Who is SUPPOSED to be able to program radios ?

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n9gik
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Who is SUPPOSED to be able to program radios ?

Post by n9gik » Fri Feb 22, 2008 12:32 am

IT manager Rob has been asking about programing radios for his county. At the risk of having rotten fruit tossed my way ... and I know it is one of those things I should be able to find myself ... what are the current regs about programming?

Showing my age, I remember when the FCC had strict regs about who was supposed to be able to set freq's and play with radios. If we are 100% by the book, can anyone with radio smarts and software do it these days?

I'll rephrase that, can anyone with radio smarts and software LEGALLY do it these days?

It is no big deal programming radios if you understand what you are trying to do and what the software is trying to let you do. Sometimes it is not very intuitive, you are expected to know what they re trying to say even though it is not explained (not explained well, just not explained at all) It makes it look like Microsoft is writing children's books. But it is do-able.

But is it legal? Or maybe even a more important question, is it wise?

Rob might be a very good IT guy. He might take to radio programming like a ham club to a pot of beans. But does being an IT guy qualify him to understand what needs done?
I don't know much about 2-way radios but I'm over 50 and can't remember not having one around. Everything from Buddy and Citi-fone to Icom and Kenwood.

k2hz
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Re: Who is SUPPOSED to be able to program radios ?

Post by k2hz » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:29 am

My thoughts were the same as yours and I sent him an email discussing the implications of "do it yourself" programming. But, since the FCC no longer requires a licensed or certified technician to service Part 90 radios, it is left up to the licensee to determine who is qualified to do the work.

Here are some excerpts from what I told him:

Radio programming software is restricted for a good reason. When frequency
synthesized and programmable radios were developed, the FCC was concerned
about end users programming radios to operate on unauthorized frequencies
or in violation of technical standards. Radios must be designed to be
programmed only by an authorized dealer or qualified service entity. I
think they admonished some vendors that offered software openly as a user
accessory.

The other issue with use of this software is that it can be complicated to
use, requires special interface hardware and risks turning the radio into a
"brick" if you don't know what you are doing. A programming error can
either cause the radio to malfunction (as you are well aware with your
network equipment) or cause the radio microprocessor to be unable to boot
so you can not read or write to it to fix the problem and your radio is
now a paperweight.

Finally, I consider it irresponsible to make programming changes to a
radio and send it out to a user without a bench check with appropriate
test equipment to insure it is working on the intended frequecies and performing to
specifications. I know a lot of less than ethical shops will just dump in
the new program and ship the radio but I would never do this, especially in
a public safety environment where lives depend on the radio.

123
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Re: Who is SUPPOSED to be able to program radios ?

Post by 123 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:55 pm

k2hz wrote:Radio programming software is restricted for a good reason. When frequency
synthesized and programmable radios were developed, the FCC was concerned
about end users programming radios to operate on unauthorized frequencies
or in violation of technical standards. Radios must be designed to be
programmed only by an authorized dealer or qualified service entity. I
think they admonished some vendors that offered software openly as a user
accessory.
Incorrect. Anyone that wants to pay for radio programming software from a manufacturer can do so. There are no restrictions...
Dealers impose restrictions on selling software to the end user not because its restrictive, but because they want to make money in programming the radio themselves.
Reference the FCC, that was over a decade ago. Things have changed and the FCC imposes no such restrictions. It is unlawful to transmit on a frequency you are not licensed on or authorized to use, not to program radios or own the software to program radios.

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