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Looking for Base and Handheld Units

jerryjaysr

Newbie
Joined
Dec 13, 2020
Messages
4
Location
york pa
new guy here!!
I was a 5937 in The Marines (Aviation Radio Repairman, I also fixed all ground gear).
I bought a few Baofeng 82 units (got 3 of them) years ago, Was wanting to get HAM license but got the GMRS Licenses for family use and then found out according to FCC that i can not use them. Have no idea why, but thats it is what it is. Have no use other than GMRS right now. Just liked the clarity of them and high power.

So looking for FCC legal base, mobile and 3 handheld unit for me and wife and 16 yr old. My experience in Marine using PRC-77 which was 2 watts if I remember right but had higher power than that, my ground and air gear was usually really good gear. At least while I did the PM's on them.

So until I get HAM license (wife wont get one but may get anyways latter, cant hurt) I now want to get a cheap "legal" setup (I can use the higher output "Illegal" gear if SHTF only).

So in need of camping/hunting/mobile gear that's reasonably priced like the Baofeng. Dont need super high end units. Aint got alot to spend. I actually sPENt alot on the Bao radios and the extra batteries and such. Hate for a Ranger come up and have to pay some crazy fine to be able to talk to my wife.

So with the rule changes and such I assume I need this:
1 - Handheld only 2 watts (So I assuming to follow Part 95 and cant be able to use on other than GMRS/FRS). Anyway I would be able to use more power like get a portable mobile unit and still be considered legal if I was hiking)
2 - Base unit to be kept at our family camper or when we go hunting or hiking in our tent - 15 watts only?
3 - Mobile unit mainly in truck up to 50 watts

Does anyone really use 2 watts and like it? Just cant see that 2 watts would really work that well in the woods walking, I mean we walk a few miles in woods easily if not more and 2 watts seems to not be enough with the terrain and trees. That's why I went with the Bao ones years due to higher output and can use different antennas as well. But didnt FIND OUT til latter that can not use them.

I do know proper language due to me being in the Military and using the radios VHF, UHF all the time. I will eventually get a HAM license but for now only plan on communicating to wife and kid mostly. Just wish could get HAM license online. Should be able to with my training and experience.
 

WB9YBM

Active Member
Joined
May 6, 2019
Messages
848
Location
Niles, IL
So looking for FCC legal base, mobile and 3 handheld unit for me and wife and 16 yr old. My experience in Marine using PRC-77 which was 2 watts if I remember right but had higher power than that, my ground and air gear was usually really good gear. At least while I did the PM's on them.

So until I get HAM license (wife wont get one but may get anyways latter, cant hurt) I now want to get a cheap "legal" setup (I can use the higher output "Illegal" gear if SHTF only).
Here's a place that sells pretty much everything: https://www.hamradio.com/
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
14,371
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
and then found out according to FCC that i can not use them. Have no idea why, but thats it is what it is.
That would be the FCC type certification. Has to do with the technical specifications of the radio. Most of the cheap Chinese radios do not meet the requirements for anything other than amateur radio use, where some slop in specifications won't usually impact other critical users.

So with the rule changes and such I assume I need this:
1 - Handheld only 2 watts (So I assuming to follow Part 95 and cant be able to use on other than GMRS/FRS). Anyway I would be able to use more power like get a portable mobile unit and still be considered legal if I was hiking)
With a valid FCC issued GMRS license, you can run up to 50 watts.
The 2 watt limitation is for the FRS service, that shares some frequencies with GMRS. The 2 watt limitation on the FRS radios also includes a requirement that the antenna NOT be removable. If you are going to get your GMRS license, then you can do better than the cheap consumer grade FRS radios.

There are what we call "Cheap Chinese Radios", that have the FCC Part 95 certifications for use on GMRS. Those might satisfy your needs. If you want something a bit better, take a look at some of the Midland units. Their mobiles will do up to 40 watts. Not stellar radios in a technical sense, but good for many users.
If you want something better, many GMRS users use old commercial radios. They'll give you more features and much better durability, but come with some challenges regarding programming, as in they need specific programming cables and software.


2 - Base unit to be kept at our family camper or when we go hunting or hiking in our tent - 15 watts only?
Midland makes a 15 watt version. Again, not a great radio, but will work just fine for what you are doing, not quite the cheap Chinese junk that the Baofengs are, and are easily available and programmable.


3 - Mobile unit mainly in truck up to 50 watts
Midland makes a 40 watt unit that is pretty popular with the off road crowd. Or, with some additional work, a commercial radio can work well, but requires additional steps to program.

Does anyone really use 2 watts and like it? Just cant see that 2 watts would really work that well in the woods walking, I mean we walk a few miles in woods easily if not more and 2 watts seems to not be enough with the terrain and trees. That's why I went with the Bao ones years due to higher output and can use different antennas as well. But didnt FIND OUT til latter that can not use them.
Well, as I'm sure you remember, it's more about the antenna. Newcomers often focus on the power output of the radios and think that directly relates to range. A better antenna will make a bigger difference in your coverage. Higher transmit power just eats through batteries faster.
Also, don't forget that transmitting is only half the problem. You need to consider the quality of the receiver. A sensitive receiver will recover more signal out of the noise.

UHF used for FRS and GMRS isn't always the best for heavy foliage and rugged terrain. VHF can be a bit more beneficial.
You may want to look at the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) for your needs.
FCC limits that to 2 watts, but you can add a more efficient antenna.
Mobiles are out there, but rare, mostly old Radio Shack stuff. But a portable radio with an external antenna on your camper/truck will improve performance.

Sounds like from your use case, some better quality GMRS radios would be a good choice. But it's a complex thing and you'll have to weigh the pros and cons against your budget. GMRS can be a really good radio service if you set up with the right gear.

Ham radio can come later….

I do know proper language due to me being in the Military and using the radios VHF, UHF all the time. I will eventually get a HAM license but for now only plan on communicating to wife and kid mostly. Just wish could get HAM license online. Should be able to with my training and experience.
[/QUOTE]
 

jerryjaysr

Newbie
Joined
Dec 13, 2020
Messages
4
Location
york pa
That would be the FCC type certification. Has to do with the technical specifications of the radio. Most of the cheap Chinese radios do not meet the requirements for anything other than amateur radio use, where some slop in specifications won't usually impact other critical users.



With a valid FCC issued GMRS license, you can run up to 50 watts.
The 2 watt limitation is for the FRS service, that shares some frequencies with GMRS. The 2 watt limitation on the FRS radios also includes a requirement that the antenna NOT be removable. If you are going to get your GMRS license, then you can do better than the cheap consumer grade FRS radios.

There are what we call "Cheap Chinese Radios", that have the FCC Part 95 certifications for use on GMRS. Those might satisfy your needs. If you want something a bit better, take a look at some of the Midland units. Their mobiles will do up to 40 watts. Not stellar radios in a technical sense, but good for many users.
If you want something better, many GMRS users use old commercial radios. They'll give you more features and much better durability, but come with some challenges regarding programming, as in they need specific programming cables and software.




Midland makes a 15 watt version. Again, not a great radio, but will work just fine for what you are doing, not quite the cheap Chinese junk that the Baofengs are, and are easily available and programmable.




Midland makes a 40 watt unit that is pretty popular with the off road crowd. Or, with some additional work, a commercial radio can work well, but requires additional steps to program.



Well, as I'm sure you remember, it's more about the antenna. Newcomers often focus on the power output of the radios and think that directly relates to range. A better antenna will make a bigger difference in your coverage. Higher transmit power just eats through batteries faster.
Also, don't forget that transmitting is only half the problem. You need to consider the quality of the receiver. A sensitive receiver will recover more signal out of the noise.

UHF used for FRS and GMRS isn't always the best for heavy foliage and rugged terrain. VHF can be a bit more beneficial.
You may want to look at the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) for your needs.
FCC limits that to 2 watts, but you can add a more efficient antenna.
Mobiles are out there, but rare, mostly old Radio Shack stuff. But a portable radio with an external antenna on your camper/truck will improve performance.

Sounds like from your use case, some better quality GMRS radios would be a good choice. But it's a complex thing and you'll have to weigh the pros and cons against your budget. GMRS can be a really good radio service if you set up with the right gear.

Ham radio can come later….

I do know proper language due to me being in the Military and using the radios VHF, UHF all the time. I will eventually get a HAM license but for now only plan on communicating to wife and kid mostly. Just wish could get HAM license online. Should be able to with my training and experience.
[/QUOTE]Yes I agree on antenna, used many different type ones in the service, also got 3 different ones for my 82 version handheld by Bao.
 

alcahuete

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 24, 2015
Messages
1,266
Location
Antelope Acres, California
Just wish could get HAM license online.
You can! With the COVID, several amateur radio VECs now offer online testing. You basically set up a webcam so the VEs can monitor your testing. W5YI and GLAARG do it for certain. I know there are others. A lot of tests have been given using that method.
 

n5ims

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2004
Messages
3,838
My laptop doesnt have a webcam......maybe wait in person then But this is good info. Not a bad idea at all.
While it's best for your laptop to have a webcam, several testing teams will be happy to let you use your laptop for the testing and your phone to provide the video feed. It does complicate things a little bit, but your team can talk you through it. Many teams have gotten lots of experience in helping those taking the tests get their computer and phone (if needed) configured to work with what they use on their end.

Click the "Find a Session" link here (HamStudy.org: Cutting edge amateur radio study tools) when you're ready for your test and you'll find several to select from. The selection changes often as sessions fill up, are scheduled, or have been completed so check back often if you can't find a good choice for you. Remember that just because you're in one area, your testing team can be a long distance (or even a very long distance) away. Often these days, the testing team may have folks from all across the US working on the same session (they're online and remote as well so distance isn't a problem for either the tester or team doing the testing).
 

SargeAF

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2021
Messages
7
Location
Acworth, GA
Jerryjaysr,

First off, thanks for your service...retired USAF MSgt here 1999-2014...salute!

I have a Midland MXT115 (15 watt micromobile) mounted in a Hardened Power Systems Operator 115 (30 Cal ammo can) that I use for a base station. I’m running it on a GMRS tuned J-Pole antenna in my shop attic at about 20 feet and LMR-400 cable. I can easily hit North Georgia GMRS repeaters that are 20-30 miles away (repeaters are on mountain towers). It is a decent radio, but the cons are that it is narrow band only, you can’t run different PL tones for RX/TX (split-tones) and you’re limited to just the 8 repeater channels. A better base would be something like a Kenwood TK-880 (25 watt) or 880H (40 watt). They can be found used on EBay for less than $100, especially the 25 watt versions. You can obtain the programming software on eBay generally for around $20-$30 and you can program numerous groups, repeater channels and simplex channels, and all sorts of Fleetsync, signaling and tone settings, as well as separate CTCSS tones for RX/TX, and you can even program 70cm HAM frequencies to monitor. Here is a link to the Operator 115 Ammo Can radio mount/housing, and a short video of mine testing a simplex repeater (I made the custom cable).



For HTs, I have both the BTech GMRS V1 (I have an earlier example that is 5 watt high power and 2 watt low), and several Kenwood TK-380 Type 1 radios (commercial grade, 450-490MHz). The BTech works great and is easy to use and program (can program with the keypad or using Chirp software). The Kenwood TK-380 are my favorite though. They have the same features and programming software as the TK-880 mobiles I mentioned above. The Fleetsync features are cool...being able to send short status messages between radios, doing selective calls, etc. They are 4W high power and 1W low power, are narrow or high band, and have many features. The best are the Version 2.0 with the full DTMF. They can be found online generally for $50-$100 and audio performance is really good...very rugged radios (meet/exceed many MIL-SPECS). You have to be careful as there are three types (Type 1: 450-490MHz, Type 2: 470-512MHz, Type 3: 400-430MHz) and many Ebay listings don’t mention what type they are (obviously you need Type 1 for GMRS). The version 1 and version 2 have nothing to do with the type, just physical differences and added Fleetsync functions.

The good news is they’re all FCC Part 95 type accepted and legal for GMRS use. Just more info for you.

Sarge
 
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