mainly the data bursts I hear. What do you mean when you say "search with scan"?
 
Joined
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#8
Having lived on the same floor (different building! not far from Boca!) I can tell you it's an absolute overload for scanners up there. You'll have all kinds of images and noise from things on different frequencies. Assuming you are listening to the personal radio services on the actual frequencies they are on, they should come in clear as a bell if it's line of site. Unforunately scanners have poor intermod rejection.
 

chief21

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#9
Virtually all of south florida, like most densely-populated areas, is the equivalent of RF hell. If you live in a building that has a 17th floor, chances are good that there are transmitters on the roof of your own building that are adding to the RF soup that you are hearing.

I lived in Broward for many years and if I recall correctly, the GMRS channels are populated mostly by low-power FRS/GMRS bubble-pack users, not so much with licensed, high-power GMRS users. Similarly, MURS radios are limited to 2 watts (right?) and mostly hand-helds, so it's not too likely that these low power signals will be able to overcome the general RF environment of your location from any significant distance.

Believe it or not, you might actually hear MORE real signals by turning your attenuator ON.
 
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#10
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)

Also some scanners don't have very good filtering and pick up everything under the sun.....
 
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#11
Yep, I am on the 12 floor east broward county. I have a BC125at. with a 4.5db whip. I get a lot of hotels, taxi's and small business's on GMRS. I assume they are bubble pac radios and 90% goes away after 5pm or so. as far as kids playing, most of them are adults acting like kids and few and far in between., I just recently started monitoring FRS 1 thru 11 and I end up locking half of them out for misuse and noise. all and all GMRS is pretty quite except on 462.425 is some kind of digital signal 100% duty cycle. 24X7 this same sound occurs on other channels as well, although not constant. I am sure it is illegal digital implementation probably just plain Illegal use all together. Our groups has two repeaters in the county. One covers east and the other covers west Broward. other than that no other notable GMRS repeaters.
 

evendave

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#12
Thanks Logan005 - Seeing the same thing

Yep, I am on the 12 floor east broward county. I have a BC125at. with a 4.5db whip. I get a lot of hotels, taxi's and small business's on GMRS. I assume they are bubble pac radios and 90% goes away after 5pm or so. as far as kids playing, most of them are adults acting like kids and few and far in between., I just recently started monitoring FRS 1 thru 11 and I end up locking half of them out for misuse and noise. all and all GMRS is pretty quite except on 462.425 is some kind of digital signal 100% duty cycle. 24X7 this same sound occurs on other channels as well, although not constant. I am sure it is illegal digital implementation probably just plain Illegal use all together. Our groups has two repeaters in the county. One covers east and the other covers west Broward. other than that no other notable GMRS repeaters.
Thanks for the reply and the valuable info. Prior to posting this thread, I had only monitored this group (GMRS/FRS/MURS) in the evening. Subsequent to posting it, I turned the group on for about 20 minutes during the day and saw the same type of traffic you are describing. I picked up what was almost certainly the Security team from a condo or hotel on 462.7000 and some other business traffic on 462.5500. I got a weak/distant conversation on 462.5750.

The busiest channel for the data transmissions for me was 462.5625 (FRS Ch 01), with 27 unintelligible data hits during the short time I was listening.
 

evendave

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#13
Good Point

Virtually all of south florida, like most densely-populated areas, is the equivalent of RF hell. If you live in a building that has a 17th floor, chances are good that there are transmitters on the roof of your own building that are adding to the RF soup that you are hearing.

I lived in Broward for many years and if I recall correctly, the GMRS channels are populated mostly by low-power FRS/GMRS bubble-pack users, not so much with licensed, high-power GMRS users. Similarly, MURS radios are limited to 2 watts (right?) and mostly hand-helds, so it's not too likely that these low power signals will be able to overcome the general RF environment of your location from any significant distance.

Believe it or not, you might actually hear MORE real signals by turning your attenuator ON.
Thanks Chief21, I am fairly certain that our building doesn't have any antennas on the roof, but I'm looking out my window at the Boca Raton Resort (the big pink tower), which is less than a mile from me as the Osprey flies and is plastered with large antennas on top. I naively assumed that running a scanner would be all about finding and tuning IN things to listen to. I am already learning that it also involves finding and tuning OUT things that I don't want to hear.
 

evendave

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#15
Thanks for the advice WTP

Yep, I saw it. Thanks! I understand what you are saying but I was out all day today and didn't get a chance to look for the settings you mentioned. As soon as I get the opportunity, I'll give it a try and let you know if I have any questions. Thanks again for the advice. So far, I am very impressed by the helpfulness and responsiveness of the folks who participate in this forum.
 
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Peoria, AZ.
#18
Wirelessly posted (Opera/9.80 (BREW; Opera Mini/6.0.3/27.2338; U; en) Presto/2.8.119 320X240 LG VN530)

1) 462.425 is not a GMRS channel. 462.550-462.725 are.
2) Legal MURS radios are limited to 2 watts. However there are plenty of illegal 4-5 watt VHF handhelds and even higher power VHF mobiles being used around the country on the MURS channels by people who claim they are operating within the spirit of the rules, if not the letter. Then there's the ones who just don't care about the rules.
3) Your scanner has a Service Search function that has various pre-loaded frequency ranges in it. Railroads, the VHF Marine band, public safety frequency ranges, the Ham bands from 10m to 23cm, and the MURS/FRS/GMRS frequencies are some of them. You don't need to download the frequencies from the RRDB and program them into your scanner (unless you really want to). Just go into service search and toggle through the ranges until you find the correct one.
 
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fort lauderdale
#19
seems I lost track where the band ends. lol. either way I never attempted to transmit and now makes it more sense. I am still learning and getting to know my new scanner. not bad for a hundred bucks.. 73's..
 
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