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Author Topic: newbie: Mobile 2m & FRS  (Read 1155 times)
BPEVANS
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Posts: 10




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« on: February 27, 2001, 09:00:36 AM »

Hi,

I'm new to all this and haven't yet got a license or radio but would like to get an idea of what costs and work are involved in what I'd like to do.

I want to mount a 2m radio in my suv & one in my buddys vehicle for our offroading/road trips.  We are looking for something sized & mounted like a small CB radio and not too expensive (hoping in the sub $300 range).  We are looking into ham/hf/2m (whats the difference?)  because we have read that they can be modified to work on FRS frequencies.  Since we already have & use an arsenal of FRS handhelds this would be really helpful to us for vehicle to person communication.  This is feasable right?

What does a license cost & take to obtain for a radio in this class?  How much should I expect to invest in a radio that can be modified?  Will an experienced club member be likely to help me modify a radio or will I be pointed to a internet how-to?  If a how-to, how difficult is it?

Thanks for any info,
Barry
computer science student, NCSU
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BPEVANS
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2001, 09:13:38 AM »

Also: What kind of range should I expect Mobile to Mobile on a non-FRS frequency?  Just wondering how far our cars could be seperated and still be in touch.  With our FRS handhelds it's about a mile.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2001, 11:15:44 AM »

Seriously suggest you and your friend consider getting ham licenses.  Cost is near zero for the license (a few dollars examination fee, which is essentially a donation to the examining office to keep them running) and the license is good for ten years.  There are many classes of ham licenses available, but you'd need Technician class tickets, I believe, to accomplish your goals.  This involves studying and taking a theoretical test of required elements, based on FCC Part 97 requirements (which do change, so make sure your study materials are up-to-date).  Study materials can be found at public libraries, in books available for purchase (very inexpensively) and on the web.  Some of the best publications, which are available for purchase on line, are from the American Radio Relay League, http://www.arrl.org/

Ham equipment cannot be modified (legally) for FRS, I wouldn't even go there.  And with valid ham licenses, why restrict yourselves to the FRS bands, which can be crowded and are power restricted by law?  You'd be better off on the ham VHF bands, like two meters or 70cm, equipment for which is readily available and not expensive.  Yes, a good transceiver that runs about 50W of output power and will provide several miles of car-to-car range in almost any terrain is available for sub-$300.  But you definitely need a license for these, and they do not operate in the FRS band.

For your intended use, "HF," or high-frequency (3 to 30 MHz) equipment is not best.  HF provides long-distance propagation, even worldwide, but is not the frequency range of choice for mobile-to-mobile work within several miles.

Good luck.  Steve WB2WIK/6
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BPEVANS
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2001, 11:41:25 AM »

My sole interest right now is a car mounted radio working with FRS handhelds.  I think I may have been off base on my terminology in my first post.  I think this bit above matches what I'm looking into, a 2m VHF which could be modifed to transmit in the 450--470 range with the FRS radios.  We have a bunch of FRS radios and use them for everything, I'd like to have one for the car. Mounted cleanly w/ a antenna outside the vehicle so that me and a friends vehicle could communicate (on non FRS frequencies) beyond 1 mi and still be able to switch over and talk to our FRS handhelds...  

What type of license is required for 2m equipment?
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2001, 01:01:11 PM »

You'd need a Technician Class license.  If you have any level of technical expertise at all, including some basic electronic theory, this is not a difficult hurdle.  Many learn everything they need from "scratch," with zero background in any technology, inside a few weeks.  2m equipment could not possibly be modified for FRS at any cost.  Two good reasons: (1) FRS operates in the 460 MHz band, while 2 meters is the 144-148 MHz band, the frequency is vastly different and the modifications could never be made; (2) It's illegal, anyway.  Forget it.

The penalty for violating federal regulations regarding transmitting with unlicensed, unlicensable or non type-accepted equipment is so harsh, that on the chance you may be caught, it definitely isn't worth it.  This is a federal crime, penalties can range from severe fines to prison sentences.  What's the point?

Opt for the Technician class ham licenses.  Very low cost, not difficult to pass, ten-year license lets you use sophisticated mobile equipment running substantial power with permanently mounted vehicular antennas that will provide all the range you need.

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BPEVANS
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2001, 01:15:30 PM »

I think we are talking about 2 separate animals because you seem to be handing me a screw driver to sink a nail.  The whole reason i'm considering a radio at this price is to communicate from car to FRS handheld. Extended car to car communication is just a side-benefit of selecting something like this.  Almost all the comm we do/need is to FRS handhelds. I have no interest in the long range ham stuff. (i'm an internet kid anyhow)  Another person pointed me to the Yaesu VX5R which sounds like what I'm talking about (trying to), however it is a handheld and I was looking for something like this that was a fixed in-vehicle mount with an antenna outside the car.

Thanks - Barry
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BPEVANS
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2001, 01:24:16 PM »

Sorry, I was offbase on the 2m stuff.
I assume that the modifications I read about would be made to a HAM 440 Band radio based on info from http://people.mw.mediaone.net/tsnoblen/radio/frs.htm.  I had no idea that enforcement was so stringent on this subject, I figured something modified to FRS ranges @ 500mw per fcc regs would be more akin to software piracy or online music trading, widely done & unenforced.

Thanks again.
Giving the Yaesu VX5R some more thought with an aftermarket antenna.... Would a Technician License be required for this radio?
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2001, 01:50:02 PM »

The Yaesu VX5R is a hand held readio used to operate within the ham bands.  You do need a license to operate this radio.  Any modification to the radio to transmit in the FRS bands would be illeagel. If you will look at the site you provided, it does give the maximum power authorized by band.  You can see you are very limited on the FRS.  Even if you did modify a 440 rig, you would also be running illeagel power.  Before you attempt to take a chance at doing this I would suggest you to go www.arrl.net .  They have a section set up for FCC enforcement.  There you will get an idea of how strict FCC enforcement of the ham bands can be.  Not worth the trouble just to operate further on FRS. Would have to agree with the other comments and recommend you get your technicians license.  It is very inexpensive, in the 6 - 7.00 range and used VHF/UHF equipment can be found at very resonible prices. Not only could it help solve some immediate needs, but you would also find more enjoyment in a new hobby.

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N4ZFQ
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2001, 01:55:32 PM »

I think everyone is missing the point. These guys don't want to get their ham tickets. They are looking for some vhf radios like you see in the catalogs on the green and red dot frequencies. There is no longer a license requirement for these frequencies. You can buy surplus programable mobiles on the vhf band at hamfests now for 50.00 bucks if you shop well. I recommend that you check the power limits first before you transmit with such mobile radios to keep from breaking any FCC regulations. Let me know if i'm on the right track here. I would encourage you guys to get a ham ticket, but if you are not interested, then this is the next best route to travel.

Colin   N4zfq  
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BPEVANS
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2001, 02:00:59 PM »

Thanks guys. Well I think I'm just going to wait until this summer then.  I don't want any sort of 'legal' problems.  I was told that some company is planning on releasing a CB/FRS radio designed for vehicles.  This would probably accomplish exactly what I'm looking to do much cheaper.  Sorry that I don't share your enthusiasim for HAM radio stuff, my cellphone covers any comm i need over 5 miles (provided we aren't to far off highway).  Thanks for the info.
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BPEVANS
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2001, 02:05:32 PM »

Colin N4zfq,

That's it. Not interest in HAM per say but a car mounted radio to comm with FRS handhelds.  Don't really care what it take to get it done; just want something that mounts in the car with a antenna mounted on the outside.  Maybe GMRS is what I'm talking about, are these frequencies still licensed to the public?  Could i get a mobile mounted one for <$300?

Thanks,Bp
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BPEVANS
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2001, 02:19:53 PM »

Basically looking for one of these:
http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=CTLG&category%5Fname=CTLG%5F001%5F002%5F006%5F000&product%5Fid=21%2D1850 Radio Shack FRS car mounts</a> but without the stupid/damaging magnetic mount antenna and 12volt plug.  I want to wire something into the car so its always ready to go.
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YANS
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« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2001, 02:51:11 PM »

What you are looking for is allready made without altering any radio making it illeagal.

Radio Shack in thier current cataloge is offering a FRS mobile radio. I believe it is under 70 bucks. Also this radio is just an antenna and handset, that plugs right into your lighter socket.
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N7JAU
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« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2001, 07:12:09 PM »

Hi, please re- read what N4ZFQ says above.   I believe the so called "color dot" freqs just released for public use would be a better choice.  I'm not familiar with the "new" regulations yet, but I believe they will offer you better range and flexibility than FRS.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't FRS radios ONLY HANDHELDS?   I believe this is true, and you CANNOT run a larger, improved, external antenna on an FRS radio.  DO NOT consider trying to modify an amateur band radio for this use.  IT is ILLEGAL, and if you should get caught, the penalties are high.  Cell phones?  great if you are in a "covered" area.  If you don't want to get your ham license, I'd recommend the "color dot" freqs.  

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VA3FCM
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2001, 07:26:41 AM »

Hi,

I was reading through these posts and I don't think that anyone pointed out that one cannot DO ANYTHING to an FRS which would increase its range or output power. As well as the other legal issues involved with the modification of ham radios to operate out of band, to add an antenna to an FRS radio (other than the one which shipped with the radio) is illegal. I would stick with the handhelds and not proceed with plans to modify other rigs to extend range.

73 de va3fcm Charles
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