This page has some lists of CERT-related amateur radio frequencies. There is no requirement that CERT members install these lists in their radios’ memories. Members can install some or all, change the order, use different memory locations, change the mnemonic channel names, etc. It’s your radio, and you’re a volunteer.

There is also some information on how to program your radio from your PC, should you want to do that.

All the frequency lists are packaged as a single zip archive, which can be downloaded here FreqLists140602.zip. Use your system’s unzip program to extract whatever you need from the .zip file. The files in the zip archive are described below. They are all in spreadsheet format to facilitate PC programming, but you can always just print them out and use them to guide manual programming of your radio.

Contents:
Be familiar with your radio!
County Channel List
Basic Coastal CERT List
FRS/GMRS channels
Spreadsheet File Formats
Radio Programming Software


Be familiar with your radio!

While it’s a convenient time-saver and reduces errors to have regularly used frequencies stored in memory, CERT radio operators are expected to be able to set up their own radios with a simplex frequency, or a repeater frequency, offset, and PL tone, “on the fly”, through the radio’s button interface. Tactical requirements may dictate the use of different frequencies than in any list, to avoid interference of various kinds. Be flexible and be prepared.

Being able to manually store a simplex or repeater frequency in memory is also useful, as you may need to switch back and forth between frequencies in a field situation.

While you should practice setting frequencies and memories manually, it’s a good idea to carry a “crib sheet” of the basic radio setting procedures for your radio in your go-bag. Fatigue, stress, and infrequent practice can hinder recall of things you thought you knew. As an alternative to creating your own crib sheet, some might prefer a series of laminated mini-manuals from the Nifty company available for most radios at most amateur radio retailers, such as HRO. For example, the wallet-size version for the FT-60 is $6.


County Channel List

The first list is used by the San Diego County CERT Council to program some radios purchased by the County for emergency use. Most CERT radio operators might find it useful, but to repeat, using it in your radio is not required. It consists of 101 memory channels, and has some duplicates. It uses memory locations 101-201, with the idea of leaving the first 100 memories for personal and local use. The county radios are Yaesu FT-60s, with 1000 memories and 6-character alpha (upper case) memory names.

This Rev2 list is the latest, from September 2012. An earlier 2011 list was essentially the same, but attempted to use channel names to indicate usage. The 2012 list abandoned that, using channel names “Ch 101” through “Ch 201”, so that if usage has to change to avoid a conflict, users wouldn’t be confused about why they were told to use some other community’s frequency. That’s why the channel names in the spreadsheet are in red, indicating the only change from 2011. An attempt to capture known usage of the channels is in the comment column in the spreadsheet, but those won’t be in the radio.

If a CERT radio operator would like to use the list but has a radio with less than 201 channels, a suggestion would be to use lower-numbered memory locations but preserve the alpha “CH XXX” name and set your radio to display the alpha name. If there’s just not enough room in your radio you can ignore the list, program only parts of it, eliminate the duplicates, or do whatever else makes sense to you.

The information is provided in three files, contained in the zip archive referenced above:    [See below for notes about spreadsheet file formats and radio programming software ]

  • The County list in the .xlsx format as originally distributed: CountyCertRadioFreqListRev2.xlsx
  • Reformatted for use by Chirp programming software in .ods format: SDCertFreqsRev2.ods
  • Exported in .csv format ready for import to Chirp: SDCertFreqsRev2.csv


Basic Coastal CERT List

The second list is a few often used frequencies Coastal CERT operators might find useful, but there’s no requirement to use it, and you can modify it as you like. It might change without announcement, and the channel numbers aren’t intended to be standardized. This list uses mnemonic names for the channels. In some cases it duplicates the county list, but the two lists are intended for different purposes. It starts at location 11, with the idea of leaving the first few open for personal use, even without the minor hassle of your having to change the locations during programming. Note that most radios automatically skip over un-programmed memories, so gaps don’t cause problems.

This list includes the Del Mar CERT repeater and the Coastal CERT simplex frequency used in the twice-monthly net. The Del Mar CERT repeater can be switched to use an alternate frequency pair if necessary, and that is also listed.

The “Repeater-reverse” channels are useful for those with dual-receive radios such as the Yaesu VX-6R or FT-8800. This allows you to monitor the repeater input (simplex) on your radio’s sub-band while using the repeater normally on the main band. See the tips page (pdf) for more explanation.

The Tone Squelch channels use the repeaters normally, but with a mode that silences your radio’s receive audio unless the received signal includes the same tone as the repeater requires to retransmit. Both the Del Mar and Oceanside repeaters retransmit the tone. You may find this useful to silence some Spanish-language simplex interference sometimes encountered on the repeater output frequencies.

The ECRA repeater, and the primary simplex frequencies for the other North County CERT areas used in the twice-monthly North County CERT net are listed, as well as the Oceanside CERT repeater. The ECRA repeater is an open repeater on Palomar Mountain operated by the East County Repeater Association. Information about the Oceanside CERT repeater can be found at http://www.oceansidecert.org/amateur-radio/oceanside-cert-repeater.

Also listed are several open repeaters operated by the Palomar Amateur Radio Club (PARC) that may be useful to operators in Encinitas.

The list is provided in two files, contained in the zip archive referenced above. date in the filename will be replaced by yymmdd indicating file revision:

  • Basic Coastal CERT list .ods spreadsheet: CstCertBasicdate.ods
  • .csv for import into Chirp: CstCertBasicdate.csv


FRS/GMRS channels

Family Radio Service and General Mobile Radio Service are the frequencies used by the inexpensive “Walkie-Talkies” typically sold at Costco, WalMart etc. FRS is limited to 1/2 watt and requires no license. GMRS requires a license fee but no test. Amateur radios cannot transmit on FRS/GMRS frequencies, but many of them can receive them just fine. FRS use by non-ham CERT members is part of the ECERT communication plan (see Communications), so being able to listen in on your amateur radio may have some value.

The current communications plan for use of FRS frequencies uses a “Privacy Code” of 20, which corresponds to a PL tone of 131.8 Hz. As long as you do not enable Tone Squelch for these channels in your ham radio, you will hear anything on that frequency with any PL. The spreadsheet provided doesn’t enable any tone mode, so this should be good-to-go. But if you program your radio manually, be alert to this issue.

For those who have radios that receive these frequencies, have room in their radio’s memory, and care to include these, the FRS/GMRS frequencies are available in the zip archive referenced above:

  • .ods spreadsheet: FRS_GMRS.ods
  • .csv for import into Chirp: FRS_GMRS.csv


Spreadsheet File Formats

.xlsx is Microsoft Excel 2007/2010/2013 XML.
.ods is Open Document Spreadsheet format.
.csv is comma-separated-value ascii text spreadsheet interchange format.

Recent versions of Microsoft Office can read and write all three formats. Here is a page from the Microsoft site about opening and saving in .ods format in Microsoft Excel 2010 and 2013.

.ods is the native spreadsheet format of LibreOffice, a free open-source office software suite that runs on Windows, Mac, and linux. LibreOffice can also read and write all three formats, and others. It’s available here: LibreOffice.
.csv is the only spreadsheet format that can be imported by Chirp.

The .csv files provided here have a date-stamp line or two at the end for identification. When imported into Chirp this will produce an error message about a mis-formatted memory location. That message can be ignored; the other lines in the spreadsheet will be imported just fine.

Also, observant readers may note that these spreadsheets contain non-blank entries in simplex channels for offset and PL tone. The values aren’t used, but the Chirp csv import code requires that they be valid values, so nominal defaults are used.


Radio Programming Software

As mentioned above, you should know how to to program your radio’s memory locations through the radio’s button interface. But for a hundred, or even a couple of dozen memories, this can be tedious and error-prone. Almost all modern amateur radios allow programming from a PC, using software and a cable. This software can usually import from a frequency list in spreadsheet form, such as those above,

There’s no requirement to do this, or to do it yourself. You can just enter frequencies manually as needed, or program a few you use in your radio’s memory manually. You could try to find someone with the right cable and software who will do it for you. But for anyone interested in programming their radio from their PC, here’s some information.

There are essentially two choices for programming software. Most radio manufacturers either sell, or have arranged with a software company like RT Systems to sell, a package of the necessary cable and the PC software.

The other choice is a free open-source project called Chirp, which runs on all of Windows, Mac, and linux. Chirp can be downloaded here: Chirp
Use the latest “daily build”, the “stable” version can be quite out of date with respect to supported radios, features and bugfixes.

With Chirp, you will still need a cable. Most radios use a serial port interface for programming, and since modern PCs don’t have serial ports, the cable contains a USB/serial converter chip. One based on the FTDI USB/Serial chip is strongly recommended, to minimize confusion with device driver configuration with the major alternative, Prolific. A recommended source is www.valley-ent.com/

The manufacturer’s offering is usually slightly more expensive, usually Windows-only, and usually the software package only supports one model of radio. But it’s usually a bit more complete with respect to handling radio feature settings as well as memory channels, better documented for the beginner, and product support may be better. Note that the manufacturer’s cable will usually work with Chirp, should you somehow find yourself wanting to do that. However, device driver issues make that effectively impossible on a Mac.

Chirp supports more than 70 models of radio, is free (they take donations), actively maintained and extended, and there is a user mailing list for volunteer help that’s quite active. But it’s sometimes limited with respect to settings other than channel memories, and it’s implemented by a small group of volunteers with other day jobs. It’s usually the only option for those who don’t use Windows.

The ARRL has a 1-hour web tutorial on using Chirp on their YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbj_L8Dl-gc, posted October 2016.

As a price comparison for some HTs widely used in our CERT group (April 2014 prices):
The HRO price for the Yaesu FT-60 ADMS-1J cable/software package is $39. The ADMS-6R for the Yaesu VX-6R is also $39. The FTDI cable-only price from Valley Enterprise: FT-60 $23, FX-6R $26, free shipping.

For questions, comments, or support on this page, contact dan.drogichen@enccert.org