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New GMRS Licensee - looking for equipment recommendations.

SuperG900

KI5LQF
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Joined
Sep 29, 2020
Messages
34
Location
Edgewood, NM, USA
Hi there -

I'm looking for any equipment recommendations. I'm in the East Mountains - just outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. There are several repeaters in this area, most up on the mountain peaks.

I'd like to start off with a handheld, and eventually set up a base station.

Thanks!
 

mmckenna

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As a new licensee, and new to RR, welcome.

A couple of things I'll point out….

1. Consumer off the shelf "GMRS" radios are usually junk. Midland makes a few 'mobile' GMRS radios that have become popular with the off roading crowd. While they will support repeater use, they are forced to narrow band, which usually doesn't work well with GMRS repeaters.

2. It would be a good idea to read the FCC rules pertaining to GMRS, especially since your license requires you to follow them: Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR)

3. If you want good and reliable radios, you'll need to look at commercial gear.

4. The FCC rules require using a radio that has FCC Part 95 certification. That limits you to a handful of radios.
4.5. Some will use radios that only have Part 90 certification if they meet the technical requirements for Part 95. That's a decision you need to make, however, the FCC rules are pretty clear on that.



A really good portable UHF radio that will work on GMRS and has the necessary FCC Part 95 approval is the Kenwood TK-3180. However, you need to make sure you get the 450-520MHz version. The 400-470 version does not have Part 95 approval.

Kenwood stopped production of the TK-3180 just a year or two ago, so it's still a modern radio and there's a lot of support and accessories out there for it. It has a nice 14 character display that lets you put in channel names. It'll do 512 channels, so it's easy to program in not only the simplex channels, but also your local repeaters.

They are more expensive than the consumer grade stuff, but they will outlast them by a long, long time, and they have a lot more features.

The KPG-89 programming software for those radios is pretty easy to learn, as radio programming software goes. Probably one of the better programming softwares to learn.

That software will also program the TK-8180 mobiles. This is the mobile version of the TK-3180 portable. Similar functions, capacities etc. You can transfer the programming file for the TK-3180 over the 8180 mobile fairly easily with some minor setting changes.

Like the TK-3180, the TK-8180 comes in a couple of versions. The only one that has FCC Part 95 approval is the 450-520MHz version in the non-H model. Good solid radio and will last you a long time. Easy to mount those in your car or pair them with a good base antenna and a power supply and you have a nice base station.
 

mmckenna

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Study a little and get your Technican Ham License. Ton's of variety for equipment, from $25 on up.
Except that the ham radio license -only- covers the individual. If the OP has the GMRS license for family use, getting every single person their tech license isn't a good/scalable option.

GMRS is perfectly acceptable.
 

SuperG900

KI5LQF
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Joined
Sep 29, 2020
Messages
34
Location
Edgewood, NM, USA
As a new licensee, and new to RR, welcome.

A couple of things I'll point out….
Thanks for the pointers. I had read a bit elsewhere about Midland GMRS mobiles being limited to narrow band. I take it this means they're using the 2.5Khz max deviation for FRS, but with GMRS permitted RF levels. Seems a bit dodgy to me and not sure I'd want to go that way with them....which is why I posted for suggestions. I'm sure they sell a lot of radios....

As you indicated there is a distinction between radios which are certificated for part 95 operation, and those that may operate able to operate within the GMRS service, but lack Part 95 certification. I'm looking to stick with certificated radios.

It won't be a problem for me to program the radios - I'm a retired software engineer by trade, an electronic tech by training. In the Army, I was a 33S - responsible for repairing all their fixed-site SIGINT gear...

I will take a look into the Kenwood gear you mentioned - that's the kind of info I'm looking for - THX!
 

SuperG900

KI5LQF
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Edgewood, NM, USA
Study a little and get your Technican Ham License. Ton's of variety for equipment, from $25 on up.
Actually, I intend to do that too. I'm pretty much ready for the test - I've been doing practice study and tests and I'm ace-ing it.

Those things said, Amateur radio is a completely different ball-of-wax, and way more formal than GMRS.

I got a GMRS license because there are users here in the Albuquerque area and at least four repeaters. I enjoyed listening to them on the scanner, especially on the weekends when they do their net-wide session. I guess I want to join in...
;)
 

SuperG900

KI5LQF
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Edgewood, NM, USA
Except that the ham radio license -only- covers the individual. If the OP has the GMRS license for family use, getting every single person their tech license isn't a good/scalable option.

GMRS is perfectly acceptable.
Right! GMRS covers immediate family members.

Amateur operation is in a completely different class, with it's own rules, licensing, and etiquette.
 

tweiss3

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Ohio
I'll second the Kenwood gear. You can find some used surplus from police/fire for about $100/unit or less, and you will be very happy with them.
 

mmckenna

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Thanks for the pointers. I had read a bit elsewhere about Midland GMRS mobiles being limited to narrow band. I take it this means they're using the 2.5Khz max deviation for FRS, but with GMRS permitted RF levels. Seems a bit dodgy to me and not sure I'd want to go that way with them....which is why I posted for suggestions. I'm sure they sell a lot of radios....
GMRS licensees have been complaining for a long time about the lack of pre-programmed/affordable GMRS mobiles. Many non-tech users didn't want to buy either used/unknown condition commercial gear, or new high priced commercial gear to get on the air, especially equipment that required programming. It took a long time, but Midland finally answered. For the majority of GMRS users that do not have access to repeaters, the Midland is a good/affordable solution. Not surprising they are popular with the off road crowd.

For 'power users', commercial radios have always been the solution. There are a number of great radios out there on the used market that will work very well.

As I'm sure you are aware, the performance of the radio is closely tied to the antenna system. If you want reliable performance from -any- radio, you'll need to pay very close attention to your antenna system. That will absolutely make or break the system.

I've had my ham ticket for a very long time. I could never get other family members interested in it. I finally got them on GMRS and that worked very well. Having a commercial UHF radio in the vehicles with permanent mount antennas really proved the value. After using CB's for so long, the relative quiet of GMRS, plus the much better performance, really was welcome. After a few years, I was able to get them to recognize the value of amateur radio and the larger number of repeaters. Didn't take long, but they all eventually got their ham tickets. At that point, the GMRS gear was retired and I let the GMRS license lapse. Hasn't been a problem, though. Everyone is using VHF/2 meters and it's worked out very well.

GMRS can be a great 'gateway' to amateur radio, however, not everyone wants to go that route.
 

Gramps3382

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May 16, 2009
Messages
4
Tera makes what looks to be a decent GMRS repeater capable handheld radio, and has dual band MURS capabilities as well. I believe it's the TR-505?... their software is also pretty user friendly.

I have a few of their TR-7400's for work, and those are rock solid, so I'd imagine their recreational line isn't far off..
 

900mhz

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Hamden CT
Tera makes what looks to be a decent GMRS repeater capable handheld radio, and has dual band MURS capabilities as well. I believe it's the TR-505?... their software is also pretty user friendly.

I have a few of their TR-7400's for work, and those are rock solid, so I'd imagine their recreational line isn't far off..
I have two of those handhelds, one for my wife and one for my kid. Rock solid, great audio, easy to use and program.
 

SuperG900

KI5LQF
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Joined
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Messages
34
Location
Edgewood, NM, USA
Tera makes what looks to be a decent GMRS repeater capable handheld radio, and has dual band MURS capabilities as well. I believe it's the TR-505?... their software is also pretty user friendly.

I have a few of their TR-7400's for work, and those are rock solid, so I'd imagine their recreational line isn't far off..
Thx. It appears the TR-505 is indeed a dedicated GMRS unit. I'll consider it.
 

mmckenna

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Tera makes what looks to be a decent GMRS repeater capable handheld radio, and has dual band MURS capabilities as well. I believe it's the TR-505?... their software is also pretty user friendly.
GMRS + MURS in the same radio would be a direct violation of the Part 95 rules. This is just another Chinese company ignoring the US FCC rules for the sake of selling cheap radios to unknowing US consumers.


§95.2761 MURS transmitter certification.
...
(c) A grant of equipment certification will not be issued for MURS transmitters capable of operating under both this subpart (MURS) and under any other subparts of this chapter (except part 15).
 

WB9YBM

Member
Joined
May 6, 2019
Messages
439
Location
Niles, IL
Hi there -

I'm looking for any equipment recommendations. I'm in the East Mountains - just outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. There are several repeaters in this area, most up on the mountain peaks.

I'd like to start off with a handheld, and eventually set up a base station.

Thanks!
Without specifics, it's a challenge to make exact recommendations. In general terms, I've had better luck with name-brand equipment from major manufacturers; the most important part of any radio set-up is the antenna (without a good set-up, even the best radio will have poor performance) so I'd probably focus a bit more on the antenna system (i.e. good quality feedline, getting it up above the "ground clutter", etc.).
 

900mhz

Member
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Joined
May 13, 2005
Messages
65
Location
Hamden CT
GMRS + MURS in the same radio would be a direct violation of the Part 95 rules. This is just another Chinese company ignoring the US FCC rules for the sake of selling cheap radios to unknowing US consumers.


§95.2761 MURS transmitter certification.
...
(c) A grant of equipment certification will not be issued for MURS transmitters capable of operating under both this subpart (MURS) and under any other subparts of this chapter (except part 15).
those handhelds can only be programmed for one service at a time. It will not allow VHF programming if there are already UHF channels programmed in and vice versa. I tried to add a MURS channel to one of the portables that already had UHF GMRS channels programmed in...no dice.
 

900mhz

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
May 13, 2005
Messages
65
Location
Hamden CT
Without specifics, it's a challenge to make exact recommendations. In general terms, I've had better luck with name-brand equipment from major manufacturers; the most important part of any radio set-up is the antenna (without a good set-up, even the best radio will have poor performance) so I'd probably focus a bit more on the antenna system (i.e. good quality feedline, getting it up above the "ground clutter", etc.).
totally agree. Antenna and feedline always make or break any system. Get the best you can afford. I use a DB-420 with 7/8" Andrew feedline for my GMRS setup. It works in places you would not think possible.
 

WB9YBM

Member
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May 6, 2019
Messages
439
Location
Niles, IL
totally agree. Antenna and feedline always make or break any system. Get the best you can afford. I use a DB-420 with 7/8" Andrew feedline for my GMRS setup. It works in places you would not think possible.
to take it a step further: mounting is also a consideration, like getting an antenna above the "ground clutter" and away from other metallic objects.
 

SuperG900

KI5LQF
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Messages
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Edgewood, NM, USA
to take it a step further: mounting is also a consideration, like getting an antenna above the "ground clutter" and away from other metallic objects.
LOL. I'm a bit ways off from putting up a mast...

I'm gonna take it slowly at first with some GMRS handhelds...I've got scads of repeaters in my area (mountain tops even) and I want to learn to work those at first. Later, if I'm feeling dedicated - I'll get a base station and put up a mast.:)
 
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