Digital/analog encrypted radios question

TheGerman

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Ok, talk to me like I'm a complete moron.

I was talking to a few dealers about land mobile radios and everyone seems to want to suggest going digital for the sound quality and encryption.

Seeing as how every manufacturer has their own proprietary stuff when it comes to everything from plugs, to their digital 'trunking' (if Im explaining this right, example would be Kenwood has the NEXEDGE 'system') and excryption, I haven't been able to figure out something:

- Let's say you and your friends have the encryption enabled, and all have the same brand/type of radio. If you disable encryption, can you transmit/receive anything broadcast within your radios' distance from anyone that has a different brand/type (analog/digital) radio on that frequency? From my understanding I was being told that if I had a digital ICOM unit, basically only the other people with digital ICOM units could hear/transmit to me and anyone else would just hear random noises because it doesn't have the same trunking 'system' (If im explaining that right). I can't see how this is a smart thing if true.

- Is this for digital only, and analog doesnt have this 'issue'? Or am I totally misunderstanding this?
 

Alpine 338

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Analog, aka FM is not compatible with Digital, even though they may still use FM modulation. Then there are different digital modes and modulations like Digital Narrowband, FSK, PSK, ANDVT, etc. Most public service radios use a standard digital modulation type (P25), that is an industry standard, and compatible between manufacturers. And then there are digital radios that use modulation/encryption systems that are not compatible with other manufacturers.

Generally speaking, radios that use analog modulation systems i.e. AM, FM, NFM, etc, are all compatible with each other.
 
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TheGerman

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So from that PDF, I got a few things. Check to see if I got this right.

- With background noise, analog degrades much more slowly while digital will become useless
- Digital works better with weaker signals than analog does
- You basically need to be in the same modulation type to TX/RX each other on digital

So from a scenario of me being out there with a digital radio using IDAS or P25, and someone on their Baofeng is asking for help on a frequency I'm on wouldn't even be heard on my radio, nor could I talk to them, regardless if my encryption is on or off.

How do radios that use analog/digital conventional mixed mode operation fit into this? Still the same because it uses the IDAS or P25 trunking?
 

TheGerman

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What end game are you after?
As far as what exactly? Not sure I understand your question, but Ill give an answer and see if that helps.

For a business venture, I need 6x squad level comms that need to be encrypted. All units will be attached to a PTT and Peltor headset/mic units. They need to stand up to being beat up a bit, as well as be sand/water resistant and not be drowned out by constant engine and/or gunfire noise. We will add more units as needed.

These will also double as a setup for personal (non HAM/non repeater) use. I've already spoken to a place that I can be licensed for this in the 136-174mhz range so everything is above board since its for business use.

Additionally, I was looking for a vehicle mounted land mobile transceiver for non-squad comms that can hit one of our other vehicles as well as a 'base station' as the areas we are in have shit cell service at best, but LOS would not be an issue.

For handhelds, we were looking at the ICOM F1000D and 3261.

My concern was that if we went with anything that was utilizing the digital trunking in whatever flavor, we'd be able to communicate amongst ourselves but would basically be in the dark/painted in a corner with being able to communicate with anyone who didn't have the same digital trunking 'system'; an example would be what I mentioned above in relation to someone else being by us asking for help on a regular random radio on a frequency we were on, but we wouldn't hear it nor be able to communicate with them.
 

Gunfighter14e2

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Good luck finding what your looking for.
FYI A std Ham radio will do everything you need, once to apply out of the box logic. We have never needed anything but a std radio. Plus if it all goes to shit an you can't repair/find what you have, SOL, comes to mind. Keep it simple an apply your own codes like this one I posted in another Ham thread.

"Tell me what the following really means.

Me,...Hello, is Don there?

Her,...No, he just left 20 minutes ago to get his meds filled, an the transmission in his truck serviced. Is that you Al?

Me,...No this is Ralph he was supposed to be over this AM but he never showed an I thought something was wrong?

Her,...He most likely forgot, I'll remind him when it gets back later, you going to be near the phone?

Me,...No going to the track for some testing to see if the new engine is ready for Friday night.

Her,...The 3/8 mile dirt track in Warrior or the 1/2 mile short track near Cullman?

Me,...Neither the 1/4 mile dirt in Attala, should be on the track at 1930 hrs.

Her,...OK I'll tell him.

Me,... OK good, tell him to get there early if he's coming, by. "


No one to date either here, or other places, has broken it yet an I doubt it will ever be as most can not believe something might be embedded into a conversation, that means nothing to them, but everything to others,..
Equipment will never trump, tactics.
 

Alpine 338

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So from that PDF, I got a few things. Check to see if I got this right.

- With background noise, analog degrades much more slowly while digital will become useless
- Digital works better with weaker signals than analog does
- You basically need to be in the same modulation type to TX/RX each other on digital

So from a scenario of me being out there with a digital radio using IDAS or P25, and someone on their Baofeng is asking for help on a frequency I'm on wouldn't even be heard on my radio, nor could I talk to them, regardless if my encryption is on or off.

How do radios that use analog/digital conventional mixed mode operation fit into this? Still the same because it uses the IDAS or P25 trunking?
You are correct, except digital does not work better with weaker signals than analog, generally speaking. However there are some digital modes of operations, and modulation types like FSK, and PSK that can successfully operate at the noise floor, or well below it. They can be encrypted, and/or use frequency-hopping, which not only makes it hard to intercept and gain intelligence from, but also very difficult to jam.
I can't speak for every brand or model of radio equipment out there, but in this day in age, things are no longer as simple as just buying a radio, turning it on, and talking with others.
At one time, I had to install and program two-way radios that operated in the VHF Govt band. As the article mentioned, we were forced to go Narrowband, and Digital. The radios we used were Motorola Spectra, and we not only had to program (via computer) the operating frequencies, but also modes of operation, like P25, simplex calling channels, repeater coding, and even private channels (aka tactical channels). We didn't use a trunking system, but our system allowed for it to be set-up and used. We also programmed some analog channels in our radios, such as 2-meter channels, WX channels, etc. If the radios have the capability, you have the software, time, and know-how, the sky is the limit. However, none of it can be done on the fly in the field.
Since you mentioned trunking systems, that's another large problem in addition to going digital. Just ask anyone in Los Angeles County (Govt), and how many issues they have that they can't get Motorola to fix.
That is why BLM and USFS Fire Fighters where allowed to stay analog, and not forced to move to Digital Narrowband because of all the issues with Digital Narrowband has in the mountains.
 

magtech

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The posted PDF really doesn't talk about encryption for security sake. It merely talks about standards. Encryption can be done digitally, through secure key encryption (same as internet and computers). RF transmissions can be seen as a slower version of WIFI ( digitally). Look into how information is encrypted in that wireless standard. Combine that with frequency hopping and other techniques then you start getting layers of encryption. On top of that you can encrypt what you say within the message itself, like Gunfighter did.

If you are trying to break mil/civil service encryption you'll have to delve into gov standards and find someone with working knowledge to do so. Doing so online will probably get you in jail.. EVERYTHING you do in the COM world is tracked. Its up to you how you work with that.
 

Snuby642

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So have decided to get comms not to rely on cellular systems.

I have taken a couple practice tests online for tech, running about 75% and general about 35% no studying yet.
What is a passing score?

Accross semi flat land what will it take to get 30 miles? On a tech license.

Possible with hand held and auxiliary antena ?
Mobile / docked base station and upgraded antennas?

Edit: within legal constraints.
 

Alpine 338

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Accross semi flat land what will it take to get 30 miles? On a tech license.

Lots of factors; Frequency, modulation, antenna gain, transmit power, omni or directional antenna, propagation, receiver sensitivity (also at far end), etc.

Let's just use a few factors...

2M band (144-Megahertz).
10-Watts of output power (Transmitter).
Directional antenna with at least 6bB of gain.
Antenna located on a mast 10-ft above ground.

That should easily get you 30-miles over flat terrain.

However, the 10-Watts of power, and a directional antenna is usually associated with a fixed base station. Now if you are expecting to use a handheld (HT), which are typically used with an omnidirectional antenna, and have a maximum power output of 5 or 6-Watts, 30-miles will be a stretch (reliable comms) unless you're at an elevated position like an aircraft, or up on a ridge or mountain top.
 
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Gunfighter14e2

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So have decided to get comms not to rely on cellular systems.

I have taken a couple practice tests online for tech, running about 75% and general about 35% no studying yet.
What is a passing score?

Accross semi flat land what will it take to get 30 miles? On a tech license.

Possible with hand held and auxiliary antena ?
Mobile / docked base station and upgraded antennas?

Edit: within legal constraints.
Keep taking the P tests until your in the 90% range, you need a 75% or better to pass each test.
Distance is not the issue, nor is power, if both antennas have line of sight you can talk on 1-2 watts w/o issue as I have keyed up the clubs high altitude repeater from 275 miles away with 5 watts. I can uplink to Ham Sat's with 2 watts w/o issue. W/O LOS it's more about location an antenna than power. We run Yeasu's an Baofengs with quality antennas an talk simplex 25-35 miles with 3-5watts depending location of one or the others antenna. Also have a 50 watt 2 meter but don't see that much of a improvement with power alone. There are guys around here who have much higher power going into their fed line but they fare no better than most of the lower powered rigs with good antennas an good locations.
 
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Snuby642

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So most all ht's are out.
Saw an inexpensive mobile (probably certified newbie grade) Yaesu FT-2980R 80W FM 2M Mobile Transceiver.
Up to 80w.

Have 2 base locations to contact 12miles n x nw and 20 miles west that are a must.

Omni antenas would be best.

So an 80w transmitter would be legal?
 
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Snuby642

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Was hoping to not have to rely on repeaters due to power outages and others in controll.
Looks like I need to review antena choices carefully. More gain the better?

Dont know city regs on antena poles but have 40 ft of tree out back fairly covert?

Frustrating knew more when I was 10 years old.

Thanks for all the help.
 

Snuby642

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On a funny note.
For 34 years I fabricated and installed probably every commercial / military quality coax connector made.
Never crimp the pins, solder every time.
 

Matches Malone

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As far as what exactly? Not sure I understand your question, but Ill give an answer and see if that helps.

For a business venture, I need 6x squad level comms that need to be encrypted. All units will be attached to a PTT and Peltor headset/mic units. They need to stand up to being beat up a bit, as well as be sand/water resistant and not be drowned out by constant engine and/or gunfire noise. We will add more units as needed.

These will also double as a setup for personal (non HAM/non repeater) use. I've already spoken to a place that I can be licensed for this in the 136-174mhz range so everything is above board since its for business use.

Additionally, I was looking for a vehicle mounted land mobile transceiver for non-squad comms that can hit one of our other vehicles as well as a 'base station' as the areas we are in have shit cell service at best, but LOS would not be an issue.

For handhelds, we were looking at the ICOM F1000D and 3261.

My concern was that if we went with anything that was utilizing the digital trunking in whatever flavor, we'd be able to communicate amongst ourselves but would basically be in the dark/painted in a corner with being able to communicate with anyone who didn't have the same digital trunking 'system'; an example would be what I mentioned above in relation to someone else being by us asking for help on a regular random radio on a frequency we were on, but we wouldn't hear it nor be able to communicate with them.
I’m not a comm nerd but based off your op reqs of comms this might satisfy. I’d ask budget but I don’t really care.

 

Gunfighter14e2

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So most all ht's are out.
Saw an inexpensive mobile (probably certified newbie grade) Yaesu FT-2980R 80W FM 2M Mobile Transceiver.
Up to 80w.

Have 2 base locations to contact 12miles n x nw and 20 miles west that are a must.

Omni antenas would be best.

So an 80w transmitter would be legal?
HT's may work depending a few things we use them father than that around here.
Yes Omni's are generally best an as high as you can get it/them. Plus they can be hidden in trees, flag poles behind signs ect depending your location.
Read the Band Plan save 60 an 30 meters it's 1500watts max if you think you need that much. One thing to remember a quality array will quickly trump a amplifier. Having a full bucket at the flip of a switch is nice but everything is a trade off. The only thing a amp is worth it to me is long strings of SSTV do to the TX duty cycle, during normal times. In a SHTF sending anymore power than required to your target is an invite for bigger ears. It's very rare I key up max power for voice an with CW or digital it's simply not needed. One of our info out posts is 78 air miles away so ground wave on 80 is our main go to. One time I threw max power into the array an got nothing from them, switched to digital dropped the power to 5 watts an bang they were there. So with mother being the bitch that day we tried many things before she changed. It's not about array input power, it's about the arrays ability with the input power it's fed, an mother allowing a window to the target.
The Military cross band test is a good indicator of a stations ability as everyone involved is operation within a time window as will as having to operate in the same conditions for those close to you. Many have to learn the hard way it's not fed line in put power, it's array ability that gets you in their log an a card latter down the road. This is really telling on 60 meters when they use all 5 channels for different regions in this country during a test. You can tell real quick who has a good array verses just throwing power at something, as 100 watts is max on 60 meters.
I can't stress this enough it's way more about the array an a good ground, than power.
 
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Snuby642

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SHARC
snipers hide amateur radio club.

Unless you want the international version?
SHIRC
Snipers hide international radio club
 
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Gunfighter14e2

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snipers hide amateur radio club.

Unless you want the international version?
SHIRC
Snipers hide international radio club
Some of us had kicked around a S/H net, but to do it correctly it would be nets as there is no one freq with coverage for everyone. One model that works very well, is either a 40 or 80 meter local, then the elected NCS stations get on a follow on, using 20 meters for a National. Then they report back to their local should there be any breaking news that the state run media fails to report, or out right blocks.
There are more that a few of these types already up an running around the country some using voice, digital, CW an yet others using SSTV. Some are mandatory check in once you start, as if you don't show w/o prior notice of some kind, people come looking to see what up, an act accordingly there after.
 

Snuby642

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That sounds great.
I have a lot of catch up but time is available.
 

alpine44

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Some of us had kicked around a S/H net, but to do it correctly it would be nets as there is no one freq with coverage for everyone. One model that works very well, is either a 40 or 80 meter local, then the elected NCS stations get on a follow on, using 20 meters for a National. Then they report back to their local should there be any breaking news that the state run media fails to report, or out right blocks.
There are more that a few of these types already up an running around the country some using voice, digital, CW an yet others using SSTV. Some are mandatory check in once you start, as if you don't show w/o prior notice of some kind, people come looking to see what up, an act accordingly there after.
How do you find these existing nets?
 

Gunfighter14e2

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How do you find these existing nets?
Just search Ham Radio nets but here are a few
This one lists some, note the times are all UTC (Zulu).
This one is mostly for maritime use.
This one is mostly in Canada.
This link is for those who have never been on a net an/or are very new to Ham radio.

There are many nets that are not openly advertised, using a digital mode an sub mode thereof being the SOP norm. Most of these types of nets always use split freqs* to keep out those w/o upper level skill sets, or an open invitation.

*Split ferq's is where the NCS (net control station)is receiving on one freq but transmitting on a different one. This does a few things to keep some from entering the net conversations as well as restricting info. These types of nets have codes where they will change the freqs up as needed w/o those in the know even knowing about it as it's done with a code word or number in the last NCS TX message an then everyone changes to the new ferq's, mode an sub-mode thereof an the net keeps rolling alone with less ears or disruptions.
 
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Snuby642

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Any special requirements on radio, digital and ? To accomplish this?

Duplex mode?
 
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Gunfighter14e2

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Any special requirements on radio, digital and ? To accomplish this?
Radio needs a data port. You'll need a *sound card* between the computer an radio plus the proper program. Most are using FLdigi an it can be down loaded from Here plus there is screen shots of what you will see on the water fall of your computer once you have it set up properly. There is a learning curve that can be steep depending on a few things, you may or may not have experience. It's best to get someone to walk you thru it the first few times. I had to learn it all the hard way back when, but in reality it was not that bad, now looking back. There are instructions on the down load sight now but when I got into it there was nothing an no one around to help me. The funny thing was after I learned it, everyone around including my Elmer, had me teach them. Kind of pissed me off as they all were waiting on me to be the test bed, to see if they wanted in,...what are friends for?


You have to be careful as many operators think all digital modes will go threw just like CW does, that is "NOT" the case if mother nature is not playing nice. Even though digital is much better than phone (voice), some modes have a very wide spectrum( bandwidth) they operate in, an are subject to mother issues more than others. The CW mode will allow you to RX CW in real time if your not up to speed on it, up to 50 WPM, as well as allow you to TX perfect code back at 50 WPM, The older version would allow up to 150 WPM but uncle bitched about that, you can guess the reason.

The advantage of digital is the bandwidth is so narrow you can set up on top of a QSO an TX/RX and those using voice on the freq will never know you are there. We do that all the time to keep some stuff close to the chest.

It's a brave new world, an slipping out of the old commo handcuffs is very easy these days. Once your into it for awhile other doors will open an all the little light bulbs will start coming on, that's when the really good shit comes to mind, for people who think like us or have BTDT,... an may have to again.

Prearranged single word codes are best for most things, but everyone has their own systems in place if it all goes to shit.

*sound card* a good one that is about a 100 bucks is called a, Signalink USB made by Tigertronics a rock solid company. Set all the knobs to 0900 an rock on until you learn how to tweek all three for the mode/antenna your using. If your computer has a microphone jack an one USB port, with the down load, signalink with correct cord for your radios data port, an following the jumper connection chart, you'll be operating very quickly.

Most find Digital easier to operate on days when mother is the bitch she can be when you HAVE to get a message/warning out.

Long winded I know, but hope this helps,...
 

Snuby642

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So digital is compressed,
Packets and xm quicker than voice on sketchy signal strengh? Even over the top of other signals, nice.

So long dx bigboy wifi so to speak.

Back to checking specs . Have to get 3 units so want to be careful with funds.

Thanks
 

Snuby642

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BTECH UV-25X4 X-SERIES MOBILE - 25 WATT TRI BAND RADIO

so this may work for now but not really defining digital or not.

Anybody with an opinion on these? Cant hurt my feelings.
 

alpine44

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Just search Ham Radio nets but here are a few
This one lists some, note the times are all UTC (Zulu).
This one is mostly for maritime use.
This one is mostly in Canada.
This link is for those who have never been on a net an/or are very new to Ham radio.

There are many nets that are not openly advertised, using a digital mode an sub mode thereof being the SOP norm. Most of these types of nets always use split freqs* to keep out those w/o upper level skill sets, or an open invitation.

*Split ferq's is where the NCS (net control station)is receiving on one freq but transmitting on a different one. This does a few things to keep some from entering the net conversations as well as restricting info. These types of nets have codes where they will change the freqs up as needed w/o those in the know even knowing about it as it's done with a code word or number in the last NCS TX message an then everyone changes to the new ferq's, mode an sub-mode thereof an the net keeps rolling alone with less ears or disruptions.

Radio needs a data port. You'll need a *sound card* between the computer an radio plus the proper program. Most are using FLdigi an it can be down loaded from Here plus there is screen shots of what you will see on the water fall of your computer once you have it set up properly. There is a learning curve that can be steep depending on a few things, you may or may not have experience. It's best to get someone to walk you thru it the first few times. I had to learn it all the hard way back when, but in reality it was not that bad, now looking back. There are instructions on the down load sight now but when I got into it there was nothing an no one around to help me. The funny thing was after I learned it, everyone around including my Elmer, had me teach them. Kind of pissed me off as they all were waiting on me to be the test bed, to see if they wanted in,...what are friends for?


You have to be careful as many operators think all digital modes will go threw just like CW does, that is "NOT" the case if mother nature is not playing nice. Even though digital is much better than phone (voice), some modes have a very wide spectrum( bandwidth) they operate in, an are subject to mother issues more than others. The CW mode will allow you to RX CW in real time if your not up to speed on it, up to 50 WPM, as well as allow you to TX perfect code back at 50 WPM, The older version would allow up to 150 WPM but uncle bitched about that, you can guess the reason.

The advantage of digital is the bandwidth is so narrow you can set up on top of a QSO an TX/RX and those using voice on the freq will never know you are there. We do that all the time to keep some stuff close to the chest.

It's a brave new world, an slipping out of the old commo handcuffs is very easy these days. Once your into it for awhile other doors will open an all the little light bulbs will start coming on, that's when the really good shit comes to mind, for people who think like us or have BTDT,... an may have to again.

Prearranged single word codes are best for most things, but everyone has their own systems in place if it all goes to shit.

*sound card* a good one that is about a 100 bucks is called a, Signalink USB made by Tigertronics a rock solid company. Set all the knobs to 0900 an rock on until you learn how to tweek all three for the mode/antenna your using. If your computer has a microphone jack an one USB port, with the down load, signalink with correct cord for your radios data port, an following the jumper connection chart, you'll be operating very quickly.

Most find Digital easier to operate on days when mother is the bitch she can be when you HAVE to get a message/warning out.

Long winded I know, but hope this helps,...
Thanks for the comprehensive info.

I got my tech license while living in Montana where cell coverage is pretty thin. With an HT you could always hit a repeater even in the most remote wilderness areas.

Now, with the bias of the media and censoring of social media on the increase it would be good to have alternate information channels.
I'll get the components for the digital modes since my CW skills are non-existent. Have to check whether I need to upgrade to general for the pertinent frequencies.
 
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Snuby642

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@Gunfighter14e2
Thanks for the help.

Now I see that the digital is a very good way to move info.
I'm guessing the small packets will scoot through a repeater easily, if even necessary.

The signal link looks better than the vidio . Can I operate it without volume waking up the missus?
 
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Snuby642

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Great !
Allready looking into antennas.

Last practice test was only 68%, got to study more.
 

Gunfighter14e2

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Great !
Allready looking into antennas.

Last practice test was only 68%, got to study more.
It's takes a lesser quality antenna for digital, than it does for phone (voice). Depending the target & task degrading your output signal can be a good thing. I know that sounds odd, but once your on the air for awhile, it will make more sense. You can do the same thing by adding SWR to your antenna/s as well, if it's required. The end result is the same.

Stick with testing until your at 90% or better on 10+ tests in a row, Then take the test as quickly as you can. The questions will be the same an the answer choices will be the same, an the potential answers will be the same except mixed up differently than the P-tests.
Good luck
 

Snuby642

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That is a tempting unit for functions, evedently rebranded and reprogrammed from another popular brand. But the fact it needs additional eqipment to be servicable is just too much to choke down at this point for a noob with a small budget and 3 units initially to procure.

Spent hours checking it out after posting on s h and think, not for now after all.


Pretty much back to specking out mid grade ht's for practical reasons and spend more on antennas.

Thanks