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TONE Drives & Radios

So this post is about what many other clubs, such as Jeep clubs that off-road, do all the time to stay in touch with each other during club activities…..use radios!
...and the reason for this post, is that on the May 20th Charge & Chat, we were showing off radios for our drive 2 weeks later.
....and a LOT of people had questions about it!
It really surprised me that people cared.
It is the reason for this post...

TLDR (Too Long Don’t Read)

Wanted to keep it simple for people who don’t want to get too geeky about radios.
You need a license to transmit.  See WAY down the post on these details….
You do not need a license to listen, which is what most of the club would be doing.
So you have a few budget focused choices….
Midland GTX1000 Handheld
Radioddity GM-30 (has USB-C charging capability, via USB-A to USB-C cable).
Retevis RB19P, (has USB-C charging capability, via USB-A to USB-C cable), but must be configured from a computer, which means you absolutely need the programming cable).
TIDRADIO TD-H5 (has USB-C charging capability, via USB-A to USB-C cable).
At a higher price point, but the Tesla of Handhelds (Mark Gabryjelski’s opinion), BTech GMRS-Pro, and yes, it also has UBC-C charging via USB-A to USB-C cable.

All are available on Amazon….

What are the differences?…

What are the differences?…the Midland is easy to use, has “about” enough power.
Radioddity & TIDRADIO has twice the power (to transmit), looks “complicated” with all its buttons, I would say is more complex to operate than the Midland, and has 3 buttons on the side where PTT (Push To Talk) button is located, which means you could hit the wrong button, and be out of communications with the rest of the group.

Retevis RB19P is a nice sleek radio.  It does need to be configured at a computer.
But, then for day to day operations, not much to break, simple to use.
Got >27 hours on standby (>96 if you leave battery saver feature on, but then you miss the first 2 seconds of a transmission).

Then, the BTech GMRS-Pro….you can program the buttons however you want to use them….all from your phone.
They are all compatible, but if you want to tweak them, there are different complexeties involved.
For our drives, there will be no need for complexities with either radio you would get.

The reason I started down this rabbit hole 2 years ago….

TONE went on the Hoosac Tunnel Drive in August 2021.
There was no cell reception where we went.
We also got detoured by State Police, and the group got broken up during that detour.
….as a result we were unable to communicate with everyone on the drive that day….
We got lucky….no flat tires, no one got lost.
For minimal cost/effort, we COULD have been in touch with each other on that drive if I had the foresight to recommend radios for some of these out of the way drives.
Plus it could be fun to listen to the lead car, mid car, and rear car discuss what’s happening during our drives!!!

So a friend of mine runs a Jeep Off-road club, and said “…just use radios like we do…”
So I started learning about radios.
Now, there are so many options that exist.

Child of the 70-80s?….you may remember CB Radios (Citizens Band Radios).
My memories come from the "Dukes of Hazzard".

Ever buy the $10-20 walkie-talkies for a family outing at an amusement park?
That’s FRS (Family Radio Service).
No license needed, but the drawback?….less power to transmit.
You are capped at .5 Watts of transmit power, which is VERY limited range (usually .25 miles).

Ever hear of HAM Radio?….
Those are the folks with giant antennas, a whole room full of gear (think about a 90s home theater system, and all the components required for a full surround sound system back then, but just gear for radio transmissions).
Tons of Options, Power, & Watts.
You will always be updating, upgrading, or adding new gear if you are into HAM.
Want to chat with people all over the world?  Then this HAM Radio thing is for you….
You need a license to use HAM Radios AND transmit to people.
….which requires a lot of studying and an exam.

Enter GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service).
Better (and newer tech) than CB (technology wise).
Way simpler than HAM Radio.
…none of the giant 6 foot antennas on your car required!!!
GMRS does require a license to transmit, buy you can listen all day long without a license.

I turned my focus to GMRS.
Again, I’ll try to keep focused, and I’ll include links at the end of the post for those that want to learn more.
GMRS Handhelds can transmit at 5 Watts (more Watts = further transmission distance).
GMRS Mobiles (think of the CB mounted on the cars dash), can transmit at 50 Watts!
Handhelds could get ~1 miles range (in practical use on our drives).
GMRS Mobiles could get ~5 miles range (in practical use on our drives).
Marketing materials say 50 miles, but that is only if you are atop Mt Washington, and those listening are within a line of sight to you….

So let's wrap this post up....

Want to get more details?
Reach out to Mark Gabryjelski, and get guidance on what you need to search for online to learn more.

Going to join TONE for drives in places that might not have cell reception?
Get yourself a radio to listen in on.

Want to be able to transmit and help the TONE during drives with a radio?
Get yourself a GMRS license AND a radio.
We'd be happy to make sure everyone is able to communicate during drives, and will appreciate the help.

There are so many choices, you will need to expore more on your own.
Want a simple way to listen during drives?
Get a HT (Handheld Transmitter), and just listen in.

Getting your GMRS License

The most useful link I had found about getting your GMRS License...

General Mobile Radio Service, or GMRS radios, are the solution for recreational communications.
GMRS is easy to use, allowing you to talk to any GMRS and FRS handheld radio on the market.
GMRS radios operate on specific UHF frequencies around 462 MHz and 467 MHz that are set aside by the FCC for general public use.
UHF excels in transmitting through wooded environments, around town, or in any situation where there are obstructions when compared to other frequency ranges like VHF.
GMRS is popular for overland, Jeep, camping, outdoor/adventure, and general recreational uses.


A valid FCC license is necessary to legally operate a GMRS radio.
Thankfully, there are no tests required to obtain a GMRS license, they are valid for 10 years, and they cover your immediate family!
GMRS license costs ONLY $35 as of April 19, 2022.


Follow the simple steps below and you'll be on your way to being licensed and chatting with your friends and family on your next adventure!
I (meaning Mark Gabryjelski) validated these instructions below are accurate on May 21, 2023.


Go to the FCC website:
Click "Register"
Answer two "Yes/No" questions
Fill out the FRN Registration Form


Go to the FCC website:
Click "Update"
Log in ith your FRN and password
Confirm that all of your information is up-to-date

Go to the FCC website:
Click "Search"
Select your preferred search criteria (FRN, business name, last name, or EIN) from the drop down list
Fill in the criteria and press "search" — Advanced Search is available as a great tool to refine your search if needed
Once you have your FRN, follow the directions above!

Write down the FRN at the top of your screen and be sure to print/save the page for your records — you'll want to know your FRN!


Go to the FCC website:
Log in with your FRN and password
Click "Apply for a New License" in the left hand column
Select "ZA - General Mobile Radio (GMRS)" from the drop down list — it's all the way at the bottom!
Answer three "Yes/No" questions
Fill out your Licensee name and address
Answer one "Yes/No" question
Confirm your information and press "Continue to Certify"
Sign your certification and press "Submit Application"
Continue for payment options
Log into your FCC account with your FRN and password
Press "Make Payment" and choose from the given payment options: pay from bank account, pay by credit or debit card, pay by wire transfer, or pay by check/money order


You have completed your application and your payment is being processed.Once your GMRS license is granted (typically within 1-5 days), the FCC will send you an email and you'll be ready to chat with your friends on your GMRS radios!

Learning more about GMRS

Radios are all well and good, but without an antenna, you can not transmit or listen.
A million $ radio is worthless without an antenna.
Want to get geeky?....learn about antennas.

Antennas are the primary thing you need to make a radio work.
Mark Gabryjelski uses this Laird Technologies 450-470 antenna with his Midland MXT275 (and/or a Retevis ra86) during drives in his Tesla, and gets a superb 1.01:1 SWR with it (SWR is even geekier, as it measures the efficiency of the antennas).

Midland USA
Mark Gabryjelski's opinion?  ...good enough gear.
If you are focusing on HT (Handheld Transmitters), their GTX1000 is good enough for casual use.

Mark Gabryjelski's opinion?  ...great radio, just a bit more complex in appearance and casual operation.
If you are focusing on the HT (Handheld Transmitters), their GM-30 is good enough for casual & geeky use.

Mark Gabryjelski got these radios in summer of 2023.
Happy I did.   The RA86 from Retevis is nice, but no different from the Midland other than Wideband vs Narrowband (more geeky stuff to start reading into).
Got a few extra RB19P’s (which are 3 watt GMRS) to hand out to folks just wanting to listen in.
Great radios.  Simple to operate.  Downside?….any programming requires using the computer.
ANY programming, as out of the factory, they are not set up to work with other radios.
They use Industry Standard CHIRP software (open souce) to program…..meaning you need to set them up for your use case, before the day of the event.

Addded June 23, 2023
BTech GMRS-Pro
Mark Gabryjelski’s opinion?  My new favorite handheld.
Been using it for a few months, and love it.
Different price point though, but if you have some disposable income, this might be for you!

Want more info, or direction so you can learn more?
Reach out to Mark Gabryjelski.
He primarily uses Twitter 
If you don't use twitter, don't worry....other club members can put you in touch with him to discuss stuff in more detail.

Don't forget the Phonetic Alphabet....

You know....the thing you see in movies (or learn in the service)....
When someone spells "Hello" on the radio as:
that is proper radio etiquette....
....why are these words used?  read the link above.

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