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New User / Getting Started Forum - The place for new users to discuss how to get started, and generally feel safe from the rest of the rabid technical community. If you just got your first scanner, this forum is for you. Please note: Posts are only moved from this forum by OP's request only.

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 10-24-2016, 12:15 PM
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Default Complete Newbie

Ok, I'm a complete newbie, beyond newbie in fact. I'll be completely honest I don't know what half these letters stand for and I am beyond confused. So... I would really like some help finding a radio. I want to be able to listen to pretty much anything, not broadcast, just listen. I would like a handheld unit that I can listen to cb, ham, emergency services, weather, and as much police/ fire as I can. I would also like gps/ aprs capability. Ive done some research regarding the repeaters in my state seem to be all 144 and 430 range and the local pd all transmit on 151-154 range. From what I understand I need MURS capability to listen to the local pd/ fire departments. I know the only local trunking is done by the energy companies and the air force base, Im not extremely concerned about listening to either of them.

So... what am I using it for? I want to be able to communicate with my family and friends around the state which should be possible via the 144 and 430 repeaters, I want to be be able to listen to as much as I can to gain access to information in emergency situations and traffic, and I want a unit I can take with me when I go kayak camping so that I can find my location, and transmit it to local emergency services should the need arise.

I am looking at a yeasu vx-8dr, yeasu ft1drb, and yeasu ft2dr. My understanding is that the vx-8dr is the only one that will be able to listen to all those frequencies (though modding may be required) but it will need the optional GPS antenna and mic adapter in order to use GPS but it does come APRS capable from the box. So my question is, can someone help me make sense of all this? Can the VX-8 gain access to the 151-154 range for listening purposes only? Can either of the other two radios? Im having trouble figuring out what I do and don't need here and any help would be much appreciated.

Thank you
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Old 10-24-2016, 2:07 PM
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Cj5 - first off, welcome.

It would be most helpful if we knew where you are- county/state (province?) is fine. Once we have a handle on that, folks can start looking at what is in your area and making cogent recommendations

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Old 10-24-2016, 2:41 PM
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YES THE VX8 COVERS 134-174 MHZ. https://www.manualslib.com/manual/38...age=170#manual
I am confused as you say you want to listen only yet you are looking at transmitter radios. There are several scanners that will receive all you want except the aprs function. You would hear aprs beacons but thats about all. Some have the gps function allowing the scanner to listen reference to a range related to a gps location. You have mentioned ht's. While an ht is handy, they have a limited receive ability, a mobile would do better.
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Old 10-24-2016, 4:33 PM
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Default A few responses

Howdy, thanks y'all. I'm in Arkansas, central part of the state. Im hoping that helps? I want to be able to communicate with friends and family via the radio so thats why I was looking at transceivers, but I also want to be able to listen to all the frequencies that I can.

Again, thanks for the help!
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Old 10-24-2016, 9:15 PM
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First message stated want to listen and not transmit. Last post indicates wanting to communicate. If looking at ham radios, suggestion would be to become licensed as an amateur radio operator. If not, change your radio plans as those are only for amateur radio. There are a number of other posts on RR about what radios for CB, MURS, GMRS [need license], FRS. If I read this right, get a scanner for listening to all non encrypted transmissions, and get a CB, or MURS, or FRS if not wanting to get a license and communicate with friends and family. For the amateur bands, all users must have a license. Modes for ham radios are for transmitting as they generally do not give any more frequencies that can be monitored, only increase the illegal transmissions out of amateur bands. And you may find that even though you can communicate with Emergency people, they may not accept your calls. They don't need every Tom, Dick and Harry that think they have an emergency tying up there radio systems [and this is a simple explanation].
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Old 10-24-2016, 10:26 PM
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Default Well that came off a little snarky, please allow me to retort

First and foremost, read paragraph two, which in the first line states I want to use it to communicate with my friends and family across the state. I also find it interesting that you read the part about wanting to be able to communicate with emergency services in the event of an emergency but missed the wanting to communicate part?

On the emergency services note, I'm going to go ahead and assume youve never run a class 5 river or had to come up with a neck brace on the fly for a cervical spine fracture? It's quite the Charlie foxtrot let me assure you. I keep a full medkit in my boat with a c collar, however there's only so much i can do. I also have yet to meet a dispatch that brushed a situation like that off. I tend to doubt they would based solely on me communicating on the wrong frequency. I could be incorrect and if I am, I'll take that 10k fine if it gets a chopper to a friend in need and two boats don't need to try and straddle a backboard between them.

Thirdly, since I know what repeaters are and aprs is, I would think it would be reasonable to assume I know that ham requires a lisence to transmit on. Surely that would have come up at some point within that googling. So yes, I'm aware ham requires a lisence, I'm aware that there are three ratings within that licensure, that the first two ratings require passing (with a score of 28 I believe?) A 35 question test, and the third rating requires passing a 50 question test, I know that the tests are 15 dollars apiece to pay for the testing moderators time. I'm also aware of a testing facility within 5 miles of my home that offers a test once per week which does not require an appointment. I also know that gmrs does not require a test but does require a 75 dollar lisence that is good for 10 years at the time. I'm also aware that cb requires no licence and is a great way to get mildly useful traffic updates while learing some new vile knock knock jokes that would make a sailor blush.

Now, not that you asked before getting snide, but I do plan to get lisenced (See above paragraph regarding testing facility location).

So again, I'll ask helpful individuals, I have read that the vx-8dr can listen to nearly all communication including: marine, aviation, ems, cb, shortwave, 220, 144, 430, 50, gmrs, mars, and now murs, with the capacity to transmit on 220, 144, 440, 50, aprs, and gps with the appropriate antenna. Is this true, and frankly how much of that is actually useful?

Thank you
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Old 10-24-2016, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Cj5wit4wd View Post
Howdy, thanks y'all. I'm in Arkansas, central part of the state. Im hoping that helps? I want to be able to communicate with friends and family via the radio so thats why I was looking at transceivers, but I also want to be able to listen to all the frequencies that I can.

Again, thanks for the help!
Central Arkansas can be quite a lot of land. Specify where you live. Ham radio HT's, though able to receive, do not need to be modded to do so. They are meant to transmit on the ham bands exclusively.
Now, for you to communicate, what has been mentioned will do that, with the exception of GMRS which requires a license.
The state of Arkansas has a digital P-25 Phase II system which no ham radio will receive. Period. My bad, the statewide system is Phase I, not Phase II. It opens up many other scanners to use.
Waiting on your response.
Larry

Last edited by N8IAA; 10-24-2016 at 11:03 PM.. Reason: corrected info
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Old 10-24-2016, 11:58 PM
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Hey Larry, thanks for the response I live in North little rock. As best I can tell all the repeaters around here and I'm sialom springs, Russellville, fayetville, hot springs, and little rock (where I am most often) are mostly 144 and 430. The local PD operates on 154, again, as best I can an tell. When you say BY you mean handheld transceiver right? Sorry I'm trying to figure as much out as I can by myself but this is all very new.
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Old 10-25-2016, 12:04 AM
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Larry, is there a resource you suggest for learning some of this stuff? I've got a study website I'm using for the test but since I'm actually planning to use this thing in case of an emergency in the wilderness (we've had c spine fractures, and a friend was medically dead for a few minues) I'd like to know my way around it. My impression is that aprs is almost like mobile text messaging based on some of the description of the ft2dr?
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Old 10-25-2016, 6:11 PM
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So I will continue my "snarky". So you are far from a newbie then?. And rest assured, I have spent 35 years working in a health care environment! Far too many people come on here thinking they can get a ham transceiver or any transceiver and communicate with any Emergency service they want. That is what cell phones/sat phones are for. If you have read some of my posts, you will also see that I always advise people thinking of becoming hams to look for and attend a ham club meeting and learn from these people and not rely totally on internet web sites and tests. There is much more learned from clubs/elmers than internet. Plus another snarky advise, if you are planning to use a radio to talk to those services you mention, I would snarkly advise talking with them before hand to see if they would authorize this or give you some alternatives

Last edited by robertmac; 10-25-2016 at 6:18 PM..
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Old 10-25-2016, 10:30 PM
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I've actually been trying to figure out how to find a local club. I'm not really sure how to go about doing that just yet, I reckoned it was a good question to ask the testing people when I go up and take my exam. Alright, so perhaps this will be easier, lets say I don't want to talk to ems directly but would like to be able to listen to them to see if they are headed my way.

What I am hoping is that I can use the GPS to find my location in the case of an emergency and then use the APRS function or a ham frequency to send the word out. I would imagine its within the realm of possibility to find someone I can send an emergency message to via APRS? Are there typically some sort of monitoring services for things like that? Im sure I could find one. So does that become a possibility at that point? If so, what is the range on APRS? Is this a more realistic and reasonable goal? I have looked at satellite phones as an option but the cost is prohibitive as well as the less than waterproof nature of most of them.

That is the primary function of the device I'm looking for, figure out my location, find a way to get help, and send the message out. The secondary purpose would be for obtaining information via the different channels. The third purpose would be for fun and communicating with friends and family. I would like to be able to cover all three bases in one device if possible.

Now, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize, I clearly took your comment in a way it was not intended. The unfortunate fact of text only conversation is that it becomes very difficult to interpret tone. I assumed, rather incorrectly it seems, that you were being condescending. So, I'm sorry for my misinterpretation and the snarktastic shenanigans which issued afterwards.
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Old 10-25-2016, 11:27 PM
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I've actually been trying to figure out how to find a local club. I'm not really sure how to go about doing that just yet, I reckoned it was a good question to ask the testing people when I go up and take my exam. Alright, so perhaps this will be easier, lets say I don't want to talk to ems directly but would like to be able to listen to them to see if they are headed my way.

What I am hoping is that I can use the GPS to find my location in the case of an emergency and then use the APRS function or a ham frequency to send the word out.
Using a HT to communicate is not plausible in an emergency. Talking to friends and family on a ham radio requires the others to also have a ham license. Ham radios are not type accepted on other services. So, modifying one to work there isn't allowed. Especially if you try to contact law enforcement. Just remember, a ham HT usually only transmits about 2.5 to 5 watts into a very insufficient antenna.
The GPS will not help you find out where you are. Its function is to show where you are to someone monitoring APRS. Not at all like a regular GPS. Though I could be wrong.


I would imagine its within the realm of possibility to find someone I can send an emergency message to via APRS? Are there typically some sort of monitoring services for things like that? Im sure I could find one. So does that become a possibility at that point? If so, what is the range on APRS? Is this a more realistic and reasonable goal? I have looked at satellite phones as an option but the cost is prohibitive as well as the less than waterproof nature of most of them.

That is the primary function of the device I'm looking for, figure out my location, find a way to get help, and send the message out. The secondary purpose would be for obtaining information via the different channels. The third purpose would be for fun and communicating with friends and family. I would like to be able to cover all three bases in one device if possible.

Now, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize, I clearly took your comment in a way it was not intended. The unfortunate fact of text only conversation is that it becomes very difficult to interpret tone. I assumed, rather incorrectly it seems, that you were being condescending. So, I'm sorry for my misinterpretation and the snarktastic shenanigans which issued afterwards.
Cj5, you are underestimating the range of the HT on simplex.
HTH,
Larry
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Old 10-25-2016, 11:30 PM
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To find a local club, try the Amateur Radio Relay League. Or, ARRL for short. I'm sure that they can find a club near you.
Larry
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Old 10-25-2016, 11:40 PM
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I can't help for Arkansas as I don't know how many APRS stations or digipeaters are set up in your area. As mentioned HH are limited. You might want to look at Kenwood mobiles such as the 710 which can be used as a digipeater to greatly increase APRS range. I know HH can be set up to transmit an emergency beacon but would require someone be monitoring. So it is doable. However, failing that, a PLB or Personal Locator Beacon might be more suited for emergencies. I am sure there are a lot in the US such as the ACR ResQLink+ 406 GPS as just one example. SPOT is another one. These are options if your family or friends do not want to become licensed.
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Old 10-26-2016, 9:17 AM
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Cj5wit4wd,

Firstly, welcome to Radio Reference! You will find a wealth of information around here. I'll try to fill in some blanks that I see in the above posts. Secondly, <jeep_wave>. Before I became disabled and had to give up my driver's license, I had a 2004 Jeep Rubicon with Dana 44 pumpkins / lockers and under-body protection all around. I went rock crawling in authorized parks but far from civilization and help so I can understand your concerns. Lastly, I am a retired manager of a Police E9-1-1 Dispatch Center and can speak that language too.

To find a local ham radio club that is ARRL affiliated in your area, go to Search for ARRL Affiliated Clubs. The hams that administer the license exams will be affiliated with one or more clubs and can also point you in the right direction.

You can use the Repeater Book (http://www.repeaterbook.com) to check repeater listings for the areas that you travel to. APRS is a little more tricky because Digipeaters come and go more frequently than voice repeaters since they are run out of homes in many cases. A good reference map of Digipeaters for APRS can be found at North America (Large View) APRS Digipeaters.

The Pulaski County, Arkansas Radio Reference database (Pulaski County, Arkansas (AR) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference) does show many agencies in the 150/460 MHz Public Safety bands but there is an Arkansas Wireless Information Network (AWIN) that is Project 25 Phase 1 that no amateur radio transceiver is going to be compatible with. The AWIN system is statewide and has Law Enforcement, EMS, State Police and all City Agencies. You will have to determine just who you want to monitor and see if they are on the conventional 150/460 MHz systems or the trunked AWIN system.

The Yaesu VX-8R is an amateur band (50/144/222/440 MHz) transceiver and a wideband receiver (500 kHz to 999.99 MHz). It can be modified for wideband transmit but the only legal application for such a modification would be if you had a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) or Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) license. It would not be legal to use on FRS, GMRS, MURS, Public Safety (Conventional Systems) because it would not be compliant with the applicable FCC Part of the Rules and Regulations.

While I cannot speak for other E9-1-1 Centers, our center, if we were on a conventional radio system, would NOT allow users as yourself to speak directly to our dispatchers. That is not the way the Public Safety system operates and to allow people to do that, even in the most dire emergency, would be inviting every Tom, Dick and Harry to talk to our dispatchers randomly without merit and would make the whole system of Public Safety become unreliable. Trust me on this, that scenario has been discussed many times and the answer is it would always be illegal for a citizen to operate on a Public Safety frequency, including talk-around frequencies.

Finally, you mentioned that you want to talk to family and friends. Unless they all get Amateur Radio licenses and can assess linked repeaters on the same network, I do not see how you would do that legally. As I said earlier, FRS, GMRS and MURS are out of the question from a legal perspective with respect to the FCC's Rules and Regulations.

I hope that this helped you some and I hope that one day you will join the ranks of the Amateur Radio service. I wish you well as you take the necessary test(s) for the priviledges that you wish to have.

73 (best wishes in ham radio speak), Dave K4EET
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Last edited by K4EET; 10-26-2016 at 9:23 AM.. Reason: One spelling correction...
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:36 AM
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Larry, I am underestimating the HT's capacity or overestimating it?

Rob, I have actually looked into SPOT and given it some serious consideration and it is part of my backup plan for sure. I was just hoping to get something that could do a bit more and I didn't have to pay for yearly, more of an investment up front but with little continued expense. The SPOT is 150 and the tracking is 150 per year following that. The vx-8dr is 330 on gigaparts so if I could get the vx to do virtually the same thing with a few tests and license, and perhaps an antenna upgrade it made a lot more sense to me to go that route. I may have to rethink my plan though. I like the idea of SPOT, I just feel like they're beating you to death with the service costs of 150/ year on the basic plan and another 50/ year to upgrade the tracking rate and reset necessity.

K4EET, That does actually help quite a bit, I'm starting to understand some of this and that helped to reenforce it. So basically I can do the mod on the vx and listen to whatever I want, but I cannot legally speak. I have an uncle that has cb and I think I could get him on the ham without too much difficulty, and I have a good friend who has a ham but no license yet. He and I have been talking about studying up and getting out licenses together here in a couple weeks.

If I am understanding everyone correctly it sounds like as far as an emergency device is concerned, the vx-8dr is pretty much useless. I can get a SPOT and that would work quite well for that purpose but the vx would be dead in the water if Im more than a couple miles from the nearest repeater? I'm still very interested in obtaining a mobile ham and license, but I may not buy such a nice one if it cannot serve that function. Although Rob you did mention I could set it up to send out an emergency beacon so long as someone was monitoring that signal correct? Would the individual monitoring need to be licensed and how is that signal transmitted? I think its well within the realm of possibility I could arrange that depending on what would be required to receive that signal, would such a signal have gps coordinates?

"The GPS will not help you find out where you are. Its function is to show where you are to someone monitoring APRS. Not at all like a regular GPS. Though I could be wrong." This is actually perfectly fine with me so long as where the signal is being transmitted from get to someone somewhere.
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:38 AM
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Not to be "that guy" but if a HT can't really communicate, and it can't really be used in emergencies, whats the point of one? Are they pretty well strictly for the purposes of MURS and MARS operators?
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:42 AM
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I found this nice summary posting of FCC Part 95 which covers FRS, GMRS, and MURS services of the Personal Radio Services (PRS). Click on:

http://forums.radioreference.com/gmr...act-sheet.html

The fine points to watch for are statements like in the FRS section where detachable antennas are prohibited on a FRS radio if it is Type Accepted. This is why the Yaesu VX-8R is not legal for use as a FRS radio (among other reasons).

73, Dave K4EET
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Last edited by K4EET; 10-26-2016 at 11:02 AM.. Reason: One spelling error...
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cj5wit4wd View Post
Not to be "that guy" but if a HT can't really communicate, and it can't really be used in emergencies, whats the point of one? Are they pretty well strictly for the purposes of MURS and MARS operators?
Rules are rules and if you are a law abiding citizen then you need to go by them. The only reason we do not have total chaos in the United States is because, for the most part, people are law abiding citizens. One has to choose if they will follow those laws that help to ensure civility. And where people choose to break certain laws (speed limits, no parking areas, radio regulations, etc.), if you are caught you have to be willing to suffer the consequences.

73, Dave K4EET
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:59 AM
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All radio service you are interested in are "line-of-sight" services. Meaning, the antenna from one radio must have an unobstructed line-of-sight to the target receiver's antenna. (It is possible to get some reflected signal to an obstructed antenna, and RF does penetrate but is diminished by foliage, but such communications is not generally reliable.) This means that two people talking directly to each other on handheld radios have a reliable communications range of 2 blocks to 2 miles. The first hill or other obstruction that comes between the two receivers will be what limits effective range.

In some cases, you can get much longer range. We test radios from the top of Mt. Scott in Oklahoma and achieve 50 mile communications distances between some models. However, this is not a typical environment.

The reason you can get much farther communications on things like cell phones and commercial radios is that the receiving antenna is typically on top of a tall tower, tall building tall mountain, or other structure. Even still, you are normally communicating with an antenna that is less than 5 miles away in most cases.

As mentioned, you cannot legally directly communicate on public safety channels as these are restricted to public safety personnel and the radios that they are issued.

SPOT is likely your best bet for your situation, as it uses satellite communications (which puts the receiving antenna on a satellite, which gives it continental range).
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