The Best Kept Secret in Radio Communication | ITS Tactical

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The Best Kept Secret in Radio Communication

By The ITS Crew

ITS Tactical Handheld Radio

License free, low cost, two-way communication. What’s not to love about MURS? MURS stands for Multi User Radio Service, and is one of the best kept secrets in personal and family radio communications.

Formerly available only for business communications, the FCC has kept five MURS frequencies license-free and open for public use since 2000. Handheld radios broadcasting on MURS frequencies can experience a range of two miles to eight miles depending on terrain and obstructions, while MURS Base Stations can reach up to 20 miles.

The stipulations for MURS use provided by the FCC restrict any transmitter in excess of two watts, but any type of antenna is allowed as long as the tower height (with antenna) is no greater than 60 feet high. All communications must also yield to any emergency communication on the same channel.


The five MURS frequencies are listed below, The 154 MHz channels can be operated on the standard 25 kHz wide band or narrow band mode. The 151 MHz channels can only be operated in narrow band mode.

  • 151.820 MHz
  • 151.880 MHz
  • 151.940 MHz
  • 154.570 MHz
  • 154.600 MHz

Each of the five frequencies can not only transmit voice, but also data. The best example of this are the driveway alarms which transmit a signal via MURS when the IR sensor is tripped.

Can you hear me now?

Another hidden benefit of MURS frequencies are the PL codes (Private Line codes) or CTCSS (Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System) which are sub-audible tones that allow users to operate on the same channel without hearing chatter directed to other users.

There are 38 PL codes available to each of the five MURS frequencies, which makes for a combination of 190 different MURS channels. While this is not encryption, anyone not operating with the same PL code won’t hear your conversation.

How MURS stacks up

Most everyone has seen the small hand-held walkie-talkies that operate on the FRS (Family Radio Service), the best example of this are the small Motorola Talkabout Radios marketed towards family communication.

Here are some great comparisons courtesy of PRSG.

Compared with FRS (Family Radio Service) at 460 MHz:

  • MURS (at 150 MHz) permits four times more power (2 Watts TPO instead the 0.500 Watts ERP limit for FRS).
  • At MURS frequencies, signals bend over hills better, but FRS signals are better at bouncing off of surfaces and penetrating into/escaping out of buildings.
  • You may connect a MURS radio to an external or exterior antenna. FRS radios must employ a non-detachable antenna. For vehicle-to-vehicle operation with external (roof-mount) antennas, MURS should provide three to ten (or more) times the range possible with FRS radios.

Compared with GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) at 460 MHz:

  • GMRS handheld radios have typically two to five watts transmitter power. GMRS vehicular units transmit typically with ten to 50 watts. There is no limit on the ERP of GMRS stations operating on the primary channels. GMRS stations may transmit with no more the 5 Watts ERP on the seven “interstitial” frequencies (those shared with the FRS).
  • GMRS operation requires an FCC license.
  • At MURS frequencies, signals bend over hills better, but GMRS signals are better at bouncing off of surfaces and penetrating into/escaping out of buildings.
  • For vehicle-to-vehicle operation with external (roof-mount) antennas, MURS should provide one-and-a-half to four times the range possible with GMRS handheld radios also connected to roof-mount antennas. Depending on the surrounding terrain, MURS units connected to roof-mounted antennas might even outperform full-power (50 watt) GMRS mobile units, although the GMRS units should have a greater range in open terrain.
  • Many GMRS radios can communicate through repeater stations for extended range (typically up to twenty miles or more, sometimes much more). The new FCC Rules will prohibit repeaters in MURS.

Compared with CB (Citizens Band Radio) at 27 MHz:

  • CB radios may transmit with more power than MURS units may, but communications range is highly dependent on channel congestion and atmospheric conditions. CB communications can also be significantly degraded by noise from vehicle ignition systems and from other man-made sources.
  • CB signals bend over hills and around obstacles much better than MURS (at 150 MHz) or FRS/GMRS (at 460 MHz) signals.
  • Vehicle-to-vehicle MURS communications will probably be comparable and possibly quite superior to that available in the CB service.
  • MURS communications will not suffer from the kind of long-range “skip” interference frequently encountered on CB radio at 27 MHz.

Keep in mind on all these comparisons that MURS has it’s benefits, but GMRS requires an FCC license to operate on.

Where to buy?

MURS radios can now be commonly found online at retailers such as and are starting to increase in popularity as more people find out what they’re missing. The great thing about MURS frequencies is that they can be programmed (with or without PL codes) into existing radios which can be a backup to licensed communication. A dedicated MURS radio also makes a good backup radio if your primary means of communication go down.


PRSG has a wonderful FAQ section where you can obtain more information pertaining to MURS.

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  • anyone with comm experience…I’m very interested in your experience with MURS or any of these systems. Doing some research for a grad school project on use of comm systems during critical incident responses by multiple agency-responders.

    Great write up ITS! Thanks!


    very informative ITS ill have to play around with this and see if this can benefit me with work or with SHTF. Another great article looking forward to the next one! Thanks!

  • Tony

    A very nice and informative write-up! I do have few disagreements about your comparison to CB radios, and being something of a fan of them would like to discuss them. 🙂

    “CB communications can also be significantly degraded by noise from vehicle ignition systems”

    Err, sure, if you install the radio poorly. But then again, this is not in any way limited to CB radios – any vehicle installed electronic device is going to suffer from the same electric noise if you install it poorly. Thus, I feel that is hardly a valid comparison.

    A very basic rule whenever installing any two-way radio into a vehicle is to run the power wires straight to the battery – both the positive and negative wire. (Fuses on both wires, as close to the battery as possible, of course.) I think you’ll find that following that basic rule should take care of most electric noise from almost any vehicle. This is not CB specific but applies to ALL two-way radio installations, no matter what the frequency range used.

    I also find your claim of a superior communication range from a technology that uses a higher frequency and lower power a bit difficult to believe. Just seems to fly against the rules of physics. (Lower frequencies have more range, stronger signals have more range.) This is of course assuming a level playing field, once more. Compare a good MURS radio to an incorrectly wired CB installation with a possibly untuned and probably way too short antenna and sure, the MURS might indeed seem superior.

    Not sure about the law in US, but in most parts of Europe on CB frequencies Single Sideband modulation is legal to use – this can be a nifty thing for extending range, assuming the other end has the same functionality. If you synchronize gear with your “team”, ensuring compatibility, this should not be a problem. A lot of cheaper CB radios lack this feature making SSB less used, and scanning for SSB signals is a bit trickier than with AM or FM, so there you have your “security by obscurity” á la privacy codes too. 😉 We do also have CB radios that have CTCSS. Personally though, I feel it is pretty much a gimmick as if you use something like CTCSS or DCS (often available in at least PMR446 radios here), all it takes is someone else with a radio with the same technology to crack your “encryption”. You can set radios to scan all “subchannels” (CTCSS etc. codes) after all… So the end result seems to me to be pretty much the same as not using them at all. Any and all confidential information MUST be kept off the air (or at least code phrases used) if you want it to remain confidential, there is no other way.

    I also do not personally see skip as an inherently negative issue. Sure, sometimes it can get in the way – but other times it enables one to make *very* long range communications. In a situation where your immediate area seems chaotic, this might help one to get information from outside the affected area, for example. Radio weather conditions do play a role in the range of all HF radios, but like I said, in my opinion it can’t be considered as strictly a negative issue since the right conditions can give you more range than anything using higher frequencies has.

    One benefit that higher frequencies do have over CB radios is that antenna sizes for good, useable antennas are much smaller. But I feel that the issue is more one of worrying about “style” than a real issue – lots of people don’t want to mount large antennas because that might “look funny”. (If you’re worried about stealth, there’s no law saying you can’t use more than one antenna, a magnetically mounted antenna, etc.) A quite large antenna can be mounted to most vehicles if you take the time to think about how to do it. And there is always the option of a simple home-made wire antenna for more range when stopped, or a fancier expedition antenna setup if you’re so inclined.

    All this is not to say that MURS sounds like a bad idea. It certainly seems to compare favorably to other license free radio technologies listed in the article – I just somewhat disagree on the comparison to CB. And options can be a nice thing to have. 🙂 If I were situated in the US, I would certainly be interested in MURS – but more as a person-to-person communication method. I’d still keep the CB as my primary vehicle-to-vehicle communication method. (This would keep my pool of possible receiving stations larger too – which could come in handy if you’re not deliberately trying to limit communication to “your team” alone. From mayday calls to asking for information from people with functioning Internet access, the situations where one might have to do so are numerous.)

    I am also trying to point out that CB radios are not quite as bad as a lot of people seem to think. Things like poor range are more often due to poor choice of equipment (short antenna) and possibly poor installation (not tuning the antenna, not wiring the radio straight to the battery) than what people seem to be inclined to believe. (It’s all in the antenna, folks. Choose it well and mount it well.) They see one CB radio that gets poor range and think that they are all like that. Not so.

    (Sorry for being so long-winded. Guess I got a little carried away…)

    • Tony, excellent comment! We’ll follow up shortly on your feedback and be back with a more detailed response.

    • Tony, thanks again for the excellent comments.

      Great tip on running the radio/CB power wires directly to the battery. As far as the communication range of MURS vs. CB I agree that for the person who had the skill, time and desire to make the modifications you’ve listed to CB it could in fact function better than MURS, but for the average joe MURS will most likely function better “out of the box.”

      I’d never heard of Single Sideband Modulation and will definitely have to look into that. I agree that anyone with the functionality to scan privacy codes / CTCSS has the potential of picking up on the signal which is why, as you’ve already mentioned, that unless you’re on an encrypted network, code phrases or pro words must be used for security.

      Antenna size between MURS and CB is a “mission drives the gear” thing and if you have the ability to use a large antenna in a vehicle, then yes by all means do it, but for individually carried comms, a large antenna is a no go unless you have a foldable antenna like the MBITR.

      You nailed the benefits of vehicle CB vs. vehicle MURS nicely.

      Thanks again for taking the time to leave such a detailed comment,

    • Mrs. Glenn

      Hi. I know this posting is from several years ago, but I am wondering if you do any work on MURS radios. My boss is looking for looking for an electronics specialist capable of building/custom modifying MURS radios for a small project. He will pay $50 an hour. Thank you.

  • War Bird

    “There are 38 PL codes available to each of the five MURS frequencies, which makes for a combination of 190 different MURS channels. While this is not encryption, anyone not operating with the same PL code will hear “Mickey Mouse” when trying to listen in to your conversation.”

    Not true!
    PL or DPL tones are subaudible and have no effect on the voice quality. ANYONE, and I mean ANYONE with a scanner or another radio that uses carrier squelch can hear you plain as day even tho you use PL/DPL.

    Also, even tho GMRS radios can transmit more power, their tranmitted signals are subject to attenuation. Atmosperic, and folige attenuation. Atmospheric attenuation is loss of signal due to particles (air, dust, moisture). Folige attenuation is just that, leaves that physicly aproximate a wave length or an even division of a wave length (1/2, 1/4) of the transmitted freq will absorb the signal, thus weakening the received signal. For GMRS this is in the range of 3″-12″.

    This is also true of CB class B, CB as we know it. With a much lower freq, the wave length is much longer, 100″-400″. Trees and buildings absord most of the ground wave signal of CB tranmissions. As well, CB are AM modulated and MURS is FM modulated. Most electrial interference is AM modulated. This effects the CB receiver but not the FM receiver.

    High Band VHF freqs (100-300 mhz)have the advantage of wave lengths that are typicly longer then most foliage, yet shorter then most trees and buildings. There is virtually no atmospheric skip like on CB freqs and far less atmospheric attenualtion as on GMRS freqs. All this adds up to MURS haveing the best range per watt of transmitted power then any available frequency to the average person.

    Hope this clears things up.

    War Bird
    Genral Amature license
    FCC GROLE license with Radar endorsment

    • Thanks for the information War Bird, we’ll definitely look into this.

    • It’s always a trip when you start hearing tropospheric ducting coming in on MURS – doesn’t happen often though.

  • Our portable 2-way radio fundamentals course, developed for use with CERT, Neighborhood Watch and other Citizens Corps groups is available for download at the Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Clearing House. See the URL:

    Part 1 of the training is oriented towards use of the Family Radio service for the simple fact that most CERT team members are not going to be licensed radio amateurs but still need to know how to use their FRS radios effectively for communications within their team. It includes a simple exercise using single channel, direct simplex communications in a free net, as is common during smaller Type IV incidents which don’t require a formal Incident Action Plan. Topics include operating charactertics and limitations of FRS radio, radio features and controls, use of standard procedural words and phonetics.

    Part II of the training goes into more detail on operating procedures used in directed nets, resource tracking, maintain the radio log and message handling. Emphasis is on multiple-channel communications and the development of Communications Plans as used in Type III or more complex incidents. Additional topics discussed include the use of GMRS and Amateur repeaters as a way of tying CERT teams back to their Incident Command Post, Public Safety Answering Point, or Emertency Operations Center. Having your volunteer civilian communications auxiliary provide this training to Citizens Corps groups is a great way to encourage those who are interested in communications to become proficient and encourage them to become licensed. Licensed team members can function as the designated “Communications Operator” to relay resource requests, task completions, or changes in incident status back to the command post using either amateur or GMRS radio and repeaters.

    The files available for download include Powerpoint presentations for elements 1 and 2, instructor guides, student handouts, example exercises and a radio forms pack.

  • GeneralJohnnyReb

    I have been an avid MURS user since the service was first developed. It is THE perfect service for my family and friends particular use. We are in a very hilly and forested region. GMRS radios are just awful around here even with repeaters. All of the law enforcement and fire departments in my area use VHF high band (150-160) at around 50 watts tpo (I know this as I am involved in Fire/Rescue). The only agency nearby that uses UHF is a school. They run 25 Watts on a tower 1400 feet up and their performance is about the same as or maybe a bit inferior to when the fire guys run simplex mode. I don’t know about you, but I cannot afford to rent a 1400-foot tower for my communications needs and my 60-foot tower wouldn’t nearly perform well enough in GMRS mode to justify the repeater expense. So, I stick with MURS. Now I am limited to 2 Watts TPO, but no restrictions on antenna gain or type. It just cannot exceed 60 feet on my tower or 20 feet above a structure. Here is the deal. I can go about 1/2 the range I was able to when I was a talking simplex mode on my 35 watt mobile VHF public safety. I know it sounds crazy…2 watts being equal to 1/2 the range of a 35 watt radio, but let me explain it is almost ALL in your antenna!!! On the handhelds (MURS is 2 Watt, Public Safety was 5 Watts) I have noticed little to no difference in range. On both radio’s I recommend putting a good after market antenna if it comes with a stubby. That alone will make a noticeable difference in range. On the Mobiles, I am getting about half the range, perhaps even a little further. For the base station I have nothing to compare it to, as we did not have a base station only a repeater dispatch on a much bigger tower than my 60 footer. Mobile to Mobile I am getting about 10-20 miles. I just put up the base station so I will get back with you on that. Now as far as how it compares to CB. Mobile-to-Mobile I was only able to get about 5-15 miles consistently. This of coarse was in AM mode with a quality CB (I was always partial to Cobra 29 and 148) with a properly tuned and grounded 102 stainless steel whip antenna. The thing you will find out about CB is that its range is highly dependant upon channel congestion and atmospheric conditions. MURS is not affected by the atmosphere nearly as much. MURS also does not have to contend with the solar cycles in the way that CB does. Now for portable handhelds CB is a joke. I have several and they will not even talk to each other more than about 1/4 a mile unless you buy telescoping whips (which tend to break) even then they are minimal at best. Even a 1-watt MURS portable handheld (half the full power ones) can easily outperform their CB counterpart. I used to be an avid CBer, but times have changed. I got sick of all the foul-mouthed language on the CB channels. I was also sick of trying to compete with all of the overpowered, over modulated splatter. Folks do not realize that their 300-watt linear amp going through their RG-58 coax and cheap mag mount untuned antenna sounds like garbage. They have their radio’s butchered by so-called “techs” who “tweak and peak” their radio for supposed increase in swing and modulation. While this MAY increase ones range, the quality of the signal is poor. Unfortunately that poor quality tends to bleed over 6 other channels as well. I prefer clean and clear local communications to barely readable long range skip signals. Also it should be noted that CB is much more likely to receive interference from RF sources such as your ignition. ALL radios should be properly installed for peak performance. Now that I have explained why CB (AM) is not so good, I will name CBs good qualities. If you have everything set up right and use the single side bands (SSB) you can get increased performance. As much as I like MURS, I must admit that CB on the SSB has MURS beat in range. You will need to learn a few things though, like how to use your clarifier. CB is also cheaper to get into, accessories are easier to find and you will make many more contacts. A CB can be a valuable tool for when you are on the road. I personally do not want my children exposed to the language that all to often is heard on CB. MURS has its downside too. First, you have got to know what you are doing. If you do not tune your antenna on CB, it still should work for a couple of miles. If you do not tune your antenna for MURS you might as well have an FRS walkie-talkie. Also, some businesses think that they “OWN” the MURS channels and if they do not have a ctcss activated and hear you they might tell you to “Get off OUR channel”. This is not true. Before 2000 the MURS frequencies were part of the business LMR service. Businesses using these frequencies were either to move to another frequency or share with MURS users. The only benefit they have over us is that they may operate under their old business license rules. This might include running 5 watts instead of two or sending continuous data and the like. They have no more right the channel than you or I. Neither they or us is allowed to intentionally interfere with each other though as in “walk on” or talk over each other. In conclusion from my experience, where I am located (Hilly, forested terrain) MURS has slightly better range than CB (AM) and much better range than FRS and GMRS. If you lived in open flatlands such as Kansas, then I am sure GMRS would be a better option as a repeater would be invaluable.

    • Mackle

      What mobile and base antennas are you using?

  • ruben delgado

    I was looking to pick up a MURS radio(s) for me and my family, as a just in case way of communication, reading through this is while informative a lot to digest, my question is this, I was looking a Vertex-231-a to program it requires a computer and a programing cable as per the article. So is it a cable that must be bought separately, and once said cable is acquired how does one use a computer to program it? I’m knew to the whole MURS so I hope I don’t sound to new, I’m just used to using a MIL radio but since I can’t just take one home this is the next best thing

  • MURS

    To prog a Vertex, yes buy the cable and software. It is not hard but a one time exercise. Vertex also sells scrambler modules if you want more privacy. Good luck!

  • The ARRL dropped the code requirement for the HAM license. YEA!
    Has anyone compared costs of MURS vs HAM equipment? What about the ability to communicate readily with local repeaters and managed nets? When SHTF, there are several HAM operators that will man the repeaters and do whatever it takes to keep them running. Can’t say that for cell or regular POTS service.

  • thedigitaltexan

    I have lot’s of experience with MURS. Use LMR 400 coax with yagis cut and spaced to your freq. I’ve gotten 10 miles on 150 milliwatts.
    Used this with one way signals for data and telemetry. Worked perfect. That’s 1/15th of a watt. And I used a spectrum analyzer to align the antennas…

    • LiveToLurk

      thedigitaltexan  Um, your math is off.  It’s closer to 1/7th of a Watt.  🙂

    • thedigitaltexan

      LiveToLurk thedigitaltexan Your rite….my bad….

  • Paul

    Why would I take advice from this site when they either do not know or do not care that it is illegal under Title 47 Part 95.649 to use MURS frequencies on a radio that is switchable to a higher power setting than the maximum power for MURS of 2 watts.  The Vertex 410 is switchable to 5 watts and is therefore ineligible for MURS frequencies.  They should be paying me 14¢ a day.

    • Many agree that during a true SHTF situation though, type-acceptance isn’t their biggest concern. Just saying. 🙂

  • plainolamerican88

    @Paul  Pure speculation on my part troop but this recommendation is about saving our collective asses not being one.

  • gu est

    you have either got to be complete morons, or you expect to sell radios by telling lies. the use of pl codes does not cause the audio to sound like Mickey Mouse and I keep other people from listening to you. the use of a PL code simply means you will not hear anyone that does not use the same PL code that you are using. Turn the monitor button on and you’ll be able to hear anyone on the same channel. PL codes also do not create 190 unique channels.
    answer the guy that uses a spectrum analyzer to aim your antennas, exactly how do you use a spectrum analyzer to to aim your antennas? You simply point them in the direction you want to talk and adjust them to peak.

  • Crusty

    The comments made by Paul can be a catch-22. The FRS/GMRS radios have different power levels and they are legal to own, just do not use the higher power w/o the $80.00 license fee. One can own a power amp for CB radios (11meter) if one has a amateur radio license. We are talking about survival here not giving “Uncle Charlie” something to do!

    and of course as one “Good Old Boy” put it, it’s about saving our collective asses not being one. Rigid by the book people who were, ah, what am i trying to say, oh they got fragged!

    Thank you for the time


    • CraigRossYoung

      @Crusty Power amplifiers on 11 meters is illegal with or without a HAM license.

    • 7sicks

      CraigRossYoung “r CB radios (11meter) if one has a amateur radio license.”  He said that already.


    • SGard

      CraigRossYoung power amplifiers are illegal on 11 meters (CB) period, even if you have a Ham license.

  • thedigitaltexan

    @Mrs. Glenn What mods do you need done/

  • Jim

    Actually, some of your information is not entirely accurate.
    Like the height of MURS antennas:
    §95.1315  Antenna height restriction.
    highest point of any MURS antenna must no be more than 18.3 meters (60
    feet) above the ground or 6.10 meters (20 feet) above the highest point
    of the structure on which it is mounted.
    So, if your antenna is
    mounted on an 8 story building (approx 180ft)…and the highest point of
    your antenna can extend 20ft above that structure…the you have a
    perfectly legal antenna…200ft high.

    …and the power restrictions for GMRS:
    §95.135   Maximum authorized transmitting power.(a) No station may transmit with more than 50 watts output power.
    most you will get out of any radio pushing 50 watts of output is 130 to
    200 watts ERP…depending on your antenna configuration and the length
    of the coax. SO by limiting the radios max output…the FCC has
    effectivly limited the max ERP of GRMS radio.

    • SGard

      @Jim your comment about max ERP is not totally correct, depending on the antenna that you have or build determines the amount of gain you have. You also must take into account the loss of the feed line. 
      here’s the basic rule of thumb on gain, every 3db of gain or loss will either double or half you’re power output respectively per every 3db. So that being said, if you have a 50 watt radio and your feed line has 1.5 db of loss you would have roughly 37.5 watts to the input of the Antenna. Now, if your antenna has 9db of gain (which is realistic) you would have an ERP of 300 watts, 12db would be 600 watts.

  • I haven’t read all the comments yet, so please accept my sincerest apologies if this is a duplication. You’re also not entirely accurate about the privacy level of CTCSS and DCS codes. You’ve made it seem as though these systems offer true privacy from being heard when they really do not. Truly, they are a frequency sharing method which offers privacy of not hearing anyone else. Try this out, put one of your radios on any CTCSS code or DCS code. Now put another radio on the same frequency, but leave the CTCSS and DCS code features off. Now key up your private line coded radio and listen to yourself on the other radio crystal clear. Now key up the radio with the PL functions off and speak. Your pl programmed radio will remain silent, offering you privacy from interruption by a radio user on the same frequency NOT using your pl time. ON TOP of this anytime your pl squelch has been open already by your party on the same frequency, any other duplicate transmissions from non pl toned radio will still interfere. This may be what you were trying ro says, but I wanted to clarify, because to me it seemed unclear. -73 KG5CHK

  • walter

    Hearing harassing voices out of my speakers vents and window
    Its my neighbors
    Know its sometypw of radio
    Any advice on recording it or proving it tracing or something
    The stuff they say is very specific to me and my kids and if u heard it you would be liading clips too already caught the nieghbors teens using a laser mic on my windows bouncing it back to another neighbors
    Been going on since i moved in 6m ago

    • Black01

      The chip in your head is malfunction. Report to your local freemason temple for reprogramming.

    • BenAnders0n

      Most smart phones have a voice recorder function. You could also buy a cheap FRS radio (what they are most likely using) with channel and code scan features, find the channel and code they are using, and join the conversation.

  • BlairSimpkins

    The tones only prevent other transmissions from being heard. You transmission is still in the clear.

    • BenAnders0n

      Correct, and even using the “scramble” feature of radios like the Quansheng offers zero security. Anyone can descrambler these signals with any other radio that has a scramble feature, not to mention that a Doppler RDF can locate you as soon as you transmit anyway. Radios are great in a lot of ways but they definitely aren’t secure comms.

    • SGard

      BenAnders0n Doppler RDF will NOT locate you as soon as you transmit. Tracking takes practice and time to find the transmitter.

  • wobble

    Too bad the wuxon radio your pictured is not USA legal for use on frs/gmrs/murs…the whole point of your article

    • BenAnders0n

      If you use low power mode (1.5 watts) you can use it on MURS, and if you have a GMRS license you can use it on GMRS.

    • TJ

      BenAnders0n Not legally, no. Just because you can program in the frequency, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to.

      Radios for MURS need to be tested and certified (“type accepted”) under Part 97J, and radios for GMRS need to be certified under Part 97A.

      The Wouxun/Baofeng radios are only certified for Part 90, which means they can only be legally used in the business and amateur bands.

    • TJ

      BenAnders0n Correction, that would be Part 95J and 95A. 🙂

    • NJChris

      @TJ BenAnders0n  I’m fairly certain you can use any equipment you have as long as you operate within the parameters of the law. (Power,freq. ,Etc.)

    • Dangerpig

      NJChris BenAnders0n Yeah, and the law states for MURS it has to be Part 95 accepted for MURS operation ONLY. It has to have the tag on it otherwise it can’t be used. Yes, it’s part of the parameters of the law. You should look that up.

    • Jack

      You are wrong TJ it is Part 95,Part 97 is amateur radio only.

    • So many people don’t seem to understand type-acceptance and FCC licensing. They buy cheap Baofengs and think they can use them anywhere they want (which is fine in a SHTF situation).

      Others here have correctly noted that the Wouxun in the OPs image is not a type-accepted Part 95J MURS radio. In fact, the KG-UV3D is a grandfathered Part 90 radio, so only technically legal for LMR (business band) use.

      My emergency two-way radio store will program for any use (namely for SHTF preppers and survivalists), but we also advise of the legal ramifications of such. We do have a legal MURS radio (which are somewhat rare these days), the TERA TR-505. It can also be legally programmed for GMRS, making it the only FCC certified radio that can be used on MURS (VHF) or GMRS (UHF) – a best of both worlds radio. 😉

  • BenAnders0n

    In an emergency when no other communications are available or adequate, the FCC has special exceptions that allow you to use any radio on any frequency at any power level. This includes police and military frequencies even. There’s no harm in putting MURS frequencies into a ham radio just in case you need it in an emergency. It will also allow you to listen in on others. It is never illegal to program a frequency into a radio.

    • Jack

      You better get the term right.”NO other communications are possible” not adequate and they mean none possible as in a neighbor,gas station cell phone etc.

  • BenAnders0n

    If you are trying to use VHF in the city you are doing it wrong. VHF is for the great outdoors and doesn’t do well against concrete and steel. In the city you want UHF radios like FRS.

  • nato425

    i need to get a 2 way for search and rescue. My company has a licesned freq, do i still need to get a license?  and what 2 way do you req. i need a vhf narrowband

    • A Wells

      I believe to use your companies frequency on your radio you may need to get an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with your company. But that would only be for that frequency. If you wanted any other frequencies in the radio you would need a license unless they are frequencies that do not require one. Here is a list of some of them.

      FRS/GMRS Shared
      1/2 watt maximum power output. GMRS licensees may use up to 5 watts.
      GMRS and FRS users may communicate with each other on these channels.
      1. 462.5625
      2. 462.5875
      3. 462.6125
      4. 462.6375
      5. 462.6625
      6. 462.6875
      7. 462.7125

      FRS Only Channels. 1/2 Watt Power Limit. No GMRS use allowed. No license required.

      8. 467.5625
      9. 467.5875
      10. 467.6125
      11. 467.6375
      12. 467.6625
      13. 467.6875
      14. 467.7125

      GMRS Only
      GMRS Only Channels (Channels 15-22 on FRS radios, License Required)
      Repeater Pairs. Simplex use legal on 462MHz channels. No FRS use allowed.

      No License Required. No antenna restrictions. Max of 2 watts.
      151.820 (NFM)
      151.880 (NFM)
      151.940 (NFM)
      154.570 (FM) Blue Dot
      154.600 (FM) Green Dot

      I hope this helps. And you should look into your local amateur radio club and try for a license. The Tech license isn’t very hard. It will require some studying though.

  • Honky Tonk

    I too would like a comparison of CB 11-meters SSB vs. MURS.  I have done both.  MURS would be excellent during the late afternoon, however, CB SSB shines very well with the 12WPEP and any type of antenna that is 20ft off of the highest point any building or tree or a mere 60ft off the ground.  If your tree is 55ft, you can have the top of the antenna at 75ft and still be legal.  Even off a building like the Empire State building.  CB SSB channels are often clear and clean when the sun goes down till it rises.  Even during bad skip times, SSB shines to cut through.  SSB has a range up to 150-miles per the FCC rules, however, it’s not uncommon to talk across the state or several states for that matter on legal power.  Unlike MURS, CB radios have mic-gain, RF-gain, ANL (automatic noise Limiter), and squelch volume controls.  Some of the radios even have the 2-meter weather channels like the FRS units have.

    Here’s another neat thing too.  MURS allows data to be transmitted.  CB still allows “cw” (aka morse code) use too.  There are several makes and models to choose from that offer cw on CB 11-meters. 

    CB SSB offers a person an extra 80 channels. 

    There are many prepper/survivalist/off-griders who rely on CB because the skip and big stations provide cover over their local short distance (5 to 10 mile) transmissions while on SSB.  Remember the 3-3-3 radio rule.  If not, look it up on the web.

    To be tactical relies not only on the individual, but the group of people you are communicating with.  What is important depends on the availability of the equipment, the price, and the ability to improvise with most of the scenario.  Thus, the options of FRS, GMRS, MURS and CB SSB needs to be evaluated within a group and their regional environment. 

    Good article with up front info.  Keep them coming!

  • Use LMR 400 coax with yagis cut and spaced to your freq. I’ve gotten 10
    miles on 150 milliwatts.
    Used this with one way signals for data and telemetry. Worked perfect.
    That’s 1/15th of a watt. And I used a spectrum analyzer to align the

  • JamesStamper

    Okay lets start from the top. First let me say that I’m a big fan of MURS. So, here we go. MURS does NOT stand for “multi user” as stated above. Instead it stands for multi use. Meaning its available to both business and private individuals using FM voice, data, most any form of communication except for AM or ssb which is not allowed. Any business that has a license to use MURS also has priority and the rest of us must yield the airwaves to them. The FCC does not issue licenses for MURS, but businesses that were licensed for 2 of the MURS frequencies (prior to the invention of MURS) are grandfathered in and have priority over MURS users. Walmart is a prime example, they had a license to use 2 of the MURS channels prior to the invention of MURS and are grandfathered in, they have priority on both 154.570 and 154.600. HOWEVER, businesses do NOT have priority on the other 3 MURS frequencies and you do not have to yield to them on the frequencies. In areas where bandwidth is tight, Walmart employees will often claim their license covers the entire 5 MURS channels, this is not true!

    Next, and even more important, the statements about the PL tones are very misleading. Yes, if you have PL tones set on both TX and RX, you will not hear others on the same frequency unless they are also using the same PL tones. HOWEVER, if a person has their PL tones turned off, then they will hear every word you say, regardless of what PL tone you are using. PL tones only limit what you hear, they do nothing to prevent others from hearing you. If you don’t believe me, turn your PL tones off on one radio then transmit on another using PL tones. The first radio will hear every transmission loud and clear no matter what PL tone the 2nd radio is using. 

    MURS is way WAY better than FRS. But so is 2 tin cans and a string! Let’s be honest, FRS is the most useless radio service in existence. You can pretty much use sign language and communicate further than 2 FRS radios. They really are that bad.

    As for GMRS, it does require a license that cost about 10 times more than even a ham radio license which is insane. But there is no test involved. So if someone can’t read or write, GMRS may be the way to go. Compared to GMRS, MURS has the advantage of being license free and has a decent range that very often exceeds GMRS. But that’s not always the case. GMRS is allowed up to 50 watts of power. Using comparable antenna systems, GMRS at full power will exceed the range of MURS. But, watt for watt, MURS has the greatest range up to its power limitations. And MURS at 2 watts will probably match up well against GMRS at 5 watts because we’re also talking VHF vs UHF.

    Now, overall range. Take it from a ham, there really is no substitute for experimenting when it comes to VHF/UHF frequencies. One popular exercise is to get a pair of radios. Doesn’t matter if they are handhelds or mobile’s or whatever. Setup one radio in your home with the squelch set to 1. Next to that radio, place a digital voice recorder near the speaker and set it to VOX (voice activation). Now, whenever a incoming signal breaks the squelch on the radio, the voice recorder will automatically record whatever is being said. After you have this radio setup, take the 2nd radio and begin transmitting from various locations around your home, going in a circle and expanding outward to see how far away from home you can get and still transmit a signal that will break the squelch on the home radio. You might be surprised by the range you can get from certain locations. This exercise will also give you an honest report on how well certain improvements increase or decrease range. For example, switching to a 5 element yagi antenna will greatly increase range in one direction while decreasing or even eliminating range in another direction. You may find that a omni-directional antenna works better for your needs. Or that a directional yagi is best. But you won’t really know until you get out there and experiment.

  • Tom Keire

    Anyone not using the same PL code and you can’t be heard by you but they can still hear everything you say!  PL is not privacy!!!

    • Caller

      Well stated. the PL feature keeps your own speaker silent while other traffic is transmitting that does not use your PL subtone frequency or no PL at all. So, turn your PL off and you hear every transmission with in range.
      Conversely stated, if you’re using a PL setting and another radio is transmitting without using your PL tone, you will hear nothing.
      PL is useful when you don’t want to hear the kids in the neighbor playing on their little radios.

  • Brian

    Is there a way to send an image from these MURS devices? or just data signals?

    • Barry A. Sallade

      Yes, you can send images via MURS but it will take a radio that is capable of sending data.
      Images would be converted to data then sent to the radio’s out in the field, a good example despite being a toy is the radio’s called

      Spy Gear – Video WalkieTalkies

      and Gotenna. Both options use either MURS or FRS. I don’t sell these nor do i get paid to mention them. Google both for more info.

  • A Wells

    Where it is true if someone is not operating on the same PL tone as you they will not hear you. But if they have no Pl tone entered they hear everything on that channel.

  • DrBill

    If you want to get into all this TV pictures via radio why don’t you just get an Amateur Radio License and get into SSTV to get started. There is also FSTV that is more like what you sit for hours and watch. Why don’t you just leave all this alone and get licensed ? Go for the gold standard ? When you get licensed you will be in the know with all these radio services and all will become clear to you.

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