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GearReview.com's Guide to FRS Radios.
By Jeff Porcaro

The Family Radio Service (FRS) is one of the Citizens Band Radio Services. This set of frequencies has been set up for you to communicate with your family and friends while on group outings. FRS operates at 1/2 watt with 14 channels of unlicensed communication. You are able to communicate up to 2 unobstructed miles. A FRS Radio has many features and terms. We will talk about the features to help you make the best choice for a FRS Radio.

Channel:
A channel is a frequency that you communicate on. The FCC has set aside 14 frequencies for FRS use. The 14 channels are designated as follows: #1 - 462.5625 MHz, #2 - 462.5875, #3 - 462.6125, #4 - 462.6375, #5 - 462.6625, #6 - 462.6875, #7 - 462.7125, #8 - 467.5625, #9 - 467.5875, #10 - 467.6125, #11 - 467.6375, #12 - 467.6625, #13 - 467.6875, #14 - 467.7125.

CTCSS (sub-channels):
Radios that support the CTCSS channels use a constant tone that is transmitted on the channel. This is how a sub-channel is created. If the receiving radio is listening for the same tone that is being transmitted then it will allow the transmission to be heard. Some manufacturers use different tones on specific sub-channels. Review the manufacturer documentation to get the tone frequencies for each sub-channel.

Keypad Lock:
A keypad lock allows you to lock the keypad so you don't inadvertently change the settings of the radio. This is mainly used to prevent channel changes.

Voice Scramble:
Some FRS manufacturers have the ability to scramble the voice so that only those who have the same model radio can receive the communication unscrambled. If you do not have the same model the communication will unintelligible.

Channel Scan:
Channel scan gives you the ability to scan through the channels to see if there are others using a channel. This is a good feature to use when you want to find a free channel in a crowded area.

Priority Scan:
Priority scan allows you to scan a channel in the background, while still allowing you to communicate on your selected channel.

Incoming Call:
The incoming call will ring the radio, like a phone letting you know that someone wants to communicate on the channel. Some models have a silent mode for the incoming call that will vibrate the radio, like a pager. To use the vibrating feature the call must come from the same model of radio.

Confirmation Beep
This is sometimes called the Roger beep. This beep will let you know that the person is finished transmitting. This helps to prevent you from stepping on a transmission.

Accessories
Accessories range from battery packs to combination microphone headsets. We found that most of the accessories are useful, but the wind or activity can activate the voice activated (vox) accessories.

Ask yourself the following questions when you are about to purchase a FRS Radio. Does the radio have easy to use buttons? Will I be able to use the radio with gloves on when it is cold? How long will the batteries last? Which is more important size, features, or price?


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