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  • Radio Communication at Defcon

    How do you plan on keeping in touch and contacting your friends while at the con?

    FRS (Family Radio Service) is pretty popular way of keeping in touch. Unfortunately it is mainstream and you'll find alot of non-defcon traffic from other vegas tourists.

    Cell phones are another form that's popular but it usually requires giving someone your number. A lot of the people I communicate with are people I've met for the first time and sometimes you don't want to give your number out to strangers.

    Ham Radio is my preference. I have a Yaesu VX-5 and a VX-7. I'll probably leave the VX-7 home because if I lose this VX-5 I won't be as heartbroken, although losing it would still suck.

    As far as ham radio goes, there is a lot of unlicensed activity at the con. I managed to get my technician license a week before defcon 10 and my callsign was issued while I was at the con so I was able to broadcast legally.

    For those of you who don't have a license, this is what I will "suggest".

    1) Get your license. The test is easy.
    2) Have your radio modded for mars/cap. You'll be able to broadcast out of band, meaning you won't be limited to transmitting only on ham frequencies. Several of my unlicensed friends were talking simplex slightly above 450mhz on an unused frequency.

    Also with the mars/cap mod, you can program your presets for FRS frequencies which will keep you "legal" if you keep your power down at half a watt.

    3) This is still about the mars/cap mod but I dunno how many people know about it. There is something called MURS which stands for Multi-Use Radio Service. It's like FRS where you don't need to be licensed. There are 5 MURS frequencies and you're allowed to transmit up to 2 watts of power which gives you a larger range than FRS. Here are the MURS frequencies.
    • 151.820 MHz
    • 151.880 MHz
    • 151.940 MHz
    • 154.570 MHz
    • 154.600 MHz


    MURS has a channel bandwidth of 11.25 KHz so you'll have to set your radio to half deviation when using MURS frequencies. MURS is relatively new and there aren't many radios out there on the market. The ones I've seen cost a lot more than FRS radios, which makes it a good frequency for use by unlicensed ham radio operators.

    I plan on using a combination of all of them. I have my radio programmed with FRS, MURS, and ham frequencies. The first day I'll probably listen in on the national simplex calling frequency at 146.52MHz until I find the active defcon frequencies and monitor FRS to see where everyone is talking.
    "Just when I thought I was out.......They pull me back in"
    - Neural's Godfather moment

  • #2
    I have noticed an increase in legit HAM users over the years at defcon. I am happy to see more people learning about ham radio, that normally would not have considered it... though a few people still only use their radios during defcon, it is better than nothing I suppose.

    The tests are easier to take than reading through most magazines, and require only common sense and memorization... you get the answers up front via the pools which are found here:
    http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/pools.html
    no need to buy any study material to get your tech license, just memorize the pools, read some theory to get comfortable and take your test nearby. when you aren't doing some project you can delve back into your ham and keep the hobby alive.

    At defcon you can totally tell the generic FRS users from the hams on by the clarity you get, and the distance...

    too bad there aren't any radio broadcasts of the more popular tracks for people to listen to legally, that would be neat for people who are out and about eating or something... and maybe recaps at night...

    For the kids out there, the radio isn't a toy, don't sit on people, don't abuse it, it is for communcation, be responsible.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Radio Communication at Defcon

      Originally posted by Neural
      H
      Ham Radio is my preference. I have a Yaesu VX-5 and a VX-7. I'll probably leave the VX-7 home because if I lose this VX-5 I won't be as heartbroken, although losing it would still suck.



      How would you rate the VX-7 in comparison with the 5? I've got a 5 now. I looked at the 7, but all the reviews I saw said it still had problems (much like most other initial releases of Yaesu kit). I like some of the features, but it seemed that every review I read recommended the 5 over the 7.

      So, I've got a 5 and love it (though I've locked it up twice already). What drew you to the 7, and keeps you preferring it?


      And, while we're on the subject, what's a good antenna to use for Defcon? This'll be the first one I bring RF kit to, and I don't want to end up stranded without reception. I've replaced the rubber duck with something a bit more sensible -- a Comet SMA-24 whip. Great, except in the 50-100MHz range.
      http://bitshift.org

      Comment


      • #4
        I have the 7 and love it. The prices are still coming down. I tend to buy the best and only cry once. ;) As for MARS/CAP, there are restrictions on mods also, and I won't try anything until my warranty expires on the radio. Also heck there are so many freqs out there we can surely find a free one to use inside the hotel area.

        Comment


        • #5
          You can do the MARS/CAP and Freeband mods on the VX-7R with software:

          http://www.qsl.net/kc8unj/VX7Commander.html

          The DL link appears to be down right now.
          perl -e 'print pack(c5, (41*2), sqrt(7056), (unpack(c,H)-2), oct(115), 10)'

          Comment


          • #6
            I would just watch out near the pool
            tommEE pickles



            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tommEE
              I would just watch out near the pool
              Waaah, my radio ;)

              Anyway, I have both the FT-50 and VX-5. Personally, I prefer the VX-5 - the display's more comprehensive, it does 6m, and has a better feature set. It's also smaller and lighter, handles wide FM properly, and seems to have better clarity on Tx.

              The VX-7 is pretty much the same, just in a ruggedised, water-resistant case. Having used one, I like it - but wouldn't necessarily get one seeing as how I already have a VX-5.

              If it were a choice between a new VX-5 and a new VX-7, I'd spend the extra cash and go for the VX-7. If it's a case of picking up a second radio and the VX-5 is substantially cheaper, go with the 5 unless you really need the 7's weatherproofing.

              Comment


              • #8
                .

                hmm im just getting into ham radio [ive always just taken frs/gmrs to con, any suggestions for a starter radio, or someplace to find them fairly cheap? where ive looked has been pretty expensive. also what is the difference in functionality between a 1r and a 5r?
                Last edited by h3adrush; April 2, 2003, 21:01.
                ARRR!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tommEE
                  I would just watch out near the pool
                  The VX-7R is submersible. :D

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Radio Communication at Defcon

                    Originally posted by Neural
                    Ham Radio is my preference. I have a Yaesu VX-5 and a VX-7. I'll probably leave the VX-7 home because if I lose this VX-5 I won't be as heartbroken, although losing it would still suck.

                    As far as ham radio goes, there is a lot of unlicensed activity at the con. I managed to get my technician license a week before defcon 10 and my callsign was issued while I was at the con so I was able to broadcast legally.

                    For those of you who don't have a license, this is what I will "suggest".

                    1) Get your license. The test is easy.

                    I'm seriously considering a 7R as a second radio. The reviews I've seen at eHam.net seem to range across the spectrum, but the features are compelling (particularly the 30-50MHz Rx range). The price is right ($300), and I'm really starting to enjoy ham-ish things (spending time playing around on the world's largest/most powerful/most sensitive radio transciever, I've taken a liking to the smaller, more portable radios as well).

                    The only things that bug me about the 7R that I've seen are:

                    * The need to "burp" it by removing the battery due to pressure changes,

                    * The rather weak Tx sound quality, and

                    * signal imaging and multiple birdie complaints.

                    I can live with the first two, but the last one's going to drive me nuts if true, as I like to scan.

                    I should have my license and callsign by DC0xB.

                    Those of you thinking of getting licensed soon should do so before July 1, because that's when the Tech materials change (I don't think the General exams change until 2004, but I could be wrong.)
                    http://bitshift.org

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Good info.

                      I've settled on getting either the 5 or 7, but i'm probably going to wait a few more months and see how much the 7s drop in price before purchasing.

                      Thanks for the info on the licensing.
                      #ut2600 / #dc-forums | EFNet

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by astcell
                        The VX-7R is submersible. :D
                        I thought they were water resistant, not water proof
                        tommEE pickles



                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tommEE
                          I thought they were water resistant, not water proof

                          I picked up my 7R over lunch. It is, in fact, submersible (says so on the faceplate), to a depth of 3 ft.

                          I'm letting it charge now. I grabbed a Comet SMA-3 also. Can't seem to find any antennas that are specifically for bands <144MHz, which is a bit frustruating.

                          Anyone with either the 5 or 7 tried any of those 1-2" "stubbies"? Are they any good?

                          My main gripe so far with the 7 out of the box is that they've completely changed the key usage from the 5. It might not seem like a big deal until you realize just how much functionality these two puppies have, and how difficult it is to remember many of the functions for just one of them.

                          I must admit that I do rather like the multicolor LED status light, and the dual-band (dual-in-band) Rx.
                          http://bitshift.org

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            too bad the pool is a little more than 3 feet. Wonder if someone will have the 7 to test this out...
                            tommEE pickles



                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by urban
                              I'm letting it charge now. I grabbed a Comet SMA-3 also. Can't seem to find any antennas that are specifically for bands <144MHz, which is a bit frustruating.
                              Check http://www.hamradio.com - you may find one there. Also, I heartily recommend getting the SMA -> BNC adapter: it's $10 well-spent when you consider the options it opens up on available antennas.

                              Anyone with either the 5 or 7 tried any of those 1-2" "stubbies"? Are they any good?
                              OK, before I answer this... Think back to when you had to learn about matching your antenna to the band you're working in. Now...

                              Yes I have, and no they're not :)

                              My main gripe so far with the 7 out of the box is that they've completely changed the key usage from the 5. It might not seem like a big deal until you realize just how much functionality these two puppies have, and how difficult it is to remember many of the functions for just one of them.
                              This was one of my major gripes going from the FT-50 to the VX-5. The 5 has a much nicer display than the 50, but making good use of it is hampered by the less logical (or, at least, user-friendly) method of navigating the menus and their placement in relation to each other. I really wish Yaesu would be consistent between models with their placement of common F-key functions on the keypad, too.

                              Oh, and one other thing for anyone considering using the VX-5 ADMS software with their VX-7: don't bother. We've tried it, and it doesn't work. The 7 can't catch the sync sequence from the programmer. Save yourself $40 and wait for the new version.

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