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Articles

  • How to match a CLS1110 or CLS1410 to a Motorola VL50 radio

    We occasionally speak to customers who have Motorola VL50 radios and want to purchase a CLS1110 or CLS1410 to add to their fleet. Both VL50 and CLS radios look identical to each other, but are they?

    The VL50 is the same radio as the CLS series models, but has 8 channels and different built-in frequencies. It is part of a line of Motorola business radios that are intended to be sold by local (non-internet) dealers, and are usually priced much higher than the CLS series even though there is almost no difference.

    An out of the box VL50 will not talk to an out of the box CLS1110 or CLS1410 like you would expect. They can communicate, but the channels are all mixed up! The following chart shows the CLS channel and the equivalent channel on the VL50. (Note, the CLS1110 has 1 channel and the CLS1410 has 4).

    CLS VL50
    1 2
    2 8
    3 5
    4 6

    If you don't want to deal with the hassle of channels not matching up (and who would!), you can go into programming mode on the radios and assign each channel to a different frequency. Both the CLS series and the VL50 have 56 built-in frequencies, but unfortunately the frequencies are not the same. They do, however, match up on frequencies 1-8, so just make sure you assign your channels on both radios to one of the first 8 frequencies and you're set.

    Here's a brief summary of how to program your Motorola CLS series or Motorola VL50 radio.

    How To Enter Programming Mode
    Press and hold the large Push to Talk (PTT) and MON buttons simultaneously for 3 seconds while you turn the radio on. The radio will beep and display the letters PROG. The channel number will flash and the letters FREQ (frequency) and CODE will alternately flash on the display.

    (If you press and release the Push to Talk button while programming the CLS1410, it will take you to the top of Programming Mode.)

    How To Select a Frequency for a Channel
    1. (CLS1410 only) In programming mode, press the MENU button until the channel number flashes and the frequency and code are alternately displayed. This will be the first setting in programming mode.

    2. Press the plus or minus button to choose the channel. Note that the first two steps do not apply to the CLS110 since it has only one channel.

    3. (CLS1110 and CLS1410) Press the MENU button until the word FREQ (frequency) appears and the frequency number flashes on the display.

    4. Press the plus or minus buttons choose the frequency you want.

    5. Press and hold the large Push to Talk (PTT) button to exit programming mode or press the MENU button to program other features of the radio.

    That's all there is to it. Once the channels are set to the same frequencies, your VL50 and CLS two way radios should be able to communicate with each other.

  • Kenwood Protalk Two Way Radios and Narrowbanding

    With the deadline for the FCC's 2013 narrowband compliance requirements having recently passed, it seems that we are getting more questions than ever about this subject! Kenwood Protalk radios seem to be of particular interest, so we thought it might be helpful to detail which models are compliant and how to bring your radios into compliance.

    TK2300/TK3300 Series Radios
    If you didn't require any special programming and you are using one of the frequencies "right out of the box" then this information applies to you. If your radio was programmed to special frequencies, then this will likely not apply.

    Kenwood made a change to the default programming on the models in this series in the summer of 2012. All radios in this series purchased after August 1, 2012 are preset to 100% narrowband frequencies. If your radio was purchased prior to August 1, then you likely have some channels that are not in narrowband mode. For these models, refer to the list below for the channels that are narrowband compliant.

    TK-2300 - Channels 5, 15, and 16 are the only channels on this model that are preset for narrowband. This means that if you have the four channel model (TK-2300V4P) then all channels are wideband.

    TK-2302 - Channels 13, 15, and 16.

    TK-3300 - Channels 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 15 and 16 are narrowband by default.

    TK-3302 - Channels 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16.

    Protalk TK-3230 XLS
    Owners of the Kenwood ProTalk TK-3230 XLS have nothing to worry about, as this radio has been 100% narrowband by default for the entire existence of the product.

    TK-2400/TK-3400 Series Radios
    If you own one of the new Kenwood 400 series radios, you don't have to worry. These models are all preset to the same frequencies as the post August 1st "300 series" models above.

    TK-2200/TK-3200 Series Radios
    This is an older series that was replaced a couple of years ago with the TK-2300/TK-3300 series models above. For these models, refer to the list below for the channels that are preset to narrowband.

    TK-2200 - N/A (no channels are narrowband)

    TK-2202 - Channels 13, 15, and 16.

    TK-3200 - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (all channels are narrowband)

    TK-3202 - Channels 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16.

    What To Do Now
    All of this is great information but I know what you're thinking: What am I supposed to do now? The good news is that all of the models mentioned above fully support narrowband. The bad news is that it isn't a setting that Kenwood makes available through the radio itself. A radio dealer that has access to the programming software (like us!) has to change the setting.

    The best option is to send us your radios and allow us to change the bandwidth setting for you. If you bought the radios from us then you're in luck! We offer free programming for the life of the radio, so this will only cost you the amount of the shipping. (We've heard that some dealers are charging $50 per radio for programming!) If you like this option, just contact us and we will tell you how to get your radios to us.

    If you can't afford to be without your radios for a few days, another option is to just send us a single radio. All of the Kenwood models listed above support wireless cloning, so when you receive your narrowband compliant radio back from us you can simply wirelessly clone the settings to the rest of your fleet!

    If you've purchased a ProTalk radio after August 1st but also have older radios, you can simply clone your newer ProTalk radio to the older ones. No need to mail anything in for programming! Just follow our wireless cloning instructions or you can follow this handy insert that Kenwood has started shipping with newer radios.

    Yet another option is to just be sure that you only use a channel that is already narrowband compliant (listed above). This may seem like the easiest option, but there are a few drawbacks. First of all, your license may not include the frequency of the channel you are switching to. Before doing this you would certainly want to make sure that your license covers the new frequency, as switching from a wideband channel to an unlicensed one is just trading one potential problem for another. Also, leaving wideband channels on the radio would create the possibility that employees may start using these channels at some point in the future.

    Changing Your License
    Your frequency license also needs to be updated to add an "emissions designator" for 12.5 KHz narrowband. We can assist with this if you are not familiar with modifying your license through the FCC's ULS system. If you happen to be using the radios without a license, this would be a good opportunity to acquire a business radio license. A license is good for 10 years and provides you with exclusive use of your assigned frequencies.

    The new FCC narrowbanding requirements are a complicated topic that can't possibly be covered in a single article. We are here to help! As usual, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

  • Two Way Radio Basics

    In this article, we will be discussing some of the basic features and functions of two-way radios. Two way radios are tools for communicating, similar to telephones, and can come in handy for many situations. Whether it be for personal use, for your business or for emergency purposes, two-way radios are an excellent and reliable form of communication.

    Two-way radios (also called walkie talkies), allowing for a few exceptions, all work essentially the same way. There is a battery that powers the unit which is typically rechargeable. Volume can often be controlled with the use of a knob or button on the unit itself. When using the radio to communicate, the transmission is activated with the use of a Push-To-Talk or "PTT" button. Simply press the PTT button and speak into the microphone and your voice is sent over the air! When the PTT button is released, the receiver becomes active, allowing other radios to communicate back.

    A two-way radio, in its most basic description, is a "transceiver". This means that it is a device that can both transmit and receive content. Radios communicate with one another using certain frequencies. The radios can "speak" to each other only when they are set to the same frequency. The two most popular frequency ranges that two-way radios use are called "VHF - Very High Frequency" and "UHF - Ultra High Frequency". VHF frequencies are best for exclusive outdoor use, as these frequencies will hug the ground and travel further in open areas. UHF frequencies, the more popular of the two, tend to penetrate obstructions and will work well both indoors and out.

    Most two-way radios have the capability to work on multiple "channels". A specific frequency can be assigned to each channel, giving the radio many different alleyways of communication. Businesses often take advantage of channels by assigning a channel to each department. This keeps employees from being distracted by irrelevant conversations while still allowing management to easily communicate with all groups. On consumer or family radios the channels are useful as a way to cut down on eavesdroppers or interference when in an area where there are many radios in use.

    The maximum range of a two-way radio will vary, depending on any number of things. In the unit itself, the range will be directly linked to the wattage of the unit and the antenna. The higher the wattage and better the antenna, the more range your two-way radio will be able to achieve. Outside factors can also affect range. Certain terrain, solid obstructions, or even day-to-day weather can be factors that will affect the maximum range your radio will transmit. Despite high range claims by manufacturers, we usually tell our customers not to expect more than 1-2 miles in an environment such as a city or town.

    Two-way radios can range from very basic to very complex pieces of equipment. This article is meant to introduce you to some of the basic features and how they operate, but we have barely begun to scratch the surface as to what two-way radios can actually achieve. Check our site or contact us for more in-depth information!

  • We now have books about two way radios!

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    When it comes to choosing and using your two way radios, we want you to be informed. There are informative blogs, articles, podcasts and videos available with tips, tricks and reviews to help you navigate the world of radio technology and keep you ahead of the curve. We have a number of resources at Buy Two Way Radios to help you get the most out of your radios. To make them even better, Here's one more. We now carry books about two way radios!

    Our new premium selection of books covers every type of two way radio available, including FRS and GMRS radios, marine radios, UHF/VHF business radios, CB and Ham. They're all listed right here on our web site and available now.

    Need a basic book for beginners? Two Way Radios and Scanners for Dummies is the perfect choice. It's easy to read, easy to understand, humorous and just a little technical without being boring.

    If you want to get into amateur radio, Ham Radio For Dummies is also a great choice. This book how to understand Ham jargon, prepare for your amateur license and how to set up a station. Getting acquainted with amateur radio has never been easier!

    Need a technical book for the serious amateur? The ARRL Handbook is a must read for you. Recognized as the standard reference for amateur radio operators everywhere, this handbook covers nearly every aspect of radio communication and is now available in a hard cover 90th edition for 2013.

    The ARRL Repeater Directory is a handy resource for locating repeaters across America. The directory lists 21,800 repeaters across the country in a spiral bound 2012-2013 desktop edition.

    These are just a sampling of the publications now available to provide you with the knowledge you need maximize the potential of your radios and put you in control of your communications. Whether you are new to two way radios, or you're a seasoned pro, There's a radio book waiting for you.

    If the publication you need is not listed on our site, please contact us and let us know.

  • The Perfect Headset For Model Railroading

    We've talked on the Two Way Radio Show about how two way radios are used by model railroaders. Well, we just got a great review from Chris The Train Guy of Falls Church Station, Virginia that we thought we should share! Chris purchased an XLT Communications HS150-MT headset for his Motorola Talkabout radio on the recommendation of other members of his model railroad club. Here's what he had to say:

    Good morning! I am a first time buyer, and am duly impressed with the service from Buytwowayradios.com! On the recommendation of several members of my Vienna Virginia model railroad club, I ordered an XLT HS150-MT headset last Friday afternoon, and BOOM, it arrived, carefully packed, by Priority mail, on Monday afternoon! Thanks and a tip of the engineers hat to the good Folks in the SHIPPING DEPT., the unsung heroes of any mail-order business!!!

    Thanks for the kind words, Chris!

  • Severe Weather Alert - Hurricane Isaac

    It is 2012 and hurricane season is here. Hurricane Isaac is now bearing down on the Louisiana coastline. A Tropical storm warning is in effect from East of Morgan City Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border.
    According to the National Weather Service, Isaac became a hurricane Tuesday and will continue to strengthen until landfall occurs along the northern Gulf Coast. If you are located in or around these areas, Are you ready?

    Have you put together your Hurricane Preparedness Kit? If not, consider it now. Get the official FEMA checklist of Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit or purchase one of the ready-made Survival /Emergency Kits from Buy Two Way Radios.

    A Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA emergency weather radio are also on the list and are considered very important. You may also need Extra batteries for both radios.

    For more information on emergency weather radios, listen to The Two Way Radio Show Episode 13 - Emergency and Weather Radios.

  • The basics of air band radios

    Air band or avionic radios are used in aviation as for both navigation and two way communication. If you are into aviation, you probably already know how important it is to have a radio while in the air.

    Air Band Basics
    Air Band radios use VHF frequencies in the 108 MHz - 137 MHz range. VHF air band channels are different than those used for land based radios and are specifically allotted by the FCC for use in avionics. In addition to the VHF channels, trans-oceanic aircraft may use HF frequencies as well. But that's another topic for another time. For now, we will focus exclusively on VHF.

    VHF provides optimal coverage in open spaces with a clear line of sight. Since air band radio transmissions primarily occur in the air or air to ground from high altitudes, range will generally be much greater than land-based radios. This means typical 5 watt handheld airband radios in flight will reach considerably farther than typical 5 watt UHF or VHF radios communicating ground to ground. Panel mounted NAV/COM airband radios around 8 watts can go even farther.

    Air band is divided into COM and NAV channels. COM channels use the higher end of the band and are programmed to frequencies used specifically for voice communication. In the US, the frequencies assigned for amplitude modulated voice communication are between 118.000 MHz to 136.975 MHz. NAV channels use the lower end of the band and are assigned the frequencies from 108.000 MHz to 117.95 MHz for navigational assistance. These frequencies are split into 200 narrow-band channels of 50 kHZ.

    One navigation system is the VHF Omnidirectional Range (VOR). It is a system of short-range radio beacons developed by the US in 1937 to help pilots determine their position and stay on course. It is now a global standard for navigation in aviation with around 3000 VOR stations worldwide.

    In addition to the COM and NAV channels, VHF air band radios typically support NOAA marine weather channels and NOAA weather alerts. Air band also includes an emergency communication frequency at 121.5 MHz with a 100 kHz bandwidth. This frequency is known as International Air Distress (IAD).

    Licensing
    Until the mid 1990's, a license was required to operate air band radios in most countries, including the US. On October 25, 1996, the FCC released a Report and Order in WT Docket No. 96-82, 11 FCC Rcd 14849, FCC 96-421 (pdf) eliminating the individual licensing requirement for aircraft radio stations operating domestically which are not required by law to carry a radio.

    Currently In Part 87 Subpart B of Title 47, the FCC rules are as follows:

    (a) Except as noted in paragraph (b) of this section, stations in the aviation service must be licensed by the FCC either individually or by fleet.

    (b) An aircraft station is licensed by rule and does not need an individual license issued by the FCC if the aircraft station is not required by statute, treaty, or agreement to which the United States is signatory to carry a radio, and the aircraft station does not make international flights or communications. Even though an individual license is not required, an aircraft station licensed by rule must be operated in accordance with all applicable operating requirements, procedures, and technical specifications found in this part.

    Types of Air Band Radios
    There are three basic types of air band radios. A handheld air band radio is about the same design as a typical handheld portable land mobile two way radio. Panel mount air band radios generally mount in the cockpit of an airplane or other aircraft, much like the typical mobile radio in a vehicle. A ground station refers to an air band radio that operates on the ground, whether mounted in a vehicle or sitting on a desk.

    Examples of handheld airband radios are the Icom IC-A6 and IC-A14. The A6 offers COM channels only. The A14 includes both NAV and COM channels. Both models are available from Buy Two Way Radios.

  • TriSquare is going out of business

    We just received word that TriSquare is going out of business and its products will no longer be available. The entire TriSquare TSX Series has been discontinued.

    We know a lot of our customers are fans of TriSquare radios. It's no big secret why. First, the TSX Series radios use Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology, allowing operators to choose from up to ten billion channels for greater privacy and more secure communications than typical business or consumer two way radios. Second, the radios often include advanced functionality typically found on cell phones, such as direct call, text messaging, contact lists and great displays.

    Most importantly, TriSquare radios can be used by anyone or any business without a license, unlike GMRS. They operate in the 900 Mhz range, so no FCC license is required, yet coverage and performance is roughly equivalent to a conventional GMRS two way radio.

    However, there is one caveat to TriSquare TSX Series radios - these models only communicate with each other and are not compatible with other makes and models of two way radios. This is important to consider when buying TriSquare radios, especially now.

    We have sold out our last inventory of radios and TriSquare accessories at Buy Two Way Radios. Since these models are no longer manufactured, they will not be restocked. If you are shopping around for radios and considered purchasing TriSquare, we recommend that you choose among our other business or consumer two way radios instead.

    For those who are die-hard fans of TriSquare (and there are quite a few out there), your long term options are to either continue using the TSX Radios available to you or replace them with conventional radios. if you do decide to stay with the TriSquare radios, The TSX100, TSX100-2VP, TSX100R-2VP, TSX300-2VP, and TSX300R-2VP are no longer available. All Accessories such as the TriSquare Replacement Battery (TSX-BP) and the TriSquare TSX10A Accessory Pack are now sold out.

    If you recently purchased TriSquare radios from us and are concerned about warranty and support issues, not to worry. TriSquare informed us that your warranty is valid and they will continue product warranty and support for the radios "for as long as needed". If a warranty or support issue arises, the company recommends customers contact the service or sales email addresses on their web site for assistance or call Buy Two Way Radios at 1-800-584-1445.

  • Weatherproof GMRS Radio Guide

    Updated June 6, 2020.

    There are a number of GMRS two way radios on the market today that are advertised as weatherproof for outdoor use, and many of them are. However, there are varying degrees of such protection, and these different levels are not always considered or even known to consumers, who are largely unaware of rating standards such as Japan Industrial Standards (JIS) and Ingress Protection Code (IP). The terms weatherproofing, water resistance and water proofing can become confusing and unintentionally misleading, because many consumers think of them as interchangeable. Such misunderstanding can lead to a frustrating experience when radios purchased for their ruggedness in rough, outdoor weather turn out not to be all that resilient to the elements, or not resilient at all.

    There is a big difference between weather resistant, weather proof, water resistant, and water proof. It's important know what each one means and what it doesn't. That is why the JIS and IP ratings exist. These are standards of measurement to determine and define levels of resistance of an object (in this case, a two way radio) to a liquid such as water. The different ratings determine the level of waterproofing (and with IP, dust proofing as well) the radio can handle.

    To simplify the terms somewhat, a weather resistant radio can likely handle a little cold and damp air, but a weather proof device is protected from slightly harsher elements. A Water resistant radio can handle some rain and splashing, but a water proof radio will not allow the liquid to enter the enclosure if the device is immersed in it or, in some cases, even submersed.

    A radio that is rated submersible to JIS and IP specifications means that it can withstand complete submersion in water to a specified depth for a specified period of time (usually up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes).

    When choosing a two way radio for outdoor or all-weather use, it is important to know and understand the difference between the words weather and water and between the terms resistant and proof. To make it even easier, we created this simple Guide to Weatherproof GMRS Two Way Radios below.

    Rating Details
    IPX7 Waterproof
    Submersible
    IPX7 Waterproof
    Submersible
    IPX7 Waterproof
    Submersible
    JIS4 Water Resistant
    JIS4 Water Resistant
    IP67, MIL-STD 810
    C, D, E, F
    Waterproof
    Shock and Dust Proof
    Water Resistant
    Water Resistant
    IP-67 Water Resistant
    Submersible
    IP54 Weatherproof
    IP54 Weatherproof
    JIS1 Weather Resistant
    JIS7 Water Resistant
    JIS2 Weather Resistant
    JIS7 Water Resistant
    Floats
    JIS7 Water Resistant
    Floats, Submersible
    IP55 Water Resistant
  • Fair weather? Now is the time to get a weather radio

    It's a beautiful day. It's bright and sunny, the wind is calm, and there is not a cloud in sight. It's a perfect time to sit back, relax, put some burgers on the grill and just enjoy the great outdoors.

    Sure, its fine now, but what about tomorrow, or the day after that, or next week? It's summer. Storms can crop up suddenly, anywhere, anytime with little notice. Yes, the National Weather Service has no advisary out. There is no storm activity in the Altantic and nothing going on in the Gulf of Mexico. But all that can change anytime.

    Now is the perfect time to get a weather radio. Why? because right now, you can. Right now, you have time.

    Remember the old joke about the leaky roof? When asked why the homeowner doesn't fix it, he says that he can't because it's raining. When asked why he doesn't fix it when it isn't raining, he responds that he doesn't need to because at that time, it isn't leaking.

    There is a right time for everything. Waiting until a storm approaches isn't the best time to buy a weather radio or otherwise prepare for an emergency. The best time to get one is when there isn't a storm currently overhead or quickly approaching.

    Don't be the guy caught in the rain with the leaky roof. While it's nice and calm, make the most of a beautiful day. Get a weather radio, prepare an emergency kit, and have an emergency plan ready. The best time to do it is now.

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