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Thread: FMR GMRS and Ham radios

  1. #1

    Default FMR GMRS and Ham radios

    I started out looking for a two way radio to communicate on ski slopes and hiking out in the woods and what not, but didn't know much about them or the differences between them. I started looking up different types of radios, and as I learned more about them I came across HAM radios.

    I posted a question about a radio on Amazon (BTECH DMR-6X2)

    "Can i use this to communicate with regular two way radios such as the cobra mrHH450 dual?"

    The answers I received were the two below:

    "Having asked the question. I do not think you are likely to have the technical knowledge to understand why and how you could use the DMR6X2. Without writing a code plug to enable compatibility between the two radios you would have limited compatibility. The cobra to my knowledge is not a DMR radio and half of the functionality between the radios would be lost if you purchased the baofeng(WHICH IS A GOOD DMR RADIO).
    Why not buy another Cobra? This would ensure compatibility." and,

    "Technically, Yes. Legally, NO. THIS RADIO IS not type accepted for use on marine VHF or GMRS bands."

    I didn't understand the answers so I looked up more info about the radios and became increasingly interested in learning about amateur radios. I just finished reading a book on preparing for a HAM license, but I'm still not clear on a few things.

    I started out looking for a radio to communicate on FMR and GMRS radios, and still need a radio for those frequencies. Additionally, I'd like to have a HAM radio.

    The second answer I received on my Amazon question post makes no sense to me, because from what I'm reading online, "type acceptance" is technically a thing of the past and also from what I've read, FMR and GMRS are on UHF not VHF.

    The first response I received is correct in that the regular radio I was initially mentioning was an FMR/GMRS, and not a DMR, but I think that the author of that response didn't fully understand my question. The HAM radios I've found being sold that are DMR, say "analog and DMR" ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...k_ql_qh_dp_hza ), which leads me to believe that they can communicate with digital encoding, but also regular analog, such as FMR GMRS radios. Additionally, they are advertised to communicate over frequencies 136-174MHz VHF & 400-480MHz UHF, and both GMRS and FMR frequencies are within this range.

    Since FMR radios don't require a license, If I was to buy a HAM radio (after passing the exam), such as the BTECH that I mentioned (or more likely the Anytone 878 that I've been reading about) and the radio is advertised as being able to communicate on the range of frequencies that also cover FMR GMRS, wouldn't I be able to use that radio as a dual purpose HAM /FMR radio?

    I'd do this to save myself from having to buy multiple radios. The book I read to prepare for the HAM license didn't really cover this, and was just enough to pass the exam.

    I read something else about Part 97 of FCC regulations, and it's to my understanding that if a HAM radio is Part 97 compliant, it can communicate on the FMR channels.

    Are any portable HAM radios that are advertised as DMR and Analog, and capable of operating ranges such as 400-480 UHF, compliant with Part 97 and legally allowed to communicate on both amateur bands and fmr/gmrs?

    And can this be done without having to "write a code plug" as mentioned in the response that I received on Amazon?

    Thank you,

  2. #2

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    from my understanding "type acceptance" is not a thing of the past. Folks will not import and put up for sale radios that have not been type accepted.
    Folks waited for a year for the icom 7610 to be released after the advertising about it began. It was displayed at the biggest Ham convention in the country but could not be bought there at the time.
    Many radios cover frequencies outside their type accepted use, that does not make them legal to use on those frequencies, but anybody can listen on any frequency, the rules come into play when ever one transmits. I am not really up on the radios outside the world of amateur radio and do not know about the requirements for the other services, but no radio that has not been type accepted for amateur use is legal to use in amateur radio here in the states united.

  3. #3

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    You need to understand that there are numerous radio services—FRS (not FMR), GMRS, LMRS (land mobile radio service) marine VHF, amateur radio service, etc., etc, all administered and regulated by the FCC. Each service has its own regulations, including (in some services) type certification of the radios. For instance, a radio used in FRS (Family Radio Service) has to have a fixed antenna and cannot transmit above a certain power, 2.5W (I believe.) A radio used in the LMRS cannot be programmed "on the fly" and usually has no keypad or screen. There are also restrictions on radios in GMRS as well. There is no requirement for type certification of radios in the amateur service. We are allowed to build and modify our radios as long as we stay within the amateur regulations. Because of this, it is permissible to use radios certified in other services on the amateur bands, but not vice versa. In other words, I can use a LMRS radio on the amateur bands, but can't use an amateur radio in the LMRS. This also applies to using amateur radios in FRS and GMRS. You can't do it. These requirements are why the FCC is all up in arms about the wide open radios coming in from China.

    https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-18-980A1.pdf

    The BTECH DMR-6X2 is a radio designed for use in the amateur service both on analog FM and DMR (Digital Mobile Radio.) I believe it also carries Part 90 (LMRS) certification. It DOES NOT carry certification for FRS OR GMRS so it CANNOT be used in those services. Where ever you read that "if a HAM radio is Part 97 compliant, it can communicate on the FMR (?) channels" is in error. Physically, it might be able to but not legally.

    If you wish to communicate on both the amateur bands and on FRS/GMRS frequencies, you're going to have to have different radios. It's that simple...

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by K6CPO View Post
    You need to understand that there are numerous radio services—FRS (not FMR), GMRS, LMRS (land mobile radio service) marine VHF, amateur radio service, etc., etc, all administered and regulated by the FCC. Each service has its own regulations, including (in some services) type certification of the radios. For instance, a radio used in FRS (Family Radio Service) has to have a fixed antenna and cannot transmit above a certain power, 2.5W (I believe.) A radio used in the LMRS cannot be programmed "on the fly" and usually has no keypad or screen. There are also restrictions on radios in GMRS as well. There is no requirement for type certification of radios in the amateur service. We are allowed to build and modify our radios as long as we stay within the amateur regulations. Because of this, it is permissible to use radios certified in other services on the amateur bands, but not vice versa. In other words, I can use a LMRS radio on the amateur bands, but can't use an amateur radio in the LMRS. This also applies to using amateur radios in FRS and GMRS. You can't do it. These requirements are why the FCC is all up in arms about the wide open radios coming in from China.

    https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-18-980A1.pdf

    The BTECH DMR-6X2 is a radio designed for use in the amateur service both on analog FM and DMR (Digital Mobile Radio.) I believe it also carries Part 90 (LMRS) certification. It DOES NOT carry certification for FRS OR GMRS so it CANNOT be used in those services. Where ever you read that "if a HAM radio is Part 97 compliant, it can communicate on the FMR (?) channels" is in error. Physically, it might be able to but not legally.

    If you wish to communicate on both the amateur bands and on FRS/GMRS frequencies, you're going to have to have different radios. It's that simple...

    Thank you for the response. When I mentioned previously about "type acceptance being a thing of the past," what I was referring to was just that the wording "type acceptance" has just been replaced by the FCC with the term "Certification" ( https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/i...,122190.0.html seventh post down by AA4PB), but that there still exists regulations for different radio services.

    I understand what you are saying about the different regulations for different radio services (FRS, GMRS, etc.).

    I think what is confusing me about this is that I've read online in various places, including your response, "Because of this, it is permissible to use radios certified in other services on the amateur bands, but not vice versa" , which leads me to believe that there are radios certified in other services (such as FRS) that I can also use on the amateur band (both legally provided I have a HAM license).

    FRS/GMRS radios are limited in their wattage, but the limitations are frequency dependent. For example FRS 467.6375 MHz is 0.5W, but on FRS 462.6500 MHz 2W, also most 2 way radios are both capable of FRS and GMRS, and the GMRS are allowed to transmit with 5W. As for some frequencies, they are considered both FRS and GMRS, and both can use the same frequency. It's to my understanding that a frequency such as 462.6125 MHz, which has a limitation of 2W for FRS and 5W for GMRS, and many two way walkie talkies being FRS/GMRS, the user can select a switch to choose their wattage on that frequency (not trying to get into licensing for GMRS, just functionality). So a FRS/GMRS radio that is certified and legal, can transmit up to 5 Watts without being modified in any way on certain frequencies, and your when you say "Because of this, it is permissible to use radios certified in other services on the amateur bands, but not vice versa," it leads me to believe that I can use an FRS/GMRS radio to also communicate on amateur frequencies.

    In the link I posted above ( https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/i...,122190.0.html ) , the same person in the 7th post on that thread (AA4PB), refers to "dual-use" which is also what I'm referencing, and I feel like your statement also backs up.

    But then you say "I'll have to get two radios, It's that simple." I'm confused.
    Thank you, there's a lot more to radios than I would have ever guessed, and to think, last month I didn't even know what a HAM was.

  5. #5

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    there is no type acceptance for radios that we as amateurs build. There are type acceptance requirements for commercially built and sold radios to be used in amateur service.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2236 View Post
    Thank you for the response. When I mentioned previously about "type acceptance being a thing of the past," what I was referring to was just that the wording "type acceptance" has just been replaced by the FCC with the term "Certification" ( https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/i...,122190.0.html seventh post down by AA4PB), but that there still exists regulations for different radio services.

    I understand what you are saying about the different regulations for different radio services (FRS, GMRS, etc.).

    I think what is confusing me about this is that I've read online in various places, including your response, "Because of this, it is permissible to use radios certified in other services on the amateur bands, but not vice versa" , which leads me to believe that there are radios certified in other services (such as FRS) that I can also use on the amateur band (both legally provided I have a HAM license).

    FRS/GMRS radios are limited in their wattage, but the limitations are frequency dependent. For example FRS 467.6375 MHz is 0.5W, but on FRS 462.6500 MHz 2W, also most 2 way radios are both capable of FRS and GMRS, and the GMRS are allowed to transmit with 5W. As for some frequencies, they are considered both FRS and GMRS, and both can use the same frequency. It's to my understanding that a frequency such as 462.6125 MHz, which has a limitation of 2W for FRS and 5W for GMRS, and many two way walkie talkies being FRS/GMRS, the user can select a switch to choose their wattage on that frequency (not trying to get into licensing for GMRS, just functionality). So a FRS/GMRS radio that is certified and legal, can transmit up to 5 Watts without being modified in any way on certain frequencies, and your when you say "Because of this, it is permissible to use radios certified in other services on the amateur bands, but not vice versa," it leads me to believe that I can use an FRS/GMRS radio to also communicate on amateur frequencies.

    In the link I posted above ( https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/i...,122190.0.html ) , the same person in the 7th post on that thread (AA4PB), refers to "dual-use" which is also what I'm referencing, and I feel like your statement also backs up.

    But then you say "I'll have to get two radios, It's that simple." I'm confused.
    Thank you, there's a lot more to radios than I would have ever guessed, and to think, last month I didn't even know what a HAM was.
    Sorry if I confused you even further. That was certainly not my intention.

    Legally, you could probably use a FRS/GMRS certified radio on the amateur bands IF it had the frequency range to cover those bands. Every one I've managed to find so far doesn't have the range to cover the amateur bands (2 meter/70 centimeter.)

    The radio you mentioned in your first post is a DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) capable radio. The term "code plug" is just a way of describing the programming of the radio to operate digitally (and analog.) This may be more radio than you might want to tackle at this time. I've been licensed since 2011 and am an Extra Class operator. I just bought what is essentially the same radio and I'm still learning how to operate it.

    Unfortunately, the quest for one radio that will do everything is a futile one.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by K6CPO View Post
    Sorry if I confused you even further. That was certainly not my intention.

    Legally, you could probably use a FRS/GMRS certified radio on the amateur bands IF it had the frequency range to cover those bands. Every one I've managed to find so far doesn't have the range to cover the amateur bands (2 meter/70 centimeter.)

    The radio you mentioned in your first post is a DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) capable radio. The term "code plug" is just a way of describing the programming of the radio to operate digitally (and analog.) This may be more radio than you might want to tackle at this time. I've been licensed since 2011 and am an Extra Class operator. I just bought what is essentially the same radio and I'm still learning how to operate it.

    Unfortunately, the quest for one radio that will do everything is a futile one.
    Thank you, that makes sense. I had seen a few people mention a dual purpose radio, but as much as I have looked around I couldn't seem to find anything. I'm guessing that any commercially made radio that is an FRS radio probably isn't made with the HAM also in mind.

    I'm going to keep up with it and probably get both after I pass the exam, but not sure that I will get anything more than the cheapest ham radio that I can find to start out with.

    Thanks again!

  8. #8

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    The only radios I've seen that operate in two different services are the ones certified for Part 90, the Land Mobile Radio Service, which are used in the amateur service a lot. Many6 hams prefer re-programmed old commercial radios over ones manufactured expressly for the amateur service. And, in recent years, the Chinese have marketed Part 90 certified radios that will operate in the amateur service also. Perfectly legal... (I have three, two I purchased for use on railroad frequencies at t museum where I was a train crew member and another that I purchased for amateur DMR use.

  9. #9

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    The rules are broadly similar in the UK too - but realistically what people forget is that administrations really do not want the hassle of licensing in any band unless there is a need to do it. The FRS is broadly the same as our PMR446 system. I type of category where range is designed to be short, and the intention is comms over short range between small groups. You buy a cheap package of a few radios and they work. They filter out messages not intended for the owners. If there is interference, or kids shouting on 'your' channel - tough, you area on your own. We have very low power and permanently attached antennas - to prevent the signals going very far and allowing more people to use them properly.

    If this isn't good enough, then you buy licences and comply with different rules. Ham radio is for people who want to talk to strangers. Some people go through the test process to be able to talk to family over longer ranges, and the test helps you understand better how to do it - but family comms is NOT what ham radio is about. It's like joining a fishing club to get access to their boats to take the family out, just not something that people normally do.

    Of, course, countries are big, ranges small by comparison and the chances of getting caught rare if you careful select where your illegal activity will be. You can buy a radio, find an out of the way channel and use it - until you get caught.

    The ability to transmit anywhere is simple, the only consideration is how legal do you wish to be. If breaking the law is OK with you, and your own morals and beliefs clear it for you - then you'll probably get away with it if you stay away from other users. Do long range stuff illegally in bands where people will hear you results in Sherlock Holmes type interest and then of course, with the investigations done by the legit band members, the authorities have little effort in prosecuting you.

    It's not a technical thing, it's a moral one!

  10. #10

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    What about the Yaesu FT-4VR ?

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by AC5PS View Post
    What about the Yaesu FT-4VR ?
    What about it? It's strictly a 2 meter radio. It doesn't transmit on any other band. The specs vary by market, but it's still designed for amateur use only.

  12. #12

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    Oops, wrong model number, this is the one I was thinking about.

    The FT-4XR 2 meter/ 440 MHz HT has three output power levels: 5, 2.5 or 0.5 watts transmitting from 144 to 148 MHz and from 400 to 480 MHz

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