*FRS/GMRS Radio Test*
By: ALauchlan
01 May 2007

Not all of the members of my household are licensed hams, I am in fact a minority. Whether that will change or not, remains to be seen, but is a fact. Cell phones are currently our primary form of comms, when everyone is away from the home. In an effort to develop a secondary local comms system, that was not vehicle dependant (such as CB radio), I obtained a blisterpack FRS/GMRS radio set to test.

The particular radio I purchased was a Motorola T-5000, which would accept either rechargeable batteries, charged in a radio cradle, or AA batteries.

The channels with this radio are simplex only, and you can set it up with a tone squelch so that you donít hear any chatter except from another radio set with the same tone. FRS channel transmit power is 1/2 Watt, and on GMRS it will transmit with a full 1 Watt of power.

I was hoping for a useable range of 3 miles, that would make it practical for our application.

My AO currently is a flat, suburban area, with mostly single family homes in tracts, with small corner shopping strips every couple of miles along the main roads. Roads in this flat area are in a grid pattern, and there are enough planted trees to make the area look lightly forested.

I chose channel 15, which was on a GMRS frequency, so I could attain the maximum range with the radio. My wife stayed at the home, I was in the jeep, going away to determine range.

A review of my T-5000, just to establish a ballpark for the performance: http://www.gmrsreviews.com/reviews/review-mot-t5000.htm

Range, per my Delorme map program, from home (top of pic) to loss of signal

The range we received before I lost contact was just over a mile. Very disappointing. Basically except for use around the yard, or car to car on a highway if we stay in visual range, the FRS/GMRS radios will not do what I need

There are other FRS/GMRS radios on the market, such as the garmin Rhino, which has some nice features for SAR, such as combining a GPS receiver with the radio, but after determining range via the Motorola radios, I donít really think the extra cost is worthwhile for a Rhino. There are other solutions that will make better use of the cash outlay. Iíll investigate further in another article.


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