Let me show you how little I know....

prerunner1982

Adventurer
I was curious about this too, looks like it can vary... most of them have frequencies below 150 MHz locked out but it sounds like some users have been able to enter regular 2M frequencies.

http://dualsport-sd.com/forums/index.php?/topic/22246-baofeng-freq-rugged-radio-freq/
http://dualsport-sd.com/forums/index.php?/topic/20693-need-help-with-my-rugged-radio/

I think this is something they changed within the last year or two.
I do recall them advertising their radios to include ham radio frequencies.
I am sure the CHIRP software could open it back up.
 

Ray_G

Explorer
You would need a PLMR license for the specific frequencies programmed into your radio. FYI a PLMR license is $260 plus a processing fee. You will need to talk to a frequency coordinator to see if the channels you want to use are available in the area you are in without interfering with other more senior license holders. Needless to say, this would be a ridiculous way to get a radio to chat with your buddies on the trail. You could get your amateur radio license and reprogram your radio to use amateur frequencies, but all your buddies would also need to do the same.

Heed the advice you have been given, return this thing and you and your buddies can all by nice GMRS radios and get an $80 license. Easy to use, inexpensive, nice and legal.
^this.

While many, particularly out west (but thank god also increasingly on the east coast) are taking the HAM test and installing decent vehicle mounted radios I think there is an emerging sweet spot within the GMRS realm (I have both HAM and GMRS licenses). I really like the Midland offerings that are compact and bump up the power but are also very easy to install and run.
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
You would need a PLMR license for the specific frequencies programmed into your radio. FYI a PLMR license is $260 plus a processing fee. You will need to talk to a frequency coordinator to see if the channels you want to use are available in the area you are in without interfering with other more senior license holders. Needless to say, this would be a ridiculous way to get a radio to chat with your buddies on the trail. You could get your amateur radio license and reprogram your radio to use amateur frequencies, but all your buddies would also need to do the same.

Heed the advice you have been given, return this thing and you and your buddies can all by nice GMRS radios and get an $80 license. Easy to use, inexpensive, nice and legal.
Definitely don't want to spend $260 for a PMLR license. So I registered for a GMRS license ($70). Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like all the GMRS frequencies are covered with my RR radio. So I've got a list of the GMRS frequencies, and the "License Free" frequencies.
I am so new at this UHF/VHF thing, I still haven't taken the RR radio out of the box and charged the battery yet. And obviously I haven't gone on my first group ride using one of these radios.
 

Rando

Explorer
If you actually want to be legal, you are still not there. This radio is not type certified for use on GMRS, although you are unlikely to get in trouble for this. The easiest way to do this is to buy the right radio for the job - buy GMRS radio to use on GMRS, an Amateur radio to use on Amateur radio frequencies and commercial radio to use on commercial frequencies (which is what this radio is).

It is your money, but so far you have spent $200 to get a $30 handheld that you still can't legally use to transmit.
 

Klierslc

Explorer
rnArmy,

I don't think anybody is trying to pick on you or your radio, they are just trying to let you know that your radio is an exact and overpriced copy of a 30 dollar radio that can do EVERYTHING that yours can. The only functional difference is that your radio is pre-programmed with a bunch of frequencies that are not legal for you to use. I think that the universal recommendation would be to get a refund for the RR and buy the correct radio for what you want to do. Having an opened up radio is very useful in case of an emergency so keeping a baofeng around is certainly worthwhile. YMMV.
Cheers!

Dan
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
If you actually want to be legal, you are still not there. This radio is not type certified for use on GMRS, although you are unlikely to get in trouble for this. The easiest way to do this is to buy the right radio for the job - buy GMRS radio to use on GMRS, an Amateur radio to use on Amateur radio frequencies and commercial radio to use on commercial frequencies (which is what this radio is).

It is your money, but so far you have spent $200 to get a $30 handheld that you still can't legally use to transmit.
Whatever you do, don't tell my wife! I should quit while I'm ahead. All this makes my CB radios look better and better.

On my next group run I'll bring it with me and see if it can be used.

I do have a bunch of those little hand-held FM radios we used on our military moves when we'd PCS across the country.
 

Ray_G

Explorer
Whatever you do, don't tell my wife! I should quit while I'm ahead. All this makes my CB radios look better and better.

On my next group run I'll bring it with me and see if it can be used.

I do have a bunch of those little hand-held FM radios we used on our military moves when we'd PCS across the country.
I highly suggest looking for either some decent GMRS handhelds or potentially hopping on ebay and grabbing a Midland MXT 100 or 105 (even just the 5w will be good).

I'd bet for your purposes you'll get better return on that than a CB depending on how your antenna is configured and such. Nothing wrong with CB mind you, but depending on what service you are in basically we're talking the difference between using a UHF radio (think PRR) vs a low power HF unit (think...hell, PRC-104 if you are old school like me). Sure the HF (i.e. CB) can communicate a long way-if you have the right antenna configured-but for short range work the UHF is superior.

Note that I didn't give you the 117 equivalent-for the most part you'll find that VHF unit in the HAM world vice GMRS end of things.

A lot of simplification in the above, but if you put it in green gear terms it starts to make sense, at least to me, when we start talking CB (HF), basic HAM (VHF/UHF) and GMRS (UHF) radios for personal use.
r-
Ray
 

prerunner1982

Adventurer
\ Sure the HF (i.e. CB) can communicate a long way-if you have the right antenna configured-but for short range work the UHF is superior.
My problem wasn't if my CB antenna was set up correctly it was that in most cases it was the other person that had the poor set up. You know the whole only as good as the weakest link deal. I led a convoy of 75 Jeeps and though me and the tailgunner could talk on CB we much preferred 2m, I couldn't hear the back half of the rest of the convoy. Seems most run a super short antenna mounted in a compromising location and are lucky to get 1/2 mile range.
 

Ray_G

Explorer
My problem wasn't if my CB antenna was set up correctly it was that in most cases it was the other person that had the poor set up. You know the whole only as good as the weakest link deal. I led a convoy of 75 Jeeps and though me and the tailgunner could talk on CB we much preferred 2m, I couldn't hear the back half of the rest of the convoy. Seems most run a super short antenna mounted in a compromising location and are lucky to get 1/2 mile range.
Quite true.
Like many things in this hobby. For example I have found my recovery gear is far more useful to make up for the folks that have nothing, or worse something with open metal tow hooks on it or something.

The issues with getting a CB dialed in are why I think GMRS has a lot of merit-as you note, switching up to 2m VHF is even better for that application-giving far better clarity most of the time even on fairly spread out convoys.
 

prerunner1982

Adventurer
Yes sir. I understand that the easy Tech test scares people away from ham radio so I have tried pushing the idea of GMRS with the local groups I run with, but so far most are content with CB so now I usually just run around with the fellow ham Jeepers.
 

craig333

Expedition Leader
I wonder if RR uses Chirp and what the chirp guys would think. I'm surprised they didn't offer an external antenna since they don't seem to care about the rules.
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
I wonder if RR uses Chirp and what the chirp guys would think. I'm surprised they didn't offer an external antenna since they don't seem to care about the rules.
RR does offer an external antenna (two options actually) for their little hand-held radio:
https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1823
https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1710

Somehow RR seem to care about the rules at least a little since I can't get ham frequencies with the RR handheld (but the vaulted Baofeng radio does have those frequencies). But I'm going to see if I can change that.

I've got a USB cable ordered, and when it arrives I'm going to see if I can download Chirp on my computer, connect the RR to the computer, and lower the lower frequency from 150 to 136. The Chirp website says it'll work on/support these RR handhelds.

https://chirp.danplanet.com/projects/chirp/wiki/Home

http://dualsport-sd.com/forums/index.php?/topic/20693-need-help-with-my-rugged-radio/

And then of course get my technician ham license, because I want to be legal.
 
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camp4x4

Adventurer
I wonder if RR uses Chirp and what the chirp guys would think. I'm surprised they didn't offer an external antenna since they don't seem to care about the rules.
So Chirp does now specifically have a "Rugged" brand... but you wanna know a dirty little secret? You can use the Baofeng UV-5R option as well and it works just fine. I think they just put the Rugged option in there so people would stop asking them to add it..

View attachment 428404

I'm really conflicted about Rugged Radios. They're technically playing by the rules because it is ultimately up to the operator of the radios to get the appropriate license if they want to transmit on the radios. However, they make it VERY confusing for the end user about what licenses are required (if at all).

Looking at the frequency list, and knowing that a lot of these channel names are related to BAJA 1000 teams/groups/people, I expect a fair number of people originally got them just to listen in on what those teams are saying. That's fine and all, no license required to listen. But since RR is promoting these to other teams and now off roaders for communications, I think it's a safe assumption people are transmitting on them. So here's where RR starts to irk some people in the radio community: they know full well people are transmitting, but don't do a thing to make it clear that they need a license to transmit and how to go about getting that license. I did manage to find some blog comments from them that indicate they at least know this fact...

Bill says:
May 11, 2016 at 2:44 pm
Does the radio include procedures for getting your license? I noticed some of them in the car to car category was 50 watts I thought these frequencies were limited to 5 watts?

Rugged says:
May 11, 2016 at 4:35 pm
Technically, yes, the FCC requires a filing. I can’t offer too much information because I personally have not gone through the process. I think that needs to be a blog post soon! As I understand it, it’s about $70 and you can file online. I should point out that this is not the same as a Ham Radio license. That level of radio operation requires schooling, additional fees, and a designated call sign. This link is a good place to start for further filing information.​

The link referenced is to the FCC's ULS website. Hardly an informative place to point people. And the response itself, "I can't offer too much information because I personally have not gone through the process," tells you a lot about how they feel about the whole situation.

Here's the other catch though: best I can tell individuals aren't even on the list of entities who can get PLMR (business band) licenses. They're for businesses. So there's those frequencies right out the window. (If someone can prove otherwise that they personally have an IG class license I'd love to hear it).

Additionally, those GMRS frequencies they've pre-programmed aren't legal for transmitting on with these radios even with a GMRS license (GMRS is type-certified so the radio has to be certified for GMRS and these aren't). So by including them in radios being purchased - no offense to anyone intended - by people who don't know what they're doing (my assumption, I realize that could be wrong in some cases) they're basically inducing them to operate illegally.

BTW - if you want access to any of their downloads that are "password protected" just use "rugged" as the user and "radios" as the password. They published this information on one of their own videos. Here's a full set of their frequency docs.

So... is Rugged Radio a bunch of shysters hocking over priced gear pre-programmed in such a way as to almost guarantee that people are operating against FCC radio laws? Yeah... Are we all grown ups who should maybe do a little research on our own before just assuming that since we bought something we can actually use it without any other requirements (like rnArmy is right now, hat tip to you)? Yeah... Do we as consumers have a certain expectation of people selling something to make it clear what else is potentially required to use a product appropriately and legally? Yeah, definitely. And I think that's the biggest, but most subtle way that RR is f'ing up.

So there ya go. My thoughts on that topic... as for OP... I've reached out in PM's to see if he wants some personal Elmering on radios. Seems he's feeling pretty good with the info he has.
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
So I'm taking to heart what everyone's telling me (I'm learning here remember?). "Rugged Radio's little hand-held is just a clone of the Baofeng hand-held for twice as much money"; got it. "You can buy Baofengs for $25 all day long"; got it - I've been on Amazon.com and looked at them all - their 5watt and 8watt radios. "Rugged Radio skirts the legal stuff"; so folks are saying.

But if my RR radio is a rebadged/clone of Baofeng's radio, when you purchase a $25 Baofeng radio (which by-the-way is programed for the ham frequencies and RR isn't), does Baofeng disclose all this FCC information and license requirements? Or are you expected to "do a little research on your own" with them too? Can you get the same race frequencies/channels on the Baofeng radio that RR has already preprogramed into their radios?

I contacted the FCC about a PLMR license - found out I wasn't eligible. So I got my GMRS license (which may have been a waste of money - we'll find out - I can add it to my resume).

For JP's "Dirt-n-Drive" (http://www.fourwheeler.com/jp-dirt-n-drive/2017/1705-2017-jp-dirt-n-drive-part-1/) one of the vehicle requirements is a VHF radio.

For Four Wheeler's Ultimate Adventure (http://www.fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adventure/2017/ultimate-adventure-application/) Rugged Radio is one of their sponsors (they might be/probably are one of the sponsors for the dirt-n-drive above too).

Both magazines have been touting the fact that for their events, they don't use CB radios anymore. And they usually have a blurb about how much better their radio communications are now that they're using these (Rugged Radio) units. They don't say what channels/frequencies they're using with these radios (I'm hoping/assuming they're being legal). So when I read about VHF/UHF radios being used in what I call "My Professional Journals" (4WD/Truck and Jeep magazines), the brand I'm reading about is Rugged Radio. And for all I know, they hand out their little hand helds to registered participants for their signature events.

So in reading my professional journals, I figured CB radios are on their way out, and these VHF/UHF radios are the new-and-improved way to communicate on the trail (just like I eventually had to go from cassette tapes to CDs in my vehicles). Not that I'm ever getting rid of my CBs, but I thought I'd dip my toe in the VHF/UHF pool and get smart on them before really getting into the hardware. And once I got a bit smarter, I'd get a larger dual band radio (with ham frequencies) and then I'd have the little hand held for when outside the vehicle.

And since I don't know any better, I was originally thinking this might be my larger hard-mounted radio:

https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1167_1168&products_id=1873
https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=182_313&products_id=2165

But of course if I get to that point, I want to get the best radio I can for the amount of money I am willing to spend. I'm sure someone will have an opinion on best the radio & antenna set-up for my Jeep :).

I appreciate aaronvogel reaching out to me.
 
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