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Official Geocaching FRS Channel Part 2


mrcpu
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OK, so in This Threadwe've been discussing an Official Geocaching FRS channel.

 

The main points that seem to come up are

 

-compatibility with older FRS radios (channels 1-3)

-compatibility with GRMS radios (channels 1-7)

-Channel 10 because Geocaching has 10 letters.

-A couple of people like 12.

-NO subcodes

 

I'm pretty sure everyone has agreed on the last point

 

For all of these I'd recommend an alternate channel. For example if we go with channel 2, I'd recommend 12 in case of a conflict on 2.

 

What Main Channel do you want for the official FRS channel:

 

Rob

Mobile Cache Command

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Sub-Channels

Myself and others do not like subchannels for a basic reason. They are not actually channels but squelch codes. Essentially what happens is if you are on channel 5 subchannel 12 you only HEAR other people on 5/12. Someone on 5/0 can hear everyone on channel 5 regardless of their "subchannel". Because this is not a seperate channel, you end up stepping on, or being stepped on by other people on the channel without your realizing what the problem is.

 

An example of this occured recently while at a speedway. We were on a channel with a "subchannel" selected. My 10 year old son would transmit to me but break up and cut out, even though we were fairly close with new batteries. I thought he was not holding the button down or something so I worked with him to show him how to hold the button down. This just wasn't working and he kept breaking up. I got him to turn off the subchannel and I could hear that other people were on the channel. When we waited between traffic our transmissions were just fine.

 

Subchannels give you a false sense of security and interfear with your ability to properly share a channel with others without stepping on each other. I wish they were never implemented.

 

Shared Channels with GMRS

I don't have one of these and living in Canada it is hardly likely that I will anytime soon, however based on postings by others the overlap is only channel 1-7

 

14 Channel FRS vs Older Models

While almost all newer FRS radios are 14 channel, when they first started to become popular a couple of years ago, the manufacturers did the same stupid marketing trick of producing a "cheaper" model with less features. You will still find 2 and 3 channel FRS around if you look hard enough. A number of early adopters have these and I'd hate to leave anyone out of the fun because of it!

 

Rob

Mobile Cache Command

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I must have got some of the early ones from radio shack. It had only channel one and cost about $80 for one. They are good units, but they are huge compared to some of them now.

 

In theory shouldn't channel 7 be were the most transmitting power be at? Since each channel needs a different length of an antenna. But instead of 14 different antenna, do the just pick one in the middle (like CBs)?

 

Wyatt W.

 

The probability of someone watching you is directly proportional to the stupidity of your actions.

 

[This message was edited by phantom4099 on August 22, 2002 at 07:54 AM.]

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Another problem with CTCSS tones ('sub-channels') is that not every manufacturer of FRS radios labels the tones the same way. Sub-channel code '2' on a radio made by company 'X' may in fact use the same CTCSS tone as sub-channel code '3' on a radio made by company 'Y'. I think that the larger 1st tier manufacturers (Motorola, Cobra, Midland) have made some effort to standardize, but there's an abundance of radios made by 2nd and 3rd tier companies that use their own unique combinations. This isn't an issue when you purchase and use a pair (or more) of the same brand/model of radio; it's when you want to communicate with a larger group of users (using various brands of radios) that this becomes a problem. The proposed solution for a group as large and diverse as ours, as put forward in earlier posts, is to simply avoid using a CTCSS tone/sub-channel entirely so that you can hear *everyone* on a given channel, regardless of who made their radio.

 

For an illustrated example of the varied CTCSS/sub-channel assignments used by several FRS radio manufacturers, have a look at:

 

http://www.gmrsweb.com/codetable.html

 

If anyone is shopping for an FRS radio and is concerned about CTCSS/sub-channel compatability, you may want to consider a radio which, as part of its 'scan' function, can automatically determine which CTCSS tone is being used by a received signal (regardless of the transmitter's sub-channel code number) and then switches to that tone so that you can communicate. The Motorola T6220 that I own has that type of functionality (I'm sure there are others).

 

[This message was edited by Cache Canucks on August 22, 2002 at 12:07 PM.

 

[This message was edited by Cache Canucks on August 22, 2002 at 06:45 PM.]

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quote:
Originally posted by phantom4099:

 

In theory shouldn't channel 7 be were the most transmitting power be at? Since each channel needs a different length of an antenna. But instead of 14 different antenna, do the just pick one in the middle (like CBs)?


 

With a maximum frequency spread of 5.15MHz between the lowest and highest FRS channels, its effect on antenna length in the FRS portion of the radio spectrum (UHF) is negligible. Handheld radio antennas used for FRS (UHF) are far more efficient than those used on CB 'walkie-talkies' (HF) due to a significantly shorter wavelength. All that to say, your FRS radio will work just as well on channel 1 as it will on channel 14

 

[This message was edited by Cache Canucks on August 22, 2002 at 06:54 PM.]

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quote:
Originally posted by VentureForth:

 

Channel 2 is just too busy, in my humble opinion.


 

It's all relative to your geographic location. What may be an active channel in your particular area could just as easily be routinely 'clear' somewhere else (I hear tell that the Bubba-Gump shrimp fleet wipes out channel 12 around New Orleans ). One of the inevitabilities of adopting a common GeoCaching channel 'across the board' is, regardless of which channel is chosen, there will undoubtedly be some areas where the channel is - at times - congested by other users. If we're to avoid going around in circles on this, the best approach (I think) is to try and limit our selection criteria to factors that are truly universal in nature (hardware compatability, band interoperability, other *national* group FRS usages and so on). Whichever channel we decide on, there's nothing stopping GeoCachers from adopting an alternate 'local' GeoCaching channel if the 'official' channel isn't suitable for their particular area.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that, by the very nature of a typical GeoCache hunt, GeoCachers who are communicating by way of FRS will - in all likelihood - be no more than a kilometre or so apart. For an non-GeoCacher's FRS radio to be causing serious interference to radios working at that kind of range, it would have to be pretty darn close to (if not directly between) our intrepid cache hunters.

 

[This message was edited by Cache Canucks on August 22, 2002 at 04:08 PM.]

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The so called sub channels are low frequency tones that the speakers generally cannot reproduce which are necessary to open the squelch. These began with commercial radios and used in many ham radio systems where distant stations on the same frequency can cause annoyance but are not strong enough to "step on" local communication. The theory of use with FRS is good but people forget to open the squelch to see if the frequency is in use and that is where interferance is created.

 

My suggestion is to try to use channel 12 and QSY or change channels if in use or interferance is present.

 

Steve Bukosky N9BGH

Waukesha Wisconsin

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Channel 12 please and pl tone as well.

Pl tones are used in business radios

used a GP300 for years had pl tone

and allowed severl users on the same frequency

each with a different pl tone. And not all the

radios have the same pl tones but they should have at least some that should be common to all.

As for ch 12 it's separate from GMRS and those

users. If some should be Geocachers then we find a freq common to all.

 

Lee icon_biggrin.gif

 

Beam me up Scotty theres no life forms

down here. Just Geocachers..

 

[This message was edited by Leemannn on August 24, 2002 at 09:16 PM.]

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While I understand why 2 is popular, it is practically un-usable in most metro areas. It is just too busy. The cost of radios has come down drastically, so it would not be a huge investment for those with older radios to upgrade. If I'm not mistaken, most, if not all newer radios have channel 12 capabilities.

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quote:
Originally posted by Paul & Suzanne:

 

The cost of radios has come down drastically, so it would not be a huge investment for those with older radios to upgrade. If I'm not mistaken, most, if not all newer radios have channel 12 capabilities.


 

And, by extension, it might also be reasonable to assume that anyone who can afford the luxury of a GPS could also afford the few dollars it would cost for a 'new' (14 channel) basic FRS radio if need be ...including those who currently own GMRS hardware. I suppose that another thing to consider is that none of this 'FRS Stuff' stops *anyone* from regular cache hunting ...it's simply an optional augmentation. If the potential for channel 12 to be exclusionary is minimal (ie: most folks who are interested in this either already own 14 channel radios, or have no serious objection to obtaining one), then I have no strong preference either way. However, I'm still of the opinion that - regardless of the channel - adopting at 'CTCSS/PL/sub-channel' would be a mistake for reasons already put forward in earlier posts

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I'm a birdwatcher in addition to being a geocacher and I would recommend Channel 12. Our local bird club experimented with FRS prior to ABA adopting an "official" channel. We stayed away from subcodes for the reasons mentioned but did have problems with the lower numbered channels. Channel 2 had a lot of traffic on it in most areas we went. While channel 12 wouldn't guarantee exclusivity, it would cut down on the number of transmissions of a parent yelling at their kids.

 

The local Gander Mountain had a bunch of older model 14 channel FRS radios in a close-out bin for $19.99 so we aren't talking about a major expense for something that is an optional part of our activity.

 

Now where did I park my car??????? monkes.gif

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I agree with the fact they're not expensive, I can get them in quanities of 4 or more for less than $13 each.

 

But what about GRMS users? I'm not one, but to just say if someone can afford a GRMS that they probably have or can buy an FRS too? That'd be like saying we should pick an GRMS only channel and anyone else should just buy a GRMS radio if they want to talk.

 

I guess the question is, do we have so many GRMS users that we should consider them?

 

Me Fail English? That's Unpossible!

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quote:
Originally posted by brdad:

 

But what about GRMS users? I'm not one, but to just say if someone can afford a GRMS that they probably have or can buy an FRS too? That'd be like saying we should pick an GRMS only channel and anyone else should just buy a GRMS radio if they want to talk.


 

There is a *major* difference. FRS radios are cheap to buy, require no licence to use, and are legal on both sides of the Canada/US border ...none of which is the case for a GMRS radio. A GMRS user acquiring/using a 14 channel FRS radio is a *much* easier proposition than the other way around (ie: an FRS user getting a GMRS radio). There's nothing exclusionary about the price of an FRS radio if, indeed, we end up selecting a channel that isn't common to both the FRS and GMRS bands. This is a classic case of 'you can't please all the people all the time' and, unless we want the whole idea of a GeoCaching channel to stall due to 'analysis paralysis', we really ought to acknowledge the greatest common denominator (that is, the folks who have 14 channel FRS radios and the ones who are willing to acquire them).

 

...in my ever so humble opinion : )

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I hate to move things a little off topic, but i've been reading this thread on FRS/GMRS radios and am thinking about getting one now. My only question is how usefull is the radio if you don't have others within two miles that you know. What are the odds that I'll just be using it like a scanner, listening to kids play hide and seek? icon_smile.gif

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I think using these units (with a specific channel alocated) is a great idea. I just feel that the users would have to be carefull about giving out too much info (non GPS coords.) about the cache location over the air.

 

1 - To keep the hunting for it, by fellow geocahers, challenging.

2 - To keep non geocachers that would ransack/destroy the cache, and who happen to have a FRS unit monitoring the channel, from being able to locate and destroy it.

 

Just my 2 cents.

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quote:
Originally posted by Cache Canucks:

There is a *major* difference.


 

I agree with what you're saying, I just was making a point that the only bad point I see in choosing 12 is we are leaving GRMS users out, unless they get an FRS.

 

And to counter that, the bad point left about 2 is that it may be busy in some areas.

 

Either one works for me.

 

So we definately have 2 and 12, so it's just a matter of which is a main channel and which is an alternate. My instinct is 2/12 only because anyone (old FRS, FRS, or GRMS) can make initial contact on 2. If an area is really active, just change to channel 12, anyone that knows the system will check 12 if there was a lot of activity on 2.

 

Me Fail English? That's Unpossible!

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quote:
Originally posted by brdad:

 

I just was making a point that the only bad point I see in choosing 12 is we are leaving GRMS users out, unless they get an FRS.


 

I understand. For anyone who's followed this 'epic' thread(s?), one of my own original concerns was the inclusion of FRS users with limited channel capability - as well as those who owned GMRS hardware. But, as is the hallmark of any good open minded discussion, my point of view has shifted slightly since this all began. The very fact that today's typical 14 channel FRS radio is a modest investment at best - about the price of a tank of gas for a compact car (...or less, depending on how many bells and whistles you want) - should leave us feeling comfortable with the idea of selecting a channel based on the premiss that the vast majority of GeoCachers who are interested in this idea already have (or can cheaply obtain) a 14 channel FRS radio. In other words, if the vote is pretty much split between channel 2 and channel 12 (as it appears to be), yet there are those who have voiced specific concerns about channel 2 congestion, perhaps channel 12 is the way to go ...even if it means that a few folks may have to part with a very small sum of pesos in order to purchase a 14 channel FRS radio.

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Boy those FRS radios are cheap, I saw one at walmart for $10 that has 22 channels (some GRMS), I got one of these and was actually suprised by how well it works (I talked to some one 5 miles a way while we were in some hills). This unit also has VOX function.

 

Wyatt W.

 

The probability of someone watching you is directly proportional to the stupidity of your actions.

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I'm going to beat on a dead horse a bit.

 

quote:
Boy those FRS radios are cheap, I saw one at walmart for $10 that has 22 channels (some GRMS), I got one of these and was actually suprised by how well it works (I talked to some one 5 miles a way while we were in some hills).

 

You didn't just buy and start using them. You have the required FCC license, right?

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You didn't just buy and start using them. You have the required FCC license, right?

 

All the more reason to stick to a channel that only exists in the realm of FRS. Otherwise, we'll have people potentially getting themselves in trouble.

 

When ABA chose Channel 10, they did a lot of research. Take a look at the links in one of the earlier posts. I was privy to some of the early debate. They took months to come up with a plan. There are a lot more birdwatchers than geocachers. They made a decision on what was the best use of the technology, not what was most convenient for everyone. You couldn't please everyone anyway.

 

Birdwatching, like geocaching, has a cost of entry. You have to buy binoculars and field guides. Serious birders soon learn that the cheap Tasco's from K-Mart aren't going to cut it so they upgrade. It's not uncommon to see a birder with $1200 around their neck. Geocachers do the same thing. "That yellow e-trex was cool but this model can topo map Saturn...."

 

Birders often spend a lot of money to take a day trip to a birding hot spot. They spend money on food, gas, tolls, and maybe entrance fees. A normal day trip can easily exceed $50. Some geocachers do the same thing to hit caches 50-100 miles away.

 

A lot of the birders who spent money on a FRS decided to take one less trip to a hot spot and just birded locally. The $50 they saved easily bought a radio. Geocachers should do the same. Take one day and volunteer for trail maintenance or clean-up at a local park or wildlife area. Then take the money you saved (earned???) and spend it on the radio.

 

Besides, most of the folks who spent money on an FCC license would probably be happy to keep the channel clear of "did you find the tupperware over there?"

 

Now where did I park my car??????? monkes.gif

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Well I have been following this, I pulled out my old BellSouth FRS and put in fresh batteries and set it to scan.

 

IN 7 days I hae heard all of 3 clear conversations, 3 or 4 garbled, and one that sounded like someone was holding the tone key down.

 

I have driven a bit over 200 miles in the Metro Washington DC area. I have cachesd in 2 completly differnt areas and not a peep for the most part.

 

I think 2 or 12 makes little differnace, I would stay away from lower channels just bacuse I feel as they get more crowded the lower ones will fill first.

 

Dont worry as much about older units, as maybe cross spectrum ( FRS & GRMS ).

 

Vote for 12 icon_smile.gif

 

-Robert

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quote:
Originally posted by georgeandmary:

FSR's are getting really cheap, and I'd rather have reduced, geocaching only, talk on channel 12.

 

But would the use of a sub code help even more?


 

The problem with adopting a CTCSS/PL/sub-channel code is their lack of standardization between the various manufacturers of FRS radios. Although every FRS radio's 'channel 12' is the same as any other's, that isn't necessarily the case when it comes to sub-channel codes. To promote the use of a sub-channel code along with whatever channel we select would run the very real risk of folks not being able to hear each other.

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An easy solution is to just use channel 12 (or whatever channel everyone decides on) and those with sub-code models can just set theirs to channel 12, subcode zero. That way everyone can hear everyone else.

 

Either that or we can make Motorola FRS radios with subcodes the "offical geocaching frs radio" and maybe get motorola to sponsor geocaching .com since a lot of people would be running out to buy the new "official" radio. icon_biggrin.gif

 

Seriously tho...I think just leaving the radios set to channel 12 regardless of whether you have sub-code ability would work out ok. Thoughts?

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I've seen some AWESOME deals at Wal Mart on high quality, AudioVox FRS radios. You may have to hunt for them - I've seen them on the clearance rack at several area stores. They offer two radios with 14 channels, 38 subchannels, scan, 8 (total) NiMH AAA-batteries, charging stand, power supply and a lot of other features I don't understand for between $35 and $40 a PAIR.

 

I shoulda waited... I bought 3 individual GE's for $15 per each without a scanning feature or rechargeable batteries. icon_frown.gif It DOES have a cool built-in thermometer, though.

 

---------------

wavey.gif Go! And don't be afraid to get a little wet!

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quote:
Originally posted by Tucco:

I hate to move things a little off topic, but i've been reading this thread on FRS/GMRS radios and am thinking about getting one now. My only question is how usefull is the radio if you don't have others within two miles that you know. What are the odds that I'll just be using it like a scanner, listening to kids play hide and seek? icon_smile.gif


 

Sounds like you should get a ham radio license.

 

FRS is for keeping in touch with your group. You and your friends get some and pass them out to your friends or family when you're in the park or the supermarket or the mall, or when your caravaning with a few cars.

 

If you want to find strangers far away to talk to, get into Amature radio...totally different animal.

 

ApK

KC2KCM

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quote:
Originally posted by mrcpu:

Seems like a pretty even split between 12 and 2. Anyone want to make an argument against 12 or 2 to help with the decision?

 

Rob

Mobile Cache Command


 

I voted for 2 as our "hailing frequency" because is available on the most radios. Isn't the purpose to be accessable to as broad a user base as possible? You can always, as someone said, hail on 2 and move to a quieter channel or CTCSS code once you're talking to someone.

Doesn't really matter to me persoanlly. I can use any frequency in the band and scan the rest if I want to. icon_wink.gif

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It has been my experience with some of the cheaper FRS radios (some of the cheap Cobras and others you can get for like $15 at a drugstore) that they are not compatible with other FRS radios like the motorolas. I have found that the motorolas will boradcast to the cheaper ones (meaning if you have a cheaper one you can "hear") but the cheaper ones can't talk back to the motorolas or some of the other "more expensive units". I like the Motorolas because they seem compatible with just about everything else (but not everything else is compatible with them - if that makes sense).

 

I got a two-pack of motorolas on sale at Best buy for like $45 total. Regular price is usally $55-$65 depending on model and features. Still not bad for 2 radios, one for you and a spare for a friend. Just watch the sunday sale ads. Most local electronics stores have them on sale pretty frequently. Or go to radioshack.com, sometimes they have good internet specials.

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quote:
Originally posted by Criminal:

The brand has nothing to do with one radio talking to another


 

Although FRS channel numbers (frequencies) are common regardless of 'brand', the CTCSS/PL/sub-channels are *not*. If brand 'A' radio is using a sub-channel that doesn't match the one being used by brand 'B' (ie: same sub-channel number, but different CTCSS tones), this has *everything* to do with the radios not being able to talk with each other. If you (or the person you're trying to communicate with) are using sub-channels, differing brands of radios can - in some cases - make all the difference in the world ...which is precisely why we should avoid designating a sub-channel when we adopt our GeoCaching channel.

 

Terry.

Warrant Officer, Ret'd (Canadian Army Signal Corps)

VE3TDQ (Amateur Radio Operator)

 

[This message was edited by Cache Canucks on August 26, 2002 at 02:34 PM.]

 

[This message was edited by Cache Canucks on August 26, 2002 at 02:35 PM.]

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quote:
Originally posted by Steak N Eggs:

If something needs to be "OFFICIAL" for geocaching doesn't Jeremy need to make that decision???

 

"My gps say's it RIGHT HERE".

http://www.geogadgets.com


 

Absolutely. I've already emailed Jeremy and if he ever replies I'll discuss with him the idea of putting it in the FAQ (once we decide which channel of course!)

 

So far what I'm hearing is Channel 2, Alternate Channel 12 with no subcodes.

 

Rob

Mobile Cache Command

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quote:
Originally posted by Criminal:

The brand has nothing to do with one radio talking to another. see:


 

Respectfully disagree. In theory, that is correvt. It should not matter what brand you have. I own several brands of frs radios. They are not all compatible, I assure you. Buy a few different models and you'll see. This has always been a major sticking point with frs radios - that they are not always compatible. It's definitely worth mentioning in a discussion about what channel is best. If you are on channel 12 and so are your friends, but you can't hear them, or you can't talk to them, you'll wonder what the heck is up. Most brands will work with each other, but not all of them will. icon_smile.gif

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quote:
Originally posted by Steak N Eggs:

If something needs to be "OFFICIAL" for geocaching doesn't Jeremy need to make that decision???

 

"My gps say's it RIGHT HERE".

http://www.geogadgets.com


 

Absolutely NOT. Jeremy can make something offical for www.geocaching.com, but not for geocaching as an activity. As far as a I know, no one can....so what we're deciding on here is really more a "de facto standard channel", not an "official" channel.

Wait...on second thought...I proclaim myself President of the World Geocaching Association.

 

Since I'm also 100% of the membership, I've unanimously voted myself the power to select the official channel...and I pass that power on to this forum! icon_biggrin.gif

 

ApK

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...or at least that's been our own personal experience.

 

We use a couple of T6220s to keep tabs on each other when cache hunting. Although I'm usually the one managing the Vista, my 13 year old son was often bounding off the beaten track in order to be the one who got to yell "...I found it! It's over here!...". Since we've started using FRS radios, getting out of sight of each other is no longer the big concern it once was (within reason). Although I must admit, my son is still usually the one to transmit "...I found it! It's over here!..." on the radio. icon_smile.gif

 

Once this discussion over which channel to adopt is finally settled and the whole idea gets some promotion, I think we'll find a good number of GeoCachers tossing an FRS radio or two into their day packs.

 

57962_1000.jpg

 

[This message was edited by Cache Canucks on August 27, 2002 at 11:00 AM.]

 

[This message was edited by Cache Canucks on August 27, 2002 at 11:35 AM.]

 

[This message was edited by Cache Canucks on August 27, 2002 at 12:50 PM.]

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quote:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Originally posted by Criminal:

The brand has nothing to do with one radio talking to another. see:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

______________________________________________

Respectfully disagree. In theory, that is correvt. It should not matter what brand you have.

_______________________________________________

 

I have a pair of Cobras, a pair of Talkabouts and a pair of Talkabout Distance DPS. No compatibility problems other than the Cobras will not page the talkabouts. But sub-tones are the same.

 

Nonetheless I'll take you word for it. Since the freqs and channel #'s seem to be constant and the sub-tones are incompatible, then no sub-tone (zero)

 

I stand corrected.

 

><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><

What is the price of experience, do men buy it for a song,

Or wisdom for a dance in the street.................

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quote:
Originally posted by Leemannn:

I say that we vote on the subject of channels

and subcodes and the most votes wins.


 

In case you haven't noticed the first post in this thread, this is what we are doing right now! I'd tell you the results, but if I did you might not read though all the other posts.

 

Not to mention, you may want to fully look through the original discussion of the subject in this thread and the preliminary vote in this thread.

 

Me Fail English? That's Unpossible!

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I can either hope this thread concludes and we adpot Ch. 12 as the "official" channel or I can continue to carry three radios with one each on channels 2, 10 and 12. I think the idea of a consistent channel is a good one - and the idea of encouraging carrying a radio - as well is a good one. After reading the thread pretty thoroughly - my vote is for Ch. 12 (when it started out as Ch. 10)...So, looking forward to making "contact" sometime - HAPPY CACHING!!! icon_wink.gif

 

Does the walker choose the path, or the path, the walker? - Sabriel, by Garth Nix

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