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FRS GMRS Radio Operating Tips and Technical Explanations: Part VI

Other options available with FRS GRMS radios and how to use them continued.

   What you need to know when operating a FRS GMRS radio to comply with the FCC rules.

This is just a general guideline, I recommend looking for yourself at the FCC band plan.

    The FRS or Family Radio Service channels are between 8-14 and are fixed at maximum output power of 0.5 watts, or 500 milliwatts by the FCC regulations. When you select these channels on your radio it will automatically adjust to these settings. Noting that no modification of the original manufacturers antenna can be implemented.

    The GMRS or the General Mobile Radio Service channels are between 1-7 and 15-22 allowing up to 5 watts of output power. But few radios have that much power. More like one to two watts. If you have a custom radio pre-programmed then you most likely will have a full five watts capable radio. Brands like these, just for reference, are ICOM and other commercial manufacturers that generally build them for business use. And you should only purchase these through a reliable certified radio shop that is willing to help you acquire an FCC license.

    Now for the privacy codes or PL, which is a standard configuration referred to as the CTCSS tons. Always use security/privacy code 1 if in dough. PL code 1 is common to all radio brands. Some brands only have a few of these codes but some have more than 121 plus. So you may not be heard by others if you are not on the same PL code or you may not be heard by them even though you are on the same channel. So as a standard, try code 1 first if you need to talk to a group, lets say in a public event. So just be aware of the CTCSS differences in each radio. Some of the tones on one radio may not be available on other radios. And remember that your brand of radio may have the ability to go to, lets say, PL code 7 and your friends have that same PL code 7 on a different brand of radio. It does not mean they have the same CTCSS ton. So again, default back to PL code 1. I know it is somewhat confusing, but try out your radios first before going out in the field. This, again, could mean the difference of getting help when you need it. And note that using code zero or none at all should open all the codes and not restrict you at all. But will not give you privacy.

    You may have heard the term Simplex and Duplex. The FRS radios operate in the simplex mode. Meaning they receive and transmit on the same channel or frequency. If you are licensed for the GMRS and want to go mobile and have a base stations with much more power. Than you can operate, on two channels at one time, one to receive and one to transmit, this is referred to as Duplex. This means, as you transmit your signal on a specific frequency goes to a receiving point called a repeater, like on a mountaintop or building for better area coverage because of its height and line-of-sight capability without obstruction. And then is rebroadcast out to whoever you are communicating with on a different frequency. These deferent frequencies are paired up in advance so they are in sync. So if you are five miles to the west and the repeater is five miles to the east, and your point of contact is another five miles to the east of the repeater, which puts ten miles between you and them, they will hear you as if they were next to you in your vehicle. To learn more on this and the FFC rules see GRMS FCC site

By Scott Hensler 0/12/2013

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