GET THEM ON THE AIR RESPONSIBLY: We believe that the readily available $10 FRS radios make an excellent introductory level to Amateur Radio. We would like to see the ARRL and Scouting organizations develop a RADIO CHIT which is similar to the whittling chip that shows the scout has been through basic radio training, knows how to use the radio responsibly, and is authorized to carry a radio at camp. From there, we slowly introduce them to the enhanced capabilities of Ham Radio. (See a related initiative for HF)
Here are the thoughts on using FRS radios:

FRS UNIVERSAL CALLING CHANNEL: To make sure that anyone in the woods can contact anyone else as a baseline, all users of FRS should recognize channel 1 tone 0 as the universal calling channel. When your radio is not otherwise in use, or when arriving at any new venue, turn your radio to channel-1 tone 0.

FRS HAM RADIO CHANNEL: Recognizing that many hams carry FRS radios for talking to their kids and familiy or for use with scouts and church, it is also a good idea to designate a common FRS calling channel for those that want to just leave their radio on for any nearby hams with FRS to call them, but dont want to hear all the games and kids on Channel 1. The radio channel where hams might meet is "73". This is, Channel-7 with a CTCSS tone of 3. A second channel would be "52" or channel 5, tone 2.

FRS-NIGHT CONCEPT, 31 Jan 2002:

Last night was our first attempt at getting all the kids in the county on the air on FRS. Think of this as an "outreach program" for HAM radio...

After giving talks/demos on HAM radio to a number of youth groups (scouts, etc) in the area and then talking about FRS as a starting point and teaching them about callsigns and proper radio procedure, we finally said, ok, at 9 PM on Wendsnday Night, go outside and get your FRS radio as high as you can and see who you can talk to.

This follows several weeks of presentations at Scouts, Kids Radio clubs in the schools, and anyone that would listen... Here are the important points we tried to make to the kids:

  • Put your house on the map with a pin (I had a map board at all mtgs)
  • Always use a callsign (troop/school+initials. Mine is 995REB)
  • Listen first, then call. Take notes on who you hear.
  • Use channel 1 no-tones (or tone=0)
  • Don't use the call button unless you have pre-arranged with someone else to be listening for it.
  • NEVER use the call button on our net!
  • Ignore clowns. Don't be one.

    Out of the dozens of kids I have reached at these meetings, never more than say 3 or 4 are within FRS range of each other, so this is NOT like a HAM net where everyone in the county can comunicate. The intent is to establish NEIGHBORHOOD nets of interested kids who then spread the word to others. Here is a possible "scenario" that each one of them can be prepared to use on "NET night"...

    FRS NIGHT NET PROCCEDURES

    Listen to see that the channel is clear.... PAUSE

    Is this frequency in use? OVER

    Is this frequency in use? OVER

    This is NNNABC calling all radio friends in the weekly "Oak-Grove" Family Radio Service Net. Is there anyone who would like to join the net, please call NNNABC now. Over.

    Take checkins if any. Ignore all clowns...(if any)

    The purpose of this net is to establish local Family Radio Service communications nets for meeting other radio friends, for learning about two-way radio and HAM radio, and for local emergencies as needed. We welcome anyone to join us. If there are any new checkins, please call NNNABC now. OVER

    etc... A third and subsequent paragraphs can suggest how to make up a callsign, etc. and other neat things about radio to fill the dead air until you get enough people to make the net self-sustaining...

    More Comments:

    Remember they are going to be lucky to find anyone until we get above critical mass, so each one of them starts as "net control" until they find someone to talk to.

    I won't know the results of this first night until next week when the kids report back, but my son and I drove to a hill top and heard two people (not in our groups) very weakly and were able to QSO with one of them...

    This won't work until we get to critical mass, but we have now begun. My biggest mistake was forgetting about our own RADIO CLUB! I should have gotten all the HAMS in the county to also join us! That would have doubled the number of people on the air and ALL of them would have used proper radio procedure from the get-go....

    Anyway, you might think about "FRS NIGHT" as an outreach program for your area with these "self-interest" objectives:

  • Notice I spoke the full name of FRS. Many users dont know... and the name "Family Radio Service" lends a certain amount of civility to it...

  • It will get kids on the air and get them hooked on radio!

  • It will teach them proper radio procedures. Note, never ever admonish anyone on the air. You are only there to set the example. Nothing else!. This is important. This is not HAM radio where you can play god.

  • If HAMS dont show them proper radio procedures, then FRS will become like CB and the Marine Band. The biggest mistake that the FCC has made with FRS is in not requiring the radio manufacturerrs to include some kind of Operators guide in every box! Sure, no one will read it.... but the absence of such a guide leaves the operation of radio open to the worst possible habits and these carry over to all other radio services those people will ever use. We see this already on the MARINE band and elsewhere...

  • Look at part 97. The purpose of HAM radio is to teach the radio art and proper procedures, etc. I don't see any restriction that we have to limit our responsibilities to only the HAM bands...

    P.S. We chose 9 PM which gives them all time to get home from scout meetings, etc... If they do start making contacts, then you can encourage them to make up QSL cards for their callsigns. It is important for them to identify with a call and to become proud of it. QSL cards work... and are fun to draw up on a PC...

    A good closing paragraph for your NET would be somthing that mentions your next HAM CLUB meeting... etc...

    I welcome feedback and ideas.. Send to wb4apr@amsat.org

    Thanks,
    de WB4APR@amsat.org, Bob


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