On trail comms; Why and how survey

#16
Oh, one more thing: why are you asking about Part 90? That's business radio and not allow for personal use. Part 97 is for the Amateur Radio Service (ham).

Maybe I answered my own question: if you're talking about using Part 90 certified radios on ham frequencies, that would be ok. If you're talking about using Part 90 radios on business bands for personal use, not ok. Or maybe you were just confused on parts... it's a lot of numbers...
 
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#17
Oh, one more thing: why are you asking about Part 90? That's business radio and not allow for personal use. Part 97 is for the Amateur Radio Service (ham).

Or maybe you were just confused on parts... it's a lot of numbers...
Yes, that is the answer. I misunderstood something I read in my research. Thanks for getting the correct info in front of me.

Also, thanks for clearly and concisely answering my question about the possibility of a legal multi-service radio. Which brings this thread back to my initial intent, how many people use each of the applicable radio services in the overland travel world? I only want one unit, plus a handheld , maybe.

GMRS seems better than C.B. in every way except number of users. It is also cheaper and less confusing to get into than Ham, but again, fewer users. So, how many GMRS users are out there? That is one thing I'd like to figure out.

Many thanks.
 

HenryJ

Expedition Leader
#18
Why you initially bought it
Vehicle to vehicle, hiking person to person and emergency services contact. Having the mobile radio , my navigator (wife) allowed us to travel further and still maintain her level of comfort :)
What type of radio you chose
Hand held FRS, dual band portable, dual band mobile.
How you actually use it now
The handheld FRS stay at home and have not been used in years now. The dual band portables get used for hiking and the truck can be set to crossband repeat when added range is needed. VHF on the portable radios used nearly daily. Everyone licensed in my family. Son was 10 years old when he got his. I use a portable VHF daily (firefighter/Hazmat/EMT) all have my 4WD amateur radio frequencies programmed for contacts if needed.

One thing not mentioned that we really enjoy is APRS tracking. We have MicroTrak RTG in two of our vehicles. Ignition active we can look back using our callsign and date to veiw our travels mapped going back years now. Nice to have a "free" tracking service that we do not need to worry about.
 
#19
Okay, I'll be that guy: what he's talking about doing is in no way shape or form legal or right. FRS and GMRS radios must be type certified, as you've alluded to. The TYT-TH9800 is absolutely not Part 95 certified. Here's the radio's certification on the FCC website. It is only Part 15B certified (technically not a type certification, since ham equipment doesn't have to be... Nearly every electronics device sold inside the United States radiates unintentional emissions, and must be reviewed to comply with Part 15 before it can be advertised or sold in the US market). There are exactly 0 ham radios that are type certified for FRS because the type requires a non-removable antenna. While FRS is available to anyone, the GMRS license is restricted to immediate family, not some rando in your group.

I'm not gonna soap box too much here, but this is the kind of arrogant, "I know what I'm doing, so it's okay," thinking creates the kind of confusion and slippery slope I absolutely can't stand. Yes, many of the new, cheap, Chinese radios like TYT, Baofeng and others can transmit on frequencies for services they aren't supposed to use. That doesn't make it okay. Not to mention crossbanding FRS to ham bands and visa-versa. That's just wrong on so many levels.
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No worries, I expected a bit of a tongue lashing here as it is more than fair. Just as a note, I am very careful about what I do communication wise and do my level best to meet the intent of the FCC regulations while not always following them to the letter. Have you ever exceeded the speed limit? If so, your "moral high ground" is crumbling. The highway speed limits are laws in the same way that FCC regulations are laws. The FCC authorizes non licensed transmission in case of emergency--I have the capabilities that I have so that I have a tested, proven method to communicate if needed. I'd hate to be trying to modify my radio while an emergency situation is unfolding... That said, I do not make a regular practice of transmitting on bands that I am not supposed to--the cardinal rule for radio operation is to cause no interference to other users--I strictly abide by that rule.
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Now, the ability to communicate with CB, FRS, or GMRS radios is something I find quite useful but like anything else, has to be carefully evaluated. For instance, having solid communication going through a technical section of a trail has saved many lives--if there is a viable option to accomplish this with a group of people with mixed radio capabilities, I see that as something that I SHOULD do. On the other hand, we were at Uwharrie a couple months ago and there were CBs and Hams in the group. I chose to manually relay communication in the group as CBs don't have PL tones to keep out unwanted traffic and there are enough random transmissions out there that I would have almost certainly retransmitted a signal that came from outside our group. As far as linking CBs and FRS/GMRS transmissions to the HAM bands, I reference the below FCC rules on third party traffic:

§ 97.115 Third party communications.
(a) An amateur station may transmit messages for a third party to:
(1) Any station within the jurisdiction of the United States.
(2) Any station within the jurisdiction of any foreign government when transmitting emergency or disaster relief communications and any station within the jurisdiction of any foreign government whose administration has made arrangements with the United States to allow amateur stations to be used for transmitting international communications on behalf of third parties. No station shall transmit messages for a third party to any station within the jurisdiction of any foreign government whose administration has not made such an arrangement. This prohibition does not apply to a message for any third party who is eligible to be a control operator of the station.
(b) The third party may participate in stating the message where:
(1) The control operator is present at the control point and is continuously monitoring and supervising the third party's participation; and
(2) The third party is not a prior amateur service licensee whose license was revoked or not renewed after hearing and re-licensing has not taken place; suspended for less than the balance of the license term and the suspension is still in effect; suspended for the balance of the license term and re-licensing has not taken place; or surrendered for cancellation following notice of revocation, suspension or monetary forfeiture proceedings. The third party may not be the subject of a cease and desist order which relates to amateur service operation and which is still in effect.
(c) No station may transmit third party communications while being automatically controlled except a station transmitting a RTTY or data emission.
(d) At the end of an exchange of international third party communications, the station must also transmit in the station identification procedure the call sign of the station with which a third party message was exchanged.

[54 FR 25857, June 20, 1989; 54 FR 39535, Sept. 27, 1989, as amended at 71 FR 25982, May 3, 2006; 71 FR 66462, Nov. 15, 2006]

In this case, I am the control operator with direct control over the radio doing the transmitting and the cb/FRS/GMRS operator is the third party who is "participating in stating their message"

So then, yes, I bend the rules a bit when it makes sense and am prepared to rip them up completely if the need arises, but I don't blatantly thumb my nose at the regulations. I will admit to the following violation if you'd like to report me to the FCC--My kids play with the FRS radios and have free run of the neighborhood--when I need them to come home, I'll send a brief transmission on the FRS channel at 5 watts from my ham radio as the FRS can't reach the other side of the lake where the playground is.

Cheers!

Dan
 
#20
Klierslc, it seems your setup may make a lot of this moot. As long as you have both the applicable Ham license, AND your GMRS license, as well as having a radio that is both part 90 AND part 95 certified, you should be legal. (As long as the radio is throttled down on the applicable FRS bands) Can someone confirm this, or explain why it wouldn’t be legal?

Many thanks!
As mentioned already, the really isn't a strictly legal way to accomplish this. I will say that I have never had an occasion to transmit on the gmrs band as I have yet to come across someone with a gmrs specific radio(mostly the frs\gmrs combos) I know they are out there and very solid radios, just somewhat rare it seems.
 

HenryJ

Expedition Leader
#21
FRS radios can not have or use a removable antenna. This limits gain. That makes it a deal breaker for operations in all other radios.
 
#22
I'm going to start by saying: this is not specifically related to answering the original question of the thread. I would move this conversation to PM's but I feel there's inaccuracies that need to be corrected publicly. Apologies for the thread-jacking, I hope it will be informative to someone.

Have you ever exceeded the speed limit? If so, your "moral high ground" is crumbling.
I absolutely have. Guilty as charged. What I haven't done is promoted that practice to student drivers. My issue isn't entirely with the practice as it is with the promotion of it. This is also a much more technical conversation than "do you speed", so the false equivalency is, in my opinion, what's crumbling. You want to say that since I speed I can't say murder is wrong? They're both illegal, and I'm doing one of them, right?

The FCC authorizes non licensed transmission in case of emergency--I have the capabilities that I have so that I have a tested, proven method to communicate if needed. I'd hate to be trying to modify my radio while an emergency situation is unfolding...
Do you really think CB, GMRS or FRS are going to do you a lick of good in an emergency situation? You surely know HF is going to be far more effective. So clearly you're not just hacking your radio for emergency use, it's convenience pure and simple.

That said, I do not make a regular practice of transmitting on bands that I am not supposed to--the cardinal rule for radio operation is to cause no interference to other users--I strictly abide by that rule.
So here's my question: how do you know you're not interfering? If you're reaching out much further than either FRS or GMRS was ever intended to reach - which you almost definitely are - those you're interfering with won't be able to let you know on their legal radios.

Now, the ability to communicate with CB, FRS, or GMRS radios is something I find quite useful...
So now you're directly contradicting yourself: implying you'd only use it for emergencies, and now saying you find it useful... meaning you use it... which one is it?

... but like anything else, has to be carefully evaluated. For instance, having solid communication going through a technical section of a trail has saved many lives--if there is a viable option to accomplish this with a group of people with mixed radio capabilities, I see that as something that I SHOULD do. On the other hand, we were at Uwharrie a couple months ago and there were CBs and Hams in the group. I chose to manually relay communication in the group as CBs don't have PL tones to keep out unwanted traffic and there are enough random transmissions out there that I would have almost certainly retransmitted a signal that came from outside our group.
Yeah, having radios to spot people is fantastic, it is so much more clear than screaming and waving your arms. I carry an HT specifically for this. You can do the same with FRS/GMRS and CBs. And manually relaying traffic if people don't have matching gear is the right thing to do. Does it suck. Yeah. Get everyone on the same page. If you can't, work it out like you did. BTW, I'm glad you brought up the statute you did below, because it is directly talking about this: transmitting communications from other parties, such as stations on CB or FRS or GMRS.

As far as linking CBs and FRS/GMRS transmissions to the HAM bands, I reference the below FCC rules on third party traffic:

§ 97.115 Third party communications.
(a) An amateur station may transmit messages for a third party to:
(1) Any station within the jurisdiction of the United States.
(2) Any station within the jurisdiction of any foreign government when transmitting emergency or disaster relief communications and any station within the jurisdiction of any foreign government whose administration has made arrangements with the United States to allow amateur stations to be used for transmitting international communications on behalf of third parties. No station shall transmit messages for a third party to any station within the jurisdiction of any foreign government whose administration has not made such an arrangement. This prohibition does not apply to a message for any third party who is eligible to be a control operator of the station.
(b) The third party may participate in stating the message where:
(1) The control operator is present at the control point and is continuously monitoring and supervising the third party's participation; and
(2) The third party is not a prior amateur service licensee whose license was revoked or not renewed after hearing and re-licensing has not taken place; suspended for less than the balance of the license term and the suspension is still in effect; suspended for the balance of the license term and re-licensing has not taken place; or surrendered for cancellation following notice of revocation, suspension or monetary forfeiture proceedings. The third party may not be the subject of a cease and desist order which relates to amateur service operation and which is still in effect.
(c) No station may transmit third party communications while being automatically controlled except a station transmitting a RTTY or data emission.
(d) At the end of an exchange of international third party communications, the station must also transmit in the station identification procedure the call sign of the station with which a third party message was exchanged.

[54 FR 25857, June 20, 1989; 54 FR 39535, Sept. 27, 1989, as amended at 71 FR 25982, May 3, 2006; 71 FR 66462, Nov. 15, 2006]

In this case, I am the control operator with direct control over the radio doing the transmitting and the cb/FRS/GMRS operator is the third party who is "participating in stating their message"
You seem to have completely A) misinterpreted this section B) missed section c) where it says automatic transmission (crossbanding) is not allowed and C) missed the section on prohibited transmissions:

§ 97.113 Prohibited transmissions.

(c) No station shall retransmit programs or signals emanating from any type of radio station other than an amateur station, except propagation and weather forecast information intended for use by the general public and originated from United States Government stations, and communications, including incidental music, originating on United States Government frequencies between a manned spacecraft and its associated Earth stations. Prior approval for manned spacecraft communications retransmissions must be obtained from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Such retransmissions must be for the exclusive use of amateur radio operators. Propagation, weather forecasts, and manned spacecraft communications retransmissions may not be conducted on a regular basis, but only occasionally, as an incident of normal amateur radio communications.

So then, yes, I bend the rules a bit when it makes sense and am prepared to rip them up completely if the need arises, but I don't blatantly thumb my nose at the regulations. I will admit to the following violation if you'd like to report me to the FCC--My kids play with the FRS radios and have free run of the neighborhood--when I need them to come home, I'll send a brief transmission on the FRS channel at 5 watts from my ham radio as the FRS can't reach the other side of the lake where the playground is.

Cheers!

Dan
Here's the thing: you don't have to rip them up at all if the need arises. You've already said the rules allow for doing whatever is needed in a true emergency. So there's no need for ripping. As for bending, fine, you want to play by your own rules because you just can't be bothered to have a couple extra radios around instead of one, or work within the limitations of a particular service. Whatever, I can't stop you and I'm not gonna report you (who does that?). Just don't go around promoting it like it's no big deal to people who don't know better. You wanna show your buddies on the trail how cool your hacked rig is since it can transmit on a bunch of different frequencies it isn't supposed to. I'm not there, I can't say anything, and you aren't interfering with my transmissions. But as soon as you get on a forum and start promoting these practices - especially when you misquote the rules to support your misguided ways - you can bet that I'll be correcting you every chance I get so that new users, who don't know better, don't get the idea that what you're talking about doing is perfectly fine. The FCC rules exist for good reasons, don't act like they don't.

Also, you got your license 3 months ago. I'd suggest you spend some time with people who have a bit longer of a historical perspective.
 
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#23
I'm going to start by saying: this is not specifically related to answering the original question of the thread. I would move this conversation to PM's but I feel there's inaccuracies that need to be corrected publicly. Apologies for the thread-jacking, I hope it will be informative to someone.
My apologies also to the OP--I was simply trying to let you know that there are options out there that are much more capable and flexible than choosing one particular radio service.

I absolutely have. Guilty as charged. What I haven't done is promoted that practice to student drivers. My issue isn't entirely with the practice as it is with the promotion of it. This is also a much more technical conversation than "do you speed", so the false equivalency is, in my opinion, what's crumbling. You want to say that since I speed I can't say murder is wrong? They're both illegal, and I'm doing one of them, right?
I am saying that expressing moral outrage at the violation of a government regulation (not a criminal law) when you regularly violate another similar government regulation is a bit disingenuous (speaking of false equivalency...).

Have you ever exceeded the speed limit in front of younger drivers? How do you know you aren't setting a bad example for another driver on the road? What about informing younger drivers about the advantages in time saved by going 5 over on a long trip? Then let them decide whether it is worth the risk. Really, this is not getting to the core of the issue--Each of us violates many laws on a daily basis--turn signal, speed, crosswalks, taxes, etc. The FCC regulations are not somehow sacrosanct and must be followed to the letter on pain of death--they are just like any other government regulation--to be generally followed, typically as long as the spirit of the law is met, there are no issues. For some reason a lot of Hams feel like that is not the case--not sure why.

Do you really think CB, GMRS or FRS are going to do you a lick of good in an emergency situation? You surely know HF is going to be far more effective. So clearly you're not just hacking your radio for emergency use, it's convenience pure and simple.
I think that whatever means of communication will get the message out will be the means of communication that I want to have. Slid off the side of a logging road in the PNW--I want a CB to talk to logging trucks. Stuck in the wilds of the eastern shore of Virginia, VHF marine channels may be the ticket. Out in an area that has a GMRS repeater but no 2m coverage, I definitely want the capability to access it if the need arises. HF is effective but I don't always have HF in the car with me. This has nothing to do with convenience, it has to do with preparedness.

So here's my question: how do you know you're not interfering? If you're reaching out much further than either FRS or GMRS was ever intended to reach - which you almost definitely are - those you're interfering with won't be able to let you know on their legal radios.


So now you're directly contradicting yourself: implying you'd only use it for emergencies, and now saying you find it useful... meaning you use it... which one is it?
I already described where I used it--I do find it useful. Point taken about not being able to hear an FRS station, but as YOU also should be familiar with, talking over another station that you can't hear is not considered interference--it is part and parcel to radio operation and rampant on the HF bands. My 3-5 second transmission can hardly be classified as interference. If I am cross-banding, it is out in the back country away from any other users apart from my group.

Yeah, having radios to spot people is fantastic, it is so much more clear than screaming and waving your arms. I carry an HT specifically for this. You can do the same with FRS/GMRS and CBs. And manually relaying traffic if people don't have matching gear is the right thing to do. Does it suck. Yeah. Get everyone on the same page. If you can't, work it out like you did. BTW, I'm glad you brought up the statute you did below, because it is directly talking about this: transmitting communications from other parties, such as stations on CB or FRS or GMRS.
Surely you don't let an unlicensed person spot you with a 2m HT? The horror! Also, if I regularly went out with a group of folks, I would certainly encourage them all to become Hams. When I show up at a land cruiser or ExPo event with many folks who I have never met and may likely never meet again, "getting them on the same page" is a bit impractical to say the least. I applaud your efforts to get your group licensed, but that isn't realistic for a random group of folks meeting up for an event.

You seem to have completely A) misinterpreted this section B) missed section c) where it says automatic transmission (crossbanding) is not allowed and C) missed the section on prohibited transmissions:

§ 97.113 Prohibited transmissions.

(c) No station shall retransmit programs or signals emanating from any type of radio station other than an amateur station, except propagation and weather forecast information intended for use by the general public and originated from United States Government stations, and communications, including incidental music, originating on United States Government frequencies between a manned spacecraft and its associated Earth stations. Prior approval for manned spacecraft communications retransmissions must be obtained from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Such retransmissions must be for the exclusive use of amateur radio operators. Propagation, weather forecasts, and manned spacecraft communications retransmissions may not be conducted on a regular basis, but only occasionally, as an incident of normal amateur radio communications.
I did not ignore anything--I am choosing to apply the rule to people in my group, within a reasonable distance. Since the FCC gives no set distance that a person has to be within in order to participate in passing their message, I generally assume that if I can be heard via shouting, that is close enough. Is this fudging? Sure, but I also have physical control of the radio and can shut it down in less than a second--IMO this doesn't really qualify as automatic control--once again, maybe a bit of fudging, but ask yourself, what is the intent of that rule? IMO it is to keep non licensed users from transmitting through a repeater without a licensed radio operator supervising them. I am a licensed radio operator and I am supervising--Intent met.

Here's the thing: you don't have to rip them up at all if the need arises. You've already said the rules allow for doing whatever is needed in a true emergency. So there's no need for ripping. As for bending, fine, you want to play by your own rules because you just can't be bothered to have a couple extra radios around instead of one, or work within the limitations of a particular service. Whatever, I can't stop you and I'm not gonna report you (who does that?). Just don't go around promoting it like it's no big deal to people who don't know better. You wanna show your buddies on the trail how cool your hacked rig is since it can transmit on a bunch of different frequencies it isn't supposed to. I'm not there, I can't say anything, and you aren't interfering with my transmissions. But as soon as you get on a forum and start promoting these practices - especially when you misquote the rules to support your misguided ways - you can bet that I'll be correcting you every chance I get so that new users, who don't know better, don't get the idea that what you're talking about doing is perfectly fine. The FCC rules exist for good reasons, don't act like they don't.
This is now twice where you have attributed actions or motives to me that I have not done or stated. I make no assumptions about you but simply take what you type at face value. I do not show my "buddies on the trail how cool my hacked rig is." It is simply a capability that I employ when needed. The OP was asking about different types of radios and who uses them--whatever his choice ends up being, I feel that it is useful to put out the information that there is are radios on the market that can do more than just transmit on a single service--even if you aren't a horrible person like me who violates the FCC regs, having that capability on board in case of an emergency is certainly worth considering when choosing a means of communication.

Cheers,

Dan
 
#24
Let’s get back on track.

Capability vs legality arguments will rage, elsewhere. As the OP, I get that the FCC says, in effect, you cannot have one unit that will communicate on all services. I also understand that making a radio unit to do just this is possible, though not legal. Got it, the pissing match can end.

My question, for those with radio comms in their vehicle, why did you initially get radio comms, which radio service(s) did you choose, and how do you use your radio(s) now? Also understood are the comparative benefits, and drawbacks, of each service. Thanks for posting up why you got into radio, which radio service(s) you have chosen, and how your usage has grown or changed since getting into radio. I am sure any and all of us looking into on vehicle radio comms will appreciate your answers.

Thanks
 
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#25
I inherited a set of 4 Motorola GMRS handhelds. Good for car to car comms while driving at 1/4 mile+ distance between. No reason to switch to anything else.
 

Comanche Scott

Expedition Leader
#26
Sometimes the truth really does hurt...

I am looking into adding radio communication to our setup at some point in the future. In order to better refine my research, I am curious as to the reason people have radios (talking to other vehicles, talking to folks at home, talk8mg to someone outside your vehicle, reaching out for help in emergencies, etc) and what type of radio (2M, .7M, GMRS, FRS, CB, etc.) you use to accomplish this. If you have a radio in your vehicle, please respond with:

Why you initially bought it
Trail communications
What type of radio you chose
CB and Ham 2M/70cM
How you actually use it now
Paper weight on the desk
:(
For now, the make and model of radio is unimportant, I am really looking for the type, and how to intended to use it, as well as how your use changed, or didn’t change, once you got a radio.

Many thanks!
One day I look forward to getting out and exploring again. Until then I live vicariously through the exploits of fellow E.P. members. :beer:
 
#27
Why you initially bought it:

I installed a two way radio to communicate between members of a group traveling in convoy recreationally and during emergency travel (hurricane evacuation, etc).

What type of radio you chose:

I chose a 15 watt GMRS mobile, GMRS repeater capable, with weather radio/alert features. This is supplemented by cellular phones, a Spot tracker and five handheld FRS/GMRS units for those not equipped with mobiles or those outside of the vehicle(s). I did purchase a GMRS license.
GMRS was chosen over CB because I think the TX/RX quality is better, because they are compatible with inexpensive and easily obtained hand held units, a lot of people have handhelds. GMRS, in my opinion, is not a reliable way to call for help or rescue and I did not install it with that in mind.
HAM is undoubtedly superior but I'll admit to being somewhat intimidated by the additional complication and the licensing/regulatory aspect. Having said that, I am considering the addition of a handheld UHF/VHF transceiver to the current comm equipment.
I would seriously consider a satellite phone and or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) if traveling to areas where remoteness or other risk factors dictate their use.

How you actually use it now:

The GMRS mobile is used as described and works well for short range communication.
Unless someone else in your group has a mobile unit installed, the greater power and range of the mobile vs the handheld is not realized; transmitting ten miles to someone who can only reply within 2 miles is not helpful. So far, I would have been just as well served by a good handheld but the mobile is not a handicap and is potentially advantageous so I stand by the choice.
The weather radio/alert function has been somewhat useful.
The repeater function has never been used but a local radio club does maintain a GMRS repeater and it could be helpful in times of emergency. Hurricanes, subsequent power outages and loss of cellular service sometimes occur in our neck of the woods.
 
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#28
Mobile to handheld will still have better range (in both directions) than handheld to handheld. The extra transmit power of the mobile won't help, but the bigger antenna and possibly higher mounting position does.
 
#30
I’d like to clarify my question, why did you initially buy your radio setup. I am looking for how people intended to use their radios, not the relative merits of each type of radio service. I am especially curious as to how this affected your choice of radio service.
My first radio is a Midland CB. I got it about 7 years ago and still use it today. I got it solely for the purposes of communicating with my friends on the trail. For that purpose it's the most used radio on my truck. After years of using a Firestik, my CB's range and receive quality dramatically improved after switching to a Laird NGP commercial whip.

My second radio is an FTM-440DR, which is alright. The primary reason I got it so I could have APRS in my rig and have its position be recorded by internet-linked digipeaters so I could track myself when on trips. For that purpose, it works ok, but there aren't enough digipeaters in the mountains on the east coast, so I usually get a few breadcrumbs out, but not a detailed record of my travel like I really wanted. The GPS attached to my tablet records a much more detailed breadcrumb, which I think is much more valuable.

The secondary reason I got the FTM-440DR was to talk to folks at range. But since virtually nobody I wheel with uses or cares to use 2m/70cm, it's really been kind of a pointless device to own for that purpose. I suppose it might come in useful if I really needed it. But it's heckuva lot of money to invest in something that I never use.

So I guess I would say in summary: the CB was a good decision. The fancy dual-band rig is "cool" but pretty pointless 99% of the time. Not useful enough to justify the $700+ investment of setting it up.
 
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