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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 05-14-2018, 3:22 PM
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Default Noob question...

I've searched, but all the threads start cross talking, and I'm still trying to learn the acronyms, shorthand, and I'm getting confused over and over. Everytime I think I'm getting the picture, I look for product, and get confused again. So, I'm going to lay out a scenario, and hope to get both a solution to my immediate problem, and from that maybe learn a little (or a lot).

I'm going camping in a month, give or take. Last year I went camping with my son, and he had a bicycle accident in front of my site, puctured his leg with the kickstand, and required several stitches. I was very lucky he was right there as I had never been to the campground before, and he was riding around and didn't know our site number yet while I set up the tent. I want the have radios for this trip. Here is where I get confused between FRS, GMRS, and MURS. Maybe two of the three are the same.

From my understanding, FRS are the cheap blister pack no license, 2-mile range, 22 channel POS things that everyone on the campground uses so you can't find a decent channel that doesn't have a bunch of kids playing around on. No license is required and you can walk into any Walmart and come out with a pair for pretty short money.

Murs, I don't get this one at all as everytime I search for MURS radios I get baofangs (which I keep seeing reference that you can't legally broadcast with) or the FRS 2-mile radios mentioned above.

GMRS needs a license (which I am not opposed to) and it appears I would apply myself and my license would cover my family??? Does this give me more options for a more private channel? I don't care about people listening in, just walking all over my communications. How is the range? Is it a radio a tech savvy 10 year old can use? Am I completely off base in my understanding? Is a month enough time to get a license?

I'm sorry for starting yet another new thread and if you could type slowly so a noob can understand I would greatly appreciate it.
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Old 05-14-2018, 3:26 PM
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Old 05-14-2018, 3:48 PM
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Unforgiven,
You've pretty much got it right. One key is maybe certain the radio is "Type Accepted" for the service you're using it for. All these services fall under Part 95 of the FCC rules, just different parts. Parts 95A and J, for sure. Can't remember the other part at the moment.

GMRS is probably the best way to go for range, if you get the license, which does cover your family. FRS and MURS are both pretty short range services, and MURS is the less frequently used of the two.

You should be able to set a PL code / privacy tone, to keep people from walking on you.

If I had to make a recommendation, I'd say to get a license, and a decent set of GMRS Radios, if it's something you'd use semi regularly.

The license is about $75, and valid for ten years. Turnaround time is a few days to get your license, and be nice and legal.

If you do go with GMRS, check for repeaters in your area, they can be helpful.

Kenwood makes a good portable, which is type accepted for GMRS. There are other brands that will work on the channels, but not sure which ones are type accepted for the services.

Hope this helps. Let us know if you have any more questions.

Respectfully,
Brts96

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Old 05-14-2018, 4:01 PM
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Awesome. Maybe I'm absorbing more than I think with all my reading here.

Seriously, there should be a thanks button so I could mash it about a thousand times. I could think of a few uses, and from what I've seen you don't have to spend an arm and a leg for the radios, you just need to be licensed to use them. $75 is pretty cheap. I'll probably have to put off learning my 536 fir a bit to get the radios private.

Do you have a link for the Kenwoods or a good radio? Seems my biggest stumbling block is when I google radios the google machine wants to link me to FRS radios.
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Old 05-14-2018, 4:13 PM
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You did a great job absorbing stuff, and you're willing to learn, which is a big help.

You're welcome, glad to help.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good link for you on which GMRS radios are the best. Hopefully, someone else will have that for you soon.

You can always try https://www.kenwood.com/USA/com sorry if the link doesn't work.

There are some that are dual service certified that will work on Part 90 (business) and Part 95 (personal), but I'm not quite certain which ones they are.

Hope it gets you going in the right direction.

If you and your son are interested further in communications, maybe you can study together, and get your ham tickets. Tech is pretty easy, only 35 questions, multiple choice test.

I think the question pool (public information) is expiring at the end of June, but you can get your study guide and get licensed. Amazon has several books on it.

Lots of good folks on the ham bands, and if you get licensed, you can go to club meetings, and get involved. They're always happy to have new members.

Just something to consider, if you find out that you like it as a hobby and want to do more with it.

Respectfully,
Brts96
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Old 05-14-2018, 4:14 PM
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If you're using hand-held GMRS radios, especially without going through a repeater, don't expect more than a couple mile range between them. With regards to using a repeater, make sure if you even have one close enough and that it's not private, and you'll be allowed to use it. Also find out if there is a charge to use it. Make sure the GMRS radios you select will work properly with a repeater, not all will.



You won't escape the interference from all the kids using FRS radios on GMRS. Most of the bubble-pack radios works on both bands and just about everyone totally ignores any rules/laws pertaining to their use.
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Old 05-14-2018, 4:28 PM
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@Brts96, ham is on the horizon, my local club meets on baseball practice night, so I'm going to start in the fall. I wanted to get a scanner, started reading, and became enthralled.

@iMonitor, that's was becoming my next question. Most of the radios support the GMRS channels, but people just use them illegally. Great :rolleyes: Range isn't really the problem, noise is. I've read enough to know I should walk softly as I get into this, for both an etiquette and legal reasons. If I with a 50 channel radio like this (https://www.amazon.com/gp/slredirect...getName=sp_atf) am I at least more likely to find a quiet channel or is the 50 channel just marketing.
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Old 05-14-2018, 4:38 PM
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Most of the GMRS or MURS radios are going to perform RF-wise about as well as the FRS radios. The biggest advantages you get for the $ when going to a more commercial type radio is ruggedness and battery life.

Range is line-of-sight for all these services. If your son goes over the hill, none of them will work (until he tops the next rise). We test all our radios to the rated range...but that test site is a mountain that sticks up over the plains of Oklahoma (Mt. Scott) with nothing but air between the radios. Foot on the ground range is typically "2 blocks to 2 miles" and cannot be improved by more power...only by increasing the antenna height.

It does sound like the main deficiency with the FRS radios you used before was that they either did not have subtones (some called Privacy Codes, Sub Channels, other) or you did not set the radios to use them. With a subtone turned on, you'll only hear people using radios set to the same channel and subtone. For 22 channel radios using 121 subtones (pretty standard) that is 2,662 unique combinations w/tones. Uniden's top model has 242 subtones for 5,324 combinations w/tones.
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Old 05-14-2018, 4:43 PM
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Awesome! The new question pool should start in July, I think. You can start studying on those, and be ready to Ace your test at the right time. There are also study guides available for most smartphone platforms, as well.

If memory serves correctly, I think there are only 22 channels on GMRS, not quite certain about the extra channels they advertise. The privacy codes are basically the same thing as a PL tone, and should help avoid interference from others.

I'm sure you're aware the 50 mile claim is based on theory, in perfect conditions, etc. Real world, like iMONITOR said, expect maybe a couple miles at best.

Respectfully,
Brts96
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Old 05-14-2018, 5:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brts96 View Post
Awesome! The new question pool should start in July, I think. You can start studying on those, and be ready to Ace your test at the right time. There are also study guides available for most smartphone platforms, as well.

If memory serves correctly, I think there are only 22 channels on GMRS, not quite certain about the extra channels they advertise. The privacy codes are basically the same thing as a PL tone, and should help avoid interference from others.

I'm sure you're aware the 50 mile claim is based on theory, in perfect conditions, etc. Real world, like iMONITOR said, expect maybe a couple miles at best.

Respectfully,
Brts96
35 questions, I can handle that. I know I can study and pass a test, and I know most of what I learn will happen after I test, I'm just the type that likes practical knowledge above book smarts. I want to get in with a club, then test. It just seems like the right way to do it.


@Upman, I'm hunting for Uniden radios with 242 privacy channels, but damned if I can find them, even on Uniden's website. Did you mean 142? I know you are a company avatar for Uniden so you try to keep the spam factor down, but can you give me a model number I can google? A link?
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Old 05-14-2018, 5:34 PM
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NVM Upman, I think I found them, but it is 284 Privacy codes.
https://www.uniden.com/shop/communic...arger-headset/

I'll probably go with these licensed. I'm going to a big campground, but I should be able to come up with a quiet channel with 5k+ options.
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Old 05-14-2018, 5:36 PM
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You've got the right attitude coming into the hobby, and it'll go a long way with getting you in the door on the right foot.

One thing that can't hurt when you go to your first club meeting : bring good quality donuts. Seems like hams love donuts, and they're almost like a gesture of goodwill at meetings in general.

You'll probably leave an impression as the person who brought donuts, though. It might even become your job to bring them to club functions.

That little gesture might open up some of the folks that otherwise aren't receptive to new people in the group.

Partner the donuts with your willingness to learn, and you're on your way to success. I think the question pool is a little over 400 questions, if I'm not mistaken.

Hopefully, you can get some good answers on the right models to use. I think UPMan should get you the rest of the way.

Respectfully,
Brts96
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Old 05-14-2018, 6:42 PM
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September 2017 was the effective date of the new FRS/GMRS rules. The blister pack FRS/GMRS radios are now considered FRS for all 22 channels and no license is needed if they TX 2W...in the past you were supposed to be licensed to operate on the GMRS frequencies, but no one did. Over 2W makes them a GMRS radio and license is required. It only took 10 years to get a decision...and dropping of the GMRS license idea didn't make the cut...but they doubled the license term.


https://wiki.radioreference.com/inde..._channel_chart
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Old 05-14-2018, 7:05 PM
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Gaaah, you confused me again.

Seriously, I'm settled on the radios I linked above. Do I need a license to use them legally? No grey area, if I only use blah blah blah.

If I buy these radios (https://redirect.viglink.com/?format...ger-headset%2F) do I need a license to use all the functionality?
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Old 05-14-2018, 7:44 PM
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It sounds like you want to use these radios for you and your family, but I might have missed how you plan on using them.

If it is literally close range communications at a campground or such, or anywhere there will be a bunch of other people using radios, 99.9% of those people are going to be using the bubble pack FRS/GMRS radios. Whether you have privacy codes or not, you're going to get interference. But if you want something that is the most compatible with what other people are likely going to be using, FRS/GMRS would be the way to go.

You hardly find anybody using MURS, largely due to the limited number of channels, lack of publicity, no bubble pack radios readily available, etc. If it came between FRS/GMRS and MURS, MURS would be the way to go. If you find someone there, it's rare, and interference will be minimal.

Also don't discount the Motorola DTR radios. The 550s and 650s work great, require no license, and you will almost never find another user or interference.
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Old 05-14-2018, 8:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unforgiven_AF View Post
Gaaah, you confused me again.

Seriously, I'm settled on the radios I linked above. Do I need a license to use them legally? No grey area, if I only use blah blah blah.

If I buy these radios (https://redirect.viglink.com/?format...ger-headset%2F) do I need a license to use all the functionality?
Welcome to the wonderful world of the FCC. Engineers don't run the asylum these days...lawyers do and ambiguity is what they do best.

I searched this specific radio...not much info available. The owner's manual is dated 2015. One review says it takes AA batteries and another says proprietary battery pack--gotta love the net. You "should" be completely legal to use all channels on this radio. I believe the FCC changed the power level from 0.5W to 2W to bring these radios into the legal side of FRS. Definately legal on channels 8-14 as they are low power under the old rules. I couldn't find the specific power output for this model--and it has a "power boost" button to increase power...I'd stay away from that. Uniden doesn't advertise the specific power output of this radio...nor does Amazon, C-Net, Best Buy, or others. You will never, ever, get 50 miles from this (or any other model)...I have a 50w radio with a big antenna 32' in the sky and find it tough to get that...no way, ever, a 0.5w, 2w, or 5w handheld will do that in real life.
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Old 05-14-2018, 8:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I_am_Alpha1 View Post
Welcome to the wonderful world of the FCC. Engineers don't run the asylum these days...lawyers do and ambiguity is what they do best.

I searched this specific radio...not much info available. The owner's manual is dated 2015. One review says it takes AA batteries and another says proprietary battery pack--gotta love the net. You "should" be completely legal to use all channels on this radio. I believe the FCC changed the power level from 0.5W to 2W to bring these radios into the legal side of FRS. Definately legal on channels 8-14 as they are low power under the old rules. I couldn't find the specific power output for this model--and it has a "power boost" button to increase power...I'd stay away from that. Uniden doesn't advertise the specific power output of this radio...nor does Amazon, C-Net, Best Buy, or others. You will never, ever, get 50 miles from this (or any other model)...I have a 50w radio with a big antenna 32' in the sky and find it tough to get that...no way, ever, a 0.5w, 2w, or 5w handheld will do that in real life.
Virtual fist bump for you my friend. I'll make sure I'm legal beagle and get my license (I'm going to Gettysburg, so there will be law around) and get a couple radios. I will have enough use for them around my house too. Id rather be legal with no gray area.
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Old 05-14-2018, 8:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I_am_Alpha1 View Post
One review says it takes AA batteries and another says proprietary battery pack--gotta love the net.

Most of the bubble-pack FRS/GMRS radios use both. They either use 'AAA' , or 'AA' batteries, sometimes 3 or 4 cells. Then they can also use a 'battery pack' made up of the same, shrink wrapped to make them a modular pack that fits the same battery holder. Actually a great design. The packs are easier to handle rather than fumbling with individual cells. This also prevents the user from inserting cells backwards with the wrong polarity.


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Old 05-14-2018, 8:44 PM
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You can find some decent info on this site.

https://www.buytwowayradios.com/blog...ense_free.aspx

https://www.buytwowayradios.com/Prod...rs-radios.aspx
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Old 05-14-2018, 9:00 PM
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UNFORGIVEN.......
You are exactly where I was several years ago.
I too was in the same quandary of who, what , where....

After a month of reading and investigating I found that
GMRS was what I really wanted and needed. Having said
that, I did purchase 5 handheld Baofeng radios. Not exactly
the best radios, but did pretty much what I wanted them to do

Fast forward to today... I have the same Baofengs that I use for
camping trips and trips to the amusement parks. (We go camping
at Yogi Bear in Milton, PA then to Knoebel's Amusement park in
Elysberg PA) if one of the kids lose the Baofeng, it's not the end of the
world because it's only a $30 radio.
If you are looking for a good radio for GMRS use, this is what I use
now for when the "adults" go away hunting, hiking, etc. Motorola P110
and Motorola Radius SP50. They are getting cheaper on eBay and a
much better radio. The only drawback is their size. They're rather large
compared to the Baofengs. (The SP50 is smaller and lighter than the
P110's)

The following link is for reference only. When buying a Motorola, you
can easily buy the wrong radio if you don't pay attention to the
model numbers.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Motorola-P1...kAAOSwKvJas39u
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