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GMRS Confusion

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KG5HHS

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Hello everyone,
I have looked up a lot of info on GMRS but it is either very vague or the answers are conflicting. I am wanting to apply for a GMRS license so that me and my family can utilize radios to talk on. Using both handhelp/portable radios and mobile radios installed in our vehicles. I am also planning on setting up a repeater.
My first question is, what is the make power output? Would I be correct in handhelds/portables are 5watts, mobile radios in a vehicle are 5-50watts and a repeater transmitting at a maximum of 50watts?
My second question is, with me wanting a repeater is there anything extra in the initial filling or doing another filing? can I just pick any of the GMRS frequencies, plug a receive and transmit and get to talking?
My third and final question is, what radios are acceptable for this and what modes? I plan on using Harris p7100's for handhelds, GE Erickson Orion's in our vehicles, and I'm not sure on a repeater yet. Will these work? Also, I plan on talking analog and using two tone paging. Is this accepatible?
 

KD8DVR

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Columbus, Ohio
Hello everyone,
I have looked up a lot of info on GMRS but it is either very vague or the answers are conflicting. I am wanting to apply for a GMRS license so that me and my family can utilize radios to talk on. Using both handhelp/portable radios and mobile radios installed in our vehicles. I am also planning on setting up a repeater.
My first question is, what is the make power output? Would I be correct in handhelds/portables are 5watts, mobile radios in a vehicle are 5-50watts and a repeater transmitting at a maximum of 50watts?
My second question is, with me wanting a repeater is there anything extra in the initial filling or doing another filing? can I just pick any of the GMRS frequencies, plug a receive and transmit and get to talking?
My third and final question is, what radios are acceptable for this and what modes? I plan on using Harris p7100's for handhelds, GE Erickson Orion's in our vehicles, and I'm not sure on a repeater yet. Will these work? Also, I plan on talking analog and using two tone paging. Is this accepatible?
You are correct on your first question.

Second question: You don't require any additional licensing on top of your GMRS license. Pick a pair and have fun.

Third question: Any Part 95A certified radio will work, or any commercial grade radio made before the Part 95A certification requirement took hold. Originally, any business band radio was legal on GMRS, before the certification rules came into being. There is also a consensus that any commercial grade radios meet the GMRs specifications. Sorry, I forget the date of the rule changes. I'm unsure about paging, as it is considered a one way transmission. Tone IDs and signalling, in many cases are legal.

I'm sure others will weigh in to clarify/correct better.
 

mmckenna

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Hello everyone,
I have looked up a lot of info on GMRS but it is either very vague or the answers are conflicting. I am wanting to apply for a GMRS license so that me and my family can utilize radios to talk on. Using both handhelp/portable radios and mobile radios installed in our vehicles. I am also planning on setting up a repeater.
Good choice. I did that for years before I was able to get others in the family to get their amateur radio licenses. For those that don't want to get their ham licenses, GMRS is an excellent solution.

My first question is, what is the make power output? Would I be correct in handhelds/portables are 5watts, mobile radios in a vehicle are 5-50watts and a repeater transmitting at a maximum of 50watts?

Maximum power output isn't dependent on the radio type, but on the frequency.
The 8 primary GMRS channel pairs are limited to 50 watts, however you can use gain antennas and increase the ERP above 50 watts. Many repeaters are running 40-50 watts off the transmitter into higher gain antennas and seeing ERP levels from 100-300 watts.

The 7 interstitial frequencies (the ones shared with FRS) are limited to 5 watts ERP.

While it's uncommon to find a UHF hand held radio that does more than 4 or 5 watts, there isn't any rule in GMRS that says you can't run more. It's just not realistic based on batteries and not necessarily safe for a hand held radio.

So, totally legal for you to run 50 watts on the primary channels and on your repeater. Add gain antennas and enjoy the increased ERP.



My second question is, with me wanting a repeater is there anything extra in the initial filling or doing another filing? can I just pick any of the GMRS frequencies, plug a receive and transmit and get to talking?
The repeater does not require separate or special licensing. Your GMRS license covers your GMRS repeater.

As for picking frequencies, it's common courtesy to check to see what's around you first. In some areas of the country there are many active repeaters. Some are even grandfathered business repeaters (totally legal). Popping up on a GMRS pair without checking to see if it's in use would be bad form. GMRS licensees are expected to cooperate. No frequency is reserved for any specific user. Also, you will need to pick a CTCSS or DCS code for your system. Since there are a lot of GMRS users, both licensed and unlicensed, as well as FRS radios that operate on 467MHz frequencies tucked in between the GMRS repeater inputs, running CTCSS or DCS on your repeater input will almost always be necessary. If not, one kid with a slightly out of whack FRS radio can tie up your repeater for hours with deedle tones, noises, music, fart noises, etc. Don't be that guy that blankets and entire area with that.
You'll also want a CTCSS or DCS tone on your repeater output. That way your family won't have to listen to everyone else on the same GMRS channel.
DCS tones give you a slight amount more protection as there are more of them and less likely someone will "accidentally" be running the same DCS code.
None of that stops people from trying to hack into your repeater. Make sure you have a way of disabling it if necessary.

Repeaters can be private or open to the licensed public. Your choice. With the right repeater controller, you can program multiple CTCSS or DCS tones to allow other users to not hear other traffic. I used to have access to a GMRS repeater, many years ago. Had my own CTCSS tone and pretty much had the channel to myself and my family. Since it was a "non-standard" CTCSS tone, I could leave a base radio on in the house 24x7 and not be annoyed by others.



My third and final question is, what radios are acceptable for this and what modes? I plan on using Harris p7100's for handhelds, GE Erickson Orion's in our vehicles, and I'm not sure on a repeater yet. Will these work? Also, I plan on talking analog and using two tone paging. Is this accepatible?
Any radio that has the FCC type certification for Part 95/GMRS is legal. There are a number of options. Some older Motorola's were. A lot of the Kenwoods are. Many Icoms are. Best to get the FCC ID off the radio you are thinking of using and running it through the database over on the FCC-OET page. That's the definitive answer source.
 

lmrtek

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unless you live in an extremely remote area, there are likely plenty of repeaters already in the area you can use

the standard isolation radius for UHF repeaters is 75 miles
 

mmckenna

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Thanks for all the information! it has been very helpful. What about call signs?
What about them?
The FCC will assign one to you. That call sign is for you and your family. Your repeater does not need to ID, but it doesn't hurt if it does.
 

KG5HHS

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What about them?
The FCC will assign one to you. That call sign is for you and your family. Your repeater does not need to ID, but it doesn't hurt if it does.
Ok, so all of us will use the same one? I know you said the repeater doesn't have to do but do we have to I'd at the beginning and end of conversation and every 10mins?
 

mmckenna

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Yeah, I forget what the specifics are, but every 10 minutes and at the end of the conversation.

Your immediate family is under the same license.
 

KG5HHS

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Awesome, thank you! Sorry for all the questions, they are just coming to me. Other than monitoring frequencies, is there a database or some way to know if a GMRS repeater is already in use on the particular frequency set I choose.
 

Rred

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mm-
"While it's uncommon to find a UHF hand held radio that does more than 4 or 5 watts, there isn't any rule in GMRS that says you can't run more."
Certainly true but I know you know we should also mention that handhelds in general are kept under six watts, because there's usually a small antenna next to the user's head or face, and the FCC thinks that somewhere over six watts, the radio energy might give them brains. Or fry their brains.
Handheld with a remote antenna...no problem. The exact math for each frequency, yeah, there's an app for that, isn't there?(G)
 

cmdrwill

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The transmitter RF limit for a UHF 450 mH faceheld radio, as the FCC describes it, IS 4 watts. That is for your personal safety.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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The transmitter RF limit for a UHF 450 mH faceheld radio, as the FCC describes it, IS 4 watts. That is for your personal safety.
There are actually some 5 watt UHF models, so that isn't quite accurate. The antenna used also has a bearing on exposure.

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk
 

KD8DVR

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The transmitter RF limit for a UHF 450 mH faceheld radio, as the FCC describes it, IS 4 watts. That is for your personal safety.
I've never been able to locate that specific rule. There are all those Chinese radios out there that far exceed this rule.
 

KG5HHS

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If i were to put up a 50watt repeater just mounted above the roof line on a single story home.I live in the NW side of the city. What would the range be? I am looking into setting up a repeater, but I don't really want to get into putting up a tower in the back yard.
 

Rred

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And yet, pretty much every UHF ham h/t from the big three makers puts out 5 watts, not 4, at essentially the same 440MHz. Marine VHF's at 160MHz also top out at 5-6W. Either way, the formulas can be found and run by anyone.

John, your range will depend on having a clear line of sight, i.e. your antenna height and any blocking terrain, as much as any other factor. If you are down in a desert valley and someone is 20 miles away on top of the cliffs...they'll reach you just fine. If they're in a forested mountain ridge two valleys over from you and only five miles away? No contact.
 
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