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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 07-12-2018, 8:02 PM
   
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Default Is GMRS right for me?

I'm new to the forum and radios. But I'm looking for some advice and figured I would try here.

I am a physician assistant and was asked my church group to be in charge of first aid and medical treatment for a large group event in Southern Wyoming.

I am looking for a reliable form of communication with me and the group because I may be up to 5-7 miles away from the group while they are traveling (hiking) and I'm at the base camp, or I may be with them and need to communicate with the base camp.

I am wondering if a handheld that transmits GMRS is a good option for me, or if there is a better option?

I had seen friends of mine that I Jeep with use Baofeng HTs and thought that may be a good option but after looking into it, if they do not offer huge benefits in range then getting licensed and having another person licensed on the other may not be worth it.

I'm familiar with FRS and now after reading a few things a little about GMRS, it looks like I need a license to use GMRS but one that can be used for my whole family. GMRS seems a little bit more straight forward than going the HAM route.

Thanks in advance for any help on this.
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Old 07-12-2018, 9:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjturner View Post
I'm new to the forum and radios. But I'm looking for some advice and figured I would try here.
Welcome!


Quote:
Originally Posted by bjturner View Post
I am looking for a reliable form of communication with me and the group because I may be up to 5-7 miles away from the group while they are traveling (hiking) and I'm at the base camp, or I may be with them and need to communicate with the base camp.

I am wondering if a handheld that transmits GMRS is a good option for me, or if there is a better option?
GMRS might be a good option.

You can try the consumer grade FRS radios. They are often available at WalMart and sporting good stores. They'll now do 2 watts on most channels.

However, 5 to 7 miles could be difficult. GMRS and FRS use some specific UHF frequencies. UHF tends to be line of sight only. So if you have a clear shot at the other users, then likely it will work. If there are hills or mountains in the way, or users are down in canyons, they are not going to work.

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Originally Posted by bjturner View Post
I had seen friends of mine that I Jeep with use Baofeng HTs and thought that may be a good option but after looking into it, if they do not offer huge benefits in range then getting licensed and having another person licensed on the other may not be worth it.
Likely not. They are very low grade radios. They cannot be legally used on FRS, and most of them cannot be legally used on GMRS.

You'd likely be better off with some 2 watt consumer grade FRS radios rather than the low end Baofengs, especially if you want to stay legal.

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Originally Posted by bjturner View Post
I'm familiar with FRS and now after reading a few things a little about GMRS, it looks like I need a license to use GMRS but one that can be used for my whole family. GMRS seems a little bit more straight forward than going the HAM route.
Correct. And the FCC made it a bit confusing. FRS and GMRS use some of the same frequencies. GMRS can run more power, use repeaters, use external antennas, which can all help range. FRS is limited to non-removeable antennas and 2 watts or 0.5 watts depending on which channel you are using.
The good part is that getting a GMRS license is as easy as applying with the FCC and paying the $90. The license does cover your family and can be a good option.

Amateur radio, on the other hand, requires taking a technical test, and each license only covers the individual.

For what you are doing, you might be better off just renting some radios from a local radio shop, or better yet, renting a few satellite phones for the duration of the event. Satellite phones will almost always work.
Due to topography, FRS, GMRS, amateur, Multi Use Radio Service, or even commercial rental radios may not work.

Last edited by mmckenna; 07-12-2018 at 9:41 PM..
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Old 07-12-2018, 9:54 PM
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GMRS does require users that are not members of an immediate family to each have their own license. There are places where you can rent radios that have greater power and range, and in some cases even the use of a repeater which can give you a very large coverage area. Even a good HT will not give reliable range in the situation you are presenting, and a repeater location is not likely to be far from a city.
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Old 07-13-2018, 2:36 AM
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GMRS is probably not the best option, as already noted by others.

Renting some VHF radios could be useful, depending on topology. If you can get a base radio installed at base camp, with an elevated antenna. If the rental company has repeater coverage in the area, all the better.

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Old 07-13-2018, 1:57 PM
   
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Originally Posted by krokus View Post
GMRS is probably not the best option, as already noted by others.

Renting some VHF radios could be useful, depending on topology. If you can get a base radio installed at base camp, with an elevated antenna. If the rental company has repeater coverage in the area, all the better.

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Do you have to have a license to use the VHF radios that could be rented?
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Old 07-13-2018, 2:22 PM
   
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I just called a local communications company and I'm pretty sure I'm going to rent a mobile base for the base camp and have a handheld for the group. Sounds easier, I use their equipment and go off their license and they set up the frequencies.

Thanks for the info guys!
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Old 07-13-2018, 3:22 PM
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I'm with the 2 previous posters here; you may at least want to talk to a commercial rental outfit.. No doubt they have done this in the past and depending on the length and location of your event and number of radios required, should get you the most bang for your buck without the hassle of choosing equipment.
Just my $0.02, hope it helps and good luck!
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:11 PM
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I'm surprised that nobody has suggested MURS or even Marine VHF.
Excuse my ignorance, but my understanding is they do not
require a license and you can use different antennas as well
as higher wattage.
I just spent a week out in Wyoming and S. Dakota. What I learned
is that Wyoming is full of absolute NOTHING (at least the eastern
side from Colorado to South Dakota) so I don't think you will be
bothering anybody
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpugEddy View Post
I'm surprised that nobody has suggested MURS or even Marine VHF.
MURS can be a good option, but 2 watts VHF compared to 50 watts UHF isn't going to turn out well for MURS.
Finding suitable MURS radios can be a challenge, also. Many people already have a FRS/GMRS radio laying around.

As for Marine VHF, using it on land without a shore station license is a violation of the FCC rules, even if they are inland and not "bothering" anyone. Yeah, likely no one would notice or complain, but recommending that a church group doing medical support violate the FCC rules when they are ways to do it legally, well, that's kind of wrong.
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpugEddy View Post
I'm surprised that nobody has suggested MURS or even Marine VHF.
Excuse my ignorance, but my understanding is they do not
require a license and you can use different antennas as well
as higher wattage.
I just spent a week out in Wyoming and S. Dakota. What I learned
is that Wyoming is full of absolute NOTHING (at least the eastern
side from Colorado to South Dakota) so I don't think you will be
bothering anybody
Cannot use higher power on MURS. It's locked to 2W just like FRS. MURS is similar to FRS in terms of range and reception and is also line of sight. A MURS system can allow for upgraded antennas however. There are few radios for MURS however and base stations are hard to find. It is illegal to use Marine VHF on land unless it is transmitting to a boat.
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Old 07-15-2018, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjturner View Post
I just called a local communications company and I'm pretty sure I'm going to rent a mobile base for the base camp and have a handheld for the group. Sounds easier, I use their equipment and go off their license and they set up the frequencies.

Thanks for the info guys!
Sounds like a lot better idea then doing something illegal, or at least possibly interfering with other licensed users. I see too many people feeling they can use whatever radio because either they don't know any better, or think that there will be no one using a marine frequency in land, or any other frequency. In Canada numerous businesses are licensed for Marine frequencies far removed from water.
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Old 07-15-2018, 12:51 AM
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Depending on how many people need to be in communication, best bet may be to rent a few satellite phones. If a group is hiking, the lead and tail of the group need a phone and you at base camp.

Advantage of phone is pretty much guaranteed service and the ability to communicate with other emergency response if necessary, like a chopper rescue of injured hiker, or communication with a medical facility while awaiting emergency medical response to the scene.

You pay a flat rental fee and then only pay for the time used on the phone.
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Old 07-15-2018, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpugEddy View Post
I'm surprised that nobody has suggested MURS or even Marine VHF.
Excuse my ignorance, but my understanding is they do not
require a license and you can use different antennas as well
as higher wattage.
I just spent a week out in Wyoming and S. Dakota. What I learned
is that Wyoming is full of absolute NOTHING (at least the eastern
side from Colorado to South Dakota) so I don't think you will be
bothering anybody
In the areas away from navigable waters, some marine channels are utilizes for NIFOG.

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Old 07-15-2018, 4:53 PM
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[QUOTE=SpugEddy;2966800]I'm surprised that nobody has suggested MURS or even Marine VHF.
Excuse my ignorance, but my understanding is they do not
require a license /QUOTE]

MURS IS Licensed. FCC calls MURS Licensed by Rule. So you HAVE to follow the RULES.
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Old Yesterday, 3:08 PM
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So I guess that answers the MURS suggestion.
I honestly didn't know they were max'd at 2 watts.
As for the marine VHF, I heard plenty of use inland.
Possibly because it's license free.
Also, I missed the church group part of the post. Sorry
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Old Yesterday, 3:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpugEddy View Post
So I guess that answers the MURS suggestion.
I honestly didn't know they were max'd at 2 watts.
As for the marine VHF, I heard plenty of use inland.
Possibly because it's license free.
Also, I missed the church group part of the post. Sorry
Some VHF marine frequencies are reused inland for public safety use.
They are still legal to use on rivers and lakes by recreational users.

However, as I'm sure you've noticed, a lot of sporting goods stores sell them, with little to mention of what they are. Hunters have been known to use them in some areas. Not legally, but it does happen. If one was to do that (and I'm NOT recommending it) they would need to be cognizant of other legal users on the frequencies.
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