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.
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 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.
Any FRS 14 channel radio (just make sure the radio has the standard 38 Privacy Codes). These are dirt cheap everywhere, including Wal-Mart. Rechargeable batteries are a good idea. FRS-only radios are limited to ½ Watt output and a theoretical 2 mile range.
The newer FRS/GMRS radios range up to 3 Watts and a theoretical 7 mile range. Not all of these radios have all 14 FRS channels. Make sure it has FRS channel 7. These radios can be used on FRS frequencies license free, but require a license for use on the GMRS channels.
ESC procured 18 Radio Shack "Personal Radio" "Marine/Mobile" radios (part # 21-1850) – no longer in stock. These radios were designed to be used in vehicles, but the ECS's intended purpose is for all 18 of them to be used for at-home 24-7 monitoring by ECS members. Ideally, it should be placed somewhere in the home where you can hear it most of the time The antenna should be outside, facing where you can see most of the Ranch and mounted vertically. If you can not find a place for the antenna, consider a steel angle bracket on the outside wall. It does have a magnetic base and will stick to the bracket, but can be screw mounted to any surface. Run the wire in through a window.
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.
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.
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.