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Author Topic: CAP Portible Radio on eBay?  (Read 2660 times)
GaryVC
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« on: April 27, 2019, 09:23:40 PM »

If you were going to buy a portable radio to use for CAP on eBay, what would you buy? I would like to keep the cost under $200.
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xyzzy
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2019, 10:37:43 PM »

I would figure out how I'm going to get it programmed first and work from there.

Also, "portable" isn't the best word to use; it could refer to any radio that isn't bolted to a desk in a building. "Mobile" or "handheld" are more useful descriptions, since radios with built-in 120 V power supplies are virtually unheard of.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2019, 01:02:22 AM »

HT-1000
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arajca
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2019, 02:44:36 AM »

EF Johnson 5100.
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SarDragon
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2019, 03:13:56 AM »

HT-1000

Pros: Good basic radio. 16 channels. Programming requires a computer that will run real DOS, and has a real serial port, the older the better. The software is readily available and one version will do most radios of the type.

Cons: It doesn't do P25, which may hamper its use in certain situations. Needs a good quality battery; I got a cheapie, and it has trouble holding a charge.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2019, 03:23:08 AM by SarDragon » Report to moderator   Logged
Dave Bowles
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SarDragon
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« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2019, 03:20:33 AM »

EF Johnson 5100.

Pros: Former CAP standard issue. 256 channels, P25 capable. Dependable radio, if a bit heavy.

Cons: Higher price than the HT1000. Programming is more complex, and there are several different versions of the software, which must match the radio version.
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Dave Bowles
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Slim
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2019, 03:24:17 AM »

EF Johnson 5100.

Pros: Former CAP standard issue. 256 channels, P25 capable. Dependable radio, if a bit heavy.

Cons: Higher price than the HT1000. Programming is more complex, and there are several different versions of the software, which must match the radio version.
Another pro:  Your wing comm staff will have the necessary cable, software and codeplug to enter into your radio.
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Slim
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2019, 11:55:51 AM »

BITD Pro:  buy a VHF radio from HRO as advertised in the CAP Newspaper, program it yourself, and go do Comm stuff.

Today Con: All the things mentioned in this thread.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2019, 12:43:46 PM »

Bear in mind you can't get encryption on a POR, but also encryption is used so rarely as to be a non issue.
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carcarjg
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2019, 12:49:06 PM »

EF Johnson 5100.

Pros: Former CAP standard issue. 256 channels, P25 capable. Dependable radio, if a bit heavy.

Cons: Higher price than the HT1000. Programming is more complex, and there are several different versions of the software, which must match the radio version.
Another pro:  Your wing comm staff will have the necessary cable, software and codeplug to enter into your radio.

But could you program it yourself with CAP freqs, or would you have to go through your Squadron comm staff?
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arajca
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2019, 01:20:06 PM »

If you have the cables and software and the frequency information, you could program it yourself. It is easier and cheaper to have the sqdn/grp/wing comm folks program it as you'll have the latest wing specific programming. Some wings program in repeaters by name, not designator (*##). Also, most wings program a zone or two with just the wing repeaters making it easier to change to the appropriate channel.

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Eclipse
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2019, 01:37:52 PM »

Agreed - you really want the channel plan to match what your wing is doing, especially
if this is a CAP-only radio not used much.
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carcarjg
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2019, 02:45:00 PM »

If you have the cables and software and the frequency information, you could program it yourself. It is easier and cheaper to have the sqdn/grp/wing comm folks program it as you'll have the latest wing specific programming. Some wings program in repeaters by name, not designator (*##). Also, most wings program a zone or two with just the wing repeaters making it easier to change to the appropriate channel.

Hmm, Nice. Would I just send an email to the wing staff asking for this or is there a different way to request this?
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Eclipse
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2019, 03:00:03 PM »

You should start with your Unit Communications Staff and let them work their way up if additional
info or resources are needed.

If you don't have a Communications Officer, then you should get your CC's permission to move up to the next level.
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GaryVC
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2019, 03:00:52 PM »



But could you program it yourself with CAP freqs, or would you have to go through your Squadron comm staff?

I talked to the wing DO yesterday and he said I would have to program it myself. The Wing COMO died two years ago and hasn't been replaced. We do not have a squadron comm staff.
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GaryVC
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« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2019, 03:01:46 PM »

You should start with your Unit Communications Staff and let them work their way up if additional
info or resources are needed.

If you don't have a Communications Officer, then you should get your CC's permission to move up to the next level.

I am the unit commander and we don't have a comm staff. Lots of pilots but no comm staff.
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carcarjg
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« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2019, 03:05:26 PM »

You should start with your Unit Communications Staff and let them work their way up if additional
info or resources are needed.

If you don't have a Communications Officer, then you should get your CC's permission to move up to the next level.

Nice, thanks!



But could you program it yourself with CAP freqs, or would you have to go through your Squadron comm staff?

I talked to the wing DO yesterday and he said I would have to program it myself. The Wing COMO died two years ago and hasn't been replaced. We do not have a squadron comm staff.

Oh yikes.
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arajca
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« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2019, 03:36:08 PM »



But could you program it yourself with CAP freqs, or would you have to go through your Squadron comm staff?

I talked to the wing DO yesterday and he said I would have to program it myself. The Wing COMO died two years ago and hasn't been replaced. We do not have a squadron comm staff.
You can find the EFJ knock-off cable on Ebay. The EFJ software is available on the Communications page accessed through Eservices. If you have a CAP EFJ handheld/portable, once you have the software and cable, you can read the CAP radio and clone it to yours. If you don't get an EFJ, you'll need to find the cable and software.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2019, 03:37:31 PM »



But could you program it yourself with CAP freqs, or would you have to go through your Squadron comm staff?

I talked to the wing DO yesterday and he said I would have to program it myself. The Wing COMO died two years ago and hasn't been replaced. We do not have a squadron comm staff.

Gee-Zus.
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GaryVC
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« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2019, 03:58:43 PM »

You can find the EFJ knock-off cable on Ebay. The EFJ software is available on the Communications page accessed through Eservices. If you have a CAP EFJ handheld/portable, once you have the software and cable, you can read the CAP radio and clone it to yours. If you don't get an EFJ, you'll need to find the cable and software.

That sounds like a plan. All our mobile radios are EF Johnson. Can we use those? So what handheld would your recommend?
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carcarjg
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« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2019, 04:00:46 PM »



But could you program it yourself with CAP freqs, or would you have to go through your Squadron comm staff?

I talked to the wing DO yesterday and he said I would have to program it myself. The Wing COMO died two years ago and hasn't been replaced. We do not have a squadron comm staff.
You can find the EFJ knock-off cable on Ebay. The EFJ software is available on the Communications page accessed through Eservices. If you have a CAP EFJ handheld/portable, once you have the software and cable, you can read the CAP radio and clone it to yours. If you don't get an EFJ, you'll need to find the cable and software.

I've looked on Eservices and I can't seem to find the comm page. Is there a specific link that I have to go to?
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Luis R. Ramos
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« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2019, 04:27:38 PM »

After you logon, scroll down and you will find NHQ Communications page. Are you familiar with WMIRS? Right under it.

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arajca
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« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2019, 04:52:42 PM »

You can find the EFJ knock-off cable on Ebay. The EFJ software is available on the Communications page accessed through Eservices. If you have a CAP EFJ handheld/portable, once you have the software and cable, you can read the CAP radio and clone it to yours. If you don't get an EFJ, you'll need to find the cable and software.

That sounds like a plan. All our mobile radios are EF Johnson. Can we use those? So what handheld would your recommend?
Any EFJ handheld that starts with 51. CAP uses the 5112 and 51ES. There is also the 51SL, which does not have encryption capability.
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chuckmilam
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« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2019, 04:54:53 PM »

I talked to the wing DO yesterday and he said I would have to program it myself. The Wing COMO died two years ago and hasn't been replaced. We do not have a squadron comm staff.


Wow.
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carcarjg
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« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2019, 09:57:26 PM »

After you logon, scroll down and you will find NHQ Communications page. Are you familiar with WMIRS? Right under it.
Nice, I see it now. Thanks!
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NovemberWhiskey
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« Reply #25 on: April 29, 2019, 01:02:56 AM »

One other radio series to consider is the Motorola XTS line; the XTS 5000 is available in large quantities on eBay and is an upgrade (in radio performance terms) on the EFJ 51xx. Lots of police/fire departments are getting rid of them as they are end-of-life. They take the same batteries as the EFJ HTs (or rather, the EFJ takes the same batteries as the Motorola).

Your major issue will be finding someone to program one; or at least the combination of someone who can program them who has access to the CAP frequencies and zone plans for your wing.
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Slim
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« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2019, 01:18:53 AM »

One other radio series to consider is the Motorola XTS line; the XTS 5000 is available in large quantities on eBay and is an upgrade (in radio performance terms) on the EFJ 51xx. Lots of police/fire departments are getting rid of them as they are end-of-life. They take the same batteries as the EFJ HTs (or rather, the EFJ takes the same batteries as the Motorola).

Your major issue will be finding someone to program one; or at least the combination of someone who can program them who has access to the CAP frequencies and zone plans for your wing.

Ant that right there is the rub.

I'm a Motorola guy myself, and own an XTS3000 and a 5000.  They're rock solid radios, readily available, and normally what I would recommend to someone.  But, the difficulty with getting the software to program them can be a problem, then there's knowing how to use it properly.  Getting the needed frequency data from your wing is another issue itself.  The cable needed to program them is also easily available on eBay, but you also need an older computer.  In my experience, the software runs best on a computer using Windows XP, or an XP virtual machine.  Some say Windows 7 32-bit will work, but my only Win7 machine left is 64-bit, and it won't work with Windows 10 at all.

That's why it's just easier to recommend the EFJ 5100 series.  Your wing should have everything needed to program it for you, all you need to do is the legwork to get it done.
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Slim
NovemberWhiskey
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« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2019, 01:31:56 AM »

The cable needed to program them is also easily available on eBay, but you also need an older computer.  In my experience, the software runs best on a computer using Windows XP, or an XP virtual machine.  Some say Windows 7 32-bit will work, but my only Win7 machine left is 64-bit, and it won't work with Windows 10 at all.

Hmm; I have no problems running Astro CPS 20.01 on Windows 10 x64 - actually, I run it inside a VirtualBox VM on my MacBook Pro. I have much more trouble with the EFJ software, which seems to have a fantastically complicated matrix of supported firmware vs. required PCConfigure version, some of which need XP to work.

I do broadly agree with your points though.
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OldGuy
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« Reply #28 on: April 29, 2019, 01:36:19 AM »

Whisper is USAF returns to Motorola as primary comms next year.
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Slim
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« Reply #29 on: April 29, 2019, 01:45:52 AM »

The cable needed to program them is also easily available on eBay, but you also need an older computer.  In my experience, the software runs best on a computer using Windows XP, or an XP virtual machine.  Some say Windows 7 32-bit will work, but my only Win7 machine left is 64-bit, and it won't work with Windows 10 at all.

Hmm; I have no problems running Astro CPS 20.01 on Windows 10 x64 - actually, I run it inside a VirtualBox VM on my MacBook Pro. I have much more trouble with the EFJ software, which seems to have a fantastically complicated matrix of supported firmware vs. required PCConfigure version, some of which need XP to work.

I do broadly agree with your points though.

I tried it on a couple different Win10 64 machines, with a USB to Serial adapter, and kept getting "Failed to communicate" errors.  I still have an XP machine with a serial port that works just fine that I use to program my Astro, Astro25 and Waris (HT750) series radios, which also works for running PCConfigure to program my personal EFJ 5317.  Then again, I also have an old Toughbook running Win98/true DOS to program my old HT1000s, MT2000s and Visar.

Whisper is USAF returns to Motorola as primary comms next year.

No whispers necessary.  The new contract is for Motorola SRX-2200 and APX-7000 portables (for those wings who may need dual band capability), and APX-4500 mobile/base radios.  My understanding was that they were supposed to start rolling out one wing per region beginning later this year.  But older, legacy equipment like the EFJs will still be usable.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2019, 01:54:58 AM by Slim » Report to moderator   Logged

Slim
SarDragon
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« Reply #30 on: April 29, 2019, 03:52:19 AM »



But could you program it yourself with CAP freqs, or would you have to go through your Squadron comm staff?

I talked to the wing DO yesterday and he said I would have to program it myself. The Wing COMO died two years ago and hasn't been replaced. We do not have a squadron comm staff.
You can find the EFJ knock-off cable on Ebay. The EFJ software is available on the Communications page accessed through Eservices. If you have a CAP EFJ handheld/portable, once you have the software and cable, you can read the CAP radio and clone it to yours. If you don't get an EFJ, you'll need to find the cable and software.

Reading a CAP-owned radio and using the code plug is a maybe proposition. If the radio versions are different enough, that method probably won't work. If you can get with someone from another wing, that might work.

Building a code plug on your own is VERY tedious. There is a lot of information for each channel, and it has to be entered over 100 times. I hate to be Danny Downer, but I have been working with the EFJs for about 10 years now, and am still learning. There are five or six basic flavors of the 5317, and even more versions of the programming software. It's a mess.
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Dave Bowles
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NovemberWhiskey
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« Reply #31 on: April 29, 2019, 11:31:36 AM »

No whispers necessary.

... and just to emphasize that point: https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/media/cms/Comm_Update_71701BA34189F.pptx ref page 10 and onwards.

It's just one of the several comm-related briefings you can read here: https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/programs/emergency-services/2018-do-pre-conference-webinar-information
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GaryVC
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« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2019, 03:12:43 PM »

So would this work?
https://www.ebay.com/p/Police-Fire-1-Motorola-Xts3000-II-VHF-P25-Digital-Narrowband-Radio-Wprogramming/1410231471?iid=283454384864&chn=ps
I have VMware installed on my Windows 10 computer. I used to be a computer guy (programming in many dead languages). The Wing DO told me I could get the frequencies. I am going to ask the senior squadron near us if they have any comm guys, since the wing doesn't.
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arajca
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« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2019, 03:56:20 PM »

It would work.
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NovemberWhiskey
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« Reply #34 on: April 29, 2019, 04:30:24 PM »

You would also need to acquire a programming cable and the Motorola CPS.

Please bear in mind that, below wing level, communications officers in CAP are not generally accountable for programming radios and some/many would not have the requisite knowledge: radios in the Astro25 series are also significantly more complex/configurable than most ham radios for example.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #35 on: April 29, 2019, 04:55:19 PM »

+1 I don't know or care how they work, nor do I need to.  Give me big buttons and clear designators.

You think LEA or FD rank and file know what frequency the radio is on or how to program channels?

Also, carcajg, your wing absolutely has a DOK, you can't have equipment issued without one.

Contact the Chief of Staff.  If they really don't, then it needs to be escalated to Region. 

"We don't' know anything about radios" is highly unlikely especially considering all the rhetoric about national comm exercises,
etc. And if that situation really exists in your wing, then it need NHQ attention because that is a SERIOUS
mission impediment.

That doesn't mean the DOK of record is going to get in a COV and drive to your house on whim to
program your hamfest finds, but it's very doubtful the last time your
wing had one was 2 years ago.
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Slim
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« Reply #36 on: April 29, 2019, 07:36:51 PM »

So would this work?
https://www.ebay.com/p/Police-Fire-1-Motorola-Xts3000-II-VHF-P25-Digital-Narrowband-Radio-Wprogramming/1410231471?iid=283454384864&chn=ps
I have VMware installed on my Windows 10 computer. I used to be a computer guy (programming in many dead languages). The Wing DO told me I could get the frequencies. I am going to ask the senior squadron near us if they have any comm guys, since the wing doesn't.


That'll work just fine.  As I mentioned, the programming cable is readily available on eBay anywhere from $15-$20, just make sure you buy the right one.  The XTS3000 is in the Astro series, and uses the same cable as the HT1000.  Do not buy the Astro25 cable for the XTS5000/2500, as they are not the same.  The software is out there in the wild, just do a Google search for XTS3000 programming software, and you'll find it.  The most recent/newest version available is r05.04.00.


Once you have everything in hand, before you do anything else, read the radio and save the original codeplug file.  Then, just start playing around with the software and you can figure out how it works and what goes where.  If you run into any problems, shoot me a PM and I can help you out.
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Slim
SarDragon
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« Reply #37 on: April 29, 2019, 08:19:00 PM »

Here are two of the screens from the EFJ programmer. The top pic is the initial screen and covers global items. The lower pic is the entry screen for a single channel.







All this info needs to be entered/verified for each channel, which is why not having a pre-built code plug is so much trouble.
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Dave Bowles
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SarDragon
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« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2019, 04:35:03 AM »

For anyone who screamed "OPSEC", that is not a CAP freq. You cannot leave that field blank, and 151.000 is a default.
I take OPSEC very seriously, and ensure that I do not violate it when posting.
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Dave Bowles
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OldGuy
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« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2019, 02:53:16 PM »

For anyone who screamed "OPSEC", that is not a CAP freq. You cannot leave that field blank, and 151.000 is a default.
I take OPSEC very seriously, and ensure that I do not violate it when posting.
Since we do not "know" what CAP frequencies are, would you prefer we ignore potential issues like this in the future?
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PHall
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« Reply #40 on: May 01, 2019, 03:50:55 PM »

For anyone who screamed "OPSEC", that is not a CAP freq. You cannot leave that field blank, and 151.000 is a default.
I take OPSEC very seriously, and ensure that I do not violate it when posting.
Since we do not "know" what CAP frequencies are, would you prefer we ignore potential issues like this in the future?

Well first there has to be an issue.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #41 on: May 01, 2019, 04:09:29 PM »

For anyone who screamed "OPSEC", that is not a CAP freq. You cannot leave that field blank, and 151.000 is a default.
I take OPSEC very seriously, and ensure that I do not violate it when posting.
Since we do not "know" what CAP frequencies are, would you prefer we ignore potential issues like this in the future?

Everyone "knows" the freqs.  They are FOUO, not secret, and easily found if you need them.

That ship sailed 10 years ago.
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HandsomeWalt_USMC
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« Reply #42 on: May 01, 2019, 04:45:59 PM »

Everyone knows? I don't. I bring my portable to the comm nerds and ask them to load my freqs. Not to mention that just because something is fairly easy to find or commonplace doesn't mean we should propagate the idea that it's okay.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #43 on: May 01, 2019, 05:11:45 PM »

I didn't say anyone should do anything.

That doesn't change the fact that they are easy to find if you need / want them.

Pretending they aren't is just as dangerous, because there should be no assumption
communications are confidential, even when encrypted because there are surely plenty of
radios out there that have been cloned by people who know how into PORs, etc.

Again, this ship sailed 10 years ago, and was probably accelerated by CAP propagating the
idea that the freqs were some how unknowable, which meant plenty of hams decided to prove it wrong.
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