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GMRS or HAM radio?

Wildman

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Since I'm moving my current stereo back to the stock dash location I'll have a spot in my Tuffy overhead dual compartment box. My CB radio is in the rear compartment and I'll keep it for now.

20211025_112719.jpg


The question is what to install in the front compartment? 🤔
I don't have a Ham license yet but have been thinking about getting one.
But with more people going to GMRS radios I'm leaning towards it over a Ham radio at this point.

Curious to hear what others think.
 
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bobthetj03

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GMRS is gaining a lot in popularity. I have my GMRS license. It's easy to get and just costs you some monies, no test, and is good for you and your entire family for 10 years. FYI, If you get a Ham license, you still have to get a GMRS license to "legally" transmit on GMRS frequencies. FRS shares some of the same frequencies as GMRS, so if your buddies only have the cheap bubble pack FRS radios, you can still communicate with them. Can't do that with Ham radio, well legally at least. If you do want to transmit on GMRS frequencies (illegally), with a Ham radio I believe you have to perform some mumbo jumbo super magic mod to make the radio transmit on GMRS. I don't know much about that, but I think @Alex01 has performed those shenanigans on his Ham radio. He got his Ham license not too long ago.
 
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pagrey

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Obviously get what your friends use. If you are picking one and wanting people to follow along in general it's much easier to get your friends to go GMRS, not many people will take the time to get a ham licence just to squawk on the trail. I'd get a ham licence either way just for fun.
 
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Wildman

Wildman

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I'm planning on getting my Ham license as @pagrey said for the fun of it. I'd been studying for it when I had my amputation. But the testing was canceled and I never followed through after.

GMRS is gaining a lot in popularity. I have my GMRS license. It's easy to get and just costs you some monies, no test, and is good for you and your entire family for 10 years. FYI, If you get a Ham license, you still have to get a GMRS license to "legally" transmit on GMRS frequencies. FRS shares some of the same frequencies as GMRS, so if your buddies only have the cheap bubble pack FRS radios, you can still communicate with them. Can't do that with Ham radio, well legally at least. If you do want to transmit on GMRS frequencies (illegally), with a Ham radio I believe you have to perform some mumbo jumbo super magic mod to make the radio transmit on GMRS. I don't know much about that, but I think @Alex01 has performed those shenanigans on his Ham radio. He got his Ham license not too long ago.
I'm leaning more towards GMRS for right now and then I can always add a Ham radio later. I'll have enough antennas on my TJ if I was to run all three radios.
I know that you can also transmit on CB channels with a Ham (illegally).
 
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bobthetj03

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If you wait long enough for the FCC to pull their heads out of their asses, the GMRS license fee is suppose to go down to $35. Who knows when that will ever happen.

Check out this site,

www.mygmrs.com

Go to the map section and see if their are any repeaters in your area.
 
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Alex01

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I'm planning on getting my Ham license as @pagrey said for the fun of it. I'd been studying for it when I had my amputation. But the testing was canceled and I never followed through after.


I'm leaning more towards GMRS for right now and then I can always add a Ham radio later. I'll have enough antennas on my TJ if I was to run all three radios.
I know that you can also transmit on CB channels with a Ham (illegally).
I'm fairly certain you can still do ham tests online....
 
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pagrey

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I'll say this is my opinion to avoid potential conflict, rules that make a radio GMRS or ham are rules for manufacturers and so is FCC certification. As far as an operator you must simply abide by the rules so you can use whatever device you cobble together to transmit on CB frequencies as long as you adhere to the power and modulation rules. You are still allowed to buy vacuum tubes and build a radio if you want, you can also hack a CB radio to work on different ham bands if you want as long as you have a licence for those bands. There is nothing wrong with modding a radio to operate on GMRS as long as you follow the rules for power and have the correct licence.
 

Windrac

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Best place for online amateur radio tests is GLAARG. Best place to study is Ham Study.

I'll be honest my opinion on this thread is biased. I'm a full time RF engineer and nerd.

Whether to go GMRS or HAM radio depends on what you want to do.

You just want to talk to your buddies nearby? GMRS.
- The whole lot of you don't need to study for a license
- As mentioned above your license covers your family
- Equipment is (generally) cheaper
- Programming and use is much easier
- Fewer "angry old hams" to worry about
- Same power level as your typical mobile VHF or UHF ham radio

Now, there are several advantages to taking the extra step to going to HAM radio. I'll give very brief overviews of just a few.

- APRS - Automatic Packet Reporting System (Learn More)
- This is a worldwide digital network accessible by amateur radio operators. Users can send text messages, weather reports, location information, emergency beacons, alerts, and more all over radio. Especially useful if you offroad quite a bit and want another line of emergency communication, or another way for your friends and family to track you. Users can send their position via APRS and it can be tracked automatically on the tool APRS.fi. There is WAY more to this tool than I can fit in a forum post. I encourage you to go check it out.
- Ham Radio Satellites (Learn More)
- Yes, there are ham radio operators that have put their own satellites into orbit. Often, these satellites carry voice repeaters onboard that give you a MUCH wider talk area than a terrestrial repeater. Cool for talking to people via satellite, but again useful if you wheel out in the middle of absolutely nowhere and want another line of communication. My radio in my Jeep can be set to alert me whenever a ham radio satellite passes overhead, so I can use it if I need to.
- High Frequency Radio (Learn More)
- High Frequency (HF) radio is a lower frequency than VHF and UHF typically found in mobile installations. This lower frequency allows the radio waves to skip off the inside of the atmosphere like a mirror, allowing you to talk to people over the horizon without the use of a repeater. Again useful in emergency situations, but also just plain fun. I'm working on putting an HF radio in my jeep right now. I've been able to talk to people as far away as the Middle East, Russia, Australia, Japan, and Sweden (the LONG way around the globe!) on HF radio. You can talk far.
- Less congestion
- With FRS and GMRS, you are locked into a very small set of frequencies. If you are wheeling with a ton of people, or find yourself in a city, those select few frequencies can fill up fast. With amateur radio, your options for communication increase exponentially. Not only do you have infinitely more frequencies on a given band (literally), but amateur radio operators have many bands (144MHz, 440MHz, 220MHz, 900MHz, 1.2GHz, etc, etc) to select from for communications. You also have many modes other than just plain old FM voice - like P25 digital, DMR (also called TRBO), Fusion, NXDN, and many more. All of these help avoid radio congestion, and give you a bit more exclusivity in your conversations in practice.
- Community Activities
- Every city or populated area is going to have some amount of amateur radio activity. Usually this includes clubs that maintain repeaters (See Here), volunteer for the National Weather Service as SKYWARN operators and therefore provide enhanced weather reporting to you and the rest of the community, and usually area hams are always happy to give help, advice, and pointers to people passing through. I know when I was in Moab last I got a lot of good advice about the trails from local hams and people on the repeaters.

There are more things I could say, but it's too much to list. To me the choice is clear - check out my ham radio setup in my TJ here

Happy to answer any questions you might have about the area. Good luck!
 
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SkylinesSuck

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Just my $.02--ham is far more technically capable, but the vast majority of other jeepers aren't on it. If you want to talk to other jeepers on the trail, go GMRS. If you want to talk to other radio nerds about radios while sitting in your Jeep, go ham. Ham might have an edge to call for help in the middle of nowhere though.
 
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Wildman

Wildman

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Just my $.02--ham is far more technically capable, but the vast majority of other jeepers aren't on it. If you want to talk to other jeepers on the trail, go GMRS. If you want to talk to other radio nerds about radios while sitting in your Jeep, go ham. Ham might have an edge to call for help in the middle of nowhere though.

As you said GMRS seems to be the "THING" right now and is becoming even more popular. I'm old enough to remember the CB craze in the 70's and back then every vehicle I owned had a NEW 40 channel CB in it.

And yes while I've wanted a Ham radio and license for a long time I'm not interested in trying to talk to someone in Bangkok while wheeling a trail in WA. As far as reaching out if I'm in trouble I follow the rule of never wheeling alone plus unless I have a major failure I can pretty much get myself off the trail.

I really appreciate everyone's input and advice.
 

SSTJ

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Just my $.02--ham is far more technically capable, but the vast majority of other jeepers aren't on it. If you want to talk to other jeepers on the trail, go GMRS. If you want to talk to other radio nerds about radios while sitting in your Jeep, go ham. Ham might have an edge to call for help in the middle of nowhere though.
If you want both, get a Ham radio with MARS mod so that it can be used on GMRS frequencies!
 

Alex01

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If you want both, get a Ham radio with MARS mod so that it can be used on GMRS frequencies!
Piggy backing on @SSTJ if you order your radio from a place such as gigaparts.com they will do the mars mod for you for $30. So the scary part of modding the circuit board is done for you.


(not endorsing any radio but this link is to provide the reference to the $30 charge.)

At that point, you'll just need to program the radio. Once programmed the radio could be made to appear much like a CB with numbered channels for GMRS and additionally local repeaters/frequencies.
 
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rasband

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I'd get a HAM radio and perform the MARS mod on it (or buy it that way), which allows it to work across GMRS as well. Technically it puts you outside of FCC regulations, so just be aware of that.
 

SSTJ

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Since I'm moving my current stereo back to the stock dash location I'll have a spot in my Tuffy overhead dual compartment box. My CB radio is in the rear compartment and I'll keep it for now.

The question is what to install in the front compartment? 🤔
I don't have a Ham license yet but have been thinking about getting one.
But with more people going to GMRS radios I'm leaning towards it over a Ham radio at this point.

Curious to hear what others think.

Hey, is that an external CB speaker on your roll bar? Does it get in the way of your rear-view line of sight?
 
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