GMRS: The Other UHF Band

I’ve always had a liking for the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). It’s a licensed radio service but does not require a technical exam so it works great for basic personal communications. When our kids were young we made good use of GMRS communications. This was back in the Pre-Cellphone Era, shortly after the dinosaurs left the earth. I still have my GMRS license: KAF1068

Midland MicroMobile GMRS Transceiver

GMRS uses frequencies in the general vicinity of 462 and 467 MHz. When the FCC created the Family Radio Service, they intermingled the FRS and GMRS channels, creating a real mess. See this page for a good explanation of how FRS and GMRS frequencies are arranged. Many of the low cost walkie-talkie radios sold in stores are combination FRS/GMRS radios.

I recently came across this really sweet little GMRS rig, the Midland MXT-100 Micro Mobile GMRS Radio. This thing is nice and small with an external mag-mount antenna for the roof of the car. It only has 5W of output power, which is not much more than a typical FRS/GMRS handheld radio but the external antenna should help a lot. (I’ve heard there are newer models on the way so stay tuned for that.)

I’ve encountered 4WD / Jeep clubs that use FRS radios for on the trail communications. This Midland radio would be a good upgrade for that kind of use, providing additional radio range. Some of these 4WD enthusiasts have gotten their ham ticket via our Technician license class. Ham radio provides a lot more capability but not everyone in their club is likely to get their ham license. GMRS is a great alternative…the other UHF band. It will work for other outdoor, community and club activities that involve “non radio” people.

FCC recently reduced the cost of the GMRS license to $65 for 5 years. I suspect that most people don’t bother with getting a license…but they should. For more detail on GMRS, see the FCC GMRS Page or for some good bedtime reading see the FCC Part 95 Rules.

73, Bob KØNR

10 Replies to “GMRS: The Other UHF Band”

  1. I love UHF and I think GMRS is a good option to get friends and families on non-FRS radios. Also up there is the Motorola DTR system on 900 MHz and MURS on VHF.

    There has been a proposal on the table to make GMRS license by rule, along the same lines as CB and FRS, but I really hope it won’t come to that. I wrote a blog post about it way back in 2010 and no action has been taken since then.

  2. Kevin,
    I think the FCC has already botched GMRS regulation when they intermingled FRS and GMRS, resulting in FRS/GMRS bubblepack radios that are commonly used without a license. Oh, and I love how some channels are 12.5 kHz and some are 25 kHz. I’ll stop there or this will turn into a rant.
    73, Bob K0NR

  3. In Canada no license is required for GMRS. I’m a licensed HAM but wonder if I should abtain a US GMRS license if i bring any to the states with me. So im womdering if..will the FCC allow (or require) a non US resident to apply for one.

    • Part 95 says:
      § 95.5 Licensee eligibility.
      (a) An individual (one man or one woman) is eligible to obtain, renew, and have modified a GMRS system li-
      cense if that individual is 18 years of age or older and is not a representative of a foreign government.

      That sounds like a non-US citizen can obtain a license.
      73, Bob K0NR

  4. GMRS is a great communication method but the repeaters are not allowed in Canada. I have made some great contacts while travelling stateside

  5. I like the concept of the little Uniden radios, but they’re so woefully underpowered. I am working on putting Kenwood TK-840s in the family vehicles. I’ll have my Icom 5100A and a TK-840 or TK-890 as ham and GMRS radios in my own vehicle. Kenwood (or Icom or Motorola) commercial radios are ideal for GMRS because they’re bullet proof and dummy proof to operate. They do require some knowledge, programming cables and software (which can be found cheap/free too) but as a ham, that’s not a big hurdle. Having commercial radios allow you to do more tone enc/dec options too, which means you can build a repeater and really limit who gets on.

  6. Thinking of building a simplex repeater out of one of my mxt100. Does anyone have a wiring diagram for the microphone or pin locations so i can build an interface cable?