Usage protocol

In a sort-of impulse buy I bought a pair of Midland LXT-500 radios. We’d lost our 5-year old son in the Los Angeles County Fair (which is huge) and it’s not the first time. So I thought issuing him with a radio would give us a reasonable chance of communicating if we get separated.

However, what I didn’t consider was a license, or what protocol to use if someone else is on the same frequency. It seems the 22 channels are preset by the factory so I would assume clashes could happen with some regularity. Bass Pro’s expertise, where I bought them from, extended as far as reading the labels on the outside of the box, so no help at all there!

My question is what the protocol is in such situations. I’ve searched but not found anything much related to protocol - and by this I mean use of identification, “over”, “affirmative” etc. I really don’t want to be on the receiving end of verbal abuse from somebody thinking we’re abusing the frequency!

Obviously I can try to teach my son but children at that age only retain and practice so much.

I would also prefer to avoid regularly used frequencies, for example shopping mall security. I’m assuming emergency responders have their own dedicated frequencies which are not programmed into the LXT-500.

Many thanks.

Hi Geoff, as you mentioned the Los Angeles County Fair I assume you are in the US. The Midland LXT500 is an FRS/GMRS radio. 8 of the 22 channels are GMRS, 7 are FRS and 7 are shared FRS/GMRS. While the radio does require a license to use the GMRS frequencies, it does not require one to use the FRS only frequencies. There is no set protocol (over, affirmative, etc.) for using FRS, however the downside to using it is the power limit of 1/2 watt, which will not provide as much coverage as GMRS. Using GMRS does require one to give their GMRS call sign.

There are no guarantees of privacy on any of the 22 channels and the “regularly used” frequencies will depend largely on the traffic in your particular area, but you can use interference eliminator codes (privacy codes) to filter out unwanted traffic.

As far as teaching your son how to communicate on the radio, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Kids are rather intuitive with technology. I saw a five year old at the Charlotte Hamfest earlier this year who had received his amateur radio license and was talking on his handheld ham radio like a pro.

We covered a lot of these questions in the first episode of The Two Way Radio Show. You may want to give it a listen.

TWRS-01 - An Introduction to Consumer Radios

This video may help.

Radio 101 - The facts about GMRS two way radio compatibility

Thanks, Rick. That’s most useful. I think we’ll experiment on the FRS channels to begin with and only apply for a license etc if the quality isn’t good enough. To be honest, the lower power is probably actually better as there would be less chance of other traffic I assume (unless those frequencies are more heavily used, of course!). And, realistically, we’re not going to be that far away if he gets lost… theoretically! And before anyone suspects, no it’s not a substitute for good parenting, just a backup as I’m terrible at picking out faces in a crowd!