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Foundations of Amateur Radio - Episode 87

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by VK6FLAB, Feb 4, 2017.

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  1. VK6FLAB

    VK6FLAB Ham Member QRZ Page

    is our next door planet or it relates to "Pumping up the Volume", but what does it have to do with Amateur Radio?

    This week in Foundations of Amateur Radio I look at modifying your radio with a so-called MARS/CAP modification. What are the implications, what should you be aware of and what are the risks? The Amateur community rarely talks about such things and ignores it with: "Here be Dragons!", but really we should be leading the charge and discussing this professionally and comprehensively, rather than hiding it under the rug.

    This weekly podcast can be downloaded from and found on iTunes by searching for my callsign, VK6FLAB.
    WM9F likes this.
  2. VE6DED

    VE6DED Ham Member QRZ Page


    I'm a fairly new ham and I've been modding ALL of my radios since I got them.

    I've also read and thoroughly enjoyed reading the temper tantrums and threads that are ALL OVER the web about this subject.

    I guess my only comment is, Why? Why, do some hams and to be fair it seems to be the older guys mostly - it seems make their
    day and they thoroughly enjoy pointing out how that is illegal and how you're going to hell if you do the mod and obviously you
    and your children are obviously communist, you worship satan, etc, etc. (grin)

    OK, so it may not always be that bad but, Why Guys? What is it? Where's the thrill in pointing out that what someone is doing
    is illegal? Is it because they get off on telling people they're wrong? Are they getting their jollies in stating the bleeding obvious?
    What is it? Why do you do that? You do it over and over and over and over ......


    Here's a tip, I have a feeling that any competent ham on the planet who has a brain pretty much knows that's "illegal" in fact I'd
    be genuinely surprised if, in asking about how to do it on any website anywhere on earth or in taking to any other ham on the
    planet they'll also be told that .........

    I know that if I mod my radio "technically" it's wrong, and like I said I have all of them mod'ed nd they're all setup to work on
    bands outside of the radios intent. I know it !! I know that they say don't do it ! The funny part is I can't and won't ever use
    that MARS/CAP mode even tho it's been done all on 3 of my UVD1P's both of my UVD9P's, my little Yeasu VX-3, also my 9800
    and even my 8800 and soon my 857!!

    They've all been mod'ed, now why won't I use that mod? Well first off I'm not in Alaska and second I'm not even American I'm
    in Canada so what's the point in doing the mod's in the first place you ask?

    Well two or three reasons:

    - One I can, it's mine, I bought it with my own money and it's my property,
    - Two, I want to optimize every single thing that my radio can do or has the capability of doing,
    - Three, if there is a real genuine emergency and I need to get a message to someone someplace I'll do whatever it takes.

    So !! ..... I have Air bands in there, FRS freq's, RCMP channels, our local provincial Wildlife guys, and pretty much everything I
    can possibly reach in theory. Now I can say that ...... I "should" be able to talk to any of those people .......


    But at the end of the day can I confirm that it'll work - NOPE!
    Well why not? I've done all the mods, programmed up all the radios, checked the frequencies and the tones, etc etc. BUT !!!

    I can't actually check to see if it's working for one simple reason - do you know why !?

    I'm not going to do that!! It's illegal to use my radio for that purpose. It's called self control ......

    I believe I'm ready to go but I won't test it to make sure ..... it's that simple. I can't legitimately use my ham radio on those
    frequencies unless it's an emergency. I can throw it in to a dummy load, I think have it all set up right, and I believe I'm good
    to go as far as I know.

    Am I ever going to be so stupid as to go, Hi, Mr Mountie, how's your day going? Can I please have a signal report?

    - It all boils down to self control folks, so if there ever was a true emergency would I try to use my radio? - YES.
    - Will I ever use it just because I can? - NO.

    That's it - it's not that difficult to understand, just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD.

    Heck, I owned a Ham Radio for close to 2 years before I ever pressed the transmit button - wanna know why? The reason was very
    complex, I didn't have my license yet. Self Control Kids.

    So for all the guys who continually point out that Part 90 is only for people who transmit on day's ending in the letter Y and yada, yada,
    we know .... we get it .....we've made our choice ....... relax and carry on with your day.

    If the day comes where I'm out hunting in northern Alberta and there's a true emergency of some kind that involves a life and death
    situation and I raise the alert by talking to a aircraft, or a RCMP dispatcher, or a Fish and Wildlife Guy and they send the the Industry
    Canada Ninja Death Squad after me for using my Ham Radio to try to save that life - OK, see you in court.

    K9PLG, W7GST, W8NSI and 2 others like this.
  3. NA4IT

    NA4IT Ham Member QRZ Page

    It IS NOT illegal to mod a radio. It IS illegal to transmit out of band... period.

    Early rigs would transmit out of band, on the edges. It is the hams responsibility to stay where he belongs. Which includes those who mod VHF / UHF amateur rigs for fire service. They ARE NOT type accepted to that use. Here again, it's not illegal to modify the rig, it is illegal to transmit in a band for another service when they particular radio is not type accepted for the band.

    What about radios you don't mod, but use in such a way that is illegal. The hills of TN are full of hunters using out of the box marine radios to communicate in land for hunting purposes... which is illegal.
    KA2FIR, W7XLR, W7GST and 3 others like this.
  4. N5WD

    N5WD Ham Member QRZ Page

    It seems that there are a lot of folks out there that love to tell other people what to do and what not to do. There are also a lot of folks out there that love to point fingers at people after they have judged the recipient of the finger pointing as having sinned, in their eyes. Lots of folks walking around, carrying
    rocks, just ready to throw at glass houses.
    K2NCC and WD0FIA like this.
  5. N6KZB

    N6KZB Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    NA4IT is spot on. Using a radio to transmit outside of its FCC approved allocations or type acceptance is against the rules.
    And I am not talking about MARS or CAP use.
    KA2FIR likes this.
  6. AB9TA

    AB9TA Ham Member QRZ Page

    So, for everyone who thinks this out of band modification BS is OK because of some spurious excuse about that one in a million chance where "I might have to call the authorities" on Public Safety frequencies, here's a question for you:
    How about if we encourage unlicensed Police, Fire, EMS, etc., etc., to program ham frequencies in their radios for the "just in case" scenario? Again, not requiring them to get a ham license.
    Kinda puts a different spin on it, doesn't it?
    KA2FIR and KD8ZMN like this.
  7. AA1PR

    AA1PR Ham Member QRZ Page

    what is sad is that Gigaparts will do the mars/cap mod for a fee when you purchase a radio
    there is no mention of having to provide proof to belong to such an organization which is really sad
    read here for yourself ~
    this is what amateur radio is coming to
    KA2FIR likes this.
  8. W5TXR

    W5TXR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    So what if gigaparts is doing mods!
    Most of my radios are modified. I'm more concerned about people using marine radios for purposes other than what they were intended. I have seen marine radios used in private aircraft. The VHF marine band is badly abused.
    KA9JYO likes this.
  9. NJ1S

    NJ1S Ham Member QRZ Page

    Or for that matter proof of even being a ham.
    KA2FIR and AA1PR like this.
  10. AB9TA

    AB9TA Ham Member QRZ Page

    And don't forget about all the cheap Chinese, keypad-programmable, VHF / UHF radios that will transmit anywhere in those bands.
    Although Hams love the low prices, these things are being sold to anyone with a credit card as glorified FRS radios that anyone can use. Just punch a few numbers in, and off you go..
    When those things reach critical mass, wave goodbye to 2M and 440, as they will have become worse that 11M.
    Rules are in place for a reason. If you make a habit of skirting the rules, don't complain when someone else does something similar and messes up the ham bands for good.
    KA2FIR likes this.
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