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  • TWRS-14 - Care and Maintenance of Two Way Radios

    In this episode we discuss the proper care and maintenance of two way radios. We also review the Motorola RDU2020 business two way radio.

    Intro :00
    Billboard 1:12

    Topic Discussion 1:27
    We talk about the care and maintenance of two way radios. We'll discuss how to keep your radio in top condition and give you some important tips to avoid damage to your radio equipment. Download our FREE Two Way Radio Care and Maintenance Guide. A durable, laminated version of our Care and Maintenance Guide is also available for purchase.

    Commercial Break 17:28
    buytwowayradios.com 1:00

    Product Review 18:27
    Today we will review the Motorola RDU2020 business two way radio.

    Questions and Answers 24:01
    Questions from readers of our Two Way Radio Blog and members of the Two Way Radio Forum.

    Wrap up and Close 28:58
    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.

  • TWRS-12 - The Migration to Narrowband

    In this episode we discuss the the FCC's new 2013 narrowbanding requirement and what it means for users of business two way radios.

    Intro :00
    Billboard 1:13

    Topic Discussion 1:29
    We talk about the FCC's 2013 narrowbanding mandate. We will clarify what this means, help you determine if this mandate will impact your business, and if so how to move forward. For more information about the new FCC requirement, read A Summary of the FCC's Proposed Changes to GMRS and Other Services in the Two Way Radio Blog.

    Commercial Break 17:45
    buytwowayradios.com 1:00

    Product Review 18:43
    Today we will review the Olympia P324 business radio.

    Questions and Answers 24:55
    Questions from readers of our Two Way Radio Blog and members of the Two Way Radio Forum.

    Wrap up and Close 28:57
    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.

  • The NEW Midland GXT5000 GMRS Radio is Available Now - and We Have It!

    GXT5000-Pack.jpgEarlier this year we told you about a cool new GMRS radio from Midland that was due out this summer - The Midland GXT5000 Pro Series GMRS Two Way Radio - and gave you a sneak peek at the coming attraction on our blog. Today we are excited to announce that The NEW Midland GXT5000
    has arrived - and Buy Two Way Radios is one of the first retailers to offer this unique GMRS experience!

    The GXT5000 Pro Series Rugged Professional GMRS Two Way Radio is a professional quality radio for FRS/GMRS users, designed to communicate with other standard consumer radios using FRS and GMRS frequencies, but with the added durability of a commercial grade radio.

    According to the FCC report, the Midland GXT5000 has 4 watts of power. Because of the fixed antenna (a requirement for radios supporting the FRS frequencies), it is equal to or surpasses the range of current consumer models.

    The Midland GXT-5000 has plenty of standard features. The new radio supports 22 standard FRS/GMRS channels and 121 privacy codes. It features selectable high/low power modes, dual channel watch, channel scan, silent operation, five selectable call alerts, a time out timer and an out-of-range alert.

    However, for all the bells and whistles, it's not the feature set that makes the GXT5000 unique. It's what Midland built around them.

    This radio is designed for serious GMRS enthusiasts who use their radios in more rugged conditions than the occasional camping trip or day out about the town. If you find yourself in scenarios where your radio be may be exposed to elements such as rain, dust or some physical abuse, the Midland GXT5000 may be the radio for you.

    The GXT5000 has an aluminum cast frame, is waterproof, shock and dust proof to IP67 standards, and meets MIL-STD 810 C, D, E and F specifications. It also includes a long life lithium-ion battery and features an impressive 5 year warranty! But if that isn't durable enough for you, get this. The GXT-5000 is also submersible, an attribute commonly associated with marine radios, but not so common for its standard consumer cousin.

    In addition, Midland took the radio, its rechargeable lithium-ion battery, swivel belt clip, desktop charger, AC wall adapter and owner's manual and bundled it all up nicely in a zippered storage/travel case that was designed specifically for this radio and its included accessories, giving the whole package a neat, sharp, professional look. The case alone is quite impressive.

    The GXT5000 Pro Series Rugged Professional GMRS Two Way Radio is new, is here, and is available now from Buy Two Way Radios!

  • Radio Compatibility: Which Models Will Work Together

    One of the questions that we are asked frequently is if a new two way radio that a customer is considering purchasing will be compatible with older radios that they already have. This compatibility question is best answered based on the type of radio (such as consumer vs. business), as the answer is very different.

    Consumer Radios
    Midland GXT2000 Two Way RadioConsumer radios generally operate on a standard set of frequencies assigned to preset channels. But that's only part of the equation. There are different types of consumer radios, so these frequency and channel assignments depend on what type of radio it is.

    Perhaps the most popular type of consumer radio is the FRS/GMRS walkie talkie. These radios operate on the UHF band. At one time this type of radio used either the GMRS or FRS services, and for awhile most were manufactured as "dual service" radios that supported both FRS and GMRS. These radios typically had 22 channels. Older models with only 14 channels were considered FRS radios.

    After the FCC Part 95 reform in 2017, these combo radios were no longer considered dual service, but reclassified as either FRS or GMRS, depending on their wattage among other things. Today, FRS and GMRS share the same channel and frequency assignments and are able to communicate with one another on the same standard 22 channels. Additionally, Some GMRS radios have 8 additional channels to communicate with GMRS repeaters.

    Regardless, all of the radios that support FRS and/or GMRS use the same frequencies and are compatible with one another. Simply set all radios to the same channel number and privacy code, and you will be able to communicate. FRS and GMRS radios are not cross compatible with other types of consumer radios.

    CB radios operate on the 11 meter AM band, and have their own channel and frequency assignments. CB radios have 40 channels, and some are capable of Single Side Band (SSB) operation. CB radios are not cross-compatible with any other consumer radio service.

    Consumer Marine radios operate on VHF marine frequencies and are intended for use on private, non-commercial vessels over water. Some older marine radios were dual service radios combined with FRS/GMRS, but
    the FCC no longer allows the manufacture or sale of these models. Marine radios are not cross-compatible with other types of consumer radios.

    MURS radios operate on the VHF band and have 5 dedicated channels. These radios can be used by consumers or businesses, which technically puts them in both types for this discussion. However, it is its own radio service with specific operating requirements and restrictions. MURS radios are not cross compatible with other types of consumer radios.

    Popular manufacturers of consumer radios are Cobra, DeWALT, Galaxy, Midland, Motorola (Talkabout series), President, Uniden and Wouxun. Kenwood used to make GMRS models (the TK-3101 and TK-3131, for example), but have moved away from consumer radios and no longer produce them.

    For a more in-depth discussion on the different types of consumer radios, listen to episode 75 of The Two Way Radio Show Podcast.

    Business Radios
    Kenwood TK-3402 Two Way RadioCompatibility is not nearly as straightforward when it comes to business radios. First of all, there are several types of frequencies that business radios are made to support: VHF, UHF, and 800/900 Mhz frequencies, for example. The first step in finding a compatible radio is choosing a model that supports the same frequency type as your existing radios.

    These frequency types refer to an entire range of actual frequencies, and just choosing the same frequency type does not guarantee compatibility. If you purchased your existing radios from a true two way radio dealer, there is a possibility that the dealer could have programmed special custom frequencies into the radio. If this were the case, your radios may not be compatible with a new radio even if you purchased the exact same model.

    Usually most compatibility issues arise with 4 or 5 watt radios, which are much more likely to support custom programming. With one or two watt business radios, it is a little easier to ensure compatibility. The Motorola CLS series of radios and the two watt RM series models will always be compatible, and two watt Kenwood radios that are marked with a ProTalk label will always be compatible, provided you purchase the same model.

    In addition to band and frequency compatibility, there are different types of digital business radios which are not inherently compatible with one another. These include DMR, NXDN, and 900 MHz digital radios.

    DMR is a very popular digital technology used by Motorola, Vertex Standard and TYT. There are a plethora of DMR radios available that are compatible with one another.  NXDN is used by Kenwood and Icom. While not as prevalent as DMR, NXDN radios are popular with some businesses and organizations. These two technologies use different methods and protocols, so are not cross-compatible on their own without some type of digital converter.

    The 900 MHz digital radio is another thing entirely. It uses Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum or FHSS technology. This is a clever concept that increases secure communications, but comes with the caveat that one brand of 900 MHz radio may be completely incompatible with another.

    If you have any questions or concerns about business radio compatibility, the easiest option is to simply contact us and we can recommend a compatible solution. For older radios or radios that could have been custom programmed, we may ask that you send in the radio so that we can read the actual frequencies from the radio before making a recommendation.

    Related Resources
    Looking for a MURS Compatible Radio?
    It's Official: Vertex Digital and Motorola TRBO Radios Now Compatible
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-07 - Comparing Small Business Radios
    Radio 101 - The facts about GMRS two way radio compatibility

  • Do You Need A Business Two Way Radio?

    Construction WorkerWe frequently get questions from business customers asking if they really need to buy a "business" two way radio. Business radios are generally much more expensive than consumer radios and the features are often very similar, so it is easy to see why this can be confusing. In this post I'll try to explain the common differences between these types of radios, and hopefully provide enough information for you to decide what's best for your business.

    FCC Regulations
    Whether a 2 way radio is "business" or "consumer" is decided by the frequencies that it uses to transmit and receive communications. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set aside 22 UHF frequencies as general frequencies for use by consumers. These frequencies make up GMRS and FRS channels that are supported by the consumer radios that we sell.

    Technically, use of the GMRS channels requires an FCC license. This license is good for 5 years and covers the applicant and his/her immediate family. GMRS licenses are not issued to businesses. Here is a note from the FCC's GMRS license application form (form 605):

    Note: For GMRS: effective January 1, 1989, new or major modification applications may NOT be filed by non-individual (business) applicants/licensees. (See Rule 1.929(c) (4) & 95.5(b).

    For GMRS radios to be legally used by businesses, each person using the radios would need an individual GMRS license ($80 each). A business could use the radios on an FRS channel without a license, but when using FRS channels the radio cannot transmit at more than a half watt of power. This is generally only good for a quarter to a half mile of outdoor range.

    Business radios use different frequencies ranges that have been approved by the FCC for business use. These frequencies are not as popular, so you typically don't have to worry about "chatter" on your channels. You can also get business radios that operate on VHF frequencies, which work better than UHF outdoors or inside of and around wood structures. An FCC license for your business is $105. You will pay more upfront for your business radio, but if there are several employees that will use it you will likely save money after factoring in the license cost.

    Business radios are usually designed to hold up to abuse better than consumer radios. Consumer radios are usually built for infrequent use: weekend hunting trips, multiple car caravans, skiing, camping, amusement parks, etc. They are usually lightweight with a thin plastic casing. Business radios are designed to be used for hours every day, and they will hold up better than consumer radios. Many are built to military specifications.

    Battery Life
    If your business plans to use radios for more than a few hours a day, battery life is something that you will not want to overlook. Most consumer radios include rechargeable batteries that are good for 8 hours or less of use. As is typical of batteries, this life will likely diminish slightly over time. Some business or professional radios are also limited in their battery life, but most will provide 12 hours or more on a charge.

    Business radios typically have a better selection of accessories than consumer radios. If accessories, such as headsets or earpieces, are important to your business, you should look at what accessories are available before you choose a radio. Things like rapid chargers and multi unit chargers are only available for business radios.

    Common Scenarios
    There are some scenarios where a business radio is always your best choice. For example, anytime you expect to use the radio frequently and for more than 8 hours with each use. If you purchase a consumer radio for this, there is a good chance you will be disappointed with the battery life. Also, if you are in a "tough" work environment, such as a construction or industrial situation. Consumer radios are not designed to take this kind of beating.

    It may be best to choose a consumer radio in a light-duty situation where very little range is needed. This would allow you to get away with only using the FRS channels and avoiding the license fees. A great example is a school that needs radios for directing traffic in mornings and afternoons.

    I hope this has been helpful. If you have any specific questions you can, as always, feel free to call or email us!

    Related Resources
    Buyer's Guide - Business Radios
    Common Business Radio Uses/Industries
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-02 - An Introduction to Business Radios
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-07 - Comparing Small Business Radios

  • Getting The Most Range From Your Radio

    Hiking through the mountainsOne question that we are frequently asked is "how can I get more range out of my two way radio?" In the case of consumer (FRS / GMRS) radios the amount of range you can expect is usually not even close to what the manufacturers advertise. There are, however, several things that you can do to be sure you are getting the most range possible from your radio.

    If your radio supports GMRS channels, be sure that you are using one. Most consumer radios support 22 channels, some FRS and some GMRS. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not allow transmission on an exclusive FRS channel at more than half a watt of power. This means that if you are on an FRS-only channel, your radio will only transmit using "low power" mode. The FRS-only channels are 8 through 14. Channels 15 through 22 are exclusively for GMRS, and channels 1 through 7 are shared by both FRS and GMRS.

    Most consumer radios support two or more power modes. To get the most range, be sure that you are using high power mode. Lower power modes will not use all of your radio's possible output power and will reduce range.

    Be sure to fully charge your battery. The transmission power of two way radios tends to weaken if the battery is low. Always be sure your batteries are fully charged before using your radios, especially if you will need maximum range.

    Finally, if you still find yourself pushing the range limits of your radio you can try the "monitor channel" feature. Enabling this feature will cause the radio to open the channel, allowing you to hear static and transmissions too weak to be received by the radio in normal mode.

    Related Resources
    GMRS Radio Range Chart
    30 Miles? The Truth About Range
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-05 - Radios in Range
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-45 - The Truth About GMRS Radio Range
    Radio 101 - The truth about FRS / GMRS two way radio range
    How To Optimize Range for Motorola Talkabout Two Way Radios

  • 30 Miles? The Truth About Range

    Midland GXT2000 Two Way RadioYou may have noticed that most of the consumer two-way radios you see around advertise a range of up to 30 miles. The truth is, consumer FRS/GMRS radios will not even provide close to the advertised "maximum range".

    The range that a two-way radio advertises is the range that the radio should get in "ideal" conditions. Ideal conditions are line of sight, such as from a mountaintop to a valley below -- no interference at all. Most likely, you will not be using the radios in these circumstances! You will probably want two-way radios for things such as hunting, skiing, malls, car trips or vacations. Under these normal conditions, the range of the radio will be limited because of obstructions, such as trees, hills, or buildings. These obstructions block the signal and dramatically reduce the range of a two-way radio.

    So what type of range can you expect from your radio? Usually half a mile up to two miles, depending upon your terrain and the power of your radio. In the same environment, a 2 watt radio with a long antenna would provide considerably more range than a half watt radio with a short antenna.

    When choosing a radio, it is very important to consider both the amount of range that you need and the environment in which you will be using the radios. Naturally, you wouldn't have as many obstructions in a football stadium as being in the middle of a heavily wooded area. For use in a stadium you would likely be fine with a small, one watt radio. In a wooded area, however, that same radio may not provide sufficient range. These are things that you need to take into consideration when choosing which two-way radio is right for you.

    Related Resources
    GMRS Radio Range Chart
    Getting The Most Range From Your Radio
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-05 - Radios in Range
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-45 - The Truth About GMRS Radio Range
    Radio 101 - The truth about FRS / GMRS two way radio range
    How To Optimize Range for Motorola Talkabout Two Way Radios

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