<2 Way Radio FAQ>
Q. How far do 2 way radios broadcast?
A. Generally speaking commercial grade hand held radios will broadcast between 1 - 2 miles. VHF radios broadcast a little further but do not penetrate as well while UHF radios broadcast a little less distance but have superior penetration.
Q. What is the difference between a commercial grade radio and a consumer grade radio?
A. Consumer grade radios cost less but are less durable, have a short battery duty cycle (usually less than 8 hours), are less powerful as measured in wattage and generally do not meet industry standards. Consumer grade radios usually sell for less than $100 per pair while commercial grade radios sell starting at $200 each.
Q. Is VHF or UHF better?
A. VHF (very high frequency) or UHF (ultra high frequency) refers to the frequency range a radio operates within. VHF is 136 - 174 MHz while UHF is 400 - 512 MHz. The higher the frequency the shorter the wave length. The longer the wave length the further a signal can travel. The shorter the wave length the easier it is for the signal to penetrate. In the real world VHF is superior for broadcasting over open water or from one unobstructed position to another. UHF is superior for broadcasting around and through building or other obstacles.
Q. Why do 2 way radios have multiple channels?
A. Each channel can be programmed to a different frequency. Modern 2 way radios typically have 4 - 16 channels (some radios have as many as 256 channels). If you are listening to channel one you will only hear broadcast that are being sent on that specific frequency. In a commercial application it is beneficial to separate communication based on work groups or location. A school that uses radios might want the maintenance people broadcasting on one channel and the teachers or administrators on another.
Q. What is Scanning?
A. Scan is a commercial grade radio feature that instructs the radio to look for a channel that is active. Scanning only works on channels that have been pre-programmed into the radio. Do not confuse a scanner radio that looks for activity on any frequency verse scanning on a commercial 2 way radio that looks only for pre-programmed frequencies.
Q. How is Scanning used in commercial applications?
A. The most popular scanning application is known as 2 channel scan. Two channel scan supposes that an enterprise is using radios that have specific work groups assigned to specific channels. For example, channel one is assigned to production and channel two is assigned to maintenance and channel three is assigned to shipping. It is not practical to have all departments listening to each other conversations but is important to reach everyone at once on some occasions. Each radio is set to scan for activity on their specific channel and one other channel (known as the all call channel). In our example, production worker radios are scanning for activity on channel one and the all call channel. Maintenance worker radios are scanning for activity on channel three and the all call channel.
Q. Do stubby antennas work as well as the regular length 2 way radio antennas?
A. A stubby antenna has the same length antenna wire as a regular length antenna however the actual antenna is coiled around a mast in order to produce a stubby or shorter profile antenna. In theory they are suppose to provide the same coverage but this is seldom true. However if your reception is good with a stubby antenna you have the advantage of a low profile antenna.
Q. What is 2 way radio VOX?
A. VOX is voice activation. Hands free operation is the promise of VOX. “Simply speak and the radio will open and broadcast your message.” Unfortunately voice activation should be called sound activation. The VOX feature on a 2 way radio doesn’t know the difference between a call for help and the normal grunts and groans of physical activity. Consequently VOX can create more problems than it solves. Generally we do not recommend the use of VOX in commercial applications.
Q. Can I change the frequencies on my 2 way radios?
A. Most commercial grade 2 way radios are programmable from a PC computer or through on board programming. You can not change from VHF to UHF but you can change frequencies within the frequency band of the radio.
Q. What is the life expectancy of a 2 way radio?
A. Commercial grade 2 way radios are built to meet or exceed Military Specifications and Intrusion Protection standards. If these radios are taken care and operated inside these specifications and standards their life expectancy is indefinite. We often see 2 way radios that are 7, 8 or even 10 years in service. However note that seldom do radio batteries last beyond 3 or 4 years.
Q. What is the difference between a Walkie Talkie and a 2 Way Radio?
A. Walkie Talkies are 2 Way Radios. The name walkie talkie is a variation of Handie Talkie which was the original name for hand held transcievers. The names walkie talkie, walky talky, 2 way radio and two way radio are all interchangeable today.
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