GMRS radio selection advice

I’m in need of two GMRS hand held radios for my wife and myself. I would like to ask the forum for advice and suggestions.

I’m looking at the Icom IC-4001-02-DTC Two Way Radio (UHF) and the IC-f4011 UHF. After I list my intended use hopefully I can take the plunge if you think either of these units will deliver maybe one better than the other

I live in Fort Mohave which is pretty much flat. I really think a 2-5 mile radius coverage in the open desert would be OK for us. And around the neighborhood to have a 2 mile radius with single story dwellings in the way as I would like to transmit from our home to the other hand held as she walks our dog, also once in a great while we go to the lake.

I’m not sure on a few things concerning this units, they are repeater capable is that a plus? And do I need that?

Does it have PL DPL tones, and is that a plus?

Another function is CTCSS DCS, is that a plus?

I noticed on the spec page that I have a choice of two frequency ranges 450-512 MHz and 400-470 MHz. I would like all the GMRS channels is that possible with these two units?

I’m going to apply for a GMRS FCC lic. Do I need to have the lic. in hand with the call sign before I order the radios with the programed channels and extras?
Any idea or suggestions would be appreciated, and I appreciate any advice suggestions or comments as I’m a novice to this field.


If its really flat and open then maybe 2 miles. My Guess is that you’ll need an antenna. A tall one on your house and your range will be acceptable.
CTCSS/DCS are codes that make your radio ignore transmissions unless they hear the special code. Its an attempt to reduce hearing other peoples radios. Its a popular feature. I use it. DPL/PL Refers to the same feature. Those two frequency ranges both cover all gmrs/frs channels.

You should get 2 miles easy, and out in the open like that 3+ might be common. A repeater is a specialized bit of communication gear that is used to essentially relay radio transmissions as a way of increasing range. So, unless you plan to use a repeater it is not that important. That said, there might be a GMRS repeater that is open to the public there: Also, get permission before you jump on one!

If you go with a commercial radio (like the Icom) you will not have CTCSS unless hard-programmed in (which you probably do not want), but that is only important if there are a lot of GMRS users within 10 miles.

The advantages of commercial radios is you will be able to use better antennas (since they are easily removed), and have li-ion batteries.

You can get the radios now, no need to wait on the license.

Thank you for the reply, I used the repeater link and unfortunately there arent any repeaters close to me. Vegas and Henderson are about 70 miles away but its nice to know I can search for them in the future.

I have no idea if there is any GMRS traffic in my area as this is my first venture into the world of two way radios.

Do any of the retailers provide free programming or a discount of the GMRS channels and CTCSS if purchased from them? If not what would be a ballpark estimate? (if that can be discussed)

I did see that both of those radios have removable antennas and looking at the accessories page they offer three different kinds. What would be the rule of thumb for selecting a better one?

Thank you for your answers and patience.

If you purchase the radios from us, the programming is always free.

Icom is rather good about listing the options that will work with specific radios. You may find the ones that come with the radio work fine. If not, I would upgrade to a longer antenna from Icom (that is listed for the radio). That way you know there is full compatibility. A lot of the time, if you just screw on a random antenna that is not designed to work with the radio you will lose range. Here is an antenna for a 4001 and 4011 series using GMRS frequencies:

Thank you DnoyeB for your reply, I think I’ll go with CTCSS/DCS as you have. Can it be turned on or off or is it always on?

I’ll surf the Internet today about building a GMRS antenna and get familiar with the terminology.

Thank you very much.

Don’t count on any ‘repeater listing’ sites or books for GMRS repeater availability.

Most GMRS repeaters are private, do not publicise their existance, and are not on those sites. They often use split CTCSS/DCS to prevent the occasional bubblepack that handles repeaters at all from using the system.

Nonethless, if you find one, it may be open to allowing guest use, with permission. (Always required for using any GMRS repeater)

I’m a member (sort of) of GMRS repeater systems, five of them, on different mountaintops, in San Diego… and none of them are listed in such guides, or available to the general public. Only one of them is highly used, the others are used when a unit is in an area the primary repeater doesn’t cover well.

This is true… I Identified on a GMRS system on vacation, and the owner beat me down. Closed private system. Locally, same deal.

This is why, eventually, the FCC, will eliminate GMRS licensing requirements. I have largely found, there is NO GMRS “Community”", and have more or less abandoned it in all cases.

The FCC basically does not intend GMRS to be a ‘ham’ type service, it’s aimed at individual family service. A repeater is expected to have been put up by a specific group for its own use.

The rules require a repeater operator to have written records of every station authorized to be on the system, so ‘open’ systems in the ham format simply don’t generally exist.

Thanks to everybody for their input and suggestions. With the two hand held UHF models I’m considering I wonder if adding a external antenna would gain any more coverage?

I looked over the forum and didn’t see a antenna section, I could be wrong. Anyway where would I obtain some honest info about what type to use?

Thank you

Repeaters are privately owned, so you will have to get permission to use them. You will need the frequencies and tones to access them. Most owners don’t charge to use them, just abide by the rules and use your FCC call signs. Repeaters increase range immensely since you are talking to a antenna with more more powerful repeater on a tower which “repeats” your transmission instead of talking ground level radio to radio. It will take some research to do this, but well worth it. Go here and do a frequency search for your area in GMRS.;JSESSIONID_ULSSEARCH=nfydMKJWQLGfWVpyRMncHBqn4htv0bRxk4fGBS45C08816VfZrhL!1064559788!-87160419

The key to range is antenna height.

An external antenna, if it’s placed higher up (on your rooftop, say), will get better range.

The rule of thumb Motorola used to use for ‘reliable’ coverage was to take the square root of the antenna height in feet, and that was the range in miles. (Do this for both ends, and add).

So, two handhelds (height, about 4 feet):

Square root of 4 = 2. Two ends, added, 4 miles.

This, however, assumes NOTHING in between, flat ground. It’s tricky, for low heights like this, as any building or tree will be blocking that line of sight. The typical real usable range for a pair of handhelds in urban areas is more like 1/2 to 2 miles.

Put your antenna (on one end) up at 20 feet, and you get 4.5 miles (an extra 2 miles), for a total of 6.5 miles. However, you also get above some of the local clutter, which helps.

Also, of course, if you’re inside a car, there is a LOT of loss for an antenna inside a vehicle, so an external antenna outside the car will help a lot.;JSESSIONID_ULSSEARCH=nfydMKJWQLGfWVpyRMncHBqn4htv0bRxk4fGBS45C08816VfZrhL!1064559788!-87160419[/QUOTE]

Great place to start, thanks for the link. There are three GMRS users in my area two are active and one inactive.

Learning as I go.

Thanks for the info and placement on antennas for GMRS, I spent some time last night searching the web for GMRS antennas and J-Pole seems to be one type.

Would something like that be a good start?

When do the latest GMRS hand held models arrive on the market?
Thank you

J-Poles are a fine antenna for GMRS base use.

I’d post a link to a good source for them for GMRS, but I think that’s a no-no here. :smiley:

I think I’m able to receive a pm on this forum, if that’s OK with forum rules.

Most new models show up in January-March.

Sure, PM away! :wink:

Another question about these two Icoms listed in the original post, do I need a business license?