General MURS Questions/Info. (Sorry for the Wordiness)

I’m writing to see if anybody know specifics on how some things work. A little background: I am completely new to 2 way radios as many of you will guess or figure out. I have, already in my possession/ownership a set of Motorola Talkabout radios (the top of the line FRS/GMRS radios when I bought them) and noticed the range sucks (barely 3 or 4 blocks in urban setting). At this disappointment, I set out looking for viable alternative to FRS/GMRS radios that might offer a little bit more range. I work with a very close family friend in an industry that 95% of the time has us traveling long distances and, on occasion, we have the opportunity to work in pairs. When we do it would be nice to have some sort of 2 way communication easier, quicker, and more readily available than cell phones to communicate back and forth with. I read up as much as I could on MURS frequencies, which, from what I understand, are in what is or used to be part of the business VHF band. The appeal of which was sparked because, as I have observed, business VHF radios appear to carry a decent range. According to the FCC guidelines and/or “laws” MURS radios are limited to 2 watts of output power but no regulation on antenna gain, save for less than 20’ on a structure or 60’ freestanding. I have done a little searching to find a basic VHF 2 way radio solution that would be “compatible” with MURS frequencies. The only problem is, while I found programmable VHF radios, which appear to be programmable to use only MURS frequencies, I’m wondering if it is just that easy or if there is something I’m missing. I know commercially available MURS radios, as scarce as they may be, are 2 channel with 38 privacy codes (on average). The biggest draw to a “generic” VHF radio that I would custom program to MURS frequencies is the fact that most “generic” VHF radios have removable antennas, very often with standard connections that would permit connecting externally mounted, vehicular antennas without much if any modification. The only thing I have not fully understood is how to make a cable to attach the antenna (most information I have come across say RG 58, which is hard to find, should be used but that RG 59, which I have an abundance of, isn’t as likely to work). I would like to get into license free, handheld radios as a small “hobby” and want to learn more about everything. Any information is much appreciated (anything pertaining to frequencies, programming, antennas, manufacturers, etc. (ANYTHING)). We do a lot of work in crawl spaces, so the ability to go “mobile” with these radio is a must (e.g. I am looking specifically for handheld radios only for a multitude of possibilities both in a vehicle and out). Again, I apologize for wordiness but wanted to get my specific point and information across as accurately as possible.

What kind of range are you expecting?..The main reason that commercial radios work so well (both UHF and VHF) is due to the fact that in commercial applications, generally speaking, the radio systems utilize repeaters to give much greater range and quality of re-broadcasted signal. If you are looking for more than half a mile or so, you might want to try Nextel or the Verizon PTT.

Some (not all) commercial VHF radios are FCC type-accepted for MURS.

I have used MURS in a mobile and base setting, and have been able to communicate over several miles. The radios were old RadioShack mobiles, that I got on closeout, and a nice 5/8 wave VHF antenna (that I now use on the amateur 2 meter band)

A handheld, with a base, or mobile antenna, can perform pretty good, even with the 2 watt limit.

My biggest struggle is and has been finding a decent radio (most conveniently) already programmed for MURS frequencies. But I’m having a problem finding one with a removable antenna. I wouldn’t mind purchasing a standard VHF 2 way radio and programming it for MURS frequencies (would seem the most effective and probably the most economical way). Just don’t know what radio exactly to get far as programmability and/or ease of use and programming. Any suggestions would be great. And in answer to the question of range, I wouldn’t expect more than 1 mile while travelling but want as much range as possible. I intend to get an external vehicular antenna to increase range capability while travelling but don’t need too much range otherwise when outside the vehicles.