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Discussion Starter #1
OK, I am looking at picking up this radio:http://www.pciraceradios.com/ProductDetail.jsp?LISTID=4184933584391276545

just for listening now but when I get my license for transmitting as well.

Question here is that 1) it wouldn't have come with the typical Rally frequencies programmed into it. I started giving the company the Sandblast frequencies and the BRS frequencies from last year and the guy says something along the line of "Whoa, it definately would not have come with those"

and

2) I was told that if the frequencies that I will be needing are different than the ones I request in the original setup that I will have to bring it to an ICOM dealer to have the new ones programmed in.


I am a COMPLETE radio/HAM newb so if someone could please explain some of this to me it would be great. I was told it will come with some 97 different bands available when it arrives but these typically used rally frequencies aren't among them?? And these things can't be programmed by the owner to reach/hear different frequencies and need to be programmed by a specialist in order to do so?? Something here doesn't make sense to me as what happens at something like RWV where you don't find out the frequency till you are at the event? Its not like you can ship the radio out somewhere to have it programmed the day before the event and then have it shipped back!?!? What am I missing here (besides any knowledge whatsoever...) Thanks to anyone who can help.
 

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Dramamine is for DramaQueens
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That's a business band radio.
You can get a license for a frequency for one of those by just paying for it, annually.

you'd be better off with this:
http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-010078

you can program the frequencies directly into the unit yourself.
You need to learn a bit, write an exam and get a one-time license from the government.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's a business band radio.
You can get a license for a frequency for one of those by just paying for it, annually.

you'd be better off with this:
http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-010078

you can program the frequencies directly into the unit yourself.
You need to learn a bit, write an exam and get a one-time license from the government.
El No Comprendo...

What is the difference? And why can't you program your own frequencies into the first as opposed to the second? Additionally, I want the radio to connect to my intercom which is a major part of the reason I was going with my original choice...Would your suggestion do so?
 

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L1 !!! HPR into HPL
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Rallies run on HAM frequencies which are different than business band frequencies. Also, business band radios need to be programmed for the frequencies that their various channels then receive or transmit. A ham radio allows you to use all of the ham frequencies that the radio can received and you simply rotate a knob to get all of the frequencies that the radio receives. It is illegal for a business band radio to receive ham frequencies and vice versa.

Believe it is the intercom that allows you to have the ham radio play into your ears and all ham radios work for that. You are mixing up the type of radio you want to buy. The one you are looking at is used by the Baja Offroad racers and is not compatible with rally Ham nets. Buy what you want but the radio you are looking at WON'T work for rallies as you have found. There are lots of Ham radios that will do exactly what you want to do. They are made by Yaesu, ICOM, Kenwood, etc. Simply google Mobile Ham radios and pick the one with the features you want

A business band radio will not work for rallies, plain and simple. Is your intercom compatible for plugging in a ham radio?? That's the important question to answer, pretty sure all radios will work with an intercom that is compatible. It's the intercom, not the radio that determines if it will work!!
 

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Uh Oh, UH OH, UHH OHHH!!!
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What is the difference?
Amateur Radio (Ham radio) you need to take a test and get a license. You can use it for private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication.

Business Band you need to pay for license to use a frequency. Typically it is reserved for use by companies and individuals operating commercial activities.


And why can't you program your own frequencies into the first as opposed to the second?
Radios are typically built so you can't select any frequency you want. Also, your antenna is designed to tune to a specific frequency range to get better reception.

Amateur Radio Frequencies typically 144–148 MHz range
Business Band Frequencies typically 150–156 MHz range

Additionally, I want the radio to connect to my intercom which is a major part of the reason I was going with my original choice...Would your suggestion do so?
http://www.zerodegreec.ca/Ham_Phone_Interface.php
 

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I didn't realize how limited amateur radio band Wass

I work on radios for a living and talk on 30-399.975MHZ and there's a lot of dead space.

U just can't tall between 88-107.975 for fm radio and 108-117.95 for vor
And am radio psh which is a joke
 

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Discussion Starter #7
OK, I had a loooooong conversation with Mr. Anders Green in addition to the above. Thanks to all. I now understand the difference between BB radio and amatuer band radios and why one is used in Rally and one is used in the desert...I think the way the desert series handle their frequencies is better but in part that's due to the geographic location they operate in but that's neither here nor there. As much as I want to listen to the rally net in my helmet and car I also want to be able to communicate with my pit/chase crew and it looks like I'd have to buy two different systems in order to do so for Rally and that's not worth it to me...
 

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As much as I want to listen to the rally net in my helmet ...
Trust me on this one - you DON'T want to be listening to the net in your helmet. I've listened to event nets a couple of times when out of the car in a delay - the ONLY time you might want to listen to the net - and have stopped doing that. Too much distraction, too much information about things you neither need nor want to know about.
 

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The way I've tried to explain busness band/ Ham is sort of a kin to TV vs radio. Business Band they program channels just like your TV (before 5 years ago...) 5 , 10, 12, 22 etc. where as Ham, we use mostly 2 meter or 2 m, is like your radio where you can spin the dial and pick up every freq.from top to bottom. 89.1, 89.2, 89.3, 89.4, etc. The 2 meter part is importaint if you are new and getting a radio, as there are many otheres and they would work with what we do.

I have a Ham radio in my car, it's a very good idea. I won't tie it into my intercom, that's a questionable idea. I came from the worker ranks and being out in the woods with no flippin clue why we're on a 1:30 hr delay is something I'm not going back to.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Oh? Please to explainify.
I'm sure your familiar given your location but the frequencies used are generally the same from race to race, location to location so you need only a few presets and don't need to worry about switching between a whole plethora of frequencies and setups and everything runs on BB frequencies. Virtually all the teams run BB radio, not amatuer band. Using a Yaseau would be HIGHLY unsusual in that environment. I like the idea of frequency presets so that everyone knows what is going to be used for what ahead of time and from race to race...but I understand that given the geographic problems of getting a signal from point to point in the locations where Rally generally takes place makes moving from frequency to frequency when necessary a frequent occurance. Call up a desert racing company as I did for a radio and ask them to set up your radio with "+" this and "-" that and access tone, blah, blah, blah and they'll look at you like you have two heads...

I come from a more desert racing background where I was used to pushing the same "push to talk" button every race with no thought as to if we had adjusted the frequency to meet whatever the setup was for this or that particular race--speaking to race ops or my team was the same setup every time. I was always in contact with both my pit/chase crew as well as "race ops" both transmitting and receiving. Only when we went behind a mountain or were some 20+ miles out from the chase team would we lose contact.
 

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Oh, I see.

That's partly a function of momentum and partly a function of who's got the money for the radios.

By momentum, I mean that if everyone's got radios that work on a particular band, you tend to organize your event to stick with that band.

For the "who's got money for the radios", well, you're looking at it from a competitor-to-chase standpoint, not from an event safety net standpoint. Competitors tend to be repeat customers, so it works for them if they have to buy something, set it once, and then have it be usable over and over. Safety net staff doesn't tend to be that way. You get a lot of repeat volunteers, but a lot of times you get new people who just happen to like racing and radios. The ham guys almost always have their own radio and can reprogram it on the fly. With the business band stuff, you'd have to either provide the radios yourself or hope that your newly-arrived volunteer has a radio that happens to have presets that match what you're using. Or that you have the programming software and cables necessary to reprogram their radio (and save their presets to set it back at the end). The first case is a non-op for all but the biggest-budgeted rallies. NNR, for example, needs about 25 radios just to run, and we're pretty barebones. There's no way in h*ll I'm going to be able to buy, store, and maintain 25 BB radios and antennas.

The other issue is getting a BB license. The laws on that are sort of peculiar. I think all the race teams using BB are technically breaking the law, as a BB permit is (afaik) restricted to a particular locale. They might be using GMRS though. Those radios are virtually identical to BB, but require that each individual operator have a GMRS license (which doesn't require a test, but you have to pay a fee). You can use them almost anywhere, but there're only very few number of GMRS frequencies.
 

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We have radios in the rally car and the service truck. Crew use it to listen in to the net to keep track of the rally progress, any delays, etc. Alas, so far, very very few of my itinerant (but greatly appreciated) service crew have had an amateur radio license so we've not often used the rigs to talk between rally car and service crew. Most car-crew communication happens over the phone, by text or face-to-face at the inevitable queue of cars entering service. Kieran and I both have our licenses (pretty easy and cheap to get) and we have had occasion to use the radio in the rally car. Most often it's broadcasting our location via APRS which is very useful to the crew - they can see if we've stopped midstage and where they might need to come get us. If the rally has a delay we turn off the APRS and listen in on the net - it's nice to know what's going on but we only do that on occasion. When the rally is running well, it's informative, but not useful, to listen in and as Kieth said, can be a distraction. I've never been in the situation where I wished for the radio to be patched into my helmet. A few times we have used the radio to broadcast onto the rally net, a couple of times in an emergency, other times with useful information for the organizers otherwise we stay silent.

Once you've figured out the menu system for your particular radio, it takes only a few minutes to add the frequencies you'll need. If I can get them ahead of the event (hint: email the communications contact listed in the Supp Regs) I like to program them in on the tow to the event otherwise I find 10 minutes before the rally starts. I've already preselected and preprogrammed several "USUK" frequencies into both my radios for use in car-crew communications so I only need to add the event frequencies. Sometimes, due to changing conditions or equipment issues, the frequencies might change at short notice but the HAM radio volunteers are very helpful, especially once they find out you're a fellow ham. We proudly sport our call signs on the car beneath our names and I've noticed some other teams doing the same. Rally in the US could not operate without the HAM radio volunteers (thanks, guys!).

Here is a snapshot of our APRS status during STPR 2011...



Simon
Rallye Driver
USUK Racing
 

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Just a few factoids: BB radio operators don't have to have a license; the dump truck driver is not licensed. But the dump truck business owner does have a license for thre system if self-owned, or rents radios from a local BB service provider. The FCC requires that BB radio NOT be programmable by the operator, excpet to be able to select pre-programmed channles used in the particular system. That is the mechanism to makes sure operators (unlicensed remember) on the proper frequencies.

Ham radio operators are all licensed and so can select channels as they please within the assigned bands. Plus the whole concept behind ham radio alows for more experimentation and flexibility.

BB radio was used at Cherokee Trails but that is becasue there was an existing service in the area that is heavily used for canoe outfitters and canoers. Few if any other rally areas have such existing BB service where needed.

BB licenses are not that hard to get on a roaming basis using the national 'itenerant' frequencies. These are probably OK for many rallies but there are only 4 at VHF for the US so could get crowded in a service area.

I suspect many of the desert guys are running illegally as noted. I have observed what I am pretty sure were unlicensed BB operations at rallies also.

BTW, I do this for a living....radio systems. I've laid out systems for STPR, MFR and RWV, and costed them up, and floated the idea to RA and moreso to NRS. When you talk about multiple sites to cover a large area and the combining to have 3 channels or so, it gets really expensive for a portable system that can be re-used from rally to rally. If anyone has $50-100k, we can set up a pretty good system for a large rally with multiple sites and channels. That does not include the enigeering to select the sites and pre-test to insure coverage........now you see part of why ham radio usage for rallies is the norm. As long as it serves primarily safety operations, it should be legal, but not business ops.
 
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