I just joined this forum to seek some answers/advice. I’ve been interested in GMRS for a while now and would ultimately like to get my license just to fiddle around with it. However I do have a bigger problem that I need to address.
I just left the road from over the road trucking of the past 11 years and I am acquiring a decent chunk of land. This land from corner to corner is in the 1.2-1.4 mile range and I know FRS radios won’t work for that distance. I am hiring a close friend to come in to help me maintain the property plus keep contact with the house and my mom’s new home where I will be moving her about a 1/4 mile away on the same property. Cell phone service is very poor to non existent.
I will have 4 pieces of equipment that will need mobile’s installed and know I will need 3 handhelds. Our home we have yet to determine if we want a handheld or a mobile unit installed. This won’t be a business but rather nothing more than a homestead with a 30 acre tract being used for horses.
I have been back and forth trying to learn what I can about the pros and cons of GMRS and DMR radios. I’ve been looking at the Midland MXT115 GRMS radios for simplicity and compact size with 15 watts while reaching over the 0.5 mile FRS. The other option I’m learning towards is Motorola XPR5000 series radios which can be ultra private channel with scrambling. I’m not so much worried of the cost of these as I know they are expensive but my concerns are the setup process as it seems extremely complicated to set up and beyond my know how.
GMRS on the other hand seems like a great option but the down side that is shying me away for work purpose is it being open channels that anyone within range can pick up on and from a work day prospective, normal chatter would get irritating having to use a call sign every time you transmit and I would have to pay to get myself and my help licensed.
Again I will get a single GRMS system and a license to toy around with from time to time.
I watched a YouTube video with a guy that claims it took him a painful and expensive 4 weeks just to get one Motorola unit operational. What would you guys find to be more beneficial in the long run? Just a reminder, this is not for a business but basically a personal farm. Thanks in advance for any help.
If you buy radios from a proper source, and not from ebay or direct from China, then the supplier as part oil the deal will programme your radios so they work properly, and do what you need. It’s perfectly possible to do it yourself, but if your interesting is simply in comms and not how radios work and how you can tweak and tinker - just buy them from a real radio supplier.
Range wise - in open terrain, Watts means very little. The low power cheapies have similar range and performance to more powerful ones. The killer is usually how good an antenna you have (in general, the bigger the more efficient) and the real vital things - height and obstacles. A small hill, or a loads of trees cut the range considerbly, as do buildings with lots of steelwork. Going from an inside pocket to held in your hand as high as you can can magically give you a few miles extra - it’s that critical. Money also gives you access to repeaters to increase range by siting an antenna high up, with better range - then everyone works through it. On the GMRS service a simple tone squelch removes other users on the same frequency, and range being what it is, there are unlikely to be any. Even the licence free system is pretty OK outside of built up areas. No kids or small shops using them for stock control. Your tone system simply prevents you hearing others, and of course enthusiasts could be listening in. Only you can decide if this matters. If it does, then digital and encryption, and the cost is the next route.
The big issue with handheld radios is always range, and if you need the radio to be on your belt, and perk up when the other person calls - distance is the enemy to any of the systems, reliability wise.
A lot of it depends on the terrain and layout of your property. If it is relatively flat and open, you have a lot of flexibility, because there won’t be much to get in the way of the signal. Even if it is a little hilly, as long as it is open terrain from hill to valley, you can probably get away with using higher powered handhelds with mobile radios, depending on where everything is placed. However, if it is valley to valley, or if there are a lot of obstructions such as heavily wooded areas, that could be problematic. In any case, the placement of the antennas is strategic.
If you give Rob a call at 1-800-584-1445 he can help you figure out the best options that will work for you. If you prefer, just click the link at the top of this page and you can chat with him, Taylor or Hillary directly during the week day.
All good advice. There are no easy answers because needs are different and a lot depends on terrain. It really depends on what your priorities are and how much you are willing to spend.
Obviously, the high end solution is your own licenced frequency and good quality business-class radios. Good dealers like our forum hosts here will not only sell you the radios, they will program them for you and arrange all the paperwork to apply for the licence. Radios will last for years and you should not get any interference from anyone else. If you need to stretch distance because of terrain or obstacles, you can install a repeater. Cost of just the licence itself is several hundred dollars and up, depending on frequencies, radios, repeaters, etc. (That’s for a ten year FCC licence.) Any transmissions can be monitored by someone within range with a scanner. Some scanners can monitor DMR as well (but not encryption.)
Licence-free solutions to consider are FRS radios, Motorola DTR/DLR radios, CB radios and MURS radios.
While FRS may or may not work, a good thing to do is simply get a two-pack of quality radios and try them out for yourself.
Don’t discount the old CB radios either. Yes, every trucker within 100 miles might be able to hear some of your transmissions, but you can get both mobile and handheld units, and they no longer require a licence. Sound quality will not be as good as a good VHF or UHF business radio, but they may work for you. Cost is only the cost of the radios.
MURS is a licence-free band of five shared frequencies on VHF. While it seems that five shared frequencies isn’t a lot, in actual practice, there are just not that many people using MURS. Again, your total cost is the radios. They come preprogrammed. One advantage over FRS is the radios are good quality business-class radios.
The Motorola DTR and DLR radios are licence-free digital radios in the 900 MHz band. They are very high quality and the range of them is as good if not better than any VHF or UHF handheld radio on the market. They work best in urban environments, but I have tested DTR and DLR radios in rural areas and they still beat the best VHF radios in areas that UHF is traditionally not as strong. Being digital, they are very clear and readable and will always be 100% clear when within range. Plus, they cannot be monitored with any consumer scanner on the market. Downside is there is no mobile model available; they are all handheld. The reason for this is simple - there is no need. My experiments with external mobile antennas have shown that they all DEGRADE performance, and DTR and DLR radios work just as well inside a vehicle as outside it. Downside is, much like the MURS radios, you are looking at five times the cost of the radio versus FRS radios. The upside is that they are ten times the quality and will last ten times as long. Plus, with the DTR radios (the DTR410, DTR550 and DTR650, plus the new DTR600 and DTR700) you can call up individual radios and talk one-to-one in a private conversation.
So you can see why there is no easy answer to your question. It depends on a lot of factors, plus your own priorities. Are you open to shared frequencies, especially if neighbors are not that close to you? Or do you want radios like the DTR/DLR that cannot be monitored by anyone? Do you want business-class radios that will last for years, industrial-grade radios like the DTR and DLR series that will work in adverse conditions, or consumer-grade radios like the FRS ones that are cheap enough you just replace every two years or so?
Definitely follow Rick’s advice and talk to the folks at buytwowayradios. They know their stuff.
You can try Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios.
It’s a compact-size waterproof radio and .This radio performs well within 5 miles and work up to 96 hours in one charge.