December 2016 Archives
December 23, 2016
The reason for this is contained in the word itself. Although range has an absolute definition, it is defined by a range of variables. In short, range is absolutely relative.
The Variables of Range
A number of variables determine actual range. These include (in no particular order):
- Type of Radio Signal
- Distance to Horizon
- Radio Power (Wattage)
- Atmospheric Conditions
The type of radio signal is a significant variable in determining range. Lower frequencies such as those on the VHF band travel farther but can be more easily blocked. Higher frequencies in the UHF band do not travel as far but can pass around obstacles more easily. The GMRS operates on UHF frequencies around 460 MHz, so our range estimations will be based on that variable.
GMRS radios operate on "line-of-sight", which simply means that as long as they or their operators can clearly "see" each other with nothing between them to obscure their view, the radios should be able to communicate with one another. Anything that gets in the way can adversely affect the line of sight. Such things include, but are not limited to, hills, trees, bridges, buildings, vehicles and anything else that can potentially block, deflect or divert the radio signal away from its intended target.
The terrain between the radios is another important consideration. If the area is flat with few or no obstructions, the signal can freely travel unencumbered towards the horizon, even at a very low power. If the terrain is populated with vegetation such as trees or heavy brush, such obstructions can slow or eventually block the signal at some point along the way. Higher frequency GMRS radio signals cannot penetrate earth, so if the terrain is hilly or mountainous, the distance the signal can travel may be reduced significantly.
Distance to Horizon
Since the earth is round, GMRS radio signals do not have an unlimited line of site across the entire globe. At some point, they are blocked or diverted by the curvature of the earth. This is the earth's horizon. In an area of open, level terrain with no obstacles or over open water, the average distance to the horizon is just a few miles. On the roof of a very tall building or mountaintop, the horizon could be ten, twenty or thirty miles. The higher you are over the terrain, the greater the distance between you and your horizon, hence the farther the line-of-site. Conversely, the closer you are to the ground, the nearer you are to your horizon, thus the shorter your line-of-sight.
The antenna is one of the most critical components of a radio. It converts the radio signals into the electrical signals the radio can understand and vice versa. Without an antenna, your radio could neither receive nor transmit across any perceptible distance at all. This means the type, height, location and quality of the antenna will have a significant impact on the overall range of the radio signal.
Radio Power (Wattage)
Obviously, the more powerful a signal, the greater its potential range. Or is it? When comparing a 5 watt radio transmission to a 50 watt signal, the difference in range can be quite significant. However, when comparing two low power signals between 1 and 5 watts, the difference is not as impressive. Depending on some of the other variables, there may not be much of a difference at all. For instance, an entry level GMRS handheld walkie talkie operating at about half a watt in an open field may have about the same coverage as a five watt model in the middle of a large city. Depending on the distance to the horizon and/or the height and quality of antenna, it may be even better! The moral? Don't let the wattage rating alone dictate your choice of radio. Consider all of the variables.
One variable that is sometimes overlooked is the atmosphere. While not as disruptive as many other variables, atmospheric effects such as rain, snow and fog can interfere with a radio signal and may slightly reduce overall range.
The Confusion with Range
Considering all the variables, calculating range still doesn't seem too complicated. It isn't, really. So, why the confusion? To answer that question, all we need to do is pick up a brand new pack of consumer FRS/GMRS radios and look at the packaging.
One of the first things you may notice, more often than not, is a great big number emblazoned in bold and prominently displayed on the front of the package, usually designated in mileage. It may read 16 Miles, 26 Miles, 36 Miles or more, and is implied to be the mileage rating of the radios enclosed. The higher the number, the greater the range, and the more powerful or higher wattage the radios are perceived to be. But are they? Not necessarily.
Remember, power/wattage is only one of the many variables used to calculate range, and as we've noted, it is not the most influential. After all, a low wattage handheld radio can have a greater range than a higher wattage handheld radio within reason, provided the other variables exceed those of the higher wattage model.
It's easy to pick out the big bold number on the box, but miss the words "up to" in the small print above it. As a result, many who latch onto the large font and tune out the tiny type naturally assume the double digit figure is an absolute, when it isn't. In fact, the mileage on the package doesn't really figure into the range equation much at all.
The Truth About Range
Are the manufacturers lying? Well, technically, maybe no. If the radio is advertised to transmit (up to) 36 miles, you might get 36 miles - that is, if you're transmitting from a mountaintop or hovering somewhere in the upper troposphere and the horizon is at least 36 miles away. If you're orbiting the earth and there are no obstructions, you might even get more. But then, how often do you go there? Exactly.
The truth is, the number on the box only indicates how far the radio has supposedly been tested to transmit and receive under what the manufacturers refer to as optimal conditions. This phrase or a variation thereof is usually found in even smaller type somewhere on the back, side, or bottom of the box. Unlike those big numbers, you'll probably have to look around to find it.
Optimal vs. Actual Range
Forget the fantasy figures. Let's get real. If those numbers mean anything, they serve as a general reference as to which tier the radio is placed within the industry. It works like this. GMRS radios with a low optimal range of 10-16 miles typically have basic features and functionality. These are considered low-end or entry level models. Those labeled as a higher optimal range of 35 miles and above with the most wattage, add-ons and options are considered the high-end models. The mid-tier models consist of everything in-between. While not perfect, it's a fairly reliable method and goes a long way towards simplifying the confusing marketing hype surrounding the range claims created by the manufacturers of FRS/GMRS two way radios.
To simplify things further, the chart below was created to convert the manufacturer's advertised range to an actual, real-world range and assigned to a tier as a range rating. The chart is further divided by type of terrain for greater accuracy. Note: These are real world estimates only.
Rick's Simple GMRS Radio Range Chart
|Advertised Range||Actual Range||Range Rating|
|16 miles||1-2 blocks||Low|
|20 miles||2-3 blocks||Low|
|26 miles||3-4 blocks||Mid|
|30 miles||4-6 blocks||Mid|
|36+ miles||0.2-0.25 mile||High|
|Advertised Range||Actual Range||Range Rating|
|16 miles||300-800 feet||Low|
|20 miles||0.1-0.3 mile||Low|
|26 miles||0.4-0.5 mile||Mid|
|30 miles||0.6-1.0 mile||Mid|
|36+ miles||1-2 mile||High|
|Open (Level) Terrain|
|Advertised Range||Actual Range||Range Rating|
|16 miles||0.5-1 mile||Low|
|20 miles||1-3 miles||Low|
|26 miles||3-4 miles||Mid|
|30 miles||4-5 miles||Mid|
|36+ miles||~6 miles||High|
|Advertised Range||Actual Range||Range Rating|
|16 miles||Up to 16 miles (est.)||Low|
|20 miles||Up to 20 miles (est.)||Low|
|26 miles||Up to 26 miles (est.)||Mid|
|30 miles||Up to 30 miles (est.)||Mid|
|36+ miles||Up to 36+ miles (est.)||High|
30 Miles? The Truth About Range
Getting The Most Range From Your Radio
The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-05 - Radios in Range
The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-45 - The Truth About GMRS Radio Range
Radio 101 - The truth about FRS / GMRS two way radio range
How To Optimize Range for Motorola Talkabout Two Way Radios
December 21, 2016
Vertex Standard just added a new DMR digital business radio to its eVerge line, The EVX-S24. Like the other models in the EVX series, this new radio includes many of the features now considered a standard on DMR transcievers. It is also capable of operation in both digital and analog modes. But this isn't just another run-of-the-mill eVerge. The S24 is quite unique.
The EVX-S24 is a tiny transceiver. At roughly three and a half by two inches, it's about the size of a credit card, and it's only one and quarter inches thick. It can easily fit in a shirt pocket, and at only 7.6 ounces is so light weight it can be worn on the vest of a uniform or on a jacket without much effort. that may not sound impressive to anyone who uses a Motorola CLS1410, CLP1040, or even a Kenwood PKT-23 on the job, but those are all analog radios, and the S24 is a digital/analog hybrid. Sure, there is the Motorola DLR1060 and the Icom IP100H, but we aren't talking about 900MHz or WiFi radios here. This is about a DMR capable radio on business band UHF.
However, digital capability alone isn't what really makes this little radio unique among its competitors. It's also the performance. The EVX-S24 is amazingly powerful for its size. The Motorola CLS, CLP and DLR radios all operate on one watt of analog power. The Vertex Standard EVX-S24 operates on 2 watts in analog mode. That's twice the power of the Motorola models and a half-watt higher than the Kenwood. And it gets better. Put it in digital mode and the S24 operates at 3 watts!
You can also hear the power. The S24 has a built-in 500mW speaker at 40 ohm output, which on its own is rather impressive for a radio of its size and weight, but when you factor in the unfiltered clarity of digital audio, the S24 sounds powerfully amazing.
Speaking of power, the EVX-S24 uses a 2300mAh Lithium-ion battery similar to the size and type of battery used in small cell phones. Vertex Standard rates their battery with an estimated 12 hours in digital mode and 10 hours in analog mode.
The performance of this little radio is enhanced by its capabilities. The S24 has the same powerful set of features found on other models in the EVX series, but stuffed into a smaller package. The S24 has multiple scanning options, Busy Channel Lockout, Whisper Mode, escalating alerts, Lone Worker Alert and Voice Inversion Encrypton. It also includes ARTS™ (Auto Range Transponder System), a standard feature found on many Vertex Standard business radios. And that's operating in analog mode.
In digital mode, the S24 has Call History, Site Search, Remote Monitor Decode, all call, group call and private call functionality and can send and receive pre-programmed text messages.
It has a Transmit Interrupt, too. This digital feature is handy for emergencies or urgent communications. If other users are tying up a channel, you can break in to interrupt or halt them to get the message through, even if someone else is still tranmitting or holding down their push to talk button.
It's not just unique on the inside. The EVX-S24 is built for powerful capability on the outside, as well. It has a programmable multi-color LED, four programmable keys, and a backlit LCD display in Vertex Standard branded orange, a color that is surprisingly easy on the eyes.
As for durability, who says tiny can't be tough? It's definitely not the case here. The EVX S24 is IP67 dust and waterproof and is submersible. It also meets Mil-STD D, E, F, and G specifications.
If that's not enough, The S24 comes with an industry leading three year warranty from Vertex Standard. Such a warranty is hard to beat by any radio manufacturer.
Designed for education, hospitality, medical offices, retail and any other occupation with a need for light but powerful portable handheld radios, the EVX-24 sounds like a product well worth considering for serious communications.
The EVX-S24 is available now at Buy Two Way Radios.com. It comes in your choice of black or yellow at MSRP $259.99.
For a comprehensive list of features and specifications, download the Vertex Standard EVX-S24 Product Sheet.
December 19, 2016
The chart below compares all of the current Uniden FRS/GMRS radios and some of their commonly searched features. Click on the name or image of each radio for details on a particular model. For a complete feature comparison, try our Two Way Radio Product Comparison tool and choose any two specific Uniden models or any other radios on our site.
Uniden FRS/GMRS Two Way Radio Comparison Chart
December 16, 2016
The holidays are here and it's last call for shopping specials at BuyTwoWayRadios.com! The two week special discount is about to end on our most popular Midland FRS/GMRS radio, the GXT1000VP4! This value pack includes two Midland GXT1000 radios, two headsets, two rechargeable battery packs and a dual desktop charger, and all for only $59.99! The special ends midnight Sunday, December 18, 2016.
There is no rebate form to submit and no promo code needed. To take advantage of this offer, simply at the GXT1000VP4 to your to your order. You can also order by phone. Call us at 1-800-584-1445 before this offer expires!
December 15, 2016
The TYT MD-380 is one of the most popular and versatile DMR digital radios on the market. There are many reasons choose the MD-380 when you go digital. Now there is one more! For a limited time, get the TYT MD-380 at a Manager's special holiday price of only $99.95!
There's no gimmick, no gotcha, no rebate form to fill out and no promo code to enter at checkout. UHF or VHF version? It doesn't matter. Purchase an MD-380 DMR digital two way radio from Buy Two Way Radios and get it for only $99.95! (SC residents add sales tax).
And that's not all. When you purchase the MD-380, we'll throw in the TYT MD-380 programming cable and software CD FREE! This is a $14.99 value and is yours for no extra charge. Your free programming bundle will be automatically added to your order at time of purchase!
But wait, there's more. Order now and get the entire package with FREE ground shipping!
This bundle is a great gift at a great price, but is available for a limited time. The TYT MD-380 Manager's Super Holiday Special is valid from December 15 to December 19, 2016 or while supplies last. Get yours now before this offer and the holidays are over!
December 14, 2016
Like its younger sibling, the TH-9800 both transmits and receives 136-174MHz on the VHF band and 400-480MHz on UHF band. Then it doubles down, with TX and RX on 6 meters and 10 meters, as well.
Of course, it's not the only quad band mobile among all amateur radios on the market. However, compared to the Wouxun KG-UV950P quad band transceiver, the TYT TH-9800 is a really solid, high value alternative.
Like the 7800, reception on the TH 9800 is broad. it can receive wide band AM and FM on 26-33MHZ, 47-54MHz, 108-180MHz, 320-512MHz and 750-950MHz (except cell phone frequencies). Like the 7800, it supports 809 memory channels. The settings can be configured independently for each channel.
Also, like it's brother, the 9800 has separate A and B sides. It is capable of full duplex operation and can function as a cross-band repeater.
TYT TH-9800 Key features
- Quad Band UHF/VHF 2M/6M/10M/70cm transmit and receive
- 6-33MHZ/47-54MHz/108-180MHz/320-512MHz/and 750-950MHz (Receive Only)
- 5/10/20/40W Transmit Power (UHF)
- 5/10/20/50W Transmit Power (VHF)
- 809 Memory Channels
- Independent Controls for left and right band
- Repeater Capable
- V+U Full Duplex Operation
- Cross-Band Repeater
- FM Radio
- Encryption Scrambler
- Voice Compander
- Busy Channel Lockout
- 50 Groups CTCSS/104 Groups DCS Code
- User Defined CTCSS and DCS capability
- CTCSS/DCS Tone Scan
- DTMF 2-Tone and 5-Tone
- Auto Range Transponder System (ARTS)
- Automatic Repeater Shift (ARS)
- Detachable Front Controller and Remote Mounting Ability
- Backlit Dual LCD Display
- Backlit Keypad
- Channel Name Edit and Display
- Channel Scan
- Priority Scan
- Skip Channel
- Dual Watch
- Talk Around
- Auto Power Off
- Timeout Timer
- Keypad Lock
- Audible Button Beeps
- 3.5mm Speaker Port
- Cloning Capable
- PC Programmable (Requires Optional Cable)
- Programmable Buttons
- Built-in Internal Speaker
- Backlit DTMF Hand Microphone
- User Programmable Microphone Keys
- Cooling Fan
The TH-9800 also features Auto Range Transponder System (ARTS). When communicating with another radio equipped with ARTS, the radios sense when one moves out of range for more than a minute. It is a handy feature to have in case of a "Man Down" situation or other emergency. This a standard feature of many Vertex Standard business radios.
Like its dual band brother, the TH-9800 has a detachable front face plate. You can hide the radio and mount the front control panel with the dual display almost anywhere you want in your vehicle.
Programming the TH-9800
The TH-9800 can be programmed direct from the radio or through a computer via an optional TYT mobile programming cable and software. Although not absolutely needed, the programming cable and software are highly recommended and programming the TH-9800 through a computer is definitely encouraged. It makes things a lot simpler.
If you want or need to program the TH-9800 radio directly, the chart below provides a handy reference to the menu. If you are already familiar with the TH-7800, you'll have no trouble with this one, because it is exactly the same menu. It consists of 42 items. Default settings are bold.
|Menu #||Name||Menu Item||Description||Option|
|01||(APO)||Auto Power Off||Turns off radio after set time||OFF/0.5H/1H/2H|
|02||ARS||Auto Repeater Shift||Enables/disables the ARS feature||ON/OFF|
|03||ARTS||Auto Range Transponder System||Selects the ARTS beep mode||IN RING/ALWAYS|
|04||BEEP||Beep when key is pressed||Enable/Disable Beep||BEP.ON/BEP.OFF|
|05||CLK.SFT||Clock Frequency Shift||Shifting of CPU clock frequency||SFT.ON/SFT.OFF|
|06||DIMMER||Display Dimmer||Set display brightness level||DIM.OFF/1/2/3/4|
|07||DCS.COD||Set DCS Code||Sets the 104 DCS code||023|
|08||DCS.N/R||Set DCS Code||Selects Normal or Inverted
|TRX N/TX R/RX R/TRX R|
|09||DSP.MOD||Memory Channel Display Mode||Selects memory channel display mode||DSP.FRQ/DSP.NAM|
|10||DTMF D||DTMF Autodialer
|Sets DTMF Autodialer
|11||DTMF S||DTMF Autodialer
|Sets DTMF autodialer
|12||DTMF W||DTMF Autodialer
|Loading of DTMF
|16 autodialer memories
|13||HYPER||Hyper Memory||Enable/disable automatic writing
feature of Hyper Memory
|14||KEY.MOD||Key Functions||Selects key functions for
"right" band function switches
|15||LOCK||Key/Button Lock Feature||Enable/disable Key/Button lock feature||MANUAL/AUTO|
|16||LOCKT||PTT Lock Feature||Enable/disable the PTT lock feature||OFF/BAND R/BAND L/BOTH|
|17||MUTE||Mute Audio||Select the audio mute mode||OFF/TX/RX/TX and RX|
|18||NAME||Channel Name||Stores name for memory channel||Enter name|
|19||PG P1||Set P1 Button||Program the mic P1 button||BAND|
|20||PG P2||Set P2 Button||Program the mic P2 button||VFO/MR|
|21||PG P3||Set P3 Button||Program the mic P3 button||TONE|
|22||PG P4||Set P4 Button||Program the mic P4 button||LOW|
|23||RF SQL||RF SQL Level||Adjust RF SQL threshold level||OFF/S-2/S-5/S-9/S-FULL|
|24||RPT.MOD||Repeater Shift Direction||Set repeater shift direction||RPT.OFF/RPT.-/RPT.+|
|25||SCAN||Scan-Resume Mode||Sets scan-resume mode||TIME/BUSY|
|26||SCAN M||Scan Mode||Sets memory scan mode||MEM/MSM|
|27||SHIFT||Offset Repeater Shift||Sets offset frequency of
the repeater shift
600 KHz (UHF), 600 Hz (VHF)
Shift can be set independently
for each band
|28||STEP||Synthesizer Steps||Sets synthesizer steps||2.5-100 KHz
|29||SPK||Squelch Mode||Sets squelch mode||SQ/CTC/TON/C+T and C/T
|30||TONE F||CTCSS Tone Frequency||Sets CTCSS tone frequency||50 standard CTCSS tones
|31||TONE M||CTCSS/DCS Encode/Decode Mode||Sets the encode/decode mode||OFF/ENC/ENC.DEC/DCS
|32||TOT||Time-Out Timer||Sets the time-out timer||OFF/1~30 min.
|33||TALKAR||Talk Around||Swaps RX/TX frequencies
to toggle simplex
and repeater operation
|34||WID.MID.NAR||Mic Gain and Deviation||Select bandwidth to reduce
mic gain (and deviation)
|35||X-RPT||Cross-Band Repeater||Enable/disable cross-band repeater||ON/OFF|
|36||AM||AM Mode||Enable/disable AM Mode||ON/OFF|
|37||AUT.AM||Automatic AM Mode||Enable/disable automatic AM mode||ON/OFF|
|38||2TONE||2-Tone memory channel||Assign 2-Tone autodialer
|39||5TONE||5-Tone memory channel||Assign 5-Tone autodialer
|40||SCR||Scramble||Enable/disable scramble feature||ON/OFF|
|41||COMP||Compander||Enable/disable voice compander||ON/OFF|
|42||HSD.TYP||Tone Squelch||Enable/disable tone squelch||OFF/2 Tone/5 Tone/DTMF|
The TH-9800 has four reset options. For reset instructions, read How to reset the TYT TH-9800 to factory defaults.
The TH-9800 matches up very well to the Wouxun KG-UV950P in features and is a bit ahead on price.
The TH-9800 includes the radio, the speaker mic, mounting brackets and hardware, power cords, extension cord, and owner's manual. The TH-9800 is available from Buy Two Way Radios.
December 12, 2016
TH-9800 Factory Reset Options
- F-1 SETMOD RESET
Resets the menu settings to factory defaults
- F-2 HYPER RESET
Resets the Hyper Memory settings to factory defaults
- F-3 MEMORY RESET
Resets regular memory settings to factory defaults
- F-4 ALL RESET
Resets all memory, menu and other settings to factory defaults
Follow the steps below to reset a TYT TH-9800 Quad Band Mobile Two Way Radio from Buy Two Way Radios to its original factory settings.
To perform a Reset
1. Turn off the radio.
2. Press and hold the LEFT [LOW] and turn the radio on.
3. Turn the DIAL to choose the RESET menu.
4. Choose the appropriate reset option [F-1, F-2, F-3 or F-4].
5. Short press the [SET] key to reset the radio.
7. Reset is complete.
A reset may resolve many issues or malfunctions, but may not work for every scenario. However, it is usually a recommended first step when troubleshooting a two way radio.
December 9, 2016
The chart below compares all of the current models in the T Series and some commonly searched features. There are too many features to list them all on this chart, but you can click on the name or image of each radio for an entire list. We also have a Two Way Radio Product Comparison tool so you can choose between any two specific models of these or any other two way radios on our site for a full, comprehensive feature-for-feature comparison between them.
Motorola Talkabout® T Series FRS/GMRS Two Way Radio Comparison Chart
December 7, 2016
The DMR Digital Radio Value Kit is a great gift for the ham who wants to go digital without giving up their access to analog. It's also a good starter for new hams who are just getting getting into DMR on a budget. This kit has everything you need to do DMR and take it portable or mobile.
What's in the Kit:
- The Wouxun KG-D901 DMR Digital Portable Two Way Radio - This is the first digital radio from Wouxun and operates on 400-470MHz UHF frequencies at up to 5 watts. It lets you switch from analog to digital with one press of a button. The D901 is compatible with MOTO TRBO series Tier I and II using standard encryption.
- Two Lithium-ion Battery Packs - The D901 comes standard with a 2000 mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery pack, plus a second battery pack for extra uptime.
- Battery Eliminator - Power your KG-D901 radio in your vehicle for mobile DMR operation.
- Wouxun Mobile Style Speaker Microphone - This heavy duty speaker mic with 20" coiled cord lets you operate your radio from your hip or at your dash, just like a mobile.
- Genuine Leather Wouxun Case - Carry your radio with protection while out and about.
- Nagoya RB-CLP-S (SMA) Window Mount - Turn your handheld D901 into a full fledged mobile radio! This handy mount lets you place your antenna outside your vehicle while you operate your D901 from inside!
- XLT EB120 (K1) Earbud with PTT Microphone - This comfortable, lightweight earpiece fits in your left or right ear and has an in-line a Push-to-talk (PTT) microphone for quick communication.
- Wouxun USB Programming Cable (PCO-001) - Program your D901 directly from a PC.
- Belt clip
- Battery charger
- AC adapter
- Wouxun USB Driver and Programming Software CD
- Owner's manual
December 5, 2016
Details are still sketchy, but TYT has released a few specs on this new handheld. Key features of the TYT MD-2017:
- Dual band
- Dual display
- Dual standby
- Complies with ETSI TS 102 360-1, -2, -3
- Uses Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)
- Compatible with MotoTRBO Tier 1 and II
- GPS capable
- Lone worker function
- Encryption function
- Analog and Digital Modes
- SIngle Call, Group Call and All Call
- Remote Kill/Stun/Activate
- IP67 Waterproof.
- Firmware upgradeable
December 2, 2016
We tell you about three exciting new micro mobile GMRS radios coming soon from Midland. We also review the TYT TH-9800 Quad Band Mobile Two Way Radio.
Discussion Topic 1:36
we tell you about three exciting new MXT Series micro mobile GMRS radios coming soon from Midland. We'll give you an overview of their features and specifications, tell you when they may be available and discuss their potential benefits to users of the General Mobile Radio Service. Models include the MXT105, MXT115, and MXT400.
Commercial Break 14:47
Product Review 15:43
We review the TYT TH-9800 Quad Band Mobile Two Way Radio.
Wrap up and Close 27:02
Send in your comments and questions for Danny, Anthony and Rick to show[at]buytwowayradios.com. Feedback on this and other topics will be read by the hosts and included in future episodes of the show. Visit us at www.twowayradioshow.com!
© 2016 Cricket Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.