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#283444 - 01/19/17 07:51 PM Re: goTenna = bad idea? [Re: chaosmagnet]
Mark_R Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 05/29/10
Posts: 849
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
Radio geek here. I notice radios. I've been known to stop strangers and ask them to let me take a peek at their radios and ask about them. I've never seen a GoTenna in the wild. Since they only work with other GoTennas, it's hard for me to believe that you'd often find people to talk to.

Your best bet in terms of dollars to utility is probably a $30-50 ham radio transceiver, assuming you're a licensed ham. While they are not type-accepted to transmit on FRS/GMRS frequencies, they do work on those frequencies and you can use them that way legally in an emergency. The same is true with maritime VHF frequencies.

Let me be clear, do not transmit with such a radio unless you fully understand what is legal and what is not. A ham radio license will help.


Two questions:
First: If you have a GMRS license, is there any reason you can't legally transmit on the GMRS frequencies with a ham transceiver? Outside of an emergency, that is.

Second: The same question for FRS frequencies. If you limit your power to the 1/2 watt required by FRS rules, can you also transmit on FRS frequencies?
_________________________
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane

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#283449 - 01/20/17 04:53 AM Re: goTenna = bad idea? [Re: Mark_R]
Nomad Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 464
Loc: Just wandering around.
I cant seem to get the quote function to work.. so here is a cut/paste

Two questions:
First: If you have a GMRS license, is there any reason you can't legally transmit on the GMRS frequencies with a ham transceiver? Outside of an emergency, that is.

Second: The same question for FRS frequencies. If you limit your power to the 1/2 watt required by FRS rules, can you also transmit on FRS frequencies?

my response


The short answer is that it is illegal to transmit using amateur radios on any frequency not allocated to the amateur service unless it is in response to a real and present danger to life or property. Even then, be prepared to receive a major hassle from the agency that is allocated to that frequency such as police, medical etc.

The long answer.
Radio frequencies are allocated by the federal government by two agencies. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) allocates all non-governmental frequencies. NTIA (National Telecommunications & Information Administration) assigns governmental frequencies.

So if you transmit “out of allocation” the response you will get depends on whose turf you trespass.

But in response to your question being limited to FRS/GMRS frequencies, these are structured and allocated by the FCC. They have established criteria for each of several categories as listed in the Federal Code of Regulations (CFR).

Part 87 Aviation Services
Part 90 Private Land Mobile Radio Services
Part 95 Personal Radio Services (includes GMRS, FRS, CB, & M U R S)
Part 97 Amateur Radio Service

Each of these parts define (among other things) the technical standards that equipment used in each service must conform to. Specifically, amateur radios (CFR part 97) do not meet the requirements of any other CFR Part.

It is not just a matter of configuring an amateur radio to the same configuration as say a CFR Part 95 (GMRS, MURS etc.). Radios used in each service (except amateur) have to meet their individual CFR Part specifications and be submitted to the FCC or a specific authorization.

If you look at a business band radio you will see a type acceptance number which is issued to the manufacturer for a particular model of a specific radio. Each model must be individually submitted to the FCC for type acceptance. Which is one of the reasons commercial radios cost so much more than amateur radios.

Amateur radios (in the US) do not have to meet any specific criteria.

Of course it is possible to modify many amateur radios to operate outside of the amateur allocations. However they usually do not perform well outside their design criteria.

Most amateur radios have filters to limit the reception out of allocation. This is needed, especially in urban areas to reduce interference from other services. So although the modified radio may transmit outside its allocation, it probably will receive very poorly.

A case in point. I was working with a group of archaeologists in a remote part of the Arizona desert. Many were using FRS radios. I have a GMRS license. One of the specifications of GMRS is that a licensee can use a more powerful GMRS radio (under certain circumstances) on the FRS frequencies. They both are in the same CFR Part 95. I have a GMRS Part 95 authorized radio. It was configured at 5 watts with a short rubber antenna. No problem working folks 7 miles away.

I needed to leave the radio for a few minutes so I put my amateur radio on the GMRS/FRS frequency. It was attached to a 6' tall amateur antenna on a 20 foot mast. I missed several calls using that radio that I clearly heard on the GMRS/FRS radio. That incident prompted me to run several tests on the receiver of my amateur radio. It was much less sensitive outside of the amateur bands.

I have some rather sophisticated radio test equipment. It is easy for me to see which transmitters are amateur and which are the various other allocations. Frequency stability and precision, modulation characteristics and other “fingerprints” provide easy identification.

/blabber mode off/

Nomad
_________________________
...........From Nomad.........Been "on the road" since '97

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#283451 - 01/20/17 01:40 PM Re: goTenna = bad idea? [Re: Bingley]
chaosmagnet Online   content
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2944
Loc: USA
Nomad is absolutely right.

Simply put: Both the user and the device must meet FCC regulations in order to transmit legally on a given frequency.

Ham radios are not type-accepted to transmit on FRS, GMRS, MURS, Maritime VHF, or any other non-ham frequency allocation in the USA.

Edited to add: I possess both a GMRS and an amateur radio license. I cannot legally use my GMRS privileges to transmit with a ham radio transceiver.


Edited by chaosmagnet (01/20/17 01:43 PM)
Edit Reason: additional thoughts

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#283452 - 01/20/17 01:49 PM Re: goTenna = bad idea? [Re: chaosmagnet]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4912
Loc: SOCAL
Chaos, is that a power/bandwidth issue? Or does the equipment need to be specifically authorized for use?

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#283460 - 01/21/17 02:34 PM Re: goTenna = bad idea? [Re: Russ]
chaosmagnet Online   content
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2944
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Russ
Chaos, is that a power/bandwidth issue? Or does the equipment need to be specifically authorized for use?


The equipment must be specifically authorized.

In the USA, the amateur radio service is, I believe, unique in that transmitting equipment does not need to be specifically authorized for use. This is called type acceptance. Licensed amateurs can modify and homebrew equipment at will, but are responsible for following rules regarding frequency, bandwidth, output power, interference, RF safety, and so on.

Every other radio service, as far as I know, requires that radiators (not just intentional transmitters) be type accepted.

Using an amateur radio to transmit on other services, even one that the person is allowed to use and following all the other rules, is therefore illegal.

I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice.

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#283464 - 01/21/17 03:12 PM Re: goTenna = bad idea? [Re: Bingley]
GoatRider Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/28/04
Posts: 824
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
Originally Posted By: M_a_x
Originally Posted By: haertig
Why not just get a HAM radio? Heck of a lot better range.

I am with you on that.
HAM requires a license. That may be an obstacle for some.


A ham radio license is pretty easy to get if you're at all technical. I studied for a week and aced the Technician test and squeaked by on General. Morse code is no longer a requirement for any level. In most big cities there's a test somewhere pretty much every weekend.

KEØKNN (soon to be KØBHJ)
_________________________
- Benton

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#283483 - 01/22/17 04:55 PM Re: goTenna = bad idea? [Re: GoatRider]
haertig Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2018
Loc: Colorado
I've thought about getting a ham license before. Never really seriously though. But it does sound like a license and a radio would be very good to have for emergencies. And like many things, even if the initial impetus to get it is one thing (emergencies), as you start into it you probably begin to like it and learn it would be useful for other tings.

Are the licenses expensive?

Do you have to re-new every so often? How often?

Do you have to already own equipment for use/documentation during testing, or can you just test on knowledge alone, and purchase your equipment later?

I've been a computer geek at work for many years, but my actual degree is in Electrical Engineering. I hope I still posses the basic knowledge required for a license. After study of course - I have general knowledge of radio from college, but that was not what I focused on, so a lot of that is tucked away in the back of my brain and would require resurrection.

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#283486 - 01/22/17 06:08 PM Re: goTenna = bad idea? [Re: haertig]
chaosmagnet Online   content
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2944
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: haertig
Are the licenses expensive?


Test fees tend to be $15, sometimes less. Renewals are $8 usually.

Quote:
Do you have to re-new every so often? How often?


Every ten years. Once you're licensed as long as you don't let your license lapse too long (2 years) you do not have to retest unless you want to get a higher-level license.

Quote:
Do you have to already own equipment for use/documentation during testing, or can you just test on knowledge alone, and purchase your equipment later?


There is zero requirement to own equipment, either for licensure or for testing. All the questions are multiple choice. All the possible questions and answers are a matter of the public record.

Quote:
I've been a computer geek at work for many years, but my actual degree is in Electrical Engineering. I hope I still posses the basic knowledge required for a license. After study of course - I have general knowledge of radio from college, but that was not what I focused on, so a lot of that is tucked away in the back of my brain and would require resurrection.


I'm guessing that with your background you could become a licensed Technician with a few hours' study.

Current license levels in the USA are Technician, General and Extra. Technician has good frequency privileges in VHF/UHF and little in HF. General (that's me) has great privileges. Extra has all amateur radio frequency privileges. If you want to be a Volunteer Examiner (someone authorized to proctor the ham radio exams), a General can proctor Technician exams and an Extra can proctor all exams.

Novice and Advanced licenses are no longer available to test for, but if renewed the licenses and privileges are still good.

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#283495 - 01/23/17 03:27 PM Re: goTenna = bad idea? [Re: Bingley]
GoatRider Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/28/04
Posts: 824
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
To get your amateur radio license, read this:

https://www.amazon.com/ARRL-Ham-Radio-License-Manual/dp/1625950136

Practice tests here (these are the actual questions used in the real exam):

http://arrlexamreview.appspot.com/

Find the nearest exam here:

http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session
_________________________
- Benton

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#283496 - 01/23/17 05:40 PM Re: goTenna = bad idea? [Re: GoatRider]
haertig Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2018
Loc: Colorado
Quote:
Find the nearest exam here...

Thanks. I seem to be surrounded by exams. Two per week for most weeks, within easy driving distance, several within 5 miles. Looks like the longest "dry spell" without tests for the foreseeable future is two weeks.

I think I will probably go ahead and get at least the Technician license, since it's convenience, inexpensive, could come in very handy some day, and shouldn't be terribly difficult since I do have some background in this (albeit, a couple of decades ago in college courses). We'll see how good my memory is once I start studying!

I looked at many of the sample questions. Breezed right through the technical ones (related to Elec Engr). Probably won't even need to review there, it was all very simple stuff.

The questions on rules and regs would take a little study. Many questions were pretty obvious and one could guess their way through them. But things like "Which agency does this?" would require learning, since that's all brand new to me. Also, "Which band is this frequency on?" would take a little study. There were also a few questions that fit into the oddball, "Why would they ask this?" category. Reminded me of some that popped up on my test when I transferred my Paramedic from Texas to Colorado. "What is the minimum ground clearance of an ambulance?" Huh? I ride in the back of them, I don't build them!

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