Radios & Radio Network
In the early years of the Civil Air Patrol, the organization built a broad nationwide infrastructure of scheduled radio nets and trained operators serving the multiple purposes of passing administrative traffic, training, and actual mission traffic.
As the Internet-based e-mail took over routine administrative traffic in the 1990's, CAP began restructuring its radio system into a more of a tactical communication system, supporting command and control and air and ground operations during CAP's emergency services missions.
At about this same time, the organization was also required to begin a phased transition to radio equipment which is compliant with standards established by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) which manages the use of all federal spectrum. With Air Force funding support, that transition continues today as CAP further strengthens our tactical communications system.
In the spring of 2003 CAP signed a $1 million
contract with EF Johnson of Waseca, MN, for their
5300 series digital (P25) capable VHF radios.
Similarly, many CAP members also choose to purchase their own NTIA compliant equipment for their use in the CAP communications system and this creates a unique blend of private and organizationally-owned HF and VHF radio equipment.
But just how do you figure out which radios in the very extensive communications market place meet the requirements of the NTIA? That is a question that faced CAP as an organization and all the individual members who wanted to purchase equipment meeting the new standards. What we found is that there is no actual certification program and federal agencies simply evaluate equipment they are considering and determine for themselves that the equipment is legal for their use. While this may be a viable approach for a large federal agency, CAP and it's members did not have access to the facilities to perform this kind of testing.
For that reason, CAP National Headquarters assigned some staff and volunteers to evaluate radio equipment in the market place and post their findings on a web page for all to see. The resulting database is on line and available as a resource not only to CAP and it's members but to other federal agencies looking for answers to what they can buy and stay within the boundaries of NTIA rules. Even equipment manufacturers now visit this site to learn how their equipment compares with the rules and the rest of the market place.
You can find this equipment compliance database at the following links:
VHF Equipment Compliance List
HF Equipment Compliance List
Note that the findings posted here are not based on bench-testing radio equipment. Instead, we rely on the manufacturer's published specifications or those the manufacturer has supplied to us.
National Headquarters, Civil Air Patrol
105 South Hansell Street
Maxwell AFB, Alabama 36112-6332