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Garmin To Marry GPS with FRS/GMRS 81

zornorph writes "Garmin is set to come out with the Garmin RINO in June, which integrates FRS and GMRS radio with a GPS unit, which will give it up to a 5 mile range of communication. Garmin has a unique twist though, to quote their site: "What really separates the Rino from the rest of the FRS herd is the ability to "beam" your exact location to another Rino user within a two-mile range using the FRS spectrum." However, there are concerns about the implementation of this "beaming", as it causes interference with GMRS users."
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Garmin To Marry GPS with FRS/GMRS

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  • FCC No no (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Generally its not a good idea for a company to screw wtih the FCC's carefully regulated spectrum. I'd image Garmin would get in a lot of trouble if they interfered with any other band. But, because Garmin is a large company with lots of influence and most of the GMRS users are small potatoes by comparison I doubt the FCC will do anything other than urge them to be more careful about staying withing their bands.
    • The people complaining are running repeaters which itself seems like an abuse of GMRS.


    • Re:FCC No no (Score:2, Informative)

      by Dun Malg ( 230075 )
      Actually, Garmin has petitioned the FCC to be allowed to do this. A company ignores the FCC at great peril, since if they try to sell non-FCC approved transmitters, the feds will walk in and seize everything. Besides, it's quite easy to lobby for an amendment to the rules. All it takes is time and money.
  • This looks good. They have clearly thought and researched the functionality well. Silent vibrate alert and long battery life are the kind of useability features that I associate with more mature products, and not a "first official model".

    I will add the Garmin RINO to my list of iPod, mobile phone, pager, PDA, car keys, smokes, and wallet, that I have to remember when I leave my cube. Can anyone spare a pocket?

    • by zeth ( 452280 )
      It should not be too dificult to make a single unit of the mobile phone, PDA and maybe wallet. The keys can be replaced with eletronic transmitters or something. Just an idea..

      The smokes however could be quite difficult to integrate with the rest :)
    • Sure, here's a few pockets [scottevest.com]. If you get one I wanna know if its full of shit.
  • And it's called APRS/Packet radio.

    Which also can allow for messages and weather data.

    And the associated packet TNCs can allow for low speed data, as one poster asked for.

  • the location beaming seams slightly gimmiky. you could just as soon tell the person where you are(it is a radio after all.)
    • Well, I have to disagree with you there. Sure, for a "normal" person this is probably not very useful, but for me as a military guard this could be most helpful if I act as the onsite chief.

      It would be extrmely valuable to know where everyone of your task-team are located.
    • you could just as soon tell the person where you are

      First, I wanted to reply "not if you don't know where you are." The first scenario I envisioned was of inexperienced hikers getting separated.

      Hiker1: "Help! I fell and I twisted my ankle real bad!"
      Hiker2: "Where are you? I can't hear you!"
      Hiker1: "I see.. trees! Not just a few trees, but a LOT of trees! Oh, and there's some water way off through the trees!"

      Now Hiker1 can xmit their position to their partner. And if their partner doesn't know NSEW, they can at least start to walk in circles and see how their movement affects their position reading.

      But second, I wanted to see if anyone remembered a supergeek who built a pair of high tech boats and jackets that communicated position information over APRS. Each boat would show its passenger the distance and direction to the other boat. And while the boaters were on land, they could use an HT to xmit DTMF tones back to the boat. One command instructed the boat the calculate the distance and direction to the other boater (walking or not) and use voice synthesis to reply with the distance and direction details. I think when last I read about him (years ago) he was building the same functionality into bicycles.

      My point being that distance and direction would have been a nice feature instead of or in addition to raw lat/long data.
      • Did anyone remember these have integrated GPS? The sender can just look on his display and give the location over the radio.

        Where this item comes in real handy is in the case where the other party cannot respond. As in a fall/loss of conciousness/serious injury. You can simply home in on the other radio. Quite useful for camping or skiing emergencies.

      • that supergeek is Steve Roberts of the microship [microship.com] project. I've spent many an hour at his site reading progress reports and drooling. I've submitted a bunch of stories to slashdot but they always get rejected. Check out the monster system organizational chart for one of the boats, it is SO COOL!

        The bicycle thing was his old project.

    • You ever been on a ski-slope?

      Everybody that has a radio is constantly asking "Where are you?".

      This way, you'd know without cluttering the channel.
    • for Lojack type applications. Stuff one inside the dash or in a fender and connect to be powered by cars electrical system in case the battery runs down. If your car gets stolen you can track it down. In Lojack systems, only the police have access to this info and will deal with it "when they get around to it." Also makes it easy to tail a spouse susspected of cheating or making sure that if they kids borrow the car, they really are just going to the library.
      • Not to dog your idea but I think the GPS antenna sticking out would be rather obvious. I have no idea how Lojack works, but I doubt it uses GPS, otherwise it would be too easy to locate and disable.


        • I have no idea how Lojack works, but I doubt it uses GPS

          You're right it doesn't use GPS. It just broadcasts its serial number as data when activated. The controllers in the police cars use direction finding to show direction and signal strength, as well as the serial number of the unit it is receiving. The police cars equipped for tracking LoJack can be easily spotted with the four 6-inch antennas arranged in a square on the roof behind the light rack. By comparing the signal strength at each antenna, the controller in the car can determine what direction the signal is coming from.

          I used to monitor LoJack's xmit freq in my car until the time I was sitting at a red light near Elizabeth, NJ when, as best I could tell, a car emitting a LoJack signal pulled up alongside, full of ne'er-do-wells. I've never listened since. :)
    • This insightful comment could only have been said by someone who has never used an FRS radio in a busy area. It especially sucks on a ski slope. It's hard enough to tell everyone to meet at 11:30 much less 10 digits worth of coordinates. Smart people would realize that they won't be very far apart and can thus leave off the degrees portion, probably more.


  • I think these would be far more versatile devices if instead of looking like a rhino horn, they implemented a bottle-opener.
  • by markj02 ( 544487 ) on Monday March 04, 2002 @08:52AM (#3104838)
    They claim a patent on this, yet another one of those bogus patents. Radio amateurs have been "beaming" around GPS positions and even tracking them on portable computers (on channels where data transmissions are permitted) for many years.

    As for "interference", well, it's not radio interference people are talking about, it's the use of channels for data that were designated for voice services. I mean, why stop at transmitting 100bytes or so? If this use is permitted, why not run a wireless modem over it?

    Altogether, both the patent and the abuse of voice spectrum for data services reflect poorly on Garmin.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Now what IS scary 'bout the Patent pending is their own page...

      they claim it were an life-saving feature ... and in the same textbox want to patent it [so that only they can provide this life saving feature? naaa.]
  • Just what the parents need! an electric leash for the children! Imagine.. you're at disneyland and your parents tell you.. "Ok honey.. we're going to go relax.. here you go.. keep in touch with us" and then every 5 minutes they tell the kid to beam their location PRONTO to them.. so they know EXACTLY how far their scrawny ass is!

    "Hey! Get away from that ride! you're too short for that ride!"
    • My wife is almost ready to drop huge amounts of money on a set of these for the family. "Popular Science" had a "What's New" blurb on them this month. That write-up made it sound like the units could be set to spontaneously transmit their positions periodically, and that they could draw a map of the other units' current positions relative to each other and to any other waypoints that have been set.

      The appealing part of this is that we go camping once in a while, and have had the kids get "lost" (ie., out of sight) more than once. Nothing's worse than your wife going nuts because the 3yo has wandered off... If the kid's position can be plotted without the kid having to do anything, we're there! (ESPECIALLY if the radios come in a ruggedized version, maybe without the screen for the kids' units.)

      While the integrated GPS may have been done before by HAMs, this is the first "for the masses" product that has done this. I still wonder how they're going to get around the data-over-FRS restrictions, though.

  • The Rhino is a very interesting new product, but it's certainly not unique. Check out this recently introduced product [audiovox.com] from Audiovox.

    Another thing worth considering is that these radios are only available in the United States. They are GMRS radios (not FRS) and owners need to have a GMRS license from the FCC (cost $70).


  • by aberson ( 461047 ) on Monday March 04, 2002 @09:05AM (#3104869) Homepage
    When I saw this radio first announced a few months ago I couldn't figure out how they'd get FCC approval - transmitting data via FRS IS illegal already, unless they can argue that it is a "tone to make contact" with another user. See this section of this FRS FAQ [provide.net] which references some law that i'm too lazy to look up

    "I rule. -aron"

  • Garmin is set to come out with the Garmin RINO in June, which integrates FRS and GMRS radio with a GPS unit, which will give it up to a 5 mile range of communication.

    Okay, I guess this makes me a bad nerd, but I have no clue what FRS or GMRS are. I'm cool on GPS though. Anybody care to explain? And in the future, can you please expand the acronyms in submitted stories, or at least link to explanations? As it is, I don't have the faintest idea why it's newsworthy for Garmin to combine GPS and FMRS or what that enables one to do.
    • FRS stands for Family Radio Service and GMRS for General Mobile Radio Service. They are intended for casual users who don't want to go throught the trouble of getting a Ham Radio license. You can use FRS radios without any sort of license, and GMRS with a no-test, send-them-$20 license from the FCC.
      • Family Radio Service and General Mobile Radio Service share the first 7 channels. Channel 8 on FRS is not the same channel as GMRS channle 8. One of the GMRS channels is designatated as an emergency channel (Ch 10 I think.. don't slam me if I'm wrong here.) FRS radios are very limited in power and have a typical range of up to 2 miles with a maximum half watt power with a self contained antenna. (No roof or tower antennas permitted) GMRS radios use more power for up to 5 mile range and they can use a repeater which FRS may not.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Monday March 04, 2002 @09:29AM (#3104937) Homepage Journal
    Those who do not study Amateur radio are doomed to reinvent it.

    We've had this "location beaming" capability for some time - it's called [tapr.org]
    APRS (Automatic Position Reporting System).

    We've also had interference problems, a**holes on the bands, and repeaters causing interference. That's why we have licenses and are held accountable by the FCC - so that if somebody starts doing this, they get hit with a $8000 fine.

    Just look at Children's Band (CB) - one big heterodyne squeal from end to end. Why did this happen? Because the FCC allowed anybody to use CB without a license, and stopped enforcing the law there. Now Chicken Band is like reading at -1.

    If they want to stop this, the FCC needs to enforce the law. Go after anybody causing interference, require radio manufacturers to show their nifty new features don't cause harm, etc.

    Otherwise, FRS will be CB at a higher frequency.

    (And personally, I'm glad there's a place for these morons to play that isn't where I am trying to communicate.)

    (Of course, many BPOFs (brass pounding old farts) will say the same about me, since I am a DSNCT (dirty stinking no-code tech).)
    • ... its existing laws about regulated frequencies, and when it does, it does so selectively. I have a friend who lives in a huge planned housing development with acre-sized lots. Dave's neighbor runs a ham-style system with a huge antenna, and spends hours a day chatting with remote buddies. The interference from the system wreaks havoc on the entire neighborhood telephone, cable, and broadcast systems. Landline (even corded, not to mention cordless) telephones frequently are unusuable because of the interference. But despite repeated calls to the FCC from Dave and many of his neighbors, nothing is ever done. (Seems like a good use for some SEMTEX or a hand grenade.)

      The point is, the FCC may have pretty strict laws about interference. And it may spent lots of bucks and time on Big Industry. But in my experience, the FCC has no interest in enforcing the laws for Mr. Small Guy - that is, unless Mr. Small Guy does something that gets Big Industry mad.
      • It is highly likely that this is due not to the Ham, but to cheaply made consumer equipment. Most modern televisions, radios, stereos, etc. are not properly shielded against interference.
        For example, I heavily filter my Ham station with a low pass filter directly at the antenna feed point. I have also installed high pass filters on the antenna inputs of all the Televisions in my house. I've verified with a spectrum analyzer that the station does not emit any spurs or harmonics above 30 Mhz. Despite this, I still have one television that gets interference when I am transmitting.
        If the television interference is determined to actually be coming in on the cable, then you should contact the cable company. They probably have technical problems in their system.
        Your friend should contact the Ham directly (if they have not done so already) and ask him if he can recommend any filtering devices for their equipment. If he is like most hams, he will be glad to help.
        They should also contact the manufacturer and get their recommendations.
        One furthur note: Due to poor manufacturing quality and design, most Consumer goods are provided almost no protection against interference by the FCC.
      • I don't know the specific's of Dave's situation, but in many cases the amateur radio operator is operating with the FCC regulations. Consumer devices are not protected from harmful interference from other devices and most consumer radio products have a sticker right on them that say so. Problem is most consumers buy poorly designed products and then hold the ham responsibilty for interference when it's really the manufacturer of their device who's at fault. But it's easier to put pressure on 'the radio nut' down the street rather than complain to the manufacturer of the poorly shielded product that already cost them $250.

        As for cable, if the amatueur radio operator is getting into CATV, that means CATV is leaking and possibly interfering with other radio systems like public safety two-way and aircraft radio systems. The cable company should clean up their system or risk running afoul of the FCC. A properly operated CATV system will not suffer ingress from an amateur radio operator.

        Telephone interference is in the same vein; if the ham's signal is getting into the phone network (as opposed to the neighbors' $9.95 phones) the telephone company is responsible for cleaning their plant up. However, chances are that the telephones themselves (even wireline) aren't properly shielded ...

        Broadcast interference *may* be the responsibility of the ham to clean up, but again without knowing the specifics, it's hard to tell. Part of the problem may be that the ham is using ungodly amount of power when low power would do. Maybe if the ham turned down the power things would get cleaned up. Who knows? Has anyone tried working with the guy instead of just trying to make him go away?

        A lot of folks would rather not work with the ham to understand what interference modes are present. Chances are they complain about interference but really have a problem with the huge monstrosity of an antenna in the back yard. It's not uncommon for neighbors of a ham with one of these huge antennas to be suffering all sorts of interference problems even when the ham is not operating. There are two sides to every story.


      • Sounds to me that Dave's equipment may well be working properly, and the other equipment isn't.

        I used to sit next to a radio ham; he related how whenever anyone complained he would hand them a complaint form, they would send it off to the regulatory authority and the authority would investigate and they would deal with it- they would stick a non compliance sticker on the complainers equipment! That equipment is not SUPPOSED to be sensitive to Ham frequencies; it's a defect!

        He also related how he was able to reboot somebodies computer remotely(!); and how their computer was radiating like a mad/bad thing all across the Ham bands. In the end he voluntarily shielded their computer and everyone was happier.
      • ... runs a ham-style system with a huge antenna, and spends hours a day chatting with remote buddies. The interference from the system wreaks havoc on the entire neighborhood telephone, cable, and broadcast systems. ... But despite repeated calls to the FCC from Dave and many of his neighbors, nothing is ever done.
        Do you (or this Dave) know for a fact that this guy is
        1. a ham; and
        2. is operating outside the assigned limits for amateur radio?

        The interference could be coming from that new cell tower or that police station or...

        Also, most consumer electronic gadgets are pieces of crap when it comes to selectivity and resistance to interference from signals outside their band.

    • And in the future we'll be know as Bit Pushing Old Farts.

  • I live in Canada and heard about these a month ago. According to my favorite retailer [gpscentral.ca], the Rino isn't approved for Canada yet. I looked into things in a little more detail [gmrsweb.com] and also discovered that travelling worldwide with GMRS equipment is of dubious legality outside the US.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    GMRS use requires an FCC license (~$75 for 5 years, last time I checked). Manufacturers and retailers of low-end GMRS radios often conveniently neglect to mention that fact. See: http://wireless.fcc.gov/prs/genmbl.html
  • Quoted from:

    "All GMRS licensees must cooperate in the selection and use of the assigned frequencies. For more than two decades the FCC has cautioned commercial and industrial GMRS licensees that they must cooperate with personal/family users. The FCC further advised these entities that if they did not wish to cooperate with personal licensees, they should instead relicense for one of the other private land mobile radio services. (The PRSG can provide you with a copy of this important 1977 FCC Public Notice.)

    The GMRS is not "the other business radio service," the FCC emphasized in adopting new GMRS rules effective in 1989."
  • Does his wife know? And isn't polygamy illegal anyways?
  • The Rino 120 looks great as it has the capacity to store uploaded maps from CD-rom. I do this with the Garmin 3+ and it is extremely handy when travelling, however I am disappointed that Garmin haven't provided more than 8meg of storage. On a recent trek I wanted to load all of South America and Cuba into the Garmin 3+ (which also has 8meg) only to find that it wouldn't all fit, so I ended up dropping three our four contries. This lead to some hassles along the way.

    (Note to Garmin: There's no point providing detailed city and topographical maps for countries like Cuba that confiscate GPS's at the border, then, because you have a GPS with detailed local maps, search all of your gear and interrogate you.)

    In terms of the exchange of positional information (I see this as being somewhat akin to the peerpeer aspects of Bluetooth) this is an awesome feature, particularly if you're four days into a hike in the Andes, the weather is closing in and you're wondering where the hell your girlfriend is.
  • Congratulations to the lucky couple! I also hope this proves to be a boon to both Open Source and Free Software.

    (..must learn to read /. headlines a little s.l.o.w.e.r..)

  • Something like this occurred to me a few weeks ago. I was linking with up group of friends in an unfamiliar city, several of us where coming in from out of town, in a few different modes of transit. We started this round robin type of calling to try and find both each other and the place where we were going to finally end up that night. After about the fifth call from someone asking if I new a landmark which I didn't, or if I could give better direction to a landmark I did, it occurred to me that if we could transmit our locations to each other and pinpoint the final destination location this exercise would be much quicker and less confusing.

    We have GPS to tell us locations; we have networks like GSM/GPRS to transmit voice and data, It doesn't seem like that great a step to build cell phone like devices that would allow both voice and location data to be sent our to other users. Even if it's not a map overly, just being able to tell distance and direction to a point would be helpful.

    Of course releasing your location over GSM/GPRS would be at the users discretion.
  • Wasn't this the plot of that recent movie about the three really hot girls who work for Bill Murray, or Murray's wealthy sugar daddy?

    No, really...wasn't this sort of thing the central plot point?

  • man...how do posts like these get in? This was announced months ago...just because someone get's a mail with the details?
    come on /. get your act together.

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