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FRS/GMRS/MURS on VHF/UHF Radio

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samdog

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Hello,

Been looking at VHF/UHF hand-held radios and everything I read says that while these radios can tune into FRS/GMRS and MURS frequencies that use of these frequencies on UHF/VHF radios is illegal. I'd like to go through why people are saying it's illegal and then give rational for why it should be allowed. Am looking for your feedback as to if my reasoning is correct or incorrect, and if so, then why?

A) FRS can't be used on most UHF/VHF radios because of two reasons: 1) FRS power limit is 0.5 watts and UHF/VHF radios generally are higher power and, 2) FRS antennas must be either non removable or not easily removable and UHF/VHF radios usually have removable antennas. My work-around suggestion (If I were to approach he FCC asking them to relax these rules) would be to allow FRS to be used on UHF/VHF hand-held radios with these requirements: 1) require users to power back to 0.5 watts max when using FRS frequencies and 2) the FCC should relax (and live with) the antenna issue but limit max length to something like 4-6" that is on current VHF/UHF hand-held radios. I know this is counting on users to power back when using these frequencies but this is really no different than what the FCC already does when they allow purchases of hybrid FRS/GMRS radios and then requires users to get a license prior to actually using the GMRS frequencies. Also, most users of VHF/UHF radios already have an entry level or higher license (FRS requires NO license) so licensed radio operators should be able to be counted on to obey the 0.5 watt restriction.

B) I am not sure why GMRS can't currently be used on most UHF/VHF radios. I know it takes a GMRS license but VHF/UHF operators can certainly obtain this and while power is limited to 5 watts on channels 15-23, many hand-helds either: 1) do not reach that power level or 2) for those that do, many can be throttled back in power to meet the 5 watt max requirement. Beyond those restrictions, why are GMRS frequencies not legally allowed to be used on UVHF/UHF radios? Any info is appreciated.

C) MURS frequencies can't be used on most UHF/VHF radios because of three reasons: 1) The radios are field programmable and 2) most VHF/UHF radios are not part 95 certified and 3) MURS power limits are 2 watts and some hand held VHF/UHF radios are higher power. My work-around suggestion would be to allow GMRS frequencies to be used on UHF/VHF radios with these requirements: 1) require users to set field programmable radios to the exact MURS frequencies/bandwidths used by current generation of MURS only radios, thus meaning there is no difference in transmitted waveform 2) someone help me out here...what does part 95 certification bring to the table that is not met by current generation of VHF/UHF radios and 3) the FCC should require that users throttle back power to 2 watts or less when using MURS frequencies on a VHF/UHF radio. Again, I now this is counting on the user to actually "do something" but this is really no different than what the FCC already does when they allow purchases of hybrid FRS/GMRS radios and then requires (insert "counts on") users to get a license prior to actually using the GMRS frequencies. Also, most users of VHF/UHF radios already have an entry level or higher license and while GMRS requires a license, this is really just a revenue producer "sham" whereby you "pay $90 and get a license" as opposed to obtaining a Ham license that actually takes some studying and knowledge of radios. Also, licensed Ham operators at any level can be counted on more to do the right thing as opposed to someone who simply wrote a check. Also, as someone previously pointed out, you can tune a VHF/UHF radio to a frequency just outside any of the MURS frequencies and it's legal and the radio works just fine. Is the FCC therefore asking us to believe that when we tune a bit more to an exact MURS frequency that the radio goes to hell in a hen basket and won't operate? Someone please enlighten me here on what part 95 certification imparts to a MURS frequency that is not already met by (or can't be programmed by) a standard VHF/UHF programmable radio.

Comments are appreciated to fill in the holes in the logic and then provide a workaround to those roadblocks.

thanks
 

samdog

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Wow...tis a lonely thread indeed when one also has to answer his own post.....LOL So here goes: from Samdog to Samdog

Good question Samdog as I too have wondered why, after going to the expense of buying a nice VHF/UHF hand-held that encompasses all the FRS/GMRS/MURS bands, that we can't legally use those frequencies on this radio, especially when it seems that there are workarounds for many of those restrictions that would seem to be small compromises for the FCC, if they were to allow it. I would suggest you approach the FCC about each of these in the form of three different requests, one each to allow FRS, GMRS and MURS frequencies to be legally used on VHF/UHF hand-held radios.
 

KD8DVR

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Regulations are still regulations and must be complied with. Whether or not your logic makes sense, the regulations are still nonetheless, in force. The only way this will change is if the regulations are changed. This forum is not a place to propose such changes. Anyone can submit a Petition for Rulemaking.
 

prcguy

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Some commercial part 90 radios are also part 95 and legal to use on GMRS. Other commercial radios are grandfathered for use on MURS, so you do have ways of using higher end radios on these services legally.

Otherwise I doubt if the FCC will change the rules to what you are proposing, if it makes sense then it probably won't happen.
prcguy
 

rapidcharger

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Keep in mind that the rules were written many years before the first Chinese field programmable dual bander was even manufactured.

MURS isn't really designed for hobbiests to use it as a long range CB type radio service. It's to keep the Walmarts of the world in a designated place and keep them off of licensed frequencies (that they won't get a license for). It's also designed to be short range so that all the walmarts in a particular city can use it without hearing one another.

The FCC doesn't really want you using it to talk across town. That's not the idea they had in mind. Same goes for FRS. Every subdivision needs to be isolated from the one next to it so all the children can sing songs on there without risking interfering with part 90 users that are very nearby.

Using radios with removable antennas and higher power is probably not something they're going to go for because while it would be neat, it would defeat the purpose and goal of having those radio services. As for GMRS, I think it's pretty clear they don't really want avery many people really using that radio service either. Regardless, the thought to allow the dualbanders probably never entered their mind because the rules were revised or written 10+ years before those even rolled out.
 

prcguy

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You say "The FCC doesn't really want you using it to talk across town. That's not the idea they had in mind." Problem with that statement is the FCC has become a mindless puppet of the current administration. They just try to interpret (usually incorrectly) and enforce the rules.
prcguy


Keep in mind that the rules were written many years before the first Chinese field programmable dual bander was even manufactured.

MURS isn't really designed for hobbiests to use it as a long range CB type radio service. It's to keep the Walmarts of the world in a designated place and keep them off of licensed frequencies (that they won't get a license for). It's also designed to be short range so that all the walmarts in a particular city can use it without hearing one another.

The FCC doesn't really want you using it to talk across town. That's not the idea they had in mind. Same goes for FRS. Every subdivision needs to be isolated from the one next to it so all the children can sing songs on there without risking interfering with part 90 users that are very nearby.

Using radios with removable antennas and higher power is probably not something they're going to go for because while it would be neat, it would defeat the purpose and goal of having those radio services. As for GMRS, I think it's pretty clear they don't really want avery many people really using that radio service either. Regardless, the thought to allow the dualbanders probably never entered their mind because the rules were revised or written 10+ years before those even rolled out.
 

Smaug

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Did you know that FRS and GMRS are UHF?

MURS is VHF.

VHF and UHF are just a definitions of frequencies.

My point is that I'm not sure what you meant when you said "FRS used on VHF/UHF radios." since FRS is already UHF.
 

Smaug

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OK, now to adress some of the other issues:

Why can't they just allow users to throttle back the power when on certain frequencies? Just refer to how well that worked for CB. Legally, they're only allowed to be 4W. Yet they're routinely amplified by truckers to put out a lot more power than that.

That's also probably why external / modified antennas aren't allowed. Height is might in these frequency ranges. If one could use a good quality UHF antenna, and put it 50' up on a tower, it would be the equivalent of boosting the power by 500 W or more. Those restrictive rules are to make these bands usable by the great uneducated public to do what they want to do without polluting the RF spectrum for everyone.

To me, right after I ordered a set of FRS/GMRS radios, I learned about MURS. Too bad, but the MURS radios are a lot more expensive, in general, than FRS/GMRS.
 

samdog

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Did you know that FRS and GMRS are UHF?

MURS is VHF.

VHF and UHF are just a definitions of frequencies.

My point is that I'm not sure what you meant when you said "FRS used on VHF/UHF radios." since FRS is already UHF.
Am an engineer so am well aware of this. My point is this: you shell out $ for a nice VHF/UHF radio (which encompasses all the FRS/GMRS/MURS frequencies within those two bands) and then are told that although your radio can tune to these, you can't legally use them to transmit………..

Want to use FRS/GMRS: must buy a hybrid or semi dedicated radio. A novel idea: why not allow use of these frequencies on a wide spectrum hand held VHF/UHF radio??? Right now can't do it legally. Same for MURS. MURS radios must be part 95 compliant and generally are limited to radios having only the 5 MURS frequencies and I ask, why?? A hand held VHF/UHF can tune to MURS frequencies but you can't legally transmit on it

My post was meant to use others as a sounding board to see if I understand why these can't be used on a VHF/UHF radio. I would then refine my argument and use that to approach the FCC asking that some or all of these restrictions be done away with.

Sure, CB's boost power well above what they are limited to but the FCC allows FRS/GMRS Hybrids to be sold to anyone with only the caution that they obtain a GMRS license before using GMRS. If the FCC trusts completely unlicensed users to do this, they should have no problem counting on Ham licensed individuals (who already own VHF/UHF radios) to comply with any new restrictions that might be imposed as a result of allowing the use of these frequencies on VHF/UHF radios. A Ham licensed individual has a lot more to lose (their Ham license) if they failed to follow any restrictions imposed as a result of using these frequencies on VHF/UHF radios. So…why trust unlicensed people to get a GMRS license prior to using it but not trust a Ham to comply?????

Similar arguments can be made for allowing use of any of the FRS/GMRS/MURS frequencies on these radios.

Bottom line: compliance would be much more assured because the FCC would be dealing with people who are already Ham licensed and who would therefore be more likely to obey any new rules.
 

samdog

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Regulations are still regulations and must be complied with. Whether or not your logic makes sense, the regulations are still nonetheless, in force. The only way this will change is if the regulations are changed. This forum is not a place to propose such changes. Anyone can submit a Petition for Rulemaking.
Actually it is a place to discuss this. Before rule changes can be proposed one must first understand the problem. My post was meant to use forum members as a sounding board to see if I understand the problem correctly. Once you folks correct any of my errors I would then like to approach the FCC about these changes but first I need your and others input to my post.
 

WB4CS

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Here's why it's not legal and why radios need to be certified to work within a specific band. Spurious emissions. I didn't want to retype all of this, so here's my post from another thread that deals with this: http://forums.radioreference.com/bu...gally-use-my-baofeng-uv-5r-2.html#post2253142

Logical or not, it's the rules. I'd love to be able to drive 90 MPH on the freeway and not get a speeding ticket, I mean, I can handle a car at 90 MPH. But, those pesky laws get in the way!
 

Smaug

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Well samdog, I think the current FCC laws are meant to address the worst-case radio users. Ignorant people who want something better than a toy walkie talkie, but can't be bothered to actually learn about RF theory or to be courteous.

With CBs, they limited the power to 4W. The fact that THAT didn't work is not their fault; people were buying/building illegal amplifiers.

I'm not sure if there's a height restriction for CB antennas or gain restriction. So you take a mostly ignorant guy who buys a 4W CB, gets a high gain antenna and puts it way up on the roof, (or God forbid, a tower) and has an amplifier. Combine that with favorable solar conditions so the signal can bounce around the world... The result is that the band is ruined for everyone but truckers.

Now 40 years later, they've learned from that lesson:

  • They use UHF frequencies, which don't bounce off the atmosphere.
  • They limit the power even more, to 1/8 the power allowed to a CB
  • They limit antennas to low gain, radio-mounted, non-replaceable rubber ducks.

Now take GMRS:
  • 100X more power is allowed, but it's still only 50 W. (1500 W is allowed in ham radio)
  • They require a license, which probably makes the licensee read and sign that they understand the rules, then assign a callsign. Now, they at least have a chance to track illegal trasmitters.
  • UHF still won't bounce, and I believe it is too high a frequency even to have tropospheric ducting.

Lastly, although USERS won't always follow the rules, they can make sure MANUFACTURERS do, as they stand to lose too much by not obeying. Manufacturers will stretch the rules to the extreme, in order to sell more radios. The long ranges advertised in big letters on bubble pack radios is a prime example.

Reading through the instruction sheet for my new Motorola MR350R radios, they actually don't make it very clear that one is supposed to have a license to use high power on the GMRS channels. Result? Unlicensed users will be transmitting at 1.5 W on the GMRS channels all the time. By allowing GMRS and FRS to share channels and be combined in one radio, the FCC pretty much knew that the shared channels would immediately turn into high power (up to 5W) FRS channels.

Bottom line: you're not going to win with the FCC on this issue. May as well just continue the fight to drop licensing requirements for GMRS.

Bottom line #2: If you're educated enough to be understanding all these nuances and to fight this fight, you should just acquiesce and get your ham Technician license. Then, use the ham frequencies, where there are a lot fewer ignorant users. Have more flexibility in radios, antennas, repeaters...

Once you do that, you'll probably only ever use FRS/GMRS to communicate with your unlicensed family and friends. You'll always have this feeling that they don't know what they're missing.
 
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willgrah

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There are radios around that are Part 90 and 95 type accepted and are on the upper level of performance. For instance my GMRS handhelds are Ritron SLX-400, perfectly legal on GMRS at 4 Watts and with a GMRS license you can now transmit on FRS at up to 5 Watts. The same radio works very well on 70cm. A radio like the SLX-100 would do just fine on MURS in the medium power setting which is 2 Watts. These are good 2 Meter radios also. However to my knowledge there are not any Part 95 dual band radios around. It just takes a little research to find quality radios that are Part 95 type accepted but they are out there. These radios also have SMA connectors and removable antennas so they can be adapted to a mobile or base antenna. That is where your performance comes in, quality antennas.

Another trick is to look for older radios listed as Red Dot, Blue Dot excetra. These were the old unlicensed business bands and although at the momment I forget (google it) which DOTS are which, two of them were folded into the MURS channels. So what I am saying is that you can find a nice older HT that works on a MURS frequency for not too many dollars. Just watch the outputs and you wil have a top shelf radio for close to nothing.
 

gewecke

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There are radios around that are Part 90 and 95 type accepted and are on the upper level of performance. For instance my GMRS handhelds are Ritron SLX-400, perfectly legal on GMRS at 4 Watts and with a GMRS license you can now transmit on FRS at up to 5 Watts. The same radio works very well on 70cm. A radio like the SLX-100 would do just fine on MURS in the medium power setting which is 2 Watts. These are good 2 Meter radios also. However to my knowledge there are not any Part 95 dual band radios around. It just takes a little research to find quality radios that are Part 95 type accepted but they are out there. These radios also have SMA connectors and removable antennas so they can be adapted to a mobile or base antenna. That is where your performance comes in, quality antennas.

Another trick is to look for older radios listed as Red Dot, Blue Dot excetra. These were the old unlicensed business bands and although at the momment I forget (google it) which DOTS are which, two of them were folded into the MURS channels. So what I am saying is that you can find a nice older HT that works on a MURS frequency for not too many dollars. Just watch the outputs and you wil have a top shelf radio for close to nothing.

Do a little more research ... NO you can NOT transmit on FRS at 5 watts just because you might have a GMRS license. FRS is limited to 0.5 watts period, this rule has no exceptions licensed or not.

73,
n9zas
 

willgrah

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Do a little more research ... NO you can NOT transmit on FRS at 5 watts just because you might have a GMRS license. FRS is limited to 0.5 watts period, this rule has no exceptions licensed or not.

73,
n9zas
Yes you can, look at the channel chart. Also if you have some time read the rules that govern GMRS. Her is a link to the channel chart provided by RadioReference.

FRS/GMRS combined channel chart - The RadioReference Wiki
 

gewecke

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Ok, I see what you're referring to here. GMRS "splinter" channels which are the 462.5625 - 462.7125 are indeed allowed up to 5 watts, and in recent years since FRS was established are referred to as FRS 1-7. In the earlier years these were considered GMRS.

I am referring to 467.5625 - 467.7125 (Frs ch.8-14) which are ONLY allowed 2.5khz deviation @ 0.5 watts from a fixed/non removable antenna by rule, whether GMRS licensed or not.

Many of us who have been using GMRS since the late 60's of the former class A citizens band don't consider the lower set of splinters as Frs channels.

73,
n9zas
 

willgrah

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I think they call them "interant" channels in the whole of Part 95A. But yes you are correct it is not all of them, I should have made that more clear. What it does though is allow you some commonality with even a Hello Kitty FRS only radio. So if someone is stepping up to a bigger system they do not have to trash the lesser radios. Do I use them, no, never had a need, but they are programmed into my base on Low Power with the other channels. I can pick up these little radios from several miles when someone is transmitting on them. It really just expands the options and I think in terms of an emergency is a good tool for the box.

I think the biggest problem with FRS/GMRS is the blister pack radios in general. The misadvertising and false expections of range. But once licensed GMRS is a very viable way for the whole family to communicate. A few extra watts or even up to the max of 50 on GMRS 1 thu 8 and repeater use, a real base antenna mounted above the roofline is cabable of covering a fairly sizable area even if only matched to a 4 Watt handheld. It is all about the antenna and of course line of sight. Like I tell everyone, it is like climbing a tree with UHF radio. The higher you go up the tree the more you can see. In radio terms the higher the antenna the more signal that can be detected.

Regards, Bill
 

gewecke

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Ok, gotcha bill.

That's all common knowledge to those of us who have been there from the beginning.

73,
n9zas
 
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