Radio usage, flexiblity, organization, reference stuff, etc.

#31
Seldom Seen said:
Not a difficult task at all actually, just tedious given the number of repeaters in the state, then cross referencing them in TOPO or Google Earth and adding them to the .gpx file. The myth that repeater sites are a closely guarded secret, so much so that national security is dependant on them remaining secret, is nothing more than a ham radio 'ol wives tale. Finding the sites was the easy part.
Maybe in CO where you have large mountains with tower farms, but in our area anything higher than the corn field is a potential antenna site and people keep exact locations quite. Not only for security but so that every other ham doesnt go up and try to get on the same tower. Many of the tower sites are free and with the price that could be charged people dont want to make waves. Do some people publish the location sure, do people know non published sure, but do they need the exact location, NO. Up on Hill number 6 is just as good as lat/long. Downtown is just as good a description as you really need. Coverage area is more important than exact location.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#32
CanuckMariner said:
Great system, not unlike what I have found to use for my travels as well. How do you remember which bank is which? Does the 8800 allow you to rename the banks or do you have a cheat sheet?
I have a crib sheet, although I can usually remember the main 3 or 4 banks (local repeaters, WX, simplex and Colorado Connected). I actually keep a cheat sheet in the truck for both the mobile and the HT, so that I have a reference.
 

CanuckMariner

Adventurer/Explorer
#33
DaveInDenver said:
I have a crib sheet, although I can usually remember the main 3 or 4 banks (local repeaters, WX, simplex and Colorado Connected). I actually keep a cheat sheet in the truck for both the mobile and the HT, so that I have a reference.
I thought as much, that's what I do as well, thanks!
 

CanuckMariner

Adventurer/Explorer
#34
gary in ohio said:
Maybe in CO where you have large mountains with tower farms, but in our area anything higher than the corn field is a potential antenna site and people keep exact locations quite. Not only for security but so that every other ham doesnt go up and try to get on the same tower. Many of the tower sites are free and with the price that could be charged people dont want to make waves. Do some people publish the location sure, do people know non published sure, but do they need the exact location, NO. Up on Hill number 6 is just as good as lat/long. Downtown is just as good a description as you really need. Coverage area is more important than exact location.
I pretty much have to agree with that assessment as well. Although I have about 800-1000 repeaters to cover the entire western half of Canada and USA and having a place to download a file with lat/longs is a lot easier to import into my GPS. I have tried a few in Calgary area near to where I live and the proximity alert works great. I set it at 50 kms or so and I get a beep. Just trying to figure out with Garmin how to get a different beep than the usual one so I am aware of what it is.
 
Last edited:
#37
gary in ohio said:
LIke I said, close if fine, Of the few that I know locations of your close, 5-10 miles and thats more than close enough.
Yea, I understand that from a coverage aspect that the flag pole on the courthouse lawn is close enough to the repeater on the edge of town. What I don't buy into is I MUST use the courthouse flag pole because of an archaic tradition that the location of the repeater on the edge of town must only be divulged to those who know the secret hand shake. Technology has come to far for that. With the introduction of positionally aware rigs like Icom's new 2820 we will soon be programing our rigs not only with output, offset and tone but also with lat and long of the machine. The GPS built into the rig will do the sorting for us, if we chose.

Fortunately MOST repeater owners readily volunteer the location of their machines and the few remaining are easy enough to find. Unfortunately there will always be a handful of curmudgeons that will refuse to give it up. The best we can hope for is that the repeater coordinators will see the value of their bandwidth better than the stick-in-the-mud's do and get them on-board or get them to move along. Not only in regards to position but for emerging modes as well. $0.02
 
#38
It not really about location of the repeater is ACCESS. Many repeaters have been able to get on towers for free through a friends of friends of a friend connection, through backdoor deals or simply by being there a long time ago. With the value of tower space and the liability of space going up, you dont want some idiot ham demanding space on a tower for free because BOB has it, why cant I. Management of the station run by some dollar hungry corporate entity 2000 miles away says hey that space cost $500/month, why haven't you been paying. Bob says engineer John allowed us on, here is the paperwork. Greedy corporate guy says John's been gone for 5 years and nothing is free you owe us back rent of $30000.

Or on some of the smaller tower, silo and grain bins you can usually convince them to allow you on free, but when 2 or 3 other guys want on for free its becomes and PIA and its just as easy the next time the repeater antenna needs replacement to say NO and get off the tower.

Thats why you dont want exact locations. If your paying for space its not an issue, if its a freebie then there are issues that exact location can cause.
 
#39
First off no I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV -:) You are correct, Canada dropped licensing a couple of years ago for GMRS, I never made mention about FRS requiring a license. Also please note GMRS doesnt have channels it has frequencies, so CH1-7 and 15-22 are not validate designators for GMRS while many combo radio's have similar channels, there is no FCC law that defines channels. YOU also need to look at the radio and HOW the radio was certified. I have a combo radio that channels 1-14 are FRS no US license and 15-22 require a US license and yet another radio is the more common 1-7/15-22 GMRS US license and 8-14 FRS.
note that you will need a GMRS license (and are required to identify via license callsign) if you Tx on the shared FRS/GMRS channels at more than .5 watt. you're allowed up to 5 watts on the shared FRS/GMRS channels and up to 50 watts on the GMRS only channels.

some of the inexpensive handheld FRS/GMRS radios have two Tx buttons on the side that allow you to transmit at .5 watt or full power (usually 3-4.5 watt). this lets you use the shared channels without a license without technically being illegal, although i've never heard of anyone being prosecuted by the FCC for transmitting at GMRS levels on the shared channels
 
#40
HI,
I think this thread underlines a problem. Most folks who frequent this site and other 4 wheeling sites are either vehicle buffs and/or back country adventurers. They are not hams and are not even interested in the technical concerns of radio technology. Yet, as I read this thread, I see a huge amount of knowledge being expressed about radio technology. Does any one beyond this small group really care?

Personally, I'm a technical person and I do understand radio technology. But my primary concern is not the technology but simply the ability to communicate for the purpose of vehicle travel and emergencies. For this, CB or FRS is the only technology that really answers my needs. And it is all I care about. Talking to other hams is my idea of the definition of boring. But that's just me. I'd rather listen to my Sirius radio or iPod.

I belong to a Jeep club. Our bylaws specify that every member has a functioning CB. Visitors are excluded from this rule. Without a functioning CB, members are not allowed on the trail ride. That's what the rules say. Yet, on all of our trips, I'll bet that not more than 50% of the vehicles is CB capable. This is potentially a real problem. I've seen situations where a CB would have prevented a serious misadventure. Many have installations that either don't work or are intermittent. Why is this? It's because even simple CB technology is beyond the skills and interests of our members.

Rather than waste words on the best system, we should be teaching the advantages of a universal communication system. It is really a survival issue. CB is the best because it is the simplest and it can be universal. FRS is a close second but it is not a universal system, not yet. Personally, I carry both. My CB is permanently mounted and the FRS handhelds are for visitors.

CB is useful only for communication within the trail group. For emergency use, I have a Personal Location Beacon that is constantly placed in my Jeep. This will get the help I need no matter where I am stranded because it is a satellite based system.

From my point of view, vehicle communications technology is only useful if it is universal. None of the systems you are discussing are universal. Therefore, not useful for my needs. This thread should have the term "ham" appended to its name.

Sparky
 

CanuckMariner

Adventurer/Explorer
#41
Karma,

You make somewhat of a valid point as to keeping one's CB working or effective. As you have stated 50% or more don't. But then how well is their rig maintained as well?

Hardest part about CBs is getting them installed properly and then the antenna tuned optimally. Most never or don't know how to tune their antenna and there in lies the rub...no range or very little range. Range is the most common issue with CBs even when tuned. They are basically line of site with lowest power settings (<5W), most don't even get a mile in range. Granted, CBs are generally significantly less expensive than a ham nor do they require a license (at least most of the people I know don't have a license for a CB or GMRs/FRS - even though in the USA one is required for GMRS). GMRS/FRS have come a long way from CBs and their range is significantly better (up to 20 miles I have heard) with less things (antennas, tuning, cables, etc.) to fuss about.

A used or cheap CB will be had for about $20-$50 and new up to $100-$150 plus. Most do not come with an antenna and depending on what you get, most go cheap here, when here is where the money should be spent. Antennas again run the gambit of $10-$15 at truck stops and up to $100 plus. Then there is the cable (which should not be cut as it is made to the correct length). Again, this goes from $20 to $35+ depending on quality...again the noobs go cheap here, when again the money should be spent here. Get a good coaxial cable as it will reduce the RF noise. Next a stud may be required and that goes for about $15-$25 for stainless steel. lastly, a mounting bracket is required for the antenna, this again is relatively cheap item ($15-$25). Correct me if my estimates are out of line. So, lets add this up:

CB($20-$150+)+ Antenna ($15-$100+)+Cable ($20-$35)+Stud($15-$25)+Bracket($15-$25)=Final total cost $85-$335. you may get lucky and get all of this stuff for around $50 plus, but remember you're lucky!

GMRS/FRS can be had used for $25-$50 depending on condition and if they come with a working charging unit. New these are $35-$100 or so. Keep in mind you need to study and pass a test and what costs it might have...say $20 plus your time. Again a reminder, these units are more portable (read take with you when you hike) and have a better range than a CB, but are also line of site, hence no going around corners - unless you are really close to each other and can probably yell just as well - or in canyons, et al.

Hence why we chat about HAMs! They have by far: a better quality of sound, range (1000s of miles, yes that is correct via repeaters), about $150-$350 all in (unit, mike, antenna, cable, stud, bracket, and license) for a reasonable set up, no antenna tuning (they come the right length for the band(s) your Ham has), very well regulated by various Gov't agencies, distinct preassigned call signs so you KNOW who you are talking to and roughly where they are from (call signs are assigned by state/province), as well as some other features: memory banks, weather stations you can actually hear in the bush, APRS, and more.

The range is phenomenal with a HAM! I am participate in a regional network which spans all of Canada and regularly chat with a guy in Nova Scotia from Calgary...yes that is 1000s of miles via a network of repeaters. I am sure the USA has similar. Most trail hands use 146.46 so you can usually hear someone on that frequency or monitor the recognized and approved 911 frequency which I believe is 146.52 which I have pre-programmed on one of my 5 hyper-memory buttons on the face of my ham. When have you ever heard anyone on CH 9 on your CB??? HAMs also give a wider range of bands/frequencies to use when you are in an area or an event that has many people using the same frequency.

So with out going on too much more, you can see HAMs give you way more bang for your buck! Please be a bit more constructive in your future posts. Negative criticism is good if correct and said in the right way/tone and is more appreciated. Hope this helps you all.
 
Last edited:
#42
Keeping the mood light - I'll frame the context of my post in light of the Zombie Apocolypse. This allows me to speak in terms of no governing agency like FCC controlling what you can and can't do.

In my research I've learned a few things that kinda tie both Karma and Jan's posts together. Karma is absolutely correct - this isn't the movies. You can't simply flip on a radio and expect to reach out to someone especially if that other someone isn't looking for you. In my research conducted over the last 2-3 years I've searched high and low for commonality and functionality to both systems and equipment.

It was interesting to hear and learn about the wilderness emergency frequencies. Those will be added to my repository. What I haven't seen mentioned is 27.555 yet. As I understand it, 27.555 is the international Jack of All Trades frequency. For all intents and purposes, 27.555 is the Channel 19 of the world. Problem: 27.555 is within the CB bands and is restricted within the US for use or broadcast.

Now in my goal of global interconnectivity - I've developed a desire to be able to reach out and find authorities on a multitude of bands.

27.555 - World Zombie Apocalypse Survival Frequency
26-27.999 - CB Interoperability
33-80mhz - US Army SINCGARs Operating Range
152-156mhz - US Law Enforcment Operating Range
440mhz - Law Enforcment / City

I mention these specific things because I think it would be important to have access to these (Not advocating illegal use) in a total collapse scenario....or simply you're travelling through another nation or region of the world where other frequencies are used rather than what the US has authorized.

The best radios for interoperabillity IMHO remain the Yaesu Radios. For various reasons - I feel a must have for zombie survival remain the following:

Yaesu FT-897D
Yaesu VX-8DE/DR/R

These two radios run as a combo - dismount / mounted configuration (much the same as many police commands utilize) will provide you maximum coverage. Incidentally - purchasing those two radios in European Spec form allows you to rapidly adapt to zombie survival mode. (Check ebay)

I've got some wild ideas that I'm looking to incorporate over the coming months that I'll share with the group, as long as I'm not too heavily ostrisized for this posting.

-Ryan (KC2VQG)

P.S. - I am a US Army communications officer, so this stuff has a interest to me in making some it work (PL Tones etc etc). I'm always tinkering hoping to learn more and more.
 
#43
Hi Ryan
27.555 is the CB DX calling frequency (a misnomer) for "freebanders". Being in the 11m spectrum, it's very fluky and inefficient. And, there are far fewer operators/stations available due to its being an illegal activity throughout most of the world. Decent propogation on this band doesn't occur until the SFI is in the mid hundreds, even when using SSB and large amounts of output power. Essentially, it's worse than even 10m, which many hams love to make DX contacts due to it's difficulty.
The 20 meter band is universally accepted as the most reliable band for use in times of emergency due to its ability to work in nearly all propogation conditions. At the lowest point in any solar cycle, it's not difficult to bend a signal halfway around the planet on 20m with only the 100w output of a standard amateur HF radio.
In a total collapse scenario (as if), my plan would be to scan through the local FM repeaters in order to find which have survived or are functional under emergency power. Second, to find out how things are coordinating on an international scale, like most other hams, I'll be turning to 20m. Knowing that there are ham stations set up around the globe that are already using alternative power, or are set up with back-up power, I'll have no concern about finding other stations to contact and possibly gain info or help.