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Author Topic: FT-8900 Front Alignment After MARS Mod Required?  (Read 11869 times)
KI6DYR
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Posts: 227




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« on: July 27, 2006, 12:48:41 AM »

My FT-8900 arrived <glee> and after testing it briefly locally I performed the MARS/CAP mod required for our SAR team. Went fine, but I'm clearly blind as a bat these days. At any rate, today I had and opportunity to go mobile. I live in a mountain area and signal strengths vary somewhat. I noted that receive on the 8900 seemed weak using the same mag mount antenna that previoulsy was connected to my VX-7 (also with the MARS/CAP mod.) I don't have anything to compare against and no service monitor to check sensitivity.

Does the 8900 need to be realigned after this mod?
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W3LK
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Posts: 5639




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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2006, 10:52:12 AM »

An alignment should not be required unless you screwed up the modification. But ...

<<I performed the MARS/CAP mod required for our SAR team.>>

Unless your SAR group is MARS affiliated, you will be operating illegally. It is illegal to use modified ham rigs on ANY commercial, land mobile, public safety or law enforcement radio service, no matter what anyone locally has told you or you have read on some internet site.

You can be fined AND lose your amateur license if a complaint is filed with the FCC. Additionally, if your SAR service knowingly allows you to use modified ham radios, they can lose their license and be fined, as well.

I have never understood what makes hams, old or new, Technician, General of Extra, think they can modify their radios and use them on any frequency or service they want to.

You need to get the correct, FCC certified radios for the service your SAR group is using and keep the ham rigs for the ham bands.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Baltimore, Maryland
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KI6DYR
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Posts: 227




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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2006, 11:13:35 AM »

Thank you for the answer. As I am sure that you are aware, any frequency may be used when an imminent threat to life exists. This is simply a matter of being prepared just in case. There's a substantial difference between being prepared and breaking the law just because one can.
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W3LK
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Posts: 5639




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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2006, 01:16:26 PM »

Sir:

<< Thank you for the answer. As I am sure that you are aware, any frequency may be used when an imminent threat to life exists. This is simply a matter of being prepared just in case. There's a substantial difference between being prepared and breaking the law just because one can.>>

With all due respect, that is a specious argument. What you quote is a provision that allows for a last ditch situation- no other means of communication is available. You are PLANNING to willfully break the law; your own post says so - "as required for our SAR team".

At any rate it is still illegal to use modified ham gear on any other service.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Baltimore, Maryland
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KI6DYR
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Posts: 227




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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2006, 01:39:32 PM »

Let's hope that you aren't at the bottom of a canyon in an over-turned car with nothing but a FRS radio that you are calling for help on, but the SAR team hearing you cannot answer. FWIW, we DON'T use ham radios for our public safety licensed operations; That's what the Motorola's are for. I do apologize for misspeaking by stating "required." But I also didn't ask for a sermon. I asked about realignment requirements. Thank you and I see no need to respond further.
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W3LK
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2006, 05:07:26 PM »

Well my friend, when you publicly state you are going to do something illegal, no matter how you try to justify it, you can generally expect a sermon from those of us who resent scofflaws.

Your "well wishes" are noted.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Baltimore, Maryland
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W4CNG
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Posts: 177




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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2006, 07:25:03 PM »

It's interesting to note that this string started by "Doing the Mars/CAP Mod" that you cannot use any Ham Radio on CAP now as they now have to be NTIA Qualified, Read that Commercial Radio's.  Very weak info for the bottom of the canyon.  Sounds like another "Wanna-Be" that feels the Need to talk out of band and cannot afford the Real thing, Motorola, Vertex and others......

Steve W4CNG
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W3LK
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Posts: 5639




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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2006, 01:41:00 PM »

I am immediately suspicious about the both the reason for any such mods AND the professionalism of the person asking when they respond with:

"Let's hope that you aren't at the bottom of a canyon in an over-turned car with nothing but a FRS radio that you are calling for help on, but the SAR team hearing you cannot answer."

Such childish rejoinders speak volumes.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Baltimore, Maryland
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KI6DYR
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Posts: 227




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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2006, 03:24:10 PM »

What is unacceptable are two old timers that would rather lecture, scold, and cajoul, while also making broad and incorrect assumptions, instead of perhaps taking an opportunity to educate a new ham. You should both apologize. For the record, the SAR team is a part of the Sheriff's office and has plenty of "real" radios. The mod was truly and honestly for the absolute circumstance and does not in any way re[place any of the Motorolas on 800mHz. I may have been misinformed on one small aspect (CAP), but this does not excuse your arrogance. I will neither apologize for asking a simple question, nor will I excuse what you undoubtedly feel is a proper approach. Instead of answering the simple question and taking an opportunity to educate you clearly have taken a different approach. This is not what amatuer radio is about.

Perhaps we can now let this thread die.
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W3LK
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Posts: 5639




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« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2006, 06:13:55 AM »

Sir:

<< What is unacceptable are two old timers that would rather lecture, scold, and cajoul, while also making broad and incorrect assumptions, instead of perhaps taking an opportunity to educate a new ham. You should both apologize. >>

You posted a mesaage in which you admitted to making mods that (1) you claim your SAR group required you to make (2) and doing it for the purpose of operating ham equipment in an illegal manner.

You were informed as to the illegality of the use of such mods and the liability you and your SAR group face from the FCC for such illegal use. This IS education, Sir.

You are not owned an apology for being told the truth, no matter how you later tried to back out of your original statement. It doesn't matter whether you are a new ham with an ink-still-wet Technician license or an older-than-dirt Extra class - the information is the same.

As I said to another poster, your comments about me laying at the bottom of a canyon as a parting shot speak to both your lack of professionalism and your overall attitude in trying to justify a potential illegal act. I cannot imagine a SAR professional making such a statement.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Baltimore, Maryland
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WA9SVD
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Posts: 2198




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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2006, 10:31:22 PM »

Just out of curiosity, for legal reasons, would your SAR team be using CAP designated frequencies?  Or would that be Army MARS, Navy MARS, Air Force MARS, or Marine MARS?
    All are different, and all require different authorization and/or license.  They ARE NOT interchangable. Very little Amateur equipment meets NTIA requirements, (there are a few exceptions) so is also illegal for use on CAP frequencies.  MARS may follow with NTIA standards shortly.  And MARS doesn't normally carry out SAR functions; it's primarily a message handling network.   And if you are performing SAR duties, why wouldn't you be carrying a radio used by the SAR team, instead of trying to rely on Amateur equipment?

    Educating and "ELMERing" also has to do with pointing out errors, not empowering others to perform "questionable" operations, whether explicit or implied.
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KI6DYR
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Posts: 227




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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2006, 11:59:53 PM »

I hesitate to respond because several have made it clear that their choice is to beat up and belittle. But I will try one more time. I am going to be overly specific so as to avoid further assumptions.

I misspoke when I used the word "required." The better word might be "suggested" or "helpful". I honestly did not expect to be placed on a spit and roasted. Our SAR team DOES have two types of radios: VHF and 800 trunked. They are the PRIMARY method of communications and by policy MUST be used. Amateur equipment is not in any way used as the primary communications device.

With this clarified and hopefully accepted as truth, there have been numerous incidents were amateur radio has been utilized by licensed amateurs in the group when VHF simplex public safety radios and 800 trunked radios failed. Failed. We are a mountain region and the trunked sites can't reach everywhere. Neither can VHF simplex. Our area goes from just above sea level to over 11,000 feet. We have a portable repeater(s) that may be moved in during forest fires and extended deployments, but that takes time.

We have a concerted effort underway to get members licensed as amateurs throughout all of the region. This plan has been working. We even participate in a regional rescue net where issues that confront hams are discussed, including this thread. We remain cognizant of the politically incorrect nature of this conversation. We further recognize that non-legal professionals have taken it upon themselves to render legal opinions and shown contempt prior to investigation.

Now then, the "what if" scenarios have been played over and over. "What if" the victim is using FRS 9 tone 11 (9/11), which is emerging as the ski and water resort emergency channel. How would we communicate with the victim? "What if" relatives tell us that their two teen aged sons lost in the mountains with a 2 foot snow pack have FRS radios on channel 1; should we not try to communicate by any means? Would we also add another piece of equipment - a bubble pack radio with unreliable range to our packs? We know that in a life or death emergency that any frequency at any power level may be used. It's even on the ham test. Of course we know that ham gear is seldom or not type accepted on GMRS and probably never on FRS. BUT -- the ability to communicate with a victim in the act of trying to potentially save their life is paramount. The *ability in a life or death situation.* I don't think anyone hear can carry a Wolfsberg on their hip.

The radio's of choice by hams are the Yaesu VX-7's and 8800's so that the primary mobile may be placed at a point of advantage and cross-band repeat as necessary by licensed hams on amateur frequencies that would then be relayed verbally by a licensed ham over the appropriate public safety radio(s). Our command vehicles have both Motorola VHF (Fire/SAR/Forestry) and 800mHz mobiles (Sheriff/Fire), as well as commercial Yaesu VX-4200's programmed for FRS/GMRS at 5 watts and .5 watts, of which several operators are licensed. FCC regulations are clear that users of GMRS and FRS may cross-communicate. This radio is also programmed for the ski resorts and may be used as required to communicate during rescues. Every effort to legally and effectively communicate is employed -- interoperability. Only hams communicate on ham frequencies.


Sec. 97.403 Safety of life and protection of property
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radiocommunication at its disposal to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.  


With this said also and hopefully absolutely clear at this point, our policy is strict in that public safety radios are to be used as the primary method of communications. As an official element of a county agency we have gone as far as obtaining a legal opinion. To this end the ARRL General Counsel also rendered an opinion, although not directly to us. The issue at hand is solely "what if." There has never been the intent to replace public safety radios with amateur equipment and "play." We have real radios.

I am sorry that one or two immediately seized this as an opportunity to attack. Had those individuals taken the tactful and appropriate approach that you took (thank you) perhaps this could have been avoided. In fact, I enjoy a great discussion! For what its worth, amateur radio has been praised over and over for its effectiveness during rescues when traditional means failed.

This began as a simple technical question and was hijacked and turned into a thread that should be in a legal forum. I regret my part in it but cannot apologize for my comments. I presented no specious argument whatsoever. In this message I have done my best to be accurate, detailed, and complete. I sincerely hope that we can now drop this once and for all. If you wish to further discuss this, contact me by email.
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WA9SVD
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Posts: 2198




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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2006, 12:02:27 PM »

No offense, but you still seem to miss the point:
    Amateur Radio is only legal to use as a last resort, NOT as a routine "backup" for SAR; and only in dire circumstances.

(QUOTE)
 "Of course we know that ham gear is seldom or not type accepted on GMRS and probably never on FRS."
(Unquote.)

    Sorry.  NO amateur gear is legal for use on GMRS or FRS.  There's no "seldom" or "probably not" involved.  But you KNOW that already by your own admission.  Perhaps you need to check the Rules and Regulations again.  They don't mention the words "seldom" or "probablty not."

    Finding a couple of lost wanderers isn't necessarily a "life or death" situation, and is FAR different than "We located the lost hiker who sustained a fall and has lost a lot of blood, we need immediate help..."

    The rules don't allow for routine use of Amateur Radio just because your team's capabilities fall short, but that seems to be your objective.  And if YOUR VHF radios on legitimate S&R frequencies don't work in some situations, why would you think Amateur Radios modified for those frequencies would be any better?


    If you wish to jeopardize your license, and perhaps that of your SAR team, or incur large monetary forfeitures, that certainly is your decision.

    But to answer your oroginal question, NO, alignment should not be necessary.
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W3LK
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Posts: 5639




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« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2006, 01:31:40 PM »

<< This began as a simple technical question and was hijacked and turned into a thread that should be in a legal forum.>>

Sir. I answered the technical question right off the bat - realignment was probably not required.

What I challenged you own was your own admission that you had modified your HT and mobile rig to operate on the SAR frequencies and planned to operate on those frequencies and that your SAR group required you to do so.

Using modified ham rigs on other services is illegal, no matter how you justify it. I'm sorry that you can't seem to understand that.

All the rest of your posts were attempt to justify illegal activity, backtrack and try to say that's not what you meant, or sarcastic posts about me.

End of discussion.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Baltimore, Maryland
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WA9SVD
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Posts: 2198




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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2006, 09:13:31 AM »

Actually, there are TWO issues here.

From your previous post:

QUOTE:

Sec. 97.403 Safety of life and protection of property
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radiocommunication at its disposal to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.

-----------------------------------------
(Unquote)

    You have chapter and verse correct, but not the letter or intent of the law.

    You are seeking to modify your Amateur equipment for use on Public Service frequencies, IF (in your words) your own VHF or other S&R equipment fails to work.

    Buit if you are in an area where your legal S&R radios will NOT work, what makes you think a modified Amateur Radio will produce a better signal, or receive any better?  THAT just doesn't make sense.
    If you are just talking about "convenience" of not having to carry your S&R provided radio AND an Amateur Radio, that, unfortunately, is NOT provided for in the FCC rules and regulations.  NOWHERE in Part 97, Part 95, or ANY of the Rules and Regulations does it say it's OK to use non-certified equipment (outside the Amateur bands) because it's more convenient for the user than to carry certified radio equipment for Public Service frequencies.
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