2 Meters ? The New CB Band Of Interference?

2 Meters ? The New CB Band Of Interference?

There is a ?new? sport that is rapidly gaining momentum. Paramotoring or PPC (Powered Parachute). The sport involves a small gasoline engine w/propeller mounted on the pilots back by way of a harness setup and a seat, which is attached to a paragliding wing (parachute) that is rectangular in shape.

The sport is unregulated under the Part 103 FAA rules, which allows anyone to fly without a license. The problem lies therein ? just like CB radio operations, the PPC sport is attracting a large number of undesirables who do not respect the rules and guidelines of the sport, endangering others as well as themselves in the process.

This segment of the sport also does not respect the FCC or licensed amateur radio operators as evidenced by their use of 2 meter handhelds for communications ? without benefit of having first obtained an FCC issued licensed. They are aware of the requirement but just like CB?ers knowing it is illegal to use a linear amplifier, they simply don?t care.
I?ve conversed with a number of PPC?ers regarding this violation of the law.

Responses received include:

  • ?I?m not interfering with anyone. What difference does it make??

  • ?Well ? would the FCC rather I flew without communications and got hurt or hurt someone else? Using 2 meters makes it safer for me to fly.?

  • ?The FCC gives a warning first. I?ll get my license after I?ve been warned.?

  • ?It?ll be a cold day before I get a license.?

  • ?That?s an abuse of their (FCC) power. They can?t stop me. Fine me $10,000 for talking without a license. Who the hell do they think they are? Someone should put a stop to that.?

Commonly Used Terms & Phrases

The PPC Sport has common phrases recognized by members. These are some of the phrases you may hear on 2 meters unlicensed PPC transmissions:

Riser : These are the chords running from the motor frame on the pilot?s back running up to the chute (wing).

Wing : The rectangular parachute is referred to as a wing. It has all the characteristics of an airplane wing and functions in the same manner providing lift while being propelled through the air.

Cage : The metal frame around the motor that protects the pilot from accidentally making contact with the propeller during operation.

Kiting : The process of practicing, on the ground without the motor/propeller, inflating the wing from a stationary position on the ground to a location above the pilots head.

Packing the Wing : When not in use, the wing is normally stored in a solid nylon bag.

Trimmer/s : Additional risers (chords) running from the motor frame on the pilot?s back up to the chute (wing). The trimmers perform a function of ?fine tuning? the performance of the wing (changing the angle of attack so it can cut through the air faster; altering the performance of the wing to make the flight safer; etc.)

Brake / Braking : These are the risers that are attached to the end of the wing. Pulling down on these, both sides at once, causes the wing to slow its performance in essence braking as you would a vehicle. Pulling the right brake cause the wing and pilot to turn to the right while flying ? pulling down on the left brake does the opposite.

Thermaling : The same process utilized by manned gliders. The PPC pilot can locate a rising thermal, fly over the rising heat and cause the wing to rise with the thermal.

Speedbar : A bar below the pilot?s seat attached to the trimmers. The pilot place both feet on this bar, kind of like stepping onto a ladder rung, and stretches his legs out in front of him. The speedbar adjusts the trimmers connected to the wing, altering the wing configuration so it will obtain a better ?cut? into the air and cause the pilot to fly faster. This same process can be done with the hands pulling on the appropriate risers but using the speedbar is easier because the legs are stronger and can hold the pressure for a longer time period.

Reserve or Reserve Chute : An extra parachute to be deployed should the main/primary wing collapse or become entangled in the risers.

Flare or Flaring : The act of pulling both brakes immediately prior to making contact with the earth when landing. It makes the wing act more like a parachute than a wing, safely lowering the pilot onto the ground.

Trike or Quad : A go cart looking vehicle that is attached to a wing and has a motor on the rear for propulsion. Trike has three wheels and the quad has four wheels. Able to carry one or two individuals.

SAT or SATS : Acrobatics performed with a PPC.

Foot Drag : Flying close to the ground, maintaining speed and dragging one foot on the ground, then gaining altitude again. Also done on smooth surfaced water.

Where Do They Fly?

Everywhere! And growing ?.

Training Sites :

Here is a list of training sites (not all inclusive) in the US where the use of 2 meter radio may possibly be heard:

http://usppamembers.org/school/school_search.cfm

I noticed this topic seems to have question marks instead of single speech marks - thought I try a few words to see if it’s an old weird post or something the forum adds. Didn’t know if this character ’ causes grief, or not. edited by me.

would appear it was the old post - not the software.

I don’t care who the person is, if they don’t have a license then they should be cited. Been too long since I was familiar with FAA regs so can’t speak about that part of it. Still have a license but am not current.

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This use of 2 meters will continue and grow to the point where it is unmanageable if enforcement continues to be neglected. When it becomes unmanageable, the FCC won’t have enough people to execute any enforcement.
I might say the Ham Radio stores should not sell to unlicensed people, but that won’t keep people from ordering the cheap Chinese radios that anybody can purchase without license verification.

I think the FCC made a mistake by pointing out in their “import radio advisement” from last year that radios that only operate within the ham bands don’t require approval. It wouldn’t surprise me if we don’t see manufacturers and dealers using that as a loophole and selling unauthorized radios that only operate on 144-148 and 420-450 MHz. Most people buying these cheap import radios on Amazon know nothing about frequencies, but they could be causing a lot of problems for hams.

Yeah… They will end up locking these radios to the amateur bands and all the illegal operators will squat there.

Absolutely. I don’t even really blame the users. In my experience most people buying these radios are just looking for something cheap on Amazon for their business or for a camping trip or something. They don’t even know what a frequency is. I think it’s similar to when people were buying dual service FRS/GMRS radios and being oblivious to the license requirement. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I think something probably needs to happen at either the manufacturer or retailer level.

I think you can blame the users… partly. Then blame the manufacturers partly, and the dealers partly. The users should be aware of regulations for any radios they use. The manufacturers should manufacture radios according to the rule parts and lock out any other frequencies. They should also indicate in the manual a license is required. The sellers should post in bold letters, “License required to operate this equipment”

I’m fine with blaming users that are aware of the rules and are intentionally breaking them, but where I get hung up is with what I view as the large majority of cases of interference/unlicensed use. My experience is that most people are shopping for radios like they would something like a coffee maker. They have a need PTT communications and know just enough about radios to go to Amazon and search for walkie talkie. Yes, I think they are ultimately responsible for their actions but I’d consider them ignorant, not negligent.

What should probably happen is that when you open a new radio the first thing you should see is a big orange or neon yellow flyer with big bold words like “A FCC LICENSE IS REQUIRED TO OPERATE THIS DEVICE.” At that point, at least you’ve taken a big step towards removing ignorance as an excuse.

The problem with this is that when you add that flyer with the legal advisories, the return rate goes up on the product. Manufacturers care a lot about selling radios, and most of them are going to say something like “We’d love to do this, but if none of our competitors are doing it our sales will suffer.” It’s the same problem for retailers.

It’d be great if the FCC would start requiring something to this effect, and taking some enforcement action for manufacturers or dealers that ignored it.

To be fair to the manufacturers, Many of them already do this to a certain extent with GMRS radios. While it isn’t a large, yellow card in the box, it is printed in their user manual, and sometimes in bold type.

I think, at the end of the day, a lot of the blame falls on the FCC, which is notorious for issuing official declarations and blanket warnings, and then walking away, leaving them open to individual interpretation. Little to no real education or clarification of their rules is provided to the public, so by and large the public is often clueless to their existence. Their enforcement seems to be somewhat random, arbitrarily enforcing it only when they choose.

This sort of approach to the whole thing isn’t conducive to compliance at all. It merely serves to confuse the public and elicits a general attitude of apathy towards the rule of law by all.

Sure, everyone has some personal responsibility here, the manufacturers, dealers and users themselves However, it is the FCC that is to blame for this mish mash of mush, because they are the ones who make the rules and are ultimately responsible for the posting, clarification and enforcement of them.

It’s ironic that the agency in charge of communications is doing such a poor job of it themselves.

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Found this old post, that bumped today on beta forum. For some reason I can’t log into the beta, so I’ll post it here.

I have come across a few licensed operators using 2M flying in a group with a ground crew. When I fly I have a low power FRS radio to talk to other pilots and I fly alone I have an AM aviation channel walkie-talkie.

What has always surprised me is that people use common channels for their illicit comms. In the UK, for instance, we have 144-146MHz for 2 m, and occasionally people ‘steal’ the 144, SSB/CW area and talk air to ground. Why/ People spot them and ruin their comms, or go on a quest to identify and report. If they had picked 143.975 nobody would have heard them, ever!

these aeronautical folk could have bought a second hand, Ebay sourced airband handheld on the old channels and with a bit of thought found an unused channel in the flying area. They’s still be unlicensed but in the right place, and in an emergency, their radio could save their lives as 121.5 would be available and RF DF’able.

The chit-chat brigade who populate the licence free channels uk and US and use higher power radios for longer range also make me smile. They have a Baofeng or two, and stick out full power on the public frequencies. Why? If they moved just above or below the public band plan, nobody would bother them. Exactly the same in Marine band - why risk upsetting people by talking boat to land without a licence, when you could do it above or below. I’m clearly a law abiding chap, but if I wanted to rob a bank, or plan a master crime, why would I do this, even encrypted, in places radio enthusiasts would find and investigate.

In my area, I know 2 taxi firms who according to OFCOM, have no allocation. Their cars clearly have radios, and the masts on their offices are pretty obvious. I don’t know their actual frequency, but I suspect it is NOT in the band it should be.

You make some good points, and it seems like another vote for ignorance to me. Either that or they’re intentionally being a nuisance. How much of this do you think is people just buying a radio, not bothering to learn about it or program it, and just using it on a default or random channel?

No excuses for the taxi firm though. If you’ve got a fleet of vehicles with radios, repeaters or base stations and masts then you should certainly know better. That should be a fine.

I don’t think it’s any off those things really, just people who have no issues operating illegally, but do so in a way that lets people know they exist - rather like the original batman, where the villains all wore stripes and had swag stencilled on their bags. OFCOM are surprisingly uninterested in illegal operation unless it interferes!