Two Letters Re: Questions About FRS Radio Capabilities

Thursday, Aug 21, 2008

Sir:
I'll establish my bona fides by stating that I am a General class Amateur Radio licensee with extensive experience in the VHF and UHF radio bands. While I applaud your promotion of the MURS radio for general use, it is not the best choice for the gentleman residing in the concrete condos in Florida. Penetration of concrete and steel structures is significantly better (by approximately 30%) at UHF frequencies (as used by FRS/GMRS radios) than at the VHF frequencies as used by MURS. Though free air range favors VHF, UHF penetrates obstacles better, assuming the effective radiated power (ERP) is the same. There is a significant amount of literature on this topic in the amateur radio community, should anyone care to research it for themselves.

In the case in question, the gentleman would be better served by a GMRS radio, operating in the UHF band and radiating up to 5 watts, than with a MURS VHF unit limited to 2 watts of output. He would have the significant advantage of both the better obstacle penetration of the UHF band, and the dramatic increase in allowable output power. In a concrete and steel structure, the combination would easily outperform any MURS radio by a significant margin.

Since these are to be used as emergency communication devices in hurricane country, it is worth noting that most Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) are equipped with FRS radios for inter-unit communications. Since most GMRS radios include FRS channels as well, it would give the residents of the building an extra (and direct) way to contact help should the need arise.

In this case the GMRS/FRS combination is a far better choice for the conditions described. Regards, - Grant C.

 

Jim,
I recently bought TriSquare's eXRS radios. I highly recommend them. I chose the TSX300 model.

They use frequency hopping technology with 1 billion frequencies (up to 10 numbers long: you choose the frequency). The best part is that it is license-free (no $80 FCC GMRS license needed).

It may not be the best choice for everyone, but it is more secure than FRS. Regards, - David M.


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