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Saturday, 5 March 2011

Beginner’s guide to PMR446

I thought I’d begin with this, a beginner’s guide to PMR446
PMR446 is a (normally) short range two-way radio service that is license exempt and used throughout Europe, it is divided up into 8 simplex channels (one channel for communications both ways), and with an option for 38 CTCSS tones and DCS on some radios, though be aware that it may say in the instructions that CTCSS increases privacy, it, in actual fact, keeps out transmissions not sending the same CTCSS tone, the receiver will still receive the signal, you just won’t hear it
The range of PMR446 can be anything up to 6 miles in open areas, more if the conditions are right to a few meters in built up areas, however last weekend I managed 0.31 miles (about 1/2 a kilometer) on a pair of old and cheap PMR446 units in a built up area, I wasn’t expecting even that because these units (Binatone EK1000) are very compact, and have a shorter antenna compared to most PMR446 units on the market, my DX day later in the year will involve the use of a Binatone Action 950 as opposed to the EK1000
PMR446 radios are made to meet the following specifications
Transmit power: 500mW EIRP (Effective Isotropically Radiated Power)*
Antenna: Integral*
Channels: 8*
Form Factor: Hand portable
*= on some units these values can be changed outside of PMR446 parameters, you do so at your own risk, I don’t encourage the modification of radio equipment outside of it’s type approval
PMR446 channel arrangement
Channel Number Frequency
1 446.00625 MHz
2 446.01875 MHz
3 446.03125 MHz
4 446.04375 MHz
5 446.05625 MHz
6 446.06875 MHz
7 446.08125 MHz
8 446.09375 MHz
It should be noted that it is not permitted to use PMR446 equipment in the US as the frequency allocations are used for amateur radio, it should be possible however to use this equipment in the US if you are a licensed amateur
There are gateways on both this band and the 27MHz CB band in operation, these use the Free Radio Network client available from www.freeradionetwork.eu, these are located all across Europe, are not repeaters so therefore are perfectly acceptable to set up, unlike repeaters which are prohibited
I can be found on channel 5 with CTCSS tone 5, though I do scan the band frequently, if you send a call I will reply if I hear you
but for now I’ll be back soon

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