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

rnArmy

Adventurer
this thread is actually painful
I have found it quite enlightening. My original post was to just ask the question: Is any of this new dual band radio a "HAM" radio? What constitutes a HAM radio, and when do I need a license?

And from there it has just taken-off and I've learned a whole-lot more. Sometimes you don't know what you don't know.

Thank-you all who have patiently answered my questions and given me insights as to what I'm getting into.
 

camp4x4

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 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.
First, wanna apologize if any of this is coming off as personal attacks on you. Definitely isn't. I'm sure it sucks reaching out to learn and having the conversation take a turn you didn't expect it to take.

That said, you're not the first. But you are the first (I've seen) to continue asking questions to get to the bottom of it all. So cheers to you for that.

To your questions:

Baofengs are sold all over the world (best I know) and are not marketed for any particular use - or if they are it's as an amateur radio in general. They do not come pre-programmed with memory channels. You can tune the radio anywhere within their frequency range. When someone buys one, their likely first question is, "what channel should I listen to," which is when they start looking around and discover the wide wide world of the FCC radio services, the bands and licensing.

In the manual that comes with some of the radios (older manuals I've seen don't have this) they state something to the effect of:

Note: Just because programming is enabled in a channel does not mean authorization is granted for use of that
frequency.
Transmitting on frequencies without authorization is illegal, and in most jurisdictions is a serious offence. If caught transmitting
without a license, fines can be levied, and in some cases jailtime.
However, in most jurisdictions it is legal to listen. Contact your local regulatory entity for further information on what laws, rules
and regulations apply in your area.​

That's from the UV-5Rv2+ manual.

"**NOTE: Your radio was pre-programmed and fully optimized before shipping to you. You're not required to use the guide. Go out & Play!"

That's the first thing on the quickstart guide for the RH-5R.

Unfortunately there are lots of people out there right now encouraging other people to use the Baofengs on radio services like FRS, GMRS, Business Bands just because a) from a technical stand point they can be programmed to do that and b) it's cheaper and easier to do the wrong thing than do the right thing and get a ham license or buy a proper GMRS radio (which limits you to the GMRS service frequencies). And it's that same mentality that's allow RR to do what they're doing. I guess hams should be thankful that Rugged Radios isn't trampling on their frequencies... but we generally feel protective of ALL radio users... so...

I always die a little inside when I see Fred and the rest of the 4 Wheel & Off-Road using and promoting Rugged Radios products. I spoke with a friend who got to go on their most recent Ultimate Adventure, who also happens to be a ham, and he told me they were definitely operating illegally. Everyone got a radio. No one talked about licenses. Now, there is an off chance that they might have done something like get a business license for one of the frequencies through 4W&O-R and would argue that they were talking business during the trip... would be a stretch but I suppose legit. However, I strongly doubt that's what happened.

So yeah... My only guess is a combination of $$$ and innocent ignorance...

As for the VHF radio requirement... yeah, a UV-5R or any other VHF radio will likely be able to be programmed to the channel they're using. Now... some of the big names in amateur radio voluntarily lock out (and I mean actually lock out, not software-lock-out like the Baofengs) transmitting on frequencies they know their radio shouldn't be used. Most often you can listen, but you can't talk.

When looking at a radio the best thing to do is start by checking the Chirp supported radios: https://chirp.danplanet.com/projects/chirp/wiki/Home

That'll at least give you a place to start where you know you can program the memory channels by computer instead of by hand.

If it isn't there, check RT Systems: https://www.rtsystemsinc.com/ (these guys you have to pay for the software and use their cables, but it is a very good product and comes with support)

You're absolutely right that VHF/UHF is the future of trail comms... we're just currently in a bit of a "wild west" period where you've got a lot of hams who know this stuff front to back but don't necessarily understand the mind set of offroaders, and a lot of newbies bumping up against the regulations (and not liking them) and finding "work arounds" the promoting it. Rugged Radios seems to have taken the "work arounds" to a new level by making $$ off people's innocent ignorance of an admittedly complicated topic.

As for a mobile radio, I'd offer this one as an alternative: https://www.amazon.com/BTECH-UV-25X4-Tri-band-Mobile-Radio/dp/B06XCDWT6V/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1513357059&sr=1-3&keywords=btech+uv-50x2

Both Chirp and RT Systems support programming it and it has very nice reviews. It is also the current generation of the UV-25 model, so a lot of the earlier model kinks have been worked out.

This is actually one of the other reasons why I think Rugged Radios is not a great choice: their RM-25R is actually a clone of the 1st generation of this same radio: https://baofengtech.com/uv-2501

And that's the thing: I've seen Baofeng (BTECH) iterate and solve issues with early models and are currently putting out some decent product (of course the big names - Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood - have been at this for years so...). But Rugged Radios is still pushing Gen 1 product because they're concerned with marketing and repackaging, which is always going to be slower. And actually other companies are using it too: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LYIDJI3/ref=sxr_sxwds-rbp_3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=3346373142&pd_rd_wg=ilcmm&pf_rd_r=9E1YP4S1Z1Q37P1M039T&pf_rd_s=desktop-rhs-carousels&pf_rd_t=301&pd_rd_i=B01LYIDJI3&pd_rd_w=CTahX&pf_rd_i=btech+uv-50x2&pd_rd_r=ac724185-ec67-4dc2-a8eb-3321a51e36a1&ie=UTF8&qid=1513357059&sr=3 so it's actually a little hard to say who's cloning who, but it definitely isn't RR doing the primary manufacturing.

I will say one big difference is that Rugged Radios has added a connection for their intercom systems to this radio they're selling. That can always be done after purchase with other radios, but it is convenient to have out of the box if you have one of their intercoms.

S**t this got long... sorry 'bout that... :Wow1:
 

camp4x4

Adventurer
this thread is actually painful
How so?

rnArmy has been taking it all in strike pretty well and to his credit wants to actually get to the bottom of this thing. Lots of helpful input from most people.. what's painful?
 

craig333

Expedition Leader
Way back on page 63 of the UV-82HP manual:

FRS, GMRS, MURS, PMR446

You may be temtped to use FRS, GMRS, MURS (in the USA) or PMR446 (in Europe) frequencies. Do note however that there are restrictions on these bands that make this transceiver illegal for use.



Does baofeng expect or care if you ignore that? I doubt it.
 
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Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
I always die a little inside when I see Fred and the rest of the 4 Wheel & Off-Road using and promoting Rugged Radios products. I spoke with a friend who got to go on their most recent Ultimate Adventure, who also happens to be a ham, and he told me they were definitely operating illegally. Everyone got a radio. No one talked about licenses. Now, there is an off chance that they might have done something like get a business license for one of the frequencies through 4W&O-R and would argue that they were talking business during the trip... would be a stretch but I suppose legit. However, I strongly doubt that's what happened.
.
So yeah... My only guess is a combination of $$$ and innocent ignorance...
.
I would agree with you that these are the "wild west days" WRT VHF comms.
.
I'll bet what's happening is this: First of all, we all know that unlike HF, which can go for extreme distances, VHF and UHF are line-of-sight only (and yes I know there are exceptions to this - temperature inversions and other atmospheric phenomena, etc, but that's not relevant to what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the NORM of VHF/UHF being LOS.)
.
Being primarily LOS means that if the 4WOR or other groups are illegally using a frequency, it's not likely to be much of an issue because (a) they are probably not using a frequency that is assigned to anybody else in that region and (b) even if they were, assuming they're operating in a remote and distant location with mountains and hills in between them and the "legitimate" user of that freq, it's not likely that their LOS transmissions are going to interfere with the legitimate, licensed user.
.
Put another way, if I'm in a remote canyon in Death Valley using a frequency that is actually assigned by the FCC to Dick Leaky's Warehouse in Sepulveda, it's not likely that my transmission from 300 miles away in a deep canyon is going to interfere with Dick Leaky's business. And until it does, and Dick Leaky files a complaint with the FCC, there's no harm/no foul.
.
As the Traveling Wilburies said in the song "Tweeter and the Monkey Man", "In Jersey everything's legal/As long as you don't get caught."
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But it's one of those things that as long as only a few people are doing it, and they're discreet, the authorities won't step in because it's not worth their time. But once it catches on and everyone starts doing it, they're going the HAVE to step in.
.
There's something that I call the "threshold of enforceability." It's where something isn't technically legal, but people get away with it because it would be more trouble to enforce the law than to just let a few people flout the law.
.
But that only goes so far - my guess is that if someone is dumb enough to program their radio to use a frequency that is also being used by the local LEO's, First Responders, Fire, Park Service, Military, etc, and it leads to some major disaster (maybe someone dies because dispatch can't communicate with the ambulance or a fire goes out of control because the fire crew can't communicate due to some other user 'poaching' their frequency) the FCC is going to come down on the likes of Rugged Radio like a ton of bricks.
.
So to those illegally using commercial FM radio frequencies, I guess I'd say enjoy it while you can.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Incidentally, I find it interesting the RR seems to have blocked out the 2m ham frequencies.
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It's almost like they know that unlike commercial users - who are a dispersed and diffused group of radio users - ham users are organized and very protective of their bandwidth and if non licensed users started stepping all over the 2m bandwidth, the organized ham groups would lobby the FCC to shut them down.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Way back on page 63 of the UV-82HP manual:

FRS, GMRS, MURS, PMR446

You may be temtped to FRS, GMRS, MURS (in the USA) or PMR446 (in Europe) frequencies. Do note however that there are restrictions on these bands that make this transceiver illegal for use.



Does baofeng expect or care if you ignore that? I doubt it.
.
Reminds me of the days before marijuana was legal in CO. Local head shops would sell bongs, hash pipes and rolling papers with the explicit disclaimer that "these items are not intended for use with illegal substances." :rolleyes:
 

camp4x4

Adventurer
.
Being primarily LOS means that if the 4WOR or other groups are illegally using a frequency, it's not likely to be much of an issue because (a) they are probably not using a frequency that is assigned to anybody else in that region and (b) even if they were, assuming they're operating in a remote and distant location with mountains and hills in between them and the "legitimate" user of that freq, it's not likely that their LOS transmissions are going to interfere with the legitimate, licensed user.
Yeah, I was thinking about that argument on my way in to work... the thing is UA and other groups using these radios and frequencies aren't just using them in the remote areas where they probably aren't interfering... you can see in the videos they're using them on the highway and I'm sure even in towns like when they roll out for the day. So the use case isn't just remote areas... it's everywhere.

Heck, one of the big up sides to using radios even when there's cell service (in town, on the freeway, wherever) is that they're generally legal to use while driving. The ARRL has made sure to advocate that handsfree laws have that exception.
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
Thank-you aaronvogel - this radio link you posted looks like an nice little radio (and an upgraded and cheaper version of the RR 25watt dual-band radio): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XCDWT6V/ref=ask_ql_qh_dp_hza You might have just saved me $100 or more. It will be fun to go shopping around when the time comes.

Interesting reading your take on the 4x4/Jeep magazine sponsored events as it relates to their radio communications. That's the stuff they don't put in the magazines (and the stuff I had no idea of). I wonder if they got handed little 5watt hand held radios (I'm figuring if they did, they couldn't have caused too much damage in the middle of nowhere with only a couple-mile signal range).

Once I get some experience Chirping into my little RR 5watt hand-held (and my technician license), I'll be ready to tackle a larger project.

Airborne! 82nd ABN DIV 1999 - 2002 (782nd FST) "Outboard personnel staaaand up...."
 
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camp4x4

Adventurer
Thank-you aaronvogel - this radio link you posted looks like an nice little radio (and an upgraded and cheaper version of the RR 25watt dual-band radio): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XCDWT6V/ref=ask_ql_qh_dp_hza You might have just saved me $100 or more. It will be fun to go shopping around when the time comes.

Interesting reading your take on the 4x4/Jeep magazine sponsored events as it relates to their radio communications. That's the stuff they don't put in the magazines (and the stuff I had no idea of). I wonder if they got little 5watt hand held radios (I'm figuring if they did, they couldn't have caused too much damage in the middle of nowhere with only a couple-mile signal range).

Once I get some experience Chirping into my little RR 5watt hand-held (and my technician license), I'll be ready to tackle a larger project.
So the vehicles got the mobile 25w unit you linked to and the co-drivers got the HTs...

"Rugged Radio's Dual Band RM-25R 25 Watt Radios for each vehicle and RH-5R dual band Handheld Radio for the co-drivers made communications on UA 2016 a breeze" - http://www.fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adventure/2016/1701-rugged-radios-is-the-official-communications-of-2016-ultimate-adventure/

I'm really tempted to put together "packages" on Amazon to make pointing people to legit options that include everything they need easier... with the radio I linked you'll still need to buy a mount (the RR one actually seems nice and reasonably priced) a cable, and an antenna.

F-it... I did it, here they are:
Mobile (RH-25R alternative) setup: http://a.co/8DEyvuk
HT (RH-5R alternative) setup: http://a.co/aQiVaRo

Programming the mobile with Chirp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40s_Zqqj-20
Programming the HT with Chirp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMNFf2Az-UY

FTDI Driver: (Not Prolific like a lot of people use) http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm
 
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craig333

Expedition Leader
Much like CB radio. FCC really didn't care what people did with it until the idiots starting using 1kw amplifiers and the like.

I actually am licensed for gmrs (got it before I got my ham license) but if I'm correct even with that I can't use the baofeng because its not type certified for that?
 

dstock

Explorer
Much like CB radio. FCC really didn't care what people did with it until the idiots starting using 1kw amplifiers and the like.

I actually am licensed for gmrs (got it before I got my ham license) but if I'm correct even with that I can't use the baofeng because its not type certified for that?
You are correct, the only Baofeng you can use legally on GMRS is the Btech GMRS-V1 which is certified.

https://baofengtech.com/gmrs-v1
 

BigSwede

The Credible Hulk
Our overlanding group got tired of the limited range of CB and we have moved to 2 meter ham. We generally start at 146.520 National Calling Frequency, then move to a nearby frequency when we get going.
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
When I got my GMRS license, I got a call sign (WRAK###). If/when I get my ham technician's license, will I get a different call sign?
 
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