When at other sites where we don’t use DCS, I noticed the radios work much much better. For example, on our last trip to VG, my radio had no problem picking up someone for a 10 mile retrieve. However, at Lookout, I sometimes have trouble hearing someone between launch and the LZ. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that the DCS adds a layer of complexity that we dont really need or benefit from. And if it does cause decreased range or reliability, then why the heck are we using it? I understand that once upon a time, 158.400 had some other traffic on it and that is why we went to DCS. But can’t we find another channel which doesn’t have much traffic that will allow us to turn DCS to OFF?? proposal for discussion…
Scott, I think one of the reasons we went to DCS is that radio traffic is so much more dense in the metro area. Construction, road crews, anyone poaching the frequency was clogging up the band with stuff that wasn’t interesting to us (and potentially interfering with our own communications). Thoughts anyone?
I say if you find a station that has no other traffic other then us pilots then maybe we will change. Oh but wait you have to do this while above 8000’ and the higher you are the harder it will get. Good luck. DCS does work, just get a better antenna.
At the time we switched to DCS nobody noticed poorer reception (as far as I can remember anyway.)
I suspect something else is causing the problems you noticed.
I looked into this and found some information online that said DCS doesn’t effect range or clarity. Since getting a longer antenna I can regularly hear those flying LO while in the air in Boulder. Antenna is important and cheap.
There are resources even here on the club website to help us properly and legally operate our radios, or understand electromagnetism and communications protocol.
From the USHPA Handbook:
"Pilot and Rogallo Members of the USHPA may be authorized to use or designate use of type accepted radio equipment on the frequencies of 151.625 MHz, 151.955 MHz, 151.505 MHz, 158.4 MHz or 151.925 MHz, (or call WPRY420) for the purpose of conducting USHPA business, cross-country meets, events and retrievals.
Authorization will be granted by an official USHPA Observer or Instructor after demonstration of adequate knowledge of the rules under which the license was granted and one-time payment of a $15.00 registration fee for a portable authorization (PA) and/or a $15.00 registration fee for a vehicular authorization (VA)."
its true, I’m no expert on HAM stuff, nor do I have the desire to be. I suspect there are a few others in the same group.
I ordered a speaker/mic for my Baofeng. Testing it out this weekend, it works fine on non DCS channels, but wont transmit (will reieve and key) on DCS channels. Any clues from the experts?
On the Baofeng you need to set DCS for Tx and Rx.
Or, bring your radio in for the next meeting I will be at and I’ll program it up like many of the other radios and it will work.
Other thing to consider is to set squelch to 0 or 1 at most. Believe the default is 3 or 4 which is way too high.
As Other have said (me too in previous radio posts) getting a relatively inexpensive antenna can make a huge difference in radio efficiency. I’ve tested several on an SWR meter and the difference can be several DB at our frequencies.
However, all programmable settings aside, the 158 frequency is a bad match for 2 meter antennas, even the better ones. It is far from the optimal antenna tuning even incomparison to all of the other USHPA frequencies. Most antennas are tuned for 146mhz, and most USHPA frequencies are in the 151mhz band, but 158mhz is way out. Not sure why anyone would choose to use that one when better alternatives are available.
Not having DCS is terrible. Very distracting to hear non-flying conversations like “I done told ya not to park the 40 footer round back Cletus.”
Thread bump for DCS questions…
On the newer Yaesu radios, such as the FT2DR, I’m fairly certain that it is impossible to turn DCS off. You can select from 104 different DCS channels, but the off feature doesn’t seem to exist. Has anyone else figured out how to turn off the DCS on the Yaesu FT2DR?
I would rather not spend the money to downgrade to an older radio just to have the off feature. However, when everyone at Boulder is setting DCS to off, I end up not picking up any of the pilot communications (the DCS effectively filters them out, like its supposed to).
Does RMHPA have an agreed upon DCS that we should be using for Boulder (and other sites), or is the DCS off the current standard?
For those of you out there that are using DCS, is 23 the agreed upon setting?
Thank you in advance for ideas!
i know on my yauseu radio the settings are R-DCS ON, and T-DCS ON , they are different from the field where you actually select the DCS code
but yes everyone has agreed to DCS on at 23
Page 109 of the operating manual should get you sorted out.
My personal preference is to turn off my DCS squelch for receiving but still transmitting with DCS on. I do receive a bit of extra non-paragliding chatter, but it ensures that I hear everyone regardless if they have set up DCS properly on their radio. I still transmit with the DCS on because everyone monitoring the frequency with DCS 23/DCS-off receives that transmission even if they haven’t set up DCS squelch on their radio.
Of course, if people got HAM radio operator licenses then we could use any one a dozen or more ham frequencies that have NO other traffic on them, and are much better tuned for your radios antenna. You lose four times the antenna efficiency or more by transmitting at 158 rather than 146 mhz if you are using the antenna that came with a 2M radio (which is generally a cheap antenna with poor bandwidth).
Most hand held radio antennas have 6 mhz bandwidth which puts even the lowest of the USHPA frequencies on the fringe of the antennas bandwidth. Whoever chose to use 158mhz had no clue about radios but since someone made a bad decision 20+ years ago the club is going to stick with it. Perhaps the people who think we should stay with 158mhz and DCS should fly PG wings from 20 years ago as well.
Twenty plus years ago when someone decided to use 158mhz, they didn’t have this information, letting us know which frequencies are in use and which have little or no jabber on them.
Getting a better antenna helps because the gain is better and the bandwidth is usually larger, but it is still tuned to 146mhz unless you buy a business band antenna (which is still tuned to 151mhz, not 158mhz). I know this is all math and science talk, but this is pretty basic radio operation and antenna tuning.
I tune my PG antenna for 154mhz so that it works better on the Lookout frequency and still is good at other sites that use the 151mhz USHPA frequencies.
Another reason for radio problems is that the cheapo antennas many radios come with often have a very thin, fragile antenna element (wire). If the antenna gets flexed by being stuffed in a harness the wire can break causing either an intermittent or permanent gap. This can even happen with better antennas, but it happens frequently with cheapo antennas. So before you either toss or buy a new radio, try swapping antennas with someone who’s radio is working ok. You may just have a junk antenna.
I’m sure we could switch freqs from 158.400 to one of the lower USHPA ones. It would just take an organized effort to all do it at about the same time…for example…Jan 1 2018. First I think we’d have to validate that the proposed frequency was sufficiently clear of traffic. I don’t know how we’d do that other than using it frequently though (at LO and NB). I’d fully support your idea if we can gain enough interest. I think having double or better range is a worthy reason.
Agree a freq switch would need to happen off season and with a lot of coordination.
In the mean time people can potentially get antennas that work better for our frequencies. I’ve built up some dipoles tuned to our frequencies and they are easy to install in a PG harness. Even if you buy a 2m dipole you can trim about 1/4" off each lead and have it tuned closer to the RMHPA frequencies but I advise that Only if you check tuning with a SWR meter.
The URL I found is a scan of all frequencies used in Colorado. We can use that to see which frequencies are used near the front range and determine what may or may not be suitable.
For example Boulder Fire and Safety transmit close to the 151.505 frequency, and someone in clear creek is using a channel near 151.955. But 151.625 and 151.925 look pretty clear. Perhaps people can tune to those channels and see if they hear anything. If not, they may work better than 158.400.
Also 20 years ago radios were wide band and some people leave their handheld radios to set wide band. That is going to expose you to noise and chatter. Everyone should Only be using narrow band in the US and should have their radios set to narrow band operation. That will keep you legal and you won’t hear chatter of nearby channels. Could be that people who hear a lot of noise and other traffic simply have their radios programmed incorrectly.
Thx for the info JJ