VHF

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marsgal42
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Re: VHF

Postby marsgal42 » Sun May 11, 2008 11:08 am

Industry Canada expects hams to behave themselves, and to use the spectrum responsibly. Hams are the only radio service who can build and operate their own radio gear. In many countries home-made equipment must be officially inspected and approved before it can be used on the air. In Canada we are expected to take that responsibility ourselves.

To me, nothing shows this more than the legislation on the subject. The Industry Canada document that says how ham radio works, RIC-3, is 15 pages, and much of it is boilerplate which applies to all radio stations in Canada. The U.S. equivalent, Part 97, is a book.

I know it's terribly stuffy and old-fashioned, but the laws are there, and they are there for a reason. The Authorities can, and do, cut people some slack, particularly in emergencies. But wholesale abuse is not tolerated. Who you can talk to on a ham license is part of the syllabus for Basic courses, and is in the Basic question pool. The Basic exam is heavy on regulatory stuff; the Advanced is more technical. FWIW, I go 93% on my Basic and 96% on my Advanced.

...laura

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Re: VHF

Postby marsgal42 » Sun May 11, 2008 2:09 pm

This is a response to a private message, but I'm posting it publicly because people seem to be missing some important points.

The preferred radio system for casual short-range tactical communications is FRS. For medium range (10s of kms) it's CB. Yes, you can use amateur radio if you have a license, and you can talk worldwide. But that doesn't allow you to talk to non-amateur stations, except in case of emergency.

Any longer-range communication system must meet technical and licensing requirements, because the radio spectrum is a shared, finite, resource and licensing is the mechanism for making that sharing work. That's the way it is. Don't argue about it. Especially if you're not familiar with the technical issues.

If you interfere with commercial users, who use radio to make money, you could be civilly liable.

If you interfere with emergency traffic and somebody gets hurt or killed as a result, you could be both civilly and criminally liable.

Just because you can't hear them doesn't mean they can't hear you. They may have better antennas and better radios than you do.

You can listen to anything you like in Canada (unlike many other countries, including the U.S.A.). There is nothing preventing you from listening to logging trucks and such on back roads. But if you want to talk to logging trucks, go to work for a logging company. You will find that even they have internal rules on radio chitchat.

Sorry to sound more than a little bitchy, but the law of the land has a sound technical basis. This is how it works.

...laura

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Re: VHF

Postby delicat » Sun May 11, 2008 2:51 pm

I sent the PM Laura is referring to so if we're making it public for everyone's knowledge might as well have the package deal! :-D

Hi Laura,

I'm still educating myself on the subject but think it would be more important to add either a CB or VHF than say nice mags...

Before I go out and take either a course or study the book and pass the test for VHF, I just want to make sure it's the best thing for my needs which I explained it my last post.

The CB radio might be ok but does the VHF does the same and more? If I'm to buy and know how to operate a radio, should it be the VHF? Can it still be used amongst ourself in normal situation (chit-chat) like when we go out as a group in the trails?

Thanks for your assistance!
David


The answer received is still only partial and the question remains. I'm aware that some bands or channels are reserved but within a VHF radio, is there channels or specific band width that can be used without interfering with anyone? Can we, as a Delica group doing 4x4 on some trail use a VHF radio to communicate among ourself or should we stick to CB?

I can listen all I want and even then there are some rules (can't have a scanner in a vehicle for example) and I may find out that the trail I'm climbing has a big rig coming down so it'd be wise of me to find a pull over point. I don't think any lugger would have an issue if I was to advertise that I'm making my way up a narrow lugging road if that save both of us a lot of growing pain down the road...
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Re: VHF

Postby ghmorris » Sun May 11, 2008 3:12 pm

If you want a radio anyone can use, get FRS or CB. We use FRS all the time, works great.

If you want to chat to other qualified Amateurs, use 2 metre band VHF (Laura, please correct me here). However, you still won't be able to talk to other Delis that don't have Amateur gear operated by Amateurs that have passed the test. There are HUGE advantages to getting your Amateur license. Being able to use local repeaters is the first thing that springs to mind, coupled with much higher power limits.

You shouldn't chit chat on any frequency that is licensed to others. That includes anything a logging company might use. Personally, I think listening would be a great idea, but I would be pretty hesitant to start up a conversation in case someone took offense and brought up the issue with IC. You really, really don't want to get into a position where you come to the negative attention of IC. Trust me on this, it quickly comes under the heading of Bad Things.

I only got 92% on my final at Comm School, but I did much better on my Electronic Warfare school tests! :-)

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Re: VHF

Postby JMK » Sun May 11, 2008 4:53 pm

OK, so we're all agreed that everyone getting their basic ham license would be the best route to go for all the members of a local club. I'm not sure if a 10 week or whatever it was course at $200.00 is really necessary for a basic license though. Some do it by studying themselves at home after buying a Study guide from Radio AMateurs of Canada for $50.00. Others get their group together, hire an instructor who is also qualified to administer the exam, and have him give a weekend course and do the exam at the end. Let's say there were 10 people interested, then if each person threw in $50.00 and bought their own manual, you may get an instructor that is interested in doing it for $500.00 for the weekend. RAC or your local HAM club can probably put you in touch with an instructor. Some instructors already have a number of manuals and supply them as part of the course as noted in the original post. Maybe these days $220.00 is a more realistic figure, maybe not, but shopping around never hurts, and 10 weeks seems like a long time to spread it out over. Not sure what the "first year's license fee" is all about, I thought the basic was a one time fee valid for life.

Also, just let me clarify something about logging roads. Do the drivers not call out their road position every time they pass a mileage marker on the road for all that may listen, the idea being if they are approaching you, you pick the relevant pulloff and wait for them? There is therefore no need for oncoming civilian traffic to talk to the operator of the truck. If so, then keep in mind that all the present VHF 2M capable ham band radios generally receive roughly 148-174 legally if they are in the possession of a licensed HAM, and also transmit 144-147.xxx. So that means that as a licensed HAM you do not need a radio plus a scanner to travel logging roads, your HAM band VHF radio will also work as your scanner and serve to alert you to oncoming traffic.

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Re: VHF

Postby konadog » Sun May 11, 2008 5:38 pm

Also, just let me clarify something about logging roads. Do the drivers not call out their road position every time they pass a mileage marker on the road for all that may listen, the idea being if they are approaching you, you pick the relevant pulloff and wait for them? There is therefore no need for oncoming civilian traffic to talk to the operator of the truck.

I hate driving active logging roads and do not have a radio. I always rest a little easier after passing the first truck though, as I have little doubt that the driver puts the word out - they must keep track of civilians... :? Otherwise it's slooow and as far over to the right as possible. Not so good on a dusty days but it is not a bad idea to find a nice pullout spot at near the start of the hauling area and hangout until a company truck drives by gong your way and pop in behind them. Again, now everyone knows where you are and when the guy in front of you pulls over you do too! Remember when "active logging" meant Monday to Friday? Crazy stuff - WAY fewer workers but lots of machines running full out and big trucks 7 days a week. It's always a great relief to get past the active zones and on to the quieter back-roads :M
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Re: VHF

Postby delicat » Sun May 11, 2008 10:15 pm

I love this site!
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Re: VHF

Postby GREENME@U » Mon May 12, 2008 12:32 am

delicat wrote:I love this site!

I do to!!!

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Re: VHF

Postby FalcoColumbarius » Mon May 12, 2008 1:41 am

If you want a radio anyone can use, get FRS or CB. We use FRS all the time, works great.
GH, the problem with FSR is that when you find yourself in the front of a convoy, at a different elevation and around a corner from the Delicas in the rear, which is often in BC, you lose track of them because you are out of range. Even though the radio you bought said that it is good for 40 kilometres, which is true if you are on the same level with nothing in the way. Also, Delicas on the same sortie tend to like to split up and go exploring different roads and sometimes they get in trouble a mile away ~ I think that alone is a good reason for VHF.

JMK, I got the book ($33.36). A few hundred questions and answers, which you must learn all of because you don't know which hundred questions they are going to ask you on the test. And hey, it always pays to know more, however, I think by taking a course where a lot of the items are brought into context ~ then one understands what the radio is all about. Things such as radio protocol. I think most people who blab on an emergency channel are not doing it maliciously, but out of ignorance. I believe that putting down the money and taking a course would help people to take it more seriously.

Regarding the costs, I think my reference to the "first year's licensing" was an assumption. I am used to paying periodic fees for things, like my driver's license &c. So I imagined that this would be the case for radio, but hey.... I have not gone to the course yet so I plead ignorance. The course also includes things like building your own aerial and what comes with that, for instance, I only learned today that an aerial can get hot when it is in use, but still.... I don't know the whole story about that, either... so I think taking a course would be beneficial.

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Re: VHF

Postby docsavage » Mon May 12, 2008 9:11 am

Regarding travel on logging roads (most are not Forest Service Roads - the licencee has maintenance obligations not the government):

1. If you don't have a radio, and you know the road is active, wait at the start and ask another truck to call that you will be on the road. Then travel behind any vehicle with a radio going up the road. It could be dusty, but it is far safer than going alone.

2. If you have a scanner, proceed with caution. The loaded traffic generally calls every 1 to 5 kilometers depending on the amount of traffic. On weekends they may not call at all (especially low-beds with wide loads). Get out of the way well ahead of the truck coming toward you.

3. If you are able to call your mileage, make sure you call the following information: Road name (posted at the start of the road), your location (km board), and direction of travel (either loaded/empty or up/down depending on where in the province you are), and what you are (example: Morice 27 Loaded Van). In all cases loaded is direction of travel towards the mill or descending kilometers. Several roads have special rules and will be posted at the start of the road.

4. It is always the empty or up traffic that clears for loaded - even if the ditch is your only option.

5. As mentioned in other posts, general chit chat is not tolerated. You will be told in no uncertain terms by other users.

In the summer, the industrial traffic expects more travellers on the roads. In most cases they are going to known rec sites or fishing areas and the roads to these site generally have less traffic. Also, with the state of the forest industry, there is reduced traffic as we just aren't doing that much logging right now.

Enjpy the great areas that these roads provide access to, and just use common sense and expect the unexpected and there shouldn't be a lot of issues.

James
(employed by the forest industry)
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Re: VHF

Postby Erebus » Sun May 18, 2008 8:17 am

Frequencies are posted on the roads so you can listen. A person receiving a radio call has no way of knowing if your radio is type-approved or not. It is a bit of a wink-wink, nudge-nudge situation, but if you cause problems, lots of people will get mad at you.

Sensible use will rarely get you in trouble. I'll recount what happened when I first received the amber beacon that I had on the mothership. I went to the police station and asked what the law was concerning beacons. The cop said he didn't know the exact wording of the law, but "if you use it appropriately and sensibly, we won't care if it is legal. If you are an a**hole with it, we'll nail you for something regardless of what the law says."

Radio comms are pretty much the same.

VHF and UHF (FRS) is all line of sight, it doesn't bounce off the ionosphere. Only HF (which includes CB) does that. Using a handheld like FRS inside a metal vehicle with a rubber ducky antenna to talk through a hillside is what causes the short range. Get some height and you would be amazed. Two weeks ago I was flying about a 1000 feet up right on the US border in Alberta, and my ham handheld monitoring 126.7 air band (AM) clearly picked up an aircraft flying out of Lake Minnewanka (near Banff). That's 150 nautical miles (285 km) away. Then last week flying near Red Deer a couple of thousand feet up, I picked up another aircraft in our exercise on the 150 MHz commercial band (FM) that was near Grande Prairie. That's over 250 nm (450 km). So, height and line-of-sight count hugely. My handheld just had the ham rubber ducky on it, not even the commercial band antenna that I should have had with me. And before someone asks, I was using it to monitor a different frequency than what the aircraft's radios were monitoring, especially since that was the only way to monitor the 150 frequencies.

So, as has been said before, just because you think the frequency is clear doesn't mean you aren't interfering with others.

Also, while Christine mentioned it is legal in Canada to listen to any transmission (unencrypted, anyway), it is NOT legal to repeat what you heard unless you are an intended recipient.

Here is the wording, straight from RIC-21:
Radio operators and all persons who become acquainted with radiocommunications are bound to preserve the privacy of those communications. In accordance with section 9(2) of the Radiocommunication Act no person shall divulge the contents, or the existence, of communications transmitted, received or intercepted by a radio station, except as permitted by the addressee of the message or his/her accredited agent, or to authorized officials of the Government of Canada, officers of the court or an operator of a telecommunications system as is necessary to forward or deliver the communication. These restrictions do not apply to a message of distress, urgency, safety or to messages addressed to “ALL STATIONS” (i.e. weather reports, storm warnings, etc).

Another point about the regulations is that, in emergencies, it is legal to use any frequency to call for help. "These procedures shall not, however, prevent a station in distress from making use of any means at its disposal [emphasis added] to attract attention, to make known its position, and obtain assistance."

If you want to see the regulations and such, check out Industry Canada's Spectrum Management website. This page gives you all the RICs (Radiocommunication Information Circulars). I've been quoting from RIC-21, the aeronautical one, but they are all very similar when it comes to regulations.
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Re: VHF

Postby tomanique » Sun May 18, 2008 8:58 am

Erebus wrote:Another point about the regulations is that, in emergencies, it is legal to use any frequency to call for help. "These procedures shall not, however, prevent a station in distress from making use of any means at its disposal [emphasis added] to attract attention, to make known its position, and obtain assistance."


Just be careful your emergency is an emergency. I'm a shore based radio operator with the Coast Guard, and I can't count the number of times people who haven't taken the time learn a bit about radio procedure have been screaming mayday on Ch16 because they're out of gas, or they want directions, etc. I agree with the above posts, no one (including IC) is going to question stations as long as users are responsible.
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Re: VHF

Postby JMK » Sun May 18, 2008 9:35 am

aircraft flying out of Lake Minnewanka (near Banff).


They must have been flying above Minnewanka. The only planes allowed to land on the Lake are water bombers during Fire Ops, and two weeks ago the Lake was still solid ice.

Generally the Provincial Traffic Safety Act (somewhat different between provinces), under the Traffic Safety Regs, regulates the use of amber beacons, not who may have them. Generally they are not to be operated unless you are coming to a stop or standing, and it is necessary for safety of the vehicle itself or other vehicles. If I recall correctly I thought the use of the amber is not allowed when moving, but obviously those oversized vehciles seem to be using them when moving so perhaps there is another reg that allows them to use them under those circumstances.

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Re: VHF

Postby Erebus » Sun May 18, 2008 8:33 pm

tomanique wrote:Just be careful your emergency is an emergency. I'm a shore based radio operator with the Coast Guard, and I can't count the number of times people who haven't taken the time learn a bit about radio procedure have been screaming mayday on Ch16 because they're out of gas, or they want directions, etc.

It shocks many people to be told that "you being out of beer is NOT an emergency." A distress situation is defined in the RICs as "A condition of being threatened by grave and/or imminent danger and requiring immediate assistance."
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Re: VHF

Postby Erebus » Sun May 18, 2008 8:39 pm

JMK wrote:
aircraft flying out of Lake Minnewanka (near Banff).

They must have been flying above Minnewanka. The only planes allowed to land on the Lake are water bombers during Fire Ops, and two weeks ago the Lake was still solid ice.

Agreed, but "out of" is what the pilot reported. Unless of course it was one of the UN's famous black helicopters, or an alien spacecraft that had been hiding in the depths.

JMK wrote:Generally the Provincial Traffic Safety Act (somewhat different between provinces), under the Traffic Safety Regs, regulates the use of amber beacons, not who may have them. Generally they are not to be operated unless you are coming to a stop or standing, and it is necessary for safety of the vehicle itself or other vehicles. If I recall correctly I thought the use of the amber is not allowed when moving, but obviously those oversized vehciles seem to be using them when moving so perhaps there is another reg that allows them to use them under those circumstances.

In Alberta, amber is only allowed for highway maintenance, anything oil-patch related, and a couple of other reasons I can't remember now. But police are not one of them, and Calgary police cars have amber lights in their lightbar. And pretty much every dump truck has them going all the time. I figure only a RHD will get nailed for doing anything with amber. Gotten away with it the one time I ran just a little bubble light on a SAR mission. The conversation officers were too embarrassed about their helicopter's ELT going off to point any fingers! :-D
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