eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net



[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?

Clinton Herbert (AB7RG) on October 23, 2000
View comments about this article!

Radios - Why Do We Really "Need" to Modify Them?

By: Clinton Herbert AB7RG

Now I do not intend this article to be on the subject of modifying radios for better performance but rather the seemingly irresistible temptation to modify them for out of band operation. With that out of the way, let us move on to the focal point of this article.

Okay, so you're sitting there starring at your radio, you just looked up and printed out the mods for it, and now you have your tools all ready to go. Wait, take a minute, and think about this before you do it. Why you ask? Read on and see my take on it.

Let's face it; we as Amateur Radio operators love to tinker with electronics, especially radios! Plus, it seems to be the nature of all human beings to want what we're not supposed to have or to do. (How many of you actually obey the posted speed limit?) So why not just go ahead and do the mods to expand the transmit frequency range of your rig? Who's going to know or care? After all, you're not going to actually transmit out of band; you're just doing it to do it, right? Maybe your reason is the hope of a future WARC band coming to be, and you want to be the first ham on your block to be able to transmit on it. Perhaps you're convinced that if there's a national or global breakdown in society that it will be your duty to have a radio capable of transmitting anywhere that it can receive. Then again, you may just want to have the ability to transmit wherever, whenever you like, just for the heck of it. Well I feel that there are a few good reasons not to do these modifications. With that said, I will go ahead and give a few examples.

Here's the most common one of all--HF radios! Ah, the lure of being able to transmit anywhere in the HF spectrum, just in case. Hopefully you're not thinking about doing it to talk to or even to jam the CB guys, to do the so-called "freeband" thing, or perhaps even worse, to do pirate radio broadcasting! Back during the days when the FCC was known as the "toothless tiger," you might have gotten away with it. Maybe you still can, but don't bet on it! If you've been reading the news lately, you know that the fines being levied by the FCC are pretty steep and that they are upholding them, too. You will not only receive a fine, but you will also either lose your license or get it suspended. Most likely you'll lose it. Hope the risk or "fun" is worth it to you.

Now if you just want to have the ability to transmit wherever (for that future WARC band), you are probably about to shrug off this article and dive in with screwdriver and soldering iron in hand. However, wait a minute. When's the last time you left VOX on your radio activated by mistake? Do you do any short wave listening? Hmm…there's a potential problem. Sure, you're not about to drown out the BBC, VOA, or any of the other megawatt broadcasters, not for more than a couple of blocks! But what if there is an active SWL in that range, and you get nailed? Not likely? Probably not.

There's still tons of room that's not occupied, and these megawatt broadcasters do go off the air at certain times. However, maybe when you leave your radio room and the VOX is on, your cat will start playing with the keyer (they do love to do that, trust me) or will step down on the lock button on your desk microphone. (Been there, experienced that!) Then maybe the tuning knob will get bumped, and the radio will transmit on an aircraft frequency or a military frequency. I guarantee that the military will take an "interest" in you, a very quick interest. I hear they take a rather dim view of modified radios and the excuses that go with them…

While we're still on the subject of modified HF radios, do you ever plan on going out of your country with your modified radio? I can only imagine the consequences of having a modified radio in a foreign country, even if you don't accidentally transmit with it out of band. Let's just say it might be worse than jail. Having second thoughts yet?

Now say that you want to expand the transmit capability of your VHF/UHF handheld. Are you licensed as a MARS or CAP radio operator? If you are, skip this one. You do have a legitimate reason if you are so licensed. Now if you do not have a MARS or CAP license, then I really must question why anyone in his or her right mind would want to do this. It's WAY too easy to transmit unintentionally with a handheld radio. Chances are if you have any public service frequencies programmed into your HT that when, yes when, your handheld gets it's PTT pushed down while it's on your belt it will be on a public service frequency. Call it "Murphy's Law of Modified Radios." Now unlike the SW broadcast bands, here you can cause quite a bit of interference! The capture effect of FM and repeaters are definite potential problems. You may or may not get caught with one slip, even if it is say ten minutes of accidental transmitting. However, what you may do is effectively jam or otherwise interrupt a communication where lives are at stake. Now is possibly contributing to the loss of a life worth it just because you wanted a modified dual-band HT?

There's another possibility when it comes to modified VHF/UHF radios, too. Say you're mobile in an area that questions unauthorized radios, and they want you to show them your license and radio. Then they decide to test it for some reason, and it is not only programmed to tune in their frequencies but also to transmit on them! Yes, you will be detained, and you might have your radio equipment confiscated as well. If there's been a disturbance, you might get taken to a local jail while they try to resolve the matter.

A few years back, a boy made news when he was thought to be transmitting on a police frequency. He had his Radio Shack HTX-202 2-meter HT confiscated and ended up in some legal trouble for a while until they straightened out the misunderstanding. Yes, you and I both know that an HTX-202 can only transmit and receive on the 2-meter Amateur band. However, this just demonstrates that most public service agencies and those who work for them do not know this. To them, you are of questionable character at best.

In case you do not know, if you modify your radio, you void your manufacturer's warranty. Try to explain that to the technicians when they receive your radio for repair. I know this is a moot point if your warranty has expired. However, many modifications can cause damage to a radio, making it necessary to have it repaired. There is always the chance that you'll slip with the soldering iron or wire cutters and mess things up badly, but I'm sure that you've already considered this possibility before making your decision to modify your radio, right?

I even heard one guy state that he had modified his Kenwood TS-430S to put out about 200 watts. I can't help but wonder how long the finals lasted under that kind of stress. I'm sure that he really bent some S-meters with all that extra power too… (Sometimes I wonder where people get their licenses, how they get them, if they can make the calculations when it comes to figuring out ERP, and if they even understand how many DB you gain just by increasing your output. Jeeze, I would much rather put 10 watts into a six-element mono-band beam than 200 watts into a ½ wave dipole!) Anyway, I'm sure that the guy sold the radio when it's output dropped, probably to some unsuspecting buyer…

Last, but certainly not least, there is this matter of resale. Most Amateur Radio operators will at some point sell their equipment to buy a newer model. When you go to sell your radio, it's not fair to the buyer of your radio to receive a modified radio that can cause them to be liable for accidental transmissions out of band. They didn't modify it, but it will still be their responsibility. Before I buy a used radio, one of the first things that I ask is if the radio has been modified. If it has been, I won't buy it. By modifying your radio, you are endangering its resale value.

There are, of course, many other good reasons not to modify your radio, but I think that this should at least get you thinking about it before you do it, and that was and is my intent.

I think that we, as mature Amateur Radio operators, must take time to think about the potential consequences of modifying our radios. Then we need to figure out exactly why we "need" to modify them.

73, Clinton Herbert AB7RG

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by WG7X on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Kudos for a nice article!

I too, have never understood the almost obsessive desires that some of the brethern have for opening up the transmit abilities of ham transcievers, especially the VHF/UHF type.

Now, I must admit that I have a HF transciever that was opened up, primarily for use with a six meter transverter. None of my VHF/UHF gear has been modified.

I just don't see the point. If I want to scan, I'll buy a scanner. If I want to transmit, then I'll need a type-accepted radio AND a license for the band in question.

The risks are not worth it!

73
Gary, WG7X
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I've seen the following uses of modified 2 meter HT's.

1. Shutdown one of the local taxi companies autopatches.
2. Talk over a commerical STL
3. Talk to the McDonald's drive through worker.

In other words, nothing legal.
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by XE2MZT on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I think I have a good reason. I use a UHF commercial (licensed) frecuency for business and family purposes and I didn´t want to carry around two HT's, so I just modify my Yaesu VX-5R. So far no problem with the radio and I'm operating inside the law.

 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by VK2GWK on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, sometimes we really need to modify. For example when moving from one end of the world to the other. European hams visiting the States or Australia would not have much use of their handhelds as the EU VHF band is only 144-146. And - when you are as principled as the author - any US ham visiting Europe had better modify his HT to prevent out of band transmitting!
Here in Oz the 80 M band is pretty limited compared to US/Canada (3.5-3.7 + 3.795-3.8) In Europe the 40 meter band is only 7.0-7.1 So also with unmodified equipment there is a real danger of out of band transmissions.
And.... are "cat on the key" transmissions outside the ham band worse than within the bands. Do your fellow hams not count?
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by K9CF on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Here's my situation. I've got two radios. I bought my IC-706 for my truck from EBAY and found it can TX where it isn't supposed to. Now I'm not going back in to fix it for about 90% of the reason I wouldn't modify it in the first place. That is, I might mess it up and in the case of this 706, I most certainly will. It is a surface mounted diode I will have to replace. I’ll also add that the EBAY auction didn’t mention anything about it being modified in this way.

My base station is an IC-751 was given to me from work. It was modified before I got it to work military applications. And it was done so for legitimate reasons I will hasten to add.

I prevent my cat from keying my transmitter (he isn’t licensed for either ham or mars bands) by denying him the keys to my truck and turning off the power to my rig in the shack. So far, ‘Peaty’, my cat hasn’t shown any radio pirate tendencies. I’ll keep vigilant though. (Actually, I do have a boy who might get into mischief—I’ll watch him too!)

So, to what extent should I worry about resale of opened transmission radios?

In comment, I find that I hate to have a capability denied me. If the radio is capable of out of band operation and it’s prevented from doing so by a simple jumper, then—Hey!—I want my full money’s worth. Even if I’ll never hit the TX key outside of the frequencies I’m allowed to. It’s human nature.

Something that might quell the community’s eagerness to open up their transmitters is the simple fact that There ain’t anybody to talk to out there. The only out of band activity I’ve ever heard seems to be above the CB band but below 28MHz. And judging from the conversations that I over hear, I’m in no hurry to join in. Ham operators distinguish themselves very well when compared to the typical free-bander and 11meter skip hunter.

Let it be known that there are no signs of intelligent life outside of the legitimate bands.

I relinquish the stump for the next bush preacher. Pass the plate.
73 de K9CF Mark L. Martin



 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by N6VHF on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Out of band radios are a big problem....

I hear clowns on the local police channels jamming, saying they are an "officer down", etc. It just gives ham radio a bad name with the public service.

I also know of people in public service that use their ham stuff on the public service frequencies while at work. I could care less, but as you know, the ham gear is not "type accepted" for that use. The same goes for commercial use.

What is the point? What happens if your rig accidentally gets turned onto the local PD freuqency and you give out your callsign before you realize that you are on the PD channel? Guess what... Your callsign is now on tape and you will probably get busted!

Some people say that they have it for emergencies... I have heard stories of hams that have used the PD frequencies in an emergency and then get in trouble afterwards...

My 2 cents worth....

73,
Neil
 
Not all mods are Evil.  
by WB9YCJ on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Some dont realize "factory" approved mods are published or made available post design. That is, mods to correct or improve design concerns after the radio has "hit the street". For example, my Yaesu has had several "factory" authorized mods to make a good product even better. You might want to check with the manufacture of your rig to see if it is subject to improvement mods. I agree with not making MARS/CAP mods unless needed. You'll be pretty red faced after realizing you've been calling CQ for 30 seconds on 11.175 MHz (Strategic Air Command).
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by WA4CNG on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Not really. I have done a couple in the past,and do not do now, but I turned the coin over and used Commerically Type Accepted gear on the Ham Bands (150 and 450). 150mhz Uniden 50 channel radio had 40 Ham frequencies in it, and 10 commercial, including a local PD Channel (had the maintenance contract and callsign). It was interesting in years past at Hamfests, to watch the "Radio Mods Guy" take in $50 per radio to remove 2 diodes or one jumper and hand your radio back to you smiling. Most radio's are too simple to modify, the red and or blue jumper, press function and turn on. Manufacturers are ALSO to share some of the blame, after all they made them so they could be "Opened". Hmmmm, sounds like another article...
 
RE: Not all mods are Evil.  
Anonymous post on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
The introduction of Family Radio Service (FRS) gave me the perfect excuse to modify my dualband mobiles and HTs. I knew at the time of "neutering" my radios that transmitting on the FRS frequencies wasn't "technically" legal as the radios were not type-accepted for those frequencies and power output, modulation levels and antenna systems did not conform to the FRS standards. But, I was eager to "have it all", so I clipped, snipped, and soldered away!

Since then, I've used the radio's to talk on FRS maybe once, and have mistakingly transmitted on commercial repeater systems twice that many times. I'm just lucky they were rinky-dink repeater systems and not the police department repeater systems that I transmitted (and threw out my callsign) on. With all the bells, whistles, and features of the dualband radios today, it is VERY easy to mistakingly transmit where you're not supposed to -- and you feel like a real putz when you do!! Don't say it won't happen to you, because it eventually will, as it did to me.

I've also learned about the negative side effects of modifying your radio -- increased intermod, poorer receive sensitivity, and so on. So, I made up my mind several months ago that I would not have any more modified ham equipment -- all the negatives that come with modifying the radio (mistake illegal transmissions, declined receive performance, etc) do not compensate for the benefits received for being able to illegally transmit on the FRS (or other "free" radio service) frequencies.

I "unmodified" the radios I could, and sold the rest on eBay. I did clearly describe the radios as being "modified" on eBay, and to my amazement they actually sold for more than I expected -- I guess hams today would rather buy something already modified than have to do the dirty work themselves. I'm done with modified radios -- it's just not worth it. I decided to splurge and spend a whole $20 on an FRS radio off eBay -- then I could transmit legally, keep my ham gear in the best possible operating condition, avoid any potential "legal problems" from my modified equipment, and, best of all, have a clear conscience.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
if you listen you are ok.

If you transmit you are in violation
of the law.

73 om
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
if the radio is stolen and falls into the
wrong hands, it could cause big problems.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I recently recieved an Icom 2100H stock mobile 2 meter radio. This came from a nationwide chain of stores in the U.S. (although I'd rather not say which one). If you own one, you know that they have extended receive, and if you are up around say 150 Mhz and you key the mic, it will just say "OFF" on the display, and of course it won't transmit. However, I was just fooling around, and found out that the actual transmit for the radio is from 140 Mhz to 149.99 Mhz. It says right in the manual that it only transmits from 144 to 148, but surprise, the manual is wrong. This sucker is factory sealed, and has never been modified. I bought it brand new. Why the extended transmit? I don't have a clue. The only mod out for the radio opens the transmit up from 137 to 170, or something like that, so it doesn't even seem like it's been modified. But I'm glad I discovered that so I'm not assuming that I'm safe messing with the PTT key just because I'm out of band!
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by VK2HL on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
As a frequent traveller to the Outback here in Australia, I need a radio that is capable of transmitting on the Royal Flying Doctor Service frequencies, capable of transmitting on the National 4WD HF network and of course the HAM bands, and no, I do not want to carry 3 Radio's. As a responsible amateur, I would not contemplate transmitting out of band, EXCEPT in an emergency. Then it is of course perfectly legal to do so! Since I am capable and entitled to built my own equipment AND put it to air on any amateur band, I believe I am also capable of ensuring that my radio will not cause interference to other stations or services, even if it were altered to increase the transmitting range. Almost any commercially available amateur transmitter is capable of transmitting well OUTSIDE the ham bands WITHOUT modifications. What is the difference between 100khz out of band or 1 Mhz out of band? The fact that I hold an amateur licence means I am responsible for my actions and qualified to operate and maintain my own equipment. I can understand and support authorities taking a dim view of unlicensed people who own transmitting equipment, no matter where it is capable of transmitting. An Amateur has earned the privilege of operating a multitude of equipment, commercial or homebrew, on many frequencies, therefore if he or she chooses to make modifications for whatever reasons it is their business, provided they comply with the relevant licensing conditions!
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by BERT on October 23, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Hello everybody,

I certainly will not address the issue of right or wrong...it most assuredly is a violation of FCC rules. After all, our great country was founded on the violation of laws. Our founding fathers saw it as "right," and the British, well...ask the FCC. I will however offer a possible suggestion as to why ALL the manufacturers make their rigs so "modification friendly" without any moral judgement. It is the will of the people. Yes, that's right..."We The People" did it.

Take a look at one of the most legendary "freeband" rigs around, the Yaesu FT101E. Better yet, the FT-757GX with a microswitch, no less. I'm sure it can be argued that there are MARS/CAPS, emergency situations and a myriad of other reasons to "justify" the ease of this capability...but after 23+ years "observing" the phenomena without bias, I rather call it straight.

So a straight answer to the original question posed is actually contained within the query itself. "Why do WE really need to modify?" When you say "we" you overlooked that "we" includes many that do not feel the same as "you." So many, in fact, that ALL the major manufacturer of amateur equipment feel it necessary to repond to the most basic business principle...the law(no pun intended) of supply and demand. The exception to the rule is the new Radio Shack HTX-10 10 meter rig, it is NOT modifiable. The company that manufactures(actually imports is a better term) the radio is RF Ltd. To give you an idea of this principle at work; RF Ltd. also markets the modifiable version as it's own Magnum 257...but demand is so great that the radio is also marketed under no less than two other monikers, SuperStar & Eagle immediately come to mind. Also for all the hub bub about 11 meter "linyars," find one amateur amp not easily modified to cover 10/12 meters. The manufacturers claim the capability is there for "EXPORT"...sound familiar? The FCC/ARRL will never bully the "big three" manufacturers around like they did Radio Shack for reason$ best understood by an economics major.

I have an FT-840 that I simply refuse to modify, same goes for my Uniden Grant XL(other than increased filtering and a speech processor for the Uniden) for all the reasons mentioned above. Hope this has not wrankled any feathers but I tend to look at the big picture as unbiasedly as humanly possible and call it as I see it. I absolutely respect each and every opinion expressed here.(unless it's threatening...which I sadly viewed yesterday) Although I don't want to modify my gear, if it's your choice...IT'S YOUR CHOICE. Thanks for such a great forum and 73 to you all.

Bert
SSB411D
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KB8POA on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I have to agree with the author. In most cases there is no reason to modify a radio. I've only done it once in my life. It always drove me crazy that my Kenwood TH-79 didn't have out of band receive on the 440 side. That was the only time I've ever done one.

As to the comments about the Icom 2100H transmitting out of band without a mod. My Icom Q7A does the same thing. I was surprised to find that it transmits from 140 to 150 Mhz out of the box! Strangly, it'll do that but the darn thing will only transmit down to 440 Mhz on the UHF side. When will Icom and Kenwood learn that some amateurs may actually want to transmit on 430 Mhz with their HTs and mobiles?

73 de Walt, kb8poa...
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by W0FMS on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I am a MARS op, so thats why my HF is opened up. I also have a little Radio Shack HTX-100 that is
opened up to transmit from 26-30 MHz.. but then again the finals are disabled and it runs my DEMI transverters...

I was unfortunate enough to witness a fellow ham pass away a few weekends ago of a heart attack at a Boy Scout Camporee, at the ham radio demonstration there. Luckily one of the hams had a "wide open" HT, and KNEW the scout master's comm frequency. He called for help on this frequency, and the
ambulance that was on site was there within three minutes. If his HT was not opened up, someone
would have had to run 1/3 mile to get help. (And most hams are not fast runners!!)

Yes the poor guy died-- we didn't know it at the time, but he had a history. If it was someone else
there who would have had his first heart attack, it might have been the difference between life and
death for that person. Personally, after witnessing this incident, I'll take my chances with accidental
out of band transmissions-- the "open" HT was a potential lifesaver.

Remember, though, in the US it IS ILLEGAL to transmit out of band with a modified radio, even if you
have a license for the other service because the radio is not type accepted for the other use. The exception to this is when you operate out of the FCC's authority, such as DoD MARS or CAP-- or in the
above case where there was a definate emergency situation.

Fred W0FMS / AAR7DV
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by N6TGK on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I don't know why I modify my radios... I just do. I don't transmit out of band. I used to use my radios to listen to the local police and sheriff's department as I was a dispatcher for the sheriff's department at the time and it was nice to know what was going on before I got to work. To prevent accidental transmitting problems I didn't bother programming the inputs for their repeaters or the correct tone for encode. That way if the mic were ever accidentally pressed I wasn't heard. But it never happened anyway and now both the PD and sheriff are on an 800MHz trunked system so I don't go out of band for anything anymore.

Before the sheriff's department went to their digital trunked system, they were on a UHF system. Several years ago their was a situation in the mountains of the east county. Two men were hiking and one of them slipped and fell down a steep hill. The man ended up with some pretty nasty injuries that were life threatening. His hiking campanion tried his cell phone to call for help... nothing. It just so happened he was an amateur radio operator and had a dual-band HT that was modified. He tried all of his programmed 2 meter and 70 cm repeaters but wasn't able to get through to any because of the terrain. He was, however, able to get into the repeater for the deputies patrolling the rural back country and used that to call for help. Help was sent and the injured man was life flighted to the nearest hospital 50 miles away. A happy ending you would think except that the sheriff's department filed a complaint with the FCC and the FCC took his radio AND suspended his license. I, for one, would have done the SAME thing if I were in that amateur's shoes and even though I worked for the sheriff's department at the time I felt he did the right thing and the department took a LOT of flack from the community over their complaint to the FCC. The community's position, as well as mine and several other amateur radio operators, was that the injured man was in jeapordy of losing his life. His friend did all he could to get help through LEGAL channels and only used the sheriff's frequency as a LAST resort so we all felt that no action should have been taken against him. Besides, the FCC rules state that in an emergency you may use any means necessary to save life. Just something to think about.

Have a good one.
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by W4MGY on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Another fine article by Clint Herbert. However, I don't worry so much about modified equipment. My old Paragom will tramsmit 1.6-30 MHz, and I have a HT as well as a 2 meter mobile rig that was sold to me 'opened' up for MARS/CAP. None had warrenties when I got them, so it is no big deal to me. We do not have pets, the kids are grown, and I use my radios in a responsible manner.

There are people, however, I have personally kmown who will take a brand new radio out of the box and modify it for all band transmit for use it on the 'freeband' frequencies. Yes, there are hams who would rather run 'freeband', than talk legally on frequencies thay are licensed to use. (Most are Techs who never got over the CB good ole boy mindset.) I have never understand what the hell the big attraction to the freeband is about. But that's beside the point.

One factor I do take issue with is this idea that a radio has to be 'type acceipted' to be operated on frequencies outside the amateur bands. Is this to imply that ham radio gear is inferior to the mandated FCC rules for type acceipted equipment? More likly, type acceiptance was a policy adopted by the FCC because of pressure from commercial manufaturers; to enable them to have a monopoly on the commercial marketplace.

If a life or death emergency ever came up; I have access to the local police or ambulance frequencies via most of my personal radio gear. You better beleive I'd use them to save a life. It is still better to ask forgiveness than permission whan a life is at stake.
 
Oh, give me land, lots of land...  
by K5IQ on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Clinton has provided us with another thought-provoking article. I would suggest that many hams modify their gear just because they can. They like the feeling of not being hemmed in by constraints, even if they never plan to stray beyond those constraints. They may even feel kinship to the earlier breed of ham who, if he really wanted to, could dig in his junk box and whip up a transmitter to operate anywhere he wanted to. In theory, at least, by passing our licensing exams, we have supposedly shown we have the knowledge to accomplish this anyway (and many really can).

Even if someone has a legitimate reason to operate outside the Amateur Radio bands, there is also the question of type acceptance. As a long time CAP member I can tell you that it is becoming harder and harder to legally use modified ham gear because it doesn't always meet increasingly stringent standards based on military specifications. Of course, the CAP hierarchy has also decreed that its ham members are forbidden to use Amateur Radio in support of Civil Air Patrol missions under the suprisingly goofy notion that its volunteers are "federal employees", but that's a discussion for another day!

I will say this, though--I wholeheartedly subscribe to the notion that it is better to beg forgiveness than permission; I would rather have the capability of using a non-type-accepted radio to save a life than the smug satisfaction of knowing that I've met the letter of the law. On more than a few search and rescue missions having the sheriff's office, the Coast Guard, the CAP, and ham radio in one H-T was a godsend, even if the rig wasn't type accepted for all those services.

Whether or not to modify ham gear, and then whether or not to actually operate out of band, are really matters of common sense. Then again, judging from the folks who insist on asking, "What's his QSL information?" on top of a DXpedition's transmit frequency, maybe common sense is in shorter supply than I thought.
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by K5DRM on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
First let me say that I agree with the author. With that said let me also say about 50% of my radios have a Freeband modification of one type or another. When I first got into ham radio I was one of the hams that had the option "modify because you can". Now being older and more experienced I have come to realized that modification not needed. Granted MARS/CAP users have a valid excuse, but I don't recommend it for the average users. As the years pass on and I acquire more radio's I'm sure my percentage of modified radios will start to drop. My 2 Cents
 
The Compulsion to Modify is Healthy !!  
by K1BRF on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Hams are individuals characterized by an intense dislike of constraints and a love to explore. In my observation, all you have to do to get the juices flowing in a meeting (or on a chat board) is to say "that can't be done". You promptly get buried in ways it probably "could" be done. Mods are just more of the same. It is the day when hams STOP trying to modify and tinker with everything they touch when I will become worried about the future of the hobby. Tinkering with the perfectly designed item to make it better or different teaches, extends, stimulates and makes us what we are. Go Modify.
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I AGREE THAT HAM RADIO GEAR SHOULD NOT BE MODIFIED TO TRANSMIT ON THE "PUBLIC SERVICE" FREQUENCIES SIMPLY BECAUSE IT MAY INTERFERE WITH EMERGENCY TRAFFIC. I HAVE AN ALINCO DJG5TH DUAL BAND HT THAT ONLY TRANSMITS FROM 438.00 - 449.00. IF SOMEONE WANTS TO USE THE HT TO WORK AMATEUR SATELLITE, GUESS WHAT?? IT HAS TO BE MODIFIED TO TRANSMIT FROM 435.00 - 438.00, WHICH ARE LEGAL HAM RADIO FREQUENCIES. I CONTACTED ALINCO, WHO SAID THE ONLY WAY THAT THE RADIO WILL TRANSMIT WITHIN THAT RANGE IS TO MODIFY THE RADIO. SHOULDN'T ALL HAM RADIOS HAVE THE CAPABLILITY TO TRANSMIT IN THE LEGAL FREQUENCY RANGES THAT THEY ARE INTENTED TO BE USED FOR WITHOUT ANY MODIFICATIONS?
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by WA4FOM on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I've made many mods to radios over the years, but
never ones to permit out-of-band operation. As
the wise man said, it's Murphy's Law of Modified
Radios: if it is possible to transmit out-of-band,
it will happen at the worst possible moment. The
manufacturers deliberately restricted my radio to
the frequencies for which it was intended, and I say
bravo! I worked too long and too hard to get my
license to take ANY risk, however small, that may
mean losing it.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I would answer the rhetorical question in the article's title with a hearty "YES"! Really, this is a personal choice and if one feels better not modifying their radio, so be it. If they are of like mind with myself and many others out there, then I say "DO IT"! I apologize for the "Anonymous" post as I usually don't do that, but for reasons that may become obvious, I choose to do so this time. I have a dual-band ht, two dual-band mobiles, and one 2-meter mobile that are modified for out of band xmit. I made sure that my mother, who is also a ham, has a 2 meter mobile and 2 meter ht that are fully opened. These radios are programmed with all local police, fire and ambulance channels in her area, as well as appropriate ham frequencies. I have made it abundantly clear that if she were in a wreck, earthquake, or other unfortunate situation, if her life depends on getting expedient help, she is to use these channels and worry about who she may have pi--ed off later. Same goes for my own use of my radios. The rules say a licensed ham can use any frequency, mode, or power level in a life threatening emergency and some cases of poor and retentive judgement by a certain sheriff's department out west and the FCC's acquiescing in that bad decision notwithstanding, that is just what I am prepared to do if necessary. I won't even bother to get too deep into the argument some would make about using a cell phone instead. I have heard some of the most incompetent dispatchers the world had to offer in recent years. We're talking about 30 minute delays on broadcasting calls to police involving fights with weapons, violent strangers in businesses, and worse when there are officers available to take calls. If my hiney or that of a loved one is on the line, I do not wish to put their well being in the hands of someone who may not do the right thing in time to save them. A direct call for help on the air WILL bring an immediate response.Page 2 To Follow...
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 24, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Page 2 Also, I am a police officer in a metropolitan area and my department is too cheap to see to it that we have take-home radios or even enough to go around when on duty and when working the numerous festivals, parades, and other events that they require us to attend. Yes, I know that it is technically not kosher to use moded (non-type accepted) radios for this purpose, but it is not hurting anything, the department does not complain, and as such the likelihood of getting any official flak over this is negligible. I have also used this radio to maintain contact with mall and store security in my part of town with productive results on more occasions than I can count. They seem glad to have a means of direct contact with us when they have a "hot" situation in progress and none of them have ever complained about this. I can hear the cries and groans of the anal retentive now. How dare I?!!?! To that I will touch on a comment I saw in an earlier post about having cars that will go much faster than the legal speed limits. Do you drive? Have you ever gone over the posted speed limit? Ever violate any traffic laws? If you answered with other than a "yes" the word "liar" comes to mind. NObody gets behind the wheel of a car and drives more than a few miles without violating at least one or two laws and oftentimes several. The laws are so numerous that total compliance with all of them is not a practical possibility. Fortunately for all of us, not all of them are enforced all of the time and a cop is not there watching us every minute of the day. Most laws are there for good reasons and attempting to comply is usually the best way to do things for everyone concerned, however, common sense and good judgement needs to prevail in all cases. If the interstates were covered with slick glass-like ice and cars were sliding around all over the place, would you still operate your vehicle at 45 MPH or faster to avoid breaking the "Minimum Speed" rules?
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by RFBUFF on October 25, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
To the anonymous P.O. BRAVO!!!, well said.
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KI8JQ on October 25, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
A quick note for those modifying HTs for licensed commercial frequencies:
It is legal to use a commercial radio to transmit on ham frequencies, provided the operator is properly licensed. It is NOT LEGAL to use a ham HT on business frequencies, as the ham HT is not "type accepted" for commercial radio service. Check the FCC regs for details.

73 de KI8JQ - Phil
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KF4MFQ on October 25, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I find it very hard to believe that someone from the ARRL Headquarters Operators Club would take such a position. If you did, legitamately, OK. If you did'nt, shame on you, false/misleading IDing is far worse than not IDing at all!
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by BERT on October 25, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
What informayion was false &/or misleading? I ask because I want to learn as much as possible but I want it to be accurate as well. Please respond on this thread or directly via e-mail at SSB411D@cs.com. Thanks in advance for the info.

73 de Bert
SSB411D

 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 25, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with one writer if you want to operate on lower UHF frequencies most dualband radios must be "opened up". Having the manufacturers sell wide band radios would end the need to modify them.Also most dual band radios when modified will transmit onto the lower UHF range of 420-450mhz where many repeater links. Having a modified radio at link sites or backup link is very handy when the need arises.

I agree with some of the other comments on the responsibility lies with the user. Gentlemen, this is HAM RADIO. Ham Radio would not be Amateur Radio if we were not free to tinker and modify our radios including "opening up" the most capabilities. A modified HF rig or VHF/UHF dualband radio can also be used a signal generator fed into a dummy load. Another positive use of "modified" radios.

Myself I feel that much of junk we hear on our dual band radios is from the poor synthesizer technology.
If some of the writers feel so strong about amateurs not being able to mod our radios, consider
Type Acceptance. Maybe its about time ALL DUALBAND RADIOS and HTs come under this so users can legally use FRS and HAM frequencies out of the box? But would the manufacturers accept this?
I don' know but I believe it should be brought up the Amateur community at large.

My background has been with commercial systems for many years and I use commercial equipment on the ham bands exclusively. I find superior construction and maintainance compared to radios such as
the icom 706 and the like. Besides with Part-90 specs I can come up on emergency statewide freqs and others with radios meant to be there. I find it humorous emergency groups using icom 735 HF on goverment frequencies when they are in clear violation(besides they show the radio on their website).
As long as their working with goverment emergency operations they should be using Part-90 HF radios such as Rockwell Collins, Sunair, Harris, Transworld, SGC, Cubic and the like. And I will take my high end Motorola VHF/UHF over any Alinco, Kenwood, Icom and ADI junk.


"To mod or not to mod, that is the question?"
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KL0QQ on October 26, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Our local radio club bought two Bendix King programable radios to use when working in concert with local public agencys. The other more important thing we did is make sure that all agencys from the red cross to the state police and national guard had full ham support. This included training their people as hams and giving them plenty of ham volunteers. This way no ham ever has to dirty his hands on the public service bands.
That having been said I sure wish that I could use my little dual band legally on the frs freqs. But more than that I wish that those frs radios had wide band recieve, what a wasted chance to introduce people to ham radio.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by VK2QR on October 26, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Just remember one thing.
In Australia it is ILLEGAL to modify any Amateur radio for out of band. You don't have to be caught transmitting on it to be in trouble either.
Just having the good old ts-430 with diodes removed in your shack is enough, oh and don't think you can get away with the story "but it isnt connected". Dont belive me? Then I can show you the Bluey(breach of regulation) I received from the Australian communications authority.

Cheers: Bob(Naughty)Mackie VK2QR
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by K3YD on October 26, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
The initial posting referenced "modification" but went on to discuss only enhanced transmit frequency coverage.
I can quickly think of two very valid (and legal) reasons to expand transmit frequency capabilities of an HF radio:
1. For MARS/CAP operation which occurs increasing on frequencies far removed from amateur bands (i.e. 5.4 MHz, 8.8 MHz). [Yep, I belong to Army MARS]
2. To use a transceiver as a tunable exciter/i.f. with a VHF (or UHF) transverter.

Beyond that, I've modifed virtually every radio I've ever owned: added filters, changed diodes in mixer or noise blanker, added control functions to various circuits, changed AGC time constants, built in SWR bridges, etc. I call it, "Undoing the damage of the cost accountants!"

Let's face it, radios are manufactured to earn a profit and the very best component is sometimes replaced with a less costly item, or omitted altogether. Also, radios are designed to serve many uses and users. The average rag-chewer might not appreciate cascaded 2.1 KHz i.f. filters--the avid contester will, and she'll pay $300 more to have them! So, a degree of customization is in order for many of us.

Oh, the last reason . . . . Because I Can! I have a Federal license to transmit on certain frequencies, and I can build, modify or buy my radio to do so.

If someone is ILLEGALLY and INTENTIONALLY transmitting on frequencies where they are not licensed, stop them, fine them jail them--whatever! But don't try to prevent the crimes of a few by killing the amateur radio spirit of radio tinkering and suggesting that we should accept exactly what Tokyo or Sevierville makes for us.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by AA4PB on October 26, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Most ham gear is not FCC type accepted for use on commercial frequencies so even if you have a commercial license it is NOT legal to use a modified ham rig on commercial frequencies.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KC8NWX on October 27, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
You know, in a way getting in trouble just for possessing a modified radio doesn't make sense. I mean, I understand the "type acceptance" issue people are bringing up, and I understand about accidentally transmitting out of band (in fact, I'm SURE that if I opened the transmit on my Icom 2100H, I'd accidentally hit the local police or sherrif's repeater). BUT, what about all of the hams who have built their own radios? I read countless stories about that. I could guarantee the guy sitting there building his own HF rig isn't going to lock out all non-ham bands. So what about them? Would they get in trouble for owning a radio that transmits out of band? I know we are mainly talking VHF/UHF here, but that is something to think about.
Dave
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by N9CV on October 28, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
In the Australian post, I think we are seeing the basic difference in attitudes of a semi-socialized form of government and a free one. The idea posted here is that the gov't must protect us from ourselves, hence you may not posess a modified radio because you might do something wrong. It is the same line of thinking that gave them socialized medicine and made it illegal (except under highly restricted circumstances) to own/posess a firearm.

In the US we have the freedom and the attached responsibilty to make decisions at a personal level. Individual law violaters are punished or restricted rather than the public at large. There are reasons for owning guns and modified radios. In the US modified radios just like guns are not illegal (except in a few locations like the Peoples Republic of Chicago) to own or posess. It is illegal, in most cases, to shoot someone or operate out of band.

Personally, I'll take the freedom and attached responsibility over big brother, with high taxes, and big government any day. With that said, let me state that I do not own a modified radio, but I could if I wanted to. That is the major difference.

This post was not intended to offend anyone from Australia. I have been there several times and the people and country are wonderful. We just have a different approach to the roles and responsibilities of the government and also what is the right and wrong side of the road. I think this was reflected in the Australian post.
73 Ken
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by AB8IG on October 28, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Why modify? Why do people bungee jump off bridges or sky dive? Why do we own sports cars that are capable of going 160 MPH? Why own a firearm if we don't intend to hunt? Why do dogs lick themselves? Why become a ham?
In America, our right to move our fist stops at our neighbor's nose. Certainly we hams don't intend to trespass on the property of other other spectrum users but radio mods are allowed under the privelages of our licenses. Unlike most government agencies, the FCC has been protective of the spectrum allowed to ham radio operators. If I want to cut the 'blue wire' in my RF amp, or remove diode 'D-42' from my rig, it is nobody's business except mine. It is my resposibility to control transmissions from my station and I am confident that I am able to do it. If you can't control the animals in your home, turn off the transmitter.
N9CV stated his viewpoint much better than I can. I'd hate to see the day when ham equipment must be 'FCC type accepted'. That may very well be the demise of the amateur radio service.
In the USA, the government does not issue privelages but it does restrict our rights in order to prevent damage to our neighbors.
There is enough assault on the ham radio community without damage from within. We need to protect the freedom we have by operating responsibly or we may all be relegated to buying our frequency from cell phone companies.
Jim
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by AB7RG on October 28, 2000 Mail this to a friend!

To N9CV; my article was not meant to in any way shape form or fashion to suggest that the government (in the United States), should impose laws to keep us from owning modified or modifying radios. I merely wanted to point out some of the risks involved, many operators do not know. One can easily take a look at the recent FCC enforcement log, and see how many fellow hams are getting nailed for transmitting on the 11 meter CB band with modified Amateur Radio gear. So I think that alone states that we better educate a few of our fellow hams before they do something stupid. As for the government "saving us from ourselves", good grief I hope they never try that in Amateur Radio, like they have elsewhere, that's all we need! My article, if read for what it is, and if it helps keep others out of trouble just might help to keep "big brother" involved when they start to think that we can't be self-policing... None of my radios are modified either. I do have the modification papers, just in case we do get a new WARC band, but until that happens they stay box stock.

To AB8IG; If you hate to see the day that ham equipment my be "type accepted", don't go outside. That ad whenever a new radio comes out that has the fine print at the bottom that reads: "This device has not been approved by the FCC. This device may not be sold or leased, or offered for sale or lease, until approval of the FCC has been obtained." Don't totally panic, we're still allowed to homebrew anything we want and put it on the air, which is a lot of fun I might add. We can even modify a Motorola commercial HT and put it on the Amateur bands and it'll work great. And fear not, all of the animals (I call them pets), in my house are all under control, and do not even have access to my radio room. A keyer, mike, or whatever can be messed with if the rig is off as well as on, or on the Amateur bands as well. (I don't know how many times I've heard on air "conversations" where it turned out some fellow Amateur had left his VOX on.)

The bottom line is that we, as responsible Amateur Radio operators have to think before we leap. If we don't, the government just might decide to "think" for us. If that happens we're all in trouble. Let's continue to be self-policing and try to help out our fellow Amateur Radio operators.

73, Clinton Herbert AB7RG/9

 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by A0MAN on October 28, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I DOUBT THAT MODED RADIOS EXPERIENCE INTERMOD DUE TO THEIR BEING MODIFIED BUT RATHER DUE TO POOR RF DESIGN!
DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KC7YCL on October 28, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Why does everybody care so much? If somebody wants to modify their radio, I don't give a sh*t. If I want to modify MY radio, who gave YOU the right to tell me I'm wrong for doing so? Is your life really so boring that you need lecture me? Mind your own business.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 29, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Amen!...A bit colorful with the implied expletive but nevertheless hits the nail on the head. This was a baited question to begin with.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 29, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
In reply to Bob Mackie's post. It would be a fascinating argument for a lawyer. To determine that your radio is illegal because it can transmit 1 meg out of band, whereas another unmodified, can only go 999Khz, is ok???? What utter stupidity. If we had to use type approved equipment, then there would be no argument. But we don't.
I think you might have dealt with an overzealous official (there are some about).

 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
Anonymous post on October 29, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Modified radios are much like cars. There are those who have the technical knowledge to even get inside today's ham rigs. And besides from what I have seen during HAM SALES is that a properly modified rig is actually worth more. I have to agree with one of the writer's that radio companies are out for the bottom dollar(ex Ten Tec not placing an RF GAIN on the Scout
HF transceiver). A mod followed in CQ magazine to undo what Ten Tec could not afford to do.

I can say from experience that it is nice to purchase a modified HF rig from an technically experienced DX and or CONTESTER. They care about narrow filters and getting every dollar from their radios. MODIFIED RADIOS are a GOOD THING
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KF4ZGZ on October 30, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Where's the soapbox?
As a Ham Operator and an ARES AEC I carry my ht EVERYWHERE. I also notice when someone is wearing or carrying a radio. Pay attention the next time you see someone with a ht. I have seen countless non-Hams carrying the FT-50r(my fav ht)or a version thereof. WHY? It's small, compact and very capabile.PLUS it is sold in various configurations. Do you have a pilot friend ? He could be carrying a ft-50(maybe with a different name -but look at ,same radio!).I'm sure Yeasu isn't the only manufacturee doing this. It's easy money. The problem is that the "type acceptance" regs can flucuate as needed.It would seem that only the programming is all that separates acceptance from non-acceptance. So much for non-biased observations,now on to my 2 cents.
THE problem is the ops. regardless of what the radio is capable of doing, it still requires an op to make it do it! Unfortunately, self-regulation has become more of a pipedream than anything else. The world is fine ....it's the people in it that cause the problems.
Thanks fer the soapbox...73...NEXT!
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by N1YLN on October 30, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT!!!
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by AD6LR on November 9, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Hello All,

My motto is:

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, improve it!!!

Irving
AD6LR
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by W5HTW on December 3, 2000 Mail this to a friend!

Today's radios are often (though not always) manufactured by foreign companies and are designed to operate in foreign bands as well. In addition, recent relaxation of regulations in the Marine HF band has made rigs such as the Icom 706 and others very well suited for such operations. Carrying one radio onboard a sailing vessel and being able to operate 14 mhz, 16, 11, 8 or other marine or ham frequencies is convenient.

But most of us are not shipboard. Nor are we MARS or CAP. We really don't "need" this capability. However ham radio was not born on Type Acceptance. It was born on innovation. Many of us spent our earlier years modifying commercial gear to go to ham bands, as we could not afford commercially manufactured amateur radio gear. We bought military surplus transmitters for five bucks and we put them on the ham bands. That 'was' a sort of built-in factor of ham radio; being able to modify the equipment, having the skills to do so, and needing to.

A close look at 50s and 60s ham radio equipment shows a lot of it was easily retuned outside ham bands. When I needed to get on Air Force MARS, I simply replaced the mixer crystal in the 80 meter band, and my Heath HW100 went well into the 4.2 MHZ range. It also covered CAP frequencies.

My Collins S-Line will operate in most places in the HF spectrum by simply changing crystals, as will a Drake or Hallicrafters line.

The state of ham radio no longer requires that kind of expertise. We are mostly a type-accepted hobby, and I suspect we are going to become much more so, not just voluntarily, but under near-future regulations. The need to modify radios is going to disappear entirely, and probably the right so as well. Tamper proof (or at least tamper resistant to the average ham) radios 'are' possible, though far more expensive.

My 706 will transmit anywhere in the HF spectrum. Why? Because I read about the famous 'yellow wire' mod to improve sensitivity in the 150 MHZ range, and on the same internet page was the opened transmit mod. So while I was in there, I did them both. I have zero reason to transmit outside the ham bands, and grew up in fear of the FCC (a fear I wish still existed in the hobby!) I spent a lot of years with commercial and amateur licenses I did not wish to jeopardize. But I also spent a lot of years with rigs like the ARC5 40 meter transmitter, which could tune from 6.9 MHZ to perhaps (memory is shakey here) 8 MHZ or better. I had the personal integrity not to transmit then on 7.6 mhz and I still do.

That's really what it's all about. My truck will run around 100 mph, but I have the common sense not to do it. My car may run 110, but I know I don't have to do it. I can put the Jeep in 4-wd drive and cut across the neighbor's yards, but I don't have to do it. I can improperly tune my Collins S-line, even with the correct crystals in there, and be far, far out of band, without any modification at all. But I am competent enough not to do it, and with enough respect for myself not to do it.

So I think that's what it really comes down to. We are hams; we modify. It was what we were 'born' doing! It is how the hobby came into existence. But modifying, and using illegaly, are different things.

It comes down to personal integrity.

73
Ed,W5HTW


 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KL0PE on December 15, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
I am a firm opponent of "mods" because they are dangerous. I've read more than one internet post from someone saying, "I MODIFIED MY RADIO AND NOW IT WON'T DO (whatever function)!!!!! WHAT DO I DO!!!!" Sometimes the "malfunction" almost makes the radio inoperable. After spending my hard earned coin on a factory radio the last thing I want to do is open the case, void the warrenty, and damage the rig! Plus there is the danger of illegal transmissions. Now my kit built K2 is a different story. I have already performed several function enhancing mods to it, but that's the beauty of kits.

But here's an interesting story: I once had a Yaesu FT-50 that was experiencing some receive problems. So I sent it back to Yaesu under warrenty, and when it came back, the receive problem was fixed but it now had expanded transmit! I discovered this quirk when I accidently hit the PTT switch while listening to a NOAA broadcast and saw the "TX" LED light up. Boy was I freaked! After a bit of expermentation, I discovered that I could transmit from about 138 to 180 and like 400 to 470 MHz. While I never got the radio "fixed" it did kind of worry me that I could easily key-up on the local police frequency, so on all my memories outside of the ham bands, I made sure my power was set to 0.1 Watt just in case. However, I did press the radio into service as a portable 2-way at work.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KL0PE on December 15, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Another comment, assuming that anybody is actually still reading this thread: I don't care what kind of emergency you are facing, calling for help on a police frequency is not guarenteed to get you assistence more expiediantly than by using other, legal, means. In fact, it may do more to harm the efficient operation of an emergency dispatch than to achieve the desired results. Imagine a dispatcher trying to issue orders to a field crew while a paniced caller keeps cutting in to call for help.

And if you do feel the need to key up on a police frequency, you had better have a damn good reason (excuse my language) and be able to explain why convential communications were not available or you could be facing a stiff fine or other punishment.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by K0DKJ on December 29, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
"Inside the law" ? That Yaesu H-T is NOT approved
for commercial use !
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by XE2WCG on January 8, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Well I guess that the question regarding to mod or no to mod a radio is full of rethoric. I personally have most of my radios moded, some of the radios were already moded when I got them and some other were moded by me. I can tell you that I live in a city that is also a port in the Gulf of Mexico, that I do monitor a lot VHF marine frequencies and HF marine frequencies specially during the hurricane season, also I do monitor a lot of the public safety frequencies on my area, so far I haven't been involved on a situation that requires me to TX out of band on those or other frequencies, but if there is an emergency situation and I can help, let me tell you that I WILL TRANSMIT!!
IF I GET BUSTED, FINED OR LOOSE MY LICENSE FOR THIS REASON, I CAN BE PROUD OF MYSELF THAT I HELPED TO SAVE LIVES. I THINK THAT LOOSING MY LICENSE OR MY RADIOS FOR HELPING TO SAVE A SINGLE LIFE, IS WELL WORTH IT!!! AFTER ALL, A LICENSE AND A RADIO DON'T MAKE A REAL HAM. ISN'T IT TRUE???
My two cents.
73 and happy 2001 to all
Carlos-XE2WCG

PS. Don't let your pets run around your shack.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KC8PMM on February 21, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
You're right about one radio; however, the VX-5R and other consumer-grade radios are not type-accepted to operate on GMRS, FRS, or any other bands except Ham. With a Mars/CAP license, I think you are specifically permitted to use a non-type-accepted radio on those bands. You're not even supposed to use those radios on public service or business bands with a license.

You are not technically operating within the legal limits, but who is going to know if you are only using 1/2 watt on FRS? I personally think the use of a VX-1 on FRS wouldn't trigger a huge investigation.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KC8PMM on February 21, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I have a modified VX-5 and have set the memories to transmit at the lowest power setting possible. I am planning on setting the public service channels as an odd-split with the transmit frequency on a part of the band that will give me a "tx error." This will safely allow me to make mistakes. I think you should always check before transmitting, anyway, but this should idiot proof my radio.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KC8PMM on February 21, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Intermod problems from modification?

That's what I was thinking. The basic ability to be modified for such a wide range of reception and transmission is the reason for intermod, not the modification itself. If you had to retune oscillator circuits or change resistance values for a wider bandwidth, then that statement would probably be correct. Just enabling the software to do what it was programmed to do? I don't think so.
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KE1L on March 28, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I did the wide-band transmit modification to my Alinco handheld so I could transmit below 440MHz (inside the ham band, but not inside the usual FM band segment). There have been satellites with FM uplinks down around 435MHz; you can't work them with most unmodified radios.
 
RE: Not all mods are Evil.  
by WPTL466 on October 12, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Hi-I am a member of REACT, and as a licensed GMRS user can transmit on the GMRS bands. I knowe there are alot of GMRS users who are also HAMS and rather than buy 2 radios, thry will have one modified.
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by MDRACR on February 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I would like to know if there is a type accepted radio that I could use on both a comerical band and ham bands that have the same features as my Yeasu vx-5r. I work for a hospital that operates on several frequencies in the 450 - 470 Mhz band and would have to carry two radios if I wanted to have my Yeasu with me.

Personally, I think the Yeasu (~$300) is a much better radio than the comerical motorolla (~$1,000) is. The motorolla only has 15 channels, is big, bulky, heavy and a real pain to carry around.

For those of us who have a legal right to transmit on "out of band" frequencies, and be legal and not carry two radios, I would be willing to spend $1,000 (a rip off) for a type accepted radio that has all of the bells and whistles that the Yeasu VX-5r does.
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by KC9DPV on February 22, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
If I am not mistaken, using a Ham Radio with another service like police/fire, FRS,GMRS, is illegal because it is not TYPE ACCEPTED. On the other hand, I have a dual band HTX-420 that is keypad modded for 420-470 mhz. Radio Shack states that the radio can be modified for public service by the keypad. Since they state this, does this mean that it is TYPE ACCEPTED for UHF? Still remains a mystery, so I'm playing it cool.
 
Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by N5RO on January 1, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
After reading most of the posts, I noticed that no one (maybe one I missed) mentioned one of the largest groups who've modified ham (vhf) radios for out-of-band operation: Emergency volunteers such as back-country rescue, wildfire, some ARES/RACES volunteers involved in homeland security, etc.

Of course it's possibly not justified or legal (a point to be argued for emergency communications), but most of these people (often retired living on "social insecurity") have to spend their own money for equipment, dog feed, survival gear, GPSs, etc., AND RADIOS. If they can modify a $100 amateur handheld, rather than buy a $1000 Bendix-King handheld, this can make a difference between volunteering or not.

Perhaps, since these are emergencies, and cell phones often don't work out in the boondocks, one could justify this practice, since life-or-death situations are typical - I'm not sure how an FCC enforcement officer would feel about that. (What about the drills and training with communications that are not critical?) Probably, most such volunteers throughout the country are doing this and it would be virtually impossible to enforce these laws in those cases.

When I've participated in these type activities, I've always used commercial type-accepted radios programmed for the amateur bands, which is legal as far as I know. But as a former police officer, I always had my own radio due to another one of those stingy departments mentioned in an earlier post. Maybe it's better to spend the bucks if possible to avoid the problem entirely. (There ARE type-accepted rigs cheaper than the one I mentioned but as agencies go to FCC-mandated narrow band, these won't be very useful)

What are others' thoughts about this?
 
RE: Radios - Why Do We Really Need to Modify?  
by N5RO on January 1, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Yaesu makes the Vertec brand commercial radio and probably has the same or similar rig to the VX-5r that is type accepted. It's going to cost more than a non-type-accepted ham radio however. It sounds like you're willing to spend the extra bucks - not sure if it'd be as much as a Motorola where you're paying for the name.

BTW, Yaesu does not allow their Vertec dealers to sell out of their respective territories so you probably won't find a discount dealer unless you're lucky or you have a relative somewhere where it can be shipped - don't be afraid to negotiate. (I found a dealer once in Texas that was a lot lower on Vertecs).

I've also purchased a Smartcomm (used to be Relm) handheld (model SCU for UHF I believe - I had a VHF version) for about $200. It has 32 channels and is field programmable (with difficulty - have to open the case and turn a switch). ICOM makes one (FT-4GT/GS) that sells for about $350 and is already narrow band, which everyone has to go to by 2008. (You can order the Smartcomm narrow band - an extra charge) I'm told the manufacturers can't ship wideband after today anyway.

Dealers I know of on the Internet are Hy-Com (Canada), Multicomm, tricounty.com, northernelectronics.com, americom2way.com, actioncommunications.com, usascan.com
There are many others.

Is this more than you wanted to know?

Jim
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Other Opinion Articles
Why am a Maker and Ham