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improving a two way radio antenna

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darklyte24

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i just bought these midland gxt 500 radios which have 5 watts of power and claim 14 miles. theres also a 600 model that does 18 miles with the same 5 watts of power.
I emailed midland and they said they improved the antenna.. is it possible to improve it myself?..
 

RevGary

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Those range claims are an advertising ploy. Under ideal circumstances in a direct line-of-sight scenario, over water or flat terrain, no obstructions, no high ambient background noise, no sun spots, no interstellar plasma or comet debris, etc... they might reach out that distance. However in the real world, you will be lucky to reach out 3 to 4 miles outdoors with any type of reliability.

Connect them to a mobile gain type antenna and the range will increase, but not to the extent that you might like. In March, we tested some 5 watt IC-F4GS UHF units from ICOM outdoors in open country and got roughly 3 1/2 miles with CTCSS avtivated. Not great...
 

UPMan

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If I am seeing this correctly in the product description, the gxt 500 radios are FRS/GMRS units. If so, they don't have a provision for replacing the antenna (and modifying them to do so would void their FCC authorization).

There are three major factors that affect range:

* Radiated power
* Receive Sensitivity
. (both of the above can be affected by antenna selection)
* Antenna height above surrounding terrain

With any decent transceiver, this third factor is far and away the most important. We test all of our transceivers (and those of our competitors) to confirm that they can operate out to the rated range. This test is done in a mixed-terrain location that has a 20-mile line-of-sight.

If you don't have line-of-sight (that is, if there are any hills, buildings, trees, etc), then your range will be constrained. Simply changing the on-unit antenna to another on-unit antenna might help slightly, but any significant improvement will be achieved by increasing your elevation (hold the radio at arm's length over your head, climb a tree, jump up and down and only talk at the top of your jump :) ).
 

darklyte24

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everyone or at least somewhat smart person knows that you dont get advertised 14 miles when you are in a city etc.. so anyways,
the 600 model uses the exact same body/case the only diff is that the 600 model has 121 codes, a few other features and claims 18 miles because midlands response was

"The reason being is because they have improved the antenna so when the power travels inside the chassis through the antenna it loses less power.If you have any further questions please let us know." - Consumer Customer Service
Midland Radio Corporation
5900 Parretta Drive
Kansas City. Mo. 64120

so if it was simple as stretching the wire inside, does that mean the FCC will come after me?.. the reason i said improve.. if it was replace then i understand i couldnt do that

also here are some reviews from amazon.com customers http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00081UROK/ref=pd_rvi_gw_2/102-1420168-0680119?_encoding=UTF8&v=glance&n=172282
 
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BKIN

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Yes Darklyte, it is possible.


The Icom F21GM has the same channel selection as the
Midland and Motorola bubble pack radios.
They both include the 7 shared FRS/GMRS frequencies.
Yes, a license is required.
 

gcgrotz

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Can't have detachable antenna on FRS but you can on MURS. Get a pair of 5watt VHF radios on a MURS (154.570, 154.600, others) channel and you'll get better range. Murs is limited to 5w ERP so you could put up a base antenna with enough gain to make up for feed line loss. 5 watts up high enough will get you good coverage. Just ask the Hams on the ISS or Shuttle.
 

UPMan

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Actually, FCC limits MURS to 2 watts transmitter output power. I don't believe they limit ERP (at least, it isn't detailed as to having an ERP limit in 95.639(h) ).
 

darklyte24

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here is a second answer from midland
"Thank you for contacting us.

The GXT600 radio antenna has been improved by Radial Enhancement to extend the range. Both radios are great radios but the features are a little different and the range but both models perform great.

Depending on the terrain that you are using the radios on the range could increase when using the GXT600"

so anyways, you are suggesting to get a diffrent type of radios?..
where would I look for radios as such?
 
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RevGary

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What is your intended primary usage for the equipment - and how much range do you truly require? That might be a good place to start, so we can get an idea of what y'all have in mind... Thanks.
 

Luis_C

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darklyte24 said:
here is a second answer from midland
"Thank you for contacting us.

The GXT600 radio antenna has been improved by Radial Enhancement to extend the range. Both radios are great radios but the features are a little different and the range but both models perform great.

Depending on the terrain that you are using the radios on the range could increase when using the GXT600"
Honestly, I don't think it will do much difference or maybe nothing, these radios are just for going to the mall and stuff like that, even sometimes even the range is limited in this places, they always release new models with "some new range tecnology", they will improve over time, surely, but simply they aren't professional radios, you will need to get more serious equipment, but depending on what exacly you want, the recommendations will be, because they are so many options.
 

gcgrotz

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UPMan said:
Actually, FCC limits MURS to 2 watts transmitter output power. I don't believe they limit ERP (at least, it isn't detailed as to having an ERP limit in 95.639(h) ).
You may be right. If I get time I'll dig back through MT and PopComm and find some articles. I still beleive it refers to ERP though. But hey, 2 watts is nothing to sneeze at...
 

Grog

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I'm pretty sure the MURS limit WAS 2 watts ERP, but now it's 2 watts output TO the antenna. That's why there are more discussions of beams & such.
 

darklyte24

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my intent is just for camping backpacking.. I will be backpacking possibly 10 miles or so that is why I want to keep communications between friends etc.. also incase if an emergency comes up i have a way of contacting someone..
 

kb2vxa

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Hi Dark and all,

Speaking from my experience and keeping strictly to the subject, you can expect no more than a couple of miles between portables over average terrain, considerably more mountain top to mountain top. 10 miles is a bit of a stretch, bring extra batteries and keep the chatter down to a minimum, transmitting eats power like I eat chocolate.

I wouldn't count on those frequencies in an emergency, please keep that in mind, there likely will be nobody within range if you're wilderness camping. For that there are the usual safety requirements so rely on them and your common sense. Never trust a radio to pull your chestnuts out of the fire, that's what your brain and careful planning are for.
 

RevGary

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If SAFETY is your major consideration and you have some $$$ to devote to this project, set up a (licensed) transportable repeater. These general types of systems are used by expedition teams from a 'base camp' and work very well. A 10 foot length of mast, a tripod and a couple sand bags to keep it stable, UHF gain type omni antenna array and a desktop repeater unit with a couple large capacity deep cycle Marine batteries is all that is needed in addition to programming of the HT's to operate on the proper repeater offset. Lots to carry, but if the base camp is near a parking lot, you can do this setup in about 30 minutes. This may possibly be able to be done using GMRS equipment, so refer to 47CFR95.1 through 47CFR95.181 for applicable info, especially 47CFR95.57

If members of your group get separated, the repeater will work MUCH better than just simplex between HT units. Again, best of luck with whatever you decide on...
 
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