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Cheap portable repeater

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Hello everyone. I recently got my GMRS license and I'm thinking about setting up a portable and cheap repeater for my family to use. I don't have any mobile radios to use for this purpose but I do have a bunch of portables that I've gotten over the years. I'm thinking about getting the ID-O-Matic II repeater controller but I'm confused about how that would be set up. For example, if I were using two Kenwood TK-350 portables how would I wire them up to the controller so that one will RX and the other TX? My other question is do I need a duplexer or will putting some vertical separation between the RX and TX antennas let me get away with not using a duplexer since this will be a low power(5 watt) setup? Duplexers can be pretty expensive so if I didn't need one that would be great.

Also, would an antenna like this work for my setup? It's very portable. I know I'd need 2 of them.
WB6IQN antenna

I haven't bought any of the parts yet I just wanted to ask a few questions before I start buying things.
 
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SCPD

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popnokick

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Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_1_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9B206 Safari/7534.48.3)

If you plan to be portable get a mobile Duplexer. It will let you use a single antenna (more portable) and every time you set up you will not have to figure out how to set up two antennas with 20 ft or more vertical separation. Also less coax to carry/run and lower losses. There are a slew of UHF mobile duplexers on eBay. When you get it have a radio shop professionally tune it for your frequencies (in/out).
 

gatekeep

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I recently cobbled together such a system, just to see how possible it was to build a repeater from portables.

Let me tell you a duplexer vs dual antennas, duplexer wins hands down (even the cheapo-eBay ones, even though I wouldn't recommend them for anything other then this sort of repeater), so I would go that route and get a cheap $80 mobile duplexer, while they aren't perfect at 5W they will do the job.
 

SCPD

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Kenwood TKR-820-1 UHF Repeater stock will do just fine I have one at my place with the antenna on top of a 20 pole in my backyard and it covers my whole area very well. These are readily available on eBay and other on line shops for around $300
 

willgrah

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Kenwood TKR-820-1 UHF Repeater stock will do just fine I have one at my place with the antenna on top of a 20 pole in my backyard and it covers my whole area very well. These are readily available on eBay and other on line shops for around $300
Dave, how were you able to program your 820. I have seen a bunch of these for sale (ebay) but have never seen software to do it. I like the idea of a 10-20 watt desk top repeater and these have peeked my interest. Any information is appreciated. Thanks, Bill
 

dksac2

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You have to find someone who has the software and a DOS based computer to program these radios, check with some local ham radio operators, someone will still have what is needed. I'm getting my 25 Watt Kenwood programed by a local ham next week and yes, I sprung for the license and there is a repeater at about 900 feet above a 6000 ft valley and man does that thing have some unreal range.

John
 

kpoe_28

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Hello everyone. I recently got my GMRS license and I'm thinking about setting up a portable and cheap repeater for my family to use. I don't have any mobile radios to use for this purpose but I do have a bunch of portables that I've gotten over the years. I'm thinking about getting the ID-O-Matic II repeater controller but I'm confused about how that would be set up. For example, if I were using two Kenwood TK-350 portables how would I wire them up to the controller so that one will RX and the other TX? My other question is do I need a duplexer or will putting some vertical separation between the RX and TX antennas let me get away with not using a duplexer since this will be a low power(5 watt) setup? Duplexers can be pretty expensive so if I didn't need one that would be great.

Also, would an antenna like this work for my setup? It's very portable. I know I'd need 2 of them.
WB6IQN antenna

I haven't bought any of the parts yet I just wanted to ask a few questions before I start buying things.
I went with one of these little repeater controllers and used two FT-2900's, in the same band repeater VHF and it's been working great every since I put it up two years ago. But you could go cheaper and more portable than I did by using some handheld radio's here the site. Radio-Tone Duplex repeater controller - Radioshop888 KG-UVD1P KG-UV6D TG-UV2 ROIP Repeater Controller Speaker Mic Ham Radio KG-669 KG-689 PX-777 PX-888 FT-897 FT-857 VX-177 VXA-300 KG-679 VEV-3288S V-1000 TG-UV FT-817ND FT-60R FT-897 FT-857 VX-7R VX-

Hope this helps. 73's
Kevin
N0THJ
 
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kpoe_28

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OH and these are plug and play, just tell them what cables to include for the radio's that you will be using and they will send the with the controller, NO wire cutting ;)
 

kpoe_28

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OH and these are plug and play, just tell them what cables to include for the radio's that you will be using and they will send the with the controller, NO wire cutting ;)
Also here is one I through together for going on camping trips with a group for when we like to split up..... and I use a mag mount antenna stuck on top of the truck plugged into the duplexer you see in the setup pictures. works great i used duelband radios with this one but when it is use I use it in the uhf band seems to get better range out in the thick wooded area.
 

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WA0CBW

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According to calculations for a 5 watt transmitter to a unity gain antenna you would need 65 db of isolation between the TX and RX antennas. That equates to 26 feet of vertical or 481 feet of horizontal separation

BB
 

kpoe_28

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I'm not trying to be a GMRS Sheriff but everyone should at least be aware a handheld based repeater is not type accepted or legal for GMRS use and the Wouxun handhelds are not type accepted for part 95.
prcguy
You are right about the part 95 he would need radio's that would be legal for GMRS if he wanted to do it right. I don't run either of mine on GMRS or MURS I've got my own licenses. These are by no means Motorola quaility but they work very good for what they are.
 

K0MTB

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Hey Fellas,

I posted something in another thread dealing with the Radio Tone repeaters, but I just stumbled on this thread and it looks like a good place to discuss my repeater questions too. Sorry for posting similar questions in two threads--I know that's poor etiquette. I'm hoping that chiming in here will get the attention of the recent posters who seem to have Radio Tone repeaters working. (This thread has more-recent activity than the other thread.)

I tried the same exact same repeater setup that kpoe_28 has and it worked fine for nearby communications (within about 25'), but fell apart completely when I moved just a few hundred feet away.

Here is the description of my problem that I sent to the Radio Tone developer, Joe Chung:

"Here is what is happening: I have set up the repeater with two Wouxun KG-UVD2P radios, PTT Mode 2, using the Wouxun cables. Radios are connected to a mobile duplexer which is connected to a dual-band antenna on my home. Using two 5W Yaesu radios in the house and backyard, the repeater works fine, receiving traffic on the RX radio and passing it to the TX radio, which properly transmits the audio. As a matter of fact, it works great around the house. However, if I move just 50 metres from the house, the repeater controller stops passing audio to the TX radio. When I key up the repeater, it does not key up the TX radio and transmit what it is receiving. After I end transmission to the repeater, however, it then keys up the TX radio and transmits a few seconds of silence. This is the case when using a 5W radio. When I am at the same distance from the house and use a 50W mobile radio, the repeater does pick up the signal and transmit slightly better, but even then it is very noisy and drops the signal frequently. I had a friend monitor the repeater input (RX) frequency at the house with another radio, and the incoming signal is very strong and clear. Even with this clear signal the repeater controller does not properly pass the signal to the TX radio and key it up for transmission.

"Have you been able to use [this repeater setup] over normal distances? I would expect it to work with any incoming signal, no matter how strong or weak. Even if the incoming signal is not clear, it should be able to pass that signal on to the TX radio and broadcast whatever the RX radio was receiving. In my case, a handheld radio in my home connected to the dual-band antenna (the same one I had the repeater connected to) receives and transmits crystal clear transmission to/from 5W handheld radios that are as far away as 15km. But that same clear transmission is not being properly handled by the RT-FDR1 K repeater controller.

Joe's Response:

"Your problem is not coming from the controller, is the TX radio RF signal interference the RX radio. If the controller have audio input, it must can pass the audio to the TX radio. I think you need make sure the RX radio audio are normal or not when the TX radio is in TX. If have this problem you need to adjust the SWR of the antenna and the TX radio power, or your RF cable and other device."

So, I think Joe is saying that the receiver is getting slammed by the transmitter, such that the incoming signal is just plain lost while the TX is keyed. In other words, receiver desensitization, or "desense."

Anybody able to comment on, or confirm, Joe's description and my diagnosis of RX desense?

kpoe_28: I have the exact same setup that you have--right down to the mobile duplexer (hard to tell if I have the same brand, of course, but it appears to be the same basic thing...a garden-variety, Chinese mobile duplexer). I've tried several different configurations of antennas and radios (with and without the duplexer), and I still can't get it to work with "user radios" that are more than about 50' away. As soon as the repeater input transmission weakens the slightest bit, the whole repeater craters. Does your setup work with "user radios" transmitting from "regular" distances (1-2 clear miles)? If I have a desense problem it may be my duplexer and/or it's tuning. From whom did you purchase your duplexer, and/or who tuned it? Maybe I'll send mine to your tuner. (Please feel free to contact me directly at: mwieda "at" gmail "dot" com.

Anyway, curious to hear other's thoughts. Much appreciated.

Thanks!

-Mike
 

ruffian75

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Mobile/Portable Repeater HELP

Wow...so this is addressing a problem I have and a solution I need. I have some HT1000s that are already GMRS programmed. I used them at an event as just talkaround. I go to big events and would love to have more reach for communications with staff. The HTs worked great, but they have their limitations.

1. How hard is it to get the FCC to give me a frequency. I know I am going to pay. Wondering how much it might run.
2. Whether I get the frequency or give it as try to see how efficient it is on GMRS, what are the portable options to extend the range. We cover horse events and throwing an antenna on top of my truck and running a repeater to extend range would be great.
3. What is the best setup based on all of this conversation. I am trying to stay under $400 for a solution.

Thanks. I read the whole forum and it was very enlightening.
 

prcguy

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Its easy to get a commercial business frequency for repeater use however it will cost at least a couple of hundred bucks minimum for frequency coordination and the license is a separate fee. I recently licensed two business for 5 UHF repeater pairs and it ran around $1,000 by the time each license was granted.

A simple GMRS license will allow you to put up a repeater but not for business use and your "staff" implies its for business use. The repeater must be FCC type accepted for the type of service and you cannot legally use a business or GMRS repeater made from handhelds even though they are FCC type accepted, the repeater itself must be type accepted as a complete unit for the intended service.

So if this is for personal use a GMRS license is about $80 or maybe it went up to $95?? You can get a cheap used (actual) repeater like a Motorola R100 for a few hundred $ and probably with a duplexer for not much more. If this is for business use the repeater and handhelds will have to be current narrow band compliant and I dont think a Motorola R100 is but their fine for GMRS.

Then you need an antenna and feedline and you dont want to skimp there but a used Stationmaster with 5dBd gain would be a minimum goal. Then you would need to program and align the repeater and duplexer if they were not supplied working on your new licensed frequency.

Not sure you can pull all that off for under $400 but I've done it before and that's only because I have the equipment to align the repeater and duplexer. I''m also a master scrounge for finding equipment for good prices or sometimes free.

A repeater cobbled together from Chinese or other handhelds is something that is only legal to do on amateur radio. Even then you have no idea how good or bad its performing without test equipment to see if the receiver is being desensed or if there are spurious signals being generated between the two handheld transmitters, etc. In my opinion a repeater (system) is a serious piece of communications equipment and not to be taken lightly.
prcguy

Wow...so this is addressing a problem I have and a solution I need. I have some HT1000s that are already GMRS programmed. I used them at an event as just talkaround. I go to big events and would love to have more reach for communications with staff. The HTs worked great, but they have their limitations.

1. How hard is it to get the FCC to give me a frequency. I know I am going to pay. Wondering how much it might run.
2. Whether I get the frequency or give it as try to see how efficient it is on GMRS, what are the portable options to extend the range. We cover horse events and throwing an antenna on top of my truck and running a repeater to extend range would be great.
3. What is the best setup based on all of this conversation. I am trying to stay under $400 for a solution.

Thanks. I read the whole forum and it was very enlightening.
 
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hhrj

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ruffian75,
I have an HT1000 that I would like to use on GMRS but before applying for a license I found that this radio is not accepted for part 95.
Just sayin'.
HHRJ
 
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