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Buy Two Way Radios

  • UHF or VHF: Which Is Right For You?

    UHF or VHF?Customers that are new to business radios are confronted a several confusing options, one of which is the type of frequency to choose: UHF or VHF. These abbreviations make no sense to most people and without some research it is easy to choose a radio that is not right for your situation.

    The quick answer is: choose VHF if you plan to only use the radios outdoors and in an area that is relatively free of obstructions, such as buildings. If you plan on using the radio indoors, both indoors and out, or outdoors but around buildings, choose UHF. UHF is the better all around signal and is by far the most popular, so if you are in doubt, choose UHF.

    UHF signals don't travel quite as far outdoors as VHF signals, but they do a better job of penetrating wood, steel, and concrete, giving you better range and performance in urban environments and around buildings. VHF signals travel farther, absent obstructions, and tend to "hug" the earth better, providing better performance outdoors or in hilly terrain.

    Related Resources
    Buyer's Guide - VHF Business Radios
    Buyer's Guide - UHF Business Radios
    Two Way Radio Basics
    MURS: Unlicensed VHF
    Radio Compatibility: Which Models Will Work Together
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-02 - An Introduction to Business Radios
    Radio 101 - The difference between UHF and VHF radios

  • How Midland's "Extra Channels" Work (Updated!)

    When we first announced Midland's 2008 FRS/GMRS radios, we found it interesting that most new models were offering "extra channels" as a feature. Previously it was an industry standard that all dual service (FRS/GMRS) radios supported 22 channels, each channel representing one of the 22 FRS and/or GMRS frequencies. If they were to remain consistent, the new channels would use different frequencies than existing channels. Only 22 frequencies have been approved by the FCC for FRS/GMRS usage, however, and those 22 frequencies are already represented.

    So how do these new channels work? It turns out that these new channels are not channels in the sense that we have been historically used to (where a channel represents a frequency). These "extra channels" use a frequency already used by a standard channel, but have a pre-set privacy code that cannot be changed. This provides the illusion of a new channel, but has some side effects that could cause confusion. For example, if you transmit on Midland channel 24 a typical radio left in scan mode would receive your transmission as if it were sent on channel 3.

    While these "extra channels" may make it a little easier for a novice to find an interference free channel, I feel like this is more marketing hype than anything else. A standard 22 channel Motorola or Cobra radio is 100% compatible with every channel of a 42 channel Midland GXT900 (cross reference chart below). Midland makes great radios and there are plenty of reasons to buy their products, but "extra channels" shouldn't be one of them.

    The following is a cross reference chart that lists Midland's "extra channels" and the standard channel / privacy code that it matches up with. We have now updated the chart to show all 42 of these channels.

    Midland Channel Frequency Actual Channel CTCSS DCS Code
    23 462.5625 1 250.3 n/a 38
    24 462.6125 3 225.7 n/a 35
    25 462.6625 5 203.5 n/a 32
    26 462.7125 7 179.5 n/a 29
    27 462.5500 15 162.2 n/a 26
    28 462.6000 17 146.2 n/a 23
    29 462.6500 19 131.8 n/a 20
    30 462.7000 21 118.8 n/a 25
    31 462.5875 2 n/a 23 1
    32 462.6375 4 n/a 32 4
    33 462.6875 6 n/a 47 7
    34 467.5625 8 n/a 65 10
    35 467.6125 10 n/a 73 13
    36 467.6625 12 n/a 115 16
    37 467.7125 14 n/a 131 19
    38 462.5750 16 n/a 143 22
    39 462.6250 18 n/a 156 25
    40 462.6750 20 n/a 172 28
    41 462.7250 22 n/a 223 31
    42 462.5625 1 107.2 n/a 14

    With some radios such as the Motorola Talkabout you will need to add 38 to the code listed above. (Example: For channel 32, the code would be 4 + 38 = 42)

  • Midland's 2008 FRS/GMRS Radio Lineup


    Buy Two Way Radios is pleased to announce the 2008 lineup of Midland two way radios. Midland made tremendous gains in 2007 by improving their range and voice clarity across the board. Their flagship product, the GXT800VP4, has been extremely popular due to its performance, IP4 waterproofing, and group mode functionality. With so much success in 2007, we were excited to see what 2008 would bring! Their new models have enhancements that are interesting, to say the least.

    More Channels (?)
    Five of the eight new models have what Midland is calling "extra channels". The specific number of extra channels range from 6 with mid range models up to 20 with the new GXT900. Since the FCC only has 22 frequencies allocated to the FRS and GMRS services, we were quite curious to find out how these new channels are going to work. Midland wouldn't reveal much at this time, only saying that the "extra channels" would be fully compliant with GMRS.

    One thing that I find particularly interesting about these new "channels" is the way it is being marketed. Instead of saying the GXT900 has 42 channels, the marketing materials say that it has "22 channels plus 20 extra channels". I also found it interesting that the manual leaves the frequencies for these "channels" blank. I guess that until the new products are actually available, we can only speculate as to how this will work.

    More Power (?)
    The most exciting (potential) enhancement is the power improvement in the higher end models. According to the FCC grant, the GXT950 has an output power of 5.33 watts (ERP). This would be a tremendous advance. Last year, the GXT850 was the most powerful radio in this class at 1.63 watts. I would normally take an FCC document at face value, but this is such a major difference that I am going to remain skeptical until we can validate this improvement with an actual performance test. Stay tuned!

    Marketing Hype
    As usual, the fantastic range claims continue to expand. This year, we're up to "30 miles range" on the high end models. In the meantime, we will continue to educate our customers as to the actual range that they can expect from their radios.

    Certified Lead Free
    Recently the public as soured toward Chinese imports due to high lead content being found in some toys. Midland has responded to this by removing lead from their products, and having them certified as Lead Free. They will be the only manufacturer in this class advertising lead free products, so that should win them some customers.

    New Model Specifics
    Here is a look at the highlights of each new model. Pricing information is not yet finalized. LXT models will be available in May, GXT models in June.

    GXT950VP4 - Camouflage; 42 "channels"; Voice scrambling; NOAA channels/alerts; Group mode; Direct call; Vibrate alert; VOX; IP4 waterproof; 142 privacy codes; DC adapter; Headsets.
    GXT900VP4 - 42 "channels"; Voice scrambling; NOAA channels/alerts; Group mode; Direct call; Vibrate alert; VOX; IP4 waterproof; 142 privacy codes; DC adapter; Headsets.
    GXT775VP3 - Camouflage; 36 "channels"; NOAA channels/alerts; Vibrate alert; VOX.
    GXT720VP3 - 36 "channels"; NOAA channels/alerts; Vibrate alert; VOX.
    LXT460VP3 - 28 "channels"; NOAA channels/alerts; Vibrate alert.
    LXT345VP3 - Camouflage; Low end model.
    LXT340VP3 - Low end model.
    LXT110 - Basic model, no charger, low power.

    We look forward to providing you with more information once these models become available.

  • Motorola's 2008 Consumer Radio Lineup

    Most of Motorola's new 2008 consumer (FRS/GMRS) radios are now in stock and ready to ship! There are a couple of unique innovations within this series that I think will win Motorola quite a few new customers this year. Let's take a closer look at the two biggest advances.

    Emergency Kit Radios
    The biggest innovation is the Motorola EM1000R and EM1000 radios. These radios have features designed specifically to be of use during an emergency. When held for 3 seconds, an Emergency Alert Button will send an 8 second distress alarm alert to all other radios within range. If there are other EM1000 radios within range, they will increase their volume level to the maximum upon receiving a distress call. The radio will then automatically go into hands-free transmit mode for 22 seconds.

    The EM1000 also has an LED flashlight built-in. The LED for the flashlight is on the bottom of the radio with the button to turn on the light located under the push-to-talk (PTT) button.

    This model supports NOAA weather channels and weather alerts, as well.

    With these features the EM1000 or EM1000R will definitely become the logical choice for those putting together an emergency kit. They will also be a consideration for anyone looking for radios for a typical use, such as a cruise or a road trip, but want to keep the radios handy in case of emergencies after their primary use is over.

    USB Charging Port
    Except for the very low end FV300 and FV300R, all of the new Motorola radios are equipped with a mini-USB port that can be used for charging the radio. There are over 100 million USB cables in use now, and most everyone has on charging a cell phone, MP3 player or some other small device. This same cable can be used to charge your new Motorola two way radio! This is a definite convenience, but it also gives people who need to keep both radios in a different location a charging option. A single two pocket charger doesn't help much when you need to keep one radio upstairs and another down! A cheap USB cable now solves this problem.

    New Models
    Here is a list of all of the new models, with the top features of each.

    T9650RCAMO - Value pack that will include two T9650 radios (similar to T9550), two earpieces with boom mic's, and vehicle charger. Available in May.
    T9680R-SAME - Top of the line model. Replaces the T9580R-SAME but adds the USB charging port. Supports advanced S.A.M.E. weather alerts. Available in June.
    EM1000R - Emergency alert button, flashlight, USB charging port, VOX hands-free use, NOAA weather channels and alerts.
    EM1000 - Identical to the EM1000R, but doesn't include rechargeable batteries/charger. Each radio requires 3 AA batteries.
    SX900R - NOAA weather channels and alerts, VOX hands-free use, USB charging port.
    SX600R - VOX hands-free use, USB charging port. The packaging claims this model has less power than the SX900R, but this does not appear to be the case.
    FV300R - Small and lightweight. Includes pig-tail charging adapter (no charging cradle).
    FV300 - Small, low cost radio. No charger is included. Each radio requires 3 AAA batteries.

    Discontinued Models
    As new models are brought in, old ones are phased out. The following models are no longer being produced by Motorola: T9580R-SAME, SX800R, FV800R, T5000R, T5500AA, FV200.

    Congratulations to Giant International, manufacturer of Motorola consumer radios, for some great innovations in this 2008 lineup!

  • Battery Type Differences: NiCd vs. NiMH vs. Li-Ion

    A vast majority of the two way radios that we sell come standard with rechargeable batteries. These rechargeable batteries fall into three categories (NiCd, NiMH, Lithium), and we are often asked to explain the difference.

    I recently found some information on Motorola's web site that does a great job of explaining the difference. This page also provides links to material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for Motorola batteries, and battery recycling and safety information.

    Here's an excerpt that discusses the differences:

    Motorola makes many different models of batteries, with the majority of them falling into three major types: Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH), and Lithium Ion (Li-Ion).

    Motorola Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries are currently one of the most cost effective chemistries on the market. NiCd batteries give you more watt-hours of operation per shift than other battery chemistries. They are ideal for a user who needs a high-performance battery and who communicates under extreme conditions of cold and heat (-30C to +50C) Historically, a NiCd battery's major drawback has been its susceptibility to memory effect, or its propensity to "forget" and not utilize its full capacity. Today, this remains to be a serious tradeoff, but can be minimized with proper charging/reconditioning practices.

    Motorola Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries can offer superior operation life between charges. This battery chemistry provides 30-40% longer operation time than NiCd, but does not operate as efficiently in extreme temperatures. In addition, NiMH is less susceptible to "memory effect" compared to NiCd batteries.

    One of the major advantages of Motorola Lithium Ion (Li Ion) batteries is their power to weight ratio, which easily exceeds that of NiMH for a lighter, smaller power supply. These batteries tend to be the industry's most expensive chemistry, and they offer a major advantage of not experiencing "memory effect".

  • Introducing the Motorola RDX Series

    Motorola has recently released their latest series of business radios: the RDX series. The RDX series will eventually replace the highly popular XTN and AX series's, and they provide a number of improvements.

    The biggest improvement is in voice clarity and loudness. The RDX models are 30% louder, and the sound clarity that Motorola has achieved is simply astounding. The one watt/one channel models have been eliminated and now all of the "low powered" models are a full two watts and have either two or eight channels. Models without a display are available for those wanting simple-as-possible operation. High powered, fully programmable 4/5 watt models will be available soon.

    The following is a breakdown of the new RDX models, along with their primary differences.

    Model Frequencies Power Channels Display
    RDV2020 27 VHF 2 Watts 2 No
    RDU2020 89 UHF 2 Watts 2 No
    RDV2080d 27 VHF 2 Watts 8 Yes
    RDU2080d 89 UHF 2 Watts 8 Yes
    RDV5100 27 VHF 5 Watts 10 No
    RDU4100 89 UHF 4 Watts 10 No
    RDU4160 89 UHF -
    Repeater Capable
    4 Watts 16 Yes

    The following features are new, or have been improved with the RDX series.

    Transmission Clarity - Motorola radios have always been exceptional in terms of noise reduction and transmission clarity, but with the RDX series they have outdone themselves. There is considerable improvement in clarity even over the AX and XTN series radios.

    Loudness - 30% increase over AX and XTN series models.

    Battery - All RDX radios come equipped with a lithium battery. Lithium batteries provide more life and are more lightweight than the NiMH batteries used by previous series's. The 2 watt RDX radios come standard with a 12 hour battery, and the 4/5 watt models include a 18.5 hour battery. Upgraded battery options are also available.

    Configurability - All RDX series radios can be configured via a PC using an optional programming cable and Motorola's Customer Programming Software (CPS). The CPS is a free download from Motorola's web site.

    Ease of Setup - The Customer Programming Software is one way to setup a personality for your radios once, and easily copy the configuration to other handsets. Cloning is another. Using an optional cloning cable, you can easily copy settings from one radio to another.

    Ease of Use - By offering several models without a display and front panel buttons, Motorola now has options for customers looking for a straightforward, easy to use radio.

    Durability - The RDX series radios have an aluminum chassis and are even more durable that their predecessors.

    Voice Scrambling - All RDX models support scramble codes.

    All Motorola RDX radios are compatible with AX and XTN series audio accessories. Other accessories such as a multi-unit chargers, extra batteries, PC and cloning cables will be available soon.

  • TriSquare Review From Popular Communications

    Popular Communications, an industry publication, has just published a review of the TriSquare eXRS radios! The author of this review, Bernard Bates, does a fantastic job - producing the most in-depth review of the TSX-300 thus far.

    The following excerpt details the features that Mr. Bates liked best about the TriSquare TSX300.

    There's a lot to like in the TSX300 (see Figure 2), and its many features make it an exceptional price/performance value. It's clear that much thought went into the design of this radio and its accessories. Following are some features I particularly liked:

    • Exceptional communications privacy
    • No interference from other users
    • Advanced technology made easy
    • All accessories included
    • Geek/coolness appeal
    • Good ergonomics
    • No license required
    • Non-volatile memory
    • NiMH or alkaline batteries

    Click here to read the full review.

    I would like to thank Popular Communications for publishing this detailed review. I would encourage any radio enthusiast out there to subscribe to this fantastic publication.

    Update: Popular Communications ceased publication in 2013 and is now called CQ Magazine.

  • Kenwood Promo: $30 Rebate On Select Models

    A fantastic new Kenwood promotion began today on their two channel business radios, the TK2200V2P and TK3200U2P. If you purchase six or more of these radios you qualify for a $30 rebate per radio, up to a maximum of $1080!

    This offer is good on radios purchases between February 5, 2008 and April 30, 2008. This is a mail-in offer, direct from Kenwood, that we have been authorized to offer. Click here for full details and rebate form.

  • Free Gas! Motorola Business Radio Promotion

    Note: This promotion expired December 31, 2007 and is no longer available.

    We are pleased to be a part of a new Motorola promotion, offering free gas cards to customers purchasing Motorola AX, CLS, or XTN series business radios! For every six Motorola CLS series radios purchased, you qualify for $150 in gas cards. For every six AX or XTN series radios purchased, you receive $300 in free gas!

    This promo is valid on up to 48 radios, meaning you could earn gas rebates worth up to $2,400! This promotion is valid for radios purchased from September 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007, and is fulfilled by Motorola directly.

    In addition, we are still offering our own promotion with Motorola business radios. Buy two Motorola AX, CLS, or XTN radios and receive a Sarge NU-32 Xenon Flashlight. Buy four or more and get the Sarge SKT-160 Flashlight / Multi-Tool set.

    With these promotions, our great prices, same day shipping and great support, why would you buy from anywhere else?

  • Motorola Flashlight Promo - Back Again and Even Better!

    Note: This promotion expired and is no longer available.

    Who would have thought these flashlights would be so popular? Customers loved our free flashlight promotion, and when it ended last month we were swamped with emails from customers who wanted it back. Well, we've listened to your requests and made the promotion better than ever before!

    Through June 30th, we will be giving away a free NU-32 Xenon flashlight to customers who purchase two or more Motorola business radios (AX, CLS, DTR, and XTN series). Purchase five or more radios and you will receive the Sarge NU-35 model, which is a more durable Xenon model that is rechargeable and includes a nylon holster!

    Specifically, this promotion applies to the following models: CLS1110, CLS1410, XU1100, XV1100, XU2100, XV2100, XU2600, XV2600, AXU4100, AXU5100.

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