Your Questions Answered and February 2018 Update

I’ve collected another batch of viewer mail. Thanks for sending those comments and questions. So for the benefit of everyone, today I’m going to pull out a few great questions and do some follow up. Please watch the video or read the transcript below.

My video on MURS, the Multi-Use Radio Service opened up a raft of questions and comments. I’ll highlight a few here:

A couple of commenters mentioned that the GMRS and FRS rules changed slightly this past year allowing up to two watts of transmit power unlicensed on 8 shared GMRS and FRS channels. So you can run a bit more power than 500 mw on certain FRS channels. I have a feeling the FCC was acknowledging that there is quite a bit of unlicensed use of the GMRS band out there by FRS users, so they made that power change concession to bring the regulations in line with the reality that there are high powered blister pack FRS radios on the market.

Another question has to do with ERP or Effective Radiated Power: The commenter writes,  I was trying to find out what the max EIRP that is allowed for MURs and i cant find it, is it pretty much anything goes if the antenna has has a gain of say 12dbi you can still run the full 2 watts from the transmitter?

To my knowledge there is no limit to ERP or effective radiated power. The rules specify 2 watts transmit output power and an antenna height of no more than 60 feet or 20 feet above a building. So you could use a high gain antenna to extend the range, but with a 60 foot height, you’ll still hit a limit to total distance you can achieve.

Couple other comments gave some suggested uses for the MURS channels, like search and rescue teams, amusement parks, and out camping. In fact, camping is my favorite use for the radios, I can hand a radio to the kids and have them go off and do their things.

In HF Transceiver Functions and Controls I received this question:  I’m a new HAM as of last November and believe it or not, I still have not acquired my first ‘rig’.  The IC-718 is a top contender though, thus my great interest in your video. Im also considering the 817 ND.  Which would you recommend as a ‘first’.

I’m going to make a more detailed video on this subject, and the question of the ‘best first HF radio’ has come up more than once. But briefly, For a first rig, I’d recommend something that is easy to use and offers 100 watt transmit power. The Yaesu FT-817 is a great rig, but QRP can be quite challenging especially as the solar cycle reaches its minimum. If you want to do QRP, you can always turn your transmit power down.

The best choice for you depends on what you are interested in and your budget. If it is backpack or portable operation, look at the FT-891. If you want something that will sit in the shack, then the IC-718, FT-450, or Kenwood TS-480. The IC-7200, IC-7300, FT-1200 are all a step up on the budget level, but have built in digital features so you don’t need an interface like the Signalink. I haven’t even scratched the surface on new vs used for a first transceiver, so stay tuned for that video to come out.

But. . .  speaking about used gear, In Buying Used Amateur Radio Gear, I received this comment: I’ve been seeing gear come up on Goodwill website, unfortunately others are seeing it too.

More and more gear is ending up at Goodwill. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any at our local store, but it is another good place to be on the lookout for. Just keep in mind that thrift store finds are AS-IS, so you do take a bit of a chance, especially if you aren’t technically savvy enough to do a repair yourself. I did a quite search and found a few ham radio items and plenty of vintage table radios. Check it out at shopgoodwill.com.

And thank you to everyone commented with their upgrade stories in my ‘why you should upgrade your license’ series. I loved reading them and every story is as unique as the person that left it. Thanks for sharing them, I hope they serve as motivation for future hams to upgrade their licenses.

Before we close out, I going to give a quick shout out to the Space Weather Woman, which is my featured channel of the month. If you haven’t subscribed to Tamitha Skov’s channel or followed her Facebook page, stop what you are doing and do it now. Her videos come out about every two weeks and have an informative mix of solar solar conditions and forecasts.  It’s like watching the weather on the 10 o’clock news, but for the sun. Popular Science ran an interesting article on Skov in the January 2018 issue, so go and seek it out.

Well, that’s it for another month. Keep those questions coming, I also received over 75 comments in the last month. Thank you for your participation and support.