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GMRS is pretty cheap and easy
2018-01-28 10:29:52 -0800

I got myself a GMRS license 2 years ago. They are $80 for 5 years, and they allow an entire "immediate" family to use it. That's spouse, children, parents, in-laws. I thought I was going to put play around with some GMRS repeater/text data modes, never did.

Flash forward to more recent. Picked up a 4-pack of Baofeng BF-888S radios. These go for about $13 apiece and $42 for a 4-pack. They're 2-watt radios, and channelized (16 channels). Program with a computer, dead simple for others. Gave one to my wife's sister who lives 2 miles down the road. She can talk crystal clear to my son from inside her house. I drove around town with one able to talk to my son as well.

[caption id="attachment_583" align="alignleft" width="169"] Adding a frequency list to the back is good if you want to talk to someone else.[/caption]

FRS is limited to specific radios and 1/2 watt. These BF-888S radios are NOT FRS compliant. T GMRS allows 5W on FRS shared frequencies and 50 watts on dedicated. Amateur radio requires a control operator to be physically near the radio. With today's cheap radios, you can get high powered FRS radios, or use MURS frequencies, or find some off the books frequencies; There are lots of space between the FRS channels, and there are some old airplane to ground cellular frequencies that have been phased out. No one is monitoring and even at 5W, you're not going to bother anyone enough to draw enforcement. However, GMRS is probably the cheapest and easiest way to get long range legal communications going for a family (or small business). In my case if you consider 4 people will be using it, it comes to $4/user/year. We could even put a repeater on the roof, or some higher powered vehicle antennas if desired. We probably won't, because the whole goal is to replace my son's (now dead) walkie talkies with something that really works. The fact that he can talk to his Aunt down the road is a big bonus.