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Your New (Used) GMRS Radio

This radio was purchased used. It was refurbished by an unpaid volunteer in the local neighborhood. The GMRS radio refurbishing is sponsored by the El Dorado Amateur Radio Club. Refurbished radios are sold only to members of Neighborhood Radio Watches (NRW).

The radio is sold to you at cost. There is no financial profit. It is impractical to offer any guarantees on these radios other than to say that they have been tested and performed to specifications when they were sold to you.

You must obtain an FCC license ($70) to obtain a call sign. You must use your call sign when using this radio. The license and call sign are good for 10 years for everyone in your family. There is no test for the license.

You need to practice using the radio on the local Neighborhood Radio Watch channel usually once a week in the evenings. During these practice sessions you will test the Paging alert channel and practice using correct procedure with the Net Controller and many of your neighbors.  Following is a description of what the buttons on your radio do:


On the Front

TK-380 Radio

S = Scan. Click for ON and click again for OFF to start and stop scanning.
A = Add to or from the Scan List. Press to remove a channel from scanning, press again to add it.
B = No Function
C = No Function


On the Side

Top button: No Function
Large, center button: PTT (Push to talk) Hold the button down to talk. You must let go of the button to listen.
Bottom button: Light - Push to turn on the light, push again to turn it off.


At the Top

Tall dial = Scroll Channels Rotate this dial to scroll through the channels.
Short dial = On/Off/Volume - Rotate to the right to turn the radio on and to raise the volume. Rotate to the left to lower the volume and turn off the radio.

Note: You may ask the person who programs your radio to enable, or disable the light and scanning buttons.


Selecting Channels

The Repeater Channel.  This channel is first in the list of channels and has the spelled out name of your community. This channel connects you with everyone in your radio net (and a little beyond).  Each community radio net has its own name, such as Oak Hill, Cosumnes R, Coloma/L, Pollock P,  etc.

When you use your neighborhood's repeater channel, your transmission is received by a much more powerful radio (a repeater station) on the highest ridge in your area. From there, it is rebroadcast so that you can reach everyone with their radio tuned to that channel and within range of the repeater station. The repeater makes your small radio into a much more powerful one. Usually, you will be leaving your radio tuned to your repeater station or scanning all the repeater stations.You should only use your repeater station for serious events, radio checking and for practice once a week at the direction of the Net Director. You should not use it for informal  conversations with your neighbors, unless those conversations have to do with safety issues of general interest to the community, such as power cut-offs, loss of telephone reception, information about a wild fire, etc.

Repeater channels are usually monitored by a “Net Controller.” When interacting on these channels, you should follow the direction of the Net Controller.  He or she will receive and direct all traffic.

The Alert Channel. At night, you may wish to tune your radio to the “Alert” channel and turn up the volume. You cannot talk on the Alert channel, only receive alerts (loud beeping),  If the alert is triggered by the Net Controller you will be awakened by very loud beeps that indicate the Net Controller has an important message. The beeping won’t stop until you get up and turn the radio to your local repeater channel to hear the message.

Some people prefer not to use the "Alert" channel but instead leave the radio tuned to the local repeater channel during the night. You will gradually learn the correct volume setting that will wake you when you hear the tones that are broadcast to turn on the alert. When you hear the tones you will not have to change channels to hear the message since you will already be on the repeater channel.

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The Other Repeater Channels. Down the list of channels are all or most of the other repeater channels. Each has its name spelled out. Follow the same radio etiquette when using these repeater channels as you follow when using your local repeater channel.

The Talk-Around Channel.  Your primary repeater channel is followed by a Talkaround channel. This channel allows you to talk on the same frequency as the repeater channel but without going through the repeater -- your transmission will not be broadcast widely across the entire neighborhood. Use the Talkaround channel to communicate with neighbors at normal power while keeping the repeater station free from unnecessary traffic and available for emergencies.

Extra Informal Channels. Following the list of repeater channels are some extra channels (GMRS 15 - 22). You can use those channels for home things, such as, when one of you is checking the circuit panel outside and the other is inside to see which lights go on and off.  In general, it is best to use these informal, lo-power channels when talking casually with family and friends.

What If My Hand-Held Can’t Reach the Repeater? Almost always, the 4-watts of power in your hand-held radio will provide plenty of range to reach the repeater. But if you live on property that is blocked from the repeater, you may need a more powerful radio. The EDCARC can provide a reconditioned, tested, used base station. — refurbished just like the hand-held radios, programmed for your area and sold at cost, they have from 15 to 40 watts of power, up to 10 times more than a standard hand-held radio. These “base station” radios cost from $150 to $300, depending on what items are required for your particular installation. You will need to mount a small antenna in your home, attic, on an eave, or on the roof, depending on your circumstances.

You can contact the same volunteers who provided you with a hand-held radio and, if it is necessary, exchange it for part of the cost on a base station.


Typical Base Station with One Style of House Antenna
Typical Base Station with House Antenna


Charging the Battery

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TK-380 Radio & Charger

Your TK-380 radio comes with a new power supply, charging cradle and battery — similar to those shown on the right. Please read the following paragraphs carefully before using the radio or its charger.

Maintaining battery performance

  • Do not expose a battery to very high or very low temperatures for extended periods of time. Doing so will shorten the service life of the battery.
    Very high: above 140°F (60°C)
    Very low: less than –22°F (–30°C)
  • Allow your NiMH battery to fully discharge once every 3 months.

Conditioning NiMH batteries

Fully charge a new battery before using it for the first time. Charging takes up to 14 hours and is most effective if completed without interruption.  For the first charge, place the battery in its charger with or without the radio attached. Leave it in the charger until the charger light turns green. Do not interrupt this first charge.

After charging, leave the radio switched on and ignore any 'low battery' warnings from the radio. When the radio switches itself off, the battery is fully discharged and ready for recharge. Conditioning the battery with a full, uninterrupted charge followed by a complete discharge every 3 months, helps the battery last longer.

When using your radio from day to day, it is OK to leave the radio in the charging cradle while the radio is turned on and monitoring the radio net. The charger will maintain the battery so that, if you need to take it with you somewhere, it is always fully charged.

It is always good to have a backup battery available that is kept fully charged.


Storing batteries

  • When not in use for a month or more, batteries should be stored correctly to prolong their life.• Remove the battery from the radio before storage.• Store the battery (in either a charged or discharged state) in a cool dry place.

* These excepts on charging a NiMH battery were taken from the “Battery Charging Guide” for the Tait TP9100 Radio. 

 Click this link to ask a question.