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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 12-23-2017, 9:09 PM
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Default How active is FRS and/or GMRS?

Is it anything like CB used to be? Are there a lot of people chatting, or is it mostly just kids and family communications?
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Old 12-23-2017, 9:16 PM
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It varies greatly depending on where you are.
In my area there are several businesses that are active every day, neighborhood kids a couple times a week, and I hear people in 2 or more vehicles passing through town maybe once a week or less.
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Old 12-23-2017, 9:17 PM
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I wouldn't say there is a lot of people chatting, but given that there are no shortage of FRS/GMRS radios for sale at your retail store of choice, it's fairly popular.

As for activity, I generally don't monitor those bands very much, mostly while on roadtrips along with CB. I'll hear chatter car-to-car nearing rest areas, major intersections, and of course the traffic back ups.

I'll bet you'll hear an uptick of traffic about mid-morning December 25th.
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Old 12-23-2017, 9:21 PM
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Like so many things, it's location, location, location.

FRS and GMRS are UHF, so skip isn't a thing with them (in most cases).
So it really depends on your location. If you are in a heavy urban area, you may hear several GMRS repeaters on the 8 primary GMRS channels.
If you are in a good location, you may hear construction crews, offices, businesses, etc. all using FRS and GMRS.
You may hear kids on them, too, but walkie talkies are not quite the cool toy they were 40 years ago.

Casual contacts are complicated due to short range, CTCSS/DCS squelches, etc. It's not a good radio service for making random contacts, although it is possible.

Most of the issues with FRS have to do with limited power, inefficient antennas, operator error, etc.
As for GMRS, you can run more power, better antennas, etc. but the people that invest in that equipment are usually not looking to replace CB, they are looking for higher end communications between family and friends.

If random contacts is your desire, then amateur radio would be a better investment. At least there you'll run into like minded people looking for conversation with strangers.
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Old 12-23-2017, 9:23 PM
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I have one of those licenses too but seldom talk and mostly listen. The good thing about it is that one license can serve a family. I've heard a good amount of CB traffic this past week too.

I hear activity every day with business being the major user. Amateurs wanting to play with other services as well as kids with their parents. There are repeaters around but the owners aren't the friendliest and like to challenge people using them.
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Old 12-23-2017, 9:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmckenna View Post
...
You may hear kids on them, too, but walkie talkies are not quite the cool toy they were 40 years ago.
...
I donated a new Motorola FRS/GMRS radio set to a school function and it's wasn't the tech they were looking for.
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Old 12-23-2017, 11:23 PM
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There are repeaters around but the owners aren't the friendliest and like to challenge people using them.
Putting a repeater up can be a major financial investment. Especially on a prime wide area coverage location on a tall commercial tower, building, or a mountaintop location. There's leasing the space on the tower and in the shelter. There's electricity costs. Insurance. Etcetera.

As such, someone else's repeater should be considered private property, and permission should be sought to use it, especially on a regular basis. It is only fair that if you are going to use someone else's property, that you help to pay some of the operating and maintenance costs.

Others may simply wish to have a record of the regular users, as it has been required that repeater owners keep records of those who have permission to use their repeater(s) in the past.

John
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Old 12-24-2017, 6:26 AM
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Default GMRS & FRS

Check them once in a while and never hear anyone on them.
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Old 12-24-2017, 7:09 AM
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Here not too much traffic other than a few repeaters id'ing every once in CW. I like to turn mine on and scan during deer season as hunters use them in the nearby fields. They usually whisper hi hi.

I wonder if we'll hear more when the higher-powered units hit the shelves.
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Old 12-24-2017, 8:44 AM
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I have quite a bit of activity around here. There are 3 repeaters I can reliably use, and one has a 100 mile radius coverage which is almost in my back yard. There are 2 more that are a bit sketchy as far as me making a good signal into the machine because they are about 110 miles away.

There is some simplex GMRS use daily that I can hear because it is a very rural area with many big hills and valleys.I'm inclined to believe people tend to use these instead of cell phones when talking to a spouse or kids because a cell phone can be useless in many locations.

The FRS channels are few to be heard, but they are in use and can hear them on almost a daily basis. I hear a lot of businesses using these in the nearest town, but not so much on GMRS.

Amazingly, MURS is being used around here by individuals. I have had a few conversations with some neighbors and some others who were not so close.

Also I have noticed that in this area CB is not dead - not by a long shot. Usually there is a local conversation going on at any given time, sometimes until 2 or 3AM.

My location allows me to hear more than most. I was fortunate enough to find a house far away from junk RF noise, a very good distance from my closest neighbor, and ridge top that is already at high elevation. Given that I got lucky, I figured I would not cheap out on a good dual band antenna that I put above the roof line, and used Belden 9913 (about 25ft.) for my line. It is just crazy how much I hear when conditions are good.

As a final note, the business frequencies are used around here but you have to be patient sometimes to find them being used. Don't give up after a day or two of searching, I find new ones popping up all the time.
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Old 12-24-2017, 9:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSpaceMann View Post
Is it anything like CB used to be? Are there a lot of people chatting, or is it mostly just kids and family communications?
As others have said, it all depends on where you are at any given time. Here in the southern Adirondacks, if you were to scan all 22 channels, you might hear some kids fooling around on one frequency for a few minutes. They get tired of it and the band goes quiet for days at a time. Just south of me about 15 miles, there are one or two businesses that use FRS for in-house activities

If you are a scanner head, you've already got the one tool that will tell you exactly how busy FRS/GMRS is where you are; your scanner.
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Old 12-24-2017, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KB7MIB View Post
Putting a repeater up can be a major financial investment. Especially on a prime wide area coverage location on a tall commercial tower, building, or a mountaintop location. There's leasing the space on the tower and in the shelter. There's electricity costs. Insurance. Etcetera.



As such, someone else's repeater should be considered private property, and permission should be sought to use it, especially on a regular basis. It is only fair that if you are going to use someone else's property, that you help to pay some of the operating and maintenance costs.



Others may simply wish to have a record of the regular users, as it has been required that repeater owners keep records of those who have permission to use their repeater(s) in the past.



John

WPXJ598

Peoria, AZ


I agree somewhat with your statement. On a moral basis you should help with the up keep and financial cost of a repeater because it can be very strenuous. Its also common politeness to ask permission before use just out of respect.

However, there does come a certain level of responsibility on the owner of the repeater to understand that you are putting your repeater on one of public radio services. With that being said, it a repeater owner is looking to have 100% control they should look into the private land mobile licenses.


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Old 12-24-2017, 10:48 AM
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Default How active is FRS and/or GMRS?

Like most people here have reported, I hear most of the FRS traffic on the interstate or in the city. People still use those radios to talk car to car on road trips. I imagine people are also using Zello on their smart phones for that as well.


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Old 12-24-2017, 11:01 AM
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GMRS is very much alive and active in Arizona - check out The Arizona GMRS Repeater Club's homepage and Facebook page!

We have a 50 W repeater on a mountain top with a massive footprint, covering the entire Phoenix Metro area including a 100 mile stretch of I-10/US-60. There are daily and weekly nets, and a decent number of active users on the repeater. Arizona has quite a few GMRS repeaters too, check out the map on mygmrs.com. I hear the usual stuff on the FRS frequencies - families, occasional businesses, but there's really not too much nonsense in these bands. To be honest, I'm much more active on GMRS than any of the ham bands - GMRS is used for highway travel around AZ, and I enjoy providing and receiving traveler assistance during commutes and road trips. I also rely on GMRS for 4x4/offroad//camping comms too. Not everyone I know is willing to get their ham ticket, so GMRS offers easy compatibility with cheapo bubble pack FRS radios, but I still have the option of hitting repeaters and running much more power to reach other licensed GMRS stations.

Last edited by call_sign_null; 12-24-2017 at 12:37 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 12-24-2017, 12:02 PM
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In my area, FRS is quite active during hunting and camping seasons.

Neighborhood kids once in a while.

Also, occasional transient travelers.

I few years ago, I did hear some people who were talking while they were doing a burglary.
(The PD caught them in the act.)

Mainly, for that last reason alone, I always have FRS in at least one of my scanners.
Not so much GMRS.

Rich
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Old 12-24-2017, 1:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawsonpadams View Post
I agree somewhat with your statement. On a moral basis you should help with the up keep and financial cost of a repeater because it can be very strenuous. It’s also common politeness to ask permission before use just out of respect.

However, there does come a certain level of responsibility on the owner of the repeater to understand that you are putting your repeater on one of public radio services. With that being said, it a repeater owner is looking to have 100% control they should look into the private land mobile licenses.


-Dawson Adams
WQPN413
"Calm down, it's just a radio.”
I understand about asking permission for a private repeater. The case is where you attempt to reach it and then ask if the owner around. They're not very inviting so it's not worth my time to bother with that type of person. Let them keep their toys and have it unused which is what happens.

There's plenty of Amateur activity with others willing to play nicely. Unfortunately there are many people in the hobby with social issues.
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Old 12-24-2017, 1:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NC1 View Post
I have quite a bit of activity around here. There are 3 repeaters I can reliably use, and one has a 100 mile radius coverage which is almost in my back yard. There are 2 more that are a bit sketchy as far as me making a good signal into the machine because they are about 110 miles away.

There is some simplex GMRS use daily that I can hear because it is a very rural area with many big hills and valleys.I'm inclined to believe people tend to use these instead of cell phones when talking to a spouse or kids because a cell phone can be useless in many locations.

The FRS channels are few to be heard, but they are in use and can hear them on almost a daily basis. I hear a lot of businesses using these in the nearest town, but not so much on GMRS.

Amazingly, MURS is being used around here by individuals. I have had a few conversations with some neighbors and some others who were not so close.

Also I have noticed that in this area CB is not dead - not by a long shot. Usually there is a local conversation going on at any given time, sometimes until 2 or 3AM.

My location allows me to hear more than most. I was fortunate enough to find a house far away from junk RF noise, a very good distance from my closest neighbor, and ridge top that is already at high elevation. Given that I got lucky, I figured I would not cheap out on a good dual band antenna that I put above the roof line, and used Belden 9913 (about 25ft.) for my line. It is just crazy how much I hear when conditions are good.

As a final note, the business frequencies are used around here but you have to be patient sometimes to find them being used. Don't give up after a day or two of searching, I find new ones popping up all the time.
I've never heard any MURS and just checked my logs to confirm that.

CB has been fairly active this week in the afternoon and evenings. I heard some earlier today.

The closest body of water is at least 15 miles from me and still scan maritime frequencies with at least daily activity.

I can hear on occasion 40-60 miles out on VHF/UHF so don't discount more distant stations just in case.

The problem I see for new users is that they don't know what's out there and lead astray by other's preferred interest and pushing them to get restricted antennas (i.e. 800/900 Mhz) in the name of "performance." You pick up a wide-band scanner/receiver (typically 25Mhz - 1.3GHz) so why restrict it?!

Get a wide-band antenna(s) for the whole spectrum and listen to EVERYTHING to see what piques your interest. Radio Reference does NOT have everything available in your area, it's more of a decent guide to start with. Scan your heart away and make sure your radio supports an external program to log all the hits and later make your own scan lists to see what those frequencies have to offer.

I know the OP asked about FRS/GMRS but hopefully there's some insight for others.

You could always look at decently price equipment to start off.

https://midlandusa.com/product/mxt11...e-2-way-radio/

https://midlandusa.com/product/gxt1000vp4/

Last edited by CQ; 12-24-2017 at 1:21 PM..
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Old 12-27-2017, 9:28 AM
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Around these parts (central WI), GMRS is dead, not used at all. We have one repeater that is provately owned (the person that owns it is a fellow ham) that has a great footprint but is almost never used, the other one was a REACT machine and it went away some years ago. FRS? Depends on the day & where ya are at, i sometimes monitor FRS, have it in my scanner and my ID-51, and depending on the day i hear some kids, the now and then family passing through, and a lot of folks up skiing on Granite Peak (AKA "the hill" or Rib Mountain ski area). Most of the traffic is the skiers up on the hill, i can hear `em from here (i`m five floors up in a highrise so that helps somewhat ). N9NRA
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Old 12-27-2017, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CQ View Post
I've never heard any MURS and just checked my logs to confirm that.

CB has been fairly active this week in the afternoon and evenings. I heard some earlier today.

The closest body of water is at least 15 miles from me and still scan maritime frequencies with at least daily activity.

I can hear on occasion 40-60 miles out on VHF/UHF so don't discount more distant stations just in case.

The problem I see for new users is that they don't know what's out there and lead astray by other's preferred interest and pushing them to get restricted antennas (i.e. 800/900 Mhz) in the name of "performance." You pick up a wide-band scanner/receiver (typically 25Mhz - 1.3GHz) so why restrict it?!

Get a wide-band antenna(s) for the whole spectrum and listen to EVERYTHING to see what piques your interest. Radio Reference does NOT have everything available in your area, it's more of a decent guide to start with. Scan your heart away and make sure your radio supports an external program to log all the hits and later make your own scan lists to see what those frequencies have to offer.

I know the OP asked about FRS/GMRS but hopefully there's some insight for others.

You could always look at decently price equipment to start off.

https://midlandusa.com/product/mxt11...e-2-way-radio/

https://midlandusa.com/product/gxt1000vp4/


Its a must to have several antennas on hand so you can monitor a wide array of frequencies. Antennas that are tuned to specific frequency bands will receive much better than the ones that are tuned to a wide band of frequencies. I have several antennas for each frequency band so that way I can scan those bands and have a better chance at reception. I also have a few wide receive antenna for short range reception.


-Dawson Adams
WQPN413
"Calm down, it's just a radio.
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Old 12-27-2017, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spongella View Post
I wonder if we'll hear more when the higher-powered units hit the shelves.
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.
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