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Everything posted by NavyBOFH

  1. Started with some Kenwood TK-350 handhelds, then went to Motorola HT/CDM1250s, then to some XTS/XTL/XPR radios and a single APX7000 which is also my work radio.
  2. That is essentially where I am at right now - except if you look at an NC map I have Garner/Raleigh, Smithfield, and Princeton to cover at minimum. I have one family member in Smithfield (almost towards Clayton) that I could bribe to throw a repeater in the attic and mount an antenna to like a 10ft piece of conduit, but that still likely will not cover the area appropriately... otherwise it would already be done. I work full-time in RF systems integrations and have every bit of infrastructure, test, and subscriber equipment I could ever need for either a GMRS repeater or Part 90... but without a decent spot to put it up it seems pointless. As I said before - I chose to go GMRS instead of my Part 90 license just because I feel like it would provide a better service to my family and surrounding community. Otherwise, I will just set it to a coordinated pair and run P25 with AES.
  3. Ham transceivers are not certified by most definitions - Part 97 doesn't hold a technical certification standard for equipment. The Amateur Radio motto is just "operate as efficiently as possible within these guidelines". Part 90 (and others like 87 and 80, etc) have specific requirements for emissions standards which can be quantitatively measured and analyzed. Which is why its easy to be said Part 90 is allowed - but not expressly worded within the current rules.
  4. My issue is making contacts in the area. When I was in SC it was easy to find a tower spot for free and put up a repeater... sometimes with a feedline and antenna already there. In the RDU area - not so lucky. I am trying to use contacts at my work to make an introduction, but with me constantly traveling getting to ham meetings and such to possibly make other connections is limited. Ideally it would be nice to get a repeater up on one of the building rooftops, or one of the many water towers in the area. Getting there is the hard part. Otherwise I already have the repeater and duplexer ready, and would gladly spend on antenna/feedline/NEMA outdoor enclosure to make it a reality. I want it up for family/friend use - but as an open repeater as well for community use. My goal reaching out on here was to make that introduction if there is one to be made. Otherwise it is a 50/50 split for me to just toss up a VHF Quantar on my Part 90 frequencies and run that instead... but I enjoy having the community use a GMRS repeater would provide.
  5. Nailed it - I spent 90+ minutes on the phone with their in-house counsel regarding how the rules were written and they agreed that enforcement is essentially out of the question because it can be thrown out so easily... unless they find a way to tack it onto another charge which in their own words "you'll be in deeper trouble for the reason we were out there in the first place before we examined any equipment".
  6. Hello all! I am a couple years late to posting this topic, but mostly because this discussion created such heated arguments on Facebook that I either left or was banned from certain communities. At the time I was working as a state frequency coordinator and LMR engineer, now working with "one of the big LMR brands". As a result, I had and still have access to discuss issues with the FCC Enforcement Bureau and their in-house counsel. This is a rundown of said conversation I had after the last rule changes... Specifically towards the Part 90/95 issue - I asked why in the new rules it loosely stated that Part 90 equipment was permitted, but then later in the same rules mentioned it was not permitted. The in-house counsel agreed the wording was ambiguous at best, which would result in a hard time in them enforcing the rule on its own. Essentially, the conversation was "If you are caught with a Part 90 radio in the process of us investigating an issue such as malicious interference, it will be an added charge... but we cannot and will not pursue it on its own". The wording specifically I mentioned was: 95.335 (a) - Which states that non-Part 95 equipment may be operated in the service if they are certified for use in land mobile radio services. With that said, the Enforcement Bureau and their legal counsel agreed that the wording was added because of a distinct lack of Part 95 licensed equipment being added to the list, but that the wording wasn't fully clarified to explicitly permit it either. The resolution to the issue is what I quoted above... that they will not be pursuing certification violations by end-users, and the end user will not be caught and fined unless it was within the investigation into other issues which will usually be your worse issue regardless. The biggest hurdle this presented was for manufacturers to comply with certification of devices, and the wording was created to make sure Baofeng and others would not market their radios as GMRS radios without proper certification. So in the end - enjoy your Motorola XTS/APX/XPR radios, your Harris P7100/7200/etc radios, and so-forth. Just be wise and safe! What I hope to accomplish by posting this here is a CIVIL and PRODUCTIVE discussion to petition the FCC for a clarification into the rules where 95.335 can be either refined or referred to elsewhere in the Part 95 rules to be the "one rule to rule them all" and state that if a radio is Part 90 compliant, it will be permitted. The end.
  7. Just moved from SC to NC and I am more than slightly disappointed. I see plenty of repeaters out in the mountains, and plenty around the beach... but where are my middle-state repeaters? Specifically the Johnston/Wake County area! Only listing I see is "Raleigh Fairgrounds"... and its long gone! And before anyone says "just put one up if you're that mad"... I will. If someone has a good spot in the Clayton area I think I could easy span Princeton to Raleigh without breaking a sweat. Show me the tower site, I'll buy the repeater and duplexer today.
  8. Bridgecom is the closest you can get to that idea. Unfortunately you won't get a "front panel programmable" since Part 90 and 95 still prohibit that for ANY transmitter in those services. Motorola, Kenwood, Vertex, Icom - they all had 50w "desktop repeaters" that can have a power supply built in and DC failover/backup in many... but now you're looking at a DMR capable model to do so. The issue isn't Part 95 compliance - the issue is that we the GMRS community need to get the FCC to explicitly ALLOW Part 90 equipment on GMRS. They made a step towards it with some ambiguous wording in the newest rule revisions - but still cannot get their Enforcement Bureau to agree the wording means "Part 90 is allowed" - to calm some peoples' nerves. In the end - Part 90 or 95 repeaters will always be an expensive proposition for a quality system. Even if Midland was to take one of their Public Safety line repeaters and offer it as a "GMRS package" - you won't be saving much over buying a TKR-850 for instance.
  9. There's also the possibility they're running a STRONG receive system... I am running a VHF commercial repeater that can be reached (reliably) in a 50 mile radius from a mobile - and about 20 with a portable. But we will put in a "voting receiver system" hopefully in 2019 to give the repeater many "ears" to listen on - and a comparator to pick the strongest signal to repeat. AFAIK - GMRS has no restrictions on using a voting receiver system - and we are considering it for our GMRS repeater as well.
  10. You said it all well. And I remembered the "new" rules and the old ones - but I didn't fret even the older rules when it came to "phone links" since the verbiage was muddy to start. But you are absolutely right - the new rules fixed a lot of issues. I posted on some Facebook groups concerning the issue - but then ended up having to make a new account thus my post was deleted. But I had long talks with the FCC, a consulting engineer, and others in the field such as myself... and we cannot figure out what the FCC has against Part 90 in Part 95. From all conversations - it is that the FCC equates Part 90=digital mode... which is simply incorrect. The Part 95E rules still tell us the emissions designator, TPO, etc... which can be complied with Part 90 equipment. So... I am working on getting all that into a petition to spell it out that Part 90 equipment is allowed. I think the FCC is worrying about a revenue stream drying up... but on the other side they KNOW we are using Part 90 equipment based on rules and previous comment periods/NPRMs and still turn a blind eye while refusing to address it. So, it is up to us to make a stink about it. As for the MDC... if set up properly it is an AWESOME use of selective calling and an "internal identifier". We have "unit numbers" we give to individuals or families, and keep it listed. Therefore someone programming the proper radio can see Unit 22 as "Bob Mobile" on their radio. We use that as a friendly identifier, and the SELCALL option is nice as well.
  11. I will try to sort out some of your questions and issues, including some of the replies... Without being too critical - I hate to say your post sounds like when someone WebMD's their symptoms and tends to overanalyze things. That said, a lot of what I will contribute is what is "accepted best practices" over the LMR industry, and any other "legalese" from discussions with the FCC Enforcement Bureau. 1) Home and Mobile repeaters? Are you talking about having a repeater stationary and one to take "on the go"? Putting it in a vehicle? In a kit? Or simply stating you want a 50w repeater and a 50w mobile radio? Those all matter to answer because a "mobile repeater" is a different animal from a "mobile radio", and you'll need a good plan to use one. 2) Without diving into the Type Acceptance Rabbit Hole, anything that is Part 90 or Part 95 is generally acceptable as long as you're operating legally. From talks with the FCC - the part of "operating legally" is where they'll discover what equipment you're using. Don't cause a mess, don't get caught. I will be writing a draft proposal to the FCC to implicitly allow Part 90 equipment on GMRS and hope to engage this forum when its time to lobby it. 3) Yes - duplexers are a necessary evil. Otherwise you need to follow either horizontal separation of antennas (not feasible), or vertical, which means your TX antenna will be multiple feet below your RX, causing coverage issues. A duplexer causes loss... but with a good gain antenna you'll never know there was an issue to start. As for the solid state filters... good luck. I have worked on RF from ISM band equipment up to 1MW ERP broadcast transmitters, from HF through millimeter wave. Nothing I have touched yet uses such a design for a "high power application", and likely won't for a long period of time. A cavity duplexer is "the" way to go... don't overanalyze it and just follow the industry. A "mobile duplexer" can pick up 40-50w of load and generally is at worst 1.5dB of loss. 4) Your identifier is your callsign - not a Google link or some other smarmy reference to chase. While Part 95 might not specify it, I know Part 90 does as to minimum WPM and other specifications. Just use CWID and use it on 15 minute intervals. As for the reply above - the ID only needs to be on the 462 side - which is the repeater's TX. The 467 side is the USER's responsibility to ID, hence the requirement to ID at the beginning, end, and every 15 minutes. 5) Based on your "car repeater" comment, I think you're meaning to just say "mobile radio" which somewhat clarifies comment #1. A mobile radio doesn't need a duplexer or anything else, just proper power and RF feedline/antenna. Yes, there is Part 90/95 equipment that exists in UHF with handheld control heads, remote heads, wireless mics, etc... stuff like the Motorola Astro Spectra/XTL line can be remote mounted or handheld control heads. The XPR5550 can have a handheld control head as well. Models of the GE/MA-Com/Harris Orion, M7100, and others can do either as well. Certain Kenwoods as well. And for a fully wireless setup, the Hytera MD782 or MD652 with the SM27W1 provides a fully wireless control head and mic - but audio quality isn't great. 6) Based on comment 5... the difference between 40 and 50w is negligible in the end. Run a 3+dB antenna and you'll never know the difference anyway. We are talking about the power difference between 40 and 50 being less than 1dB gain. 7) HTs can be just like the mobile comment #5... Motorola, Kenwood, Icom, etc... all of them make programmable UHF handhelds that comply with Part 90... some with Part 95 as well. Now you can see why I am pushing to get Part 90 permitted 100% on GMRS... good luck finding any Part 95 "only" HT that meets the requirements for GMRS service. Hell... good luck finding a repeater brand new except 2-3 models out there that comply with Part 95. 8) Sorry - but you will end up ignoring type acceptance one way or another. Most Part 95 only equipment is either limited in use, expensive, or ancient. For instance if you want to make a reliable "DIY" repeater, it is simple to mash two CDM1250s together to make a repeater with a duplexer - but the radios aren't Part 95. You can find a TON of surplus Kenwood and Motorola repeaters out there for under $1000, but they're all Part 90 repeaters. Same with HTs... good luck finding one that can be programmed for repeater splits and worth a darn... and not Part 90. Personally, I run a Motorola XTS5000 for my HT, and an XTL2500 for my mobile. I have a Quantar in UHF which isn't used - but I can tell you I have seen anything from a Micor up to a Quantar or even a newer DMR repeater locked in analog mode used for GMRS. And they've been up for years without a single issue or complaint. 9) You can link repeaters over internet/VoIP with no limitations. At all. Stop overanalyzing the "phone line" verbiage - as it is as ancient as the FCC's Part 90 "turn a blind eye" philosophy. "Phone Line" was in reference to dial-up circuit-switched, or dedicated leased-line operation. Modern internet is neither. 10) Minor detail - but PTT-ID over MDC1200 or other methods is not considered an identifier. Grab a label maker and label the radios with the callsign. Tell granny or mom "every once in a while as you're talking, say that callsign, or if anyone asks". That is all. Repeater programmed to CWID... that's all. I hope this removes some questions and hesitation to proceed with your project. I work with a bunch of people here who have GMRS repeaters and I can promise you that between repeaters, mobiles, and HTs I'll be surprised if I dig up even one Midland or other "GMRS only" radio. Everything is recycled/decommissioned Part 90 gear because I'd rather spend $200 on a used Motorola mobile than a new Midland mobile - and the Motorola lets me program in ham, GMRS, and my Part 90 licences as well.' I am also looking at creating a linked GMRS setup using point-to-point microwave or IP in the mountains of WV where like you, cell service is limited and often land lines can fail as well. Just don't work yourself up thinking the "FCC Police" will be kicking your door in and you'll do just fine.
  12. Yeah I said "DMR won't matter" but should have clarified that for the newer licensees. But there's some that enjoy ham and GMRS like myself where you might want to stretch your legs a little. And believe me - the Vertex-MSI merger has been a fun one. I ordered a new casing for my VX-P829... showed up in a week. Ordered two for my EVXs... I waited a month with them on "backorder" before canceling the order. Luckily the cases are still OK - just didn't like the smoothed down PTT button from use or the engraving. I hope to sell all my Vertex stuff soon since we are moving to a vendor-locked system for work purposes which means our "Bring Your Own Radio" mentality is about to end.
  13. It is standard to download on any MOL account. If you have one, look in the Resource Center. If not - I am pretty sure I can share a link with you without any repercussion since it is a LONG discontinued product and they're offering the software for free anyway.
  14. I have been looking at doing the same and listing the resources with links or in a Wiki style page. Especially those brands where the discontinued models mean the vendors are giving the programming software away. To add to that list: Vertex EVX-531/534/539 They are "discontinued" by Motorola, but found CHEAP. I bought two, each with two batteries, for $120. Programming CAN be done through a $20 cable, and the CE-142 (7-segment model CPS) and CE-151 (dot matrix LCD CPS) are give-aways from Vertex/Motorola. BE WARNED: Many of them were programmed with the US version CPS which means they are LOCKED narrowband. You CAN reverse that - but be prepared to spend $120 in the Vertex "Flash cable adapter", or find someone (like me) that has one now. Motorola MTS2000 Discontinued by Motorola long ago - almost "throw away radios". Can find them "ready to go" off eBay for $40-50 all day long. Especially if you buy the 450-512 split which is "undesirable" to many. Cable can be bought from bluemax49ers or other places for around $20, CPS is readily available free. LIMITATION: Can only program on a 32-bit version of Windows. If you don't have a physical serial port, you need SPECIFICALLY a FTDI branded chipset USB-serial adapter. Motorola XTS3000 Discontinued by Motorola - coming down in price rapidly. These are tanks just like the MTS series - I mean not only "duty ready" but can double as a weapon. Can find them for around $75-$125 if you hunt around. CPS again is readily available free... and uses the same cable as the MTS. LIMITATION: same as the MTS Motorola XTS1500/2500/5000 Takes same accessories as the last 2 Motorola series - down to chargers in some instances. Requires a different programming cable - but again a serial cable and USB adapter is found by the eBay vendor mentioned in previous posts for $50. They are SOLID radios, bit more flexible programming and features, and can program up on a 64-bit Windows computer. They are MUCH more expensive - creeping into XPR7550 territory... $250+ with some fresh looking ones easily fetching $700. This is where I will put the limit of a GMRS radio - because they are inanely expensive for the purpose. Motorola XPR6550 GREAT TRBO radio, "first generation". Lacking some of the audio enhancements and niceties of the "second generation" XPR7550 - but those limitations are mostly on the DMR side of the radio, and even then are still awesome radios. Can find them for around $200 if you look hard. CPS is pricey - $169 for a 3-year subscription. If you have a friend paying for the subscription that can program for you - you are SOLID. They're a bit more fragile feeling than the MTS/XTS series but I can confirm they will take a beating. Vertex VX/VX-P 820/920 series Awesome radios for the price and featureset. the "P" is P25 versions, others are analog. The 820 is my personal favorite - literally a pocket sized public safety radio. My VX-P820 stands at literally half the height of my MTS2000. They can creep up in price - but again free CPS, cheap cables, and parts support via Motorola for a few more years... as parts are available. I will post some mobiles and other brands. But really... there's a ton to go through. I just chose to mention ones that I have personally used or owned, that were not mentioned yet. EDIT: Also a feature to mention with the Motorola line (XTS specifically) - if you buy one with a display and keypad (Model 2 or 3) - you can set the MPL list which stands for "Multiple PL". In my experience, I have all my general use repeaters in my radio for the areas I know I travel. I then have a zone with the "general GMRS" frequencies. I enable MPL on that zone, and set the default PL to 141.3 with CSQ receive. If you know you're traveling and don't want to constantly read/write your radio on a computer - you can just look up online and say "Hmmm this uses PL or DPL XYZ", hit the MPL button, browse to that entry, select. Boom - you're "programmed" for that repeater now. Caveat is MPL means you need to program EACH PL setting you want. If you want them - message me. I have a "sanitized" codeplug with all standard PLs and some common DPLs all done - all you have to do is drag-and-drop.
  15. What kind of mast? Are you talking about a fixed location for a repeater/base, or a push-up type mast meant to be "portable"? Either way - LMR outer insulation is pretty rugged and I have used anything from LMR400 up to 3" Heliax at sites. The way to secure most of it at towers is with "butterfly clips" which clamp the coax down to a tower leg. But in a small-use case... using black "UV resistant" heavy duty zip ties will work just fine. Your issue with possible wear of the LMR insulation won't come from a fastener - it will come from if you DON'T fasten it down and let it rub against anything and everything in the wind. I have seen towers hit by bad storms have bad coax or even waveguide from rubbing against each other for weeks or months until caught.
  16. To add to the above: If you're a truck driver - you'll want a radio with loud audio - I don't know what truck you're using but I can tell you that even in my comfy sedan or SUV - I can use a 7.5 watt speaker pretty easily. As others have said - GMRS is pretty limited in terms of the number of channels - but unless you're able to program the repeaters you know you'll be accessing ahead of time, you'll be hurting. The BEST answer I have come up with is this... Buy a Motorola Astro Spectra, Astro Spectra Plus, or PM1500/XTL1500/XTL2500/XTL5000. They are COMPLETELY overkill - however you gain a HUGE advantage in that price point - a feature called MPL - or selectable PL. In my UHF I have most common PL and DPL codes pre-programmed into the list and to be selected dynamically. The default is for a 141.3 encode with carrier squelch decode. If I hear traffic during scan - I can hopefully either quickly look up the repeater online, or go through the MPL list and PTT until one of them opens up the repeater. Down-side... you are talking about easily $200 of radio equipment to do what I said. But the MPL feature works well in this case and technically gets around the Part 90/95 limitation of "cannot program the radio from the user panel". I have both a VHF and UHF in my car and love them more than any other brand.
  17. I vote getting your ham license and getting friendly with the local clubs. Here in SC we are an "odd bunch" as most of ham radio also got tied in with state agencies when my former VP was the ARRL coordinator, the South East Repeater Association president, etc... so then our own network (SCHEART) became its own "club" in a sense where volunteers are also given access to all our test equipment and software and cache radios. Then we got friendly with most of the clubs in the state. In essence... now the entire state gets along to the point that when (for instance) one of our local GMRS repeaters started going out... the owner found an MSF5000 and brought it to my station. I ended up programming it, aligning it, and putting it on the air just to kill some down time at work. You'll never know who you run into!
  18. My state agency was given a dozen CS810/CS800 radios which we in turn use for UTAC, DMR, ham, and GMRS since we all seem to be licensed for it. We also own more tall towers in the state than any other agency so we ended up sponsoring (giving away) tower space to GMRS repeaters as long as we were allowed access to them without issue. With that we usually use GMRS for "work" use as in small things like coordinating convoys, talking locally during cell outages, etc. Otherwise we are all hams as well so we end up on DMR for long stretch comms... and lastly UTAC if we are working with EMD or state police, etc.
  19. Thank you again for helping out with providing access! While my wife and her team ended up staying around the Lavon/Dallas area and then traveling into the affected area as needed, I felt a LOT better knowing that your repeaters were online, available, and monitored if things went bad during their work. If you are ever in the South Carolina area our repeaters are open to you any time!
  20. With respect to the moderators and others here: I had this debate a while ago in a Radio Reference thread which ended up getting locked because of flames and rants. With that being said: the NPRM (which is now becoming law of the land on the 28th of this month) spoke of how the FCC realizes people are using Part 90 equipment on GMRS and that it was mostly acknowledged and ignored. While I understand the "part 90" and "part 95" rules, the actual technical certification of transceivers in both parts adhere to similar, if not exactly the same specifications. It is why the FCC hasn't intervened to slap down people using Part 90 equipment which is usually many times more expensive than "commercial offerings" from other brands. That being said, I still say "go with your gut" considering that on GMRS here we have almost all Motorola repeaters running with a absolute skew of radios. Since I also maintain an almost 30-repeater DMR network, most people use their Motorola or Hytera or other Part 90 accepted radio for DMR and have the local GMRS repeater programmed into the zone right next to the DMR and analog ham channels. I am at a crossroads for my own gear because I have a Connect Systems CS710 and CS810 in my possession for GMRS/DMR/Amateur radio/UTAC/etc use which were purchased and furnished to us by state emergency management as a tool since we maintain many of their systems - not to mention they wanted to see how they stacked up against similar offerings. While I love the radios for my truck and to throw in my work bag - for personal use I haven't adopted DMR (and in turn any UHF radios) for myself. I owned Motorola XPR gear and sold it just because of the price of the CPS and the remote head or HHCH mount for my 5550 was more than what I paid for the radio. Now I want the CS800D for my personal vehicle but have a love/hate with the one in my truck because of the small screen and tinny audio. But the remote mount was AWESOME! Simple Cat5 cable and that's it. For my handheld I want to hold out until the AnyTone dual band comes out, because I don't like how the MD-2017 is snapping SMA connectors for some people. Anyway - enough ranting on about the radios. I just hope with the new rules and what I mentioned above about the FCC acknowledging Part 90 radios on GMRS people can stop tip-toeing around the issue and just use a "reputable commercial radio" for their budget and needs. I just sent my last two MTS2000 radios down to TX with my wife for flood relief with the thought that the radios might not survive the trip if they get dunked. I sent them because they ARE cheap radios... and wasn't going to send my work XTS5000s down.
  21. You have described why we are trying to get our GMRS repeaters onto some sort of access control system. We have 5-6 repeaters in Midlands SC area right now, and all of them end up being molested by unwanted people at some point or another. Almost everyone running on the repeaters has MDC1200 ability so we COULD set it up for a silenced MDC1200 Repeater Access Code but no way of making it happen. MSF5000s and Quantars had the ability through a VERY obscure module, but otherwise I am hoping that someone eventually will make a Raspberry Pi or Arduino based repeater controller with MDC1200 features.
  22. That's why I come here! I love the collection of people available for technical help. After working on the SCHEART network here my brain gets so overloaded I always need help remembering a detail I forgot. I will have to look up the manuals you mentioned - I am assuming I will just have to find a pair of those mobiles (I bet I have some laying about my work in a box), a duplexer, P/S, and a RICK? I also have an old interface board which connects to the RICK for CWID and such. I guess the mobiles have been the part I have been missing.
  23. I know I have mentioned this before - but have still been working on setting up a family repeater for my license. I would like to have the ability to run MDC1200 for repeater access to only approved IDs or a Repeater Access Tone. What repeaters are capable of doing this? Or what controllers? I am familiar with the Quantar/MSF5000 Station Access Module but that is a bit much (and rare) for a GMRS repeater in my attic. Anything else I am coming up short...
  24. I work for SC ETV as a Field Engineer and know we have several towers in your area, with several ham, commercial, and state repeaters on them along with the SCHEART and NC-PRN ham radio network which we own... and all those sites have beautiful coverage at 40-50w. Finding a tower will be your hardest part, and even for us we have limited tower space for antennas even though our actual buildings have space for several more repeater racks.
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