GET THEM ON THE AIR RESPONSIBLY: Cheap FRS radios, readily available as low as $10 each, make an excellent introductory level to 2-way and Amateur Radio. ARRL and Scouting organizations could develop a RADIO CHIT similar to the whittling chip that shows the scout has been through basic radio training, knows how to use a 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 maximize contact, all users of FRS should recognize channel 1 (no tone) as a universal calling channel. When your radio is not otherwise in use, or when arriving at any new venue, turn your radio to channel 1 no-tone.

FRS HAM RADIO CHANNEL: But the FRS channels are busy, so 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 might be "52" or channel 5, tone 2.


31 Jan 2002 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 Wednesday 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, or FRSxxx)
  • 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 2 or 3 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"...


    Listen to see that the channel is clear (use MONitor button to disable tone squelch).... PAUSE

    Is this frequency in use? OVER

    Is this frequency in use? OVER

    This is FRSabc 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 FRSabc 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 FRSabc 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.

    2020 Update!

    Zoom:With everyone staying home due to COVID19 in the spring of 2020, there has been an explosive growth in interest in both Ham radio and ZOOM for communicating (QST July 2020 Issue). But Ham radio clubs can use Zoom for FRS nets to spread the network throughout the county. Just have Hams in the local club set up an FRS Zoom net and the hams then monitor the FRS channel 7 for any activity and couple the signals heard (with moderation) into the zoom feed. This way, two kids do not have to be in range of each other to make a contact. THey just have to be in range of a good Ham station acting as a Zoom FRS receiver point.

    High Sites: It is illegal to modify an FRS radio antenna in any way to increase range, but having multiple ham operators acting as receivers all over the area and feeding the audio into the Zoom FRS net, then all stations can be heard. It is even possible to put a handhled FRS radio up at the club repeater site on channel 7 and feed that audio directly into an internet feed that can be used in the clubs FRS net. An adult of course should monitor the audio during injection.

    Anyway, you might think about FRS NIGHT or FRS Nets 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. And control what audio you inject into the Zoom net. Nothing else!. This is important. This is not HAM radio where some people try to play god.

  • If HAMS dont show kids the proper radio procedures, then FRS will become like CB and the Marine Band. The FCC made a big mistake with FRS 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 a weekly evening net that 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

    HF Part-15 CW practice? Is there someway that very low power signals somewhere in the RF spectrum could be legally emitted under part-15 rules for on/off keing for Code practice? Again, multiple local receive sites to hear these weak signals could link the audio into a Zoom feed for kids CW practice nets. Thanks,
    de, Bob

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