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NEW PMR446 ALLOCATIONS:
OFCOM are currently looking at expanding the PMR446 allocation.
If the changes go ahead there will be 16 analogue channels and up to 32 digital channels.
The proposed bandplans are shown below:
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What is PMR 446 ?
PMR 446 is a short range, low powered radio communication service that does not require a license and has no running costs other that the minimal cost of re-charging the batteries.
Who can use PMR 446 ?
Anyone can use the service once they have bought the equipment.
What can it be used for ?
PMR 446 can be used for business or pleasure.
Can I use my PMR 446 whist driving ?
Yes as long as you remain in full control of your vehicle (See: LINK)
What range can I expect from PMR 446 ?
Maximum range in a built up area is about 2 miles but much better performance is possible in favorable locations(See: Long Distance Records)
How much will I pay for the radio units ?
Prices start from about £20 per pair and range up to £200 each for the professional models.
Frequency range: 446.000 - 446.100 (8 Channels)
Output power: 500mW ERP
Antenna: Non-removable integrated antenna
Technical Standard: ETS 300 296
Most units operate using either 4 X AAA or 3 X AA batteries. Those using 3 X AA batteries tend to have a much greater operating time before the batteries need replacing/charging.
Zinc Chloride: 'Normal' everyday batteries, cheap but don't last long and cannot be re-used without a specialist charger.
Alkaline: 'High Power' batteries which last up to 6 times longer than Zinc Chloride but again cannot be re-used without a specialist charger. Cost about 2-3 times that of Zinc Chloride.
Nickel Cadmium: 'Rechargeable' batteries. Reasonably priced and last about the same length of time as Zinc Chloride. Can be recharged up to 1000 times. Plug in the wall charger costs about £12.99.
Nickel Metal Hydride: 'Long Life Rechargeable' batteries. Last about 3-4 times as long as Nickel Chloride batteries. Relatively expensive but prices are falling fast. You can expect to pay about £5.99 for 4 X AA or 4 X AAA batteries. Plug in the wall charger and 4 X AA batteries cost about £14.99. Can be re-charged up to 1000 times.
RECOMMENDATION: Without hesitation I would recommend the use of the Nickel Metal Hydride batteries for the regular user. The initial extra cost is paid back 1000 times over. Nickel Cadmium batteries are cheaper for those who don't mind charging their batteries up more frequently and Alkaline/Zinc Chloride batteries should mainly be used by operators who only use their equipment occasionally.
Please click here to see my review of the
Uniross Ni-Cd/Ni-MH plug in the wall charger
Airtech, Alan (Midland), Albrecht, Alcon, Alinco, Audioline, Binatone, Cobra/Pama, Commtel, DNT, Entel, Freewave, Goodmans, ICOM, J-Communications Co (@ctive), Kace, Kenwood, Maxon, Maycom, Motorola, Multicom, Panasonic, Ross, Stabo (President), Team, Telcom, Vivanco, WinTec, Yaesu and many more. LINK: Manufacturers contact details
See the PMR446 Information Sheet from the Radio Authority (Now OFCOM)
Details of the progress made by CEPT member countries in implementing PMR 446 can be obtained from the European Radio communications Office website CLICK HERE
|Channel Number||Frequency||Nearest 5Khz||Comments|
|446.005||Heavily used / Children's Channel / Data *|
|446.095||Calling Channel **|
* Some users are testing the possibilities of making data transmissions on PMR446 and it has been suggested that channel 1 should be used for such activities. This channel is commonly know as "The Children's Channel" due to the large number of children who use it !
** This is the official calling channel for local and DX work - Channel 8 (No CTCSS!)
CTCSS (Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System) - LINK: CTCSS TABLE
When enabled this sends an inaudible musical tone with your signal. The receiver is set to only open the squelch if the selected tone is received. Transmit with the wrong tone and the receiving unit will stay quiet. I.E. Both transceivers must be set up to use the same channel and same CTCSS code. There are 38 tones to choose from and this gives 304 theoretical sub-channels(8 x 38). If you wish to listen to all conversations you must disable the CTCSS by selecting code "00".
As mentioned above local and DX calling can be made on Channel 8 with CTCSS code 8 (88.5hz). This has now become standard on PMR 446 and enables users to contact other groups on a common channel. Once contact has been made users should change channel (And CTCSS code if required) to leave the calling channel free for other users. The use of CTCSS code number 8 on the calling channel will prevent interference from other users, PMR446 and business, who may not be aware that channel 8 is the calling channel.
Alinco DJ-SR1 CTCSS Codes
A list of codes for the Alinco DJ-SR1 was sent to me by Clem Andrews. I wonder which genius came up with this system for allocating codes ? Click here to see Clem's list
DCS (Digital Code Squelch) - LINK: DCS TABLE
Some sets are fitted with a digital squelch system which works in the same way as CTCSS but uses digital codes in place of sub-audible tones.
Inductive coupling is a method of connecting a PMR446 to an external antenna in order to increase the receive/transmit range by means of a copper wire coil wrapped around the units antenna and soldered onto a length of coaxial cable attached to a vertical or beam antenna. This practice is not to be encouraged and may infringe the specifications for the use of PMR446, but no doubt can be of great interest to radio enthusiasts !
For information only: Wrap 10 - 25 turns of copper wire around the PMR446 antenna. Solder the top of the coil to the inner wire of a length of coax and the bottom of the coil to the outer braid of the coax. The coax is then connected to your antenna which should be located as high as possible. Put a POWER/SWR meter in line (Set to the FWD or FORWARD position) and move the coil up and down until the best output is achieved (Shown by the greatest deflection on the meter). Then remove the meter for best results.
Modified Radio Equipment
I have received a large number of E-Mails requesting information regarding the modification of Amateur radio equipment to make it possible to operate on PMR446. It is possible to make simple modifications to most modern handhelds and even mobile/base sets but I do not recommend or encourage this practice. However, for information only, and to lighten the load in my INBOX, if you require such information take a look at www.mods.dk where you will find more "Improvements" and "Modifications" than you will ever need !
Modifications To PMR446 Radios
Click here to go to my PMR446 modifications page !
Long Distance Records (Link)
The range of these little radios is sometimes unbelievable, when they were first introduced a contact of over 5 miles was fantastic but it soon became apparent that contacts could be made over vast distances.
Data Transmissions On PMR446
Some users have made test transmissions of data on PMR446. It has been suggested that all data transmissions should be confined to Channel 1 where they will cause the least amount of interference to other users.
It should be noted that data transmissions of any kind are not allowed under the PMR446 specification which reads "Only speech transmissions can be made". See the PMR446 Information Sheet from the Radio Authority.
PMR446 Gateway Information
A list of radio related links can be found HERE
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