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Is MURS Worth It?

n1das

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2003
Messages
1,194
Location
Nashua, NH
As N1DAS mentioned, I'm a big fan of the DTR/DLR radios like he is. Depending on how many radios you need, they are definitely not going to be cheap. But you are going to get some very good performance. In some of my testing, I have gotten over 20 miles line of sight in the desert, flat terrain, with no obstructions. Don't for a minute think that's normal. I have the luxury of open, flat desert here with basically no obstructions, but under those same conditions, there is NO WAY a pair of MURS handhelds or GMRS handhelds will make that trip. I tried it. Epic fail. Going on a cruise? Full ship coverage with the DTR/DLRs is commonplace.

There's also something to be said for the crystal clear audio. No static at all, and if your radios are configured properly, you will never have to worry about interference from others, or people listening in on your conversations.

But again, all that said, you are not going to be spending $15/radio. They might do the job just fine for you.
For penetrating builds and cruise ships, DTR and DLR radios are the way to go.
For operating outdoors and dealing with some terrain/hills, MURS would be the way to go.
GMRS/FRS would work too at a camp site but is more likely to be crowded with kids on bubble packs if it's a busy camping area.

The DTRs and DLRs do very well on cruise ships. Many people report full ship coverage compared to a pair of 4W UHF Part 90 portables on GMRS which had trouble penetrating more than about 2 decks. That exactly matches my experience on a cruise a few years ago but I didn't have any DTRs or DLRs to try back then. When deep inside a cruise ship, you are essentially inside a compartmentalized metal box. Like with buildings, the ship is much more "open" at 900MHz compared to GMRS and MURS. The shorter wavelength signals at 900MHz tend to reflect in and out and around all the nooks and crannies of the ship where longer wavelength signals won't, similar to how UHF and 800 are bands of choice in cities. I would expect MURS to be almost unusable when deep inside a cruise ship. Given that you are operating inside a complex metal enclosure, there are a lot of reflections created and they actually can help at 900MHz. At any given location, what may be a dead spot at one frequency may be a hot spot at another frequency. The hot spots and dead spots move around as the frequency hops at 11 hops per second. The DTR/DLR's FHSS operation effectively stirs the modes and actually helps with coverage.

I think MURS would be a good way to go for the camp site and not have to spend lots of money.
 

alcahuete

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 24, 2015
Messages
575
Location
Antelope Acres, California
In my neck of the woods (Michigan - Huron National Forest), MURS activity has significantly increased in recent years from hunting dog training/tracking collars that use it. About five years ago we had MURS to ourselves, now it's not uncommon (especially on weekends during non-Winter months) that some channels have near constant activity from the "ping" of the dog owner's handhelds and the GPS data burst response from the dog collars. Every 2 seconds, or close to that anyway, and they don't monitor if the channel is in use before transmitting (or the owner didn't enable that setting if it's even an option). Rarely on all five channels at the same time however, so there's that I suppose. YMMV, if you're not camping on or near public hunting lands it may not apply.
CTCSS or DCS should block that out...at least the ping. Still going to cause interference, but at least you don't have to listen to the pinging.
 

rapidcharger

Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2012
Messages
2,306
Location
The land of broken calculators.
I was looking at getting some MURS handsets for campground / family use. I know there are only 5 channels even if you put in privacy codes. Is the MURS bandwith too crowded?

After reading some MURS threads here, it sounds like it could be more trouble than it's worth in terms of other entities feeling entitled to their channels. Also, kids are not going to be scanning to see if a frequency is in use before transmitting. Am I making it too complicated?

I have a GMRS license, but it sounds like MURS is what you want to have in the great outdoors.

Thoughts appreciated.
Family use?
Family Radio Service.
It's right there in the name. That's exactly what that radio service was designed for.

Are we talking about young children? You really want to give them an expensive DTR to lose, get dropped, wet, etc? And if they are that young, do you really want them going more than a 1/4 mile away? If they're teens, chances are they got other ideas for communication. Like not doing it.

If you want performance, get a GMRS license and high power 4 watt portables and maybe a base station. Is that overkill for a family camping trip? You tell me. I'd rather have 4 watts on UHF than 2 watts on VHF but that's me.
 
Last edited:

ScenicView

Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
Messages
9
Thanks everyone for the excellent advice and perspective. There is a lot of great information here. I think I'm going to try some DLRs (keeping it out of the hands of the youngest for now) and see how they work.

I may need to use them in the city as well because I changed to a cell carrier that is cheaper, but not known for its coverage and have been experiencing that uncomfortable "no service" feeling.
 

SpugEddy

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 4, 2015
Messages
387
Location
Camden County South Jersey
Tried and true facts based on my recent trip.

I've always used GMRS on our vacations to:
Campgrounds, Amusement Parks, Cruises, etc.

Just last week (Aug 4th - 10th) We took another vacation
to Knoebel's Amusement Park in PA.
For the ride there we decided to use MURS in the 2
vehicles. Our experience was that we got better range
and total silencing using MURS. Last year we used GMRS
in the mobiles on the trip and reception was sketchy
especially when we got separated by approx 1 mile. With
MURS we were separated by almost 3 miles with no issue
at all.

At the campground;
I setup a homemade DIY Arrow Open Stub J-Pole antenna.
I brought a small GMRS repeater with me and hooked it to
the antenna. Antenna was strapped to the ladder on my
Winnebago at about 16' from the ground. My cheap Baofeng
handhelds could be heard from every part of the campground
(Using GMRS) with total silencing. At one point, one of our
gang took my car to the local gas station which is approx 4.5
miles away and came through the repeater with a handheld.

At the Amusement Park:
MURS was used. Knoebel's is an amusement park in the mountains.
Full of trees and many obstructions, the cheapo handhelds cut right
through everything perfectly.
Last year we used GMRS in the park and were met with a lot of
interference from kids "playing" and comms between opposite
ends of the park were difficult to hear. MURS was perfect for
opposite ends.

Bottom line: MURS for vehicle to vehicle comms.
MURS for amusement parks and general forest / wooded environment.
GMRS (with repeater) for campground comms

Hope this helps.
 

rapidcharger

Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2012
Messages
2,306
Location
The land of broken calculators.
Since everyone is sharing stories, I'll go next. I have a lot of experience using portables on both VHF and UHF. I live on top of a mountain and I like to talk on amateur repeaters with a portable. The repeaters that I use the most are 45-61 miles away and I like to use a portable with rubber duck inside the house because... well... because that's one of the benefits of living on top of a mountain. The repeater groups that I frequent the most use have VHF and UHF repeaters on the same site and I make use of them both. UHF has far better in building penetration and less interference in my experience than VHF. UHF is the superior band. As for signal attenuation from foliage, and pine needles and things like that, it doesn't matter the band, if I walk up to the road where there is an acre or so of trees in between myself and free space, even though it is a little higher in elevation, it does not get into the repeaters worth a darn on either band. My comparisons are fairly apples to apples. Same power levels, same make and model radios same repeater locations same time of day. In one case the VHF repeater is a better machine with better antenna and the UHF still performs better. VHF is more user friendly with hilly terrain but there are tradeoffs. There is something to be said for GMRS and FRS having a lot of users at amusement parks. That's a tradeoff there.

And those claims on the bubble pack radios of 30+ miles....
Well...
They're true!

I don't use bubble pack radios but I can use 1 watt on UHF and put an almost full quieting signal into a repeater that is 61 miles due east of here while I sit on the sofa and watch the big screen RFI TV under all the RFI noisemaker lightbulbs meanwhile on VHF it takes 5 watts and you gotta be standing in the right place. No sitting on the sofa. Time after time after time UHF outperforms VHF.

I say I'd rather have 4 watts on UHF than 2 watts on VHF because more often than not somebody is inside of a vehicle or building, and it's also worth pointing out that if you use GMRS, you have the ability to interoperate with FRS radios on the interstitial channels. Then again it's nice to not have to get a license if you don't have one already. It is also worth pointing out that my experience is all wide band and not narrowband and consumer radios might be narrow band. A few of the MURS channels are narrow band and I would imagine that the whole radio would probably be narrowband on a modern MURS consumer radio.

I don't have any experience with the DTR radios but I have heard nothing but good things about them.
 
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