View Full Version : GMRS radios - opinion?

11-24-2002, 06:17 PM
Can't justify $1k for a top-shelf radio setup yet....so I'm looking at GMRS stuff.

I want to stay in the sub-$100-per-radio range, the less the better of course.

I've found an Audiovox (the GMRS7000CH - http://www.audiovox.com/cgi-bin/ncommerce3...rrfnbr=1272799) (http://www.audiovox.com/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/ExecMacro/product_mainpage.d2w/input?prrfnbr=1272799)) that has 3 watts of transmit power, over the usual GMRS 2-watt radio. They claim a 7 mile range because of the higher power.

I've also found radios from Midland that are 2-watt radios, but they have the capability of attaching an external antenna. (http://www.midlandradio.com/products.asp?pid=31)

The question: Would it be better to have the 3-watt handheld or the 2-watt handheld plus external antenna? Since they're both GMRS, I suppose one of each could be the solution...

Does anyone have any experience with GMRS radios from either brand?


11-25-2002, 01:11 AM
This sounds crazy, but my best friend runs formula vauxhall in europe, and they are not allowed to run radios. WHat he does is uses his cell phone with the hands free earpiece, and the small mike, tucks it into his helmet, and puts his phone in his pocket. He just dials the number before he goes ontrack, and his mechanic has constant contact with him.

11-25-2002, 03:30 PM
this is kind of a "duh", but cell phones ARE radios.... i guess the hidden cell phone is just the way he breaks the rules.

on the orginal issues..i started looking into a comms system for the car too. saw the prices, though i would see if i could go cheap and just by some gmrs radios. i then realized that the $1000 car systems use the same radios. the big bucks lies in the mic and earphone systems that plug in to the radios and make them useful at race speeds. oh well.


11-25-2002, 05:07 PM
It doesn't sound crazy although I was at a racer trade show this past Saturday and asked each of the radio vendors about simply using a cell phone. One said he knew nothing; another admitted they had tried it but that their testing produced a feedback problem which no amount of filtering could fix.

My guess is that it works fine if the track has cell coverage and you can work out the microphone/speaker hardware.

11-25-2002, 06:15 PM

I'm working on something similar to you. I can tell you what I have learned:

1) My car is loud. So loud that it hurts my ears if I don't wear ear protection! In order to get good ear protection with a good headset that I can hear, it will cost $200 ($50 for the custom ear molds at a local doctor and $150 for the headset people to make the headset).

2) The GMRS radios that I have are capable of some noise filtering and cancelling, but I have no idea how much. I wanted to try before the end of the season, but never got around to it. However, I can say that I am more concerned about hearing my crew than I am talking to them when I am running. If I go off, the car is much quieter anyway, so I can talk then.

3) The FCC license requirements aren't real clear. One person said I only needed 1 license for all my radios, another has said I need 1 license per radio. I'm waiting until spring to call and find out!

Hope this helps!

92 Saturn SL2
Planet 6 Racing
[email protected]

11-25-2002, 06:54 PM
Good to know about the ear mold stuff. I may or may not need to go that way - my Miata is loud outside, but not horrible inside. (Of course, I do wear ear plugs....so it will be a consideration. Might try the Greg Gauper approach that he detailed a week or so ago, with heat-shrink tubing and foam earplugs first.)

In the research I did last night after my first post, I learned:

1. The Audiovox is probably not a good choice. I never found a good recommendation for it. I did find a couple not-so-glowing reviews. Quality control seemed to be the big deal. (Seems that Audiovox is kinda hit-and-miss on radios - some models are great, some aren't.) It's definitely consumer-oriented.

The Midland, on the other hand, seems to be a decent way to go; more enthusiast-oriented, and the ability for external antenna sounds like (almost) a must-have.

2. Licensing: The $75 GMRS license covers you and your immediate family for ALL of your radios. If you have a crew member who is not immediate family....well, you just adopted them, or married into the family or something. ;-) Technically, they need their own license.

Even if I have to pay $200 for custom earpieces, that's the same regardless of where I go. What I want to do is find an alternative to $350 apiece Kenwood or Motorola radios. $100 for a pair of Midland radios sounds better than $700 for a pair of Motorolas. :-)

Go ahead and give me the "You get what you pay for" speech; I understand that concept. But, bottom line speaks to me as well. 30% of the cost for 85% of the function...I'm willing to take my chances.

I'm an electronics nerd anyway; I don't want to build the radio, but I don't mind playing with the components.

Got nothin' to do but put a motor in the Miata this winter, anyway. :-)


11-25-2002, 07:15 PM
OK, so we're in the same boat! I'm trying to put together everything but the radios myself as well.

The radios I bought were the Motorola 5820 radio twin pack from Best Buy (bought the NiCad battery packs at the same time). Why Motorola? Well, I have used the FRS radios from both them and Cobra. While the Cobras work ok, they didn't seem to have the range of the Motorola's, considering they are supposed to have the same power. Plus, I felt more comfortable with the Motorola brand name (heck, they even support some race cars!).

I've had experience with Audiovox electronic equipment before and can't really say too much good about it. They just don't seem very rugged to me...

Hope this helps. Let me know what you do for crew headsets...

92 Saturn SL2
Planet 6 Racing
[email protected]

Dave Burchfield
11-25-2002, 09:19 PM

There is, what I consider, a much better solution. First, let me qualify my remarks by saying that even though I am retired from the teaching profession(music, so I have a bit of knowledge about hearing and earplugs)I continue to work as a part time engineer for the largest broadcast communications company in the country. I also have been a licensed amateur radio operator for 30 years.

I have been using amateur radio communications in my car for a number of years now with no difficulties whatsoever. The equipment is the same quality as commercial, and costs far less. All it takes is a license for which you must take asomewhat simple written test. There are plenty of studuy guides available, and any local amateur radio club can give you the test. If anyone has basic electronics knowledge, the test will be a breeze. I highly recommend it as a good family winter project. The license is free. You can learn more at the ARRL(American Radio Relay League) website.

I use Icom 4AT(used, less than $100) and Yaesu FT50(used, less than $200) radios. They are programable for frequency, so you can choose your own. In the car I use a Comet ML-7 Micless ear microphone. That's right. The microphone is the earplug and is very comfortable. It works great and is about $75 new. Since the microphone is in your ear, there is never a problem with ambient noise. There are tons of inexpensive headsets available that you could use for a pit set up.

I am convinced that this is a far better alternative than spending a bunch of money or using radios that may not be as good as one might realize.

By the way, 7 mile range GMRS radios don't exist. UHF is line of sight and a 3 watt HT would be good for possibly a mile over unobstructed terrain.

I am happy to help in any way to help you get set up.


11-26-2002, 05:49 PM
I have been looking at the Yaseu radio for a few months, mainly from a post I saw here earlier in the year. (Maybe yours, Dave?)

I guess the main reason I haven't pulled the trigger in that direction is that I don't have a strong grasp of what that unit can do....and I don't really have a mentor locally to help me figure it out, so I started leaning toward the GMRS units, in large part because of their simplicity.

I've been impressed with a few of the more enthusiast-based GMRS radios (as opposed to the consumer-based), but I'm definitely not set on that direction.

From what I can tell, the Icom radio is a much older unit; while solid, I suspect it's getting tough to find "good" examples of it.

Haven't been able to find that Comet earpiece/mic, either....but that's not a huge issue. Yet.

Dave, if you're willing to deal with an amateur-radio neophyte, drop me an e-mail at [email protected] and I'll see if I can show my ignorance. http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/biggrin.gif

Bill, drop me a note and I'll tell you everything Dave tells me. http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/biggrin.gif


Greg Gauper
11-26-2002, 06:43 PM

I modified the design slightly since that last post (Sept??)

I added a stereo-to-mono converter jack so both earpieces work. Previously I could only hear in one earphone.

Now my problem is the radio is too loud, even if I have the volume turned down to its lowest setting.

My next attempt at earphone design will use slightly shorter heatshrink tubing, and I won't drill the EAR style earplug completely thru, maybe leaving a 1/16th to 1/8th inch undrilled space at the end. My thought is to use the earplug to muffle the radio slightly.

The nice thing about this setup is it that it's cheap!! I probably have oh, 20 cents of heat shrink invested so far, and I spent $00 on the ear plugs since I get them for free at work (If I had to pay for them, they are about 50 cents a set).

The stereo-to-mono jack was about $3 and the headphones were about $19, all at Radio Shack. We already had the radios so they cost nothing.

I'm with you on the cost vs. function theory. My main objective was to replace the pitboard that I've used for the last 17 years. I don't care what is going on while I'm on the backside of the track. I don't need to talk to my crew. I just need minimal information while I'm going past the front straight i.e. lap times in qualifying, laps left and differential in the race. And my crew doesn't have to go over the wall to give me the same information as before, plus they can stay dry while I splash around in the puddles during a wet session.

[This message has been edited by Greg Gauper (edited November 26, 2002).]

11-27-2002, 12:57 AM
If you look carefully on Ebay you will pick up some deals!

I bought 3 Kickass FCC Licience required motorolas (sp?) on ebay for $78 + shipping!!

i dont get what you try.. thats DAMn good!


PS. There is another set on ebay at the moment ending in 2 days!

11-29-2002, 03:30 PM
I think GRMS can work, once you figure out how to 'adapt' them. Make sure they have lots of channels cause others are going that way too. We had cross talk on a channel we thought was clear at last race. Once the race starts, too difficult to change channels with gloves on.
I'm trying the GRMS route too. First pair purchased were audiovox. They didn't come with the earphones/PTT set-up...instructions said to purchase at their web site. Web site didn't list such an accessory, so after numerous calls to their US office, found out that they don't actually make an earphone set for that model. They went back to the store.
Bought Cobras. They have great reception range and great clarity. My only problem is I can't get the earbuds to stay in my ears when I put my helmet on...even after taping the earbuds in my ears. I'd like to find an inexpensive way to use different type of earbuds (foam type, mold to fit, etc) that doesn't cost another $200, and fabricate a PTT switch that can remote mount on steering wheel. Any ideas others have in this area?
Also, I doubt that 98% of GRMS buyers ever actually apply for the FCC license.

Rex B
11-30-2002, 02:59 PM
THis was posted to Wheel-to-wheel this week by Tom Williams:

Just bought two Midland G-11C2 GMRS radios from Bills2way.com for $80 (for
> the pair). Add a Pryme SPM 800F in helmet kit ($55), A130 external
> ($20) , and Midland 22-540 headset for the pit radio ($18) and I have a
> complete comm set that will cover most tracks for $189.36 including
> shipping. Mix and match the parts to satisify your needs.
> BTW, the radios have 6 levels of VOX, but I have not checked it in the
> The Pryme kit is for an enclosed helmet so has speakers and mic that mount
> inside and a remote PTT switch.