|General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radios address the problems of FRS. GMRS shares some frequencies with FRS, so you can talk to your friends with FRS radios, but they also have additional channels of their own that aren't FRS frequencies. The FCC has allocated GMRS frequencies for recreational use, not business. The GMRS radios are about ten times more powerful than the FRS radios are, so require a license to use legally. These licenses are easy to get, require no test and can be obtained by calling the FCC at 1-800-418-FORM and asking for form #574.
Cobra has introduced two new GMRS radios, the basic microTALK PR 1000 and the microTALK PR 2000WX, with 10 NOAA weather channels and Weather Alert for warning that dangerous weather conditions are approaching. Both models have the same performance when it comes to the transmit and receive sections.
We got our hands on two Cobra microTALK PR 2000WX radios and feverishly ripped open the annoying plastic display boxes. The radios use six AA batteries. AA's are easy to find, even at smaller stores in the backcountry. We would have found the instruction book to be complete and easy to understand, if we had read it. We wanted to see how easy the radios would be to use without coaching from such pesky sources like instruction books, so we immediately installed the batteries and powered up. We're happy to report that the PR 2000WX's controls are very intuitive and easy to understand, so, if you're like us, you can start using the radios right away, then, learn some of the more advanced features after perusing the instructions at your leisure.
We mentioned before that the FRS band is quite popular now, with lots of traffic that can impede communications. To combat this, Cobra includes the Continuous Tone Controlled Squelch System (CTCSS) in the PR 1000 and PR 2000WX. CTCSS is an advanced subcoding system that allows segmentation of the main channel. What this means to us is that once you've set your CTCSS code, only radios with the same channel and code setting can communicate with you and, conversely, you don't hear their chatter. For example, you choose any main channel on your PR 2000WX from 1 to 15, then, pick a CTCSS subchannel of 1 to 38. Now, only the people who have set the same channel/subchannel settings can talk to you. Someone else not in your group with a CTCSS-equipped radio (most manufacturers offer CTCSS these days) might have the same channel/subchannel setting and could hear you, but we found the chance of that was pretty remote with all the combinations available, unless you set an obvious combination, such as 7/07, 2/02, etc. On 7/38, we heard no one the whole time we were at Moab during the week they were holding the Easter Jeep Safari and everyone seemed to have some kind of FRS radio! It's easy to set the channel/subchannel, too, as we were able to do it without reading the instructions.