Monitoring and emergency transmission on forbidden frequencies

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by KM6UTP, Jun 23, 2018.

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  1. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    In the original post, he mentioned going to Forest Service lands in the Sierra Nevada, using Jeep trails. There is virtually no cell coverage in that area once you get away from the roads that are kept open year-round, and on a Jeep, it's very easy to get very far from such roads. I'd say satellite is the best option, though even it is not perfect under dense tree cover and in deep canyons.

    The problem with trying to transmit on the Forest Service frequencies is that you will have some mighty angry rangers. They depend on the proper disciplined use of those radio frequencies for their communications and potentially for their lives. They really don't want someone unknown to them and untrained by them to be using those frequencies. Expect to be prosecuted. If you're willing to face jail time and a fine, then go ahead and accept the consequences. If the court decides your actions were justified, you won't face any penalties, but realize that they may not see it as clearly as you do.

    Your ham license gives you absolutely zero privileges outside the ham bands. True, part 97.403 says that no provision of the rules prohibits you from using whatever means is necessary in case of immediate emergency where no other means of communications is available. But that's not a special privilege of a licensed ham; an unlicensed person can also use a radio in a genuine emergency when no other means of communications is available. There's a concept in common law known as the necessity defense: It generally allows anyone to break a law if breaking the law is necessary to prevent a greater harm. There are serious limits to it, as outlined in that link.

    A serious problem that you can't practice or test using your equipment on frequencies for which you do not have privileges. You can't know whether it will work until your life depends on it working.
    WD9EWK and N0TZU like this.
  2. ND5Y

    ND5Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is a big difference most hams don't understand.
    Notice how 97.111 and 97.403 refer to "an amateur station" and not "unlicensed persons" or "any person"?
    Notice how 2.401-2.407, 90.407, etc. refer to "licensees" and "stations" and not "persons with a modified ham radio"?
    Using another entity's licensed and FCC certified equipment, like the radio in the police car, for a distress or emergency call is not the same as using your amateur station on frequencies where amateur operation is not allowed.
    KP4SX likes this.
  3. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Maybe not, but the individuals are probably operating illegally on frequencies for which the radios are NOT certificated just because they are a local Fire Dept doesn't make it any less illegal, and both the individuals AND the local Fire Dept. can be in for some really heavy fines, as well as confiscation of equipment Is it worth the chance? YMMV, but I wouldn't take the chance. Use what is properly designed for the problem, not the cheapest.
  4. AB3TQ

    AB3TQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    Among other things, you posed that illegally used BaoFengs might be confiscated. What exactly was the downside there?
    N0TZU likes this.
  5. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't bash the Baofengs and similar. I would NOT use them for mission-critical purposes, even if certificated. but when legally used for recreational purposes, they have their place. I'm sorry you apparently think otherwise. My sympathy, your bad.

    BTW, even "legitimate" YaeComWood H-T's that have been modified for "out of band" operation have been confiscated; it's NOT just the inexpensive Chinese radios that fit into your your small group.
  6. KB0MNM

    KB0MNM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Larry850: Most government agencies are now indeed using radios which rely on the APCO P.25 standards, thus you could find that your signal might seldom be monitored if FM ( even narrowband FM ). You might be better off buying a few of these for that true emergency: 1. LED battery-powered beacon with 12 VDC cigar backup for clear nights. The old-fashioned flares are too much of a fire hazard. 2. Xenon-flashtube battery powered beacon ( white light, Xenon or LED ). 3. Daytime signal mirror. 4. Medical emergency kit. 5. Extra water and food. I would also expect that if you follow through with your Amateur radio testing, you might find that a good HF radio would be able to summon help from nearly any location. Since your health can be summarized in three parts ( physical, emotional, and spiritual )- consider also reading in advance or later ( if that ever comes ) a good inspirational book. I would suggest that you pick the most read book ever- Nr 6, 24-26.
  7. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    The certification of the Baofeng, and most other equipment, is generally for 47 CFR Part 90 radio services and public safety does fall into the Part 90 arena. As such, if the user is authorized to use the frequency, then that use is legal and the equipment is not subject to confiscation, fines, etc.

    Believe it or not, the Chinese handheld units are better built, as well as being more robust, than several of the low end certificated equipment in times past. However, today, even the best of the high end commercial handheld units are not as robust as the old Motorola HT-200 (NOT HT-220) units of the mid to late 1960s. Those units were nicknamed "bricks" for several, very good, reasons.

    Especially for those individuals who live in urban and suburban locations, with fire departments, ambulance services, etc., paid for by governmental agencies, it is very difficult to imagine departments that do not have the financial resources that are available to the urban / suburban departments. As I pointed out before, in Texas well over 80% of the fire departments are volunteer (or mostly volunteer with only a handful of paid firefighters - usually "drivers"). Such departments are located in every one of the 50-states and only the District of Columbia has no volunteer fire department. The list, current to 27 June 2018, of such departments can be found at the following URL:

    In most of the volunteer departments, the individual fireman is responsible (meaning has to pay for) his / her personal equipment and that includes things like having handheld radios. Frankly, most of these persons just cannot afford the $500 to $1000 prices for high end handheld units. As such, the low end, but satisfactory performing, units like the Baofeng handhelds, definitely provide a viable alternative to provide the firefighter (or ambulance personnel, etc.) with radio communications.

    If the radio is damaged, or destroyed, the financial loss is not significant whereas with a high priced unit the financial loss is significant. Basically, with the majority of departments, it is a case of not having communications with the individual firefighter or having communications using the lower priced radios. At least to me, having communications is definitely the better situation. Also, if the radio is damaged, etc., and ceases to function, then the situation is no worse than when communications were not possible because of not having a handheld unit.

    If I were a volunteer fireman, I would definitely want to have a method of radio communications with others versus no radio communications at all. Yes, the Chinese units are inexpensive. But, especially for short range communications, their performance is definitely satisfactory.

    Also, for the majority of volunteer fire departments, the radio systems do not utilize trunking, APCO P.25 encoding, and so forth. Those systems, generally, are used by paid departments.

    Glen, K9STH
    WU8Y likes this.
  8. AI3V

    AI3V Ham Member QRZ Page

    He's "studying" for the ham test.

    Yeah, right.

    Takes a few hours to get a technician ticket.

    Methinks somebody wants to play with his baofeng, and can't even figure out how to operate it.

  9. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Informative post, thanks.

    One of the good things about population growth here is more funding available (and need) for public services such as our local fire protection district. It's now mostly a career organization and the ISO rating is 2, saving me a lot on my home insurance. They use the statewide trunked radio system.
  10. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    A clarification. §Part 97 does NOT specify "emergency." It specifically states ONLY when life or property is in immediate jeopardy. A car crash is an emergency, but does not necessarily endanger life or property. Inconvenience, certainly, but not necessarily life threatening. There IS a BIG difference.

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