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GMRS / FRS - Discussions related to GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) and FRS (Family Radio Service) communications

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Old 11-07-2017, 6:20 AM
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Default GMRS range

Regarding those "36 Mile GMRS Two Way Radios" at high power, which is 5 watts,
if transmitting on a boat in a lake (on GMRS - SAY channell 22) what would the average range be
(with everything else being equal... 3-5 miles?
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Old 11-07-2017, 7:25 AM
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A mile or so over open water, less if there is any obstacle blocking line of sight between the radios. The combo FRS/GMRS radios max at 2 watts, not 5.
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Old 11-07-2017, 10:59 AM
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I think you'll get a bit more than a mile, however that all depends on your height above the water.

You can find "distance to horizon" calculators on line.
If you are about 6 feet tall, using the radio at face level, the horizon is about 3 miles away. If you are talking to another boater in the same situation, (s)he'd have the same distance to horizon. Under ideal conditions, calm water, both standing, you'd see something closer to 5 miles.
If you were sitting in a small boat, you'd be lucky to get 2 miles.

All depends on how high you can get your antennas. It's not the RF output as much as it is the antenna height.
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Old 11-08-2017, 9:58 AM
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One suggestion, if you have a GMRS license you can purchase a handheld GMRS radio that has the option to attach another type of antenna (e.g. mobile whip) versus the permanently affixed miniscule rubber duck antennas that are on those less expensive consumer-type radios. A better antenna will get you better range generally but again you have to determine that by testing.

Only rub is that the other person should have a GMRS license too.
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Old 11-08-2017, 11:13 AM
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Yep, and getting that antenna up as high as you can really helps. This is why sailboats will put their VHF antennas at the top of the main mast.

You can get "marine grade" UHF antennas that have the standard 1" mounts used by the marine VHF antennas. A bit harder to find, but they are out there.
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Old 11-08-2017, 1:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spongella View Post
Only rub is that the other person should have a GMRS license too.
Under the new rules effective 9/28/17, GMRS can talk to FRS on the simplex frequencies subject to the applicable power restrictions.
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Old 11-08-2017, 3:33 PM
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Remember, if you and the other party are on the water, Marine Band is available to you as well. I use both GMRS and Marine on the water, and Marine seems a little better than GMRS. You'll still have to get the antenna up as high as you can.

I also live in hilly, wooded terrain, so your milage may vary.




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Old 11-08-2017, 11:56 PM
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I'll second the above post. Why are you not using marine radio? You're going to get better range than with the GMRS bubble pack radios
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Old 11-18-2017, 12:10 AM
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Default Marine Two Way - Suggestions?

What brand / Model of Marine Two Way radios would you recommend?

On the water boating in a lake, what would a typical range be versus the "so called 36 mile range"
GRMS / FRS radios (Cobra Brand for example)
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Old 11-18-2017, 12:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drkatzjr View Post
What brand / Model of Marine Two Way radios would you recommend?
Icom is pretty good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drkatzjr View Post
On the water boating in a lake, what would a typical range be versus the "so called 36 mile range"
GRMS / FRS radios (Cobra Brand for example)
Several miles. Again, depends on antenna height, line of site, etc. It will probably work better than GMRS.
If possible, get the antenna up as high as you can.
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Old 11-18-2017, 1:21 AM
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Also Marine vhf radios have more power output. They usually have low and high power setting and high power is 25 watts.
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Old 11-18-2017, 3:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drkatzjr View Post
What brand / Model of Marine Two Way radios would you recommend?

On the water boating in a lake, what would a typical range be versus the "so called 36 mile range"
GRMS / FRS radios (Cobra Brand for example)
Icom, Uniden, Standard Horizon, West Marine. They all make good stuff.

I think you are going to see okay range out of the GMRS radios on the open water, to be honest. Likely a couple miles line of sight.

It sounds like you're looking for handheld units, but if you put fixed units in your boats with fixed antennas, the range is going to improve substantially. You would have a good antenna and 25w which will be a huge improvement over GMRS/FRS radios, or even handheld marine radios.

Not sure where you're located, but out here in California, Nevada, and Arizona, the lakes have become just as bad as amusement parks as far as FRS is concerned. The frequencies have become extremely congested on any busy weekend, so you have that to worry about.

We have a few options my friends and I use on our boats (boat to boat, and boat to houseboat). We use marine, VHF/UHF itinerant frequencies we are licensed for, and DTR650/DTR550 radios. All work very well. DTRs outshine them all, but the others work very effectively as well.
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Old 11-18-2017, 1:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drkatzjr View Post
On the water boating in a lake, what would a typical range be versus the "so called 36 mile range"
GRMS / FRS radios (Cobra Brand for example)
Gotta get past this "range" thing. It's not about power output, it's about the antenna and receiver sensitivity. RF power output doesn't make as much a difference in range as people think. That's just marketing, and neophytes will fall for it ever time.

If you are going to switch from a couple of watts (being generous) GMRS radio to a couple watt VHF radio, you are not going to see a huge difference in range.

If you put up a good external antenna, up high, then you will see a range difference. Won't matter if it's UHF or VHF, it's so much about your antenna system.

If you are just going to switch from a hand held GMRS radio to a hand held VHF radio, you won't see a huge difference. Probably a slight improvement of VHF.

If you are really concerned about range, you need external antennas up high. If you are just looking to waste money, there's lots of approaches and we can assist with that. But until you get serious about the antenna system, you will be disappointed.
About the only thing you are going to be able to do with GMRS short of adding proper antennas will be to use a repeater, and your low buck radios won't support that. Chasing a few watts of additional power isn't going to resolve this. If there's one thing I could make new guys understand, it's that antennas make the difference. You'll just be chasing your tail if you think RF power alone is going to fix this.
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Old 11-18-2017, 5:01 PM
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I think that 36 mile range only applies in open space...
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Old 11-18-2017, 5:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlmummert View Post
I think that 36 mile range only applies in open space...
Or each person is on top of their own 160 ft hill, in sight of each other.
Or one person is on a 550 foot hill overlooking the other person in a valley with no obstructions between them.
Line Of Sight Calculator

Or it is just a made up figure that has no basis in reality.
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Old 11-21-2017, 7:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveSimpkin View Post
Or each person is on top of their own 160 ft hill, in sight of each other.
Perhaps...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveSimpkin View Post
Or one person is on a 550 foot hill overlooking the other person in a valley with no obstructions between them.
Line Of Sight Calculator
Also slightly possible...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveSimpkin View Post
Or it is just a made up figure that has no basis in reality.
Now I think you're on to something!
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Old 12-22-2017, 5:08 PM
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Well, Voyager 1 is about 12 million miles from Earth at the moment, and we are still picking up its signal. It is transmitting at 22 watts. So height does matter.
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Old 12-22-2017, 5:22 PM
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I have a Cobra 350 marine portable that maxes at 6 watts that I've had good luck with.
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Old 01-25-2018, 4:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PHRadio View Post
Well, Voyager 1 is about 12 million miles from Earth at the moment, and we are still picking up its signal. It is transmitting at 22 watts. So height does matter.
I think it's more like 12 Billion miles from Earth. "Line of sight" can be quite far when there is nothing in the way.

I agree we all gotta get past this "range thing".
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Old 01-25-2018, 5:04 PM
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I agree we all gotta get past this "range thing".
That's easy for some of us because we understand all the things that get in the way but the neophyte that goes to Walmart and buys a pair of radios that have a "25 mile range" has trouble with it. That guy figures everything will be fine because his mama only lives 5 miles away, the radio is good for 25 miles, so "I'm good to go." The fact of the matter is he might be lucky to get 5 blocks.
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