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Monthly Archives: September 2011

  • Spookywoods: A Case Study Using Radios For Haunts

    Haunted attractions, or haunts, as they are called, are big business. While many of them are small, mom and pop operations, some are much larger; collectively they generate millions in revenue each year, creating an entire industry that is all their own.

    Tony Wohlgemuth knows the haunt business inside and out. Tony and his wife, Donna, own and operate Kersey Valley Spookywoods, a haunt located on a 55 acre farm in High Point, North Carolina. It is huge compared to the typical haunt and bills itself as "North Carolina's largest haunted attraction". Spookywoods employs 150 actors during the haunt season.

    Tony uses up the whole farm. "Most of your haunted houses are going to be inside a grocery store, a vacant store, or a warehouse setting", Tony says. "We're really unusual as far as the size goes and being outdoors."

    Kersey Valley Spookywoods features numerous attractions, such as The House of Darkness, Corn Maze, and of course, the famous Spookywoods. With 150 actors and so much going on at once, quick and reliable communication is critical to the entire operation. To keep things running smoothly and on cue, Tony and his crew rely heavily on their arsenal of two way radios.

    To keep things organized, the staff and radios are divided up into groups and Tony has managers who monitor everybody. "There's a lot of chatter, especially, you know, trying to get the show started; a lot of communication going on", Tony explains. "Our biggest challenge is, there's just so much talking going on, you know, that it's just hard to get through." To minimize the traffic, he constantly stresses a company policy of radio use during radio meetings: "don't talk unless you've gotta talk... don't talk unless you have to."

    Typical haunts operate after dark. Spookywoods is unusual in the sense that they operate both day and night. The long hours have an impact on their radio communications strategy. "Battery life is so important to us", says Tony. "We open at night, obviously, for the haunt but we use the same radios during the day at our corn maze. So these radios are on from, say, 11 in the morning all the way to 11 at night."

    While battery life is an issue, Tony doesn't let it affect the show. He says, "Some of our managers have two radios, so when one dies they just pick up another."

    Although two way radios are important to the operation, it is equally important that they are not seen and certainly not heard by the guests. Almost every radio operator, guy and ghoul alike, is a visible part of the haunt and more often than not in character or costume. A two way radio in the hand of a spook can certainly ruin a scare or effect. For this reason the radios need to be small, lightweight and easy to hide. A hidden microphone and headset are critical. Tony makes this point perfectly clear. "Earphones are important because we don't want the customers to hear what's going on."

    When it comes to mics and headsets, a surveillance earpiece with a PTT mic is ideal. "We like to be discreet and have the cables coming up behind our neck and you don't even notice we've got a radio on", Tony says. "Which I think is great; you know... we're quiet... you don't hear a bunch of chatter and the customers respect this. They don't know that we're in communication. And it's great when trying to catch somebody doing something."

    Safety and security concerns also make the radios an indispensible part of the haunt. Guests can get out of hand and people can become unruly. "It's kind of nice to have that discreet communication", Tony says. "Like I could talk to our sheriffs and they don't even know I'm talking to the sheriff."

    Kersey Valley Spookywoods utilizes two way radio communications in nearly every part of the operation to make the haunt entertaining, safe, secure and profitable. At the end of the night, it seems Tony considers his radios well worth the investment.

  • TWRS-21 - Haunting With Radios

    We discuss the use of two way radios in the operation of haunted attractions, or haunts. We also review the Motorola CLS1110 and CLS1410 business radios.

    Intro :00
    Billboard 1:16

    Topic Discussion 1:31
    we talk about the use of two way radios in haunts. We'll discuss why radio communications are important for use in haunts, the types of radios used, and some recommended radio kits for use in these attractions. Radios discussed include the Motorola CLS and Kenwood TK-3230 business radios, Motorola DTR410 and DTR550 900 MHz digital business radios, TriSquare 900 MHz radios, Midland GXT1000VP4 and Motorola Talkabout MH230TPR consumer radios, and the Ritron Jobcom JBS-446D Base Station/Wireless Intercom. For more information, read our blog post Two Way Radios For Haunts.

    Commercial Break 24:17
    buytwowayradios.com 1:00

    Product Review 25:15
    Today we review the Motorola CLS1110 and CLS1410 business radios.

    Questions and Answers 34:02
    Questions from readers of our Two Way Radio Blog and members of the Two Way Radio Forum.

    Wrap up and Close 38:51
    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!

    © 2011 Cricket Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.

  • Two Way Radios For Haunts

    Each year, as autumn sets in, the air begins to cool, the leaves begin to die, and the night comes early to cast its eerie shadow upon the earth even before the day is done. The world becomes cold, bare and dark.

    Then the haunts begin.

    From mid-September to the end of October, thousands of haunted houses and spooky amusement attractions, or haunts, open across the country. Some are small, home-grown amusements or events operated by local charities, churches and civic groups. Others are larger, commercial attractions that feature professional performers and slick, high tech shows. Small or large, they all offer one thing in common: a unique experience derived from devious diversions and fun filled frights for those who like to be scared silly or out of their wits, just for kicks.

    Some haunts are simple shows with inexpensive props and volunteers dressed in home-made costumes performing improvised scares. Others are high tech, carefully orchestrated events with actors, effects and gadgets to add a touch of virtual reality and heighten the fright. But there is one item nearly all respectable haunts rely on besides the costumes, make-up and fake blood: two way radios.

    Good radio communication is very important to haunts for several reasons. The first is safety. Attractions of any sort where patrons gather for entertainment always present safety concerns. Attractions intended to scare those patrons increase them. A situation in which an actor gets assaulted, a patron has a heart attack or gets hurt, something catches fire or some other emergency occurs requires immediate attention, communication and response.

    Security is also important. Patrons may become unruly or a fright can get out of hand. Patrons may vandalize sets and props or otherwise take advantage of dark surroundings to engage in other inappropriate activities. Communication is important to ensure property is protected, liabilities are limited and everyone enjoys themselves appropriately.

    Third, no matter what, the show must go on. Ensuring actors act on cue, props perform as they should and effects execute on time ensure the haunt itself will have the desired effect and not drop dead during delivery.

    Communication can be important or even crucial for other operations as well, such as parking, ticketing, concessions and crowd control. In short, the ability to communicate quickly, efficiently and collectively can make the difference between the overall success or failure of a haunt. To ensure success, two way radios are a practical means to that end.

    If you're thinking about creating a haunt or currently operating one, choosing the right two way radio is important to consider. Will your haunt be located indoors or outside? Does it encompass a small or large area? Do you need to communicate with only a few key operators or an entire cast and crew? Will it operate for a just few hours a night or all night and all day? How your haunt is set up and how it will operate will largely determine the type of radios you need. There are several types to consider.

    Small lightweight business radioscls-1410_l.jpg
    These are generally a prime choice for haunts. Small radios can be hidden more easily in costumes and are lightweight, yet durable. Business class radios also use commercial UHF/VHF frequencies that can be assigned for use specifically for the haunt, ensuring more direct communication between those radio operators and at greater range. Batteries used in business radios typically last longer as well, allowing the radios to be used in haunts with long hours without the need of a recharge. The most popular business class radios for haunts are Motorola CLS1110 and CLS 1410 two way radios. They are very small, extremely lightweight radios and have a long battery life. The Kenwood TK-3230 is also a good choice and is particularly rugged for its size.

    900 MHz digital radiosTSX300-2VP_l.jpg
    if you are buying all new radios and need them to communicate with your cast and crew on separate, multiple channels, 900 MHz digital radios are an option. The advantages? Radios such as the Motorola DTR410 and DTR550 offer direct, one-to-one calling over multiple channels. This allows you to call either an individual radio or an entire group (20 for the DTR550 and 25 for the DTR410). TriSquare 900 MHz radios take it to the max: the TSX100-2VP features 1,000 channels and the TSX300-2VP has 10 billion.

    These radios utilize Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology, offering more privacy and greater security than FRS, GMRS and some other UHF/VHF radios. The best part? Since these radios operate at 900 MHz, anyone at any age can operate them for either consumer or business use without the need to purchase a license from the FCC. So, whether you operate a small haunt for charity or a large one profit, these radios have you covered.

    Consumer grade radiosMH230TPR-1-l.jpg
    For small, non-commercial haunts on a tight budget such as churches or civic groups, consumer grade radios may be acceptable. These radios are generally small, lightweight, and inexpensive. They are not as rugged and durable as business class radios, but if they do break they are a lot less expensive to replace. Consumer radios are not intended for private communication. They operate on FRS/GMRS frequencies, which are open, shared channels; the radios will operate fine, but don't be surprised if you receive interference from other area radio users or your conversations are overheard.

    Consumer radios also have shorter battery life than most business radios and the range is usually not as good. However, some consumer radios are more durable than others and there are ways to work around some battery issues. If you have limited funds and resources and your haunt is not a large commercial operation, a good consumer radio can still be worth the investment. Radios such as the Midland GXT1000VP4 and the Motorola MH230TPR Three Pack are a good value at a good price as they include headsets, batteries and charger. The MH230TPR radios are also small, compact and lightweight, allowing you to carry and conceal them easily.

    Base stations and intercomsJBS-446D-1-l.jpg
    Wireless radio base stations, intercoms or callboxes that are strategically placed throughout the perimeter can provide instant or emergency communications in situations where it may not be economical, practical or even feasible to provide portable handheld two way radios to individual staff members. These intercoms can usually be mounted to a wall or post in central areas or zones and programmed to specific frequencies to talk with other intercoms or two way radios in a group. They can also often be programmed with prepared messages and alerts to act as emergency callboxes. The Ritron Jobcom Base Station/Wireless Intercom is a perfect example of such a device. Larger, permanent attractions and perennial haunts may find this solution to be both desirable and cost effective.

    Choosing the right type of radio also includes choosing the right accessories. The type of headsets, mics and other equipment attached to your radios depend largely on your haunt and the effect you want to achieve. Simply operating a radio in your hand in full view of the guests can ruin a good scare and possibly the whole show. Chances are, there will also be a lot of noise and the radio operators on both ends need the ability to both speak and hear clearly above the shrieks, screams and other cacophony.

    If your radios need to be hidden but headsets are not that critical, a D-Ring type of earpiece with a PTT mic attached could suffice. Our XLT DR100 D-Ring Earpiece with PTT Mic is a stable, flexible earpiece with a "D" ring that loops around the left or right ear. The earpiece rests against the ear instead of inside it, making the DR100 a good option when sharing an earpiece with several people.

    For something a little more discreet, yet easy to wear, an earbud with earclip is an ideal solution. The XLT EB200 Earpiece with PTT Microphone is lightweight, comfortable and features an adjustable height earbud style earpiece to accommodate almost any, er, human ear, left or right. The push-to-talk button/microphone can be clipped onto your lapel or hidden inside your pocket.

    If you want the radios to be completely hidden inside or under a costume with no easily discernable wiring, a surveillance earpiece with PTT mic would be the way to go, such as the XLT SE200 2-Wire Surveillance Earpiece with PTT Mic The clear, "surveillance-style" eartube is difficult to see in the dark. It also features a quick release style mushroom tipped surveillance earpiece. The Push-to-talk button/microphone is on a separate wire that can be linked to your lapel, placed in a pocket, or slipped down a sleeve. Think "men in black" and you'll have the idea.

    Our Recommendations
    For most commercial haunts, the recommended solution is the Motorola CLS1110 or 1410 radio and XLT EB200-MT earpiece with PTT microphone. For larger haunts, a Ritron Jobcom Base Station/Intercom placed in one or more strategic locations around the haunt is also recommended.

    Behind every scary haunt is a scary spook. More often than not, such old fashioned terror is brought to you by modern technology. The next time you visit your favorite haunt, watch out for the ghoul creeping up behind you. Aside from the normal paranormal baggage or props, He, she, or it(?) may just be packing a two way radio.

  • It's Official: Vertex Digital and Motorola TRBO Radios Now Compatible

    The Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) Association just announced recent interoperability tests between Vertex Standard and Motorola Solutions were successful. According to the DMR Association, all mandatory and optional Tier 2 features offered on digital business two way radios by these two manufacturers are now considered interoperable between them. Simply put, Vertex VX-720 Series digital radios are now officially compatible with Motorola TRBO radios!

    Mandatory features considered interoperable include All Call, Emergency call, Group Call, Individual Call OACSU, and Individual Call (PATCS).

    Optional features include Call Alert, Emergency Alarm, Radio Check, Radio Enable/Disable, and Remote Monitor.

    Testing commenced June 15-19, 2011 and the results were approved during July and August. The successful completion of these tests brings to five the number of DMR vendors with products currently available in the marketplace that are formally tested to be interoperable.

  • All About ARTS

    Let's talk about ARTS. No, we're not talking about music, movies, impressionist paintings or the theatre; we're talking about Vertex Standard ARTS. Vertex radios and ARTS?, you ask. What's that all about?

    ARTS™, also known as Auto-Range Transpond System, is a type of technology used in two way radios - more specifically, Vertex two way radios. In fact, Vertex Standard built ARTS as a standard feature in all of its portable radios, such as the VX-231, VX 351 and VX 354. That's great, you say. But what is ARTS? What does it do?

    The Auto-Range Transpond System (ARTS) is a feature used to detect and alert you when you and another ARTS-equipped radio station are within range of each other. When ARTS is in use, your radio will transmit for one second every 55 seconds in an attempt to handshake with the other radio. If no signal is received or your radio is out of range of the other for more than two minutes, it will emit a beep alert or tone. Once you and the other radio station are within range of each other again, your radio will receive a transmission from the other radio and beep to acknowledge the reconnection.

    From an operator's perspective, ARTS is a simple concept and a feature easily explained and understood. But that's only the beginning.

    Then there is ARTS II.

    ARTS II takes ARTS to a whole new level. It uses MDC 1200 encode/decode for selective signaling. MDC (Motorola Data Communications) transmits data on a radio's voice channel in bursts at a rate of 1200 baud (hence the term MDC 1200). This data includes information about the radio doing the sending, such as its Unit ID, status and pre-defined messages. By utilizing MDC1200 signaling, ARTS II allows each radio user to know exactly which specific radio or radios are in or out of range. ARTS II is a standard feature in the Vertex VX-450 Series portable radios (including the VX-451 and VX-459) and VX 4500 and 4600 Series mobile radios.

    Although the technology used to bring ARTS to the world of two way radios is a bit complicated, the concept itself is rather simple and the feature is easy to set up and use. Such a feature can also be a very important tool when you need to stay in touch or monitor employees, team members or other radio operators in your group. The video below demonstrates ARTS and ARTS II in action to help you visualize the potential uses for and value of this feature.

    And that's basically all there is to it. Congratulations! You are now a Master of ARTS.

  • TWRS-20 - Billions of Channels

    In this episode we present an introduction to 900 MHz two way radios. We also review the TriSquare TSX300-2VP 900 MHz radio.

    Intro :00
    Billboard 1:14

    Topic Discussion 1:28
    We talk about 900MHz two way radios. We'll discuss how they operate, some of the features unique to these radios and the advantages of using these types of radios compared to FRS, GMRS, and some analog business radios. 900 MHz radios discussed include the Motorola DTR410 and DTR550 900 MHz digital business radios as well as radios from TriSquare.

    Commercial Break 21:26
    buytwowayradios.com 1:00

    Product Review 22:24
    Today we review the TriSquare TSX300-2VP Two Way Radio Value Pack.

    Questions and Answers 27:52
    Questions from readers of our Two Way Radio Blog and members of the Two Way Radio Forum.

    Wrap up and Close 36:30
    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!

    © 2011 Cricket Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.

  • Motorola CLP Series - Returning Soon!

    The Motorola CLP1040 and CLP1010 two way radios are back in production and we expect them to be in stock again around 9/30/2011! These innovative models were launched in June 2010 and were gaining popularity for their incredibly small size and lightweight design (only 2.38 ounces).

    Motorola stopped production on these models earlier this year in order to incorporate a few improvements and design changes. The updated Motorola CLP1040 and CLP1010 models will have very few noticeable differences from the original models. Most enhancements were made to improve durability and simplify the built-in radio programming. For example, the new CLP models will have voice prompts to assist in programming frequencies through the radio (doesn't apply if programming with the PC software).

    If you want to learn more about these updated radios or have any questions, please give us a call at 1-800-584-1445.

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