New to radio's and need some help, helping others.

I’m new to GMRS, having received my license a couple of months ago, and now that makes me the best source of information that my church has and they would like to tap that source - and frankly I don’t have a problem with trying to help them.

My church is wanting to put together a limited network for emergency use, the problem is they want to avoid FRS fearing that in such times the FRS will be overwhelmed with chatter, but only have a consumer GMRS radio budget - but the inability to license a dozen people.

Can anyone give me some helpful idea’s to pass on to them?

We live on the front range of Colorado - so we have some hill country to deal with, my initial thought was to see about the possibility of 2-3 GMRS licenses plus a mobile and a strategically placed base station ( which I was thinking about obtaining after a little saving ), but that doesn’t get past the issue of putting the rest of the other 9-10 people in communication with those with GMRS licenses.

If the folks here could tell me what our options might be, that would really help.

GMRS stations are allowed to communicate with FRS stations, on the 7 shared channels between the services.

There is no way around licensing. GMRS is intended for family use, not business/group use, and the licensing rules reflect that.

Every GMRS user must be licensed individually, unless they’re members of a family, only need one license per family.

Cost of a license is $17/year. If your proposed users can’t afford that, they have much bigger problems than setting up an ‘emergency network’, they’re broke, and about to starve.

Worse, costwise, is that to get any real range, you will need to install a repeater on high ground, and not only is this moderately expensive, it also limits your users to getting radios capable of using a repeater. While there are a few, most ‘bubblepack’ GMRS/FRS radios are not capable of repeater use.

You will have to deal with range of 1/2 to 2 miles, maximum, in an urban setting.

If that range is enough, you might better deal with the worry that channels will be too congested by going to the eXRS radios, which use 900 MHz frequency hopping methods, and are much, much less likely to ever have problems with ‘other users’, since you won’t hear anyone not using your specific selected ‘channel number’ out of the 100’s of thousands of ‘channels’ you can pick on those radios.

I rather doubt that FRS/GMRS ‘congestion’ will be a problem, and in fact, an ‘emergency network’ should be WANTING to be able to communicate with other victims.

The alternative to a repeater is to put an actual person on a hilltop overlooking the area you wish to cover, and have them relay messages ‘by hand’.

I’m going to inter-space my reply within yours to address the specific parts.

I don’t see this as an major issue - least wise not at this time.

And my church realizes this. In an optimum situation, they would actually probably prefer some form of group licensing, that since this is a chartable organization, would not end up costing an arm or a leg as far as equipment is concerned.

I specifically clarified this part with the FCC back in Nov. - it is 1 licensed individual for every 6 radios that are operating at any one time within each family.

If it was actually only a matter of being on the basis of $17 per person a year - it probably wouldn’t be so bad - even better when it comes time to deal with the renewal, but it still comes down to almost $200 for the entire group, and just short of $1000.00 up front.

The problem comes from a few things:

  1. The up front $80 license fee per person - especially in the last couple of years, there are more than a few being hit by .

  2. The positions are callings within the church congregation without respect to individual wealth.

  3. The church callings are strictly voluntary in nature, and there is no monetary compensation - this means that if the person is released before the license expires because they are moving, and they have no reason or need to want to continue using GMRS, then the license which is not transferable, ends up being useless - and while we believe in sacrifice, we also believe in waste not - want not, and to waste a portion of the license fee, it would bring undue hardship on some who could ill afford it.

  4. The church, has a yearly budget, which is set by things like attendance and other factors which I am not privy to, that they must adhere to, and unlike congress ( who spend on money that they think that they might have collected in the future ), can only spend on extras if there is enough left in the budget after paying the other bills.

If GMRS licenses were transferable it would probably be allot easier to sell the idea of each person who is called to this particular position getting one - because then when they are released, then the license would go with the calling rather than with the person.

I obtained my GMRS license for several reasons - not the least of which is that I needed a way to communicate with my sisters, who live on their own almost 10 miles outside of town, if the lines went down - and with GMRS, I can do so, by moving 200-300 yrds from my front door.

To take these in reverse order, 2 miles is enough - 1.5 miles is more likely the maximum that any one radio needs to reach.

We have a hill and 2 low ridge lines that run through our area, one is north/south and the other east/west for all practical purposes they are only about 200-300 ft, but the east/west one is the reason why I have to move 200-300 yrds, to contact my sisters some 8 miles away, as I live about 1/4 way down it’s flanks on the opposite side.

The good news is that we have some good folks on both of the ridge lines and on the hill, so if push comes to shove, a message can take the long way around, but that would mean a dedicated message network, which would in the end, would detract from the purpose of an “Area Capitan” which is to check on the folk within their area - they don’t have any authority or power, they are just on scene contact point ( after getting a radio call they basically show up and do an assessment of what additional resources may or may not be needed - they are CERT certified and have had CPR training and they have a radio to call in report on the situation if needed and if that means that clergy is needed for one reason or another, then that is on the other end of the radio as well ).

Now that is a thought - a very good one and the type of thing that I was looking for ( stuff I was either unaware of or had very limited knowledge about ).

To be honest, I only have the most rudimentary knowledge about eXRS, as since when I first started looking into radios as a method of communication with my sisters, GMRS appeared to be more of what I needed, that is where I applied my self - do you have a good source for eXRS data, that I can study?

Let me take your comment in two parts-

  1. I too doubted that FRS/GMRS ‘congestion’ might be an issue - but back around the holidays, I was very much surprised to turn my units on to ‘scan’ mode for the first time and there was probably almost as much traffic was in GMRS channels as was in the fewer FRS channels - the most amusing ( and some what concerning ) of which was a mother telling her daughter to get her blank up to the kitchen table for dinner.

  2. As to an “Emergency Network” wanting to be able to communicate with victims…even first responders ( police / fire / ambulance ), which we are not, have a way of sorting and filtering data that is coming in, so that those that are actually in the field, are not overwhelmed with just talking to people, they need to have a way with talking with each other without someone horning in on the conversation in order to organize what needs to be done.

The larger vision, does include my self and/or one or two others with GMRS license, and the better equipment that goes with it, acting as contacts by way, sorting and filtering information and then passing by way of the equipment to those that were in better position to try and deal with the situation.

The entire purpose is to try and be prepared on the small scale of perhaps 2-3 blocks in size, so that if disaster does hit at least some families in the neighborhood are prepared, so relief efforts can be focused on others.

Our congregation has been working on this for several years now, including having a number of members C.E.R.T. certified, and we are reaching a point where communication is just starting to be thought about, and because I already have my GMRS license, I am the closest thing they have to an expert for all my lack of experience.

This is the eXRS website, for general information.

Radios sell for about $35-$40 each, more or less, if you shop around, or go to EBay.

Our Beloved Sponsors, of this forum, do sell them:

Radio Shack also sells them, at least from their catalog, but, as always, will not be the cheapest source.

I read Tri Square’s data earlier, I was kind of looking for a more independent evaluation of the technology, as I don’t put a lot of faith in what a manufacture claims for their equipment - sure I’ll use it as a start, but after that I need independent reviews, before I actually put my trust in it.

Lots of discussion of eXRS here:

Thank’s, I’ll look it over.