FRS RADIO CAN BE A HOBBY: If you are here you probably know all about FRS Radio and are looking for more info. You want to "get out" further. You are looking for mods. I will simply tell you a few tricks I know and then you can apply this to your already exsisting knowledge. A quick 3 facts.
1: Ninety-Nine Percent of FRS radios have a non removable antenna. FRS radios are required by law to have a non removable antenna. Everybody wants to put an external antenna on their radio to get greater range. Great idea. The problem is FRS radio is on UHF. Antenna feed lines and connections are super critical on UHF and higher. You could take the antenna off and solder coax and run it to an antenna outside. Problem is you will lose over half of your signal and transmit output by doing so. That is unless you use expensive low loss cable at very short runs. After $150 plus antenna and coax you may find the stock antenna performs better.
2: With FRS, the greater percentage of a radios performance is determined by it's quality and construction. Meaning simply the more expensive radios work better. I have tested a few of them before I shelled out over 60 bucks for a pair. Light years difference. This factor alone is more important to perfomance than anything else. My first test of a more expensive unit impressed me. I was hearing my friends talking from inside a metal lined cooler in a grocery store a mile away. They were using the other radio that belonged to the pair. Transmit and receive audio is better on the more expensive units. By more expensive I mean over $50 per pair without chargers.
3: When you purchase an FRS/GMRS Radio notice they say "5 mile range" "10 mile range" and "26 Miles Range!" for example. This is an unclear identifier to the power output of the unit. ALL frs only radios are limited to half a watt by law. The thing is most of these radios have both GMRS and FRS in them. Channels 1-7 of FRS and GMRS are both shared by each other. If you get a full 5 Watt GMRS/FRS radio, it is going to have a full 5 watts of power on the first 7 channels. This is your power advantage. Channels 8-14 are FRS only and have half of a watt output only on all FRS/GMRS radios by default. Channels 15-22 are GMRS only and require licensed operation. The radios that claim to be in the 20+ mile range are usually the 5 watt models. The 15 mile models are usually 2 watts. The 5-10 mile models .5-1 watt. Five is the legal limit for FRS/GMRS radios.
These are the 3 most important mods when it comes to FRS Radio. This is not like other radio services where bigger outdoor antennas would help you. Efficiency is a high factor. You must also remember to stay off the GMRS channels(15-22) unless you are properly licensed. It may seem like just a walkie talkie but some people take this very serious.
FRS RADIO MODS:
ANTENNA: Now if I was going to try to modify an frs radio for an external outdoor antenna: I would build a "Collinear Antenna". I would then be forced to run super expensive coaxial cable to this antenna. Like LMR600 or better. Not even rg-213 will work if run over 40 feet. I would then open the FRS Radio and unsolder the exsisting antenna. I would then solder the center wire of the coax where the stubby copper antenna was. I would then find a real good solid ground connection on the innards of the radio near the coax connection I just made. Solder the braid of the coax to that ground. Make sure it's a good ground by using a continuity meter and checking it has solid continuity where the ground of one of the batteries go. Everything would have to be perfect in this process or don't bother. Most users could stand to improve just by getting a higher quality radio. i.e. Motorola or Midland 5 watt models.
Powering a FRS GMRS from home: This is a tough one. Powering these radios from a home wall powerpack causes a hum when you transmit. And since they use 6 volts you can't exactly use the old regulated 12V power supply most used for citezens band radio. If you leave the radio in the charger bay while tranmitting with the batteries in, the hum is reduced but still there. The power is dirty and unregulated. The way I have fixed this problem is by plugging a "DC to DC Converter into the FRS radio. These converters are used in cars to allow you to plug one end into the ciggerette lighter and then plug in your 1.5-9V accessories into it.
IMPORTANT: Notice how the product above has 2000 milliamps. It has 2 AMPS. Meaning some "300-500mAh"(half an amp) model of this same style of converter will not work for a 5 watt radio. Two full amps(2000ma) should power one of the high power models nicely. A local automotive store should have a car ciggerette lighter plug you can wire to your 12 volt regulated supply. Now you have cleanly regulated 6 volts to power your FRS radio at home cleanly. Clean regulated power is very important with any radio that broadcasts. If you don't get enough current or your power is not properly regulated it makes your overall signal dirty. This is a big no no at these frequencies. You wouldn't want to cause interference to other services because the wal wart power supply you were using was causing your radio to grind out some horrible signals outside of the FRS radio range. You can also add nice clean regulated power to the list of "Radio Mods" above as it is equally as important.
462.5625 Ch. 1 FRS Family Radio Service
462.5875 Ch. 2 FRS Family Radio Service
462.6125 Ch. 3 FRS Family Radio Service
462.6375 Ch. 4 FRS Family Radio Service
462.6625 Ch. 5 FRS Family Radio Service
462.6875 Ch. 6 FRS Family Radio Service
462.7125 Ch. 7 FRS Family Radio Service
467.5625 Ch. 8 FRS Family Radio Service
467.5875 Ch. 9 FRS Family Radio Service
467.6125 Ch. 10 FRS Family Radio Service
467.6375 Ch. 11 FRS Family Radio Service
467.6625 Ch. 12 FRS Family Radio Service
467.6875 Ch. 13 FRS Family Radio Service
467.7125 Ch. 14 FRS Family Radio Service
Ch. 15+ GMRS Licensed ONLY
HOW DO I GET A GMRS LICENSE ?
Operation of a GMRS system requires an FCC license grant. The FCC usually grants GMRS system licenses for a five-year term. You can renew your license 90 days prior to its expiration date of that license.