PMR 446 radio. What’s it for? Apart from school kids, teachers, local shops and offices, crane drivers and building site workers, 446 is for anyone who wants to chat locally. It’s licence free, but there are restrictions such as a maximum of 0.5 Watts ERP. Also, any external or modified aerial is prohibited.
The radios have a CTCSS, continuous tone controlled squelch system, facility which will block out all signals other than the ones you want to listen to. For example, a school with 10 radios might use a tone of 88.5kHz. This means that the radios will only hear other radios that are transmitting that tone. Anyone else who might be transmitting on the same channel will not be heard by the school’s radios. Although the school radios block out other transmissions, others on the same channel will be able to hear the school radios.
There are people who use illegal equipment which covers the 446 channels. Running high power, 100 Watts or more, with outside aerials will allow communication over many, many miles. But this totally defeats the object of the system. It’s for local communication, perhaps from shop to office or head teacher to staff. Some people seem to be using the Baofeng hand held radios which pump out 5 Watts. Again, this is illegal but they are far superior on receive when compared with the average priced dedicated 446 radios. I suppose it’s rather like the old CB days when people used so-called burners to increase the power. Where will it all end?
PMR446 can be quite interesting to listen to. There are 16 channels and there’s usually something going on somewhere. I heard a chap the other day asking for more A4 paper to be brought up to the office. A woman replied, ‘get it your bloody self!’.