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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:56 am 
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MDCCLXXVI wrote:
- To communicate with emergency services in a localized SHTF. Flood and bush fire are very real threats in my AO. I may be a victim in need or I may be another set of eyes and ears to coordinate a rescue effort. Last year, my town was cut off for over 72 hours by flooding. The year before, my uncles town was evacuated before it was promptly surrounded by 20 meter high wall of flames in a bush fire. (The house survived). In my estimation, it would be useful to have a scanner (or ability to listen to emergency services communication) in the event of an emergency.

Okay, now we have something to work with. In an instance like this, a 2m HT would be appropriate, assuming you have someone to talk to. A personal rescue beacon might also be a good idea. These have become a lot cheaper in the last few years.
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- Frankly I don't care who is on the other end if its an emergency.

Good to know.
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- No its not for hobby use or talking to Mr. Crotchety down the lane on a Sunday afternoon. It's for taking along in National Parks where there are designated frequencies, its for marine use (fishing boat), emergency use, information gathering, and BOB use.

Marine use, you could use a marine radio. No license required.
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- I don't want to apprentice with HAM operators or other radio enthusiasts. I want a device to communicate with in an emergency. I can read a manual to figure out how to operate it. Why does no one make this big of a fuss over cell phones? Assuming a localized emergency (bush fire, flash flood, catastrophic hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, civil unrest are all present down here), the cell towers will likely be overwhelmed by anxious folks comforting loved ones. They are therefore no use in an emergency. I want a device to communicate with, that reaches a greater audience than my own voice alone can reach. Again, don't care who is on the other end.

- I have no desire to be an actual expert in radio operation. Sure I'll get a license if its the best thing to do, and as always common sense and proper ettiquete apply. But really, in an emergency as long as I know how to use the damn thing then I'll be better off with it than not having it at all ... Right or wrong?

Why all the fuss over a device to communicate with? IMO it just drives people away from an already dying hobby.

Believe it or not, even the simplest HAM radio is pretty difficult to operate. You can't just pick it up and make a call. You have to know how to EFFECTIVELY search for someone to talk to. You have to know how to set the squelch controls, how to set the offsets to use repeaters, how to program repeaters in once you've found them, how to adjust your power levels, etc etc etc. All of these things are necessary because, unlike cell phones, there is no guarantee that you'll have someone to talk to when you need them. Sometimes the contact you need will be just on the edge, and you need to be able to make it better. This takes finesse, and that takes practice. To use your driving analogy, you don't want to be a 16 year old new driver in the Indy 500.
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"He can't drive a car he doesn't have a license!!!"
Tell that to the farmers 12 year old whose been riding around big tractors on the farm since 8 years old. You don't NEED a license to do anything. If theres punishment for not having a license then compliance is probably a good idea. The target of the "he needs a license" spear, is just competency. No one needs a license to be competent.

Thanks for the suggestions anyway.

In this case, you can't legally practice without a license. Practice is necessary. Therefore, a license is necessary.
Also, suppose you are listening in to a conversation, say about wildfires in your area. WITHOUT A LICENSE, YOU CANNOT LEGALLY ASK FOR MORE INFORMATION. If you think you won't get caught, think again. Mr/ Crotchety has nothing better to do than hunt down rogue operators and turn them into the FCC. :)
Also, bear in mind our rule about discussion of illegal activities.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 11:54 am 
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MDCCLXXVI wrote:
- To communicate with emergency services in a localized SHTF. Flood and bush fire are very real threats in my AO. I may be a victim in need or I may be another set of eyes and ears to coordinate a rescue effort. Last year, my town was cut off for over 72 hours by flooding. The year before, my uncles town was evacuated before it was promptly surrounded by 20 meter high wall of flames in a bush fire. (The house survived).------


Ok, now we're getting somewhere. The only way you're going to have someone to communicate with is if you're involved with the emergency or rescue services. They don't use CBs, they use public safety radios and frequencies that they are exclusively licensed for.
OR!
The only other place you're really likely to find rescue effort coordination for a local emergency is on the VHF ham band.

There are a lot of suggestions here for radios and as the previous member mentioned, the ham radios are fairly complex. Not difficult to learn how to use per se, just that if you only pull them out on occasion, you'll probably not remember how to use a lot of the features such as tone scan or set repeater offsets.

The solution to this however is to figure out ahead of time, who your emergency or rescue services are, find out how you can volunteer with them, also find out who your local ARES groups are. You'll need a ham license to use the ham band, nobody will and can't even legally talk to you if you're unlicensed.
You don't have to make ham radio a hobby to use the radio service. Lots of people just use if for personal comms or emergency use just like you're talking about. No "elmers" needed.

You can get a second hand public safety radio that is certified for use on business or public safety frequencies and some are also (particularly motorolas) certified for marine VHF and you can also use them on the ham band. They're simple in their operation. You just turn the channel selector, many have alphanumeric displays to let you know what channel you're on. You'll have to program it or have it programmed ahead of time but it will be ready for use in an emergency.

MDCCLXXVI wrote:
In my estimation, it would be useful to have a scanner (or ability to listen to emergency services communication) in the event of an emergency. ---

There isn't much a cheap scanner can do that a cheap ham radio can't do. Only it's one more thing to find power for and is incapable of transmitting.

MDCCLXXVI wrote:
- Frankly I don't care who is on the other end if its an emergency. ---
Distress calls are fine (eg "Ahh! We're trapped in a crevasse and lava is rolling down the hill!!") but you can't use the ham or public safety frequencies for any other purpose unless you have permission and/or under control op supervision or have a ham license (depending what the radio service you're talking about)


- No its not for hobby use or talking to Mr. Crotchety down the lane on a Sunday afternoon. It's for taking along in National Parks where there are designated frequencies, its for marine use (fishing boat), emergency use, information gathering, and BOB use.---


As I said, you don't need to make it a hobby but you'll need a ham license to use the ham band, even to participate in emergency services. And to use the same radio for marine, you're going to need a radio that's certified for that to be in compliance. Plenty of people use ham radios for other radio services but such is not legal and is highly taboo on the forums.

-
MDCCLXXVI wrote:
Why does no one make this big of a fuss over cell phones?---

Evidently you haven't been round to howard forums :lol:


MDCCLXXVI wrote:
Why all the fuss over a device to communicate with? IMO it just drives people away from an already dying hobby. ---

The number of people getting licensed each year keeps going up, (http://kb6nu.com/18270-new-licenses-iss ... june-2010/) .Kinda hard to see it as a dying hobby.

MDCCLXXVI wrote:
"He can't drive a car he doesn't have a license!!!"
Tell that to the farmers 12 year old whose been riding around big tractors on the farm since 8 years old. You don't NEED a license to do anything. If theres punishment for not having a license then compliance is probably a good idea. The target of the "he needs a license" spear, is just competency. No one needs a license to be competent.


I can sense your frustration with the legal beagles on here. The fact is, nobody will or can legally talk to you and the penalties if you're caught are quite severe.


MDCCLXXVI wrote:
Thanks for the suggestions anyway.

You're welcome.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:21 pm 
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MDCCLXXVI wrote:
- To communicate with emergency services in a localized SHTF. Flood and bush fire are very real threats in my AO. I may be a victim in need or I may be another set of eyes and ears to coordinate a rescue effort. Last year, my town was cut off for over 72 hours by flooding. The year before, my uncles town was evacuated before it was promptly surrounded by 20 meter high wall of flames in a bush fire. (The house survived). In my estimation, it would be useful to have a scanner (or ability to listen to emergency services communication) in the event of an emergency.

- Frankly I don't care who is on the other end if its an emergency.


And if the guy on the other end is a ham in the Canary Islands, because you're on the wrong frequency and using the wrong mode, how much help do you think that will be? Or if you burn out the rig because you knew how to turn it on and press buttons, but not actually use it?

MDCCLXXVI wrote:
- No its not for hobby use or talking to Mr. Crotchety down the lane on a Sunday afternoon. It's for taking along in National Parks where there are designated frequencies, its for marine use (fishing boat), emergency use, information gathering, and BOB use.

- I don't want to apprentice with HAM operators or other radio enthusiasts. I want a device to communicate with in an emergency. I can read a manual to figure out how to operate it. Why does no one make this big of a fuss over cell phones? Assuming a localized emergency (bush fire, flash flood, catastrophic hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, civil unrest are all present down here), the cell towers will likely be overwhelmed by anxious folks comforting loved ones. They are therefore no use in an emergency. I want a device to communicate with, that reaches a greater audience than my own voice alone can reach. Again, don't care who is on the other end.


You partially answered your own question here. Why are the cell towers overloaded? Because (to use your own words) a cell phone is just a device to communicate with and anyone can buy one and use it. There's a helluva a lot more to amateur radio than buying a rig, glancing through the manual, powering it up and starting to talk. And if you don't know the proper protocols, frequencies, modes, etc. you're going to be (again, to use your own example) just as lost and confused as that 12 year-old farm kid who suddenly finds himself behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car. The only difference is that it probably won't kill you outright, but the end result might be just as deadly if you're relying on your radio for help/rescue but all you know about the whole process is what you read in the owner's manual. If all you've ever driven is a farm tractor, and have no concept of traffic laws/rules and someone hands you the keys and owner's manual to a Corvette and says, "Go drive to downtown LA at rush hour and bring back this critical item we need to stay alive", how well do you think you'll do? And, during a true disaster, the ham bands will be a lot like rush hour in LA.

MDCCLXXVI wrote:
- I have no desire to be an actual expert in radio operation. Sure I'll get a license if its the best thing to do, and as always common sense and proper ettiquete apply. But really, in an emergency as long as I know how to use the damn thing then I'll be better off with it than not having it at all ... Right or wrong?


There's a huge difference between knowing how to operate a device and how to actually use that same device. Anyone who has seen any kind of spy/action adventure/police show on TV knows how to "operate" a gun, put in bullets and pull the trigger, but it takes training and experience to know how to use it effectively and safely.

MDCCLXXVI wrote:
Why all the fuss over a device to communicate with? IMO it just drives people away from an already dying hobby.

"He can't drive a car he doesn't have a license!!!"
Tell that to the farmers 12 year old whose been riding around big tractors on the farm since 8 years old. You don't NEED a license to do anything. If theres punishment for not having a license then compliance is probably a good idea. The target of the "he needs a license" spear, is just competency. No one needs a license to be competent.

Thanks for the suggestions anyway.


No, you don't need a license to be competent, but you do need knowledge, training, and experience to become competent, and that's where licensing and help from other hams comes into the whole equation. And, personally, I'm not about to trust my life or safety, or the lives & safety of my loved ones, on any piece of gear that I'm not trained on and competent with.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:45 pm 
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Page 2 has been full of great advice. We're not trying to be mean, or poop on your parade. I'm not trying pile on, but will just re-iterate that in order for a radio to be useful you need to use it often and cultivate connections. Knowing who's on the other end and how to raise them is the most important thing in radio. This means being involved in local nets (radio round circles) and emergency volunteer groups (CERT, ARES, SAR). If everyone had your attitude ("oh, I'll just turn it on when I need to call for help"), then no one would ever be available to take a distress call or relay that information to the authorities.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 4:30 pm 
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MDCCLXXVI wrote:
To communicate with emergency services in a localized SHTF. Flood and bush fire are very real threats in my AO. I may be a victim in need or I may be another set of eyes and ears to coordinate a rescue effort. Last year, my town was cut off for over 72 hours by flooding. The year before, my uncles town was evacuated before it was promptly surrounded by 20 meter high wall of flames in a bush fire. (The house survived). In my estimation, it would be useful to have a scanner (or ability to listen to emergency services communication) in the event of an emergency.

It's probable that you won't be able to communicate with emergency services directly since most of them have switched over to encrypted digital trunking systems. That's not something you just order out of a catalog, read a manual, and magically find a dispatcher waiting to talk to you. The most likely scenario is that you'll use some other radio type, which is being monitored by a volunteer who is probably a ham, who will relay your message to the emergency services.

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- No its not for hobby use or talking to Mr. Crotchety down the lane on a Sunday afternoon. It's for taking along in National Parks where there are designated frequencies, its for marine use (fishing boat), emergency use, information gathering, and BOB use.

One radio will almost certainly not do all that unless you design it and build it yourself. The reason for this is that those are all different bands you list there. A radio that will receive in transmit in one of those bands will almost certainly be physically unable to receive and transmit in the others.

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- I don't want to apprentice with HAM operators or other radio enthusiasts. I want a device to communicate with in an emergency. I can read a manual to figure out how to operate it.

You realize you just became the guy who says "Well, I'm going to buy a gun to protect my family with it but I'm not going to practice with it or get any training. You just pull the trigger, it's not hard", right? This is exactly the same thing.

Quote:
Why does no one make this big of a fuss over cell phones?

Because cell phones have been simplified into a utility and radio hasn't. The analogous question to radio would be "I don't see why my Verizon cell phone doesn't work on ATT, Sprint, T-Mobile, in the US, in Europe, in Africa, and in the middle of the ocean where there's no cell tower.

Quote:
Assuming a localized emergency (bush fire, flash flood, catastrophic hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, civil unrest are all present down here), the cell towers will likely be overwhelmed by anxious folks comforting loved ones. They are therefore no use in an emergency.

Absolutely true.

Quote:
I want a device to communicate with, that reaches a greater audience than my own voice alone can reach. Again, don't care who is on the other end.

That is a stupid statement. You absolutely care who's on the other end. If you chose the wrong radio and what you end up with is one designed for land mobile commercial use, being able to talk on the frequency used by the local cement delivery company is going to do you no damned good in an emergency because no one will be at the cement dispatch office listening. You have to define specific communications goals before you can chose what method will best suit them.

Quote:
- I have no desire to be an actual expert in radio operation.

You don't need to be an expert in radio operation. You do need to be proficient, however, and that's as much about what to do once you push the key down as it is what to do to get the radio set up.

Quote:
Sure I'll get a license if its the best thing to do, and as always common sense and proper ettiquete apply. But really, in an emergency as long as I know how to use the damn thing then I'll be better off with it than not having it at all ... Right or wrong?

Maybe, maybe not. Yes, luck plus a radio is better than nothing. However, without knowing anything other than what buttons do what on the radio, there's a million and one ways to push those buttons that will result in you not getting a message out to anyone. One of the most common is transmitting on the listed frequency of a repeater. Sounds like the right thing to do, after all, that's the frequency listed for the repeater! Turns out to be the wrong thing to do and totally useless.

Quote:
Why all the fuss over a device to communicate with? IMO it just drives people away from an already dying hobby.

Because it turns out that 2-way radio communication isn't a simple thing to do well.

Also, it happens not to be a dying hobby. The number of licensed hams is increasing rapidly.

Quote:
If theres punishment for not having a license then compliance is probably a good idea.

$10,000 and 2 years imprisonment for each illegal transmission (a transmission is each and every time you push the talk button so a single conversation can easily hit hundreds of "transmissions") plus confiscation of all radio equipment.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:55 pm 
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(Hail from Australia, by the way)

Thank you ...

Apologies for my ignorance it seems radio communications is a bit of a labyrinth for the uninitiated.

Still in the planning phase of how to add a radio to my system, so trying to boil down and simplify exactly what I should be doing.

  • Read pertinent laws for amateur radio use ... Namely the Radiocommunications Act 1992.
    http://www.wia.org.au/members/legislati ... ommnsAct92[1].pdf
    Seems there are indeed penalties including imprisonment for unlicensed use. Maybe related to espionage or something else related to national security. (p54)
  • Get license. Will organize that over the next few weeks.
  • Learn how to use a basic radio effectively ... Any reading materials you suggest?
  • Find a radio that works for my particular needs and location. How do I find out what will work best in my area?

-----

I think that comment above that I'm just as likely to talk to someone in the Canary Islands as next door if I don't know what I'm doing really hit home. I'm unsure if local emergency services are on encrypted digital networks now, but I can listen to online scanner of fire/emt/le.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 11:38 pm 
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MDCCLXXVI wrote:
(Hail from Australia, by the way)

Thank you ...

Apologies for my ignorance it seems radio communications is a bit of a labyrinth for the uninitiated.

Still in the planning phase of how to add a radio to my system, so trying to boil down and simplify exactly what I should be doing.

  • Read pertinent laws for amateur radio use ... Namely the Radiocommunications Act 1992.
    http://www.wia.org.au/members/legislati ... ommnsAct92[1].pdf
    Seems there are indeed penalties including imprisonment for unlicensed use. Maybe related to espionage or something else related to national security. (p54)
  • Get license. Will organize that over the next few weeks.
  • Learn how to use a basic radio effectively ... Any reading materials you suggest?
  • Find a radio that works for my particular needs and location. How do I find out what will work best in my area?

-----

I think that comment above that I'm just as likely to talk to someone in the Canary Islands as next door if I don't know what I'm doing really hit home. I'm unsure if local emergency services are on encrypted digital networks now, but I can listen to online scanner of fire/emt/le.


Well, knowing now that you're in Australia changes a few things. For one, forget about US penalties. :)

Yes, there's more to radio than just pushing a couple of buttons and talking. Think of it as a very early model cell phone, one where you have to manually set every single parameter, from what frequency (or pair of frequencies) to use, to what kind of transmission mode (AM/FM/CW/SSB/etc.), choose what kind of antenna to use (and where to point it in some cases), and what tones to use so the radio on the other end "opens up" and listens to you. The good news though is, once you have the basics down it makes learning the rest a lot easier, and it's entirely up to you as to how deep into the hobby you want to get.

I wish I knew more about amateur radio rules and regs in Australia, but I don't, so I'm not going to try to offer advice on that score. But I will say that your local amateur radio club would be an excellent place to start. Think about it, these are all folks who've already passed the tests and who have the experience which you need to tap into, and if Australian clubs are anything like US clubs, they'll be more than happy to answer your questions and get you going in the right direction. They're also the people who best know what works, and what doesn't, in your particular area.

As for the Canary Islands, I've chatted with hams there a couple of times, friendly people and a pleasure to talk with, as you might find out yourself one day if your interest in amateur radio grows beyond your current goals. Good luck, and maybe we'll enjoy a chat on 40 meters one of these days.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:00 am 
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MDCCLXXVI wrote:
(Hail from Australia, by the way)

Ah, yes, that changes things a bit.

Quote:
Apologies for my ignorance it seems radio communications is a bit of a labyrinth for the uninitiated.

No worries. 3 years ago, that's exactly how I felt. There's a fairly stout amount of "minimum knowledge" you have to have to get this stuff figured out. When you're still trying to learn that minimum, it often feels like you're butting your head against a wall. The moment that basic minimum clicks, however, things get really easy and adding each new skill or ability becomes much easier. It's kind of like learning a foreign language. Seems impossible at first and then one day you realize you're speaking it and all you have left to do is to learn more verbs.

Quote:
[*]Learn how to use a basic radio effectively ... Any reading materials you suggest?

This is definitely something you want to ask a local. My blanket recommendation would be to look at the books published by the ARRL, if they're available in Australia. While a lot of American hams get kind of pissed off at the ARRL, there's no denying they have some great books. The one I'd recommend first is their biggest book on getting the US Technicians Class license. They make several version of their licensing books ranging from "just teach me how to get the questions right" to "here's all the background knowledge necessary to understand why the right answers are the right answers". You want the one with the background in it. If you can, get a copy, rip out the section on learning the US rules, and then just suck up all the background info. That'll give you a fighting knowledge of the subjects and might even be enough to get you through your first Australian licensing test.

Quote:
[*]Find a radio that works for my particular needs and location. How do I find out what will work best in my area?

You're definitely going to have to ask a local as your spectrum allocations are very different than ours. However, one potentially nice thing this brings up is that the Austrailian CB allocation is MUCH better than the US version. Yours has many more channels, is UHF, uses FM, and allows repeaters. While I would still investigate the local ham clubs because they're your best source of information, the Aus CB allocation is actually good enough that it *might* be useful. You'll just need to always pay attention to wither someone is talking about the US or Aus version of CB as there's a BIG difference.


Quote:
I'm unsure if local emergency services are on encrypted digital networks now, but I can listen to online scanner of fire/emt/le.

If you can scan them with a basic scanner, there's a good chance they're still using simple radios. However, legally obtaining one of those radios is impossible for a private citizen in the US. It's possibly the same for Australia.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:14 pm 
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I had no idea Aussies had UHF CB. See, that's what local knowledge is good for.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:40 pm 
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I would keep all options open. I have an Extra class license and still have FRS and CB radios in my shack and in my truck. For $400 I would get your Tech license, put a 2m and CB in your primary vehicle plus a 2m HT. If you get them used you can do that under $400.

Shok

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:37 am 
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Shok wrote:
I would keep all options open. I have an Extra class license and still have FRS and CB radios in my shack and in my truck. For $400 I would get your Tech license, put a 2m and CB in your primary vehicle plus a 2m HT. If you get them used you can do that under $400.

Shok


You did see where he said he's in Australia, right? :)

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NOTE: Due to the rising cost of ammunition, warning shots will no longer be given.

There's always a certain percentage of any population with the conviction that society is a conspiracy to deny them their rights.
The right to be totally ignorant of any useful knowledge seems to be the basic one.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:24 pm 
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KJ4VOV wrote:
Shok wrote:
I would keep all options open. I have an Extra class license and still have FRS and CB radios in my shack and in my truck. For $400 I would get your Tech license, put a 2m and CB in your primary vehicle plus a 2m HT. If you get them used you can do that under $400.

Shok


You did see where he said he's in Australia, right? :)


Yeah they have 2m and CB 27MHz down under. LOL :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:55 pm 
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Shok wrote:
KJ4VOV wrote:
Shok wrote:
I would keep all options open. I have an Extra class license and still have FRS and CB radios in my shack and in my truck. For $400 I would get your Tech license, put a 2m and CB in your primary vehicle plus a 2m HT. If you get them used you can do that under $400.

Shok


You did see where he said he's in Australia, right? :)


Yeah they have 2m and CB 27MHz down under. LOL :mrgreen:


Just checking because you suggested he get a "tech" license, which is not an Australian license class. Their equivalent to our tech would be the "foundation" class, but it's not a direct comparison since the foundation class includes more HF phone than the US tech class.

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NOTE: Due to the rising cost of ammunition, warning shots will no longer be given.

There's always a certain percentage of any population with the conviction that society is a conspiracy to deny them their rights.
The right to be totally ignorant of any useful knowledge seems to be the basic one.
- Keith Laumer


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