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GMRS equipment recommendations Was: SRSanders

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SRSanders

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Hello
I'm am looking for info on what equipment would be best for a home base system for GMRS with possible repeater either already available or my own. I want to have a home base that will send and receive to hand helds and mobiles. Mountaines terrain and some longer distance.. Thank you
 

SpugEddy

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As far as equipment goes, you really can get anything
from a cheap Chinese radio all the way up to a nice Motorola
or Yaesu radio. It all depends on how much you're willing
to spend. I personally bought a nice little Icom ICF-420 radio
for GMRS. I got it on e Bay for about $50. As is turns out, it is
a great little radio. I use it at home in my shack and in my car.
I thought it was a great "starter radio" but I think I'm going to
hold on to it.
As for repeaters, you can always go to MyGMRS (dot) com
and put in your zip code and find repeaters near you.

For your own repeater, I'll tell you this:
A fella in my area wanted his own repeater.
He used 2 mobile radios and 2 antennas.
After fighting several major problems, he bought a duplexor
After more major problems, bought a better antenna.
After even more problems, upgraded his feed line
After more..., bought an actual repeater box,
Even more problems, bought a better duplexor
..problems, moved the antenna to higher place
... problems, ..problems
etc, etc, etc. Going on 2 years now; his cheap, fun, hobby
repeater has, easily, cost him a few thousand dollars and it is still
nowhere close to competing with other repeaters in the area.

So, the moral of the story. Tastes great, but less fulfilling
My opinion, of course
 

SRSanders

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Good info. I will probably just go with a mobile with a power converter and antenna for now and see where that takes me.The law for watts is so confusing but I think I can go with 50 watt for home base . Thanks for your input.
 

toastycookies

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Good info. I will probably just go with a mobile with a power converter and antenna for now and see where that takes me.The law for watts is so confusing but I think I can go with 50 watt for home base . Thanks for your input.
If you care about staying legal make sure the radio is type 95a accepted.
 

chief21

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Unless you live on top of a prominent mountain or own (or have access to) a tall tower, there is little to be gained by having your own repeater. If all you can manage is a 20' tall antenna at your house, a simplex base/mobile station will work just as well as a repeater.

John
 

mmckenna

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I'd second SpugEddy's suggestion about the Icom F420. I used to run a few of those when I was on GMRS.
They are solid little radios and will do everything you need for GMRS. They are long out of production, but cheap on the used market. Programming software is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. It's also cheap. Programming cable is inexpensive, too. A really good starter radio that will meet your needs for a long time to come.

You can pick them up for well under $100 on e-Bay, however you need to know -exactly- which model you are buying:
There are 4 different frequency splits in the UHF models:
400 - 430 MHz. Will NOT do GMRS, cannot be adjusted to do so. Do -not- buy this model.
450 - 470 MHz. This is the one you DO want. Covers all the GMRS channels and will even cover some of the 70cm amateur radio band if you decide to pursue your amateur radio license.
470 - 490 MHz. Won't do GMRS out of the box, but I recall people being able to get them to work down around 462MHz. Still, I wouldn't recommend one of these since getting the VCO to lock that far out of range can be iffy.
490 - 512 MHz, T-band model. Won't work for GMRS.

There are also two sub-models of the F-420 line, the "S" and the non-S models.
-S models do 4 channels. That's good for a base radio where maybe you have a simplex channel, a repeater channel and one or two others. I used one of these in my house for years as a base. No LCD display, just LED channel indicators.
I used a few of the VHF versions of these (F-320S) as adjacent agency receivers in a dispatch center. Those were powered up and running for well over 10 years straight without issues. Never transmitted, but always on.

-The non-S model will do 32 channels and has an LCD display. Better suited for mobile use.

These radios will do 35 watts, more than enough for GMRS. In reality, you usually won't find UHF radios much higher than 35 watts, but there are a few that will do 45. Don't get hung up on that 10 watt difference, that additional power does not directly translate into a big range difference. You'll get more performance gains by using a good base antenna and high quality coaxial cable.
They are also FCC Part 95A accepted, so totally legal to use on GMRS.

There are also a couple of other models that work well:
F-2020. This is a larger radio, 35 watts, but will do 32 or 160 channels depending on the optional memory chip upgrade. You can also get remote head kits for these. Again, long out of production, but on the used market. Frequency splits are the same as the F420.
F221 was a newer model. There was an 8 channel and 128(?) channel version. Good radios and I used one as a mobile in my wifes truck for a few years.
F621 was a higher end model. More channels, but similar specs.

There are quite a few Kenwood models that will fit your needs, too. The TK-805 was a popular model around the turn of the century. Nice part about the TK-805d's was that they could do some rudimentary front panel programming if you needed to make minor changes in the field.
There's a lot of newer models, too. TK-8180 is popular and still in production. Not 100% sure it's got the 95a certification for GMRS, though.

Thing to remember is that the RF wattage isn't as important as many people think. New users will get excited about a 5 watt power increase, yet they'll see very little in the way of range improvements from that. In reality it's all about your antenna system and feedline. Focus more on that than the radio since that will be something you can use for a long time and it'll give you a bigger bang for the buck.
 

N4GIX

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There are also two sub-models of the F-420 line, the "S" and the non-S models.
-S models do 4 channels. That's good for a base radio where maybe you have a simplex channel, a repeater channel and one or two others. I used one of these in my house for years as a base. No LCD display, just LED channel indicators.
One must really pay close attention to both the text and the pictures when dealing with ads on eBay!

For example, the very first F-420 listing is for a F420S-10 radio, but the seller's headline claims it is a 32 channel radio! The images are quite clearly for the "S" 4 channel model... :roll:

Icom IC-F420S-10 Two Way Mobile UHF Radio - 35 W - 32 Channel w/Mic | eBay
 

SpugEddy

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Here is the very Icom that I have
It's the ICF-420-10 UHF

Nice radio. Solid, strong, sounds great. BUT $180 is
a "go pound sand" price. Probably worth about $80. Although
it looks like it's in very good shape. I bought mine, in very good
condition for $45. ( I looked it up in my eBay history) Worth every
nickle.

ICOM ICF420-10 Two Way Radio | eBay
 

mmckenna

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Nice radio. Solid, strong, sounds great. BUT $180 is
a "go pound sand" price.
Nearly 20 years ago I was buying the F320 new for around $300 bucks. No longer a $180 radio. Seller might possibly be partaking in the inhalation of crack.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Ya ill just try the base and radios for now and see where that takes me. Thanks for your help.
There are some decent simplex repeater modules that you can hook to the base station and enhance the portable to portable communications. The operation is a bit weird in that you hear yourself echo back. For casual use, might be a good addition.

Setting up a duplex repeater isn't brain surgery, but doing it properly is critical . A lot of the home brew kluges are lucky to work due to bad shielding and cabling practices, wrong hardware etc.

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk
 
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