Can Ham Radios talk to Walkie Talkies?

When talking about ham radio, you probably conjure an image of a radio enthusiast who likes to tinker with old-school radio equipment through which they can speak to people across the country. You will not be entirely wrong, though, because most ham radio users do belong to a niche community and are even required by law to obtain special licenses. And yes, they can broadcast to a broader range, but can they connect to other radio types like walkie talkies through their ham radio?

 

Short Answer

Technically, yes, ham radios can communicate with walkie talkies. However, this is illegal in the U.S. This is mainly because of the differences in power levels and licenses between ham radios and walkie talkies.


Long Answer

Amateur radios, or more commonly known as ham radios and walkie talkies, can both function as two-way radios. However, they do have significant differences in features as well as the regulations connected to their use and operation.

 

What are the Differences between Ham Radios and Walkie Talkies?

Walkie talkies are portable handheld units that allow for two-way radio communication. Walkie talkies can operate on General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and Family Radio Service (FRS). You need to file for a license with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), so you can use a GMRS radio legally. You are not required to pass any tests before you can obtain a license. Also, once you get your license, it will be effective for 10 years and will cover the whole family. GMRS walkie talkies can cover up to 25 miles of range and can generate up to 5 watts of power. FRS radios can be operated without a license. However, because it only uses up to 2 watts of power, its range is very limited.

Ham radios can cover a much broader range compared to walkie talkies because it can generate up to 8 watts of power. Also, unlike walkie talkies, ham radios are not confined to a two-way radio system. If you would like to operate a ham radio, you need to file for a license with the FCC. There are three levels of licenses for operating a ham radio, and you need to pass written tests to obtain any of these licenses. Each type of license will allow you to use different limits of communication range as well as certain bands and modes.

 

Can Ham Radios still contact Walkie Talkies?

Of all the types of radio, ham radio is considered the most versatile because it can “cross over” and communicate with the other radio types. This is possible because, in essence, all radios transmit signals through the same airwaves. So, yes, ham radios can still connect with walkie talkies.

 

Why is it illegal to connect a Ham Radio with a Walkie Talkie?

Although it is possible to connect a ham radio to a walkie talkie, this is illegal in the U.S. The reason for this is because walkie talkies are required by law to broadcast only within specific low-power frequencies, depending on whether this is FRS or GMRS.  If walkie talkies were connected to a ham radio, the broadcast power of the ham radio might cause the walkie talkies to go beyond its legal frequency. There is also the matter of differences in terms of the license. Walkie talkie users operating on FRS frequencies do not have a license while ham radio operators are. If you would like to know read more about the complete rules and regulations set by the FCC as concerns ham radios, you can read it under the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.

 

In which Cases is it allowed for a Ham Radio to connect to a Walkie Talkie?

Aside from having the broadest range and being the most versatile among the radio types, ham radios can also continue to work even when power lines, phone lines, cellular networks, and internet services are down. This makes ham radios a precious means of communication in cases of emergencies. The law can make an exception for cases where ham radios need to cross-communicate with other radio types like walkie talkies to assist in medical emergencies or orchestrate rescue operations.


Conclusion – Can Ham Radios talk to Walkie Talkies?

Ham radios are indeed a powerful and valuable communication tool as compared to the other radio types. However, if you wish to become a ham radio operator, keep in mind that this comes with a more significant burden of responsibility, especially in the eyes of the law. If this will not be a problem for you, then go on ahead and explore ham radios. Try and connect with your local ham radio community if you are new to ham radios. This is not only for the knowledge that they can share with you in terms of radio theories, operating practices, and equipment recommendations. The community can also help you prepare for the written tests that you need to take to obtain the necessary licenses required to be a ham radio operator.

 

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