Archive for February, 2016

Weatherproof vs Waterproof

Taking a few minutes to learn the difference between weather proof and waterproof will save you from quickly discovering the difference at an inopportune time! Fortunately, there are specifications and guidelines in place that lets you know in no uncertain terms how your electronic device will stand up in a rainstorm or if you drop it in the toilet (which happens more than you might think).

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, something is weatherproof when it is “not able to be changed or damaged by the effects of the sun, wind, rain, etc.” As far as clothing is concerned, weatherproof and waterproof are basically the same, although weatherproof boots, for example, tend to be warmer for wearing in the snow. However, for electronics and in particular walkie-talkies, a waterproof two-way radio is very specific, and it must adhere to rigid specifications.

JIS Standards for Water Resistance

The Japan Industrial Standards (JIS) for resistance to water uses a 0 to 8 scale to indicate the level of water ingress of a particular product (how easily water can enter). This is indicated on the product’s specification sheet. A JIS rating of “0″ means that there is no protection, whereas a rating of “8″ means that the equipment can be continually submersed in water. The various levels include drip resistant, rain resistant, splash resistant, jet resistant, water tight and immersion resistant.

International Protection Rating (IP Code)

Business two-way radios frequently use the IP code to indicate the level of resistance to liquids and solid materials such as dust. In the radio’s product specifications, you might see an IP rating of IP54. The first number is the level of solids resistance, and the number “5″ on the 0 to 6 listing means that while the device is not entirely dust proof, it is dust resistant to the point that it will not interfere with the equipment’s operation. The number “6″ indicates no ingress of dust. The second number addresses water resistance. The number “4″ corresponds to protection against water splash against the enclosure from any direction. As with the JIS ratings, “0″ means not protected, while “8″ means that the device can be submersed in water without any harmful effects.

1 comment February 29th, 2016

NOAA Weather Radio Channel Guide

Consult this easy-to-use NOAA Weather Radio Channel Guide to get fast information about this important network of radio broadcasts that’s used to relay weather bulletins and emergency information.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – A scientific agency that reports on various types of hazards, such as natural (earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches), environmental (chemical releases, oil spills) and public safety issues (terrorist attacks, AMBER alerts).

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards NWR – The nationwide network of radio stations that reports weather information and emergencies. They have an official website with valuable information about this service including how to check for coverage in your area.

Emergency Alert System (EAS) – The nationwide public warning system that requires radio broadcasters, wireless cable systems, satellite digital radio service, cable television systems and digital broadcast satellite providers to provide information direct from the President in the event of a national emergency. The EAS is a coordinated effort of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS), using NWR as a primary means of activating the emergency alert system.

Devices required to receive NOAA weather radio broadcasts – CB radio, AM/FM radio, scanner, car radio, shortwave receiver or a two-way radio with this capability.

NOAA Station Broadcast Frequencies – There are 7 frequencies, in MHz: 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525 and 162.550. Each two-way radio model will assign each frequency to a particular channel (1-7).

NOAA Coverage by State (Map) – To see the NOAA transmitters in your region, click on your state. It also indicates areas that are not covered.

NOAA Coverage by State (Listing) – View a listing of states and click on your state for a list of stations, giving the transmitter name, frequency and other information.

NOAA Coverage by County (Listing) – Select your location from the state listing. This will give you a listing of NOAA transmitters by county for that state.

Search NOAA Transmitters by Location – Type in your location. This easy NOAA Station Search shows on a map the locations of all NOAA transmitters.

Add comment February 27th, 2016

How to Use Weather Channels

Learn about the NOAA weather channels, where you can pick them up and how to tune in with your two-way radio. This quick-to-read article will give you the instructions you need to be fully informed about Weather Service watches, warnings, forecasts and emergencies. An NOAA-equipped device is a “must have” when you’re out hiking, camping, skiing and for businesses that regularly operate outdoors.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a scientific agency that’s part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. They report on ocean and atmospheric conditions and warn of dangerous weather approaching. Their nationwide radio station network, NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR), broadcasts continuously 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, issuing reports on all types of hazards, including natural disasters (avalanches, earthquakes), environmental disasters (oil spills and chemical releases) and public safety issues (such as 911 telephone outages, AMBER alerts or a terrorist attack). They work with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Alert System to be the single trusted source for all weather and emergency bulletins. Their extensive network of transmitters covers the entire U.S.

How Can I Listen to NOAA Weather Radio?

To listen to these important broadcasts, you’ll need a special receiver or scanner than can pick up the stations. The NOAA weather radio band can be found in standalone receivers designed to receive these specific frequencies, and in multi-band receivers such as AM/FM radios, CB radios, shortwave receivers, VHF marine radios, scanners, car radios and GMRS/FRS two-way radios.

NOAA stations broadcast in the VHF public service band and are found at these 7 frequencies (in MHz): 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525 and 162.550. Whether or not a two-way radio has built-in NOAA weather stations which will be indicated in the product’s details. To tune in to a weather channel, it’s typically as easy as pushing a single button, but this may vary between models. Check your owner’s manual for details. Channels 1 through 7 are the weather radio channels. Depending on your model of radio, a particular weather channel frequency will be assigned to a certain channel.

Is My Area Covered by NOAA Weather Radio?

To see the coverage in your particular region, see the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards coverage map. They also provide a station listing by state, county coverage listing and transmitter search. Typing in your city or state and then clicking on the location on the map will bring up the transmitters in the area. Once you know the transmitter’s frequency, you can find which channel on your radio is programmed to it and then activate that channel according to your radio’s instructions.

Why the NOAA Weather Radio Network is So Important

For keeping all your family members and friends on a road trip or hiking adventure informed of an approaching storm, landslide or local flooding, a walkie-talkie system with NOAA radio stations is invaluable. It can be literally life-saving, in the event of an earthquake or a hurricane, and at the very least, knowing about a major tie-up due to a large-scale emergency can save valuable time that would otherwise be spent stuck in traffic. It’s a feature that’s even available on less expensive models, making them not just a smart but also an easy decision!

1 comment February 25th, 2016

NiCad vs Lithium Ion Battery

By understanding the difference between lithium ion and nickel cadmium batteries, you’ll be able to make better informed purchasing decisions, and you’ll also be able to use the batteries in your existing devices far more efficiently. This will save you money.

In previous years, it was believed that nickel cadmium batteries (NiCad) were the best batteries available for wireless devices. However, lithium ion batteries (Li-ion) have since taken over. A Li-ion battery is smaller, requires less maintenance and is safer for the environment that NiCad batteries. Because their chemical makeup differs, the batteries have differences in maintenance requirements, size and weight, environmental impact and cost. We’ll put them to the test on each of these points.

NiCad Vs. Li-Ion – Operation, Battery Maintenance and Lifespan

Both batteries of the same voltage will give you the same amount of power. However, how long it will deliver that power is another issue entirely. On a single battery charge, li-ion batteries will outperform NiCad. Another big advantage of lithium ion batteries is that they experience virtually no self-discharge and can be stored for months without losing their charge. This means you can buy them in bulk, saving money, and not have to worry about them not working at a later time.

One issue with NiCad batteries is that they have a “memory effect,” which means the battery will remember where in their charge cycle they are when you started recharging. This causes the voltage to drop to that point. For this reason, you should wait until a NiCad battery is fully discharged before recharging it. Li-ion batteries don’t have this problem, and they can be used in a wider temperature range. However, they’re more fragile and require circuit protection for optimal performance. NiCad batteries will last for 1000 or more cycles before losing their capacity, while Li-ion is somewhat less than that.

Li-ion Versus NiCad Batteries – Size, Weight and Overall Performance

In general, lithium-ion batteries are lighter and smaller than NiCad batteries, making them especially ideal for use in smaller portable devices. Performance is about equal.

Nickel Cadmium Batteries and Lithium Ion Batteries – Environmental Impact

Nickel Cadmium is considered a hazardous waste product, so even if you use rechargeable batteries, there is a significant environmental cost when those batteries need to be replaced. The chemicals will eventually seep out, and for this reason, they shouldn’t be thrown out with regular trash, but rather recycled at a licensed facility. Lithium ion batteries do not contain hazardous toxins.

Costs of NiCad Batteries and Li-ion Batteries

You’ll find that Li-ion batteries are usually 2 to 3 times more expensive than their NiCad counterparts. However, their size and weight, the ability to store lithium ion batteries long-term and other factors such as eco-friendly construction may outweigh the added cost.

Whichever batteries you end up using, the information and helpful tips in this article will help you to get the most life out of them.

Add comment February 22nd, 2016

Two-Way Radio Rebates

Save a lot of money and boost your company’s profits by taking the time to learn about two-way radio rebates. You might think that a next generation two-way radio system is beyond your organization’s means, but top radio manufacturers regularly offer very attractive radio rebates that can significantly lower the cost.

Leading manufacturers frequently offer walkie-talkie rebates so you can affordably trade up to their latest model. If you’re considering an upgrade to your organization’s internal communications system, first check the manufacturer’s website for your current model to see if they have a rebate offer. Motorola and Kenmore are the two leaders in two-way radio technology, and both companies are always making improvements on their products, offering the latest technology such as digital radios.

An example of one such rebate would be a special sale price on a particular model when you buy 10 units, and additional savings if you trade in previous eligible models. These offers tend to be for a very limited time, so you should check their company websites often.

Add comment February 19th, 2016

The Science Behind Radio Communication

After spending a few minutes reading this article about radio communication and the science behind it, you’ll have a better understanding of how radio transmission works and how this powerful technology keeps the world more informed and connected. Understanding the science behind the technology will enhance your radio shopping experience and make you a more knowledgeable two-way radio buyer and user.

The Two-Way Radio: Understanding the Transceiver

Radio communication encompasses many different technologies, from AM/FM radio stations and satellite communications to walkie-talkies, pagers and two-way radios. Though the basic science is the same, there are some key differences. A two-way radio is unique, as it acts as a both a transmitter and receiver, meaning it can both send messages and receive them. A device with this capability is also called a transceiver. For 2 people with similar radios to be able to have a conversation, they must be speaking on the same band, which is a collection of radio frequencies. This is true whether the radio is a mobile unit (installed in a vehicle), a stationary base device (at a fixed indoor location) or a hand-held portable model (a walkie-talkie).

The Electro-Magnetic Spectrum, Radio Waves and Radio Frequency

The electro-magnetic spectrum comprises all frequencies of electromagnetic radiation (EM). This EM is the radiant energy that is released by specific electromagnetic processes. Radio frequency (RF) signals form a portion of this spectrum, which also includes microwave, infrared, visible light (the visible spectrum), ultraviolet, x-ray and gamma ray.

Radio frequency (RF) signals are used by everything from Morse code and television to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and two-way radios to transmit and receive data. These RF signals are made of electro-magnetic waves (electric and magnetic waves) which contains the audio information. The receiver antenna captures a very minute amount of transmitted power, which then has to be amplified in order to operate the earphone. Radio waves, like other types of electro-magnetic waves, are characterized by their wavelength or the frequency of their oscillations.

Radio waves are transmitted as a series of cycles. The rate of variation (oscillation) of the radio waves determines the frequency. If it passes through one cycle in a second, the frequency is said to be 1 hertz (Hz). For a radio wave passing through a cycle 100,000 times a second, the frequency is 100,000 Hz or 100KHz. Traveling at the speed of light, the distance traversed during that cycle is measured as that RF signal’s wavelength. Longer wavelengths have lower frequencies. Shorter wavelengths have higher frequencies. Since RF travels by the speed of light, you can determine the wavelength by dividing the speed of light by the frequency. When transmitting and receiving radio communications, the size and shape of the components affect the signal based on its wavelength.

Wavelengths and frequencies can be thought of in more practical terms. For two-way radios, the two most popular frequency ranges are VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency). VHF frequencies are best for outdoor use, as they follow the curvature of the earth, staying close to the ground. This means they can travel further in open areas. UHF frequencies, because of their shorter wavelength, can easily move through doorways, reaching a greater distance without signal degradation. UHF radios in general can better penetrate obstructions such as concrete, metal and wood, so their signal carries further indoors and around buildings or dense forests.

For more scientific information about radio communication, transmitters, receivers and antennas that can be used to strengthen a radio signal, see the radio science and technology article on Wikipedia.

1 comment February 16th, 2016