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Old 08-26-2019, 09:44 AM
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GMRS vs HAM vs CB

I've read up on all three, have tried all three at one point or another, and am currently leaning toward GMRS for clarity reasons. So gimme some opinions! What is your preference and why???? Thanks!

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Old 08-26-2019, 09:51 AM   #2
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Ham will be as clear as GMRS. They are both UHF FM signals.

Ham will allow for more power.

So, do all three. It's what I do :-). Ham mobile in Jeep. CB mobile. And handheld GMRS.

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Old 08-26-2019, 09:52 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daystar View Post
I've read up on all three, have tried all three at one point or another, and am currently leaning toward GMRS for clarity reasons. So gimme some opinions! What is your preference and why???? Thanks!

All depends on what your club runs, or what the ride is using.

We carry a CB and GMRS in both Jeeps and that's been enough for us so far.

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Old 08-26-2019, 10:08 AM   #4
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Really depends what equipment those you want to communicate with are using
Perhaps they are using cell phones just depends
Fanciest highest power radio in group with no one else in group able to communicate is of little use


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Old 08-26-2019, 11:14 AM   #5
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CB is the most common communication platform for jeepers and is required at many organized events. This is not likely to change any time soon. The downsides are that CB is AM with accompanying static and noise, also limited power and range. The pluses are that many jeepers have them and they are cheap. You can put together an entire system for about $100.

FRS/GMRS is FM and has a cleaner signal, but is low power and has very limited range. Also, they are far from univeral so unless everyone in your group has one you may have no one to talk to and no one will be able to hear you. GMRS requires a license, but no test, and the license is expensive compared to a ham license (and more than the cost of many GMRS radios).

Ham - 2m/70cm bands are also FM, so a cleaner signal. No power restrictions. A license is required but the fee is nominal and the test is easy with some practice. By using a repeater network you can speak with someone hundreds of miles away. Costs more, but worth it if you want something better than CB. You can put together a cheap beginner system with Baofeng handheld and MFJ magnetic mount antenna for less than $100, but expect to pay $200+ for one of the "Big 3" single band radios and a brand name antenna.

MURS - Not enough people use it for this platform to be a serious contender.

Race Radios - These typically use a VHF business band frequency, which requires a license. Some sellers of these radios allow purchasers to piggyback on their license, which is a grey area legally with the FCC. If one is considering one of these, then everyone in the group needs to have one and everyone in the group needs to realize that they will not be able to communicate with anyone outside the group. In my opinion, ham is a better option unless you are part of the desert racing community.



I use a Uniden Pro520XL CB radio with Firestik antenna and also a Kenwood 2m ham radio with Larsen antenna. I carry a cheap Baofeng handheld unit as a backup that can TX/RX on 2m ham, 70cm ham, and the FRS/GMRS frequencies (although not legally per FCC regulations). That way I can communicate with anyone whether they have CB, ham or FRS/GMRS. However I can't remember the last time I used GMRS. (Actually I can - it was 5 1/2 years ago - and the friend I was offroading with decided to become a ham and ditch GMRS right after that trip.)
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Old 08-28-2019, 08:31 PM   #6
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Here is a comparison I wrote a while back.

CB (Citizen's Band) benefits:
1) inexpensive; new radio/antenna/cable/mount setup can be had for ~ $75
2) no license required, so everybody can use one
3) due to #1 and #2, CB radios are very common among Jeepers

CB downsides:
1) there are thousands of high power a**holes out there actively trying to ruin your experience
2) 4 watt maximum output limits legal users, keeping range very short
3) CB uses scratchy, static-filled AM operation

FRS (Family Radio Service) benefits:
1) uses handheld radios which are tiny, cheap, and widely available
2) no license required, so everybody can use one
3) FM operation for clearer sound and little interference

FRS drawbacks:
1) only 22 frequencies ("channels") available; all are shared with GMRS
2) 7 channels limited to 1/2 watt output; remaining 15 channels allow 2 watts maximum output
3) radios must have fixed antennas, which keeps range extremely short (especially when used inside a vehicle)

MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service) benefits:
1) no license required, so everybody can use one
2) FM operation for clearer sound and little interference
3) upgraded/external antennas are allowed, potentially offering better range than FRS

MURS drawbacks:
1) 2 watts maximum output keeps range very short
2) repeaters are not allowed, also keeping range very short
3) only 5 channels available

GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) benefits:
1) FM operation for clearer sound and little interference
2) allows up to 50 watts of power output on select channels, increasing range (but handhelds typically put out 5 watts max)
3) handheld radios can use upgraded antennas on select channels, potentially increasing range somewhat
4) can use repeaters to increase range even further

GMRS drawbacks:
1) requires a license for use (no exam; just a fee)
2) only 22 channels available; all are shared with FRS
2a) operation on channels 1-7 allows 5 watts maximum output and detachable/upgraded antenna
2b) operation on channels 8-14 limited to 1/2 watt maximum output & requires fixed antenna
2c) operation on channels 15-22 allows power up to 50 watts and detachable/upgraded antenna
3) range for a handheld radio without a repeater isn't much better than MURS
4) repeaters are very scarce (Utah has only 14, but only 3 of them are open to free use by anyone)
5) mobile GMRS radios are no less expensive than high quality (Japanese) mobile ham radios

Ham radio benefits:
1) mobile radios have far better range than all the above options (50 watt output is typical; some have 75+ watts)
2) handheld ham radios can use upgraded antennas, further increasing their range.
3) thanks to repeaters, the range gets even better (especially with linked repeaters)
4) repeaters are extremely common (at last count, Utah has 129 on 2m and 179 on 70cm)
5) ham operators tend to be much better behaved than CB operators
6) mobile ham radio typically uses FM operation for clearer sound and little interference

Ham radio drawbacks:
1) you must earn a license by passing a 35-question test
2) ham radios cost more than CB equipment; a high-quality (Japanese) 50w 2m radio/antenna/cable setup can run ~ $225
3) because of #1 and #2, many Jeepers don't have a ham radio

Once you've had a taste of ham radio, you will forever look down on CBs due to their significant shortcomings. But does that mean CBs are entirely worthless? Of course not. If all you want to do is talk to other vehicles in your caravan and you'll always be very close to each other, CBs would be a simple, cheap way to achieve your goals. On the other hand, if you're really thinking you may be in a remote area with no phone service and you might need to make an emergency communication with the outside world, CB will very likely be completely useless in such a situation... and if you're counting on it to save you, you are setting yourself up for disappointment (if not total disaster).

For the record, I have a Uniden PRO 510XL CB and a Yaesu FT-7900R dual band ham radio in both my Jeep and my tow rig. I much prefer ham radio, of course. I use the CB only when I need to (ie, when there are people in the group with only CBs.)


In summary: ham is the best method for Jeep-to-Jeep communication. If for some reason that just isn't an option for you, CB is likely to be your overall next-best choice.
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Old 08-29-2019, 04:21 PM   #7
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+1 on the above long descriptions.

I run 2m/70cm ham and CB in my Jeeps. The 2m/70cm repeater networks are great for breaking out long distance. The CB is useful to talk to 90% of the people driving off road.
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Old 09-04-2019, 05:19 PM   #8
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The key to selecting the right radio(s) is not what the coolest technology is, it's what is in use where you wheel. For me it's roughly 98% CB and 2% 2m ham radio. If I had to lose one of my two radios, it'd be a no-brainer to lose the 2m. I'm an avid general class ham but where Jeeping is concerned, I just use what I need to use.
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:50 PM   #9
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