Two Way Radio

When handheld phones, or walkie-talkies as they were known, first came out, they were considered very high tech – the cutting edge of technology, even. They were available to only the very rich, and became a status symbol on par with expensive cars and big houses. But the technology used to create them had been in the market for a very long time, and used by consumers on a daily basis. Walkie-Talkies worked by sending and receiving radio signals – they were basically a smaller, handheld version of a two way radio.

A two way radio is a radio that can transmit information as well as receive it. Its creation had a huge impact on communications. Two way radios were installed in police cars, increasing their response time and efficiency. In airplanes, two way radios eliminated the need for pilots to drop messages to ground troops or to land and speak in person. Communication between ships and submarines became easier and faster.

Two way radios use two kinds of channel systems. The first is the simplex channel, which consists of only one channel for transmitting messages and receiving them. This is the channel system first used and remains installed in many old radios, which are part of decades-old planes and submarines. Any radio can use a simplex channel; it allows modern radios to communicate with older radios. However, the disadvantages of the simplex channel are that it has limited range, and doesn’t allow simultaneous transmission and reception.

The other channel system is the duplex channel. They use different channels to transmit and receive information. This allows for simultaneous communication, and this channel system is used in mainstream consumer cell phones. However, duplex channel systems need a base station to retransmit signals from handheld devices, which is why cell phone towers are necessary.

Two way radios operate on several different frequencies. The number of frequencies available differs from country to country, but in the United States, the two main radio service providers, General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and Family Radio Service (FRS) offer 22 frequencies which the general public may use for themselves. There are also radios which may use both GMRS and FRS systems, known as hybrid radios.

The two main communication formats for two way radios are Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and Very High Frequency (VHF). UHF is better for communications over rough or wooded terrain or through buildings. VHF is best when the radio communications are occurring outdoors on relatively smooth terrain. VHF also has a longer range of communication than UHF. However, UHF signals are less likely to interfere with each other.

Consumers looking for two way radios have several options. Motorola, Cobra, Uniden and other companies have several products in that category. While shopping for radios, they should look for radios which are capable of using as many frequencies as possible, so that they can avoid those with a lot of traffic. They should also have sub-channels for privacy so their conversations are not interrupted. For those who regard privacy as absolutely essential, some radios come with a scrambler which renders the conversation unintelligible to anyone listening in. Useful features are low battery alerts and voice activated transmission, which allows for hands-free usage. For two way radios which will be used for business purposes, consumers should look for those built for very rough use. Prices of these radios range from $45 per pair (the Motorola EM1000) to $145 each (the Garmin Rino 110). Consumers should note that they must apply for a license if they wish to use radio frequencies for personal and business purposes.

This Two Way Radio Review is Written/Updated on Apr 2nd, 2010 and filed under Consumer Electronics. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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