Ham Equippment, Civilian/Business Frequencies? Elmers' Advice Please?

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by Trigger_the_rookie, May 29, 2013.

  1. When it comes to prepping, I'm a bit impulsive when it comes to acquiring gear. This forum has really spurred me into gear for getting licensed. I'm scoring 95%+ consistently on the online technician class practice exams, but due to my work schedule (away from home) It might be tough to flange up an exam.

    In the meantime, I impulsively bought a Yaesu FT60R and accessories. Then I got thinking; What good is one handheld if SHTF, so I bought a couple Baofengs. Now I find myself asking; What can I get away with legally to familiarize myself with these radios.

    First thing I thought was Ah! CB! Unfortunately CB is at or around 27 MHz, which puts it in the 11m band (is that a real thing, 11m?). No go...

    Then I looked at walky talky frequencies: A Motorola webpage lists several frequencies 151 - 154 MHz, and several between 461 - 468 mHz. It describes these as "Business" frequencies.

    Would there be anything prohibiting a guy from programming his handheld HAM units with these 'business' frequencies? Is there a different/better alternative?

    Gratitude and 73s in advance,

    The Rookie
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    The main thing you have to watch for with "business" frequencies is that the radios used on those frequencies are "type certified" for the use. If you use something else, you must be pretty careful to keep within the power and interference requirements that type certs assure. I'd be inclined to not do that, myownself.

    Yes, CB is 11 meters, and is not authorized for amateur radio licensees unless using type certified equipment that do not require a license.

    One thing you can do for at least a bit of familiarity is turn on your radios and listen. There are no licensing requirements for listening. You can also program them without transmitting.

    Odds are that when you are away from home, there will be a place that runs testing on a more or less regular basis near by your overnight place. Check the ARRL website, I think I remember some links.
  3. As it turns out, you are correct about examiners nearby. There's a club an hour and a half north of my work location with a club which will book exams. Great!

    After further research, there is the "FRS/GMRS" band which is used by consumer grade stuff like the little Cobra radios. It would seem to me that the issue at hand is using equippment designed for higher transmitting power than the devices common to that band are designed for, yeah?

    For example, if I program my 5w Yaesu to operate on the same freq as a grocery store walky talky uses, it is possible that I could blast harmful interference onto that channel and neighboring channels?

    Here's the thing though... I've seen Cobra handhelds rated for 1 watt higher than my yaesu, and they also make a 25 watt unit in that 156 mHz range (IIRC). If one conforms to the assigned frequencies and powers of a specific device, he might be able to operate on that channel without causing offensive interference, but it would be unusual, risky, (and likely illegal), correct?

    ... Kinda like using an SKS and bayo as a trash skewer on a volunteer highway cleanup day, yeah?
  4. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    I personally would not try to test/learn on a business band frequency. In addition to the type certified equipment, one actually needs a license which authorizes one to use specific frequencies often in specific geographic areas. There will likely be businesses and even public emergency services and utilities on most of those and what will get you caught is when someone new shows up and they complain.

    The suggestion to listen is superb. The following suggestion is not legal but what one might ponder doing to learn these as you inquired. If you were to program a FRS frequency, set them to low power, practice in rural locations and keep the talk clean, boring and unidentifying, it is unlikey you would attract any attention as it would be almost indistinguishable from all the other FRS noise and there would be no particular reason for anyone to expend the effort to pursue identifying you or you location. But I am not advocating doing this, just sayin...

  5. Thanks a bunch for the replies guys.

    I am VERY enthusiastic to start listening to the air. Between the handhelds I have coming, and the SDR equippment which is on the way, I know aldready that I am going to spend a lot of time geeking out with the stuff +grin+

    Even better news: Acting on Ghrit's advice I discovered that there is a Radio club which meets every saturday morning for coffee and breakfast at the legion about 2 hours north of my work assignment. Things are coming together VERY nicely.
  6. Elessar

    Elessar Monkey+++

    I also and excited about beginning on this aspect of my prepping and have a new Baofeng that I've attempted to use for listening. However, anyone familar with my radio will recognize that the user manual is horrible and I can't figure out how to do anything except switch to FM band to listen to public broadcasts, which is pretty good, but that makes this an expensive pocket radio with a lousy speaker. So, I'm studying for the license and looking for to next week when my local club meets so someone can help me figure this box out.
  7. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    There's an easier way, I think. Go to RT Systems and poke around, I'm pretty sure they have programming software that would be sanity (if not life) saving. Baofeng is noted for lousy O&M manuals and difficult menus. The programming software may not help with your scanning efforts, but loading the repeaters is a grape.
  8. bpaintx

    bpaintx Monkey+++

    You might want to do a search for the yahoo user group for the Baofeng. There is a program called Chirp that I used to program my radios, it makes it easy enough.
  9. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Second on CHIRP...works well and allows you to alter more than the radio's menu...plus it's free. Get the latest daily build, and (as with most other radios) always read before you write!
  10. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Why not program all of the local ham repeaters into your radios and listen to the local traffic? Meeting the locals could be fun, just remember that some long-time grouops may be a bit clannish to newcomers.

    Have fun.
  11. David Spero

    David Spero Monkey

survivalmonkey SSL seal        survivalmonkey.com warrant canary