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Old March 26th, 2020, 09:29 AM #1
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Comms - VHF

I hope some other knowledgeable operators will help flush this out, but this is a start....

VHF radio is used quite a bit among amateur radio operators (hams) for local commo, and because it is so popular, and because most of the cheap hand helds ("HTs") only operate on VHF and UHF, it is worth learning something about. It is also used a lot for other close range applications, such as air traffic control and public services, like fire, police and EMS.

VHF radio can be used as 'simplex' (among several users on the same frequency), or it can be used 'duplex' with a repeater (the repeater hears you on one frequency and simulcasts your transmission on another frequency over a wider area than you can reach alone).

As we briefly discussed in the HF thread, it is best to get licensed if the equipment use requires a license. Some licensing, like GMRS, is simply a form and a fee and the use is mainly private within your own contact group. Other radios services, like ham radio, require a minimal knowledge of theory, operation and legal constraints. This is because the service is publicly used and improper usage can cause interference at distances well beyond the effective use - much like a bullet will travel far beyond the point at which it can be effectively placed.

One thing to consider is that during a real emergency, one is usually far better off listening than talking...

There is a lot of talk among those who do not understand the rules/laws that "during an emergency, I can transmit anywhere I want" and this is simply NOT true. The only 'emergency' that will allow an unlicensed or unauthorized individual to transmit where they are not normally allowed is one in which imminent loss of life or grave injury is involved, not just a declared national or local 'state of emergency'.

There are several systems already in place for emergency communication.

The public services typically used an automated "trunked" repeater systems to control a vast fleet of radios.

the National Weather Service maintains VHF transmitters all over the country, and you can find one close to you at their site: https://www.weather.gov/nwr/station_listing

Ham radio uses local repeaters extensively for routine 'traffic' nets, and one can listen to such nets on inexpensive equipment without being licensed. Listening to such nets will allow one to understand the procedures and protocols used, which could/should prevent one from disrupting such emergency commo and allow the individual to get a feel for the way it flows.

In your area, there are usually repeaters that are owned and maintained by local clubs. One can find these repeaters/clubs by searching at https://www.repeaterbook.com/ for repeaters in your proximity.

Those in central MD can check out the Columbia, Laurel, Glen Burnie, Millersville, Davidsonville repeaters, among others. Know that most of the time, the repeaters are idle and sporadically used, but there are dedicated days/times for nets. Some nets are routine 'roundtable' discussions of anything/everything, others are strictly controlled emergency nets in which there is no chatter,

ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) had a net every Sunday evening at 8pm on the Millersville (W3CU) repeater at 146.805 mHz.

The Millersville club also has a roundtable net on Monday nights at 7:30pm on 146.805 mHz.

The AA County Radio Club (W3VPR) club has a net every Wednesday night at 8pm on the 147.075 and the 147.105 repeaters, which are linked together to expand coverage area.

Some repeaters will be dedicated to weather emergencies and used by 'SkyWarn' personnel, a program that is an extension of the National Weather Service. The W3VPR is one such repeater where one can monitor real time weather info during an event.

I'd encourage anyone else with more to add to please post...
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Old March 26th, 2020, 09:46 AM #2
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Penn-Mar amateur radio club (W3MUM) has a 2M net every Tuesday night at 8PM. Their tower is located in Hanover PA but it's up high and gets great coverage.
147.330+ Mhz. PL-Tone 123.0
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Old March 26th, 2020, 10:45 AM #3
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Piggy backing off this thread because we don't need an extra on the same subject.

I found a video from a HAM expert and he gives very good information for those of us who like to be taught things like we're 3rd graders to understand.



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Old March 26th, 2020, 11:16 AM #4
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Most amateur radio comms on VHF/UHF repeaters are in standard FM. However there are some that are capable of various digital modes (D-Star, DMR, P25, etc) and can't be heard by your typical Baofeng portable. Some radios have built in packet capability and can transmit/receive small data packets, some of which are APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) capable, sending position and short messaging. See: www.aprs.fi & www.aprs.org.

In addition to the radio services mentioned in previous posts, the FCC has an unlicensed service called The Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) which uses channels in the 151 – 154 MHz spectrum range. The most common use of MURS channels is for short-distance, two-way communications using small, portable hand-held radios that function similar to walkie-talkies. See:
https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-...o-service-murs

If someone has a VHF/UHF portable radio and not a licensed Ham, programming the radio with the FRS, GMRS, and MURS channels isn't a bad idea. A GMRS license costs $70 and is valid for 10 years. It essentially covers "a family group", and can be applied for online.

GMRS: https://www.fcc.gov/general-mobile-radio-service-gmrs

FRS: https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-...io-service-frs
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Old March 26th, 2020, 01:29 PM #5
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If someone is looking for an inexpensive equipment list for 2M comms:

YAESU FT-2980R - $130

Ed Fong DBJ-1 antenna - $32


This is what I have for my home base station (I have the 2900). If you place the antenna up high, like on a a chimney or roof, then you should easily be able to hit repeaters dozens of miles away.

With my 2900 I can hit a repeater 55 mi away at 75 watts.

If you are using this for home use then you'll need a power supply as well. I have the MFJ-4225MV, about $110.

You will also need a feed line to the antenna. Cost depends on distance between the radio and antenna. I bought a high-end 75 foot cable from dx engineering for $105. You can get them cheaper and in shorter lengths from other stores.

So for about $350 you can get really great 2M amateur radio setup to communicate on 2 meters.
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Old March 26th, 2020, 02:27 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HSTD View Post

If someone has a VHF/UHF portable radio and not a licensed Ham, programming the radio with the FRS, GMRS, and MURS channels isn't a bad idea.
It's not legal to convert a radio certified for one service to another without recertification. Not even for an Amateur, except to amateur frequencies exclusively.
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Old March 26th, 2020, 03:01 PM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K31 View Post
It's not legal to convert a radio certified for one service to another without recertification. Not even for an Amateur, except to amateur frequencies exclusively.
it's not legal to transmit using a radio certified for one service, in another service without recertification.

Some of the Baofeng radios have the correct Part 95 certifications.

not sure that using it to receive is an issue.
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Old March 26th, 2020, 03:36 PM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HSTD View Post
it's not legal to transmit using a radio certified for one service, in another service without recertification.

Some of the Baofeng radios have the correct Part 95 certifications.
That's just it, part 95 is amateur radio and the MURS/FRS/GMRS are different services for which the Baofeng is NOT certified.

For one very easy example, FRS radios are limited in power to less than that delivered by the Baofeng AND are not allowed to have removable antennas. Both factors make the use of the Baofeng illegal for FRS.

Quote:
not sure that using it to receive is an issue.
Receiving is not an issue.
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Last edited by E.Shell; March 26th, 2020 at 05:31 PM. Reason: Correct wrong info
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Old March 26th, 2020, 03:47 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HSTD View Post
If someone has a VHF/UHF portable radio and not a licensed Ham, programming the radio with the FRS, GMRS, and MURS channels isn't a bad idea.
Is that legal?

Some of those require type accepted radios.

Like if you program your HF rig for CB channels, even if you run legal power, you are not legal.
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Old March 26th, 2020, 03:56 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HSTD View Post
it's not legal to transmit using a radio certified for one service, in another service without recertification.
It is legal for licensed Amateurs to covert a radio certified another service to Amateur radio use and only Amateur radio use (provided it meets all the provisions of the Amateur service it's intended to be used in).

And provided it is legal to possess in the first place.
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