GMRS radio disappointment.

This is a discussion on GMRS radio disappointment. within the Related Gear & Equipment forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Just another update here. I know it has been a while but I've been busy. A friend and I went around town and did some ...

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  1. #31
    Senior Member Array adric22's Avatar
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    Just another update here. I know it has been a while but I've been busy.

    A friend and I went around town and did some tests. We brought with us 4 different types of radios:
    • a handheld CB radio with rubber duck antenna
    • a GMRS radio rated at "26 miles range"
    • a GRMS radio rated at "36 miles range"
    • a 2-watt handheld amateur radio

    The most interesting test was from the top of two parking garages. I went to downtown Ft.Worth which itself is up on a hill and I drove to the top of the tallest parking garage I could find. My friend was at the top of a parking garage almost 14 miles away (line of sight) at a hospital. The CB did not work. The low-end GMRS radio did not work. The high-end GMRS radio did actually work, but it was very hard to make out what we were saying on it. The 2-watt amateur radio was pretty clear. THere was some background static, but everything said was perfectly audible and understandable.

    The interesting thing is that the little amateur radio actually costs less money and is smaller in size than the high end GMRS radio I bought at Wal-Mart. Not only that but it is a dual band and will work in the GMRS band as well as MURS and HAM bands.

    We took some video, I'm going to be putting together a youtube video this week showing the experiments. We also tried several other areas around town that were much closer together. Depending on geography the most we were able to get out of just about any of the radios was about a mile when there was a hill between us.
    "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." -Plato

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  3. #32
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    I've generally had terrible luck with any of the store-bought GMRS/FRS type radios, as well.

    Of course, there's always the "tweaked" variety. Though, of course, due to the range those'll be of the sort pooh-poohed by those controlling the wave spectrum.
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  4. #33
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    Also I think that is for over water(Maritime)

  5. #34
    VIP Member Array Thunder71's Avatar
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    If you're a licensed amateur radio operator, there's no question which is the best... (and you'd know this).

    That said, if you're not licensed you have no business talking on them.

  6. #35
    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    Good report!
    If you have the time and are so inclined you can do some amazing antennas for not a lot of money. For under ten bucks in PVC pipe and wire you can make directional "beam" antennas. The great thing about doing it for UHF is that the higher the frequency the smaller the antenna can be. And the directionality is for both transmit and receive.
    Even just substituting a "true" UHF antenna (tuned to 465 mhz or so) will give a noticeable improvement over the dual band that came with the radio. The factory antenna, while an improvement over the bubble pack ones, is by necessity a compromise. The only reason I would stay with the dual band is if I was going to also use the MURS frequencies.
    Which reminds me, did you try the MURS frequencies while you were out?
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  7. #36
    Senior Member Array adric22's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcp1810 View Post
    Which reminds me, did you try the MURS frequencies while you were out?
    No, I didn't. I actually meant to and I have those frequencies programmed into my radios, but I forgot to try them. I had also meant to try FRS channels on some of the shorter tests to compare with GMRS.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thunder71
    That said, if you're not licensed you have no business talking on them.
    I did get licensed just recently, about 2 months ago.
    chandlerusm likes this.
    "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." -Plato

  8. #37
    VIP Member Array Thunder71's Avatar
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    Congrats! Welcome to the dorky-ness. :) Any plans on how you'll utilize it? Weather, sports, emergency communications, contests, just another form of communication?

  9. #38
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    I am looking at getting my HAM license soon too. Any points on getting that you guys can give me would be great. You can send me a PM so we don't clutter up this thread.

    But maybe a good radio discussion would be what we need.
    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein,

  10. #39
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    Gotta agree with mcp1810 about Amateur Radio. All people you talk to must also be a licensed ham operator. It's certainly versatile, though. I have a few Icom FRS radios & I get about a half a mile under ideal conditions. They're nice radios with the ability to use speech inversion (scrambling) for communications security. GMRS might get you more distance but at a higher power level in a small hand-held radio your battery won't last very long.

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  11. #40
    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adric22 View Post
    No, I didn't. I actually meant to and I have those frequencies programmed into my radios, but I forgot to try them. I had also meant to try FRS channels on some of the shorter tests to compare with GMRS.
    The big thing that kills the FRS is that you are pushing half a watt through a crappy antenna.
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  12. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgrass101 View Post
    I am looking at getting my HAM license soon too. Any points on getting that you guys can give me would be great. You can send me a PM so we don't clutter up this thread.

    But maybe a good radio discussion would be what we need.
    The question pool is public, so just pick up one of the study guides and you can basically memorize the answers to the questions. The ARRL sells a nice study guide: ARRL :: Licensing, Education & Training :: Ham Radio License Manual Revised 2nd Edition

    The basic class of license - Technician - gets you some 10m HF privileges for long-range communications, and full privileges on 50Mhz (6 Meters) and up. There is a giant infrastructure of amateur repeaters in the US (and in many countries around the world), and the new digital modes and linked repeaters can allow you to contact people across the country with a handheld radio.

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  13. #42
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    Thanks, a local HAM club has classes for the Tech. and Gen. class and a 4 day comibine class for both licenses, they're all less than $40. I just need to sign up for one and save up $$ for a radio.
    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein,

  14. #43
    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    And of course there are also satellite repeaters and the International Space Station that you can chat with.
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  15. #44
    Senior Member Array adric22's Avatar
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    I thought I should follow up here. I know I said I was going to make a video, but it took longer than I thought. I finally got it finished a few days ago. Here it is:
    "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." -Plato

  16. #45
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    Nice informative video. The only constructive criticism I have is it would have been nice to see you talk up the value of the HAM license, since people won't have any idea what sort of commitment that takes based on your video; and if they do investigate further, the testing aspect may deter those people. A quick overview of the reasons to do it and the overall versatility of the HAM radio might convince others to make the commitment. We need more HAMs out there but we most certainly don't need people picking up HAM radios that have no intent of getting licensed because if they don't understand what they are doing, they have as much capacity to harm the communication of others as any good they may do.

    I keep a set of GMRS radios in my go bag along with my HT, just in case I need to communicate with someone who doesn't have any radio. They have their place but it's not in the same ballpark as amateur radio.
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