Desk unit for FRS?

I’d like to set up a desk mic/speaker for FRS/GMRS radios. Basically, to be able to talk with our kids that have the handhelds while outside. Range isn’t an issue as they’re not going to be all that far away. I’d just rather not have to deal with a handheld on my desk. That and not have an extra handheld unit that would tend to ‘walk off’.

What’re my options here? I did some searching on FRS and desk but haven’t found anything yet.

You can still find some Audiovox frs base stations on Amazon and e-bay. They also include weather stations I believe. There hasn’t been much new frs equipment manufactured since the advent of cheap cell phones and bubble pack frs/gmrs radios.

The problem with what you ask is the fact that the UHF does not have much range once you go inside the house, regardless of the power, due to some building materials being opaque to radio waves.

I went through this dilemma when the US went through the DTV transition and people could not understand the migration of the VHF stations to UHF and they could not comprehend that shorter wavelengths acts different from longer ones.

Your goal would be to have a decent transceiver that can be used economically that will stay in contact with others.

Another problem is you have to buy a license to do what you want to do!

The Family Radio Service only allows you to use one half of one watt of power…
Couple that into 50’ of coax and the signal would barely dribble out the end of the coax.

The Amateur radio type equipment won’t even reduce to that amount of wattage - 5 watts being the minimum amount of power they usually transmit with from a mobile.’

Once you detach the radio from the antenna, and move the antenna above the roof of the house you create gain.
Height gain to be more exact.

The height gain can overcome the lack of power - watts and even a couple of milliwatts can be heard several miles away.

The way the manufacturers circumvented the law was by making the device small and portable and limiting the size of the non removable antenna and the height, since you aren’t going to climb a tree or a tower to talk to someone.

Radios that are advertised for “FRS /GMRS only” are very expensive and they do not perform all that well.

The government must have outlawed them, or the manufacturers quit making them when they could not compete against a $40 walkietalkie…

You can buy professional grade equipment for about the same amount of money.

Since you are an individual, you aren’t going to try to use it as a hobby - (call CQ and talk to others that are not in your neighborhood), that it is overkill for what you want to use it for…

The professional grade equipment is very expensive, and not a simple solution.
The license alone is $85 for 5 years…

You would need a radio, a power supply, a ground network for the antenna system, a piece of low loss coax to go from the radio to the Polyphaser to the antenna. Some sort of mast to hold the antenna in the air and the antenna itself.

When asked for a quote, people cringes and they refuse to pay!

Radio - $250.00
Power Supply - $150.00
Ground - $100.00 installed
LMR 400 - 50’ - $100 with connectors.
Polyphaser - used to keep the lightning out of the house $50.00
Antenna - $125.00
Mast - $100.00 installed

You can reduce the cost slightly by using mini8 ( $.69 a foot) instead of LMR 400, but the other costs are pretty much firm…

Most people do not realize that regardless of if it is just a couple of watts or a hundred watts / that it still costs basically the same amount of money.

Some Part 95 Type Acceptable transceivers:





























TK-863G mobile

TK-370G portable

TK-380G portable

Kenwood TK-80dd-1

Maxon SM4450SC

Midland 70-630B

Motorola M1225

Ritron Patriot Models:

RPM-450 25 Watt Mobile

RPM-460 30 Watt Mobile

RTX-450 5 Watt HT (and associated JBX-400 series or Jobcomms)

SLX-400 4 Watt HT

SST-450 2 Watt HT

RRX-450/460 30 Watt Repeater

I’m talking one child of our own here, and three other kids, all under the age of 10. FRS or whatever is relatively cheap and there are fairly durable and easy to use handsets out there. Likewise if another parent wants to get one for their child I’m not pushing them to get something more expensive or needlessly complicated. That and they’re all going to be within a 1/4 mile diameter around the neighborhood.

Like I said, these are about $24 on ebay - Audiovox Multi Radio Station
FRS1000 2-Mile 14-Channel FRS
Two-Way Radio.

You will have to settle for used or old stock new in box. The combination GMRS/FRS bubble pack radios ruined the market for real FRS units about the same time people started giving cell phones to five year olds.

I understand your dilemma.

I had the same problem explaining reliable reception to people when the television stations went digital.

People that normally had reliable television reception with nothing but a set of rabbit ears antenna could not receive the UHF signals once the television stations migrated from the VHF.

When dealing with wavelengths of different sizes the rules of reception changes.

Your best bet is to continue using the bubble pack radios for what they are worth. For what you would spend for one month’s cell phone bill, you could probably get two years of use with a bubble pack radio.

As Mirayge said, when people started giving their 5 year old children cell phones the two way radio market for these kinds of devices evaporated.
$24.00 wouldn’t even get you a decent handheld radio battery 15 years ago.

I do know several brands still make a GMRS/FRS camping base unit that is rechargable offers FM reception and a flashlight or some other gizmo but can act as a base unit for your purposes. And as an added plus, you can pack it up and take it outdoors for family trips.

I know Midland makes the Base Camp series that should be good for your requirements, take a look and see what you think.

The reviews of the Midland unit do not make it seem like something I’d want.

I picked up a pair of audiovox FRS-1000 base stations via fleabay. Haven’t had a chance to test for distance yet. They work reasonably well within a 3 story new house. They’re hardly remarkable sound-wise but then you can’t expect much from a 1.5" speaker.

The radio that ttp is referring to is the Midland XT511 Base Camp Two Way / Emergency Crank Radio. I’m not sure where you read the reviews but this is a well-known, solid base station/emergency radio.

I own one and can say both on and off the record that it works well for me and my family when we are using the FRS/GMRS radios around the neighborhood. It comes with a speaker mic, so you can just set it on the desk or table and use it as an FRS base station and it has a handle and a strap so you can carry it around if you want.

It has also come in very handy when we’ve had storms with power outages. The most recent one was a couple of months ago when our neighborhood lost power for about six hours. We used the LED flashlight and the AM radio to receive updates from our local radio station on the status of repairs.

This radio has five power options, including a hand crank (which we’ve used on at least one occasion) and the ability to quickly switch from rechargeable battery pack to alkalines. It also has a USB port so you can charge a cell phone from the radio.

It also comes with a 12v vehicle charging adapter. We take this radio with us when ever we go on a road trip. We haven’t needed to use it on the road yet, but we put it in the trunk for peace of mind.

Since my son and I are hams we will use our Baofeng UV-5R radios to talk to each other when he is out roaming the neighborhood. However, when the other members of my family are visiting neighbors down the street or walking the dog we use the FRS/GMRS radios. I set the XT511 on the desk in my home office and can use it to keep in touch with them while working.

We’ve had our XT511 for three years and it has been very useful.

Somewhere on the unit, possibly in the battery compartment, should be an FCC id number. You can look it up here to find the radio service type acceptance documents. Look for the effective radiated power. If it is anywhere near the maximum half watt allowed for FRS, then you should get around a half mile at ground level. That is from inside a house with metal siding/thermal barrier to an outside station. I can get out to 1.4 miles with a pair of Audiovox gmrs7001 handhelds set at low power (.48 watts) if I stand on the third floor roof at work.
The FRS band is designed on purpose to get beat up by ground clutter so many people can use the same channels within their area without interfering with users across town. Also, the rules about antennas and add on equipment almost guarantee an operator has the unit in hand. If you can physically carry it up a hill or building to increase range that is OK. This is why I prefer real 14 channel only radios for the younger kids. Technically these are real radios, licensed by rule, and you must still follow regulations. But, who is going to hear them far away if your kids are goofing off? This is also why I don’t like people giving the FRS/GMRS radios to children. EVERYONE without a license should stay off the GMRS repeater output channels. They are sort of like giving your kid a handful of snap caps and firecrackers. Then you say, “Oh, firecrackers are illegal. Make sure you don’t light those Precious. Have fun!”

if range is not any issue then it is not going to be that much hard to one fitting well in needs … there are many worthy options you will find on web shops … just be there and pick a suitable one

Just a thought or two here

First, I’m presuming that you have bubble-pack radios that have both the FRS & GMRS channels
If they’re FRS only, disregard the rest of my post

If you want to invest some money in this project:

You may want to consider using the GMRS channels instead

You’d need to get a GMRS license [$85.00] so you can use the GMRS frequencies so you could use the advantages of:
*you wouldn’t be restricted to the ? watt output FRS limit
*you would be able to attach an external/outdoor antenna if needed or wanted

I’m thinking that a new or used RITRON JOBCOM 2 watt output UHF base station may fit the bill here [as of this posting there’s one on eBay for $99.00]

It has a PTT button built into it [I know, not the same as a separate desk mic, I’m trying here though]

It has a BNC connector to connect an external antenna
From what I’ve read, a J-pole cut to the GMRS channels may fit your needs
They’re supposed to be good antennas and shouldn’t be very large since we’re talking about the UHF frequencies

I looked at the manual online, and it is user programmable for the 462.575, 462.625, 462.675 and 462.725 GMRS simplex frequencies
Privacy codes are also user programmable, if necessary or wanted

The JOBCOM would be commercial quality, and I presume it is Part 95 compliant, otherwise the GMRS frequencies wouldn’t be included

Again, just my thoughts
I hope that they help out

Take care,

Clearwater, FL

The Jobcom UHF base station is Part 95A compliant.

The Jobcom VHF base station supports MURS.