Out of band for fire/ems/whatever.

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by KC7YRA, Feb 5, 2008.

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  1. KC7YRA

    KC7YRA Ham Member Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    So today I sat down and read the 6,000th post about modding radios for out of band use. We have all heard the same excuses "Im a firefighter/emt" "I dont want to carry 2 radios" "in an emergency when there is no other way" BLAH BLAH BLAH.

    So I am compelled to write a little blurb for the folks who CONSTANTLY ask this. I wont mention (other than now) that modding a ham transceiver for out of band use other than MARS/CAP is ILLEGAL and should not be done. But over the years I have found a very cheap and extremely effective solution.

    You see, I am a firefighter/paramedic who is also a ham. Typically I carried 2 radios around and toyed with the using of illegal equipment until I came upon a discovery.

    Ebay item # 330209470972

    That link will take you to the prc-127 handheld on Ebay. I own several and they will cover the 136.000 to APROX 160.000 MHZ. They will do whatever offset you want as well as whatever ctcss you could want. AND THE BEST PART!!!!! They are field programmable and can legally cover the VHF business band. plus they typically go for FAR less that an monoband handheld (under $100)


    SO now that I have posted this I can assume that nobody will EVER ask about out of band use on business frequencies?
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2008
  2. KD8HMO

    KD8HMO Banned QRZ Page

    Here is what Repeater-Builder.com has to say about this..


    Upgrading the PRC-127 for Fire Service
    Many fire departments and firefighters have contacted me about the use of PRC-127's for fire duty. While the radio is perfectly suitable for local department use on frequencies below 160 MHz, the radio would need to be upgraded if it is to be used in conjuntion with other agencies on wildland fires, particularly the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forestry Service. The reason is BLM and USFS routinely assign a wide range of frequencies when coordinating a large wildland fire mission. In addition, the frequency upgrade will allow coordination with both RACES civilian groups operating in the 2 meter band with governmental agencies operating in the 148-174 MHz band.

    To upgrade the PRC-127 for operation from 145-173 MHz requires both hardware and software modification. First, the ferrite slug in the VCO coil on the transmitter/synthesizer board needs to be changed with an equivalent brass slug to raise the operating frequency. Second, the four option codes need to be changed to 00D0, 3927, EC60 and 195F using an LAA-0725 RS-232 cable and the LMR.EXE program. To complete the upgrade requires realignment of the receiver for maximum performance over the higher frequency range.

    The finished upgrade will allow operation from 145-173 MHz with good performance and from 173-174 MHz with slight receiver degradation. The transmitter will produce 2 Watts at 148 MHz, trailing down to around 1 Watt at 173 MHz. I perform this modification routinely to existing radios radios for $75.00 each plus shipping. Be advised that this price does not include any repair work which may be necessary before upgrade.
  3. N8YX

    N8YX Ham Member QRZ Page

    ...in other words, the question will STILL get asked...
  4. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page


    But are they still considered "certified" after the mod? In other words, are they still legal for use on public safety frequencies?

    The problem is, too many people are being recruited into amateur radio as a part of their job, rather than as a hobby. In fact, "too many" would be ONE. If we can't figure a way to reverse this trend, there won't BE any amateur radio. It will become public safety/homeland security radio, and any hint of hobby aspect will be gone.

    An amateur radio license is not a professional radio license. Amateur radio is not professional radio. If it becomes that, it becomes totally non-existent for all those who have built it over the last century, and all those who participate in it for fun. There won't BE any fun, as fun will no more be allowed on 'amateur' radio than it is on police radio. It will become all business, by FCC rule.

    I don't know if this trend can be reversed. It began as a means to increase the numbers of licensed amateurs, and it has severely damaged the hobby. When we find law officers getting ham radios and ham licenses to do their job, how can we say that a contractor can't use a ham radio to control delivery of his building supplies?

    The situation is getting critical, as far as ham radio's future. I personally know several people who have amateur radio specifically do do their jobs, like our emergency manager, for example, and some police officers in search and rescue. This is not what amateur radio should be about.

    But how do we stop it? How can we reverse it, and regain amateur radio as an enjoyable technical hobby, and not a police/fire agency?

    It really isn't the individual's fault. This is how amateur radio has actually been promoted by "that organization" in order to get broader appeal to those not interested in the hobby itself, but who are simply wanting to volunteer in public service. It is one of several promotions, including the "you can keep in touch with family members" promotion effort in the early 1990s, that brought us thousands of cell phone hams.

    The first prerequisite in obtaining a ham license should be an interest in ham radio. It should not be an interest in using ham radio as an alternate police, fire or medic radio, or to play G-man.

    We have lost it. Can we get it back? Should we even bother to try? Should a new radio service be created for the public service junkie? I think so. Get them off the ham bands and let them do a real service with an interface with the police, fire or whatever.

    The FCC is going to awaken to the reality of ham radio one of these days and it is going to slap us with 'certified, channelized, non-user programmable' requirements. And possibly require our radios be tamper proof.

    Last edited: Feb 5, 2008
  5. W2BBQ

    W2BBQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't see the point of adopting this particular unit. It is an old-style brick and who wants to tote a brick around anymore.

    Today's amatuer HT's have more features and will mod out to the desired frequencies and have more output power.

    Individual PS departments will decide if their members may use a non-commercial rig.

    Forget the FCC. There is no enforcement and nothing will ever come out anyone using a ham rig for this purpose.

    Rules yes....enforcement = zero

    My stepson is a full time firefighter. He asked his supervisor if he could acquire a (any) radio to put in his personal vehicle. Supervisor said no problem. Stepson liked the Icom 2100H I use, so I hooked him up with one and tuned up a 5/8 mobile antenna for him. Works great. Everybody happy.

    Don't worry - be happy ... and have fun and work with radios.
  6. N8YX

    N8YX Ham Member QRZ Page

    No. That is solely up to the FCC, NOT the departments. Type-accepted equipment ONLY need apply. Modded amateur gear isn't.

    Care to bet on that?

    Go talk to the communications superintendent of the Philadelphia Fire Department. He'll tell you a different story.

    But you are still obligated to FOLLOW those rules.

    Your stepson's supervisor might be in a bit of trouble if he authorized the use of non-certified equipment on his department's frequencies...

    In a legal fashion - which this most assuredly ISN'T.
  7. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page


    BBG advocates the CB/Freebander approach. Which is precisely why amateur radio went down the tubes anyway.

  8. NE3R

    NE3R Ham Member QRZ Page

    The best way to do it is to use a type accepted (what do they call that now? certified?) radio that will work in the public safety band and the amateur band and find someone to program it for you. Of course, you'll want to clear its use with someone who is in charge of your public safety communications and your regular supervisor might not be that person.

    73 de Joseph Durnal NE3R
  9. NI7I

    NI7I Guest

    Ham rigs modified for out of band use are almost always NOT type accepted for the service for which the mod was performed.

  10. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page


    There have been quite a few people fined and so forth for using non-certified radios in services where certification is required. You need to read the FCC enforcement letters most of which are NOT published on the ARRL website.

    Glen, K9STH
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