Saturn Sky Forum banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
500 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This weekend, we had 10 Skys and Solstices on our club Fall Leaves Run up to Flagstaff Arizona (photos ). What was cool about the event, however, was that we used FRS radios to stay in touch. However, before we suggest that club members go out and get radios prior to the next event, I thought I would seek feedback from others who may have used radios.

For this trip, we used the FRS bands only, using older $20 Motorola FRS-only radios. We used channel 12, code 21 (winter solstice) and they worked very well as long as we were within about a mile of each other. Due to stop lights and some people taking wrong turns in downtown Flagstaff, we got separated, and the radios failed us, when we got further than one mile apart from each other.

I spoke to another car club, and they said that they use business radios, and that the club has "purchased" a frequency for club use. Others mentioned using radios that support the GMRS bands, which cost about $30-50, but they are much more powerful (10 mile range). However, I am told that you need a $75 license to operate in the GMRS frequencies, although I know of some people who say they use these GMRS frequencies without licenses.

So, does anybody have more knowledge about use of radios, what is appropriate for car clubs, etc?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,459 Posts
You covered the radio spectrum pretty well, already.

Some of the newer FRS radios have a little better range, but not a lot. Garmin makes radios, called Rino's. They include a mapping GPSr that allows you to send your location to another Rino. They are available in FRS and GMRS, and they aren't exactly cheap, but can be very effective.

Operating without a license ? Its illegal, but its unlikely you would ever get caught. On the other hand, it is a federal offense to operate an unlicensed transmitter, so ........

When we travel as a group, we use FRS, or (occasionally) a set of licensed business band radios that one of our group has, and we back them up with cell phones when or if we get out of range.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,947 Posts
We used FRS channel 14 on our Dells Run this weekend to keep 30 Kappas together over about 150 miles of Wisconsin hills, valleys and twisties.

I was leading and never heard what the last car had to say. We could still communicate because we had people every 5-10 cars "pass it back" or "pass it forward". It worked very well, and we in front knew almost immediately as soon as a group got stuck at a light or missed a turn, so we could pull over and wait for everyone to catch up.

Several times, when we were split up in towns, I had the driver behind me lead up to a certain point and pull over while I waited at an intersection to call out a turn to the groups still behind as I saw them coming up to the turn.

Overall, everyone got used to how to use the radios quickly and effectively. It also helped to have several people on this run that have previously used the FRS radios on 3-4 previous runs. We spaced those with experience evenly throught the line.

We even had a separate thread where we matched up people with extra radios with those that didn't.

It also helps to have people with cell phones spaced throughout the line, and make sure that they all have everyone else's numbers on speed dial. Use them when the groups get out of FRS range.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
380 Posts
This weekend, we had 10 Skys and Solstices on our club Fall Leaves Run up to Flagstaff Arizona (photos ). What was cool about the event, however, was that we used FRS radios to stay in touch. However, before we suggest that club members go out and get radios prior to the next event, I thought I would seek feedback from others who may have used radios.

For this trip, we used the FRS bands only, using older $20 Motorola FRS-only radios. We used channel 12, code 21 (winter solstice) and they worked very well as long as we were within about a mile of each other. Due to stop lights and some people taking wrong turns in downtown Flagstaff, we got separated, and the radios failed us, when we got further than one mile apart from each other.

I spoke to another car club, and they said that they use business radios, and that the club has "purchased" a frequency for club use. Others mentioned using radios that support the GMRS bands, which cost about $30-50, but they are much more powerful (10 mile range). However, I am told that you need a $75 license to operate in the GMRS frequencies, although I know of some people who say they use these GMRS frequencies without licenses.

So, does anybody have more knowledge about use of radios, what is appropriate for car clubs, etc?
I am a member of the CinZroadsters since 1999. We often have 15 or more cars on a drive. We use the more expensive GMRS bands. One problem we have had is that members buy different radio brands, They do not work all that well together unless they are on the subcode #1 which is univerally identical. Other frequencies vary a little causing garbling. Even at that, hills, trees and buildings will cut down the range significantly. 10 mile ranges are seldom clear at anything near that distance. The most cars that can generally make a traffic light is eight. Make sure the sweeper (last car) has a good radio that works well with the convoy leader. If you convoy is larger than that, you should break it up into two groups with printed out route directions and have pre arranged rejoining locations. If you want more info on planning and executing drives, contact me direct. Regarding licences, I don't know anyone that has one and we have about 150 members.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
295 Posts
If you want to stay legal, you might want to consider MURS which operates on the VHF band. It has certain limitations, which I believe are 2 watt maximum tx power, antenna less than 80 feet off ground, something like that. You can google MURS radio service, and find radios for it on Ebay and such. 2 watts on VHF will get you from 2-5 miles or maybe a little more in the open flat midwest. Not as good as GMRS but legal.

Or get a ham ticket like me and run 50 watts mobile or operate off repeaters for 100+ miles range :) We need more hams.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
500 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
We use the more expensive GMRS bands. One problem we have had is that members buy different radio brands, They do not work all that well together unless they are on the subcode #1 which is univerally identical. Regarding licences, I don't know anyone that has one and we have about 150 members.
Thanks for the feedback everyone!

I know of other groups that operate GMRS without licenses, and I have used them very effectively at Disneyland. With FRS, we did not have full coverage, but the GMRS frequencies could cover the entire park. No one had a license. Since the GMRS/FRS radios are sold absolutely everywhere quite cheaply, it seems like this is the way to go.

I am not asking anyone's "permission" to use GMRS without a license. Instead, I am wondering what the usual practices are. I also wonder about licenses. It looks like it requires one license per "operator" not one per radio. Is an operator a person or could it be an entire club? Someone told me that if I bought a pair of radios (they are almost always sold in pairs), I could probably use just one license, and one call sign, but call everyone a number after the call sign. Is that better or worse than no license at all?

Next question. My radios are the original Motorola TalkAbouts with half watt power, 14 FRS channels, 39 privacy codes. Would the newer two-watt Motorola radios with 99 privacy codes be compatible, assuming that we both used FRS channels and privacy codes lower than 40? I would be interested in buying a couple of newer radios, but I want them to be compatible with what I already have. Also, does anybody know if any OTHER manufacturer has privacy codes are 100% compatible with Motorola?

Regarding the Garmins, I purchased two of them, but with the range limitations, I found that they weren't that useful in cars. For hiking, however, they were great. I ended up giving them to my sons who particpate in outdoor games such as paintball, military battle reinactments, etc.

One last question. Headphones. My TalkAbouts included VOX headsets. They sucked, and I threw them away. When we were driving on the freeway with the top down this weekend, however, it was difficult to understand sometimes. Any thoughts on using headsets, what kind, etc?
 

·
First 2000 Sr. Member
Joined
·
4,853 Posts
There are millions of GMRS radios out there and from what I understand practically no one bothers with a license. I wouldn't worry about using them in the least, particularly in the context of communication between moving vehicles. To get busted for using them, someone would have to decide to look for you first, and that really isn't going to happen without significant provocation. Once they're looking for you, they'd then have to pin down multiple moving targets. I looked into this when my GMRS were being mounted in the trunk of my old car, and have it on very good authority that no one really cares.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,459 Posts
Headsets are illegal for the driver in many areas, and I have not found them to be very comfortable for long time periods.

I wonder if there is any way to feed the radio signal into the car radio ?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
500 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I wonder if there is any way to feed the radio signal into the car radio ?
That is a cool idea. My Motorola radios have two jacks, one for microphone and one for audio out. I could plug the audio out jack into the iPod port and try it out.

Headsets over both ears are illegal, but I think one ear is fine. With newer microphones, I have seen boom microphones similar to cellular headsets. My problem is with the VOX feature, which is especially bad with a radio on or the top down.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,445 Posts
If you have a couple people in your group that don't mind getting them, you can get some very powerful radios that operate off (I think) UHF signals and can be programmed to either custom channels or FRS/GMRS bands. I have one that is kind of large (but still hand held easily...think a really thick pack of cigarettes), has 5 watts of power, and can broadcast on FRS/GMRS. (I got it for paintball) Then there are some really good throat mics out there too with an earbud that would be perfect for top down communication. Wind doesn't phase the mic nor the earbud. Consier spending big bucks on these...$200+ for the radio and $125+ for the throat mic.

But it is an option...just be sure to get the proper licensing...
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,459 Posts
reedred : .... and have it on very good authority that no one really cares.
Is your source with the FCC, and willing to put that in writing ?
 

·
First 2000 Sr. Member
Joined
·
4,853 Posts
Is your source with the FCC, and willing to put that in writing ?
No and no, but it is someone who has had extensive dealings with the FCC of late. He never explicitly said to ignore the license (which I was going to get), but thoroughly explained the likelihood of my running into an issue.

BTW, thanks for the inspiration, richm! I ordered 14 radios for the leaf-peeping run yesterday.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Licenses are not required for FRS (Source: FCC):

http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=service_home&id=family

Family Radio Service (FRS)

Family Radio Service (FRS) is one of the Citizens Band Radio Services. It is used by family, friends and associates to communicate within a neighborhood and while on group outings and has a communications range of less than one mile. You can not make a telephone call with an FRS unit. You may use your FRS unit for business-related communications.

Licensing
License documents are neither needed nor issued. You are provided authority to operate a FRS unit in places where the FCC regulates radio communications as long as you use only an unmodified FCC certified FRS unit. An FCC certified FRS unit has an identifying label placed on it by the manufacturer. There is no age or citizenship requirement.

Operations
You may operate your FRS unit within the territorial limits of the fifty United States, the District of Columbia, and the Caribbean and Pacific Insular areas ("U.S."). You may also operate your FRS unit on or over any other area of the world, except within the territorial limits of areas where radio- communications are regulated by another agency of the U.S. or within the territorial limits of any foreign government.

FRS/GMRS Dual Service Radios
Some manufacturers have received approval to market radios that are certified for use in both the Family Radio Service (FRS) and the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). Other manufacturers have received approval of their radios under the GMRS rules, but market them as FRS/GMRS radios on the basis that:

  • Some channels are authorized to both services, or
    A user of the radio may communicate with stations in the other service.
  • Radios marketed as "FRS/GMRS" or "dual-service radios" are available from many manufacturers and many retail or discount stores. The manual that comes with the radio, or the label placed on it by the manufacturer, should indicate the service the unit is certified for. If you cannot determine what service the unit may be used in, contact the manufacturer.
If you operate a radio that has been approved exclusively under the rules that apply to FRS, you are not required to have a license. FRS radios have a maximum power of ½ watt (500 milliwatt) effective radiated power and integral (non-detachable) antennas. If you operate a radio under the rules that apply to GMRS, you must have a GMRS license. GMRS radios generally transmit at higher power levels (1 to 5 watts is typical) and may have detachable antennas.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top