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Need GMRS Repeater Advice

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by Altoidfishfins, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey++

    I want to put up a GMRS repeater for our "group". Having kind of a quandary as to just what the FCC requires. The eCFRs involved seem broadly general with a bunch of holes.

    The repeater site will be located well over 100 miles from the nearest major city. So clashes with other repeaters should not be an issue. Maybe someone here can help. I just have some questions that I can't seem to find answers to.

    Such as ...

    Does the repeater require an automatic ID'er? Whose GMRS call sign will it be required to transmit?If it's mine, that's ok. Just need to know that.

    Does my GMRS license need to be modified? Or does the repeater itself need to be licensed?

    My best guess is that the repeater output is limited to 50 W. The one I have in mind won't go near that, don't need that much, don't have the power source for it anyway (solar). I prefer a good location and an efficient antenna system to buckets of power. The terrain is quite mountainous.

    With federal agencies "targeting" entities and individuals with which the administration disagrees, I want to be able to cross as many T's and dot as many i's as possible. Of course if they really want you, they'll find some way to hang you. Although we're pretty low profile, and not looking to cause mischief, I don't want to make hanging anyone easy for them.
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    eCFR — Code of Federal Regulations

    SubPart A GMRS
    Looks like the Repeater does NOT need to Ident, as long as the Users do Ident via voice, which they are REQUIRED to do.... 95.119 (e)
    Looks like your Station System License, needs to Modified for a Repeater, if it wasn't part of the original License. The Repeater is Licensed by your Station System License.
    You are allowed to share your Repeater with whomever you choose, as long as you do NOT charge for such service.... 95.33

    Last time I checked, the FCC wasn't into Politics, when it comes to Licensing.... Especially for Individuals... Now an Association like "Cold Dead Hands Assoc" might just get someones attention.... but if you as an Individual chose to share your Personal Repeater with a bunch of Friends, and Neighbors, that is your business, and you as the Owner, and Control Operator, can decide just who, you allow to use your system. I would check and see if your Coverage Area is within JBER or Ft Wainwright, as there are provisions in Part 95, where .Mil can have say over GMRS Systems that might be in their area.
    Timba likes this.
  3. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey++

    Well that certainly helps. I read over subpart A and it left me with more questions than answers. I was having trouble figuring out how the FCC knew whose repeater was whose. I understand that those who use it must obtain a GMRS license and I've explained that to them. I'll probably have to do it again. I would prefer they all become HAMS, but that would be like asking the sun to stay down tomorrow.

    We're nowhere near Ft Wainwright (Fairbanks area) or the Canadian border which also has some power restrictions on certain frequencies. So neither of those are a concern. No intention to charge users for repeater access, although some may contribute materials (batteries, solar panels, weatherproof enclosure, etc). It'll basically belong to everyone in our group, but I'll cover it under my license.

    It's highly doubtful that anyone outside our group will ever hear it because of the remote location and modest power output. I have a line on a Kenwood TK820 for a repeater w/ duplexer for a pretty decent price (less than $100).

    Thanks BT. I needed an experienced point of view on the subject.
  4. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I figured that the Rules would be of some help. Just remember you are REQUIRED to have Positive Control of the Repeater as Owner/Control Operator.
  5. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey++

    Not sure what Positive Control means.

    Also, I was on poking around in the ULS last night and couldn't seem to figure out how to change the license. I'll check again.
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Positive Control means YOU, have to be able to shut down the Tx, anytime, from anywhere, you might be, OR you must have someone else, controlling the Repeater, in your stead. You MUST be able to Shut it down, even if someone else is messing with your Control Link. Primary control can be done on the Input, but Failsafe Control is usually done on a different Frequency, unrelated to the actual Input or Output. Most GMRS Repeaters usually have a Landline FailSafe Control.

    Changing the License is easy.... You just fill out a complete NEW License Form, but you check the Modifying License Box, instead of the New License Box....
    Then you add the Repeater, and the New Frequencies for the Repeater Input and Output, and it's location, and show how you intend to keep "Positive Control" of it.
  7. David Spero

    David Spero Monkey

    It would be interesting to know which repeaters you have been looking at and which one you decided to be best suited to your needs and why.

    Many tks

    David S
  8. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey++

    Been looking at, and have obtained a Kenwood TKR820. It's best suited for me because a friend of mine had one for less than $100 with duplexer and he even programmed and tuned everything. I'm also familiar with them. They are available on eBay for a reasonable price as they are being replaced in business applications due to narrow banding requirements. They have connections for an external controller as well.

    They're not overly powerful, 25 watts, but with a good feed line (less than 20 feet antenna height as required in the regs) and a decent antenna they're more than adequate for my purposes. In fact I turned the power down to about 10 watts and it will still cover the remote AoO that I wish to cover if placed on a mountain top (in this case, at 6100 feet). I may turn it down even more if there are no problems in fringe areas. I've been using on-line Radio Mobile software to model the coverage.

    It also can be easily modified to run on 12 vdc, which makes it possible to be powered from solar panels and batteries.

    On the down side, these units are old and haven't been produced (and are probably no longer supported) in years. So if anything major dies, you either have to find another one that works or to steal parts from. I found one place that sells the finals (it's a module), but that's it. Hopefully running the unit at low power and watching that VSWR (presently a smidge over 1.1:1) will help the final last for years to come as it won't be transmitting very often anyway.

    I had set it up in my back yard just to test it. I can hit it from my work place with a handheld from about 18 miles away if I stand in the right spot. My back yard is a really lousy place for a repeater.
    David Spero likes this.
  9. David Spero

    David Spero Monkey

    That's a super helpful reply, many thanks.

    Typically, one of the components to keep an eye on are the electrolytic capacitors. But they are usually good for 20 or more years, and I guess your TKR-820 is more like 10 years old.

    Best of good fortune with it

    David S.
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