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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got the software for the F121 and was sitting down to program it, but it appears the thing needs to be powered up to do it. Do I need to buy a power supply of some sort for this, or am I going to need a laptop to program it in the rig? What do you guys do?
 

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I'm not familiar with the radio in question, but I do two way radio work for a living so I program radios all day long. Yeah, you definitely have to have it powered up. We generally use laptops, but in other circumstances I have also used a LONG, like 50', serial cable to reach from the computer to the radio. For your situation powering up the radio off of a battery sounds like the best plan. Heck, you don't even need a big battery. I've seen a guy use a 14.4V drill battery to power one up just for programming, and as long as you don't transmit while it's powered up like that it should work just fine. These radios only pull a very small current when receiving, but generally pull 10 amps or more on transmit.
 

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ICom 121

I've got the software for the F121 and was sitting down to program it, but it appears the thing needs to be powered up to do it. Do I need to buy a power supply of some sort for this, or am I going to need a laptop to program it in the rig? What do you guys do?
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Not very timely, but here are my comments anyway.
I have a small 12v sealed battery that came out of a phone transmitter I use it at my desk when I polish the trails I make with my Lowrance. I used the same thing to program the 121. My buddy uses a small cube battery that normally resides in his trailer for the E brake system, None of these gadgets use any power, so small is ok.

Do you have a file to overwrite? If not I can send you one or two. Lots easier that figuring out how to program.
Paul
 

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A sealed motorcycle battery would be great. I've been on the lookout for a cheap 12v booster pack. A friend of mine has a Black and Decker he bought on clearance and it works great for running 12v electronics in the house and for portable power.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Another question:

Can I decide on my own race frequency for Yikes Racing or is this something with red tape involved? Where can I find out what channels are open, usable? And can I create a "private" channel as a go to for friends/groups on preruns and play weekends?
 

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Well, yes and no. Is is commonly done? Yes. Is it 100% legal? No. That said, I have done it myself on many occasions. The rule of thumb here is to monitor the channel for traffic first, and if you hear any legitimate users on there to move to a different frequency. Your best bet is to stick to the itinerant frequencies that are commonly used in this manner. Also, use them in a low power mode, because you damn sure don't need 50W to talk truck to truck over common wheeling distances. Use them in carrier squelch so you'll always hear other traffic on the channels. You're not using a repeater here, so program in the same frequency for both transmit and receive. Let me know if you have any other questions. Here are the VHF itinerants:

Red Dot- 151.6250
Purple Dot- 151.9550
Blue Dot- 154.5700
Green Dot- 154.6000
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Dave. Interesting observation...the red dot frequency is used by "Weatherman" out here. He handles communications for all SCORE races and many others. The purple dot is the Honda pits. The other two are race teams, one of which I believe is Polarclub's class 9 team.
 

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Thanks Dave. Interesting observation...the red dot frequency is used by "Weatherman" out here. He handles communications for all SCORE races and many others. The purple dot is the Honda pits. The other two are race teams, one of which I believe is Polarclub's class 9 team.
Interesting. I did a little search and found a more complete list of VHF itinerant frequencies:

151.5050
151.5125
Red Dot 151.6250
151.6400
151.7000
151.7600
Purple Dot 151.9550
154.5275
Blue Dot 154.5700
Green Dot 154.6000
158.4000
158.4075

It's not surprising that you'll find businesses on the frequencies listed, even big businesses like Wal-Mart. Essentially all of the radio bands are broken down into individual frequencies. Generally speaking if your business is going to use two way radios you need to get a frequency assigned to you by the FCC. The process of getting a frequency assigned to you is a huge pain in the ass, so itinerant frequencies are available to allow the use of radios without the hassle. Pretty much anybody can use an itinerant frequency as long as they are not interfering with other users, and you don't have to go to the trouble of getting the FCC to license you for your own frequency. The down side of using itinerants is that you don't really own the frequency, so if you are being interfered with you really have no legal recourse against the people creating the interference. Essentially they have just as much a right to the frequency as you do. It is considered a courtesy to use the lowest practical transmit power level possible to achieve the desired communication, because that decreases your range and therefore minimizes the chances of interfering with other stations trying to share these same frequencies.

The "dot" system is simply an old method of telling one frequency from another, and it dates back to the days of crystal controlled radios. Back in the day most radios only had one frequency in them, because they weren't programmable like todays radios. The radio would have a dot of a given color on it to identify which other radios it could talk to. Like I said, it's an old system. Today the dot system has largely fallen by the wayside, but the same frequencies are still in use.
 

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Race Radio Q

Another question:

Can I decide on my own race frequency for Yikes Racing or is this something with red tape involved? Where can I find out what channels are open, usable? And can I create a "private" channel as a go to for friends/groups on preruns and play weekends?
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The short answer is NO. Red tape IS required to be legal. I will try to explain.
I have the paperwork and it is astonishing and to much trouble to fill out.
If you transmit on this band and stomp on the local cops, or fire, or SAR, you will be in big trouble. In fact the commercial users will raise hell with the FCC and also cause trouble. I was told the first offense is a $10000 fine (but no jail time).

Your ICOM is a vhf commercial band radio. Just what is needed in Mexico for races where they do not regulate the band, or at least they do not enforce any regs. In the US the FCC assigns the freqs. Some guys break the fed law and use this band without a freq assignment. Expensive if caught.
To see who is using that band in your area go to www.cityfreq.com and enter your city. This site used to be friendly and list all the freqs so one could tell where the unused freqs are. Now days they just list the outfit that is assigned freqs. Click on them and get the freqs and discover that each one has numerous freqs.

For use in Mexico at the SCORE races contact PCI Race Radios for a freq assignment. They also support races north of the border. Because they are so smart they choose freqs that don’t conflict with licensed users.
The people I deal with for races don’t got to that much trouble. We just make a deal with a team or a pit support crew to share their freq. Works fine. Like during a race our C8 shared with a C5. No problem because the cars were always far apart. Also you can join a pit support outfit like Checkers who have several freqs. (recommended).


What to do? Well I have 2 radios. An ICOM F121 for Mexico only and a high wattage Dualbander Kenwood HAM unit that I modified so it covers 5 different bands including the VHF band in question. Now everybody bad mouths this mod because it is inferior to transmit or receive in the vhf band because is was not designed for that purpose. What it does do is allow transmission on the Family radio band, which does not require a license. That is the band I use north of the border. I wont get into trouble that way. I don’t reduce the power so it works pretty well. FR freqs are 462.5625 – 467.7125 (14 channels). Another option is to use a hand held HAM unit modified for all the freqs that my Kenwood has. Trouble is it only had 5 watts and even with a big antenna it is sad unit and cannot be depended on. Works fine are a couple of miles when pre-running.
Regards, Paul
 

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===============
The short answer is NO. Red tape IS required to be legal. I will try to explain.
I have the paperwork and it is astonishing and to much trouble to fill out.
If you transmit on this band and stomp on the local cops, or fire, or SAR, you will be in big trouble. In fact the commercial users will raise hell with the FCC and also cause trouble. I was told the first offense is a $10000 fine (but no jail time).

Your ICOM is a vhf commercial band radio. Just what is needed in Mexico for races where they do not regulate the band, or at least they do not enforce any regs. In the US the FCC assigns the freqs. Some guys break the fed law and use this band without a freq assignment. Expensive if caught.
To see who is using that band in your area go to www.cityfreq.com and enter your city. This site used to be friendly and list all the freqs so one could tell where the unused freqs are. Now days they just list the outfit that is assigned freqs. Click on them and get the freqs and discover that each one has numerous freqs.

For use in Mexico at the SCORE races contact PCI Race Radios for a freq assignment. They also support races north of the border. Because they are so smart they choose freqs that don’t conflict with licensed users.
The people I deal with for races don’t got to that much trouble. We just make a deal with a team or a pit support crew to share their freq. Works fine. Like during a race our C8 shared with a C5. No problem because the cars were always far apart. Also you can join a pit support outfit like Checkers who have several freqs. (recommended).


What to do? Well I have 2 radios. An ICOM F121 for Mexico only and a high wattage Dualbander Kenwood HAM unit that I modified so it covers 5 different bands including the VHF band in question. Now everybody bad mouths this mod because it is inferior to transmit or receive in the vhf band because is was not designed for that purpose. What it does do is allow transmission on the Family radio band, which does not require a license. That is the band I use north of the border. I wont get into trouble that way. I don’t reduce the power so it works pretty well. FR freqs are 462.5625 – 467.7125 (14 channels). Another option is to use a hand held HAM unit modified for all the freqs that my Kenwood has. Trouble is it only had 5 watts and even with a big antenna it is sad unit and cannot be depended on. Works fine are a couple of miles when pre-running.
Regards, Paul
Of course you are technically correct. It is illegal. So is my lift, so is my exhaust, so is my emissions equipment, and probably a dozen other things about my truck. However, if you follow my advise and monitor the channel first to make sure it's clear, DON"T use public safety frequencies under any circumstances, and then use minimal tx power, you probably have a better chance of getting hit with a meteor than getting caught. Think about the mechanics involved in getting caught;

1- Someone has to actually notice you encroaching on their channel. Unlikely on the weekend, especially if you are in a remote location like the desert.

2- Once they notice you it's not as simple as just calling the FCC. They have to actually find you first, and the FCC doesn't do that. They have to have a radio shop track down the interference. Once the radio shop finds the interference, then the channel owner can report it to the FCC. I know this because I work in a two way radio shop and occasionally have to track down interference.

3- Tracking down interference for a source that is not constantly transmitting is a cast iron bitch. It won't be easy for the radio shop to find you in the first place.

4- After they do track you down they have to have evidence that you are actually the ones causing the interference, or the FCC will do nothing. Just having the channel programmed in the radio is not sufficient evidence that you were actually transmitting on their channel. In short, the FCC has to catch you red handed.

None of this is a short process, and generally it takes weeks or months. If you're occasionally using them on the weekends the chances of you having a problem are astronomically small. Still, the choice is up to you.

As for the FRS frequencies, unless you are a licensed GMRS operator you are limited to .5W ERP on those channels, so don't go around thinking that you're lilly-white where the law is concerned by using FRS. Even as a licensed GMRS radio operator you are still limited to 5W power out, and only the first seven FRS frequencies. Also, these frequencies are all 2.5 kHz deviation, so if you're transmitting at 5kHz deviation as most HAM communications are then you are also violating the FRS frequency rules.

As for why people advise you to not tx out of band on your HAM rig, it is because of spurs. Spurs are small side carriers that are transmitted on either side of the main carrier. When transmitting in-band these spurs are filtered out and never actually get transmitted over the air. However, when you transmit out of band the radio is not equipped with the proper filters to filter out these spurs. This results in unintentional interference on other channels, and more often than not the radio operator never even realizes that he is doing it. The first time I saw these spurs on a service monitor I was a little surprised, but it makes sense.
 

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Race radio Q

Dave,
Good to have both posts. 20-20 vision is always good. I hope the guys appreciate having the knowledge.
I think the saving grace is on the weekends probably most of the commercial users are off line. Then we race out away from the citys where all the radio traffic is. I still think it is a good idea to do your homework and find out which freqs to avoid. This probably means one needs to do homework for each race location.
I still think traveling to from the race using the FRS is the way to go even with the illegal power. Radio traffic is an issue so frequent freq changes are needed. The strong signal people notice is like a close transmit so its even harder to enforce.
BTW, The HAM radios work just fine for race freq monitor. Its is not good to transmit however for the reason you stated. Works much better than a scan feature. Thus I decided to have two radios.
Paul
========
Of course you are technically correct. It is illegal. So is my lift, so is my exhaust, so is my emissions equipment, and probably a dozen other things about my truck. However, if you follow my advise and monitor the channel first to make sure it's clear, DON"T use public safety frequencies under any circumstances, and then use minimal tx power, you probably have a better chance of getting hit with a meteor than getting caught. Think about the mechanics involved in getting caught;

1- Someone has to actually notice you encroaching on their channel. Unlikely on the weekend, especially if you are in a remote location like the desert.

2- Once they notice you it's not as simple as just calling the FCC. They have to actually find you first, and the FCC doesn't do that. They have to have a radio shop track down the interference. Once the radio shop finds the interference, then the channel owner can report it to the FCC. I know this because I work in a two way radio shop and occasionally have to track down interference.

3- Tracking down interference for a source that is not constantly transmitting is a cast iron bitch. It won't be easy for the radio shop to find you in the first place.

4- After they do track you down they have to have evidence that you are actually the ones causing the interference, or the FCC will do nothing. Just having the channel programmed in the radio is not sufficient evidence that you were actually transmitting on their channel. In short, the FCC has to catch you red handed.

None of this is a short process, and generally it takes weeks or months. If you're occasionally using them on the weekends the chances of you having a problem are astronomically small. Still, the choice is up to you.

As for the FRS frequencies, unless you are a licensed GMRS operator you are limited to .5W ERP on those channels, so don't go around thinking that you're lilly-white where the law is concerned by using FRS. Even as a licensed GMRS radio operator you are still limited to 5W power out, and only the first seven FRS frequencies. Also, these frequencies are all 2.5 kHz deviation, so if you're transmitting at 5kHz deviation as most HAM communications are then you are also violating the FRS frequency rules.

As for why people advise you to not tx out of band on your HAM rig, it is because of spurs. Spurs are small side carriers that are transmitted on either side of the main carrier. When transmitting in-band these spurs are filtered out and never actually get transmitted over the air. However, when you transmit out of band the radio is not equipped with the proper filters to filter out these spurs. This results in unintentional interference on other channels, and more often than not the radio operator never even realizes that he is doing it. The first time I saw these spurs on a service monitor I was a little surprised, but it makes sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I hope the guys appreciate having the knowledge.
Yes! I've learned a lot from these few posts and thank both of you for taking the time to enlighten me/us on the subject. I respect the knowledge and opinions you offer, as well as the collective experience you bring to the table. In fact, this may be a good thread to add as a sticky.

...and Paul, Thanks for the sample program. It appears I was right on track.
 

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I have been toying with a few different options for communications. A cb is ok for a group that is within a close range, but you lack the ability to utilize the comercial fq's. An icom is great but if you have the f121 like the majority of us do, then you realize the shortcomings it has in being able to field program the radio.

I got together with a friend of mine that has an electrical engineering background, and we have been "brainstorming" Now mind you, this is only a prelimanary drawing of what we have in mind. Let me know what you guys think.
































































 
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