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Monthly Archives: June 2009

  • Midland Attracts Attention from the FCC! Send Lawyers, Guns and Money!

    Every now and then someone annoys the FCC. While we may joke a bit about how removing an antenna, or taking off the back of a radio is illegal and the FCC will come and get you! Well, sometimes they do go after people or even companies. This time it is Midland Radios.

    As you can read in this document, the FCC has fined Midland for selling radios with voice scrambling. You had no idea that was some kind of violation? Well, it turns out it is a rather gray area. You are not supposed to be able to do this with a GMRS radio it would seem.

    Section 95.183(a)(4) of the Rules3 prohibits GMRS operators from transmitting coded messages and messages with hidden meanings. The Enforcement Bureau's Spectrum Enforcement Division ("Division") received information indicating that Midland was marketing GMRS transmitters that have a voice scrambling feature. After its receipt of this information, the Division began an investigation. In pursuance of the investigation, the Division conducted internet research on February 24, 2009, on the website www.midlandradio.com. During the internet research, Division personnel observed that Midland was offering for sale the following GMRS transmitter models described as having a "Voice Privacy Scramble" feature: GXT900VP4 and GXT950VP4.

    In simple terms: You may not have voice scrambling on a GMRS radio. Someone turned in Midland to the FCC, they were in a bad mood that day, the FCC decided to punish them.

    Now some of you are thinking about all of the radios out there with this feature, and not just Midland's! We could sit here all day and try to figure out why the FCC has targeted Midland. One of the better opinions I have read feels that this is a warning to everyone! Midland got turned in, an investigation was started, so Midland is being used as an example to everyone else. We do not have all of the facts on this. Midland may have even been warned first to stop selling the radios that had voice scrambling.

    Midland has been fined a very small amount (from their perspective) and told to stop selling the radios with voice scrambling. Now if other manufacturers follow, or decide to take on the FCC and challenge the ruling... it should be interesting. Kenwood probably has enough lawyers and money to throw at this just for fun.

    This all may also be a knee-jerk reaction by the FCC. "Someone is selling radios with voice scrambling, we must stop this now! Civilization may collapse if we do not act!"

    Personally, I think the FCC had little idea about any of this until Midland was turned in. They are now being used as a warning by the current FCC administration as to who is in charge. No more Mr. Nice Government Agency. So stop taking those radios apart and fiddling with the antennas you crazy kids! And don't walk on the grass!

    Feel free to talk about this on our two way radio forums or just post a quick comment here on our two way radio blog. Tin foil hat optional!

  • The History of the Walkie-Talkie (Continued)

    In a previous two way radio blog post I briefly talked about the origin of the hand-held walkie-talkie radio. More than just the basic concept for a two way radio was developed around War World 2 though. Many of the basic features common to most two way radios were also first introduced.

    The most interesting one is the push to talk button. Yup, the PTT button found on most two way radios and even cell phones. While a lot larger than the buttons found today, the SCR-536 handie-talkie had a push to talk button on the side. The SCR-536 handie-talkie is regarded as the first hand held two way radio. To turn it on, a collapsible antenna would be extended (activating a switch), then to send a message you would then hold down the push to talk button. It also weighed around 5 pounds, think about that clipped to your belt!

    The replacement for the SCR-536 was the AN/PRC-6. The AN/PRC-6 was used from the 1950s through the 1960s, even into the early 1970s. It used 13 vacuum tubes, a metal case, and had a removable 24 inch antenna. It was VHF and had a range of about one mile. Some things never change... In the 1970s, a series of new handie-talkies were introduced including the AN/PRC-68 made by Magnavox.

    So do you have any stories, or fun facts about the early two way radios? Just leave a comment, send us an email, or head over to our walkie-talkie radio forums!

  • Low Cost Radios for my Business

    One of the great things about becoming an Icom dealer is that we now have even more options for businesses. We pride ourselves at Buy Two Way Radios on matching the customer up with a radio that fits their needs, and carrying a lot of radios from Kenwood, Olympia, Icom and others allows us to do just that! Finding quality commercial grade radios can often be frustrating, then they may require too much training for your staff. Well, we have two radios from Icom that may make your life a lot easier.

    First is the Icom IC-F11S-02-DTC Two Way Radio (VHF) all-purpose radio. The IC-F11S is military spec (that means it is tough), and has 5 watts of power to give you the range and clarity needed. These radios are designed to be rugged and easy to use while also being affordable. If you are looking for a good VHF commercial grade radio with many of the features and quality only found in more expensive radios, then this is the radio for you. The Icom IC-F11S comes with a Ni-Cd battery pack, charging base, belt clip, removable antenna, port cover, and manual for $144.99.

    Next is the Icom IC-F21S-03-DTC Two Way Radio (UHF) radio. The IC-F21S is also a mil spec radio and is 4 watts. If you have been looking for a tough UHF radio for a business that needs to work in large buildings, and last the entire work shift, then we may have the perfect radio for you. The IC-F21S is designed to be easy to use and to take a lot of abuse and keep working. The IC-F21S comes with a Ni-Cd battery pack, charging base, belt clip, removable antenna, port cover, and manual for $149.99.

    Add in a two year manufacturer warranty, and a lot of accessories and upgrades as well. Either radio will provide years of reliable use in most work environments, large and small. If you want to learn more, just contact us!

  • The History of the Walkie-Talkie and the Handie-Talkie

    Recently here at the office we were talking about the development of two way radios, and how they used to always be called Walkie Talkies. I mentioned that the correct term was Handie-Talkie from radios used in World War 2. I thought it would be fun to blog a bit on what we turned up as we talked about this (though I know a lot of you probably know all about their history and development!)

    The first two way radios were called Walkie-Talkies and were made by Gavin Manufacturing Company (They later became Motorola) in 1940. They were backpack radios made for the allied forces in World War 2. Also, Alfred J.Gross developed a lot of the same ideas in 1934 through 1941, and created a small two way radio for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services. Another inventor working in radios at the same time named Donald Hings developed several portable two way radios he called packsets.

    What most people would call a Walkie Talkie was developed at about the same time as its larger backpack cousin. They were portable, handheld units called Handie-Talkies. Motorola eventually trademarked Handie-Talkie and "HT". This is where the term "HT" for portable radios came from.

    After the war, surplus radios made their way into the civilian market. The common civilian term for hand held two way radios term changed to Walkie Talkie. Check back in a few days for another look at the development and history of the Walkie-Talkie!

    (Updated 6/24: Read the rest of the article on the development of the walkie-talkie!)

  • The Icom Two Way Radios that Enthusiast Should Learn About

    Yup, the news is now out, we are now an official Icom two way radio dealer. Instead of telling you about all the business radios, base stations, and accessories we now carry, I am going let all of you in on something. We have a radio model, well two of them in truth, that all of you enthusiasts will find interesting.

    First is the Icom IC-F21GM-02 Two Way Radio. The IC-F21GM is a heavy duty, business quality, repeater capable, 4 watt GMRS radio with a removable antenna for $134.99. I do not need to say more on this do I?

    The other radio is the Icom IC-F21BR-01 Two Way Radio. The IC-F21BR is a two watt alternative to the F21GM. The F21GM is designed to double as a GMRS radio and as a business radio. It allows you to talk to both consumer GMRS radios, and low powered UHF business radios like the Kenwood TK-3200L and the Motorola RDU2020. It is also repeater capable, has a removable antenna and we have then for $124.99.

    I know that a lot of you have been looking for a high quality GMRS radio that is also repeater capable. Well, these even have removable antennas! I was very excited when I found out that we would be carrying these, and I am certain that a lot of you will be as well.

  • We Now Carry Icom Two Way Radios, Icom Radio Accessories, and More!

    Buy Two Way Radios is constantly looking for great products to carry. This means we spend a considerable amount of time doing research, talking with customers, and meeting industry people. We pride ourselves in the fact that we do not just carry one brand (like a lot of other places). This means we can provide you with the communications solutions you need, and not try to pressure you to buy something because it is all we have.

    After meeting with a lot of great people, and talking with our customers, we started to give Icom a serious look. Well, we liked what we found. Icom is a very solid, yet personable, company. They are not so huge they could care less about their customers, not too small either. They do not "farm out" any design work, even the manufacturing. When they say they make their radios completely in-house at Icom, they mean it. This means they have full control over the design, manufacturing, and quality of their products. We like that.

    Buy Two Way Radios is now an authorized dealer for Icom two way radios and Icom accessories. We are excited about this product line as it allows us to offer our customers a full range of LMR products from simple portable radios to advanced digital and repeater systems. If you are interested in an Icom product you do not see listed, please contact us. Over the next few weeks we will be doing some more detailed blog posts on Icom radios and Icom accessories.

    Now that we are an Icom dealer, we can provide even more solutions for your communications needs. We see Icom as truly enriching the products and services we offer (at a great price as all of you know!). Combined with our personal approach, you will now have even more options. As always, contact us with any questions, or to just say hi. Everyone have a great weekend!

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