FRS radios: 22 or 36 channels?

Received a KG805FS today, main purpose for RX/TX with my mountain bike team coaches, and be able to scan the logistics and medical channels on race day. So far so good.
This will replace this Midland for me: Midland LXT630VP3 (link removed. Please read FAQ.) but I’ve found 2 differences between the products I seek to understand:

  1. The Wouxun has 22 channels, the Midland has “22+14”: I can choose from 1-36. What’s up with the “+14”?
  2. Are CTCSS tones numbers allegedly industry standard? Most of the team uses bubble pack radios, which I trial and error figured out with my Midland is Channel 5, CTCSS 21. On the Woxun, I had to set it toCh 5 + CTCSS 22 because that’s the identity of the tone that works (136.5Hz). So in my small experience, the tone has close, but not matching identifiers between these 2 manufacturers. Is that typical?

Bonus question: I stumbled upon a GMRS net received on both 15 and 22 this evening, apparently these folks: https://midwestgmrs.com/. Could the programming for this be set for a +5Mhz TX offset, and is that a violation of the product type if done?

Hi Steve, welcome to the forum!

The 14 “extra” channels on the Midland LXT630 are just the same standard FRS channels, but with a preset CTCSS tone. This is essentially the same as programming one of the customizable channels in the KG-805FS. What sets the KG-805FS apart from the LXT630 is that the Midland only has 14 extra channels, while the Wouxun has 108 additional customizeable channels above the 22 FRS channels. This gives you a total of 128 channels on the KG-805FS.

While the CTCSS tones and DCS codes are standard in the industry, each is typically assigned a number in the menu of the radio. This requires you to reference the chart in the user manual for each model to cross reference which tone is assigned to what menu code.

The Wouxun KG-805FS doesn’t really have this issue. Unlike consumer grade “bubble pack” FRS radios like Midland or Motorola which assign their CTCSS tones and DCS codes to these aforementioned 'code" numbers, the 805FS displays the code directly on the screen, so there is no confusion as to what CTCSS tone or DCS code you are actually assigning to a channel. For instance, on the LXT630VP3, code 38 is CTCSS 250.3 Hz. On the KG-805FS, all you need to do is scroll through the list of tones to 250.3 Hz and add it to the channel.

Answer to the Bonus question: There are only 8 repeater frequencies available to GMRS, and these are already pre-programmed into the Midland and Wouxun GMRS radios. These are channels 23-30 on a typical GMRS portable handheld radio with repeater support. The GMRS repeater group is going to be using one or more of these channel frequencies, with or without CTCSS tones and/or DCS codes.

Although FRS radios share the same 22 simplex channels with GMRS, They cannot legally transmit on the repeater frequencies, as FRS and GMRS are different services with different sets of rules. They can only RX repeater traffic.

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Great explanation, you’ve answered everything I asked. Many thanks.

This brings me 2 new questions:

1- team bubble pack radios have no more controls than power, volume and channel, where each channels has a CTCSS preset. If one doesn’t have any documentation on what CTCSS tone is in use, is there anything other than brute force to determine what is in use?

2- If I’d chosen to get GMRS licensed, could I have gone with a GMRS radio, maintained technical compatibility with FRS, and obviously gain the repeater and power options GMRS brings?

There are a couple of ways to determine what CTCSS tone is assigned to a channel. The first is to cross reference the code number of the tone in the user manual for the radio. The user manual for the LXT600 series radios is available from Midland’s web site or from our Product Manual archive at Buy Two Way Radios.

As second option is to use either a CTCSS/DCS decoder or a radio that is equipped with CTCSS/DCS Tone Scan, such as the Wouxun KG-905G or KG-935G. They will detect and identify the CTCSS tones on incoming transmissions.

If you purchase a GMRS license, you can certainly use the full features of a GMRS radio. The license is now only $35, is valid for 10 years and covers your entire family, so it would certainly be a viable option.

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I recently received a GMRS license via email from the FCC. It’s not very impressive. Has COPY watermarked across it. As I recall, I believe the email said that the FCC retains the original. Is that normal?
Thanks, enjoy your podcasts, by the way!

The original is the record of your license on the FCC web site, afaik. I don’t think they actually have a printed original stuck in a file cabinet somewhere in 2022. My understanding is that they will print one for you at your request, but I don’t think they are doing it from a copier. Then again, we’re talking about a government agency, so I could be wrong.

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Rick, Many thanks for the info👍

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