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GMRS misinformation correction

Wes Harden

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In the Moab communication thread, use of a frequency by official police/fire was mentioned. This confused me, and I asked about it. Question on the verge of hijacking the thread.
I started this to help me understand, and maybe others.

What is the difference between GMRS and Business Band? I had thought they were the same. I am realizing now that business use on GMRS might be a no no. Not sure about this.
What is MURS and what frequencies do it use?
 

Fastereddie

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ZooMad75

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So GMRS is running between 462 and 467 MHz. It is the general mobile radio service. It is for public use like CB radio is but it is on the FM side of the spectrum vs CB being AM. Much like the range And clarity difference between am and fm in your car radio, GMRS benefits from the increased range and clarity FM provides.


It does require a basic license but no test is required to get it. There are some limits to power output as it's more than CB but less than full blown Ham.

MURS is similar that is it public use, but it uses low wattage (2watts) radios. No license is required to operate and is in the 151-154 MHz range. Which somewhat overlaps the business band frequencies.

Business bands by definition are not public and each business pays to use a specific frequency in their area. I don't think one business has a right to that frequency across the country, but only in the area they are located. This way two or more business entities can have the right to use the channel but won't interfere with each other because the radios have a limited range.

Rugged radios in particular have posted on their website that they have bought licenses for specific frequencies across the country. They infer that the radio would technically require a ham license but as long as you stay on the pre-programmed frequencies they have licensed you as the end user are covered under the umbrella of their license.

They have been busted by the FCC over some of the radios they sell not being certified for the frequencies they programmed into them. They have not been hit yet over the sales pitch of telling buyers they are ok to use these frequencies under their license. I think through some legal trickery by having a notation on the website that it would require a ham license to use the radio they are getting away with it.
 

ZooMad75

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Keep this in mind. When it comes to the Baofeng radios and GMRS or the business bands. While anybody can tune in those frequencies the radio is not certified to be used on those bands. What I have done as well as others is technically illegal in the eyes of the FCC.

Baofeng got nailed for not locking out the ability to get to the non-ham frequencies. They were supposed to do that moving forward. Most other radio brands don't allow a radio designed for ham to access GMRS, business, marine emergency frequencies.

This makes it look like a "do as I say but not as I do" type scenario. We shouldn't be able to get to GMRS with a Baofeng but we can. The radios are dirt cheap and they work. You run one over or break it and you aren't out any serious money. We are not the only ones using them for the use of tail communication either. The point is to have a basic understanding and know what the rules are.

Honestly there are better options out there like anything else. Because the ham radio world is so technical and confusing it's daunting to get into. Most of the group I wheel with went to Midland GMRS base units in their trucks on my suggestion. It makes it so easy. No tuning, as the channels are programmed in. The the radios are as easy to use as a CB. Pick a quiet channel and go. The base units can have up to 40-50 watts of output vs 4 watts on cb or 5-10 on a handheld like a Baofeng.

Also having the antenna mounted outside of the truck vs a handheld radio with an antenna inside the vehicle is going to increase your range on top of the higher wattage. I've seen 10-15 miles with my group using the GMRS base units. Plus the quality of sound is like a phone call. Not scratchy like CB.

We've had very good luck with the GMRS stuff. We all have a spare Baofeng to hand off to others with us if they don't have them, but the main way is with the base units. We are able to talk truck to truck on the highway or trail with clarity that rivals a phone. We could be spread out or bunched up. Don't matter.
 

Wes Harden

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these all help, I have discovered GMRS is UHF and Business Band is VHF.
What started my confusion was 1 radio doing both UHF and VHF and programed channels all labeled GMRS.
The Manx Club, reason I have Rugged and Baofeng radios, has Licensed from the fcc these frequencies, for club events only.


MC-1 151.7000 VHF 35 watt
MC-2 151.7600 VHF 35 watt
MC-3 158.4000 VHF 110 watt
MC-4 158.4075 VHF 110 watt
MC-5 151.5125 VHF 2 watt
MC-A 464.5000 UHF 2 watt
MC-B 464.5500 UHF 2 watt

only the last 2 are GMRS I was led to believe all the list channels were GMRS.
My 1st mobile base was a rugged rm-25 which had both uhf and vhf, it burned up. Current mobile base is Rugged rm-60 VHF only, So I own a radio I do not have a license to transmit with. The way I understand this GMRS is UHF only and only 30 some odd frequencies plus @ half the FRS channels.
I have 3 handhelds 1 Rugged and 2 Baofeng.
 

Wes Harden

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I opened an email from Rugged radios just now, I usually delete them. I see 2 radios advertised, 1 mobile base 1 handheld, both are listed as Business Band. So I guess they are changing the way they do things.
 

TerryD

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I opened an email from Rugged radios just now, I usually delete them. I see 2 radios advertised, 1 mobile base 1 handheld, both are listed as Business Band. So I guess they are changing the way they do things.
Don't buy from them. You can get the same radio MUCH cheaper. It just won't be blue.
 

Wes Harden

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The only reason I have a rugged radio mobile base is to connect it to my head set intercom. I know they are rebadged Baofeng. Baofeng doesn't connect to inercoms
 

ZooMad75

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It could be really confusing and Rugged is a master at blurring the lines between legal and not legal. Unfortunately, they've made a lot of money on the fact of selling repackaged blue or pink Baofengs for 3 times the price or better.

Some of the confusion when talking about UHF and VHF is that you end up thinking one radio can't talk on both. In reality some can. They call them "dual band" radios.

Ripped from a google search has a good definition:
What is dual band radio?


The most popular VHF/UHF radios for FM voice and data are dual-band, meaning that they can transmit on both the 2 meter (144-148 MHz) and 70 cm (420-450 MHz) bands. Higher-end units allow you to monitor several bands at once and listen on one band while transmitting on the other.

Business bands can be either VHF or UHF too. But they work on different frequency bands than standard HAM frequencies.
VHF runs from 151 MHz to 158 MHz and UHF 464 MHz to 469 MHz.

Part of the mess comes from the FCC that makes it clear as mud to figure out. You'll see Part 90 radios and Part 95 radios. Part 95 radios are more the personal use GMRS variety that by design are locked to those frequencies. Meaning you have no way to punch in another frequency manually. Part 90 radios aren't locked down where you can manually punch in a frequency. Depending on the type of radio, they may be only able to hit the public HAM bands only, Marine only, the business band only. My dual-band mobile unit was locked out of the GMRS frequencies as it's not a part 95 radio. However in other countries where the radio sold it isn't. It was a matter of changing a setting with the programming software that unlocked it to work on it. The popular handheld Baofeng did nothing to lock out ANY frequencies on the VHF or UHF bands so anybody that gets one could program a frequency in on the Business band, Fire/police/emergency, Marine bands besides the normal Ham frequencies. So the Baofengs get a bad rap from the Ham community because anybody can possibly get on and clog up the airwaves or disrupt communications for emergency or law enforcement. An example of the disruption came up the other day.

I'm not licensed yet for Ham, but I do listen to the Colorado Connection statewide repeater network quite a bit when I'm driving my Blazer. Sunday I caught the first interaction between an unlicensed user and a regular Ham guy on the repeater. It was pretty interesting. A guy and gal talking to each other like it was a CB, no mention of a call sign. Again, this is a statewide repeater network so they may not have understood the frequency they grabbed was getting linked to a series of repeaters that was re-sending out the signal from Grand Junction to Denver, Fort Collins to Pueblo, and darn near most of the state in between. The Ham guy was pretty direct reminding them that they needed to ID themselves and that they were on the statewide repeater network. The chatter stopped right away.

There are other setups to allow the use of vehicle intercoms. Even using repurposed airplane intercom units. I think somebody here just did that for his flatfender jeep project.
 

Wes Harden

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Other radios that interface with an intercom? I looked when my dual band fried, was already weary of Rugged. My set up had 1 failure after another I think it was 4 or 5 club outings before my rig worked as designed. That was after I boxed my whole setup cables and everything and sent it to them, and make it work or ELSE, as a Manx club member with 5k potential customers world wide. Hell they even show up at some of our events to pimp their crap.
I am on my 4th push to talk button, this one I bought on Amazon and added the 3 yr insurance, I'll be getting a new one next spring more than likely. $50.00 for that POS.
At KOH this year my second head set failure. Rugged was there with giant f'n tent. I bought new head set from PCI, my new radio store, they don't offer the correct ptt button thou. PTT button didn't work at KOH but I didn't need to tx.
If I go FM mobile base in my burb it will not be Rugged.
Question are there remote mount antenna for the handhelds? the longer handheld antenna is pita in cab, and the short one lacks distance.

going have to find an Elmer in havasu, to help me figure out what I can do and what I can't.
 

ZooMad75

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I found 4 different companies offering intercom systems on a google search. They were not rugged. Rugged is not the only game in town, just the one with the biggest marketing budget.

Amazon has wide selection of remote mount antennas for Baofeng radios.
 

mrk5

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One thing I like about Rugged is their support for the industry. I'm frequently cost driven on my purchases, but these days finding companies that actually support our hobby seems to be getting rarer. So if I can, I like to spend my money with those places.
 

Wes Harden

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I hear you me too, but the quality is crap, I bought my 1st setup, mobile base, intercom, 2 head sets, cables, in late 2017, got it all installed early spring 2018, went to July Manx club run first occasion to use, 1 head set doesn't work. they warrantied it they at the event, but had no inventory there. Had wait for it to shipped to me after event. Next run and on small Friday run with a few buggies, we don't hear anyone talking, PTT button went hot and we were open mic, they change freqs. Then the radio burnt up, new radio more wattage, wouldn't transmit past line of sight. Had to buy a handheld to test. this is early 2019 boxed the whole mess up, including cables, that were routed under my taped roll bar padding, not fun, and sent it to them to make work. Turns out the intercom was bad now. They don't make the 1 I have anymore, so they up grade me I have to pay the difference.
You say 3 years is not bad the intercom worked, well I had not successfully transmitted to another club member ever up to this date, except the open mic incident. March run 2019 worked great 1st time no flaws. July run bad PTT button 2x. Sept run worked great. 2020 KOH worked the few times I was out with my brother using handheld. No other runs 2020,
KOH 2021 ptt button failed 3x. 2nd headset mic fail. Jully 2021 run worked great I was the sweep car on our official Saturday run, 21 buggies 57 miles 1 way in San Bernadino National Forest. Run leader could hear me well the whole day. We had 1 or 2 minor break downs, 1 of my jobs is to inform the leader, which I'm glad I was able to do. I volunteered weeks prior to sweep a run, I was nervous my radio wouldn't work and have to back out. You could say I don't trust my radio system. I had over $1000.00 in the original investment.
3 Ptt buttons 150.00, 2nd radio 375.00, upgrade intercom 80.00, 2nd headset 250.00, plus shipping to Rugged, plus retaping my roll bar padding. I'm sure I have forgotten more $$ somewhere.
Not a fan
 

campfire

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MC-A 464.5000 UHF 2 watt
MC-B 464.5500 UHF 2 watt

only the last 2 are GMRS I was led to believe all the list channels were GMRS.

To clarify, 464MHz is outside of the FRS/GMRS bands. Those would be commercial frequencies licensed for that specific use, just like the VHF frequencies. So you're not using any publicly-available frequencies.
 

campfire

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So GMRS is running between 462 and 467 MHz. It is the general mobile radio service. It is for public use like CB radio is but it is on the FM side of the spectrum vs CB being AM. Much like the range And clarity difference between am and fm in your car radio, GMRS benefits from the increased range and clarity FM provides.

At the risk of sounding pedantic, the increase in signal quality for GMRS is due to the higher frequency (larger bandwidth) and increased power output. It's not a function of AM vs. FM waveforms, it's a function of bandwidth. The importance of this is higher frequency transmissions need more power to travel a given distance. 100 watts in an HF band like 20-meters will send a signal around the earth. 100 watts on the 70cm band (where GMRS is) may or may not penetrate 10 miles of soggy swamp. The antenna is smaller, and the audio quality is better, but the reliability is not. It's a trade-off.


Though nearly anything is better than the hamstrung CB radios... :doah:
 
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