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Recently in Olympia Category

Recently in Olympia Category

December 11, 2015

Repeater capable FRS/GMRS radios

We often receive questions about the range limitations of consumer FRS/GMRS radios. In fact, it is probably one of the most commonly asked questions about them, and for many, it seems to be one of the most important considerations when shopping for a handheld radio. This is certainly understandable, of course. Everyone wants the ability to communicate with others across great distances, and certainly more than just across their front yard.

However, since radios communicate line-of-sight, and given the power and other limitations of the typical FRS/GMRS handheld walkie talkie, coupled with the uncertainty of weather conditions, location and terrain, the average range of direct radio-to-radio communications with the typical consumer radio may not meet some applications.

In such a scenario, one may need more than just a standard walkie-talkie. One may need a handheld radio with the ability to operate through a repeater.

Although the FCC does not allow the use of a repeater on FRS frequencies (and given the 1/2 watt limitation of the FRS service, it isn't practical anyway), it does allow the use of repeaters on the GMRS. Yes, there are GMRS repeaters out there, not too many, but they do exist. But what about repeater ready GMRS radios?

Yes, they do exist as well. We receive frequent inquiries and requests from customers who are searching for GMRS radios with the ability to operate through GMRS repeaters. While they aren't common, they certainly are out there, and they aren't too hard to find.

This chart lists brand name portable handheld GMRS radios currently available with repeater capability. Click on the name or image of each model for details and more specifications on each radio. All models listed in the chart are available from Buy Two Way Radios.

FRS/GMRS Two Way Radio Comparison Chart

Model Interference
Talkabout MR355R
121 22 11 8
Talkabout MS350R
121 22 11 8
Talkabout MS355R
121 22 11 8
Olympia R500 121 50* 11 8

Additional resources:
TWRS-68 - An Introduction to Repeaters
Radio 101 - How To activate repeater channels on a Motorola Talkabout radio

*According to Olympia, the 50 channels consist of 22 FRS/GMRS and 28 "extra" channels.

December 1, 2014

TWRS-83 - New Olympia FRS/GMRS Radios

We tell you about a new line of FRS/GMRS radios from an old company in the business. We also review the XLT EB120 Earbud with PTT Microphone.

Intro :00
Billboard 1:22

Discussion Topic 1:42
We talk about the new Olympia FRS/GMRS Two Way Radios. We'll give you the inside story about these new radios, introduce you to the models, and discuss the key features and the differences between them and similar models produced by the same manufacturer under another well-known and popular brand.

Commercial Break 18:41 1:00

Product Review 19:37
We review the XLT EB120 Earbud with PTT Microphone.

Questions and Answers 26:02
Questions from readers of our Two Way Radio Blog and members of the Two Way Radio Forum.

Wrap up and Close 31:54
Send in your comments and questions for Danny, Anthony and Rick to show[at] Feedback on this and other topics will be read by the hosts and included in future episodes of the show. Visit us at!

© 2014 Cricket Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.

[ Download MP3 ]

November 11, 2014

Introducing Olympia FRS/GMRS Radios

We now have a new brand in the world of FRS and GMRS radios - Olympia! Olympia has launched their line of FRS/GMRS radios with three mid to high-end models: the R100, R300, and R500. As a new brand in this industry, it appears that Olympia hopes to compete by delivering a high performance product at a low price - also known as value. All three models are priced lower than comparable products from other manufacturers, look great, and include a three year warranty.

Olympia = Motorola Talkabout

The big secret is that Olympia radios are made by Giant International - the same company that has designed, manufactured, distributed, and marketed Motorola Talkabout radios for over a decade. Motorola has actually had very little to do with the Talkabout line of radios - they license their brand to Giant. Motorola has recently decided to make some changes with this arrangement and Giant now has some uncertainty regarding their future. This line of Olympia radios provides Giant with their very own brand of radios which they have complete control over.

The great news for people in the market to purchase radios is that the R100, R300, and R500 are similar in performance and features to the Motorola MR350R, MT350R, and MS350R radios, respectively. From what we can tell, the radio performance and many features of these Olympia radios match those of the Talkabout models. Olympia even uses the same batteries and accessories as the Talkabout series.

So what does this mean? If you're looking to purchase a Motorola Talkabout MR350R, MT350R, or MS350R you should look closely at the Olympia radios and give them some consideration. You may find yourself with a very similar radio but with a 3 year warranty instead of a 1 year!

Radio Details

Olympia R100
R100 - This is a full featured radio that is IP54 water resistant, has NOAA weather alerts, USB plug-in charging, 50 channels, and 3 year warranty. Similar in performance to the Motorola MR350R, but lacking VOX, vibrate mode, and flashlight.

Olympia R300
R300 - The R300 is a slightly larger radio from the R100 and adds the VOX, vibrate alert, and flashlight. It is very similar in features to the Motorola MT350R.

Olympia R500
R500 - The R500 is around the same size as the R300, but it is a truly waterproof radio. It can be completely submerged in water, and it will even float if dropped in water. Unlike the R100 and R300, it does not support USB charging. Instead it includes a dual-pocket drop-in charger. This radio is very similar to the Motorola MS350R.

Marketing Overload

As we've pointed out before, a lot of marketing hype has evolved in this industry over the years as FRS/GMRS radio manufacturers try to make their products stand out from competitors. The most prominent example of this is excessive range claims, but we also see it with waterproof claims and extra channels. With all of the great things about these new Olympia radios, one negative is that they chose to go "all-in" with the marketing hype. They have topped Cobra, Midland, and Motorola's already excessive range claims (their models claim 37, 40, and 42 miles, respectively). All three of the models claim to be waterproof even though only one (the R500) is actually submersible. Also they have joined Midland by offering "extra channels" - all three models have 50 channels, even though there are only 22 FRS and GMRS frequencies.

In general, I love these new Olympia radios and I think they are going to be very successful. They offer a lot of features at a great price, and I think that they've given potential Motorola Talkabout purchasers something to consider.

November 10, 2014

Change Is In The Air For Motorola Talkabout Radios

For over a decade now Motorola Talkabout radios have been designed, manufactured, marketed and distributed by a company called Giant International. Giant International is a Motorola Solutions brand licensee, which essentially means that they are allowed to sell Motorola branded products in exchange for a percentage of the sales. Motorola has maintained some control over how the products look and are marketed, but Giant has been in charge of the Motorola Talkabout line of radios in most every way. This is about to change.

Motorola Solutions has decided to take over research and development of the FRS/GMRS radio line. This means that in the future, new models of Motorola branded FRS and GMRS radios will have been designed internally at Motorola. So what does this mean for the Talkabout line? Unfortunately we don't have any solid answers. Motorola certainly has a lot of experience designing radios, so we're hoping that this will be a positive step for the product line. Giant is the largest FRS/GMRS radio manufacturer in the world, however, and they know this industry better than anyone. In anticipation of this change, Giant recently launched their own line of FRS/GMRS two way radios under their Olympia brand.

Change is in the air for the Motorola Talkabout. It is certainly not a given that this change will be a good one.