So, in addition to a ham ticket, some time ago I acquired a GMRS license. It was mainly "just because", but also it gave us more options. My wife also does not have her amateur license, but she could use GMRS with said license:

"You may apply for a GMRS license if you are 18 years or older and not a representative of a foreign government. If you receive a license, any family member, regardless of age, can operate GMRS stations and units within the licensed system."
Anyway, I just got an email from my father-in-law (a fellow amateur radio operator) and he says he has a GMRS repeater he's not using and maybe we should install it on our property. Due to the lay of his land, he doesn't have much use for it, but it would useful on our hill. It is an interesting idea.

Anyone played around much with GMRS? Does setting up such a system sound like a good idea for an additional comm for preps? Anyone run a repeater (GMRS, ham, or otherwise)? Also, I noticed that one can legally connect to the Internet on GMRS; anyone played with that?

Anywho, just thought I'd toss it out there for discussion. Thanks. :)
 

ATCclears

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I sent that too quickly...

I have my GMRS license and my Technician (Ham) license. The GMRS license is good for the immediately family and does not require a test.

I have a few inexpensive Baofeng radios, and I used the free software CHIRP to also program in a couple of GMRS repeaters in my area. I also set the transmit power to low for those memory locations where it is a GMRS repeater.
 
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So IIRC, the Baofeng is a Part 90 Radio, and it's technically illegal to use on Part 95 radio services (GMRS is part 95). That said, I've run repeaters, and if you're anywhere near a populated area, there are going to be some things that can be quite a pain in the buttox about it. I highly recommend that you only use DPL, as most of the obnoxious people with blister-pack radios from walmart cannot use DPL.

If you're rural enough, it's likely you might get left alone, I don't think there's any requirement for coordination, or publishing of your repeater information, and I would advise you not to.
 
I have my ham license but I am a certified GMRS nutball. (I have the GMRS license as well.) Yes, there is an obvious difference between the two. GMRS is simple and easy to use. They are also a bit more common and more readily available than ham so it’s likely that your neighbors and others will be using them during a crisis. That is a tactical advantage. It's quick to scan through all of the channels to monitor for riff raff, who's running low on supplies, etc. (Cigars doesn't trust nobody). GMRS is kind of a low hanging fruit in several aspects. They are easily obtained and fairly intuitive to use. Many models also let you use AA or AAA batteries when the rechargeable dies and there's no power available. Can they be used to talk around the world? No. As I mentioned earlier, GMRS is more of a tactical option. However, there are GMRS repeaters. However, you need a radio capable of setting tones to access most repeaters. Off the shelf bubble pack radios won’t help you here. You would need a Baofeng or one of the new BTECH GMRS V-1 handhelds (about sixty bucks from BTECH). GMRS repeaters are generally more limited in scope than amateur radio repeaters. I’m not saying that this is good or bad, that is something for you to determine. In a shtf scenario, talking to someone in Kalamazoo is not high on my priority list. Local commo is. Anyway, nothing wrong with the ham scene. Its just a bit of a different commitment. Aside from my ham configuration, my GMRS set up is as follows:
Handhelds- (6) Midland GXT1000, (1) BTECH GMRS V-1, (1) Midland GXT5000
Mobile- (2) Midland MXT100. Bi-Mart often has these on sale for $99.
Check eBay, there can be tremendous bargains found. Check the specs on all of these and the comparisons/reviews. Midland generally comes out on top. They all put out 4-5 watts. Don’t mistake them with FRS radios which are limited to half a watt. The MXT100 and BTECH can both be connected to higher gain antennas.
So what’s better? Ham or GMRS? While similar, they are different animals. While we’re on it, don’t discount the benefits of the venerable CB radio. Geeze, you should see all the antennas on my Tahoe. Lol. Bottom line, flexibility rules the day. Don't pigeon-hole yourself into the mindset that one type of commo is better than the other.
Cheers.
 
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I'm wondering what GMRS gets me that Ham doesn't. Do GMRS people talk about different things? More/less formal? I've scanned around on the FRS channels and heard nothing. Is GMRS any busier? I guess I should just scan the GMRS freqs and find out.. huh?
 
I'm wondering what GMRS gets me that Ham doesn't. Do GMRS people talk about different things? More/less formal? I've scanned around on the FRS channels and heard nothing. Is GMRS any busier? I guess I should just scan the GMRS freqs and find out.. huh?
You likely don't hear much on FRS because they only have about half a watt of transmitting power. Thus there's likely to be less folks within range. If you scan on GMRS you are likely to hear more. It's often used for business. If you have a Baofeng or similar ham you can program GMRS, FRS as well as MURS into it. However, the Baofeng is not FCC compliant for anything other than ham. Also, the stubby antenna's are OK but not great. Get a radio where you can connect a better antenna.
 
I'm wondering what GMRS gets me that Ham doesn't.

I know one factor for us is the licensing situation. I, personally, have both an amateur radio license and GMRS license. My wife, however, does not have a ham ticket, so cannot legally operate on those frequencies. My GMRS license covers the whole household though, so she can operate on those. Maximum output for GMRS radios is 50 watts, which is more than 4 watts on CB and ½ watt on FRS. And one can use repeaters on GMRS. The way our land is situated, the southwestern most spot would be conducive to such a system, and could extend the utility of such radios for us.
 
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I have my ham license but I am a certified GMRS nutball. (I have the GMRS license as well.) Yes, there is an obvious difference between the two. GMRS is simple and easy to use. They are also a bit more common and more readily available than ham so it’s likely that your neighbors and others will be using them during a crisis. That is a tactical advantage. It's quick to scan through all of the channels to monitor for riff raff, who's running low on supplies, etc. (Cigars doesn't trust nobody). GMRS is kind of a low hanging fruit in several aspects. They are easily obtained and fairly intuitive to use. Many models also let you use AA or AAA batteries when the rechargeable dies and there's no power available. Can they be used to talk around the world? No. As I mentioned earlier, GMRS is more of a tactical option. However, there are GMRS repeaters. However, you need a radio capable of setting tones to access most repeaters. Off the shelf bubble pack radios won’t help you here. You would need a Baofeng or one of the new BTECH GMRS V-1 handhelds (about sixty bucks from BTECH). GMRS repeaters are generally more limited in scope than amateur radio repeaters. I’m not saying that this is good or bad, that is something for you to determine. In a shtf scenario, talking to someone in Kalamazoo is not high on my priority list. Local commo is. Anyway, nothing wrong with the ham scene. Its just a bit of a different commitment. Aside from my ham configuration, my GMRS set up is as follows:
Handhelds- (6) Midland GXT1000, (1) BTECH GMRS V-1, (1) Midland GXT5000
Mobile- (2) Midland MXT100. Bi-Mart often has these on sale for $99.
Check eBay, there can be tremendous bargains found. Check the specs on all of these and the comparisons/reviews. Midland generally comes out on top. They all put out 4-5 watts. Don’t mistake them with FRS radios which are limited to half a watt. The MXT100 and BTECH can both be connected to higher gain antennas.
So what’s better? Ham or GMRS? While similar, they are different animals. While we’re on it, don’t discount the benefits of the venerable CB radio. Geeze, you should see all the antennas on my Tahoe. Lol. Bottom line, flexibility rules the day. Don't pigeon-hole yourself into the mindset that one type of commo is better than the other.
Cheers.

Once I have my FRN number, how do I proceed?
 
Thanks, I'm all set. I guess they just send you your call-sign once they process it?
Great, congrats! If I remember right I believe it took a little over a week for them to process it. It should show up via ULS search. You may have to email them to link it to your account if it's new. Thanksgiving might set the process back a few days. Once it shows up you can print off the official copy of your license. They don't mail them anymore.
 
I know one factor for us is the licensing situation. I, personally, have both an amateur radio license and GMRS license. My wife, however, does not have a ham ticket, so cannot legally operate on those frequencies. My GMRS license covers the whole household though, so she can operate on those. Maximum output for GMRS radios is 50 watts, which is more than 4 watts on CB and ½ watt on FRS. And one can use repeaters on GMRS. The way our land is situated, the southwestern most spot would be conducive to such a system, and could extend the utility of such radios for us.
According to FCC regulations though no license is needed during actual emergency situations.
 
I've been very happy with it since I got it. (Had it over a year now). I didn't bother with the magnetic mount antenna it came with though. I got a Tram 1181 off ebay for cheap. It's tuned for GMRS and MURS. It performs much better. For simple installation you can get an NMO trunk antenna mount. They usually come with coax. The MXT100 antenna connection takes a standard PL-259 connector (same as CB radio). I'm getting two more to put in the wife and kids car. You could also use it as a base station if you want to put up an antenna and get a 12v power supply.
The FRS radios are really useful if you only need to operate within a 500 foot radius, lol. The only advantage they have is that they are cheap and no license is required for them. MURS is comparable to GMRS and will give you some advantages in thick, dense brush but the frequency range is limited and it's a bit more difficult finding radios. The MURS radios tend not to be as feature rich as the GMRS ones. It's primary intention was for business. It's still widely used for business but there is no longer a license requirement for it. In metropolitan areas the MURS channels are likely to have heavy business traffic.
 
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I've been very happy with it since I got it. (Had it over a year now). I didn't bother with the magnetic mount antenna it came with though. I got a Tram 1181 off ebay. It's tuned for GMRS and MURS. It performs much better. For simple installation you can get an NMO trunk antenna mount. They usually come with coax. The MXT100 takes a standard PL-259 connector (same as CB radio). I'm getting two more to put in the wife and kids car.

Excellent. Thank you.
 

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