February 14, 2023
Midland Radio caught up with its partner, Riley Slivka after he tested out the new GMRS Repeater on his family's farm in Montana.
Learn more about how he leveled up GMRS two-way radio communication.
Riley Slivka is a third generation farmer on his family's farm, Slivka AG. However, his extended family has been farming beyond this farm for several generations.
“This particular farming operation was started by my grandpa. He is actually still out there today. When my brother and I are out there helping there are three generations on the farm," he said.
Located in Winifred, Montana, Slivka AG grows wheat, barley, and pulse crops like dry peas; lentils; and canola. Riley Slivka's parents also run the cattle side of the farm with about 150-200 Black Angus Cows.
The farm in Central Montana is located in the Missouri River Breaks area amid a landscape that Slivka describes as a beautiful country landscape.
"It’s almost like inside-out mountains with rivers that carved out canyons. We graze some pasture in that area and some of the farm goes right up next to these 1,000 foot cliffs. It’s just so awesome out there, the beautiful country. It’s just a blessing to be able to farm out in that sort of stuff.”
While Riley Slivka appreciates his time on the farm, he doesn't work there full-time. His full-time job is his agriculture video business, AgriStudios.
Slivka founded the business several years ago after purchasing his first drone in 2015.
“We were harvesting out there in the Missouri River Breaks. Nobody ever really gets to see what the views are like especially from the air or what it looks like when you have a combine up against those 1,000 foot cliffs. It’s absolutely breathtaking scenery."
He posted a video to Youtube and several potential clients reached out.
AgriStudios provides agriculture-focused clients with solutions in marketing, promotion, education, and video.
Slivka tested out Midland Radio's new MXR10VP GMRS Repeater Bundle. The bundle includes everything needed to extend GMRS two-way radio communication.
IN THE MXR10VP BOX
Throughout Slivka's test of Midland Radio's GMRS Repeater, he kept the device mobile as he determined the best spot for a permanent installation.
“The box literally includes a 12 volt car adapter so I thought why not throw it in a vehicle and then you’ve got something that’s easy to move to test different areas."
The mobility allowed him to take a look at different areas of the farm and determine the best location for a hard installation.
“The easy option and where I’ll probably end up putting it is, we have an old TV antenna pole from 20 years ago at the end of my parent’s house which is up on a higher hill so it’s probably going to go there. It’s up high, there’s easy access to power, and really everything you need to have for a repeater.”
“I sent my brother by road about 12 miles away, by line of sight, it was a little bit less. He was dealing with some obstacles and was south of the town of Winifred. I went about 10-12 miles out and down about 1,000 feet into a canyon basically where the Missouri River is at. That’s a major line of sight obstruction, but I could still communicate with that repeater. That was probably about 12-14 miles out and 1,000 feet down. It was super cool," Slivka said.
Because there has been significant snow on the ground near their farm in Montana, Slivka said he hasn't been able to do a full on range test for the repeater. However, he's confident it will perform.
“It’s definitely going to drastically improve range because you’re basically adding a relay point from Person 1 to Person 2. It’s going to make a significant difference.”
In Slivka's opinion the decision to purchase a repeater doesn't just come down to range.
“Terrain is a big factor when somebody decides if a repeater is needed. Distance is a component, but terrain I’d definitely say is another big component. When one person wants to be in a low spot and another person wants to be in a high spot, the repeater can bridge that gap.”
That's especially helpful for Slivka and his family as they work in the mountainous Montana.
He also sees the repeater as an essential tool in communicating with grain trucks down the road.
"That’s about a 60 mile haul for us one way to haul our grain to the elevator. The repeater wouldn’t necessarily serve that whole distance because of some geographical limitations with mountains in between the elevator and farm yard. Being able to talk to trucks when they’re still miles and miles out is definitely a handy thing to do especially when there is limited cell service.”
While his family doesn't own or lease land in addition to their main farmstead, he does see how the repeater could be useful for other operations that might.
“Let’s say that in your immediate farm area you already have pretty good coverage with your MicroMobiles, but maybe you pick up a lease that is quite a bit north of your main farm yard. I’m talking 20 miles north. You can find a way to get a repeater on maybe your grain leg or somewhere in between, then you just connected your north farm to your main farm. You’re increasing your distance area. The communication potential for talking to equipment that’s not in the same field drastically increases with the use of a repeater.”
One of Slivka's favorite qualities of Midland Radio products is the ease of use. The new repeater was no exception.
“The repeater is so easy to get up and running. It’s probably easier to install this than to install a mobile radio in your vehicle and that isn’t even hard either!”
He recommends the repeater bundle as it has the necessary tools to reach maximum range.
“With the repeater bundle, all the electronics are in one box. All you need to do is run power to the box and coax to your antenna. You basically just “C” Clamp it to usually a pole. You just have to set the box near a power outlet and turn it on.”
However, as Slivka points out, there is a way to further customize the settings on the Midland repeater.
“If you want to get more advanced with it, you just have to grab a Windows laptop, grab the free software for the repeater, and then you can go in if you want to set up privacy tones, wide versus narrow band, any of those more advanced settings.”
Using the software to dive into the deeper features is something he found incredibly user friendly.
Based on that and it's cost, Slivka says the repeater is a no brainer when it comes to improving efficiency through communication on a farm.
“This Midland repeater has an affordable price tag. All things considered, this is a really easy cost of entry to drastically to improve range capabilities of two-way radios on a farm. Overall, that really just improves reliability of communication.”