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FRS radio explanation

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  • Steve Sosensky
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 15, 2001
      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
      unnecessary stuff.

      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.

      Good birding,
      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
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