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GMRS and Organizations

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DisasterGuy

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The call sign is the actual license, has nothing to do with individuals. I would also look at used entry level Motorola radios long before something like the Chinese imports you mention. You are running a business not a hobby.


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samster96

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The call sign is the actual license, has nothing to do with individuals. I would also look at used entry level Motorola radios long before something like the Chinese imports you mention. You are running a business not a hobby.


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Any suggestion on specific models?
 

SteveC0625

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Another question I have about the business band: Is it an umbrella licence? The FCC fee schedule has the applications listed as "per call sign." I can't imagine that most Boy Scout Councils / small businesses spend that kind of money for each person who has a radio?
You are looking at it from the wrong end. "Per call sign" basically means per license. For example, we have a license with a single call sign that covers 3 frequencies, one with a base and mobiles and the other two are mobile only, but all at a single location. That means there are 4 lines of authorization on the license; 1 base frequency at a single location and then 3 mobile frequencies based on a radius around that same location. In our case, we're authorized 15 mobiles on each frequency.

In your case, you'd apply for several itinerant frequencies, probably all low power at 5 watts VHF. (VHF seems best for your situation.) Itinerant frequencies are shared, but by having several of them on your license, you can simply move your operation to a different frequency if there is any conflict.

Since there is no coordination required, you could apply for quite a few itinerant VHF frequencies at minimal cost. One license with one call sign, but multiple frequencies that you can use. That's how Boy Scouts, Ski Patrol, and many other national organizations with lots of local branches do their licensing. Not all of them use the itinerant frequencies, but the principal is the same. For you, it would be one license (and one call sign) with several itinerant frequencies.

A bonus that you may not have considered is that your itinerant license would allow you to take radios where ever the scout activities go and still operate totally legally.
 

SteveC0625

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Any suggestion on specific models?
The Commercial Series CP200 4 or 16 channel models would be ideal for your application. 5 Watts, small and rugged, and lots of useful accessories like headsets, speaker mics, earphones, carry cases and more are available from Motorola and many aftermarket sources.

I manage 15 CP200XLS VHS portables for our ambulance service. That model is a step up with 32 channel capacity and a limited keypad and display, but that is the only real difference. They are very dependable and we've had no problems yet in the two years that we've had them.

I carry mine all day most days in an aftermarket radio belt holster. I am very pleased with these radios.

List price is $447 for the 4 channel VHF and $482 for the 16 channel VHF. There are usually package deals to be had with significant discounts.

There are other Motorola radios to be had a lower cost but I prefer the dependability of the Commercial and Professional Series products right now for analog conventional. Digital is probably on our horizon due to State and Fed grant money in the pipeline, but that's another issue all together.
 

samster96

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You are looking at it from the wrong end. "Per call sign" basically means per license. For example, we have a license with a single call sign that covers 3 frequencies, one with a base and mobiles and the other two are mobile only, but all at a single location. That means there are 4 lines of authorization on the license; 1 base frequency at a single location and then 3 mobile frequencies based on a radius around that same location. In our case, we're authorized 15 mobiles on each frequency.

In your case, you'd apply for several itinerant frequencies, probably all low power at 5 watts VHF. (VHF seems best for your situation.) Itinerant frequencies are shared, but by having several of them on your license, you can simply move your operation to a different frequency if there is any conflict.

Since there is no coordination required, you could apply for quite a few itinerant VHF frequencies at minimal cost. One license with one call sign, but multiple frequencies that you can use. That's how Boy Scouts, Ski Patrol, and many other national organizations with lots of local branches do their licensing. Not all of them use the itinerant frequencies, but the principal is the same. For you, it would be one license (and one call sign) with several itinerant frequencies.

A bonus that you may not have considered is that your itinerant license would allow you to take radios where ever the scout activities go and still operate totally legally.

Thanks, that really clears things up regarding licensing . I just passed my HAM tech license a few days ago so as soon as I get a FRN number from the FCC I will log in and investigate the itinerant frequencies. I do also think that VHF is going to be the best option. When I tested a couple of Baofeng UV-3Rs and UV-82s and they seemed to work a great distances (with the crappy stock duck antennas keep in mind,) with the exception of inside the dining hall (which has a big metal roof.) We were able to hear transmissions going out just fine, but not coming in.

Unfortunately, I don't think that we will be able to afford the Motorolas, or even something cheaper, like Vertexes. Like I said, I have $1000 a year to spend, and this year I am working on getting our own radio system set up (previously we had borrowed radios from a contact who worked for Motorola.

These radios will be used at 4 weekend events, and possibly a few weeks during the summer. Pretty much they will need to be light to medium duty radios, and something that can be easily replaced and programmed if broken. I think that is why I am so fixed on the Baofengs (specifically the UV-82.) If we use them with an upgraded antenna such as the Nagoya NA-701, I think that they will preform very well with 5 or more watts of power on a business frequency.
 

mirayge

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The problem with using baofeng, wouxon, etc. radios is that even a monkey can hit the vfo/mr button and put it in frequency mode. With people coming and going, not familiar with the radio, they can punch in any frequency they want. I thought bussiness type accepted radios weren't supposed to be programmable by the end user, but hey they snuck them past. Giving them out to multiple people could open you to liability.
 

rapidcharger

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I know the ideal option would be to get everyone certified with HAM )))
No, that's not ideal. :wink:

(((Another question I have about the business band: Is it an umbrella licence? The FCC fee schedule has the applications listed as "per call sign." I can't imagine that most Boy Scout Councils / small businesses spend that kind of money for each person who has a radio?
There isn't really anything umbrella-ish about part 90 licenses. They are very specific and include the locations all of the transmitters and where mobile radios (including portables) can be used. They also specify the number of radios that can operated under the license. And they are specific to a entity and their eligibility. It is not a per person fee however.

You may be able to get authorized from another council to use their license but if you're registered as different entities, that will require you to get your own license. The only time that it doesn't, is when a company is granted a license to share that license with other "eligibles".
 
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DaveNF2G

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I would be cautious of buying used Part 90 repeaters privately. Anything you put on the air within Part 90 VHF High or UHF spectrum must be narrowband.
 

rapidcharger

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A bonus that you may not have considered is that your itinerant license would allow you to take radios where ever the scout activities go and still operate totally legally.
Provided, of course, that the license includes the areas they wish to operate. A license to operate itinerants can be written to include just a single county, or single state or a larger region or the continental US, or all 50 states. Not to pick nits but a couple of the itinerant frequencies are restricted in certain geographic areas.


Unfortunately, I don't think that we will be able to afford the Motorolas, or even something cheaper, like Vertexes. Like I said, I have $1000 a year to spend, and this year I am working on getting our own radio system set up (previously we had borrowed radios from a contact who worked for Motorola.
I don't know how many total radios you're looking for, but you can buy some decent professional /commercial radios for about $200 each, NEW from dealer, with full factory warranty. Something like the Icom F-14 or F-3011. Those are what the film crews and gold miners are using in the tv series Gold Rush, if you ever watch that.
And the nice thing about buying from a dealer, is that many of them will help you get licensed. Since they may be experienced with the licensing, that can be a big time saver for someone who hasn't done it before and you might be able to negotiate that with the sale.
 

SteveC0625

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Provided, of course, that the license includes the areas they wish to operate. A license to operate itinerants can be written to include just a single county, or single state or a larger region or the continental US, or all 50 states. Not to pick nits but a couple of the itinerant frequencies are restricted in certain geographic areas.
No dispute with you here, I was just trying to keep the concept out front and not the particulars. KISS priniciple...

But it does stir my thinking a bit. For the OP, have you checked to see if your council (presuming that it is BSA or similar, GSA, YMCA, YWCA, whatever.) is already licensed? If they are, then much of the conversation we've had may be a moot point. If you'll give us the name of the council, we can run it through ULS in no time flat unless you're already familiar with doing that kind of search.
 

samster96

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The problem with using baofeng, wouxon, etc. radios is that even a monkey can hit the vfo/mr button and put it in frequency mode. With people coming and going, not familiar with the radio, they can punch in any frequency they want. I thought bussiness type accepted radios weren't supposed to be programmable by the end user, but hey they snuck them past. Giving them out to multiple people could open you to liability.
Actually, with the UV-82s, to change from channel to VFO mode, you have to actually hold down the menu button when turning it on to make the switch, not that easy to do by accident. The programming software also makes it easy to turn the keypad lock on by default, lock out frequencies / lock it down to certain channels, etc. The only thing that I think is undesirable about these things is the dual PTT button, and of course, the mediocre build quality. But they are a big step-up from the bubble pack radios we were using for a while.

I don't know how many total radios you're looking for, but you can buy some decent professional /commercial radios for about $200 each, NEW from dealer, with full factory warranty. Something like the Icom F-14 or F-3011. Those are what the film crews and gold miners are using in the tv series Gold Rush, if you ever watch that.
And the nice thing about buying from a dealer, is that many of them will help you get licensed. Since they may be experienced with the licensing, that can be a big time saver for someone who hasn't done it before and you might be able to negotiate that with the sale.

We were looking for about a dozen. Like I've been saying, I have a $1000 budget as it stands right now. I may be able to squeeze an extra hundred or two into that, but not much more. Its sad really, but with a $1000 a year budget, if one ore two break once in a blue moon, the $50 to replace it would not be that big of a deal. It would also not be a problem if we decided to make it a "you break it, you bought it" policy.


No dispute with you here, I was just trying to keep the concept out front and not the particulars. KISS priniciple...

But it does stir my thinking a bit. For the OP, have you checked to see if your council (presuming that it is BSA or similar, GSA, YMCA, YWCA, whatever.) is already licensed? If they are, then much of the conversation we've had may be a moot point. If you'll give us the name of the council, we can run it through ULS in no time flat unless you're already familiar with doing that kind of search.

I ran the search in the ULS myself looking for things that my council might file under as far as a name goes. No dice.
 

k8zgw

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You know what thay say about opinions

And everybody has one,

You could get an itinerant license for an Low Power Industrial
(LPI) repeater pair. You would be amazed what a 2 watt repeater
can do.solid Handheld coverage in a two to three radius is generally
Not a problem.

Do a search on the FCC web site for:
Industrial/Business Pool Channel Pairs Designated for Low Power Use

I have a number in service

Don
 

rapidcharger

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We were looking for about a dozen. Like I've been saying, I have a $1000 budget as it stands right now. I may be able to squeeze an extra hundred or two into that, but not much more. Its sad really, but with a $1000 a year budget, if one ore two break once in a blue moon, the $50 to replace it would not be that big of a deal. It would also not be a problem if we decided to make it a "you break it, you bought it" policy.)))
So this year you start out with 5, next year you grow to 10. The next year you get the rest.
I don't know a whole lot about the long term durability of the baofengs. I don't know that anyone does seeing as how they're still pretty new, especially the 82.
But its safe to say those were designed to be disposable radios. Maybe they'll last several years, maybe they won't. If they have to all be replaced within a few years, you can see how that gets pretty expensive.
Another thing to ask yourself is are you coordinating activities that involve the life and safety of children and is communication an area you think is a good place to skimp out?


(((I ran the search in the ULS myself looking for things that my council might file under as far as a name goes. No dice.
Try doing a search by just their zipcode and narrow it down to just "IG".
Many times the slightest difference in the name and it won't come up.
 

Duster

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I don't usually jump into these sorts of debates, but I have a little background that might help. I work in public safety communications, and also spent several years helping set up and running a large church-based comm system utilizing 5 simplex UHF frequencies, about 50 portables, and a communications center for our summer bible camp which drew about 5000 people including children and adult staffers. Here's my two cents worth...

The only thing that I think is undesirable about these things is the dual PTT button, and of course, the mediocre build quality. But they are a big step-up from the bubble pack radios we were using for a while.
We were looking for about a dozen. Like I've been saying, I have a $1000 budget as it stands right now. I may be able to squeeze an extra hundred or two into that, but not much more. Its sad really, but with a $1000 a year budget, if one ore two break once in a blue moon, the $50 to replace it would not be that big of a deal. It would also not be a problem if we decided to make it a "you break it, you bought it" policy.
If you already notice the 'mediocre build quality', then that should be a red flag for you right there. I haven't personally played with any of the recent Chinese 'disposable' radios, but what I have heard about them has not impressed me. Being familiar with what you are trying to do, and likely how you will be using the radios (I would take our comms 'on the road' throughout the year when we would take groups to Christian camps for outings), I think you will discover that it will be more expensive in the long run to buy all your Baofengs (or whatever you choose) up front and then deal with repair and replacement as they get broken, than it would to do as someone else mentioned and get quality radios (I like the Moto CP200's, but any business-quality radio brand will work) even if you have to buy them in stages. Yes, they may be cheaper to replace, but I will almost guarantee you that a dropped Baofeng will be more likely to stop working than a dropped CP200. We use the 200's and they get abused, usually by people who only know how to turn them on, and not much else. They fall from belts, get carried by the antenna, get left lying around, etc, etc, etc. They are robust, and we seldom had to replace them. There is more to overall cost of service than just the initial purchase price.

You can go though a shop and buy them new (or possibly second-hand if they have any that have been traded by someone else), and they will handle your programming and set-up for you (for a price).

If, and ONLY IF, you have someone in your organization who is radio-savvy, or wants to learn to be, you can try another option: Research and buy your radios on the open market (*Bay, etc), contact Motorola (or whoever the maker is), purchase a copy of the programming software, and you can set up and manage your own system. This route is not for someone with no radio knowledge or skill, but it also is not rocket science if you are computer literate, and somewhat technically capable. The key here is to stay legal doing it, and ask questions if you don't understand something. I have never had a problem finding radio professionals who were willing to help me out with technical questions, especially since you ARE a non-profit and not making money off the radios.

Frequency bands: Our church system is on UHF, and it worked for us at first. But as our footprint expanded, I really wished we were on VHF, because we began having trouble talking from one end of the campus to the other (there were some large buildings and terrain features in the middle). We did not have a repeater, and although I tried for several years to get them to install one, senior staff felt it was not financially feasible, even though everyone agreed we had outgrown our current system. Generally speaking, UHF propagates better in buildings and urban areas, while VHF has better range in the open. Having two radios side by side (UHF 4 watt and VHF 5 watt) in an open environment, you will usually find that VHF carries farther than UHF, dependent upon certain variables. I work almost exclusively with VHF in my job, and UHF in my church gig, so I have a lot of experience with both. I would strongly recommend you listen to the other people here who have recommended VHF for your application. Picking a radio and then tailoring your system around it is usually the backwards way to engineer a system. You should pick the frequency band that best suits your operation, get the frequencies licensed, THEN choose the best radio to meet your requirements.

There is a lot of great knowledge on here, and most people want to help, but bear in mind that each of us have our own opinions on what is 'best'. If in doubt, always consult someone locally (radio shop, techs, comm person for another local organization) who knows your specific variables.

Good luck!!
 

k8zgw

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WHICH RADIO ??

Although this thread has morphed from GMRS to a more "professional radio"
thread - as Dave has said, EVERYBODY has an opinion ...

Let me say, IF it were me doing this project, I would license a UHF LPI
channel, get a 2 watt repeater as well as a few 2 watt handhelds.
Install the repeater as close to the center of the property as feasible
and give it a try.
In this day in age, I would not listen to the "Motorola hype", because
Motorola has been manufacturing a lot of their radios in
Malaysia for years, and there not any better then a lot of Chinese imports.
I currently have a "Golden Spring" duel band handheld that cost me $40.00
and It has had no problems, other then the manual, which is currently in
"re-write". My favorite UHF handheld, is a Quansheng" Scon V, which is a 5 watt
radio, just a little bigger then a pack of king size cigarettes, has been dropped
any number of times, and is still working great. This is yet another $40.00 Radio.

Don, K8ZGW Euclid , Ohio
 

AA4TX

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Samster96,

I have set up and maintained all of the systems for the Southwest Florida Council's camps for the past 10 years. I sent you a PM if you would like to talk about the particulars of a successful system for your camp.

John
AA4TX
 

DarinH

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For those of you not familiar with Scouting, the guy with the original post is a Ranger at the camp. That means he's a full time employee of the council, and these radios wi be used for business purposes while he is at work, so HAM is not a legal option, and the HAMs police their bands well.

The cheap Chinese will all work on MURS. Do that. You don't need a repeater to cover a mile. But the baofengs and a few of the better ones. Set them all up on one freq (or two). Loan out the cheaper radios, give the better ones to your more reliable staff. Publish the frequency and suggest that people shell out the $35 for their own uv5re and then it isn't your problem anymore.

After a summer, you'll know which radios held up and which ones didn't. Don't buy more of the bad ones, and then come back here and tell us all which held up and which didn't.

Spend $400 or less of your $1000. Put the other $600 into tools, pool chemicals, dishwasher, water leaks, etc. You've got bigger problems than comm.
 

CaptDan

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I have to agree somewhat - not sure if you stated how big of an area you need to cover - or if coverage needs to be from portable to portable or just portable to a base?

A inexpensive hand held such as the Baofeng GT-3 , a nice small $50.00 unit, with an upgraded antenna might work just fine for you. You could use it on the MURS frequencies - just like Wal Mart does - no license required. If you just require communication from units in the field and a central location such as "the office" you can even mount an outside antenna on the office and connect to a hand held unit you keep in the office.

This would also work if units in the field just need to communicate with other units in the field working is close proximity to each other - say within the same 50 acres or so, or with the office.

If you require communications between units in the field - all over your property and it covers a large land area - hand held unit to hand held unit - then you may require a repeater - only way to tell is try a couple of radio's out.

With MURS there are 5 frequencies to choose from - you can use any or all. The radios can be locked to prevent users from accidentally entering any additional frequencies. At $50.00 a radio you could afford to provide individualized radios to your permanent staff. We found radio's lasted a lot longer and were taken much better care of when they were assigned to specific individuals rather than being part of a pool of radios.

Another advantage of using MURS and assigning the radios to individual's - they can be programmed with up to 5 MURS frequencies or just one as you decide your communications plan. For example, if maintenance only needs to talk among themselves and the office, then only frequency assigned to maintenance needs to be put in their radios, or a maintenance frequency and a camp wide frequency that they use to contact the office. Same would go for other units withing the camp - only you can decide how it would work best for you - but with MURS you can utilize 5 frequencies, and do not need to program the same frequencies into all of the radios - again for example if you wanted a frequency or "channel" so just the full time adult camp staff could talk to each other just program that frequency into radios assigned to the appropriate staff.

With MURS there is no license required and you get to use 2 watts with a detachable antenna.

just my 2 cents .....keep us posted
 
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jbailey618

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Here's my 2 cents. I have a few GMRS repeaters up and they are great! Commercial grade Kenwood TKR-850's that put out 40 watts, are in commercial radio towers at 4500 foot elevation etc... The reach is over 50 miles in each direction from the tower. You don't need that kind of reach, so here's my simple suggestion. Kenwood TKR-850-1 repeaters are now in the $500 range on eBay regularly. for 100.00 you can buy a new power supply. For another $100.00 you can get a 6 pot duplexer. Another 100.00 in cable and under $50.00 for an Ed Fong UHF Antenna kit on eBay. Now you have money left over to pay for someone to program the repeater to a frequency and tune your duplexer. If you add up all the GMRS license costs (let's say 10 people at $85.00 each, there is another $850 you'll need to spend. Don't go GMRS, simply because of the "individual licensing" as well as the part where you're not to use GMRS for business. Just register a pair of commercial UHF frequencies (Usually about $500-$600 for coordination, the license fees and application submission from a coordinator). I'd also go with UHF since there is no need to go great distances outdoors, and the shorter wavelength penetrates buildings a little easier if that's a requirement (cabins? vs. Tents) If you need greater distances outdoors over some hills etc... ten VHF would be a good choice and a TKR-750-1 Repeater would be the choice with a VHF Duplexer and Ed Fong Antenna for VHF. I would recommend Buytwowayradios.com for frequency coordination and licensing.

This also puts you into a position where anyone can use the radios under the camps license, and you can use all the Baofeng, Wouxun, Kenwood, Motorola, Icom, Bendix etc...Part 90 Certified (narrow mans of course) radios you wish. Also, turn the Kenwood Repeater down to 10 watts or so, as you really won't need too much power if you get your antenna up 30-50 feet in a good tree, so your entire camp is covered, but you're not transmitting too far away... unless that would be a useful feature, then 40 watts, and more height on your antenna would really do wonders. This could be a great project for the scouts. Communication Merit Badge?

Another advantage of having the commercial frequency pair is that you can use the repeater input frequency on a different PL tone than the repeater as a "tactical" frequency if that's necessary.

FCC Radio Licensing Services
 
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