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At what point is someone operating illegally?


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Hey guys,


Brand new to the forums here but have been lurking for a few months.  I've recently gotten the GMRS bug and invested in some simplex equipment.  Also just received one radio I can hit repeaters with.  My next project I'm gearing up for is building my own repeater, probably sometime next March.  In prep for this I've been scanning/listening alot lately and found a few business operating on the GMRS only channels.  On the shared GMRS/FRS channels there's about 1000 kids on bubble pack radios.  I wish there was a way to filter out those obnoxious "roger" beeps and kids mashing the call button.  Anyway...


On channel 17 there is some kind of shuttle service talking about pickups and drop offs.  I keyed up on them this morning, identified myself by my call sign and asked them to identify themselves.  They went silent right after that.


On channel 21 there is some kind of apartment maintenance crew from the sounds of it.  Again I keyed up, identified myself and asked them to identify.  They just ignored me and went on with their business.


Is it possible in either of these cases that I can hear them but they can't hear me because I'm not transmitting or listening for a specific PL tone? (CTCSS and DCS off) 


If I don't have a CTCSS or DCS set would I hear all chatter on the frequency?


If this is the case, how can I figure out what squelch code to use in order to make contact?


At what point would I file a FCC report?  My understanding is that business use isn't prohibited but all users would need to have a call sign, and identify at the end of a transmission or if requested by another operator?



And somewhat off topic - The database on this site lists a repeater on channel 18 that's supposedly just north of here but I've yet to confirm it's still in operation.  I'm headed north tonight and will try to key up on it.  I occasionally hear something broadcast Morse code on 16 (most likely repeater).  19 is usually pretty quiet so I guess I'll put my repeater there.  For no other reason than OCD I wanted to use 21 but with all that other chatter going on from that business I guess I won't.


Thanks all for reading, I would appreciate any words of wisdom!

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I have found there is not much you can do about business use of simplex GMRS. However if the business has implemented a repeater set to GMRS frequency's, you could file a formal compliant with your local FCC field office. Providing you do the leg work, finding names and physical address, The FCC will consider following up with a letter to the offending party or parties. If said letter is sent and interference continues, you could chose to follow up with another letter to your local field office with list of violations and dates, at which time the FCC could chose to assess fines and penalties. It is a long process.

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FCC enforcement in the FRS/GMRS services is minimal, and then only based on well documented complaints where there is clear and continual interference to other users. Since the FCC rules require all users to do their part to reduce interference, you can be part of the problem or part of the solution. If all the channels in your area are busy, you basically have to work with other users to find some satisfactory sharing. However, if there are channels that are completely silent where you are, you are far better off just to move over to a quiet channel. In a situation where there are quiet channels, it's highly doubtful that a case for interference can be made, even with unlicensed business users present.


In most cases, they're using bubble pack FRS/GMRS radios which don't have much more than a watt or two at best, so the interference is limited in range anyway.


Even though it's not legit, the fact of life here is minimal enforcement to the point of being nearly non-existent. If you can find a channel with minimal or no interference to put up your repeater, do it.


Much as it may gnaw at you, unless you have a really severe case of intentional interference, it's unlikely that the FCC will do anything.


If you have a scanner, you can use it to determine what PL or DPL others are using. Most modern scanners will do that. If you're not transmitting the proper PL or DPL, other users will not hear you. And, yes, if you have no PL or DPL set, you should hear all traffic on a channel. That's called Carrier Squelch, and abbreviated CSQ.

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Yeah, I was just kidding about blowing them out of the water.  I don't think I've ever heard anything on 19 so I'll light up on there.  I'm sure none of it is intentional on their parts, they probably just don't know any better.


On a brighter note, I was just out in the parking lot at work playing around with the radio and heard a couple of guys on that channel 16 repeater.  I was able to use my cheapie moto handheld to scan for their PL and talked to the owner for a few minutes.  It's way up on a mountain roughly 80 miles from here and sounded clear as could be.  It's a private repeater but he said he doesn't mind someone using it for a quick call if they have to.  


Thanks for the explanation on the different squelch methods.

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I was just looking at Part 95 this morning because of the same issues. I'd like to (fill in the blank) the manufacturers for adding all the beeping noises to the bubble-pack radios. The least they could have done was leave them all off and make the users figure out how to turn them on if they thought they needed them.


Aside from that I was trying to think of a way to rid the frequencies in my area of unlicensed users. A couple of problems I ran into are, 1.) you can't legally talk to an unlicensed user on the applicable frequency they are interfering, and 2.) you can't transmit one-way messages.


My thought was to make a recording to play when someone unlicensed comes on, that states they are transmitting illegally, etc.


Not legal to do. Oh well.


I guess (while I am looking for work) I could practice my radio-direction finding. Ha!

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This has turned into a science experiment for me now....   I was driving home on the highway and I caught the signal loud and clear one exit before mine, so I hit my exit and started circling back.  I found a nice well lit gas station parking lot where I can hear what I believe is a base station and some handhelds.  The lower power radios are still a bit scratchy but I'm getting closer.  Their transmissions are usually 5 seconds or less but I'm going to start CTCSS scanning from there and maybe get lucky.  Would be nice to just use a decoder but I'm not willing to invest 69 bucks for some software that probably won't work anyway.  Maybe I'll light up both handhelds and my mobile all scanning at the same time for better odds of finding them.


Once I find their code I'll just identify myself and ask for their call sign.  If they don't have one, maybe they'll at least tell me their business name.

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