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Author Topic: Commercial radios for ham use  (Read 6765 times)

Posts: 2


« on: February 19, 2010, 02:31:52 AM »

I have a group of friends that meet on 2m simplex.  I hate to tie up my only home station 2m radio by always having it parked on one frequency.  I would like to purchase a commercial VHF radio on ebay and program it for a few 2m simplex frequencies.
First, is it legal for me to buy a commercial radio and program it to operate in the ham 2 meter band?

Secondly, does anyone have a recommended list of radios?  It must be cheep (less than $100 used), at least 25 watts, and easily programmed without special software.

Avi - AE7ET

Posts: 14491

« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2010, 05:05:31 AM »

Yes, it is legal for a licensed amateur to modify, convert, or reprogram a commercial band radio for his use on 2M. Amateurs are personally responsible to ensure proper technical operation of their own radios. That's the difference between amateur radio and the commercial services that require radios to be FCC Certified for operation in their service.

Note: Modification or retuning of the radio will likely invalidate its Certification for use on the original commercial service.


Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA

Posts: 805

« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2010, 10:33:30 AM »

Among older stuff, Bendix-King/Relm VHF radios were front panel programmable. They're old enough that they should be real cheap. Be sure you can find the programming instructions for whichever model. Now I do mean OLDER King/Relm. Later models require software and cable. The Motorola Radius VHF line are very robust radios, but you have to find someone with the software to program them. Don't pay anything near $100. And it seems like years ago I had a Midland that was front panel programmable. Does it need to be commercial? You can find working 80's vintage 2-meter amateur gear well under $100, and no programming required.

Posts: 70

« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2010, 08:28:19 PM »

I'll second the '80 2m gear.  It's dirt cheap especially without tones.  50w rigs gor for less than $50, so your $100 budget will get you a used rig, chunk of coax, and antenna.  

Back in the '90s I realigned a couple 50W GE commercial rigs for repeater use.  The process was pretty simple and they worked pretty well once tuned.

Posts: 62

« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2010, 09:34:39 PM »

There's a fine line between radios that used crystals and those that used proms that were programmed with stand-alone programmers before RSS software and computers became the standard. Very few had keypads in fact, the only radio that I can think of was the Wilson/Regency's that you could program from the keypad. Fujitsu made one that they got wise to entering the service mode and required a service chip. The only channelized radios that I can think of off-hand that could be programmed w/o external programmer support during that time were the Standards that had 4 channels or less. Those units had a diode matrix card. Greater channel capacity or options required a prom. Another problem with radios during that era was few went down below 150 mhz w/o modification and for the most part were seperated into sub-bands such as 150-160, 160-170, so changes to the programmable divider in the synthesizer are also necessary as well as padding down some circuits. Lots of great radios during that time with bullet proof helical resonator front ends that were pretty narrowband, but unfortunately required proprietary programmers and personality modules to program the proms. Good chance the chips might not even be available and good luck finding a local shop that still even has one. Some were BCD and the chip might be able to be replaced with a diode matrix or BCD switches. Others such as some Motorolas like the Mostars and M100's and GE Phoenix and Delta radios of that vintage there's some work-arounds that folks have developed and sell on the net that let you use a PC to program the proms. Don't discount some of the earlier crystal radios either. There were some synthesiers around like the GLB's for them, others too.

Posts: 2566

« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2010, 04:57:50 PM »

I loved the GE Delta/Rangr series of radios back when I was doing Part 90 communications consulting work. Very reliable, great power output and they were NOT Motorola (radio mafioso).

I have seen plenty of postings on moving the VHF-low, VHF-high and UHF radios into the ham bands. You could get these radios with 110 watt outputs and a pre-amp on the receiver. They have been used as fixed, mobile and repeater applications.

Tisha Hayes, AA4HA

Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
Free space loss (dB) = 32.4 + 20 × log10d + 20 × log10 f
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