If you are getting one for a race vehicle talk with Scott at PCI ask about the Roadmaster. I think it cost about $600-700. If it is for a chase vehicle there is a place called Hamm Radio Outlet in Kerney Mesa. The radio is a Yeasu. It is programable and it was about $200.00 for the whole setup.
<A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.andrewsracing.com>www.andrewsracing.com</A>
We also recommend that you buy current model Yaesu radios, both for chase vehicles and for your race vehicle. You can program many of the Yaesu radios yourself, very easily, using push buttons, plus they can be less expensive than the older technology "Roadmasters". A couple of the radio resellers who make their living out of selling Roadmaster radios to race teams, have been allocating channels to the race teams themselves, and programming the radios that they sell according to a system that they have adopted. However to our knowledge none of the offroad teams have a license to use the frequencies that they are on, which are basically the same frequencies used by taxi cabs, tow trucks and other commercial users. In effect, none of the teams have a license to use the channels that they are using. So if you are using a particular channel and another team claims , "hey get off OUR channel", you can always ask to see their license. Another option is to obtain a commercial license for some channels, through your Yaesu dealer, then YOU can say, "hey, dude, get off OUR channel. WE have a license to use this channel"
True the Yeasu does need a modification but it is a simple one and is a good cheap radio for a chase truck. I have two of them I have been using for about three years now. As for the Roadmaster, the radio works well for me and the support is awsome (PCI).
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I have modified about 40 of the Yeasu radios for various teams and for the most part have had no problems. The one major drawback is that the ft-2600 radio has 60watts of output and unless it's wired directly to the battery it will not opperate through most cigar lighter plugs. Kenwood also makes a great radio for chase use. The biggest plus for the "roadmaster" it's actually a nuetec, is the ease of use and minimal things to screw with while in the race car. The Yeasu makes a good chase radio if wired correctly and the "ROADMASTER" makes a good in car radio. IF you want any more info the the Yeasu or the Kenwood let me know. I can also provide Handhelds for under $200 that willl outperform the PCI handhelds.
And I'm not saying it is a bad thing. Just you should know what laws you are breaking just in case you do get stop by the FCC you know what to say. ( I don't know it always worked that way, from the time I bought it at the swap meet)
I can see your point (legality wise), but has the FCC come after off-road racers/ closed circuit operators? My friends aunt now works for BFG, but for a long time did Ham radio for SCORE, and she could call just about anyone in the world. I just can't see the FCC coming down on small stuff like this.
The law is such that you CAN modify a commercial band (the band we race on) radio to work on amateur (HAM) frequencies. But, you may NOT modify a Ham radio to work on commercial frequencies. To operate (legally) on either band, you need a license.
A Ham license is pretty easy to get. You just have to pass a written test. <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/examsearch.phtml>Click here</A> to find a class near you. You will then have access (legally) to 144MHz-148Mhz as well as the 440MHz (UHF) bands [and several other bands too].
To obtain a license for a commercial band, you apply to the FCC and will then get a license for a specific frequency i.e. 151.625MHz. You may not operate (legally) on any other freq than the one you're licensed for.
In addition to PCI, <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.raceshock.com>RaceShock Co.</A> is also selling new commercial band radios. (This is Spam Sunday...right??!)
BTW, the only way the FCC would go looking for you, is if you were interfering with a licensed operator. Therefore, if you only use your radio during a race (and NOT in town), you will probably not have a problem. (Does anyone know of a racer having to deal with the FCC?)
There are also other benefits to being a licensed Ham operator. Having access to repeaters and Autopatch (a phone connection) with a radio can be priceless in some situations. I got my license a couple of months ago, and have learned much since.
We run Unidens and they work great. We also have a Yaseu that works good, and I heard the motorollas are good too. Talk to Radio Bob at <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.rlhcomm.com>www.rlhcomm.com</A>
"We've done so much with so little for so long, we can do anything with nothing!"
I have heard from a ham on an email list that they (hams) have actively helped the FCC track down people using those freqs illegally. Usually the offenders are people with modified SSB cb's getting into the 10 meter band. For what ever reason, hams seem to be very protective of their frequencies. At least that's the impression I've gotten from talking to the few hams that I've met. Could be like a lot of threatened things, there's too damn many people on this planet using resources (like radio freqs and desert acreage).
"Teach you all I know and you're still stupid"
-- Howdy Lee
Converting amateur band radios into the commercial band is illegal and is punishable by a $10,000 dollar fine from the FCC (per unit). Also there is a fine to the end user at the FCC's discretion of $4,000 dollars per day. These units are designed for ham radio operators and do not carry the same spec as commercial band units and are not type excepted by the FCC for commercial use. The amateur band is for hobbiest and can not be used for commercial use, racing for a purse would be considered commercial. In around 1980 the FCC mandated that all commercial units could not be programmed by end users, I think this is so joe blow cannot program his radio and mess with local law enforcement or commercial businesses. The SCORE, BITD, SNORE, and MDR rule books all have rules that outlaw the use of amateur band and marine equipment (Could you get protested by a competitor for illegal radio equipment?). The reason for these rules is to follow the FCC's rules the best we can because someday they will show up at a race. We at PCI have been contacted by the FCC more than once on interference issues related to the Weatherman channel 151.625 which we are licensed for 1000 mobiles with the FCC. Also I know Score, BITD, Checkers, and many other teams that are licensed for there channels. PCI only sells and services commercial band units. The laws are clear, and we do not want to be targeted by the FCC. The Roadmaster radio is still the toughest radio in the desert. Older design yes, but race proven and field repairible. Most newer design radios are all microprocessor controlled and are factory repairible only. The Motorola and Yaesu factories usually will detect water damage. These repair bills can cost more than a new radio and are not covered by warranty. We at PCI know what you guys do and with 25 years of racing experience can handle most of your communications needs. To all PCI customers thank you for your support and to all with communication problems our phone # is 800-869-5636 ask for Scott I will do my best to help you PCI customer or not. While I cannot sell you a race radio you can program yourself I do have plenty of Roadmasters on special for $495. If you need more than 16 channels we have Vertex and Kenwood units also. I will let you guys go with 3 radio tips that apply to all radios. #1 Always wire your radios directly to the battery with a minimum of 12 gauge wire, cigar cords lose power because they can't supply 10 amps of power (Cigar Cords suck!!!). #2 Start your car and the added juice of your alternator will give you 15 to 20 percent more range. #3 If you are having range issues check your antenna make sure the tab in the base has good contact and your coax is in good shape this is the most important part of your system. Good luck racers, chasers, and pit people have fun and be safe!
Recently I purchased a Ringo Ranger(I think thats what you called it. It is the big one) antenna from you guys for my base radio and I have a Uniden which was programed by you at PCI. We run the radio off of a battery in the trailer.Am I losing power by doing this? Should I keep a charger on the battery throughout the race to ensure that I keep up a good signal? We also run a Roadmaster in the race car and have never had a problem with it.
Desert Racer A big problem people have with Main pit radios is getting good power to the radio. The trailer battery that is always needing a charge because the lights got left on usually starts out with less than 12 volts and declines every time you transmit on the radio. A battery charger definetly helps, but if you are going to run the generator a DC power supply is a better option. The power supply voltage is adjustable up to 15 volts. At 15 volts a Roadmaster radio will put out 70+ watts of power. While the person with the battery starts out around 45 watts and decreases every time they transmit. A Good battery charger will boost the power to around 55 watts but does not equal the 15volts of a 15amp continuous power supply. Remember the more you put in the more you get out. I cannot quote the price off the top of my head but I know they are less than $150. Good luck!
In 1997, it cost me $6.25 to take my "no code" Ham radio test. That is a test without knowing morse code. I am pretty sure the licenses have changec slightyly since then. I would recommend buying a book at your local radio shack and study. All of the questions are there and it is cheaper than taking a class. This is what I did. The books are about $15. Many shops in the socal area can tweak ham radios. Join a repeater club and you can have the use of phone capabilities out in the dez (which I have used too many times to remember). We have a repeater on Blue Ridge that I use in Barstow. I have had a Kenwood TMV-7a since 97 and have had zero problems. Just make sure you properly maintain the radio you decide to buy.
Thanks for all the info on the radios,and tips on setting them up.I will problably go with the Kenwood 261A because of the easy steps to convert it.I know the legal ramifacations of doing it.Thanks for that info Scott,but it won't be the first time I have broken the law.
We have been in the middle of researching the radios for our team lately. My father is a ham licensed radio operator, and has a lot of connections in the radio world. He did the research for me and found that PCI was one of the best prices and has the best support for their radios. Its great that you can get someone out in the middle of the desert to work on your stuff on the outside chance it doesn't work!