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Author Topic: Price: HAM vs. Fire/Police radios  (Read 370 times)
KMF413
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« on: February 11, 2001, 05:53:22 AM »

I am writing this as I am at my wits end.  I am a full time 911 police/fire dispatcher,  a part time firefighter, and a ham in my spare time.  I own an IC-2100H for my ham hobby, and a IC-F320 for my firefighting work.  I know that I could have just popped out the diode (#16) on my !C-2100 and had 130-174 mhz access, but something just didn't sound right (FCC).  Anyways, MY QUESTION IS...Why was my fire/police (IC-f320) radio $500, and my ham rig (IC-2100H) only $170.  This is a huge price difference.  I have done some extensive research by web sites, dealer reps, and salesmen, but I am still at a loss.  All the answers I received were sarcastic or in a joking fashion so I do not know who or what to believe.  By one rep, I was told it was due to the "Frequency stability" and the "maximum frequency deviation".  However, after looking at the specs of each radio, I find that the freq stability on the fire/police radio is +/-0.0005%, and the freq stability of the IC-2100H (ham) is +/-10 ppm (no percent given).  In reference to the "maximum freq deviation", I am aware that the m.f.d for the fire/police radio is +/- 5.0 khz (wide) to +/- 2.5 khz (narrow); and my IC-2100H (ham)is +/-5.0 (info listed at www.radioworld.ca/ham/icom/IC-2100.html).  I was told by a rep after making a few phone callthat the reason fire/police radios are so much higher is due to the EXTREMELY fine tuning of the frequencies on the transmitting componetry to prevent bleedover.  I was told that this was neccassary due to limited supply of police/fire radio-bands so that several nearby agencies could transmit in a relatively small spectrum of the band and not bleedover on eachothers traffic.  However, if this is so why does bleedover not seem to be an issue for me when I am working simplex or accessing repeater functions??  Like I stated, I am at the end of the road on this question, so any help is GREATLY appreciated.  Also, for you out there with IC-2100H mobile radios----do you know what the 3 log, 3 repeater, and 1 call channell(s) are for?  I have toning (2 audible tone fire dept pager)capabilities in my IC-F320 radio, and i am wondering if any of the log,repeater,orcall channel's are for this in a similar manner.  Also, what is the log and repeater channells for (if you know)?  I want to thank anyone in advance for any help in any of my questions--most importantly main question on the price difference.  Thanks again and 73....
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KG4LJF
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2001, 09:39:26 AM »

Yes, there is a huge price difference. I also am yet to understand why. I've seen mods posted before that will allow you to extend your transmit and transmit on police freq. (Heavens no) I don't see what the big deal is. You can buy a dandy HT for 120-150 bucks, and police radio's cost upwards of 250. A mystery indeed..........................
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NA6M
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2001, 10:49:25 AM »

Don't forget that amateur gear is not "Type Accepted" for commercial use, regardless of the specs. While it is perfectly fine to use a commercial type accepted radio in the amateur bands, using amateur gear on commercial frequencies could net you a fine if you are caught.
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AB0PZ
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2001, 10:50:20 PM »

I hate to say this but 'reps' are notoriously bad for getting technical information from. They are sales types and mostly have little experience in engineering. I have been mis-led by so many reps that I use them as 'order-takers' now and call the engineering dept. for accurate answers. I suggest that NA6M hit the nail on the head. Type Acceptance is expensive. It involves a tremendous amount of testing before it is submitted, then if the prototype is rejected, more engineering time and testing before resubmitting. I have been involved in a couple UL submissions and if it is anything like type acceptance it is nerve racking. And you, the customer, pay for it in the end. If I remember right the cost of the equipment we UL'd doubled because of the lightning test we had to pass.
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N7JAU
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2001, 10:53:10 PM »

Type accepted radios must, and do, meet tighter specs for things like freq stability, ruggedness, transmitter spectral purity, and rx front end selectivity.  Many of the ham tranceivers would PROBABLY meet freq stability and spectral purity "most of the time", but that is not good enough.  I have a Yaesu FT50, and a VX-5.  If anything the VX-5 is worse for picking up off freq interferance in the receiver.  Ya sure don't want that in something as important as a fire radio.  I happened to be "observing" our local county junk/storage/former radio shop on some emergency services related activities, and noticed quite a few junked ham tranceivers, like 03at's, W32, kenwood th78, and others.  I HOPE to heck the bug we put into the ear of a couple of people stopped this before the FCC comes around.  The combined fines could break the county budget.  
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EI7FFB
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2001, 06:30:43 AM »

Maybe the manufacturers charge what they know the market will take,Fire/Police HAVE to have radios so they must buy them regardless of cost,Hams don't and wouldn't pay $500 for the rig !!
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KH2D
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2001, 06:48:33 AM »

Coffee is $3.75 at Starbucks, and $.75 other places.
 
It's the American way. One thing I've never understood, the many times I've heard the I'm a fireman story, you can probably explain this to me. Do firemen have to buy their own boots, raincoast, hats and radios ? Seems to me the radio should come along with the job. If not, be careful, they might make you buy your own fire truck next :-)

There's a big difference between ham radios and commercial radios. Take an HF radio, for example. An Icom HF amateur radio has 40 knobs, buttons, switches and two VFO's. An Icom HF commercial radio has an ON/OFF switch, a volume control, and a knob for selecting preprogrammed 'channels'. You should be able to figure out why a commercial radio costs more - they had to remove all those switches, buttons, and knobs because commercial operators aren't as talented as we hams, and aren't rigerously tested to verify thier operating skills and technical knowledge, like we are. Not to mention the commercial radio was paid for by a purchasing agent that doesn't know what a radio is....

73, Jim KH2D
 



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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2001, 03:05:52 PM »

Regarding your original question, it looks like other hams have more than adequately covered the cost factors such as "type acceptance" and the one about the fact that governments "need" radios and will "pay" whatever it takes to have them.  These are all true.  FYI I had a 2100 Icom installed in my mother's (who is a licensed ham)car.  I also had the radio "moded" and have made sure she is aware that licensed hams may transmit on "any" frequency in a life and death emergency.  Also, as I told her, if she were in a wreck and trapped, worrying about the possibility of being hit by another vehichle or fire starting, or just in urgent need of medical attention, swithch to the appropriate police, fire, or rescue channel and call for help.  We can worry about who might get their panties in a wad over this AFTER she is safely extricated from the vehicle and getting medical attention.  BTW, a Larsen quarter wave whip is really broad banded.    The comment by the above ham is well taken, that the deartment should be furnishing items such as helmets, radios, etc.  For what its worth, I work for a metropolitan police department and we have had a shortage of ht's for years.  They are too cheap to buy enough for everyone to have a take-home radio and if you need one for a parade, festival, off-duty job, etc; you are frequently out of luck.  Apparently, midnight basketball for troubled youth and other feel good programs are more important than officer and citizen safety.  All emergency services deal with this logic sooner or later, sad to say.  Don't think for a minute that I haven't taken advantage of my little dual band (modified) Th-79's abilities when I had a need to stay in touch with other units and didn't have the ability to do so.   It hasn't harmed anyone, to my knowlege and has saved my butt a few times.
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RobertKoernerExAE7G
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2001, 06:33:08 PM »

I would guess, that you see the same price difference, for the same reason you see a price difference between London Broil steak, and T-bone steak; they are both steak, but not the same.

There is a price difference between the same antenna designed for 70MPH survival, and 100MPH survival.

There is a price difference between a 50 inch color TV and a 50 inch HDTV.

Or, maybe, Icom's president hates police and fire fighters (he was scared by them as a child)?
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N6MON
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2001, 04:31:15 PM »

If you ignore all the smart a** replies and look at the serious ones, you will understand the difference. In addition to the cost of obtaining and maintaining type acceptance, commercial radios are (in most all cases) CONSIDERABLE more durable than their amateur counterparts. They also generally have MUCH tighter receivers (which use expensive filters). Further, the
spectral purity and stability of the commercial transmitters tends to be much better than amateur equipment.

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KF6QNZ
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2001, 09:38:13 PM »

>SNIP>> Don't think for a minute that I haven't taken advantage of my little dual band (modified) Th-79's abilities when I had a need to stay in touch with other units and didn't have the ability to do so. It hasn't harmed anyone, to my knowlege and has saved my butt a few times. <

No Bull.  I worked as an EMT for an ambulance company for a while, and I can describe 3 separate "off-duty" occasions where I didn't have my "department" radio available; where my little ADI dual-band got the job done.  The ambulance was on the way before a passing motorist on his cell phone even got finished telling the 911 call taker what the problem was.  Two were 18-wheeler rollovers, and one was a triple ejection (no seat belts, 50 mph corner impact, asphault landing.  You get the idea).  Only once did the cops get on me about transmitting on the EMS dispatch frequency (the triple ejection), and that was because I used the word "Mayday" and they thought the Care-Flight chopper was going down.  (Says something about the training of their dispatchers.)  After digging out my License, and explaining calmly who I was, and that I figured that 3 people lying bleeding on the pavement with spinal injuries and severe lacerations to the head and back qualified as a "life and death" emergency as covered by Part 97, section E, they just requested that I not use the word "Mayday" anymore.  Go Figure.

On a separate note, I know that 'Type Acceptance' is the key to legal transmitting on commercial frequencies.  Does anyone know whether it's possible to get individual radios certified for commercial service.  Like if I go and take my HT, and "tighten" it to commercial radio service specs, can I arrange to have it inspected by the FCC and get an individual radio certificate?  One would think this wouldn't be too expensive to do, the testing process would probably only consist of transmitting into an analyzer to test for frequency stability and deviation.  Anyone with thoughts or info...

Chris
kf6qnz@usa.net
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KC4VA
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« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2004, 02:38:43 AM »

it coast more to mantan the emergncy repeter than a
ham repeter
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