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

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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 12-27-2017, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by TheSpaceMann View Post
is it mostly just kids and family communications?
Around here, not much GMRS activity. Plenty of kids using FRS though. Like the 100mw CH 14 walkie talkies from decades ago.
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Old 12-27-2017, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by spongella View Post
I wonder if we'll hear more when the higher-powered units hit the shelves.
It's not likely that the recent rule change will result in lots of new products. People are already using 2 watt bubble pack radios (licensed or not) and have been since they became available many years ago. The new rule also has no effect on the sale of currently certified 14 (or fewer) channel 1/2 watt radios.
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Old 12-27-2017, 8:28 PM
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Originally Posted by CQ View Post
I've never heard any MURS and just checked my logs to confirm that....l
It's great unless you are near sams/walmart. Did not hear anything on frs/gmrs Christmas day like other years. People are more interested in cell phones now instead of radios. A bar not far from my house uses frs/gmrs for security and our local "balloon fest" is about the only use I hear. Maybe the occasional parent/kid playing around for 5 minutes until they get board
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Old 12-27-2017, 9:42 PM
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FRS around my area consists of a local school down the street and some kids during odd times. Other than that not much. Ham band activity on the other hand is decent, several repeaters in the area to talk on and listen. But as for FRS/GMRS, not much.
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Old 12-28-2017, 9:10 AM
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I hear a fair amount of GMRS repeater activity whenever I punch up those channels. This sometimes includes significant Spanish language traffic. FRS traffic is usually pretty light and sparse and sounds like a mix of kids messing around and folks actually communicatin' on the radio.

The GMRS repeater channels are frequently more active than many of the 2 meter ham channels.
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Old 12-28-2017, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by SteveSimpkin View Post
Probably not. The highest power models of FRS/GMRS that were being sold put out about 1.5 Watts which is very close to the 2 Watt limit for FRS radios under the new rules. I doubt many manufacturers are going to redesign their radios to get closer to that 2 Watt limit. Even if they did, it would not add that much to the distance they reach.
Another bit, given that FRS uses UHF freqs even with a two watt radio they still likely won`t get out too far, the antennas on those units aren`t that great for TX or RX, so it`s kinda likely you`ll still only hear people about a few blocks away in a city, range will be better in open terrain or with a better antenna on your scanner or whatever radio you`re using to monitor, i`ve found that my ID-51A plus does WAY better with the stock antenna then my scanner with a gainy antenna for monitoring FRS/MURS. N9NRA
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Old 12-28-2017, 5:21 PM
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I got a GMRS license just to explore another band. I'm also a license ham have been for 50 years. Always like to play with new bands. I'm in a rural area and hear very little on GMRS.

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Old 12-29-2017, 3:49 PM
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Central Gulf Coast of Florida - quiet as can be - we are the only people I ever hear on FRS GMRS around here. Wal Mart in Dunnellon uses MURS #4.
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Old 12-29-2017, 9:48 PM
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I occasionally hear activity on GMRS repeaters in Orange County NY, and I rarely listen to CB as how people talk on CB is incomprehensible to me (though the occasional nighttime oddball foul mouthed rant with music clips are fun to listen to), but for the most part in my area, 2m/440 ham radio seems to be the most active of the three I just gave.
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:17 PM
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You mention the language on CB, here on the central Florida, Gulf coast I listen to the marine channels sometimes. Let me say that when I listen to the commercial fishing boats chat with each other on the radio, if not every other, every third word is a profanity - amazing language.
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:38 PM
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GMRS/FRS is pretty dead out here in the desert of Los Angeles Co. You do hear the kids on FMS from time to time, the occassional store using them, and the occassional freeway user/repeater users. I've actually heard more people on MURS, very likely running illegal amounts of power, based on how far they are talking.

Down in LA, amusement parks, etc., you still get some pretty decent action, but even that is nothing like it used to be, with cell phones and such.
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Old 01-06-2018, 3:22 PM
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Originally Posted by alcahuete View Post
GMRS/FRS is pretty dead out here in the desert of Los Angeles Co. You do hear the kids on FMS from time to time, the occassional store using them, and the occassional freeway user/repeater users. I've actually heard more people on MURS, very likely running illegal amounts of power, based on how far they are talking.

Down in LA, amusement parks, etc., you still get some pretty decent action, but even that is nothing like it used to be, with cell phones and such.
Actually when I was down at the hospital last July picking up a neighbor I heard some conversation traffic on GMRS 5 or 6? Sounds like a private chat line between some local Hams based out of Palmdale/Lancaster Their power levels were sufficient for me to hear them up by the Cal City exit. I can even hear them intermittently when I am at the top of Red Rock, of course that's due to elevation and no obstacles. I hear them a lot (albeit a poor/broken signal) whenever I am at the claim area by Garlock.

That's most of the traffic you hear on GMRS/FRS out in the desert area nowadays. Hams/Cert using those freqs with their Yaesu's and Ham gear (non part 95 type accepted) even if they aren't GMRS licensed. Surprised you don't have a simplex repeater down there yet. I have run into a few simplex repeaters on FRS being run by some local Hams in these remote desert communities. Funny how until the rule change they mostly stuck to FRS freqs running well over 2 watt signals, (using non approved gear) because they didn't have a GMRS license <sarcasm>, not fully understanding that FRS freqs share the edges of the GMRS <Wideband> freqs.

There's still a lot of kid activity, especially over the holiday season. I pick up the random highway traffic headed up to Bishop/Mammoth a lot as well.

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Old 01-07-2018, 6:34 AM
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Ha ha ha! Yeah, I do get some of that activity as well from time to time. I haven't put up a base antenna yet, so I'm just limited to my handhelds, but the range is still very good out here in the desert, as you know. There actually used to be a [real] repeater somewhere out here that I was able to pick up just using a handheld. No idea where it was, but it was quite active. Haven't heard it in at least 6 months. The other apparently all-Spanish repeater has since gone off the air too. Never heard either identify themselves, so who knows if they were legal or not. Maybe half the operators IDed themselves, but without a repeater call, I couldn't really track down where it was.

Stepped outside and did some monitoring a couple days ago in the nice weather, and did hear the kid traffic. With them still being out of school, Channel 1 was getting some pretty heavy kid usage, followed by a man belching repeatedly on the air. What amazed me the most was the sheer number of noise toys and roger beeps and god knows what other noisemakers, often times stepping all over each other. In between all that was an Asian-sounding man attempting to ask for directions over all the noise. It was quite the show! It was literally just a Channel 1 free-for-all. It was fantastic! ha ha! And they say CB is bad..... CB certainly had its share of this, but I would swear under oath that I have never heard anything like this on CB. I'd estimate [based on the number of unique roger beeps] there must have been 10-12 radios on at once all stepping on each other, with the legitimate traffic just being crushed by the noise.

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Old 01-12-2018, 5:01 PM
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Not much activity here in the Nashua NH area. I live near the top of a hill and have good exposure to the north and west. I can see the towers on Mt. Uncanoonuc in Goffstown NH about 25 miles away. If the ridge behind my house weren't in the way, I would be able to see into parts of Manchester NH.

There are a couple of GMRS repeaters in the area and they occasionally get some activity.

I occasionally hear some kids using bubble packs on the FRS channels. One of the hospitals in town has some bubble packs used by hospital staff cleaning rooms. I can hear them on a bubble pack at home.

For many years, GMRS/FRS has been my go-to mode for non-ham radio communications with family and friends. I have used MURS once in a very long while. I used GMRS for local on-site simplex operations and using good Part 90/95 commercial gear. GMRS/FRS and MURS are now my backup non-ham modes because I migrated all of my local on-site simplex ops to 900MHz using Motorola DTR series radios. With the DTRs, operation is 100% digital (VSELP) and using FHSS. I set up a private talkgroup in them so that no other DTR radio or a new DLR series radio will be able to hear them or talk to them. While not encrypted, they can be made VERY secure. No consumer grade receiver (scanner) can hear them. I also have several public talkgroups programmed to be able to listen to and talk to other DTRs and DLRs operating at their factory default settings.

I recently was vacationing in Cocoa Beach FL used the DTRs with my wife and a friend. They worked so well compared to 4W UHF analog Part 90/95 handhelds that we used the DTRs exclusively. We didn't bother with GMRS at all because the DTRs worked so well.


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Old 01-12-2018, 5:45 PM
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Originally Posted by n1das View Post
Not much activity here in the Nashua NH area. I live near the top of a hill and have good exposure to the north and west. I can see the towers on Mt. Uncanoonuc in Goffstown NH about 25 miles away. If the ridge behind my house weren't in the way, I would be able to see into parts of Manchester NH.

There are a couple of GMRS repeaters in the area and they occasionally get some activity.

I occasionally hear some kids using bubble packs on the FRS channels. One of the hospitals in town has some bubble packs used by hospital staff cleaning rooms. I can hear them on a bubble pack at home.

For many years, GMRS/FRS has been my go-to mode for non-ham radio communications with family and friends. I have used MURS once in a very long while. I used GMRS for local on-site simplex operations and using good Part 90/95 commercial gear. GMRS/FRS and MURS are now my backup non-ham modes because I migrated all of my local on-site simplex ops to 900MHz using Motorola DTR series radios. With the DTRs, operation is 100% digital (VSELP) and using FHSS. I set up a private talkgroup in them so that no other DTR radio or a new DLR series radio will be able to hear them or talk to them. While not encrypted, they can be made VERY secure. No consumer grade receiver (scanner) can hear them. I also have several public talkgroups programmed to be able to listen to and talk to other DTRs and DLRs operating at their factory default settings.

I recently was vacationing in Cocoa Beach FL used the DTRs with my wife and a friend. They worked so well compared to 4W UHF analog Part 90/95 handhelds that we used the DTRs exclusively. We didn't bother with GMRS at all because the DTRs worked so well.


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If you try DMR, NXDN, P25, dPMR, or any other digital mode instead on UHF or VHF you would have much better range than those 900 MHz radios. Frequencyís higher than 600 MHz are not good for handheld and mobile use. Instead they work very well with tower linking and point to point communications as they offer more bandwidth.

I live not far from Cocoa Beach just 5 or so miles south of there in Indialantic. UHF would be my preferred frequency around here because chances are you are going to be inside a building at some point with this area being mostly suburban. UHF frequencies do better than VHF when it comes to buildings and man made objects. However, if you are on the beach or using just mobiles then I would say try VHF frequencies because they will naturally travel further than higher frequencies and they do well in areas with less man made objects, hence the beach is mostly all open.

All that being said I use UHF DMR and sometimes P25. Itís the best choice in this area from what I have discovered. From what youíve said I believe you had a better experience with the 900 MHz DTR radios because they are digital and UHF/ VHF you used were analog. Digital will allow you to here clear audio until the signal ends with none of the static like you get from analog. Try the UHF on any of the digital modes and see how it does.


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Old 01-12-2018, 6:15 PM
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Originally Posted by dawsonpadams View Post
If you try DMR, NXDN, P25, dPMR, or any other digital mode instead on UHF or VHF you would have much better range than those 900 MHz radios. Frequency’s higher than 600 MHz are not good for handheld and mobile use. Instead they work very well with tower linking and point to point communications as they offer more bandwidth.
I have DMR, dPMR, and P25 on VHF and UHF. I recently sold my UHF NXDN portables but keeping the other modes. I didn't get the DTRs to set any range records. I got them to replace my use of GMRS/FRS for local on-site simplex type use and they work VERY well for that.

I have to disagree about frequencies above 600MHz not being good for portable and mobile use, based on experience with the DTRs inside and outside of buildings and the fact that cell phones operate very well up there. The public safety stuff in your area (Brevard County) is all on 800MHz and analog (EDACS trunking). This could be a topic for another thread.

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I live not far from Cocoa Beach just 5 or so miles south of there in Indialantic. UHF would be my preferred frequency around here because chances are you are going to be inside a building at some point with this area being mostly suburban. UHF frequencies do better than VHF when it comes to buildings and man made objects. However, if you are on the beach or using just mobiles then I would say try VHF frequencies because they will naturally travel further than higher frequencies and they do well in areas with less man made objects, hence the beach is mostly all open.
Where the 900MHz radios really excel in performance compared to VHF and UHF whether digital or analog is inside buildings. Buildlings are more open at 900MHz compared to 460MHz. The DTRs and DLRs are marketed for on-site business type use and are designed to be usable in and around where businesses are located, mostly inside buildings. Based on reports from people using DTRs and GMRS w/4W Part 90/95 commercial handhelds on cruise ships, the DTRs provided full ship coverage while UHF Part 90/95 handhelds on GMRS provided maybe 2 decks worth of coverage. Again, this could be a topic for another thread.

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All that being said I use UHF DMR and sometimes P25. It’s the best choice in this area from what I have discovered. From what you’ve said I believe you had a better experience with the 900 MHz DTR radios because they are digital and UHF/ VHF you used were analog. Digital will allow you to here clear audio until the signal ends with none of the static like you get from analog. Try the UHF on any of the digital modes and see how it does.
I have done some of that type of testing on UHF with 4W UHF DMR handhelds in digital and analog modes. The DTR's performance was on par with the UHF DMR handhelds on simplex. For simplex type use, the DTRs do as well as the licensed (Part 90) stuff does on UHF simplex. Again, a topic for another thread.

UHF has been my band of choice for a long time. It is still my favorite along with 900MHz.

I did keep an ear on GMRS while in the Cocoa Beach area. One family using bubble packs around the hotel I was staying at was all I heard.
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Old 01-12-2018, 6:23 PM
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Originally Posted by n1das View Post
I have DMR, dPMR, and P25 on VHF and UHF. I recently sold my UHF NXDN portables but keeping the other modes. I didn't get the DTRs to set any range records. I got them to replace my use of GMRS/FRS for local on-site simplex type use and they work VERY well for that.



I have to disagree about frequencies above 600MHz not being good for portable and mobile use, based on experience with the DTRs inside and outside of buildings and the fact that cell phones operate very well up there. The public safety stuff in your area (Brevard County) is all on 800MHz and analog (EDACS trunking). This could be a topic for another thread.







Where the 900MHz radios really excel in performance compared to VHF and UHF whether digital or analog is inside buildings. Buildlings are much more open at 900MHz compared to 460MHz. The DTRs and DLRs are marketed for on-site business type use and they have to be usable in and around where businesses are located, mostly inside buildings.







I have done some of that type of testing on UHF with 4W UHF DMR handhelds in digital and analog modes. The DTR's performance was on par with the UHF DMR handhelds on simplex. For simplex type use, the DTRs do as well as the licensed (Part 90) stuff does on UHF simplex.



UHF has been my band of choice for a long time. It is still my favorite, aside from 900MHz.



I did keep an ear on GMRS while in the Cocoa Beach area. One family using bubble packs around the hotel I was staying at was all I heard.


I respect that. We have to agree to disagree. I didnít say anything out of the topic here, itís all in reference to what you posted. However, I hear a lot of FRS bubble pack traffic down here as well as business band UHF radios. Youíre right about GMRS, it never took off here in Florida for some reason. There is a repeater in Titusville and one somewhere in south Brevard. As for the county EDACS system I am well aware of it being 800 MHz and thatís why every officers transmission sounds like a paper bag being crumpled up. Not to mention they need manny remote receivers and itís still not good enough coverage. If they would have done a UHF trunking system it would be much better.

Like I said earlier my choice is DMR UHF around here and I still have that level of security like you had mentioned.


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Old 01-12-2018, 6:45 PM
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Originally Posted by dawsonpadams View Post
I respect that. We have to agree to disagree. I didn’t say anything out of the topic here, it’s all in reference to what you posted. However, I hear a lot of FRS bubble pack traffic down here as well as business band UHF radios. You’re right about GMRS, it never took off here in Florida for some reason. There is a repeater in Titusville and one somewhere in south Brevard. As for the county EDACS system I am well aware of it being 800 MHz and that’s why every officers transmission sounds like a paper bag being crumpled up. Not to mention they need manny remote receivers and it’s still not good enough coverage. If they would have done a UHF trunking system it would be much better.

Like I said earlier my choice is DMR UHF around here and I still have that level of security like you had mentioned.


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I did notice it being especially quiet on GMRS/FRS except for the family using bubble packs one afternoon during my stay. It was more or less dead on GMRS/FRS in the Cocoa Beach area, even more so than around home in NH. I was expecting to find more activity although I shouldn't be surprised given that I'm visiting during the off-season.

I did monitor some UHF Part 90 activity from several of the business in the area. I kept a search going in my BC396xt covering the 450-470MHz range. Brevard County seems to have added another site to their EDACS system on 800MHz since my last visit. It is labeled North Simulcast in the RR DB. I was listening to Brevard County and hearing them DFQ in the Cocoa Beach area, heard a lot stronger than in the past. The paper bag crumpling effect heard on weak signals is from simulcast flutter.

Anyhow, I found GMRS/FRS to be more or less dead in the Cocoa Beach FL area. We were using 900MHz to talk on but I kept an ear on GMRS and other stuff on the 396xt.

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Old 01-16-2018, 6:33 PM
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I use to monitor the 11m(cb) band until they stopped the licensing requirements and thats when all hell and i do mean all hell broke loose. The languages illegal powers being used to a point that it is not worth trying to talk.
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Old 01-16-2018, 6:36 PM
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Another bit, given that FRS uses UHF freqs even with a two watt radio they still likely won`t get out too far, the antennas on those units aren`t that great for TX or RX, so it`s kinda likely you`ll still only hear people about a few blocks away in a city, range will be better in open terrain or with a better antenna on your scanner or whatever radio you`re using to monitor, i`ve found that my ID-51A plus does WAY better with the stock antenna then my scanner with a gainy antenna for monitoring FRS/MURS. N9NRA
There is now a new FRS radio with a mag mount car antenna that might do good.
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