FRS radio explanation
- Hi again,
Please excuse me for assuming that everyone would know about FRS radios.
I've received several responses asking, so here is an explanation.
FRS stands for Family Radio Service. This is a radio transmission band
comprised of 14 channels each of which contains 47 subchannels, often
referred to as subcodes or privacy codes. For some unknown reason, most
radios available today can access only 38 of the 47 subcodes. These radios
have a maximum range of 2 miles in line of sight, and about 1 mile from
within a car. There is no license required. Some radios come with only a
subset of the 14 channels, some without subcodes. A radio set to a given
channel without a subcode set (AKA subcode 0) can hear all transmissions on
that channel, but will not be heard by any radio set to a subcode. For
example, if A is on 1/0, B is on 1/1, and C is on 1/2, then A can hear both
B and C, but B and C can hear neither of the other two.
In many parts of the country, birders have begun using these radios while
birding. They enable a group to spread out to look for an active rarity, or
summon others to a new find. They also enable a visiting birder to find
other birders when they arrive at a new location, and are great for car
caravans. Radio prices for a good 14/38 radio start at about $35 on sale at
most electronic and department stores (Frys', Best Buy, Office Depot,
Target, etc.). For about $100, you can get much more complicated sets with
weather channels, scanners, altimeters, and lots of other nice but
Over the last 3 or 4 years, birders have selected their frequencies at
random. Unless well publicized, a visiting birder from out of area would
have no way of knowing which channel/subcode (c/sc) to use.
ABA has recently formed a committee to evaluate and select a c/sc to
recommend for use throughout the ABA area, so that visiting birders know
where to tune. This will not be a rule, just a suggestion, but conforming
will eliminate publicizing a different c/sc. The vote on a c/sc will take
place next week.
The committee will also develop a set of "ethics" guidelines for FRS use by
birders. This will be done after the vote is complete.
Obviously, if you don't have an FRS radio already, and birders in your area
have not yet selected a c/sc, you don't need to consider changing from a
current local standard, and don't need to vote. If, OTOH, you have a
preference, we'd like to hear about it.
Steve <mailto:steve@...>, <mailto:mobile@...>
Steve Sosensky, photographer www.sosensky.com
10834 Blix Street #213 818-508-4946
Toluca Lake, CA 91602 34*09'02" N, 118*22'47" W
Audubon in So. California www.SoCalAudubon.org/socal/
San Fernando Valley AS www.SanFernandoValleyAudubon.org/sfvas/
AIM ID: SteveS310 Yahoo Messenger ID: SteveSosensky
SoCal FRS: use channel 8 code 18