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Survivus most anythingus
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just don't have the income to get into the HAM scene even though I know it is superior.

I know there are a ton and a half of variables but am I to understand that two handheld GMRS radios are getting terrible coverage, in other words, they are like FRS or what?

With two handheld GMRS radios, can I reliably get even five miles out of these things or not?
 

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Survivus most anythingus
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
And that is using the GMRS frequencies and not the FRS? What kind of power are these putting out?

There is no way in hell GMRS is worth the $85.00 FCC hassle for five years if you can't even get, say, 10 miles rural or 5 in the suburbs or perhaps 2 miles in an urban environment. Good grief, might as well go with FRS at that point!

I can't believe that GMRS is that limited for handhelds.
 

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I just don't have the income to get into the HAM scene even though I know it is superior.

I know there are a ton and a half of variables but am I to understand that two handheld GMRS radios are getting terrible coverage, in other words, they are like FRS or what?

With two handheld GMRS radios, can I reliably get even five miles out of these things or not?
Two things, First most of the bubble pack radios found at most "electronic" departments are not GMRS radios. They are FRS/GMRS combo radios. Second they GMRS require a license at a cost of $85.

Handheld to handheld coverage is going to be limited by many factors, trees, buildings,power output. But the simple fact is Your horizon is 3 miles away so 2 average height adult can talk about 6 miles on flat terrain, Toss in obstructions and that goes down.


Most of the bubble pack radio on the market claim 10-20 some near 40 miles, Just plan lie The simple true is most handheld regardless of brand, license type or quality will talk 2 to 5 miles handheld to handheld, This includes GMRS, ham radio, MURS, trisquares, commercial, public safety (police/fire).

As for no income for ham radio, If you can afford a GMRS radio then you can afford a ham radio.... You can get NEW ham gear under $100 now. Heck even found a NEW dual band (granted its chineese made) for $55.
 

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Go for PMR radios, do a Google search & you will find plenty that with a simple MOD can give 4 or 5 Watts output, this is plenty for what you need & will give you the range. You might also consider replacing the antenna with a longer one / external antenna for even more range...

Link
 

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Grab a Wouxun KG-UVD1P (Under $100), its VHF/UHF and you can run MURS as well as FRS/GMRS (It is commercially type certified, you'll have to check on GMRS but FRS is just fine according to what i've interpreted...correct me if i'm wrong). It's Close enough to ham radio, you can run up to 50 Watts mobile.

You can get a 7w iCOM IC-V8 pretty cheap off of ebay, you'll get the best range with those.

All and all, its line of sight. VHF will operate better in your open ranges, mountains, etc....But You'll probably want to run UHF (Something like FRS or GMRS) when in a thick urban environment or inside of buildings.

If the sh*t really hits the fan, who cares about the FCC anyways? :). Clearly, during a real emergency you can use all means possible to communicate.
 

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Grab a (Under $100), its VHF/UHF and you can run MURS as well as FRS/GMRS (It is commercially type certified, you'll have to check on GMRS but FRS is just fine according to what i've interpreted...correct me if i'm wrong). It's Close enough to ham radio, you can run up to 50 Watts mobile.
Incoming correction =)

The Wouxun KG-UVD1P is NOT legal for FRS. Detachable antenna alone rules that out. Being frequency agile is another no-no, and I'm not sure if that model is capable of limiting itself to .5 watts, but that is another requirement for FRS radio equipment.

As for MURS, assuming the type-acceptance is correct on it, it is important to keep the power output at 2 watts of below. The second you go above that, it's no longer legal.

Can't say for sure either way on GMRS on that radio. The only thing I am sure of is the license still being necessary. As far as power and antenna requirements, I don't see any reason it wouldn't be legal though. (I too am bracing to be corrected on this one.)

As for the OPs needs/requirements, this is about as close as you can get to being affordable and having the capability to reach out. With GMRS, it might be possible with a good antenna replacement (but you're looking at the $85 recurring license cost every five years.) With ham frequencies and the right antenna, again, plausible, but with only a 1-time $15 cost to take the test and get licensed, with free renewals thereafter.

Regardless, going to Cabela's, Bass Pro, Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, etc. and picking up ANY FRS/GMRS-type radio will NOT meet the requirement of reliable 5-mile communication, with or without the GMRS license, in anything less than ideal line-of-sight conditions.
 

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Survivus most anythingus
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
For the record, I would love to have the disposable income to become a HAM, but it just isn't there.

Also for the record, I don't mind spending the $85.00 for a five year FCC license for GMRS. I'm not one of these flakes that protests everything the government does. I do believe the airwaves should be "free" but when it comes right down to it, without the FCC involvement in communications, for all of their faults, we probably wouldn't be able to listen to a damned thing for the interference issues, etc.

That having been said, no, I don't think the FCC is going to be hunting people down at the end of the world for using some piece of equipment that would normally require a license. However, I don't really believe in having lifesaving gear that I cannot test out until whatever event happens, that's just stupid. It's like going out and purchasing a pump shotgun for self-defense and then never firing it and keeping it for the rainy day of a home invasion robbery or something. So, if I can't use the communications legally before X-event, they are totally worthless to me.
 

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There is no way in hell GMRS is worth the $85.00 FCC hassle for five years if you can't even get, say, 10 miles rural or 5 in the suburbs or perhaps 2 miles in an urban environment. Good grief, might as well go with FRS at that point!
One thing to keep in mind is that the inclusion of GMRS channels on these bubble pack radios is more marketing than anything else. It lets the manufacturer claim higher power output and theoretical distance capabilities that, in the right setups, CAN actually be had. Those 'right setups' don't consist of a cheap bubble pack radio, permanent stubby antenna, and low output powers.

GMRS was around long before the advent of the FRS/GMRS combo radio. $85 every five years plus a good mobile rig that's pumping out 50 watts into an antenna that's a few feet tall mounted to a vehicle CAN get up there in range. That's where GMRS becomes a viable solution, in my opinion. Much less than that and it's no different than FRS. Add in the (difficult to find and acquire legal access/permission to use) repeaters that exist in GMRS-land and it can boost range and reliability significantly as well. All of this is going to take more in the way of hardware and cost than most people will ever invest, hence why GMRS doesn't appear to have much use. To the businesses that have older GMRS licenses and use the technology every day for their fleets, however, it's a very good system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
OK, not speaking of the blister card packaged, stubby antenna GMRS...but like three full-sized handheld radios, the size of police radios, just not 800Mhz, what kind of ranges are we talking about? What is the max wattage you can get out of a radio that size, etc.?
 

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Handheld is handheld. No matter what type/make/model, they tend to max out at 5 watts (7 in some rare cases) for the simple fact that anything more, and you are getting into risky health/safety issues. RF burns and exposure are not good =)

That said, wattage really doesn't do as much for range as most people think. The real gains are made in antennas (both in size, rf pattern (gain) and placement (elevation, line of sight, etc.))
 

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Grab a Wouxun KG-UVD1P (Under $100), its VHF/UHF and you can run MURS as well as FRS/GMRS (It is commercially type certified, you'll have to check on GMRS but FRS is just fine according to what i've interpreted...correct me if i'm wrong). It's Close enough to ham radio, you can run up to 50 Watts mobile.
The Wouxun is NOT legal on MURS or FRS and only the Wouxun with an FCC ID on them are legal on GMRS or commerial bands. MANY being sold DONT have the part 90/95 certification and ONLY have the part 15 certs.
 

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Survivus most anythingus
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The devil is in the minutiae. This is the type of thing I am talking about. :xeye:
 

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With two handheld GMRS radios, can I reliably get even five miles out of these things or not?
Absolutely not, unless your'e on a mountaintop or something like that.

I get asked about radio a lot (I am a 30 year ham and work professionally in communications electronics) and I tell everyone the same thing: In real world conditions, all the various flavors of recreational radio are good for a mile, tops, and I'm being very generous. If you get more consider it a big bonus. In most cases you will get less.

The laws of physics are absolute, and there's only so much that can be done with a watt or so into a rubber antenna. By the way, the rubber antennas have negative gain, so you are losing power before the signal even leaves the radio.

The other night I was talking to a guy on my 2-meter FM (ham) set. He was about 2.5-3.0 miles away on a 5 watt walkie talkie and a rubber antenna. The terrain is flat with some trees and small buildings. I have a full power (75 watt) base with a 5/8 wave antenna at 35 feet. I was receiving him at about 3 S units (very weak signal). He did a little better on a portable roll-up antenna.

My point is, if that's the best he can do with 5 watts talking to a base equipped with a well elevated, properly sized & tuned antenna (with gain), then you're not going to do any better with whatever you found at the local Survivalmart.

I mentioned in another post and will repeat it here: Ham radio is so important to prepping that you cannot really say you are prepped without it! Seriously...I'm not being dramatic when I say that. If you cannot commit to diving into into it yourself, at the very least you should have an experienced, licensed, reasonably-equipped ham in your group.
 

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Ok, maybe I can clarify your question.

FM freqs absolutely rely on Line Of Sight (LOS)

I have reliably talked to my ex wife, on a Motorola Talkabout transmitting at 2 watts, FRS freq, to 15 miles and sounded like she was in the same parking lot. BUT, I could see the housing development she lives in from where I was transmitting from. I have also used the same radios, tried talking to my son and couldnt reach him 75 YARDS away because I was in a ravine, about 20 feet below ground level. No LOS, and radio no worky. FRS, GMRS (without a repeater) and any other radio transmitting in the freqs requiring LOS for reliable comms and you have the same result.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I mentioned in another post and will repeat it here: Ham radio is so important to prepping that you cannot really say you are prepped without it! Seriously...I'm not being dramatic when I say that. If you cannot commit to diving into into it yourself, at the very least you should have an experienced, licensed, reasonably-equipped ham in your group.
Well, between the money and getting the license and then living in an apartment, it's basically a no-go. However, if I could get a handheld HAM, that would make sense but would it be worth it? I can't run a radio out of this apartment, after all, unless it is a handheld in which case I would not be transmitting from this apartment, either. But outside would be cool...
 

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Ok, let me clear up a few things DBR.

1st, look at EMCOMM deployment kits online. Google EMCOMM and see what guys build for radio kits in a box. The size of your house is not important, I have a kit with 1 radio, tuner, power supply and 2 rolled antenas which fits in a pelican case. Its about the sixe of an airline carry on. I can use every HAM freq a General or Extra Class licencee can transmit on.

I have antenas which sit on a table for 2m radios, that transmit just fine from inside my house, and the walls of my house are 14 inch adobe block. Your house is not heavier construction than that, Im willing to bet real money on that.

Your problem, is a lack of knowledge about HAM radio, what its really capable of, what you can do in small spaces and how much your brain and a little real knowledge is capable of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ok, let me clear up a few things DBR.
You are well on your way to doing that, thank you. :)

1st, look at EMCOMM deployment kits online. Google EMCOMM and see what guys build for radio kits in a box. The size of your house is not important, I have a kit with 1 radio, tuner, power supply and 2 rolled antenas which fits in a pelican case. Its about the sixe of an airline carry on. I can use every HAM freq a General or Extra Class licencee can transmit on.
I shall do so and then bookmark it all as well.

I have antenas which sit on a table for 2m radios, that transmit just fine from inside my house, and the walls of my house are 14 inch adobe block. Your house is not heavier construction than that, Im willing to bet real money on that.
I have a basement apartment, concrete and brick but not as thick as your adobe!

Would it interfere and have bleed-over like Citizen's Band used to have problems with in this apartment building?

Your problem, is a lack of knowledge about HAM radio, what its really capable of, what you can do in small spaces and how much your brain and a little real knowledge is capable of.
You're absolutely right about that! A lot of people around here get their ass up on their back if you call them "ignorant" because they think you're calling them "stupid." I know what ignorant means, and I am ignorant about this stuff, that's why I'm asking and I'm not arguing, either. :D:

I appreciate the help.

My Dad used to build Heath Kits for CB equipment and he was going to get his HAM License late in life but he got the Big C and that was that until the end. He had a huge military receiver on his desk but didn't have the transmitter, huge, black, built-to-the-max metal box! He said the transmitter would be the same size and they would be linked together by a large cable. I used to love sitting there and listening to that thing with him in the evenings!
 
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