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Author Topic: Equipment for use outside USA?  (Read 2293 times)
KD0EIL
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Posts: 23




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« on: June 28, 2008, 09:02:04 PM »

I've asked a few questions in the Mobile forums and received excellent help (basically, looking for advice on purchase/setup of a mobile system for use overseas and later in the US - without regard to cost).

As I've narrowed my search to 'all band' radios (IC-7000; TS-480; etc..), I requested more detail from my friends overseas with whom I'll be exploring - basically I asked what frequencies they use commonly/most.

Here is where the problem arises.  Some of the frequencies they listed I *think* are in the US cellular range and several others I know are used for CB in the US - and all are therefore blocked from use on any equipment I can purchase here in the states.  So, either I've missed something or (1) these frequencies are not used for the same purposes overseas or (2) these frequencies are used for the same purposes but are not blocked overseas.

Either way, my question is how I should approach the task of purchasing equipment for my trip?  Do I simply need to wait until I get there to buy equipment (I was really hoping to have a few months of use here in the states to get to know the equipment before the trip)?  If I buy equipment overseas, will it likely have other frequencies blocked that will limit its use when I return to the US (I'd rather not spend $1k-2k on a system that isn't fully useable in the US)?

I'm sure it is clear that I'm new to the hobby.  My first equipment purchase decision is challenging enough without the extra hassle of coordinating frequency restrictions with overseas requirements - as such, any help is appreciated.

73,
KD0EIL
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N1QOQ
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Posts: 188




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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2008, 08:11:15 AM »

I don't have all the answers to your questions but I have seen equipment with a European designation. Check the different manufactures, I know Icom does this.
Good luck  Paul
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K7UNZ
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Posts: 691




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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2008, 08:15:29 AM »

As you have already discovered, frequency allocations (bands, modes, power)vary country to country.  What you have to ask yourself is how long you intend to be in any one place, and if it's worth the price of gear to have the coverage while you're there.

40 meters is a good example of this, and the reason SSB ops have to work split between the USA and other countries, and why you hear so much DX SSB in the USA CW portion of the band.

73, Jim/k7unz

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W1ITT
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Posts: 176




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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2008, 10:48:07 AM »

William..
In the States, we have the widest frequency allocations of just about any country, anywhere, so if it works in the States, you'll be pretty well equipped anywhere you go. In general, prices on amateur gear are better here than overseas too.  Some Brit vhf repeaters use a tone-burst to open them up, but most places have gone to ctcss subaudible tones.  On HF, it's pretty much the same there as home.  Be sure to get a copy of the CEPT rules and regs, and be familiar with the rules of the country you are visiting, and remember that if you are going to visit a country that doesn't have reciprocity with the US, you may have problems possessing transmitting equipment there.  Also, stop off at US Customs before you leave and get a Customs  Form 4457 to list your radio (and maybe your laptop, camera and other foreign-made toys) so you can prove that you bought them in the States and won't have to pay duty to get them back home.  I often carry my FT-817 on   extended assignments.  It's not like QRO radio at home, but a whole lot better than nothing!
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2008, 05:31:30 PM »

>Equipment for use outside USA?  Reply  
by KD0EIL on June 28, 2008  Mail this to a friend!  
I've asked a few questions in the Mobile forums and received excellent help (basically, looking for advice on purchase/setup of a mobile system for use overseas and later in the US - without regard to cost).

As I've narrowed my search to 'all band' radios (IC-7000; TS-480; etc..), I requested more detail from my friends overseas with whom I'll be exploring - basically I asked what frequencies they use commonly/most.

Here is where the problem arises. Some of the frequencies they listed I *think* are in the US cellular range<

::Nah, they're not.  And the rigs you've listed don't come anywhere near the cellular telephone frequency range, which is at 2.4 GHz.

>and several others I know are used for CB in the US - and all are therefore blocked from use on any equipment I can purchase here in the states.<

::Nope.  Not that I can find.  What country, specifically, has an amateur radio allocation at 27 MHz and not starting at 28 MHz?  I'd sure like to hear about this, because I don't know of any.

>So, either I've missed something or (1) these frequencies are not used for the same purposes overseas or (2) these frequencies are used for the same purposes but are not blocked overseas.<

::I think you're misinterpreting something.  The ITU establishes all frequency allocations worldwide, and the U.S. amateur allocations are pretty much the same as those used in all other countries, with very minor variations regarding where the "CW-digital" and "phone" segments are.  UK has a 4m allocation which we don't have (70 MHz) but in general, we have everything the rest of the world has.

>Either way, my question is how I should approach the task of purchasing equipment for my trip? Do I simply need to wait until I get there to buy equipment (I was really hoping to have a few months of use here in the states to get to know the equipment before the trip)? If I buy equipment overseas, will it likely have other frequencies blocked that will limit its use when I return to the US (I'd rather not spend $1k-2k on a system that isn't fully useable in the US)?<

::Can you write back and post, specifically, what you're talking about?  Like what country has an allocation we do not have, that would be "blocked" using an American ham rig?  Other than 4m (VHF), I cannot think of any.  In general, the U.S. has more allocations than anywhere in the world.

-WB2WIK/6
 
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W3ML
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Posts: 170




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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2008, 07:52:44 PM »

It has been many years since I was overseas, but in several countries I could not operate mobile only fixed.

73
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KD0EIL
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Posts: 23




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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2008, 02:14:16 PM »

First, thanks again for the help as I continue planning for the upcoming trips.

The first trip (quickly approaching) will be to Venezuela and (briefly) Brazil.  Later this year is a possible trip to Argentina, and over the winter a trip to New Zealand.

Most of my contact and information has been with the Venezuelan group leader - who originally recomended I become familiar with HAM radio operation (though he never mentioned licensing, and this now seems key).  When I inquired more recently about frequency coverage in respect to purchasing equipment, he spcifically listed 25-30mhz as a commonly used range along with frequencies that appear to more-or-less cover the 2m, 6m and 70cm bands but also listed 800-930mhz which I thought was partially reserved for cellular in the US (though no longer commonly used).

What I have decided/discovered since my initial post is that (1) He states that his equipment is 'home made' but I'm not sure he really means home-made or simply modified by him (there are translation issues).  (2) As I mentioned earlier, he never recommended that I get licensed - I just did this on my own.  In retrospect, I'm starting to wonder if they use any of these frequencies legally or if its just a matter of no one caring in south america. (3) On my last trip to New Zealand over a year ago, I saw an Icom 706 being used in the 27mhz range and also in the 156-162mhz range (US marine freq).  I didn't know enough to know that this was unusual, but I've since been told that it is common in the ocean sailing community to buy Ameteur equipment outside the US that is open to transmit and receive in the marine bands, or otherwise modify equipment to transmit and receive on marine frequencies.

After further research, my guess is that the radios being used are either completely home-built or (more likely) commercial radios that have been modified or purchased without the restrictions found on US-sold equipment.

After even more research, it seems that in the US a company cannot legally sell or offer for sale, any equipment that operates outside the established band plans which specifically includes any equipment that could operate on both the ametuer bands and also the CB and/or marine bands.  

However, as a licensed ameteur, it seems I can legally build a radio that does all the above - though I would be required to use it in accordance with the licensing requirements (just as I must be careful to only operate within the freq and power limits of my license).  Thus, I could transmit in the 11 meter CB range provided I kept the transmission power below 5w and I could transmit in the marine band provided I follow its license, location and power requirements.

Moreover, in addition to building a radio that can do all the above, it seems I can also modify a commercially available radio AND it seems I can purchase an already modified radio from another ameteur.

In the end, while it would be nice to have one radio that allowed receive and transmit on all/most of the ameteur bands and also the CB and marine bands, it may not be worth the hassle (including antenna matching issues) especially given the short time frame I have to make a purchase and become proficient using the equipment.

I do some ocean sailing and the marine freqs would be nice in a single radio that can also handle my future Ham desires, but it isn't a current "need" so I won't bother adding it to the list of radio requirements.

The CB range is only important for the upcoming trips and of little/no use once I return to the U.S. as I already have radios and antennas to handle CB needs (though, again, once radio would require less space).

I'll await your responses which I hope will not be too harsh even if my interpretation is incorrect - remember, I'm new and trying to learn (which is why I'm asking so many questions).

Thanks!

73,
William
KD0EIL
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N4KZ
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Posts: 699




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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2008, 10:59:46 AM »

You have asked some very interesting questions, William. And I think by now you're realizing there are few really easy answers to them. As far as I know, there is no one single radio that covers all the HF, VHF and UHF frequency ranges -- amateur, commercial or marine -- that you mentioned. Sure, there are rigs like the Icom IC-706MK2G that cover from 1.8 up to 450 MHz but doesn't come close to covering the 800 MHz range you mentioned.

The amateur bands are recognized worldwide and while the other parts of the radio spectrum have specific uses courtesy of the World Radio Conferences and ITU, that does not prevent some people from taking a rig like the Icom I just mentioned and opening up the transmit function and using it for other things, such as marine SSB. This would never fly under FCC regulations in the U.S. but rules and regs don't always mean as much in other portions of the world. Whatever one can get by with seems to often be the rule elsewhere.

A few countries have UHF-based CB radio, some even using FM, such as in Australia. But it's in the 400 MHz range and not 800. At least, that's what I have read.

I seriously doubt people -- such as the group leader you mentioned -- are using homemade radio gear. They mean it's been modified. Radio gear purchased overseas will work in the U.S. but you run the risk of finding that the service for which it was intended overseas might not exist here so although it will work, it won't be too functional here once you return home. I think this is particularly true in the VHF and UHF ranges. Ham gear wouldn't be much of a problem but the commercial VHF/UHF stuff could run into the aforementioned situations.

73 and good luck,
N4KZ
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WB3ERE
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Posts: 118




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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2008, 11:27:37 AM »

William, previously someone mentioned CEPT, that's an Inernational agreement respecting one countries Amateur license by others.  Not sure where I saw it but some countries are supposedly NOT honoring US licenses below the Extra.  

Perhaps a call to the ARRL will provide you with factual information, as I've been known to be wrong a time or three in the past.  It would be terrible to purchase equipment and then NOT be able to legally use it.

Good luck and hope you enjoy you adventures.
Ed
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KD0EIL
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Posts: 23




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« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2008, 10:22:31 AM »

In the interest of closing the thread, I'll post what I've learned through help here and other forums (as well as my local club contacts).

First and foremost, some of my earlier comments above are simply incorrect.  In particular, my understanding of the legality of using modified equipment in the US is qeustionable at best.  Though I am rather experienced at reading and interpreting complicated legal writing, I must say that much of the FCC language is unclear at best and contradictory at worst.  

To avoid a long-winded legal analysis that is probably not appropriate here, I'll simply say that it appears that a properly licensed ameteur can build or otherwise modify equipment to any degree.  Using it to transmit (or some times even receive) is allowed under certain circumstances, but those can be very limited depending on the modification.  The modification I was considering (transmit/receive on the 11 meter CB band) can easily be done, but whether it is legal to transmit after the mod is vague at best.

Second, I have decided to purchase an all-mode all-band radio for a variety of reason (mainly so I can take advantage of my license as my needs/desires change in the future).  I still have no idea which radio would answer all my desires.  I really like the features of the IC-706 and IC-7000 but I wonder how long it will be before a new version with D-Star and GPS features is released (I'm plagued by buyer's remorse in these situations).

The later generation 706 radios are easily modified for freeband and easily returned to non-modified status.  I'm not as sure of the IC-7000.

I'd most like an all-band all-mode radio with dual VFO, but there doesn't seem to be one on the market.  Especially if I add D-Star and/or GPS to the feature list and the ability to output the display to an external monitor as with the IC-7000.  Add another requirement of remote head, and the list gets even shorter.

Third, I plan to start with a Larsen 2/70 VHF/UHF antenna and add something for the HF later (though I may initially connect one of my existing Firestick 5' antennas and tune it for the 11 meter band only).  The Larsen 2/70 will initially be mounted on the roof centered side-to-side and toward the front to avoid roof-top gear.  If the gear overly affects the signal pattern (as I expect it will) I may try moving it to the hood of the vehicle using a hood-channel mount and see if that results in a better image (ground) plane.

I'm open to ideas and criticism, as I'm a beginner and have no particular pride of design issues.

Thanks!
73
KD0EIL
William
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W0FM
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Posts: 2080




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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2008, 02:16:17 PM »

Hi William.  I notice that you are in St. Louis.  I live close by.  Email me directly at <my call @ swbell dot net> and I'll respond with some phone numbers to contact me.  Sounds like you have a real desire to "get it right" with our hobby.  Hopefully, I can assist by phone easier.

73,

Terry, WØFM
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