Universal Communications

May 25, 2014
I am launching a new effort to get all of us on the same page in the field. I'm terming this "The 7's Initiative".

Storm chasers and spotters have long used two-way radio communications to keep in touch, most commonly amateur radio on a simplex channel of 146.550MHz. While this is well-known and universal, it implies that users have passed an FCC license exam.

This initiative uses incredibly cheap, widely-available equipment that is available at every sporting goods store, big-box retailer, and WalMart, anywhere in the country, and requires no license to use. This initiative is based around commonly-available FRS/GMRS radios.

This plan encourages all storm chasers and spotters to use FRS/GMRS channel 7, with a code of 7. All FRS/GMRS radios have the same channel 7, and the vast majority of all Cobra, Midland, Uniden, and Motorola radios of this nature feature the same code 7. These codes will be referred to as CTCSS, Privacy Codes, Quiet Codes, or Interference Eliminator Codes, but they all mean the same thing - CTCSS.

This is a medium that can be used for talkaround, safety, or information sharing. It would require no license test or fees, and is supremely easy to use.

For GMRS licensees, who also have access to these channels with commercial radios, the channel programming information is as follows:

Frequency - 462.7125MHz simplex
PL Tone - 85.4Hz
Bandwidth - 12.5KHz narrowband

Hope to hear people out there in the future!
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Reactions: Todd Lemery
Apr 25, 2009
Scottsdale, AZ
We've used FRS radios for years when convoying, even when all involved are hams. But, we use CTCSS to *eliminate* hearing other chasers, and would go to a channel they are *not* on if necessary - since CTCSS only eliminates distracting transmissions (and only if they don't use the same one), it does not prevent interference.

The information processing requirements in serious chasing are high enough that having yet one more source of interruption seems like a bad idea.

If people were disciplined and only used it for emergency or safety important information, fine. But if people were disciplined - storm chasers in particular - we'd have a lot less of the crazy activities we see from so many chasers.
May 25, 2014
Well, this idea does not replace the idea of convoy comms. This is pretty much the open line to everyone else. I can see this being particularly useful during convergence.
May 25, 2014
So, expanding on this a little, I think the entire GMRS channel slate could have a number of uses for the storm chasing community. I'm expanding this to include all of the GMRS channels as the "Universal Communications Initiative", or UCI. This will help to simplify channels on radio displays, no matter what type you are using.

Channel #CTCSS #FrequencyTPL ToneBandwidthPower LevelUse
11462.562567.012.5KHzLowUSMex Border
22462.587571.912.5KHzLowNA Ops
33462.612574.412.5KHzLowNA Ops
44462.637577.012.5KHzLowNA Ops
55462.662579.712.5KHzLowEspanol Call
66462.687582.512.5KHzLowFrancias Call
77462.712585.412.5KHzLowEnglish Call
1515462.550110.925 US/12.5 CanLow*/High**USCan Border
1616462.575114.825 US/12.5 CanLow*/High**USCan Ops
1717462.600118.825 US/12.5 CanLow*/High**USCan Ops
1818462.625123.025 US/12.5 CanLow*/High**USCan Ops
1919462.650127.325 US/12.5 CanLow*/High***US Ops
20None462.675CSQ25 US/12.5 CanLow*/High**USCan Emerg
2121462.700136.525 US/12.5 CanLow*/High***US Ops
2222462.725141.325 US/12.5 CanLow*/High**USCan Ops

* - Unlicensed US/All Canadian units
** - Licensed US units
*** - Licensed US units, no US operation north of Line A, east of Line C
Note - Channels 15-22 unavailable in Mexico.

This is a proposal. Use at your own risk. Disagree. Agree. Whatever. It's a template.