Archive for December, 2015

Scenarios where Two-Way Radios can Save the Day

Walkie-talkies to the rescue! Take a few minutes and read about some specific instances where two-way radios can make a huge difference in terms of information, instruction, coordination and safety. Whether it’s to relay sudden changes in a building specification to a work team or to coordinate the search for a missing person, two-way radios can be life savers – at times, literally.

Imagine this. Your company has been hired to construct a new home, and was given a complete set of blueprints by your client. One worker is on-site, overseeing pouring of concrete. Another is at a lumber yard, purchasing building materials. A third employee is at the hardware store, stocking up on additional tools, galvanized nails and other supplies that they were low on. A call comes in from the client. They’ve decided that they want to add a bathroom on the second floor, and this alters the layout of the other rooms. Without a two-way radio system, you would have to call your workers individually. After locating their phone numbers, you’ll hope that they have their cell phones with them, that they’re fully charged to receive calls and that there’s good cell phone service wherever they are. However, with everyone connected to the home base by handheld two-way radios (or a mobile unit in their vehicle), you can immediately broadcast to everyone that the job specifications have changed. This saves your company money in not buying materials you don’t need, it saves employee hours in not having to redo work and it saves the irritation of your important client when you do the job right the first time!

In another part of town, a call has come in to the police station that there is a missing child. The boy was playing with his friends in a wooded area near his home, they became separated and were not able to find him. Several relatives, in addition to emergency responders, are searching in different nearby locations where the child might be. The boy’s relatives have a family walkie-talkie system, and they are using that to coordinate with each other so they can cover more ground. The police and emergency responders have their own two-way walkie-talkies to organize their own efforts. This cuts down on confusion as to who’s looking where. One of the relatives finds a scarf that belongs to the boy, near a stream. She radios the other relatives, and one calls the police, who forward the information to the others in their group. Soon everyone is concentrated in the area where the scarf was found. The boy is soon located on a nearby dirt road. He had become lost, but is uninjured and is very happy to have been found!

A small group of friends have gone skiing in Utah. It is a remote area, but with excellent trails and fresh snow. A few of the friends go off in one direction, and the others head off in another. One party in the first group accidentally hits a stump underneath the snow and takes a tumble. They aren’t seriously injured, but the ankle is a little twisted and too painful to continue skiing. Their skiing partner tries to make a cell phone call to the others, letting them know that they’ll be late for their rendezvous, because they’ll have to walk back around the other way. However, due to the remote location, the cell phone signal is extremely poor, and they can’t get a good connection. Fortunately, they’re all carrying two-way radios! They push a button and have everyone on the line at once to relay the news. It’s a good thing they called. A member of the other group has been listening to the NOAA weather reports on the walkie-talkie, and as it happens, an unexpected storm is quickly moving in. They won’t have time to walk back before it hits, so the first group decides to go back to the base camp for an all-terrain snowmobile to come rescue the man who has been injured. It’s a great plan, and everyone is back at the lodge with hot chocolate in time to watch the blizzard, safely from indoors.

These are just a few examples of how two-way radios can save the day!

Add comment December 31st, 2015

Why Two-Way Radios are a Plow Driver’s Best Friend

Plow through that blizzard with confidence, comfort and security! Learn why two-way radios are the most valuable tool (aside from their plow) for the nation’s steadfast and dedicated plow drivers. It’s a lonely job, out there in a terrible storm, trying to keep the roads cleared for emergency vehicles, doctors, nurses, firemen, police and other key workers. Plow drivers often work alone in extremely hazardous conditions, so any precautions they can take to stay connected to fellow drivers and their company’s dispatcher can not only make the job far more comfortable, but also a great deal safer.

Two-Way Radios are Reliable Even in Whiteout Conditions
An advantage that two-way radios have over cell phones is that they are typically built to be extremely durable. Certain models are even designed to meet rigorous military and IP54/55 specifications. This ensures that the radio can withstand extreme temperatures, shock, vibration, dust and moisture. The IP54/55 rating also makes them resistant to jets of water! Having a nearly indestructible walkie-talkie in the plow truck provides a communication system a driver can count on, no matter what Mother Nature throws at them, and it also goes a long way toward delivering peace of mind.

NOAA Weather Channels
Many two-way radio models have built-in NOAA weather channels. For personal users on a camping, hiking or skiing trip, having advance notice of a storm or some other emergency situation is extremely valuable. For a plow driver, this kind of information is essential. With it, they can know when a new storm system is coming in, or if there has been a natural or man-made disaster nearby.

Instant Communication and Immediate News Updates
Having a high performance radio allows dispatchers stationed in the main office to alert a plow driver to emergency conditions, closed roads and other hazards that can directly impact their job. The person in charge of dispatching drivers to certain parts of town can alert them to schedule changes and updates to a local weather forecast. The drivers can also use their two-way radios to communicate with each other. This is very useful in situations where they need to call in backup to help with a particularly difficult job. All this helps to make the driver’s work easier and more comfortable.

Always a Button Away from Help
With a walkie-talkie system, a plow driver is just a “push-to-talk” button away from calling for assistance in the event of a personal emergency. Whether they’re involved in a traffic accident, have been stopped in their tracks by a broken-down vehicle or have a medical emergency, help can arrive to their location quickly. It is far better if they can immediately speak to someone at the office without having to dial a number on a cell phone and wait for a response. Digital two-way radios include GPS capability, which allows the driver to be easily located.

For all that the plow drivers do for their town and community, helping residents get out of their homes by giving them clear, sanded roadways, they deserve to have peace of mind while working through a long, cold and snowy night. With the challenging job of keeping the roads and highways clear, every detail becomes very important, such as the feeling of security to know that someone at the company is always easily reachable. When a friendly and helpful voice is just a button push away, a reliable two-way radio really is a plow driver’s best friend.

1 comment December 28th, 2015

What are Two-Way Radio Repeaters and Why are they Used?

Turn your tame two-way radio communication system into a Robo-Transmission Warrior! Using a repeater to pump up your company’s communication system is like injecting it with steroids. Spend a few minutes to learn about repeaters and how they can double the range of your radio.

A repeater is similar to a radio base station, in that it is a fixed radio that can receive a transmission from another radio. However, the main difference of a repeater is that it is also a radio transmitter. A radio repeater can receive a low-level or weak radio signal and retransmit it at a higher power so that the signal can have a greater range while staying clear and strong. Repeaters are frequently used by dispatching businesses such as taxi services and towing companies, and for emergency services such as police, firefighters and ambulance services. For many of these types of organizations, their base station is in fact a repeater and these names are used interchangeably, but it is important to know the difference, especially if you are in the market for one. The term fleet communications is used when talking about coordinating the activities and communications of several to many individual portable two-way radios and/or mobile radio users.

Unlike portable two-way radios, repeaters use external antennas to increase their range. It is possible to add a repeater to an existing radio system, but you must ensure that your radios are repeater capable and that the repeater is compatible with the radio models you are using. Repeaters can be used for both outdoor communications, such as on a large commercial farm that stretches out over many acres, or indoors, such as when you need signal coverage on additional floors of a high-rise office building. Repeaters and their antennas are typically located on the roof of a tall building or on a mountaintop. It is only important that the repeater is at a raised location. It does not matter where those who are connecting to it are located. All that matters is that each person can clearly hear that repeater’s transmitter, and that they can successfully transmit to the repeater’s receiver.

There are many different kinds of businesses that can greatly benefit from using a radio repeater. A taxi service might have drivers that are located in various suburbs of a large city. In order to coordinate fast customer pickups, the dispatcher needs to be able to reach all the drivers, to see who is currently closest to the customer. These drivers might be spread out over a large distance, so in addition to having the main base station at their company headquarters, they might place 1 or 2 repeaters on the outskirts of the city to increase their coverage. A police department might have several precincts located in various parts of a city or town. In order to respond quickly to an emergency, the dispatcher must be able to reach all officers, no matter where they are. It is a similar situation to the taxi service, but in the case of emergency workers, lives may be at stake and every second counts.

Whether it’s for a catering service, trucking company, landscaping business or firefighters, radio repeaters can spread radio signals far and wide for optimal communication over a great distance.

Add comment December 24th, 2015

The Benefits of Using Radios over Cell Phones

Cell phones are everywhere, but did you know that especially for business, two-way radios offer many unique advantages? Take a few minutes and find out why!

As many companies already know, push-to-talk radios are far superior to cell phones and land lines for internal business communications. They offer instant access to entire teams or the entire organization with far more flexibility and far less expense than public address systems. With the advent of digital radios, they now have many of the same conveniences of cell phones (such as text messaging and GPS capability) along with the advantages of business radios. It’s the best of both worlds.

Instant Access to Every Employee – or Just One
Within a company facility, everyone who has a two-way radio can be immediately reached with just the touch of a button. With the use of repeaters, even employees who are a distance away can be within range to receive communications. Digital two-way radios give the additional advantage of being able to speak to an individual in addition to groups of people.

Improved Efficiency
If you need to relocate multiple staff members or call a particular group to an emergency meeting, you can do so with a single transmission, rather than having to call everyone individually. You also don’t have to wait for the call to connect or chase down someone’s phone number and spend time dialing.

More Professionalism and Improved Customer Satisfaction
Restaurant wait staff, hotel staff and others who interface regularly with the public will have a more professional appearance with a small two-way radio and discreet headset than they do speaking into a private cell phone. Certain models are specially designed to be extremely compact and lightweight, with earpieces that can be comfortably worn, ensuring private communications. This allows for less disruptions around customers.

Handle the Unexpected with Ease
When a well-laid plan suddenly changes direction and you need to reschedule a meeting or reassign a project, you can do so far more easily and quickly with a two-way radio system. You can also locate people quickly. All this adds up to a more agile workforce. Better efficiency leads to lower costs and greater profits.

More Rugged and Durable than Cell Phones
There are certain two-way radio models that are designed to strict military and IP54/55 regulations, making them resistant to dust, moisture, shock, vibration, extreme temperatures and even forceful water jets. Try that with your cell phone! These types of radios are recommended for harsh environments such as warehouses with heavy machinery, repair shops with a lot of dust and debris or outdoor use.

Lower Cost and no Monthly Fees
Two-way radios are typically less expensive than cell phones. Additionally, there is no contract, no monthly charges and no usage fees when you go over a limit. You’ll also never get another roaming charge. So long as the person you wish to communicate with is in range, you’ll be able to communicate. You can even find radios that do not require an FCC license to operate. That means your only expense will be the 1-time purchase of the radio. For short-range communications, walkie-talkie systems make perfect sense.

Always-On Means Always Connected
With a two-way radio and an optional repeater, an employee is always connected to their co-workers, even if they’re working alone at a remote site. This is particularly advantageous if the location has spotty or non-existent cell phone coverage.

Better Battery Life
Radio batteries can typically last through a worker’s complete shift, unlike most cell phones.

Audio Quality
You’ll experience less ambient noise filtering into your conversation with a radio than you will with a cell phone. This makes two-way radios far preferable in noisy environments. They have advanced technology that enhances audio quality and suppresses noise.

Can Be Used Where Cell Phones Can’t
Certain workplaces (such as transportation fields) limit the use of cell phones by their drivers, but they do allow two-way radios for communication with others in the organization.

When you’re considering the best internal communication devices for your business, think about all these reasons why the smartest choice is two-way radio system.

Add comment December 21st, 2015

Two-Way Radio Brands and Why they Matter

Don’t risk your important communications with a lesser-known two-way radio brand! Go with a trusted industry leader for the latest in innovative technology, most reliable equipment and best customer support.

Why Bigger is Better When It Comes to Two-Way Radios
The two biggest players in the world of portable and mobile radios is Kenwood and Motorola. Both companies have more than 50 years of experience in consumer electronics and each has made its mark in developing next generation radio equipment and accessories that match the demands of the marketplace.  Why is this important? The best two-way radio company will be the one that was an innovator since the beginning of mobile communications. They will have the edge over newer companies, since they were the ones who first introduced the technology and they’ve been following the changes and trends in two-way radios for many years. Between them, Motorola and Kenwood have the largest customer base for two-way radio systems and walkie-talkies, and this reputation can only be upheld by continuing to offer high performance devices with the most important features and best reliability. They each have their own line of compatible accessories that are specifically designed for particular models to deliver the optimal potential from your radio.

Kenwood Radios: Cutting Edge, Reliability, Price and Many Choices
Beginning as Kasuga Radio Co. Ltd. In 1946, Kenwood’s first analog radio was released in 1978. They introduced the TK-250 portable two-way walkie-talkie in 1995, and their extremely popular Pro-Talk radio, which did not require a license, came out in 1999. Since that time, their radios have become known throughout the world as being durable, high-quality, comfortable to use and inexpensive. Their radios have long battery life and the company offers many compatible accessories. The radios are also compatible with most other brands of accessories. The company offers many different models, from basic models for those on a budget to high-end radios with many advanced features. Kenwood continues to closely follow public demand and creates products to meet existing needs.

Motorola Radios: A Leading Innovator and Mobile Communications Pioneer
Founded in 1928, Motorola (then known as Galvin Manufacturing Corporation) led the way in car radios and police cruiser radios. Their early portable radio, developed in 1940, was used by the U.S. military in World War II. They are a company of “firsts” – world’s first FM portable two-way radio in 1943, first commercial taxi two-way communication system in 1944 and first portable radios for business use in 1947. They were also the first company in the world to introduce a commercially-available cellular phone, in 1983. This history of innovation puts them ahead of later adopters when it comes to knowledge of the industry, technological expertise and seeing the future of portable communications.

Today, both Kenwood and Motorola offer high-tech digital two-way radios that combine cell phone convenience with the security, privacy and durability of a robust radio device. Both their analog and digital radios come equipped with sophisticated features, and you’ll benefit from their many years of expertise with the quality, versatility, durability and compatibility of their widely-used products.

Add comment December 17th, 2015

Navigating Tricky Radio Communication Waters without an FCC License

Do you want to use two-way radios without having to go through the paperwork and expense of obtaining an FCC license? You absolutely can! Take a few minutes to learn how, and save both money and time. We’ll also explain the status of the different frequency bands, what’s allowed, what isn’t and what the future will likely be for non-licensed radio bands.

To understand changing FCC regulations regarding radio bands that require licenses (VHF, UHF, GMRS) and those that don’t (CB, MURS and FRS), it is helpful to look at the licensing history of the Citizens Band (CB) Radio Service. When CB radios came on the scene, they were only used by “ham operators.” The FCC decided to open up the band to the general public since it wasn’t being widely used. They began charging fees for licenses, then switched to free licenses and eventually, when it became impossible to enforce, it became completely unlicensed.

General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)
The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is headed in that same direction. GMRS is designed for short distance, two-way communication, and uses channels around 462 MHz and 467 MHz. As it stands now, an FCC license is required to communicate on a GMRS frequency, and a single license is only valid for the licensee and their immediate family. However, FRS/GMRS combination radios are gaining in popularity. Those who purchase these radios are told that they can only legally use the FRS frequencies without a license and must be licensed for GMRS use, but many users ignore these rules. Though one can never be absolutely certain, it is highly unlikely that you will be fined for using GMRS on your FRS/GMRS radio. In 2010, it was proposed by the FCC to remove licensing requirements for GMRS, but this decision is still pending.

Following are the radio bands that do not require a license to operate.

Citizens Band Service (CB)
CB radio service comprises 40 channels between 26.965 MHz and 27.405 MHz. This began as a radio band that required a license. However, it is now “licensed by rule,” which means that you do not have to purchase a license to operate a CB radio station. However, other rules do apply, which are outlined in the FCC’s CB Service information. CB radios, available as base, mobile and handheld units, provide local and long distance range. When they were first introduced, they were highly susceptible to interference, but as other license-free bands became popular, they are becoming less popular for casual use and therefore don’t have as much interference issues as they once did.

Family Radio Service (FRS)
The Family Radio Service (FRS) is, as its name suggests, intended for use by families to communicate with walkie-talkies. They’re great in shopping malls, theme parks, campgrounds and flea markets, to keep track of family members. FRS units are inexpensive and won’t run down batteries, but they are low power, which means they will only offer coverage over a short distance. If you’re going hiking or hunting in the deep woods, you will likely want a two-way radio with more power, such as a combination FRS/GMRS radio.

Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS)
The MURS radio service uses 5 channels between 151 MHz and 154 MHz, and is used for two-way communications over a short distance for either business or personal use. Since it operates in the VHF band, MURS radios have become popular with outdoor enthusiasts and travelers. VHF frequencies have the farthest range when they do not have any obstructions in the way, such as in open or hilly locations. It does not require an FCC license to operate and there is no age restriction. MURS has a greater signal range than FRS, which makes it preferred by hikers, campers and hunters. It can also be used by base camps with antennas to maintain contact with hikers, campers and emergency workers. One important restriction is that MURS can only transmit up to 2 watts of power. Other restrictions, such as maximum antenna height, are discussed in the FCC guidelines.

In short, you can definitely enjoy two-way radio communications with friends and family without the need of an FCC license, so long as you understand the rules of the game!

1 comment December 14th, 2015

Preparing for Emergencies on College Campuses and Universities

Be prepared and keep everyone safe on any sized campus. Spend a few minutes reading this article to learn how. A two-way radio system is one of the most important tools a university or college campus can have to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff members. Safety is always the number 1 concern in all public locations, and especially on busy college and university campuses. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security launched Ready, their national public service advertising (PSA) campaign to educate the public so they could effectively prepare for and respond to any emergency situation. On their official website, they have a section with essential information and resources specifically for university and college campus security. After the September 11 attacks in 2001 and subsequent emergency situations at colleges across the country, campuses set up their own emergency preparedness and response teams and now have standard emergency procedures.

Communication is Essential in an Emergency
A key part of being prepared in the event of an emergency is being able to keep lines of communication open to relay vital information. Whether it’s a natural disaster such as a snowstorm or hurricane, or a man-made catastrophe such as a robbery or an active shooter, a university must be prepared for anything. Equipping security personnel and key administrators with high performance two-way radios makes perfect sense, as it allows instant communication that’s private and secure, and in cases where cell phone service might be overloaded, it’s the most reliable way to relay critical information.

Selecting a Two-Way Radio System for a College Campus
When choosing a two-way radio system for a college campus, there are several things to consider. Since you’ll want a unit that has a clear signal inside buildings and across a large outside area with various obstructions, UHF radios are the best option. While VHF radios have a wider range than UHF radios outdoors, they do not operate as effectively when confronted with substances such as concrete, steel and wood. Therefore, when your transmissions must be able to penetrate walls, ceilings and floors, choose a UHF radio. You will also want to make sure that the walkie-talkie system that you select is strong enough for the range you require. There are smaller, more compact single-watt units available, but for larger campuses, you might require a stronger wattage radio. Certain models are repeater capable, which means they can be used with repeaters that can receive radio signals and retransmit at a higher power to cover a greater distance. For college campuses, the repeater (with an external antenna) can be located at the main security location.

Call Boxes for Instant Security Notification
College campus security can be beefed up considerably with the use of a high-powered two-way radio system and strategically-placed call boxes. A call box can be placed anywhere in a building. When someone presses the button, it instantly notifies personnel who are carrying portable two-way radios. Ideal locations for call boxes might include residential dorms, cafeterias, sports stadiums, student centers and other public areas.

Preparing for potential emergencies at college campuses is more important than ever, but increased vigilance and the right equipment, tools and resources will keep everyone secure.

Add comment December 10th, 2015

Radio Communication Christmas Gift Ideas

Excite, inspire and bring family and friends closer together with a very special gift this holiday season – the gift of communication! Two-way radios are not just a fun hobby for all ages. They’re also a wonderful way to keep in close contact with loved ones while on exciting adventures or during hectic daily outings such as dropping the kids off to their various activities or while shopping at the local mall. They’re easy to use, and your children will feel like they’re on an important mission, even if it’s only to buy groceries for dinner.

Two-Way Radios: Advantages Over Cell Phones
There are several important advantages of walkie-talkies over cell phones. Perhaps most importantly, if you’re hiking or camping in a remote location or anywhere that has spotty or non-existent cell phone service, you can still stay in touch with family members and friends. This is very helpful if you’re hiking on various trails, skiing down different slopes of a ski resort or if you accidentally get separated at a giant theme park. Whether it’s to plan where you’re going to have dinner or coordinate a meeting place and especially if something unexpected happens, to have immediate contact with two-way radios is invaluable. Another great benefit of two-way radios is that if you purchase radios that use the FRS (Family Radio Service) band, you do not have to pay for an FCC license to operate them. The absence of license fees and cell phone charges will save you a lot of money, especially if you and your friends or certain family members like to talk a lot!

Family Walkie-Talkies Make Great Holiday Gifts
For younger children, walkie-talkies are often much easier to use than cell phones. They’re also built tough, with certain models intended for outdoor use. This also makes them especially child-friendly. Another big plus with certain two-way radio models is the addition of NOAA weather channels. These special radio channels broadcast local weather forecasts and also give notification of emergency situations. With family walkie-talkies, they are often available as sets of radios, and since they don’t require a license, you can get up and running immediately. Think of how much fun that’ll be for you and the kids on Christmas morning! But these are not just toys – they’re extremely valuable tools, and can be an important part of your family’s household emergency kit, in case of a bad storm or a power outage. Accessories such as holsters and lightweight earpieces allow for active movement while keeping in touch.

Radio Accessories Are the Perfect Stocking Stuffers
For those who already use two-way radios, high-quality accessories make thoughtful gifts and perfect stocking stuffers for the holiday season. Does your walkie-talkie enthusiast enjoy skiing with friends? Get them a lightweight microphone and earpiece, so they can be extra stylish and quick on the slopes. Those who take part in group activities such as paintball will appreciate a multi-unit charger to help keep the entire team fully charged and ready at all times.

Shopping at Tech Wholesale for your holiday gifts is fast, fun and easy. You can browse our recommended personal two-way radios by activity and find authentic Motorola and Kenwood radio accessories by radio model. We take the guesswork out of buying Christmas gifts, so you can spend more time with your family and friends. And they’ll love what you got them this year!

Add comment December 7th, 2015