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Does Anybody Even Bother With CAP/MARS Modifications Any Longer?

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#1
As posted above, does anybody even bother modifying their amateur radios with CAP/MARS modifications any longer? The reason I ask is because I ran across that on an amateur radio equipment dealer. But then I realized that when I still was in the Civil Air Patrol, there was a move underway to move to APCO P25 equipment and amateur radio equipment didn't comply with those standards.

I was never involved with MARS, so I don't know if modified amateur radio equipment is still permitted there.

Also, at least in my area, so many public safety agencies have moved to trunked modes, etc., so the concept of a volunteer firefighter having a modified amateur radio to talk to dispatch seems to have vanished in many areas.

I suppose some people could use a modified amateur radio for MURS/GMRS/FRS, though.
 

W9BU

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#2
CAP requires specific equipment and CAP publishes a list of approved radios. If the radio isn't on the list, modifying it for "CAP" use is probably a waste of time.

Most MARS activity is on the HF bands, though there may be locations where VHF/UHF is used. Modifying a VHF/UHF radio for MARS is probably a waste of time.

I think the most folks who make these "MARS/CAP" mods are doing it so they can transmit outside of the amateur bands on MURS/GMRS/FRS/Marine/Public Safety/Business frequencies which is a violation of FCC rules. In rural areas, VHF/UHF is still used extensively for Public Safety, so there may be an incentive to modify an Amateur Radio transceiver for use there.

The story I like to relate about these mods is this: When I was first licensed, I was all about modding my radios for out of band transmit. Then, an Amateur Radio handheld I owned was stolen. It had been modded and it had many of the local police and fire frequencies programmed into it (they were still using conventional systems at that time). I became quite concerned to the point of feeling like a gun I owned might be used to kill someone. After that, I stopped modding my radios.

I know that there are amateur radio dealers who will mod radios for their customers. While what they are doing is not illegal, I do question the ethics of this practice because they have to know how those radios are going to be used.
 
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#3
I think that the Hams that do these conversions do it more out of a "because I can" reason, rather than with any intended use. There is just that **Something** about having an all-frequency receive radio but with a limited transmitting ability. After all- Who Knows??--- YOU might be the only one who can respond to that sinking ship's MayDay- what is the Boy Scout motto?...be prepared?...! (Please read into that a lot of sarcasm on my part, but I bet this is the reason behind a majority of these conversions.)
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On the other hand, I have used ham radios for years on US government frequencies, and in other countries; frequencies and equipment standards exempt from, or beyond the rules of the FCC. My favorite conversion was (this goes back quite some years ago) the famous, simple "cut the turquoise wire" in the ICOM 720's HF transceivers- instant 1.5-30MHz coverage. We used these ICOM's thru out the Pacific on our government projects- and many were then donated to local island mayors for their inter-island communications... so there is a legit reason for some of these conversions- though for the average suburban US radio ham, its just a novelty... a "because its MY radio and I can do it."...... :)
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..................................CF
 
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#4
I modded an ICOM dual bander. It was pretty easy, just unsolder a diode. However though "it works" out of band, comparing the receiver sensitivity at say GMRS or FRS frequencies, the reception was poor. Partially because the receiver is tuned for 430-450, and partially because the antenna also is poor out of band. You are better off to get a proper commercial radio and load the HAM freqs in it.
 

Token

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#6
Yes, I typically do MARS/CAP mods to many of my radios. Does this mean I intend to use them on frequencies for which I am not licensed? Not exactly. Over the years I have homebrewed various converters for other bands, microwave, VHF, UHF, etc. With some of them, in order to use commercial parts without modifying the subsystems, I have had to use IFs that do not fall inside normal ham bands. Of course I could have modified the parts, but it was often simpler to modify the radio to work outside ham bands.

Years ago it was not an issue, almost all ham radios could be operated outside ham bands without modification. My KWM-2 came with, and still has, a complete crystal set to cover 3.4 to 30 MHz. It was up to the ham to know what frequencies he was authorized to operate on, and to make sure he was doing so, the equipment was not the nanny.

T!
 

bill4long

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#7
I unlock all my radios as a matter of policy. It's not likely in this day and age, but in an emergency, one of those unlocked frequencies might be the one that saves somebody's life.
 

gewecke

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#9
As posted above, does anybody even bother modifying their amateur radios with CAP/MARS modifications any longer? The reason I ask is because I ran across that on an amateur radio equipment dealer. But then I realized that when I still was in the Civil Air Patrol, there was a move underway to move to APCO P25 equipment and amateur radio equipment didn't comply with those standards.

I was never involved with MARS, so I don't know if modified amateur radio equipment is still permitted there.

Also, at least in my area, so many public safety agencies have moved to trunked modes, etc., so the concept of a volunteer firefighter having a modified amateur radio to talk to dispatch seems to have vanished in many areas.

I suppose some people could use a modified amateur radio for MURS/GMRS/FRS, though.
I imagine some still do, although there's not much point since you can simply buy a china toy today for $20 that will transmit/ receive pretty much where that modification would accomplish. I have several that are expanded, but still don't compare to others which are designed and tuned for commercial use. Quality trumps modifications. :). 73, n9zas
 
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#10
had to laugh, with the China Toy comment (And I agree), but my mind flashed to
David Bowie...

Oh, oh, oh, little China toy
Oh, oh, oh, little China toy

I could escape this feeling, with my China toy
I feel a wreck without my, little China toy
I hear her heart beating, loud as thunder
Saw they stars crashing
I'm a mess without my, little China toy
Wake up mornings where's my, little China toy
I hear her heart's beating, loud as thunder

I imagine some still do, although there's not much point since you can simply buy a china toy today for $20 that will transmit/ receive pretty much where that modification would accomplish. I have several that are expanded, but still don't compare to others which are designed and tuned for commercial use. Quality trumps modifications. :). 73, n9zas
 
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#11
There was a tine in the 1950s when Japanese cars were laughed at. Now they dominate American roads. Beware of China.
I've watched at the trade shows over the last 10 years or so.....

Motorola booth is getting smaller by the year.
The number of Korean radio manufacturer booths has steadily increased.
Now the Chinese manufacturers are slowly increasing. Several in very small 2 person booths, some in larger footprints.

I'm sure next year will show even more. They are no where near the quality of the established names, but that will come with customer demand and time. They'll likely never take over due to the requirements of government purchasing, quality and support. Still, they stand a good chance of taking over the low end industrial/commercial market.

The MARS/CAP thing is pretty much pointless at this stage. Calling it that is sort of silly. I'd rather they call it what it is and be done with it.

The trouble I have is that that people that claim the need for this don't usually have the understanding of what it entails to do what they claim they will do with it. There is a lot more to it than just programming frequency and DCS/CTCSS tones.
 
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#12
As a relatively new ham, I was never sure exactly what the MARS/CAP modifications were and even if they were legal. I'm perfectly content not doing any mods on my radios.
 

gewecke

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#13
There was a tine in the 1950s when Japanese cars were laughed at. Now they dominate American roads. Beware of China.
Call me Old school, or even antiquated but I have very little respect for chinese Crap, because I've always had access to, and used better. Their cars plug up our highways like so many mice scrambling for cheese! I will always have a Truck, superior to so many mice lol. As long as Thales, Harris, and the big M are around, china will only provide us with more toys. R.I.P. David Bowie.... :wink: 73, n9zas
 
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#14
So exactly what Chinese vehile brands are clogging up the highways?

Thales Harris and 'The Big M'(its Motorola. Plain old motorola, why are you so scared to say thier name?) Meh. I guess you like wasting your money. Tait, Kenwood or Codan all the way. I do not need ro waste my money buyong a name.
 

gewecke

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#15
So exactly what Chinese vehile brands are clogging up the highways?

Thales Harris and 'The Big M'(its Motorola. Plain old motorola, why are you so scared to say thier name?) Meh. I guess you like wasting your money. Tait, Kenwood or Codan all the way. I do not need ro waste my money buyong a name.
No, I'm actually pretty damn thrifty when it comes right down to it. Most of what I have IS older Kenwood equipment. Brands? I'd love to Torch a Hundyai, Hondas, Yotas, & Kia lol, but so far the only sick pleasure I've had is adding a Scion to the ditch a few years ago. :twisted: Sorry if you're a fan of those. Like I said, I'm old school, Steel is Real.

73, n9zas
 

W9BU

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#16
This started as a MARS/CAP question. The discussion is now pretty far removed from the original question. And, it's a discussion that we've had at length before.

The horse is pretty well dead. Get my point?
 
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#17
This started as a MARS/CAP question. The discussion is now pretty far removed from the original question. And, it's a discussion that we've had at length before.

The horse is pretty well dead. Get my point?
Yep, however this is a civil conversation. There is no name calling, no hurt feelings. I'd encourage you too either keep it open or make it a new thread. Health discussion and debate is a good thing.

If it turns nasty, then by all means, shut it down.
 
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#19
I don't modify my rigs. Even as the radio tech who takes care of my surrounding county systems, I still don't have my Yaesu's, Kenwood's and Icom's modified. I know how to use them, but if the radio got in the wrong hands, I'd rather have the drunk dropping F bombs on a local ham repeater VS a sheriff dept channel. Call it CYA if you will. If my rig gets stolen, I don't want to be "that guy" who has the sheriff channel programmed in my rig with proper PL's and repeater inputs all ready to go.

I think it's going to take a few more high profile incidents of the Amazon specials to throw out a few more officer needs assistance calls and a nice tight close up picture of a China rig to be shown on CNN then the FCC may take notice (doubtful). Always baffled me as to how a ham rig can be sold wide open, where a legit ham mfg has to lock down TX coverage. Oh well.
 
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