Emergency Services Committee
Ranch Radio System
Using Inexpensive FRS Radios

by Eddie Gieske

Practically since day one, Ranch residents have used radio to communicate with others circulating the 105 miles of Ranch roads.  In the early days, it was CB, but the annoying "skip" caused most to turn their radios off, making it almost impossible to call for help when needed.

In more recent years, FRS (Family Radio Service) has come of age and equipment costs are the same or less than CB and available even from Wal-Mart.  FRS is a license-free service of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).  Because FRS operates on the 462 mhz UHF band, transmissions are more or less line of sight and, you will not be annoyed by "skip" signals from other states or countries.  For weeks now, I have not heard a single false signal from mine.

So, now there is a cheap, reliable, portable and quiet means of communication for the Ranch.  All we need to do is get enough of them on 24/7 to ensure that you can always reach one or another of them from anywhere on the Ranch.  Already there are 18 of the Radio Shack models (see below) and numerous hand-held walkie talkies waiting to be turned on.

Purposes

What's Required to Make it Work

FRS Radios at each ESC member's home and/or other key locations that will remain "on" 24-7; so that vehicles, ATV's, horseback, etc. can be assured of reaching one or another of them in the event of need.

As many as possible POA members the more, the better with handie talkies.  Let them, know the Channel and Quiet Code that is being monitored and that anyone can and is encouraged to participate by purchasing inexpensive FRS radios and keeping them in their vehicles or on their person.

The Mechanics

The monitored channel will be: Channel 7 with Quiet Code 7.  The 38 Quiet Codes are also known as: Continuous Tone Control Squelch System (CTCSS), Privacy Codes, sub-carriers, etc.

Radios

Power

These are 12 volt radios with a cigar lighter plug.  At home, the easiest source is a 120 volt to 12 volt DC plug-in converter, delivering a minimum of 0.5 Amp (500 mA).  Radio Shack has one (22-501) for $11.99.  Search the Web for others starting at $3.75 (www.sciplus.com) Item # 32682.  If you want "power out" protection, use a small tractor or motorcycle battery and a trickle charger.

Protocols of use

There is really only one.  Since Channel 7, Quiet Code 7 is the monitored and calling frequency, switch to another channel and/or quiet code for your personal communications once contact is made.

Let's get it done!

This is a golden opportunity to greatly enhance the effectiveness of the ESC and help protect the safety and wellbeing of Ranch residents and property at minimum cost.  If I can help with the mechanics and protocols, please do not hesitate to call me at 846-1124.