Using MURS/FRS for wireless PTT for NASCAR?

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Awesomeman92

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So this is a bit of a question, and will be a bit of a "here's what happened" post.

I'll be at the truck race this upcoming Saturday at Bristol with some family (couldn't get Cup tickets, but looking at the forecast we got the good weather day and we get more racing anyway with the heat races in the afternoon). I have a pair of headsets that connect to both a radio via Kenwood connector and a scanner via the usual headphone jack. This will be the first race I've had the new headsets for (which is why there are questions). Obviously, the goal is to use a two way radio to talk back and forth wirelessly between two of our group using the (supposedly) noise cancelling microphones on the headset so we don't have to take headsets off and yell. Unfortunately I am the only ham of the group so using a couple cheap dual band HTs is out of the question. This brings my options to FRS (Baofeng BF88A) and MURS (Retevis RT21V). FRS I feel like would be more likely to be crowded with people doing the exact same thing I am and would be more susceptible to intermod from everyone else using UHF. MURS would likely be much less crowded but could be in use by vendors, etc. at the track - I know everyone NASCAR-related uses UHF, as does Bristol itself, and PD/FD are all on 800. Either way I could program in tone squelch which wouldn't help us interfering with other people but would at least keep our headsets clear. I'm not concerned with range, 95% of the day the radios will be within 2 feet of each other. I should also note that for either service I cannot change tones on the fly because neither set of radios has a front panel, it requires a computer, so whatever is in the radio when I get there is it. My questions are:

1. Does anyone have experience using MURS at a race? Do vendors use it or do they tend to use track radios/cell phones/whatever else not MURS?
2. If you've used FRS, does the UHF intermod or amount of other users create a problem on FRS to the point that it is no longer usable?

And before you ask, I only use type accepted radios, meaning I'm not programming both services into a dual band Baofeng and picking one when I get there. I'd also rather not bring both sets of radios with me.

Right now I'm leaning towards MURS but have been flipping back and forth, mainly because the BF88A's are so cheap that if something happened to them I wouldn't necessarily care, I'd care a little more if I lost one of the RT21Vs. If anyone has any insight then I'd love to hear it, otherwise I'll post an update Sunday with my experience!
 

jeepsandradios

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I have used GMRS/FRS with good success, however stubby antenna is a must, lowest power on radio the best. I tried MURS but it didn't work well at CMS for me. too much stuff on VHF apparently. Being wife and I are basically sitting next to each other the one Motorola FRS set I have works great.. It has a crappy antenna and I use a DPL.

Unless the group you want to talk to is on the other side of the arena you should be good on FRS. I can normally talk to the wife from our seats to the concession stands.
 

jhooten

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Be flexible. But both in the kit. Check the conditions. Choose the one you can find a clear channel. Swap them if the conditions change.

I've always had better luck with MURS at races. BUT, as more preprogrammed, less expensive options for MURS radios become available that could change.
 

popnokick

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Can we assume you know about these devices and similar? -
intercom bluetooth
Some of them have line inputs for other receivers as well. Why tie up (or have to listen to other MURS / FRS users) when you could be on Bluetooth.... and it has the range you describe as well.
 

Awesomeman92

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Why tie up (or have to listen to other MURS / FRS users) when you could be on Bluetooth.... and it has the range you describe as well.
Cost, mostly. I can't justify spending $100+ on something I'd only use once or twice a year. I use MURS and FRS for other things the rest of the year and the headsets can be used when mowing, so I can justify higher costs, although none of it was overly expensive: both sets of radios and one headset was less than 100, only going over if you count the interface cable for the two way radio. That's also why I don't go with something like 900 meg FHSS radios, I'd love to and it would eliminate any interference but at $300+ a radio it's not worth it.

Also, we leave in 2 days, so I don't really have time to get anything else at this point unless it could be here tomorrow.

I've always had better luck with MURS at races. BUT, as more preprogrammed, less expensive options for MURS radios become available that could change.
That's what I was thinking and why I asked the question at all, although it seems still there's very few new users, at least in my suburban area. The agency I volunteer with has MURS as a backup to our 800 radios that tend to suck down batteries on longer deployments but we've never had an incident where we've needed them - yet.

I have used GMRS/FRS with good success, however stubby antenna is a must, lowest power on radio the best. I tried MURS but it didn't work well at CMS for me. too much stuff on VHF apparently. Being wife and I are basically sitting next to each other the one Motorola FRS set I have works great.. It has a crappy antenna and I use a DPL.

Unless the group you want to talk to is on the other side of the arena you should be good on FRS. I can normally talk to the wife from our seats to the concession stands.
That's interesting, I would've guessed UHF would've been the problem band. Was it intermod/interference or other users actually using MURS?

Thank you all for your replies!
 

Awesomeman92

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Alright, so...

During the 1 lap of racing they got in tonight, the system seemed to work very well. We ended up going with FRS radios mainly due to the certainty of rain and I want to make sure I'm able to use my MURS portables for hiking the next few days (we are not going back tomorrow night, we did not have a good experience tonight and it had nothing to do with the weather, we'll just leave it at that). I programmed random DCS codes with a couple using CTCSS, assuming that more inexpensive FRS radios have CTCSS but not necessarily DCS and if someone else is using them they probably wouldn't pick codes/tones randomly in the middle. I used the monitor button to check for other users on the channel, we ended up using channel 9 only because that's what I was using testing tones last week so the radios were already set to it, and it was clear. Since we were sitting next to each other, low power had absolutely no problems making it through, as expected. The only other activity I saw was intermod from something digital, I heard it when I opened my squelch but there were no problems other than the signal indicator light coming on every once in a while. I was planning on listening for any MURS activity but after everything came to a screeching halt it didn't really give me any time to do that. Headsets worked very well, audio was very clean from both sources and noise cancelling better than my old Radio Shack headset. I know Rugged Radios is a bit of a dirty phrase in the radio community for their HTs, but their headsets in my admittedly extremely limited experience are decent for the money and I like that they don't require separate batteries like some of the RE sets do.

Bristol-specific side note: during the mass exodus after they postponed, I noticed some of the track workers (volunteers possibly?) on the concourse carrying FRS portables. Parking attendants use UHF repeaters with surprisingly good coverage. Also heard public safety units working on Sullivan County Mutual Aid 1 on TACN and I'm sure there was more on there but nearly everything Sullivan County is secure.
 

jeepsandradios

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Im guessing the race wont happen today anyway so...

Glad your radio stuff worked out ok. As said ive never had major issues. As for headsets there are some good ones. I use RE as I normally run 2 radios and the switch that is my NASCAR dedicated receiver.
 

evilbrad

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Were u able to make any notes or close call off any track specific channels?
 

evilbrad

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I carry a murs type accepted radio or frs now since the ccrs can only have ham freqs and I know only one ham racefan .So far not that much interference.. My frs is the t81 the one that can link to a cellphone. But I dont have a cable for my Rugged Radio headset that works with my frs radio.. If needed I got my Allinco and Baofeng if I'm using ham radio at track..
 

evilbrad

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I've only heard fans using frs at races never heard any fan type comms over murs
 

evilbrad

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I've also yet to hear a fan on 2mtr or 440.. that's a ham
 

Awesomeman92

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Were u able to make any notes or close call off any track specific channels?
No, we weren't there long enough for me to try to get anything, and my race scanner doesn't have close call in it or I would've tried.

I've been impressed with the Rugged headsets so far, but we'll see if that continues over time and multiple uses.
 

evilbrad

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I've been happy with my two rugged radio headsets same one as u I'm guessing one scanner port and the multi pin radio port.. I need a couple adapters or additional cable so I can use it with multiple radio brands..
 

Jake71

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I have used GMRS/FRS with good success, however stubby antenna is a must, lowest power on radio the best. I tried MURS but it didn't work well at CMS for me. too much stuff on VHF apparently. Being wife and I are basically sitting next to each other the one Motorola FRS set I have works great.. It has a crappy antenna and I use a DPL.

Unless the group you want to talk to is on the other side of the arena you should be good on FRS. I can normally talk to the wife from our seats to the concession stands.
@kb2ztx Is there anyway I can contact you about racing frequencies and best track setups?
 

evilbrad

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I've further heard a few users on frs at the last Nascar weekend. Not heard murs used by fans.. Slightly related Some local tracks use murs and Vhf.
 
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