Jeep Wrangler Forum banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
About 60% of our active off roading members have CB's but the last trip we ran into communication issues with our CB's since we got a little more spread out than normal. Would using FRS's be a better way to go?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
819 Posts
In my experience, reception with hand held FRS/GMRS is comparable to a mobile CB. And in some instances have worse reception than CB, due to the short little antenna on the FRS/GMRS hand held, especially if the hand held is used while inside the Jeep Vs. a properly installed externally mounted (and longer, even if only @ 2'-3') CB antenna.

IME; YMMV, and invariably will...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Canadian GP

·
Knows a couple things...
Joined
·
48,824 Posts
About 60% of our active off roading members have CB's but the last trip we ran into communication issues with our CB's since we got a little more spread out than normal. Would using FRS's be a better way to go?
I'm more inclined to think some of the CB antenna installs weren't done properly and/or properly tuned for a good low SWR for maximum range. I occasionally lead very large groups that can get spread out in deep desert canyons with no CB communication difficulties between the front and rear jeeps.

In fact HF CB transmissions are less likely to be affected by difficult mountainous terrain than line-of-sight VHF/UHF ham radios if no repeaters are in the area.

As a General Class (N6TAY) ham I'm not against ham radio, I'm just being practical here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,428 Posts
It's easy to have a bad antenna on your Jeep. And the antenna is 10x more important than the radio that drives it. Even a good antenna that's not tuned properly won't work for spit. On the other hand, a really good antenna that's tuned well will make the cheapest radio sound great.

Getting your antenna tuned is always a good idea. You can do it yourself if you want. It's not all that difficult to do. Just get an SWR meter and watch a couple of youtube videos. In a couple of hours you can get it working.

It's also a good idea to give your antenna a checkup once a year. It can drift out of tune over time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
On the other hand, a really good antenna that's tuned well will make the cheapest radio sound great.

Getting your antenna tuned is always a good idea. You can do it yourself if you want. It's not all that difficult to do. Just get an SWR meter and watch a couple of youtube videos. In a couple of hours you can get it working.

It's also a good idea to give your antenna a checkup once a year. It can drift out of tune over time.
Best. Post. Ever.

:winner:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
857 Posts
Back to the original question - CB or FRS/GMRS?

Although you are in Canada, I think the power limits are the same as in the U.S.

CB has a 4 watt TX limit and a practical range (with properly mounted and tuned antenna) of 5 miles or so.

A handheld FRS has a power limit of 2 watts on some channels and only 0.5 watts on others and a practical range of 1-2 miles. Some GMRS channels have a transmit limit of 5 watts, some have a limit of 0.5 watts, and there are a few GMRS channels that allow transmit power of up to 50 watts with an external antenna.

Ham radio would be a better solution than FRS/GMRS if range is the issue rather than poor CB antenna tuning or equipment glitches. Yes, ham radio requires taking a test and getting a license, and everyone in your group will need to have one, but the test is easy and with just a little studying even someone with no knowledge of radio or electronics can pass.

Before changing radio platforms be sure that everyone's CB is working properly and that all antennas are properly tuned. My jeep club does a CB clinic twice a year. Its amazing how many guys who stubbornly claim on every run that their radio install is perfect sheepishly discover that they have pinched coax or a badly tuned antenna that is ruining the performance of their radio.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,487 Posts
Here is a quick radio comparison guide I wrote years ago:

CB vs FRS vs MURS vs GMRS vs Ham

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) because everyone can use one, there are thousands of 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 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 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).

In summary: ham is the best method for mobile radio communication. If for some reason that just isn't an option for you, CB is likely to be your overall next-best choice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,428 Posts
Great post Sherpa! You forgot another Ham Radio Drawback.
4) Like Jeep mods and accessories, Ham radios can be a lot of fun, addicting, and you may find yourself spending a lot of money on Ham gear and pretty soon you will want to buy even more.
Yup. The $225 is a good estimate for getting the smallest and simplest mobile unit and antenna in your Jeep. You can easily go north of $1,000 on your equipment if you want all the bells and whistles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
857 Posts
Yup. The $225 is a good estimate for getting the smallest and simplest mobile unit and antenna in your Jeep. You can easily go north of $1,000 on your equipment if you want all the bells and whistles.
You can get into ham radio for less than $100 for a Baofeng dual band HT and mag mount antenna. Not the best radio in the world, but money should never be the reason not to use ham.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
820 Posts
Before changing radio platforms be sure that everyone's CB is working properly and that all antennas are properly tuned. My jeep club does a CB clinic twice a year. Its amazing how many guys who stubbornly claim on every run that their radio install is perfect sheepishly discover that they have pinched coax or a badly tuned antenna that is ruining the performance of their radio.

1000x this, any coiled up coax under a seat, bad coax ends, bad or no grounds
So many things can cause issues and most are pretty easy to fix
But it'll mean digging through everyone's junk they have stuffed under their seats and on the floors
Good thing to do in the Spring and have a good sized garbage nearby
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,428 Posts
You can get into ham radio for less than $100 for a Baofeng dual band HT and mag mount antenna. Not the best radio in the world, but money should never be the reason not to use ham.
Sure, you can get a simple HT for cheap. But a mobile base station with antenna is going to run you over $200 when it's all said and done, even for the less expensive units.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,487 Posts
For the record: my quoted $225 cost for ham radio equipment was based on buying a new Yaesu FT-2900R 2m mobile radio, plus a Larsen NMO2/70B antenna, plus a cable/mount. I happen to run a more expensive Yaesu FT-7900R dual band radio in my Jeep, so I am into that vehicle's ham radio setup almost $400 total.

But when I'm on a trail in Moab with no cell coverage and am nevertheless able to chat with friends back in Salt Lake City (over 200 miles away), I don't mind one bit having spent that amount of money. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
857 Posts
Just for sh*ts and giggles at Moab two years ago we compared the real world performance of a single band Yaesu and Larsen antenna (>$225) to a Baofeng and MFJ mag mount antenna (<$100).

Clarity of reception was slightly better with the Yaesu and it transmitted slightly farther on simplex due to the higher output. However, overall transmission and reception wasn't that different between the two radios and there was never an occasion that we couldn't hear and communicate with the guy with the cheap Baofeng.

Again, budget or lack of money should never be a reason to avoid ham radio.


PS -

I am currently using a Kenwood TM-281A 2m ($135), Breedlove NMO mount($35) and Larsen NMOWB150B 1/2 wave 2M antenna ($65), total $235 + coax.

After the fun and games at Moab, I purchased this as a backup and to lend out:

Baofeng UV5RA ($24), Baofeng battery eliminator ($6), MFJ-1724B mag mount antenna ($23), and SMA female to SO-239 coax adapter ($6), total $59.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sherpa

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,428 Posts
I have a Kenwood TM-D710GA in my JK. It has built in APRS and is dual channel. I run the APRS on one channel and then talk with the other. I've been all over Moab with it and the APRS manages to punch through pretty well. I also like having the 50W high power mode for emergencies when I'm truly in the middle of nowhere.

But I too have a cheap Baofeng UV5R with a mag mount antenna as a backup. It's really not a bad basic setup for a cheap HT. It can't match the 50W of my base station and it has no way to do APRS by itself. But for just talking, it's a great model and a great way for beginners to get started without dumping tons of money into a radio.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,337 Posts
I have a Kenwood TM-D710GA in my JK. It has built in APRS and is dual channel. I run the APRS on one channel and then talk with the other. I've been all over Moab with it and the APRS manages to punch through pretty well. I also like having the 50W high power mode for emergencies when I'm truly in the middle of nowhere.

But I too have a cheap Baofeng UV5R with a mag mount antenna as a backup. It's really not a bad basic setup for a cheap HT. It can't match the 50W of my base station and it has no way to do APRS by itself. But for just talking, it's a great model and a great way for beginners to get started without dumping tons of money into a radio.
I have the same setup. :) Love to use the SMSGTE for texting with APRS.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,337 Posts
You can get into ham radio for less than $100 for a Baofeng dual band HT and mag mount antenna. Not the best radio in the world, but money should never be the reason not to use ham.
I agree. But in my case Ham radios started to multiply like rabbits. 2- Baofeng HT, Yaesu FT-60, Yaesu FT-70D, Yaesu FT-817, Kenwood TM-D710GA, Kenwood TH-D74.......... Not a cheap hobby for me but love to play with HF, Dstar, Fusion, APRS etc........... So much fun to experiment and learn!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
One thing I've noticed not being discussed in this thread is CB/SSB. Or is iit just us old basturds that use it?
hunter
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top