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Author Topic: Inadvertently find myself in the "unwanted" ham position!  (Read 9977 times)
FARAWAYMAN
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Posts: 5




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« on: January 13, 2014, 02:45:27 PM »

Prior to going on a skiing vacation in early January - I ordered two Baofeng GT3 handheld radios (Refer http://www.radioddity.com/us/baofeng-gt-3-two-way-radio-dual-band-uhf-vhf-136-174-400-480mhz-2014-latest-version.html).  Although ordered from Amazon locally, it appears that they were shipped directly from China and arrived too late for me to take them with on the ski trip.  All I wanted was a set of fairly good, robust radios to keep in touch with my wife while on the slopes.  However, now having studied the documentation properly, I fear that I may be at risk of illegal use if I attempt to use these radios.  I am not a licensed radio ham and hold no radio licenses.  Rather that trying to read up the data from sources of varying reliability - I chose to register here to try to get a definitive answer.    I live in NY.  

Can I use these radios?  What frequencies can I legally use and still get reasonable reception?  And if this is the case (that I have to be licensed to use these radios) - I will certainly revert back to Amazon and advise them to place a suitable warning on the product for potentially dumb people like me!

Any advice would be much appreciated.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 02:49:42 PM by FARAWAYMAN » Logged
HURRICAINE
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2014, 03:11:41 PM »

NOPE!

Technically they are not legal anywhere, since they don't have the other radio services blocked - hence they are not Part 95 type acceptable for either FRS or GMRS..
I don't know how or why the FCC and ARRL allowed them for use in the Amateur Bands since they skirt the rules blatantly.
My suggestion would be for you to buy a GMRS license - $85.00 for 5 years, which would cover everyone in your family.
They would have to learn your call sign to be legal - but that is a minor technicality.

I honestly believe that once they left Pandora out of it's box, the other radio services are going to continue having problems with these people, due to the fact that these inexpensive handheld radios are easily programmed and can operate on the police, fire, ambulance, and Amateur bands..
There is no way to control who owns one or uses it. 
We are already experiencing harmful interference and illegal operations on the amateur bands by misguided people that are either making up their own call signs or are not using call signs at all, and invading the amateur radio bands.

Skiing usually occurs at the top of mountains in the highest place in the state.  Increasing transmit height will also increase range.
Hence using these types of radios would be highly illegal without a license on a ski slope because they could be heard for many miles.
It's not like using them in the woods for hunting where the trees and the hills absorb the power produced by the more powerful transmitters.  All bubble pack GMRS  radios comes with the exact same disclaimer as your transceivers, although 99% of all the users ignores the warnings and advice to get a license before they use them.

As long as consumers are paying to get a GMRS license, the FCC is not going to discontinue the license or selling the license.
FRS - Family Radio Service, only allows for one half of one watt of transmit power from a non removable antenna, and the antenna size is restricted.
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KA8OCN
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2014, 09:33:47 PM »

Its not the service its the radio, those are not type accepted, that being said I own one and use it for my Amateur a radio stuff quite a bit. Just because it will transmit out of the bands I am allowed to use does not mean I have to transmit there. If you do a google search you will find some UHF frequencies that do not require a license but again to be "legal" you should but the radios that are designed for that band. I would try a sports shop and they are not that expensive.

Or...... You and Your Family could get a Amateur Radio license, its easier than its ever been and you do not need to learn Morse code anymore. Its also lots of fun! I could be a little biased. 

P.S.
here is a link I found to a chart of frequencies for you

http://www.csgnetwork.com/frsfreqtable.html

I have nothing to do with them I just found it doing a google search
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KK4LGR
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Posts: 53




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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 01:07:02 AM »

Pretty much the only use for those Baofengs that's kosher is ham radio.  Or listening.  Except for cell phones, you never need a license to listen.

Something I'll point out:  Point-to-point (simplex) transmissions on VHF or UHF will suck.  I don't care if you use FRS, GMRS or MURS, you'll only get a mile or two tops.  Even those 5 watt Baofengs you bought won't perform very well by themselves.  It's the repeaters they can talk to that give them their range and power.

GMRS licensees can set up repeater systems similar to the ones used by hams, but they're expensive, and they're not going to be something you take with you on vacation.  The commonly available blister pack GMRS radios (that people use like FRS radios illegally, though there's very little enforcement) usually can't access those repeater systems, only interfere with them.  And anyway, most GMRS repeaters are private and closed to uninvited users, and they're few and far between. 

MURS is probably the best compromise.  It's 2 watts and you don't need a license.  You still won't get much range, a mile or two max.  Power isn't as much of a factor as the height of the two antennas.  For long range, one or both need to be really high up.  Two walkie talkies both held at mouth height won't work very far, regardless of frequency or mode.

CB has some reach because it's HF and it bounces off the ionosphere or the ground, but there aren't many CB walkie talkies because of their huge antennas.  They're mostly car or base station use.

Amateur radio has the best performance by far due to our repeater infrastructure on VHF and UHF and due to bouncing the signals off of the sky on HF (possible on CB, but the noise limits it's usefulness).  The other radio services are designed to be so user friendly as to be idiot proof; amateur radio takes a little understanding.  The tests are cheap to take and easy to pass and you already own some radios, but it's not really meant for the casual "Honey, I'm over by the water slide" user.  If you get your licenses, you and your family are welcome to use your fair shares of the spectrum as long as you learn the rules and use proper operating practices.  No one owns the spectrum, it's like a national park, you can use it as long as you let other people use it too.

If you decide to pursue amateur radio, the best thing to do is to contact a local club and talk to them.  They'll give you guidance and help you with your licenses and radios, in addition to being some pretty nice guys.  There's some good information about what we're all about on the ARRL website and on hamuniverse.com.  That website has some great information written in an easy to understand way, I learned a lot there when just starting out (which wasn't really that long ago.)  If you think it's not for you, pick a radio system that will work for what you need and enjoy your future skiing holidays.

In any case, you really did the right thing by asking here instead of just picking a random frequency to use.  We're not kidding, these little handhelds can cause some trouble if mishandled.  Thank you for operating your radios responsibly.

73 (Radio talk for Best Wishes)
Adam
KK4LGR
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"Well I'm sure glad we've got these ham radios to talk on."
--Unidentified station heard on 2 meters
FARAWAYMAN
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Posts: 5




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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 04:12:13 PM »

Thanks for the very informative, but rather saddening feedback.

I would not risk using the FRS frequencies, because these radios exceed the legal output wattage and have removable antennae - so the only solution is getting a GMRS license.  This implies that I have spent approx $190 (2x $69.00 on the radios plus $49 from Techsmith for the programming software and comms cable) for equipment that I cannot legally use unless I spend a further $85 for the GMRS license.  I looked at the FCC website as to how to apply for the GMRS license as recommended by Hurricaine - problem is that I need a Social Security number, and not being a US citizen (I am here for a few years on a business contract) I am not eligible to get one......   

Expensive lesson!  So watch this thread in the near future for:
a.  Feedback from Amazon on them conceding to posting a suitable warning regarding licenses on these radios;
b.  Advert for the sale of 2x Baofeng GT-3's plus programming software!   

Thanks once again to all who contributed.
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FARAWAYMAN
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Posts: 5




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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 04:43:48 PM »

The following mail was sent via Amazon to Save-N-Shop (the vendor of these radios):

Dear Sir / Madam

I ordered 2x Baofeng GT-3 radios from you (order xxx-xxxxxxx-xxxx854 and order xxx-xxxxxxx-xxxx009).  The radios were delivered, well packed and work perfectly - I have no complaints about them.  However, after extensive reading and consultations with forums knowledgeable on the subject, it is evident that I cannot use these radios in the USA without a GMRS or other appropriate radio ham license!

I strongly suggest that you place a warning to this effect in your product description.  It appears that it is illegal to use these radios without a suitable license and the minimum cost of such a license (if approved) is US$85.00.  Consumers should be made aware of this.

I do not wish to return the radio's - but I would appreciate your feedback in this regard.  I will also post the appropriate comment in the "reviews" section of your Amazon product advert.

Thanking you
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FARAWAYMAN
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 05:01:13 PM »

Review as posted in Amazon:

These radios (I ordered two of them) appear robust, well made and rich in features.  However...... I have been advised I that cannot use the radios legally in the USA in compliance with the Family Radio Service (FRS) regulations because they exceed the maximum permitted output wattage and the antennae is removable - in contravention of FRS standards.  Using the radio to transmit in any other permitted frequency range requires a GMRS license which will cost you $85.00 in the USA.

Fine if you want to listen - but reconsider if you are not a licensed user or simply want a "casual / sporting" two-way radio.

===

Trust this is a correct interpretation by a novice of the feedback given above!  Review will appear here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GCZVXPI/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 after internal review by Amazon.

Thanks once again!  

This whole saga upset me a trifle!!!!
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 05:10:04 PM by FARAWAYMAN » Logged
KK4LGR
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 05:46:42 PM »

The rigs you have are not legal for use on the GMRS bands as far as I know.  GMRS radios must be explicitly approved by the FCC for that use, and Baofeng radios are not approved for such use.  They are capable of producing a signal identical to a type-accepted GMRS radio like this Motorola Talkabout I have here, and you probably won't get caught unless you're actually causing trouble, but if you want to be 100% legal, I wouldn't use them on GMRS, you're better off exchanging them for proper radios.

Those Baofeng's aren't exactly as user friendly as FRS/GMRS equipment, since there are menu settings to set up like the narrowband option.  The PL tones are a pain to access too, since it sets the transmit and receive tones separately.
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"Well I'm sure glad we've got these ham radios to talk on."
--Unidentified station heard on 2 meters
W5WSS
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Posts: 1724




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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2014, 08:39:29 AM »

KK4LGR that reply#3 was well communicated Smiley
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KJ7WC
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Posts: 69




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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2014, 11:07:44 AM »

To the contrary, Baofeng UV-5R+ radios are Part 90 accepted, and my be used on the commercial bands by properly licensed individuals and organizations. Amateur radio doesn't have any certification process, because the amateur radio operator is responsible for ensuring proper spectral quality (suppression of harmonics and spurious emissions, maintaining proper signal deviation, etc.). The FCC certification for the UV-5R+ is actually specified in ERP, which takes into account the stock antenna. A commercial operator must use the rubber duck that came with the radio, or something that is less efficient, due to the power specification on the certificate.

As for Farawayman, I recommend purchasing a GMRS license for the family. Wouxun makes a version of the GU-16 that is Part 95 certified: http://www.powerwerx.com/two-way-radios/handheld-wouxun-radios/powerwerx-gu-16-gmrs-handheld-radio.html. Just make sure to get a programming cable to set frequencies on the computer, since they have no keypad. The radios actually have the ability to use repeaters, so they may be quite useful in the city, as well.
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W7HBP
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2014, 01:42:36 PM »

FARAWAYMAN, its nice to see you are going to great lengths to obey the laws. Many people do not seem to care.

There was an incidcent, not too long ago, a couple bought their kids a pair of these walkie talkies, and they had no idea it would transmist where it didnt belong. These kids just matched the frequencie and ended up on an emergency frequency (fire fighter???)

They were tracked eventually and the parentsd had no idea nor did the kids. They dio now. Thje parents just wanted to get their kids a pair of walkie talkies, not break a law, they had no idea.

I suspect you can get a GMRS license anyway, there may be a subsitute or a work around for that ie no SS number. You could call the FCC.
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KJ7WC
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Posts: 69




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« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2014, 02:10:08 AM »

A UIN (FCC Universal Identification Number) is required to obtain an amateur radio license, and there's no requirement for citizenship is required for ham. Ergo, you can get into the FCC's systems without a Social Security Number. I have not taken time to look at GMRS requirements regarding citizenship. Yet, isn't it worth a shot?

I agree with W7HBP and applaud FARAWAYMAN for doing his best to follow legal requirement!
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FARAWAYMAN
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2014, 05:11:25 PM »

Thanks guys, I will call FCC and see what can be done.
As a footnote, I see Amazon have suspended the sale of these radios on the US site!
Regards
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KE5GAE
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Posts: 153




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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2014, 08:36:21 AM »

Thanks guys, I will call FCC and see what can be done.
As a footnote, I see Amazon have suspended the sale of these radios on the US site!
Regards
What "site" are we talking about?  I just checked, and the link from Amazon to radioddity.com for the GT-3 still seems functional.  But even if it were taken down, it would likely be for something other than the open band features of the GT-3, since scores of other Chinese radios like this are still available.  Just go to Amazon and search for "Baofeng." 

Basil
KE5GAE
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