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McKenna Family

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  1. Wow, my test was only $5 15 years ago. It used to be you were only paying for Postage and testing materials.... If Ham fits your needs, definetly go that route. I have been very few places in this country that didn't have 2 meter repeater coverage. Pick up a handheld for $100 bucks, get your licence, and you will always be in touch. GMRS still has its place though.
  2. As a licenced GMRS user, you are allowed to use the 7 intrastitial GMRS frequencies at up to 5 watts ERP (effective radiated power). Those 7 intrastitial frequencies are shared with FRS, so you could use that radio on one of those frequencies and talk to another FRS radio on channels 1-7. Since you would be running more power, and the Icom F21gm is not type certified as an FRS radio, you would still be required to operate as a GMRS station, rougly translated, you would still need to use your call sign. However, the antenna/power difference plays in here. Your radio with more power and a more efficient antenna would transmit farther, and receive a bit better than the FRS units. The result might be that there would be times when there was a lot of distance or obstructions between the GMRS radio and the FRS radio where they could hear you, but you might not be able to hear them. Bottom line is: Yes, it will work The ICOM is a great radio. If you don't mind the additional cost, you would be very happy with its performance. Once you get accustomed to real commercial grade equipment, the FRS radios really feel like cheap little toys.
  3. "Semantics aside, I don't think you'll ever find more then 5 or maybe 6 Watts in a HT regardless of the radio service it runs in. " Yeah, you are right, I kind of touched on that above. The battery capacity and the RF amp as well as the safe limits will keep it in that range. Most I have ever seen was a low band Motorola radio that did 6 watts. I have seen 2 meter rigs that will do 6 or 7 also. 5 watts is as high as I have ever seen on UHF. My 800MHz radios at work are 3. Don't think I'd want much more than that. Heat dissapation probably plays a roll too. When I first got my ham ticket the first radio I bought was a Yaesu FT470 dual band HT. On long QSO's the back of that thing could get pretty warm. I really miss that little hand warmer.
  4. The licence application is usually approved within 24 hours. A paper licence will be sent to you in the mail, probably will arrive in 2-3 weeks. As was said above, if you search the site your licence should probably be in the system by now.
  5. I don't want to get into a debate about GMRS vs. HAM. I have both licences, and have found that both fill a specific need. I tried for years to get others in my family to get their HAM tickets, but no luck. I still use 2 meters and 70cm for my own use, but when I need to talk to others in my family, GMRS is the only option. Not everyone wants to go through the HAM licensing process. If you look at the $75 spent on a 5 year GMRS licence, that comes out to around 4.1 cents a day. If I then divide that by the 5 people in my family that fall under my licence, that isn't a bad deal. My GMRS repeater access is free, thanks to a fellow HAM/GMRS licencee. So, I have coverage comparable to the local 70CM repeater for less than a penny a day for each person in my family. As for the price of radios, We have 4 Motorola HT600's tuned up on GMRS, I was able to get those for $55 each, used. The mobiles we use were in the $200-300 range, yes, a bit more than a 2meter mobile, but not bad. Same thing with the base radios. While getting this involved is not for everyone, I don't understand why so many HAM operators bad mouth GMRS, I guess just personal experience. No reason to discourage someone else. GMRS fills a need. Not everyone needs a HAM licence. This isn't directed as a flame to anyone, just want to make sure a balanced discussion is going on here. WL7MN WPQL 444
  6. A bit over your price range, but one of the best pre-programmed GMRS radios out there now is probably the Icom F21gm http://www.icomamerica.com/frs/icf21gmmain.asp The important thing about that radio is that it has a fairly efficient antenna as compared to most other low end GMRS radios. When considering coverage area for a radio it is foolish to only look at the advertised power or the false marketing claims of "up to X mile range". What really is going to make the difference on the radio is the efficiency of the antenna. Steer clear of th stubby little antennas. Also, for clarification, there is no 'legal limit on HT power". Licenced users are allowed up to 50 watts tpo on the 8 primary GMRS channels, and 5 watts ERP on the 7 interstitial (shared with FRS) channels. Radio design, component limitations and battery limitations, as well as what is safe, limits the power output of a handheld radio to somewhere in the 4-5 watt range. http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx...47cfr95_02.html
  7. Not every enforcement action comes in the form of fines. The FCC will sometimes just send a carefully worded letter. This has happened in the past with unlicenced business users showing up on GMRS Frequencies. Reports have shown that shortly after receiving the FCC letter, unlicenced users move to the appropriate business frequncies with proper licencing. Slim chances of being caught does not mean its ok to ignore the rules. Try to lead by example, others are watching. When I hear licenced GMRS users (rare) I really appreciate the fact that they care enough to follow through. When I hear unlicenced users, or rude, discourteous users, it makes me think of litter along the trail. Yeah, the litterer probably isn't going to get caught. Yes it is easier to dump it along the side of the trail than carrying your trash to the trash can. It just makes a mess for everyone else. Think of the airwaves as a nice trail, stay on the trail, don't bushwhack, pack out your trash, and be courteous to the others you meet along the way.
  8. $75.00 over 5 years works out to 4.1 cents a day. Not a bad price for what you can really do with GMRS. Not bad considering how often a lot of people use them. Not bad considering how much you may spend on batteries for them. The fact is, no matter what, the FCC requires a licence. Ignoring the requirements just sets a bad example. Sort of like CITO, or making fair trades.
  9. Marine VHF for recreational use is what the FCC calls Licence By Rule. In other words, if you follow the rules, you are covered. The FCC no longer requires a licence for recreational boater, that is why you were not questioned, you were legal. It is important to understand the requirements though. There are certain things you DON'T do with marine VHF. The FCC and Coast Guard will track you down and bust you hard. FRS is the same way, licence by rule. I always felt the term "licence free" was a bit misleading. While you don't need a licence for FRS, there are rules that you are required to abide by. GMRS is still under a licence requirement because of what GMRS is. GMRS isn't just 2watt low end radios sold at Target or Wal Mart. Licenced GMRS users are allowed up to 50 watts on 8 of the channel pairs. Repeaters are also permitted. I have both Ham and GMRS licences, and find both very useful. My family (extended) all have 35-45 watt professional mobile radios on GMRS, we have access to a repeater, and also have several commercial grade handheld radios. Unlicenced users are not a big problem, but rude, inconsiderate users are. There are certain rules that need to be followed, and certain things that need to be understood about the service. Unfortunatly there are always those who think it is funny to try to interfere with our legal and licenced use. Kudos to you for getting you licence. There is an excellent website that caters to GMRS users: www.popularwireless.com
  10. The PRSG guide is a nationwide listing of GMRS repeaters. It was published by the Personal Radio Steering Group. They are sort of a private, non-profit group that attempts to support personal use of GMRS, FRS, CB, MURS etc. The guide was published quite a few years ago, so most of it is out of date. They still sell it, but there have been rumors that a newer version is in the works.
  11. One site should answer most of your questions: WWW.ARRL.ORG This is the site of the American Radio Relay Leauge. They are probably the largest organization in the US of licensed radio amatures. Licensing is easier than ever. The entry level licence, no-code technician is a fairly easy multiple choice test that can be taken at many different locations. The FCC no longer gives the tests, but has created pools of Volunteer Examiners, fellow Hams that will give the tests. The licence itself is free, the cost of administering the test, etc., will run about $5.00. There are many sources of study materials for the test, both online and in book form. "Now you're talking" book was one of the most popular when I took my test 15 or so years ago (before Gore invented the internet). Like I said, the test is easy and covers basic electronics as it pertains to radio, operating practices, RF saftey and band plans/frequency allocations. It is easy enough that there are many Hams as young as 7. Equipment cost is really open. It really depends on what you plan to do. Low end 2meter (VHF 144-148MHz) radios can be purchased new for less than $100.00. Some Hams have several hundred thousand dollars invested in equipment, antennas etc. There are a lot of resources out there for folks like you. Search the net for Radio clubs in your area. Contact them, they love to help introduce people to the hobby.
  12. http://www.g-m-r-s.org/e-pubs/repeaters/US...1.2002-0318.txt http://www.g-m-r-s.org/e-pubs/repeaters/US...1.2001-0506.txt These are the only two listed in MA at the WWW.G-M-R-S.ORG website. I have the old PRSG national repeater guide, but it is a bit out of date. I show about 3 pages of repeaters listed for MA.
  13. AA VSAAA The deal with batteries comes down to capacity, usually listed as milli amp hours. This is a measurement of how much power the battery can supply over a given period of time. As you go up in battery size (AAA to AA) you gain milli amp hours. When it comes to NiMH, buy the biggest mah rating you can find. 2200 seems to be the highest I have seen. As for Alkaline, most makers don't list it.... http://www.techlib.com/reference/batteries.html
  14. Hedberg: FRS is only leagal in the US and Canada. Some South American countries are using it, but I haven't been able to find anything official on the books stating this. I do know that FRS, as used in the US and Canada is NOT leagal for use in Sweden. But, there is a service available to you that is very similar. PMR 446 is the European (CEPT) version of FRS. It works at 446MHz, has the same parmeters as FRS mostly, and most of the radios look identical to the US FRS radios. I do not know if Garmin makes a Rino version that covers PMR 446, I haven't seen or heard of anything. The frequencies used by the US FRS radios are assigned to other uses in Sweden and the rest of Europe. Chances are any use of a US type FRS radio there would cause problems for some licenced user. There is a PMR446 fourm at WWW.POPULARWIRELESS.COM Go to the forums and down near the bottom you will find it. Not a lot of traffic on that one, but you should be able to get some help.
  15. The FCC is getting smart (finally). They are forcing manufacturers to build the radios in such a way that they cannot be hacked to work other than as they were type accepted for. Not sure if the Rino falls under this or not. You say you work with a High Band network, the rinos run on UHF, so making a change from UHF to VHF High Band is going to be impossible. There are just to many differences in the circuits to be a simple retune. Data is not allowed on GMRS for a reason, as a licenced GMRS user, I ask you, please do not ignore this. There are plenty of leagal ways to do what you want, As was said, simply cranking up the power isn't going to do you a lot of good. The real limitation on these, as well as all FRS radio and most cheap GMRS radios, is the antenna. I don't know of any commercial system that will match the Rino exactly, but if you already have a high band system, there are solutions that will track radios. AVL or automatic vehicle location uses existing radios with GPS receivers to send out the location of the radio. There are even speaker mics with built in GPS receivers that will do this for hand helds. I don't want to come across as condemming you, but if you have a high band system, why not just use that? Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
  16. Bill, I am just over the hill from you in Watsonville. I have hidden a few caches on BLM land down south. Here is a pretty good page that covers it. Hope it helps: http://www.blm.gov/nhp/efoia/wo/fy02/im2002-017.html Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
  17. Wow, I have been stuck a few times, not while geocaching, and unfortunatley never had a digital camera available. maybe next time. A friend who owned a jeep once told me that if you have never been stuck, you have never really been off roading. I think he is right on. Every vehicle will get stuck at one time or another. Hats off to those who push the limits. This thread is a good reminder to make sure your caching ride is prepared. I always carry the essentials for myself, and at minimum tow straps, shackles, shovel and other various things for unstucking a truck. Best thing you can have is another vehicle to either go for help, or use the strap to give you a tug in the right direction. Good pictures. Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
  18. Kind of a recap here to clear up some mis-information. FRS is a radio service that is called "Licence by Rule". What this means is that if you follow the rules, that is your licence. Just because a paper licence is not required does not mean that there are not rule covering the operation of the radio. FRS radios are limited to 1/2 watt of rf power. They are also limited to a non removeable fairly inefficient antenna. This was all by design. The FRS service was intended, by the FCC, to be short range communications for family use. Range is often advertiesed as 2 miles, is really just a marketing gimmick. Range of any radio is dependant on so many different variables that it is impossible to make a blanket statement about range. The FRS service consists of 14 channels, 7 around 462MHz, and 7 around 467MHz. Modulation is FM, as opposed to CB which used AM or SSB (Single Side Band). So think of the audio quality as comparing FM broadcast radio to AM broadcast radio. GMRS is a LICENCED service. A lot of consumers seem to ignore this fact. As was stated a $75 licence is good for 5 years, and covers your entire family, including in-laws, children, grandparents and Aunts and Uncles. The only family it does not cover is cousins, which can be a very loose discription depending on your proximity to the Mason/Dixon line. GMRS service is a bit more complicated than FRS. GMRS is limited to 50 watts of power on the GMRS frequencies, and 5 watts on the "intrastital" frequencies that are shared with FRS. Antennas are not limited except for base stations. As was said above, range is a marketing gimmick, but GMRS can give much better range than FRS. Not necessarily because of higher power, but more importantly because you are not limited to the non removeable, inefficent antennas. GMRS also permits repeaters. A repeater is basically a reciever and a transmitter connected and placed on top of a mountain, building, or its antennas high on a tower. The repeater basically receives the signal from a mobile, base or handheld radio, and retransmits the signal from the higher location. This gives increased range. There are FRS/GMRS radios out there, but most are a real compromise. FRS works just about as good as GMRS, unless you spend big bucks on commercial quality handheld or mobile radios. My family and I have been using GMRS for many years. We use 35 watt mobile radios with external antennas, we all have commercial high quality radios that are set up to operate on GMRS frequencies. In all truth, if you are happy with the FRS radios, stick with them. 1/2 watt can do pretty good. If you were to go out and spend more money on a 1,2 or 3 watt GMRS radio, all you are really going to see is maybe (if you are lucky) a very slight increase in range, and a whole lot of dead batteries. The increased power output does not translate into greater range, it just drains your batteries faster. Example: To get a 100% increase in radio range, you must increase RF power output by 400%. The real way to increse range is to use more efficent antennas. The ideal situation, if you decide to go with GMRS is to use a high quality handheld, and either a mobile radio with an external antenna, or a handheld radio with an external antenna. I am not trying to steer you away from using GMRS, just trying to clear up some of the marketing fog. A really good source of information is available at www.popularwireless.com There are a few geocachers on the chat boards there. GMRS WPQL444 HAM WL7MN Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
  19. www.spaceweather.com They have some good information, and most of it is well explained. Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
  20. I was in Costco the other day and they had a leatherman (Think it was the wave) and a AA mini Mag Light with pouch for around $25. I was going to buy one, but I need neither at this point, and couldn't think of anyone else who did. Not a bad price no matter what. Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
  21. Glad to see that someone posted about tire size. Not counting the manufacturer induced speedometer error, tire size is the likely culprit. Also, I have heard that tire sizes are not always what are posted. A 235-85R16 made by one tire company may actually measure different from another manufacturer. So if you have ever changed tire designs, brands or sizes, this could throw your reading off. Tire inflation pressure can throw it off also. I have the same size, make and tread pattern on my truck as it did when I first purchased it. I have found from every speed display I have ever passed the speedo on my Ford pick up is right on or give or take 1 mph. My wifes Honda is off by as much as 5 MPH at highway speeds. Most police/highway patrol cars have calibrated speedometers, or at least a specific conversion chart somewhere in the car for that vehicle that shows actual vs. indicated speed at several different points. Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
  22. Rare has it been that I have found a cache where you just walked straight up to it from you car, etc. I have found, at least in my area, that most of the battle is just getting to the coordinates. I agree with the above posts, give him the GPS and let him find the path. Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
  23. Isn't that what they call the "great circle route"? Supposed to be the shortest distance....wait a minute, that is for airplanes. Never mind.. Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
  24. There is a technician here at work that spends a lot of time out hiking and backpacking. He and his wife are NOT geocachers. Twice they have stumbled upon caches out in the back country. Both times they signed the log and replaced the cache. Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
  25. Someone already said spare batteries, nothing sucks worse than getting close, then the GPS goes dead. Signaling device of some sort. A small whistle is a good way to attract help if you injure yourself. Small first aid kit is also a good idea. Let someone know where you are going, and when you expect to be back. Even better, do that and also take a friend or two. Have fun. Patti and Matthew McKenna, Watsonville California Garmin 72
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