Putting together a radio system


I’m looking for guidance getting a radio setup. It appears that the sub 1000$ kits use some pretty cheap radios anyway so I’m thinking about purchasing everything separately.


Various outfits make GMRS radios and sell helmet accessories for them. A number of us have Midland systems, but there’s other solutions. They can be had for beer money.


Is there a difference between GMRS and UHF other than the 5 watt limit. On the Sampson website their standard system uses a 5W midland GMRS, but the long track system uses a 5W BaoFeng UHF. The price difference is negligible. I’m sure nearly every road course qualifies as a long track.


The short answer is I don’t know. I’m an old HAM radio type and military commo guy so I’m kinda particular about radio. GMRS is a whole structure of regs, and it’s set up to be used with discrete channels, each with an assigned freq. So there’s channel 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

UHF is a band of freqs, like 300MHz to a couple GHZ, or something like that. Comparing GMRS to UHF is apples and oranges. Best way to think about it is that GMRS is only going to talk to another GMRS or FRS radio. FRS radios will only talk to FRS, GMRS will talk to both. This is because GMRS radios usually include the FRS channels. GMRS is allowed more power than FRS, so it’s preferable.

Theoretically you’re supposed to have an FCC license to operate GMRS, but no one seems to take that too seriously.

Folks often get too excited about radio power. The important thing is line of site. The biggest advantage of the high end commo systems it the external antenna. For a short time GMRS was allowed external antennas, but they changed that law. If you look hard or need a project, you can probably end up with a GMRS hooked to an external antenna tho. If you do DIY, ya gotta know what you’re doing or you won’t get the antenna impedance right and it won’t work for squat.


I wouldn’t worry so much about the difference between GMRS and the various UHF solutions. What makes the UHF solutions better isn’t that they are UHF, it’s that they nicer, more rugged hardware, and they are allowed external antennas. Nice radios will get more range and the commo will be more clear.

That said, GMRS radios are cheap and, imo, good enough. Just do the best you can to get the antenna vertical and at window level so there’s no sheetmetal between your radio and your crew.


Are there any good cell phone based systems?