Going the Distance: How to Maximize Long-Range Communication

November 23rd, 2015

Get the farthest reach possible from your two-way radio system by taking a few minutes to read this “how to” guide. There are several factors that go into getting the maximum coverage with your two-way walkie-talkie system. This includes choosing the right kind of radio (UHF, VHF or digital) for your communication environment. Other key issues are the wattage of your radio and the quality of the radio’s built-in antenna. There are additional steps you can take to maximize your two-way radio’s range, such as by adding a base station and external antenna, a repeater or even multiple repeaters.

Use the Right Type of Radio for Indoor or Outdoor Communications
Optimal long-range communication depends first upon using the right two-way radio for the job. For the greatest reach indoors (for example, multiple floors in a high-rise building or throughout a large industrial complex), UHF radios are far superior to VHF. This is because the ultra-high frequency is able to more easily penetrate and get around wood, concrete

First Things First: Check the Batteries!
This may seem like a silly suggestion, but in fact, the first sign of your radio batteries beginning to fail is that the radio’s signal will lose strength. Before expanding your system with the purchase of a base station unit, well-placed antenna and possibly a repeater, make sure that your radio is working properly and that the batteries are fully charged. Rechargeable batteries do in time start to degrade, so if you notice that they’re not holding a charge like they used to, they probably need to be replaced.

Maximizing Radio Range by Improving the Antenna
With many hand-held two-way radios, the antenna is hard-wired to the unit and cannot be replaced. However, if you’re operating a fixed base station, mounting an antenna outside your building in a raised location will do a lot to improve its range. The higher it’s placed, the clearer the line of sight is with other radio operators, and this improves long-distance communications. If you’ll be communicating in a particular direction, a directional antenna might be especially effective. For mobile radios in vehicles, mount a compatible antenna on the roof or the trunk to transmit and receive over a greater distance.

Be Aware of Your Environment and Your Position to Maximize Your Radio’s Range
Even if your walkie-talkie has a built-in antenna that can’t be changed, there are still some simple things you can do to maximize your radio’s range. If you’re indoors, step away from walls and other obstructions and move as close to you can to an outside window. Outdoors, obstructions that block your radio’s signal may include sheds, barns, hillsides and even trees. If you’re in a valley, try standing on higher ground and move away from any buildings and other obstructions. Your body might even be interfering with the signal, so you should remove your radio from the belt holster and hold it away from your body out in front of you when you try to transmit or receive communications. While radio waves can go through objects to a certain extent, the more clearly the line of sight is with who you wish to communicate, the clearer the signal will be over a wider distance.

Use a Repeater for Maximum Two-Way Radio Range
For maximum two-way radio range, you can use a repeater which will receive and retransmit radio signals with increased power to reach a greater distance. Make sure you’re using two-way radios that are “repeater capable.” Repeaters are typically placed on a building or a tower, and are used by businesses, police departments, fire departments, ambulance services and emergency workers for reliable communications across cities or over hills and mountains.

Categories: Walkie Talkies

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