Saturday, April 13, 2019

The 900MHz Club

After getting to know a new group in my area on the local N7OEP 70cm/6m linked system, there is occasional chatter about "the 900MHz club". Otherwise known as the 33 centimeter band.

ZL has an allocation from 921 to 928MHz, commercial two way radio gear is non existent that I know of except for the digital Tetra system around 860MHz. If there was analogue FM stuff around to modify, the commercial 25MHz repeater splits are too wide for the band. As far as I know, there is no activity on this band in ZL bar maybe a mad scientist or two frankensteining something together in their basement shacks. Those into things above 70cm start at 1296MHz and up into the microwave bands from there.

The US has 902 to 928MHz allocated, and here in Western Washington we have several 900MHz repeaters and some activity. Getting on 900MHz requires sourcing, reprogramming and sometimes making physical modifications to commercial 900MHz two-way radios.

I ordered two Motorola MCS 2000s from Used Radios, they shipped quickly, were well packaged and the two I got appear to be in good condition. The pair I got are the version 3 model that also make 35 Watts, 35 Watts at near microwave frequencies is rather respectable. Here in the Puget Sound area there are a couple of people happy to program the Motorola rigs. As for antenna's plenty of cellular stuff around that covers this band, cheap Yagi's can be found on e-bay and Amazon, or in the spirit of ham radio, make something! I ordered a couple 7 element 900MHz Yagis to try out at $16 each.


See Getting Started with 900Mhz (33cm) Ham Band by WA6AER for more info about whats what. The largest hurdle with this stuff is getting the radios programmed, either your self or by someone else.

Whats it like? Well like FM anywhere else except using a commercial Motorola radio gives things an industrial feel, no S meter, basic controls - on/off, volume, memory up/down, and a bunch of buttons that do nothing.

Time for something bigger and better than a folding table.