Hopefully you have finished Blog 1 and now have some basic understandin of radio communications. This blog will start with the Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). And the best of all is Ham Radio or Amateur Radio operation. The FRS service requires no licence and you can just purchase this equipment and start using The GMRS equipment requires a simple licence and must be obtained from the FCC. No test is required, just regestration and payment. GMRS equipment has more channels and GMRS equipment can use higher power equipment. GMRS can use up to 50 watts of power(Also repeaters). All the above are controlled and licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Most countries also have the equivalent to the FCC. Then there is Ham Radio. There are endless ways to communicate with Ham Radio equipment and with powers up to 1000 watts. There are three levels of licencesing and each requires that a simple technical test be passed. The test is about rules and technical aspects of radio equipment and frequency bands. If you pass, you will be issued a licence that has call letters like K5XXX where xxx is your special sequence of letters and the 5 is the FCC zone you are in. There are more rules and regultions on how the equipment can be used. Global communications can be done with Ham Radio equipment. Most Ham Clubs can administer the test
FRS – Family Radio Service and GMRS – General Mobile Radio Service
The FRS equipment requires no test or licence like GMRS and Ham Radio. Just purchase and use.
Note: After recient revisions of rules and regulations the FRS service consists of 22 frequencies all of which are shared with the GMRS radio service. Below is a downloadable PDF that lists these frequencies and their power and other limitations. As you can see the FCC has merged the FRS and GMRS channels. Note the different power requirements. One FRS restriction is that the antenna can not be removeable. One good thing about the new rules is that FRS radios now have a 2 watt power upper limit. Note that some of the channels are for GMRS only. You can use your FRS radio to communicate with a GMRS license holder. A GMRS licence holder can use FRS equipment. One other restriction is that FRS radios users (that have no GMRS licence) may not use a GMRS repeater that is used on channels 1 through 8 (b) which is at the bottom of the list.
Lets us now look at some radio equipment. I will cover legal equipment and later in this blog will talk about SHTF and TEOTWAWKI radio communications. In no case do I approve of using equipment in illigal configerationa. Always obey the existing laws.
Please note that all FRS and GMRS equipment needs to be FCC part 95 certified. This means that the equipment has been certified (tested) to meet the part 95 requirements with the FCC. Most of the inexpensive Chineese equipment do not and have not been certified.
Note: What is a Privacy Code? A privacy code is an audio tone that can be selected and will be transmitted when you push the transmit (talk) button on your radio. If another radio has been setup with this audio frequency, the squelch (audio) part of the radio will open and you will hear the transmitting radio. If the tones do not match, nothing will be heard on the receiving radio.
FRS Equipment – Motorola
Motorola has always made great gear, and I have many motorola radios for my Ham Radio applications. The police and many other federal and state agencies use Motorola equipment. Below are two rather inexpensive FRS Motorola radios. You may view them HERE on Amazon. Please note that these radios do not use rechargeable batteries. This is a quick and expensive way to start using the FRS bands. 23 Channels Each with 121 Privacy Codes: With 22 channels and 121 privacy codes, totaling 2,662 combinations, it’s easy to find an available channel. Note: you can ignore the range figures, as it will highly be dependent on your location. See Blog 1 for range considerations.
FRS Equipment – Midland
Midland has been making personal radios for a long time. I actually have a pair of these and they work great. They do have rechargeable batteries and as you can see that they come with a base charger that can charges both at the same time. The batteries can be replaced as well. You can view these radios HERE on Amazon. Again you can ignore the range claims. Most FRS equipment come with a weather channel which is useful especially if you re out in the field.
GMRS Equipment – Midland
You can view this GMS radio HERE at Amazon. This radio comes with rechargeable batteries and can use non-rechargeble btteries as well. Midland 50 Channel Waterproof GMRS Two-Way Radio – Long Range Walkie Talkie with 142 Privacy Codes, SOS Siren, and NOAA Weather Alerts and Weather Scan (Black/Yellow, Pair Pack)
GMRS Equipment – Motorola
You can view this GMS radio HERE at Amazon. Package Content: 2 radios, 2 belt clips, 2 PTT ear buds, dual drop-in charger, 2 rechargeable battery packs, manual, and warranty. Repeater function improves your coverage beyond the horizon
Note: all the above radios are not programmable. That is to say that the channels are fixed and there is no way to change that. They are what I would call inexpensive. It is possible to purchse much more expensive FRS and GMRS radios. Below is a Chinese GMRS radio that is FCC part 95 certified It is also programmable.
BAOFENG UV-9G GMRS Radio Waterproof IP67, Outdoors Two Way Radios Long Range Rechargeable, Handheld Dual Band NOAA Scanner, GMRS Repeater Capable. You may view this radio Here at Amazon. The unique thing about this radio it is dual band, and may be used to scan the ham bands and as a scanner with fire an police frequencies. The radio has preset GMRS frequencies. Comes with programming software and programming cable. Also works using Chirp Software. Here is a clip from a review. “All of the channels are preset to narrow mode and needed to be switched to wide and all of the channels were preset with privacy codes which I went in and turned off.”
That is all for Blog 2. Blog 3 will cover more radio equipment (Ham Radio) programming and SHTF and TEOTWAWKI communications.
Dennis in Central Texas