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Radio 101 - Using VOX on two way radios

Most higher end consumer two way radios usually have a feature known as VOX. But what is it? What does it do? More importantly, how can I use it in my application? In this episode of Radio 101, Anthony from Buy Two Way Radios tells you exactly what VOX is, what it does and how to determine if this feature is right for you.

24 thoughts on “Radio 101 - Using VOX on two way radios”

  • Ronald

    so i have BAOFENG UV5R it has the vox setting i was wondering if i got a bluetooth hands free decive and enabled the vox setting while hunting with my son if we would be able to talk to each other with out having to push the ptt button and it would truley work like im thinking this would?

    Reply
    • Rick

      The UV-5R doesn't have Bluetooth capability on its own, so a Bluetooth transmitter/receiver unit would be required. However, locating one with a Kenwood (K1) style audio connector to interface with the radio may be a challenge, as Bluetooth transceivers sold on the consumer market are usually designed either as USB devices for computers or with 2.5mm or 3.5mm single pin TRS or TRRS connectors for use with cell phones.

      Even if you are able to find a Bluetooth transceiver with a K1 connector for the Baofeng, getting it to work with VOX to do what you want for your particular application will still be a challenge. Although it could theoretically work, from a practical standpoint, you will likely be disappointed with the results. VOX operates on the concept that sound itself - any sound - activates the mic to transmit. This means anything, not just your voice, but any extraneous noises, or heavy breathing, can activate the microphone. Adjusting the sensitivity level can certainly help, but it's not a perfect science. Also, VOX isn't instantaneous, there is a bit of a delay between the time the sound activates the mic and the moment it begins to transmit, which means the first part of a transmission can be cut off by a few hundred milliseconds to a couple of seconds, depending on the response time of the circuitry. For more information on VOX and how it works, watch our Radio 101 video called "What is Vox?"

      Reply
  • Daniel Greenwood
    Daniel Greenwood February 3, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    Looking for a 2way with vox to monitor a delivery messenger. I would be a security driver in a vehicle and the delivery would be in a urban area. Any suggestions

    Reply
  • Elliott Bujan

    Re: the soccer application, I agree that the professional systems are expensive for most referees. I just got a system of 4 Reteves mostly because of their size, and I tried their VOX feature. What I noticed was the 1-2 sec. delay to open the communication and I had to speak louder. I have not tried using the boom mic.
    Anyway, I foresee this delay playing a big factor in selecting 2-way radios. I've noticed that others, such as motorcycle systems, use bluetooth, is that the way to go? I used one from ejeas and it was acceptable, it was kind of in monitoring mode, so the whistle noise was there.

    Reply
  • Sheldon

    Hello,

    I'm looking to run a headset/boom mic with VOX. I need to adapt the NATO style plug to a 2 prong Kenwood style to fit my Baofeng radio. The best way to do that is with a PTT.

    My question is- will my VOX work with that mechanical PTT switch in the line between the headset and radio?

    Reply
    • Rick

      That depends on whether your Baofeng supports VOX and what you mean by a mechanical PTT switch. You did not mention the specific model, so assuming you are referring to a UV-5R, you would need to have VOX enabled, of course. A VOX capable headset will typically have an option to switch from a PTT function to VOX mode. Essentially what the switch does is circumvent the PTT button on the headset and/or radio and close the circuit so the headset mic is always "hot". If you want to install an in-line mechanical PTT switch to manually close the circuit, doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of VOX? I am not aware of an adapter to convert a NATO style connector to a commercial grade two prong K1. That is not to say it can't be done, it's simply that it isn't something we encounter. We work with business, commercial and consumer radios only and military grade communication gear or the modification of such equipment for civilian use is a little outside our focus and scope of support.

      Reply
  • John

    Can these be used to monitor a room and set it so one only transmits? Want it monitor the kids rooms at night if were outside

    Reply
    • rick

      It will be problematic, as it is not how the radios are intended to be used. Rather than going through the hassle of rigging the radios it would be easier and less expensive to just purchase a baby monitor. They are specifically designed for that purpose, will perform better for that function and are often about the same cost as a pair of walkie talkies. There's an old saying, the right tool for the right job.

      Reply
  • Jim Ward

    Hi, I would like to try a vox over the head, one ear, head set. I have two motorola T465 that I use in my motorhome. My wife is a very low talker and with a headset it is easer to hear her. I would like the vox system so I don't have to take my hand off of the steering wheel when traveling down the road at 65 mph when I want to talk to my wife. Is there a headset that will work with my radios. Any recommendations would be very helpful. Thanks

    Reply
  • Shaun Woolard

    i work as an EH&S manager for an electrical company. when we preform work on live circuits sometimes we have to dress out in an ARK rated suit with a large switching hood. we have to wear very big and bulky gloves and communication is cut down to thumbs up and thumbs down only. this results in a lot stopping and getting out of the blast area to remove the hoods and converse then go back at it. i have done some reading on the VOX set-up and it sound like a very good form of communication while in the suits. my only concern is the hoods have built in fans to keep air moving around to keep you cool. would this activate the VOX and not allow proper communication. do you have any recommendations.

    Reply
  • Rick

    VOX is not intended for use in monitoring police activity by civilians. It is designed to activate on the sound of your own voice and allow you to talk hands free without using the Push-To-Talk (PTT) button on the radio.

    Reply
  • Lynn

    I would like to use this to listen to the police, can I use vox for this?

    Reply
  • Rick

    It depends on the type of radios and the radio service they are using.

    Reply
  • joe cool

    what frequencies do the ref talk radio system use ?
    interested IN PURCHASE FOR MY CREW

    Reply
  • James

    I am also a soccer referee, and have 4 VOX capable radios and headsets to create an open channel communication set. However when the headsets are all on VOX mode, they simultaneously transmit and cancel each other out, which prevents any transmission. Can you please advise ASAP (or any other people who had commented and know) as to how to allow all 4 units to talk on VOX mode?
    Thank you!

    Reply
  • john

    I want to use radios for guiding blind skiers and riders. Range is short. Vox may not be best because the blind person needs to hear every word (from other comments I see you suggested business radios). Perhaps radios with continuous transmit on one unit. The other unit only needs to receive.
    Any suggestions? Thanks for your time.

    Reply
  • Shawn

    I noticed a few others have commented about using these for soccer officiating, that is the application I am looking to build as well... the major concern I have is the whistle noise... is there a way to tone that down via the radios, or cut it out via a frequency limit so when I hit a hard whistle my partners don't go deaf ?
    thanks
    Shawn Cummings

    Reply
  • Rick

    Hi Alice, while some radios may offer greater VOX sensitivity than others, there is always some delay, simply because it is "Voice Activated (Operated) Transmit", which means the radio begins to transmit after it detects a sound. Since the sound must be emitted before it can be detected, there will always be some delay between the moment the sound begins and the radio detects it and begins to transmit.
    There are workarounds for this, such as setting the sensitivity level high enough so that other ambient noise or a spoken word activates VOX to begin transmission before communication is sent. You will need something to activate VOX.
    Business grade radios tend have a little higher end circuitry than consumer grade (FRS/GMRS) radios, so if you need the utmost sensitivity you will probably want a business radio anyway. As for which radios have the best VOX circuitry, that is difficult to say. As far as I know, there is no industry wide comparison data available across all makes and models for that particular feature.

    Reply
  • Alice

    We want to use VOX when moving construction trailers, Instead of yelling when someone gets too close. Our trouble is that there is a delay between the time we start speaking and when the VOX activates. It usually misses the fist 2 words, and when those words are "STOP! STOP!" it renders them useless.
    The video alluded to differing sensitivity of different models. Are there models that are truly immediate? How can I tell from the spec sheet?
    Thanks for your guidance.
    Alice

    Reply
  • Rick

    Hi Johannes, if you can give Buy Two Way Radios a call at 1-800-584-1448, we will be happy to help you.

    Reply
  • Johannes Souza

    I referee soccer and I was looking to put together a communication system together for 4 people. Vox would be preferred, not sure I am not sure about when i blow the whistle if my partners will be able to hear the noise. Perhaps a certain set frequency piece would work? Refs Call sells a kit for $750, Im definitely looking for something more reasonable.

    Reply
  • Nathan Colling

    Rick,
    I am actually a soccer referee from Kansas. I have exactly the same problems as David. Communication systems made for referees are especially expensive. I would like to build a set for 3 or 4 referees. VOX would be ideal, specially one with a boom mic. I'd like it to cost under $150. Is there any suggestions you have?
    Much appreciated,
    Nathan Colling

    Reply
  • Rick

    Hi David, thanks for your query. We sent a response to the e-mail address you provided. If you have any other questions, please let us know!
    Rick

    Reply

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