GMRS Repeater for the North Methow Valley

If you already know about GMRS and FRS services, then you are likely good to go.  But if you are new to GMRS, it is family radio service (like FRS) but not limited to the junky radios you buy at Walmart for 10 bucks each.  It is way more beneficial and effective than those bubble pack overhyped toys.

Here in the (North) Methow Valley, cellular coverage is poor, especially if you do not have Verizon service.  Once you head down Lost River Rd or West of Early Winters, you lose cellular coverage.  GMRS will extend your ability to have communications between your own group when separated by more than a half mile or so or if you need emergency or other priority services.  This is when a GMRS repeater will help fill the communications gap.  We also have several Amateur Radio (Ham) repeaters in the Methow Valley, see:  MVLRS for more information.

So if you are skiing (especially so in winter), hiking, biking, on a horse or in your vehicle, this repeater can provide you easy communication for routine use with friends or in an emergency.  To take advantage of this great resourse, you need to have the appropriate knowledge and equipment.  The links below will provide basic to advanced GMRS information.

There are over 1,100 GMRS repeaters in the US, many being open for your use.  So your investment to get rolling on GMRS in the Methow, will provide you much the same access elsewhere in the country.

The owner of this repeater does have some specialized equipment consisting of handheld radios, mobile radios & antennas for your groups if you do not have your own.  Please inquire if you would like to explore GMRS on the loaner plan but take a look at the handy Amazon options below.

If you have a good high location, it would better serve our community if the repeater could be relocated.  Flagg Mtn or Sun Mountain Lodge for example would be a good location as would Slate Peak.  If you wish to help or have any leads on a good location to park this repeater, please inquire.

The Repeater Information This repeater is a Motorola Micor Station running 50 watts out of the duplexer into a 4.5 dB gain antenna at 2,350 feet ASL (~250 feet above the valley floor).  Program 462.725 Mhz for your receiver and 467.725 Mhz for your transmit.  Also you will need CTCSS (PL) of 141.3 Hz on your transmit and optionally add it to your receive as well.  The call sign is:  WQZD796
Who can use it? Anyone in the Methow; residents, visitors, travelers.  Permission is granted, no need to ask, please use your own call sign.
Why Use a Repeater? The repeater can greatly enhance the distance between your two radios.  20-30 miles are possible with mobile radios or handhelds in good clear or high areas line of sight to Edelweiss, between Winthrop and Mazama
Coverage Map Rough projection of your coverage with both a handheld and mobile radio, green for handheld and yellow for a mobile.  Close-up coverage map.  These maps are for the temporary location in Edelweiss.
Need a License? Well yes...sorta.  GMRS is like family licensing, apply online for $70 (good for 5 years) via the FCC with a charge card.  Login, create an account and then apply for GMRS license (code is: ZA)
GMRS by the FCC Basic information provided by the Federal Communications Commission
What is GMRS? Wikipedia's entry telling about about GMRS
MyGMRS Database of thousands of GMRS repeaters in the USA
Know Everything? Good catchall web site explaining FRS and GMRS
How Far? Miklor's page on how far can a 5 watt handheld can effectively communicate.
Aux Repeater PL's Also available for longer conversations: 173.8, 206.5 and 210.7 but you must be in carrier squelch as no PL is transmitted on the repeater's output.  Only the Traveler's PL, 141.3 is transmitted.
Radios to Use? Most bubble pack radios will not access repeaters.  The least expensive, decent quality and type-accepted handheld is the BTECH GMRS-VI (Amazon $55).  The higher cost Midland MXT400 40 watt mobile (Amazon $250) is at the other extreme.  Most commercial UHF radios will also work as well.  We have various GMRS capable 40 watt mobiles that can be available.  A car antenna is also needed for around $200 radio and antenna possibly.  Mobile radios have much greater distance capability.
GMRS-VI HT BTECH GMRS-VI is a 5 watt type accepted handheld radio that supports repeaters (Amazon $55).  This is about the least expensive handheld out there today that can be legally used with GMRS repeaters.  This is a good repeater capable GMRS starter radio.  Also it can be programmed with the excellent Chirp Programming Software or via the front panel.  See: Miklor's Main page, Review, Reference & FAQ.  A Starter Codeplug is available, you also need a programming cable or get the starter kit for the best deal)
Midland 15 watt Mobile Midland's  MTX115 is a type accepted midrange mobile radio that supports repeaters and includes the antenna and mount with cable (Amazon $149).  It has 15 watts of power rather than the 2-5 watts and lossy rubber antenna on the typical handheld but less than the 40 watts of the MTX400, (about $290 complete).  So this radio is about half the cost of the high power mobile but 2.5 times the cost of the GMRS-VI handheld.
Midland 40 watt Mobile Midland's  MTX400 is a type accepted higher end mobile radio that supports repeaters (Amazon $250).  Also needed is a mobile antenna.  See Owners Manual, Specs, Suggested Antenna (Amazon $20), Suggested Magnet Mount and cable for Antenna (Amazon $20)
Amazon Stuff Other radios may be better and cheaper but require some programming knowledge to use on GMRS.  Either way, the bubblepack radios are marginal at best.  Most of the low end bubblepack stuff will not work through a repeater, so be careful.  The cheap Boafengs work on GRMS but are not type-accepted for GMRS use.  We suggest the BTECH GMRS-VI (Amazon $55) as the minimum HT entry radio.  Possibly the 20 watt portable/mobile TalkCoop KT-8900 (Amazon $88) with antenna and cigarette lighter plug.  It is likely not type accepted for GMRS but could be used for, WX, MURS, Ham and other licensed and unlicensed services as well.
Ebay Stuff  Be careful on Ebay.  If you know what to look for, it is a great resource.  This link weeds out much of the junk but there are still over 700 hits (at this moment) and much of it is not what you want.  Your mileage may vary.
Loaners: BF-888  A pair of simple "demonstration" HT's programmed as follows: High Power / Side button 1 is "Monitor"
1) Mazama Repeater  2) Mazama Direct  3) Alt Mazama Repeater  4) Alt Mazama Direct  5) Alt Mazama Direct low power (chat)
Revised: 04/28/2017