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What GMRS would you recommend for a Base Unit?

Greg43545

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In a previous post, I asked about the pros and cons of the Midland MXT400 and got some great feedback. I was going to ask this question in that thread but thought it might confuse matters by mix and matching thread questions, so I decided to post it here instead.

If I were going to purchase a GMRS radio to be used as a base unit with a 6dB Gain Antenna mounted on a 20 foot TV antenna tower:

1) Which radio would you recommend?

and


2) Why?
 

W8UU

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Wellston Ohio USA
I'm a huge commercial radio fan. Dollar for dollar, they have better receivers and transmitters and stand up to years of use. Very simple to operate and darn near bulletproof. I've had some bad experiences with the cheap import stuff. Displays conking out, buttons and knobs breaking or coming off, etc. Commercial radio equipment is made for decades of use and abuse under stringent business, industrial, and public safety use. There is no other choice if you're serious about having a really good radio.

I'm running a GE MLS mobile radio (made in 1991) for GMRS and its never given me one ounce of trouble. It just works.

With that said, I can't recommend GE anymore because they're hard to find and harder to get programmed or repaired if you ever have an issue. The company stopped making two way radios almost 25 years ago. Motorola and Kenwood are your best bet and both companies make solid radios. Kenwood is a lot easier to program because getting the software isn't treated like you asked for the NORAD nuclear missle codes. I pay to have my Motorola GMRS radios programmed at the local shop because its less of a hassle than trying to buy proprietary software through the Big M. You can find a lot of Kenwood programming stuff on eBay.

I've had good luck with the Motorola Radius M216 and CDM 1250 units for GMRS. The Radius products are much older than the CDM series and can be purchased cheap. With Kenwood, I absolutely love the TK-890 series, although there are several newer units that are smaller that are very popular with the GMRS crowd. Check eBay and see what you can find.

Hope this helps.
 
Last edited:

prcguy

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There were a lot of really good radios in the 90s that are now dirt cheap. I'm still kind of fond of the Bendix/King EMV5990A UHF radio. It puts out around 40 watts, has lots of channels, the programming software is free and they can be had for about $50 these days. I have several here I should dig out and put to use.
 

alcahuete

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GMRS radios are generally crap, and not a whole lot exist. You're going to get a lot of recommendations for commercial radios. Most of the Kenwoods are Part 95 approved, and while it is technically "illegal" to use Part 90 radios on GMRS, that's what most serious users do. Unfortunately, most of those are not necessarily cheap, have programming software involved (which usually isn't free), etc.

I personally use Motorola XPR5550e radios for everything from business to ham to GMRS. I have seen their older brothers (XPR4550) on sale on eBay for as low as $119-$139, which is a heck of a deal. In fact, I picked up a half dozen for some friends a few months ago.
 

mmckenna

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I'll second the Kenwood TK-8180. 450-520MHz version has the necessary Part 95 approval.

Solid radio. Only discontinued last year. A lot of them on the used market. Uses the same accessories as the Kenwood NX-#00 series mobiles. Easy to program. Large 14 digit alpha-numeric display. Programming software is easy to learn.

TK-8180H in either band split and the 400-470MHz version of the non-H model do not have the necessary Part 95 approval.

Add a decent 12 volt power supply and a good base antenna and you'll have a solid setup.
 

AORradiofan

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Oct 27, 2007
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East Coast
In a previous post, I asked about the pros and cons of the Midland MXT400 and got some great feedback. I was going to ask this question in that thread but thought it might confuse matters by mix and matching thread questions, so I decided to post it here instead.

If I were going to purchase a GMRS radio to be used as a base unit with a 6dB Gain Antenna mounted on a 20 foot TV antenna tower:

1) Which radio would you recommend?

and


2) Why?
I use the Motorola CDM1550LS+ (450-520MHZ). Solid, professional looking rig and they are not hard to program with the proper CPS program. I have two, one in the shack and one in the mobile. They run $100-150 used on Ebay. I will second the Kenwood TK-8180, great radio for a beginner to get their feet wet.
 
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