The WPV-CERT Handheld 2-Way Radio


You are here because you already own, or are thinking about buying one of the handheld two-way radios sold through our program.

 

There is a training video on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3F-1h_0qGE


The page where you can buy the radios is here:

https://wpv-cert.org/buy

 

You will need to purchase a GMRS license from the FCC before you transmit using the radio. A good explanation on how to purchase this license is available at:

https://midlandusa.com/why-do-i-need-a-gmrs-license-how-do-i-get-it

 

If you would like to learn more about radio technology in general, and the interesting hobby called Amateur Radio, please visit http://www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio

The Communication Plan for our district is coming soon, and will be available here.

Pleae check back soon!


Some Frequently Asked Questions


Why should I purchase a WPV-CERT two-way radio?
We want to lower the barrier of entry for all CERT trained members to have a way to stay in touch with other CERT members. If Internet and cell phones stop working, such as during a disaster, public safety power shutoff or other incident, a two-way radio may be the only way to coordinate CERT response efforts. We recognize that not everyone is interested in becoming a licensed Amateur radio (ham) operator. You do not need to be a licensed amateur radio operator to communicate on many of the frequencies we use.

 

I have not taken CERT training. Can I purchase this radio?
No, these radios are offered for sale only to people who have completed CERT basic training. They are used by WPV-CERT members for communications during WPV-CERT training, exercises and during emergency response. If you have taken CERT basic training under another CERT program and wish to participate in WPV-CERT training exercises or

Is the radio difficult to use?
It takes just a few minutes to learn how to use a two-way radio. We even have a full training video to get you started.

Why did you select this radio model?
There is a huge range of inexpensive two-way radios available today, however many of these radios are not FCC Part 90 certified and are therefore not legal to use on the frequencies we use. Their overall quality is also below the standard we want to provide to our members.

 

The radio we are offering is IP55 dust and water resistant, FCC certified, and has the availability of a reasonable quality AA battery pack. The availability of a reasonable quality AA battery pack was a big factor in selecting this radio, as this is a very unusual option to find in Part 90 certified radios. We felt this was very important given the use case of the radio, where it may be left in a CERT backpack for a long period of time. There is a high likelihood a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack would be depleted, or not easily recharged during extended operation. Therefore, having an AA battery pack was an important deciding factor.

I can purchase this radio online. Why should I purchase it through WPV-CERT?
When you purchase the radio through WPV-CERT, your radio will arrive programmed to our frequencies and ready to use. If you want to do the work of programming the radio yourself, you’ll need to purchase a programming cable and understand how to use the programming software. We will provide you the programming file should you wish to do this yourself.

Do I need a license to use the radio?
Yes, you must purchase a GMRS license from the FCC to legally use the radio. There are no tests to take, just pay $70 to the FCC for a 10-year license which is valid for you and your extended family. Learn how to get a license at the following website:

https://midlandusa.com/why-do-i-need-a-gmrs-license-how-do-i-get-it

Do I need an Amateur Radio (ham radio) license to use the radio?
No, you don’t need an amateur radio license to use many of the channels (frequencies) we use. Channels 50+ on the radio do require the operator to be amateur radio licensed to transmit. You can listen to these channels without a license.

If I obtain my Amateur Radio (ham radio) license, can I use this radio as my first handheld radio?
Yes, absolutely. The radio can operate on the VHF (2M) and UHF (70cm) amateur radio bands. You can purchase a programming cable and re-program the radio to unlock the menus and gain access to any of the amateur radio frequencies in these bands.

 

What is Amateur (ham) radio?
To quote the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), “Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It's fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need.” Learn more at http://www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio

 

Why did you program channels into the radio which are receive-only (no transmit), such as the fire frequencies (Channels 100+)?
Listening to professionals use the radio is a valuable way to improve your radio communication skills. It’s also a great way to maintain situational awareness. If you’ve ever heard a fire engine siren and wondered what was happening, listening to these channels can give you a lot of real time information. Start with listening to channel 101, the “Control 1” dispatch channel for WFPD and surrounding fire districts. If you hear the dispatcher mention “Command 11” during a dispatch, switch to channel 111, the Command 11 channel programmed on our radios, to hear the radio traffic for that incident.

Can I leave the radio in the charger?
Most radio manufactures do not advise leaving the radio/battery in the charger once it is charged. This may reduce the life of the lithium-ion battery pack. However, many people do leave it in the charger. A replacement lithium-ion battery is only about $30. So it’s your choice.

Can I leave the battery pack attached to the radio during storage?
No, the radio will use a small amount of power even when switched off. Keeping the battery pack (the lithium-ion or the AA pack) attached to the radio will drain the battery over time. Always disconnect the battery pack from the radio when it will be stored.

 

What type of AA battery do you recommend using?
Most regular (alkaline) AA batteries will leak over time (yes, even the ones that say they won’t.) The Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries are recommended for long term storage, as they will last longer than typical alkaline batteries and will not leak when stored for a long time.

 

Which battery should I be using, the lithium-ion pack or the AA pack?
Use the lithium-ion pack for regular use, such as for testing, participating in drills and exercises, regular check-in nets, etc. It can be recharged several hundred times and will last about 2-3 years before needing to be replaced.

 

The AA pack is your insurance, or backup. If your lithium-ion pack runs out, the AA pack with your set of spare AA batteries will always be available. It’s also very easy to replace a drained set of AA batteries with a fresh set in just a few seconds, whereas recharging a lithium-ion pack takes many hours.


Are there any accessories you recommend purchasing?
Ensuring you always have a way to power your radio is very important. You may want to purchase additional lithium-ion battery packs, so if you are using one the other(s) can be charging. A car powered “battery eliminator” is available which powers the radio directly from a car lighter socket. There is also a USB charging cable which is used with the desktop charger base to charge a lithium-ion pack from any regular USB socket. WPV-CERT does not sell these accessories, but you can easily find them for sale through many online stores.

Who may use the WPV-CERT repeaters?
Anyone who has completed the CERT basic training class, either through WPV-CERT or others programs and possesses a GMRS license, may use the WPV-CERT repeaters for testing, training or emergency response purposes.


I hear a beep when I push the PTT button, why?
There are two possible reasons: 1) You cannot transmit on channels 100+. These are listen only channels. If you push the PTT button while you have one of these channels selected, the radio will beep. 2) The radio will also beep if you try to transmit when the channel is busy. This is called Busy Channel Lockout (BCL). This prevents you from accidently transmitting when someone else is.