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Walkie Talkie Buying Guide

It seems that walkie-talkies and radio communications are a

Walkie Talkie Buying Guide

Walkie Talkie Buying Guide

It seems that walkie-talkies and radio communications are a technology of the past that mobile communications and the Internet have long replaced. In fact, the walkie-talkie is still a convenient and sometimes irreplaceable tool that has not lost its relevance over the years. In terms of maintaining communication in the most difficult and extreme conditions, radio communication is much more reliable than a regular cellular network and even has the most important advantage – it is free. Therefore, the walkie-talkie buying guide will always be up to date.

Radio Set 01.

Walkie-talkies provide communication that a mobile phone does not catch. They don’t need cell towers. They don’t need to pay for communication. This makes walkie-talkies the choice of people of certain professions or hobbies: truckers, hunters, fishermen, extremes, and tourists. Also, sailors, soldiers, rescuers, and medical institutions use walkie-talkies and radio communication. A walkie-talkie is a reliable method of communication when other methods are unavailable during natural disasters or military operations. This article will explain what they are and how to choose a walkie-talkie.

How to choose a walkie talkie

The classic walkie-talkie buying guide advice is to determine the purpose of the purchase. So far, everything is simple, if you need to talk to your neighbor through the wall, go fishing with a friend once a month or maintain communication in a group during forest hiking – your choice is radio equipment of the entry or amateur level. If the specifics of your profession require you to maintain constant communication at work, construction, or a large industrial facility – professional class equipment is created for this purpose.

Radio set 02.

Walkie-talkie guide. Choose the type

Stationary radio stations are placed indoors or mounted on the vehicle’s panel. Such devices have high power, many connections (for example, for connection on sea vessels or airplanes), and settings. Such radios require a separate power source.

The portable walkie-talkie has a built-in battery, limited power, and relatively compact dimensions that allow you to carry it with you. This type of walkie-talkie can also be highly specialized, depending on the purpose.

radio-set

The purpose of the walkie-talkie

Amateur radios (PMR, UHF, VHF, and LPD frequencies). Entry-level walkie-talkies usually use one of the civil frequencies that do not require certification. If you are thinking about which radio to choose when preparing for a hike, hunting, or fishing, the main rule is to find out the frequency already used in the group. If your new walkie-talkie works on some other frequency, you simply “will not fit into the team.” Amateur radios are not designed for heavy use and have minimal features, but they are inexpensive and easy to use.

Professional walkie-talkies (UHF or VHF frequencies). There are already several requirements for devices in this class. Walkie-talkies used in industrial facilities, on sea vessels, police, or armed forces have their frequencies and certain functionality.

Radio set 04.

Communication range

The communication range of a portable walkie-talkie is affected by many factors. First, you should focus on the power of the transmitter and the height to which the antenna is raised. It’s useless to chase power because the horizon line will still limit the communication distance of a portable walkie-talkie. For a person of average height holding a walkie-talkie to his ear, it is 5-6 km. Therefore, the optimal power of the walkie-talkie is 3-5 W.

It is generally accepted that one watt of transmitter power is enough for one and a half kilometers of communication range in a clean field, in dry weather, if there are no electrical interferences. On open water, the distance will be twice as long — about 2-3 km for each watt of power, but not further than the horizon.

Radio set 05.

The range of communication cannot be accurately calculated because this parameter is affected by the topography of the area, altitude above sea level, air humidity, and weather. This is so complex that there will be different communication distances even in deciduous and coniferous forests.

Frequency range

How to choose a walkie-talkie based on the law? Amateur walkie-talkies can use only three bands: LPD, PMR, and CB. A license is required to operate radio stations in the VHF and UHF frequency bands. The frequency of LPD is 433 MHz, and PMR is 446 MHz. Both of these bands are included in the UHF 300-527 MHz. The CB frequency is 27 MHz. Truck drivers in car radios use it. Radio stations with these bands do not require a license to acquire them, which is why they are called license-free.

When traveling in Europe, it should be kept in mind that the LPD range is prohibited in many countries if you use it without permission. They can be fined and even deprived of a visa. It is recommended to switch to a PMR walkie-talkie.

For two walkie-talkies to communicate with each other, they must match the range of operating frequencies and the frequency of a specific channel.

Multi-band radios can combine UHF\VHF and marine and river frequencies. They are universal but require special knowledge and skills and provide a smaller communication radius — because one transmitter board cannot work at full power in all bands.

Radio set 06.

When choosing a frequency range, you need to find out if there are other radios with which you need to match the channel network where you plan to use radio communication. If you want to buy a specific model, but its channels do not match the desired frequency grid, you can reflash the radio in the service.

How to buy a walkie-talkie with a long battery life

Batteries based on nickel or lithium are common now. The first allows you to work at temperatures below –10 °C, but they have an important drawback: the memory effect and rapid resource loss. It will be necessary to observe the scheme of charge and discharge strictly. Lithium batteries quickly discharge in the cold and can cause problems if transported by plane. Check the rules of transportation – they are different for different airlines.

Before choosing a walkie-talkie, consider where and how often you plan to use it to choose the right battery capacity. Use headsets and hide walkie-talkies under your clothes to extend their operating time.

At the same time, we recommend you study the rules of operation of radios — for example, they cannot be turned on at the charging station and stored there. It can destroy the battery. If you are storing the walkie-talkie, it is necessary to charge the battery to 70% and be sure to unfasten it from the walkie-talkie. Otherwise, the equipment may fail.

From more practical advice: choose a walkie-talkie with the ability to change the battery quickly and with the presence of a common connector for charging.

Useful features

Which walkie-talkie to buy considering its additional features? The issue of additional advantages should be approached seriously because the fewer functions and buttons your radio station has, the longer and more stable it will work.

Noise reduction

To get rid of noise during transmission, the walkie-talkie must be equipped with CTCSS and DCS noise suppressors. This technology will filter part of the tone signals from the ether and make working with the walkie-talkie more comfortable.

Display and keyboard

The walkie-talkie display is more of a luxury than a necessity. The meaning of the display in walkie-talkies is a more convenient selection of frequencies and fine-tuning. You won’t need a display if you want an entry-level walkie-talkie with a single frequency.

Security

The range of protection of a walkie-talkie can vary from “withstands a tense conversation” to “withstands a tank crash.” As a rule, walkie-talkies from the middle price range are protected from dust and moisture, which is mandatory for such devices. Specialized radio stations can already have additional military class MIL-STD protection, which allows the space to withstand almost anything (protection by nearly 30 indicators). A high-quality walkie-talkie should not let dust/sand into the body and work in heavy rain.

Radio set 07.

Record

Additional functionality that can be useful in certain conditions. The built-in voice recorder may be needed in many cases: from recording important instructions or information to recording a conversation as evidence.

Antenna

The ability to replace the antenna opens up several possibilities. First, you can replace a damaged antenna without repairing the entire device. Second, you have the option to increase the power of the walkie-talkie by installing a longer antenna if necessary.

Connecting external devices

What radio should drivers choose? Freeing your hands while using the walkie-talkie is a very useful feature. Whether driving a car, holding a fishing rod, or a weapon, using a headset will always be a plus for convenience. Mid-range walkie-talkie models may have a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack, while newer and more expensive models boast Bluetooth connectivity.

Encryption

Encryption or scrambler allows you to have a conversation without fear of eavesdropping. Before transmission, the signal from one walkie-talkie is encrypted and converted into understandable language at the other end. A listener who happens to be on the frequency occupied by you will hear only a set of incomprehensible sounds. If you are looking for a walkie-talkie to choose for secret conversations, please note that in some countries, a license is required for such a device.

Radio set 08.

VOX

Voice activation or vox automatically switches the radio to transmit mode as soon as you speak. In silent mode, the walkie-talkie works to receive a signal. Paired with a headset, vox allows you to free your hands completely.

Additional functionality

How to choose a radio if the budget allows it? When choosing a walkie-talkie for an above-average price, you may come across several less important features that can also be useful:

  • Volume control. For cases where you need to avoid unmasking.
  • Automatic channel scanning. The walkie-talkie scans the entire available range in search of an active channel.
  • Roger-Beep signal. An automatic signal at the end of the conversation and switching to reception saves you from having to say this “reception.”
  • Economy mode. The walkie-talkie switches to battery-saving mode after a certain period of inactivity or manually.
  • Vibration challenge.
  • Locking the keyboard.
  • On/Off button sound.
  • GPS module. To track the position of the walkie-talkie on the map.
  • Stand. Both for charging the walkie-talkie itself and additional batteries.
  • Built-in flashlight.
Radio set 09.

What is a good walkie-talkie to buy?

1. The most important thing about choosing a walkie-talkie if there is no time to read.

2. Take portable radio stations if you need free communication with one subscriber or a group of subscribers. They will come in handy when there are no cell towers or civilization nearby.

3. It is impossible to predict in advance how far a walkie-talkie can work. The best way is to test on the spot.

4. Choose the same frequency range as those with whom you want to communicate with the walkie-talkie.

5. In Europe, it is better to use PMR channels.

6. Don’t buy pro-band or multi-band models unless you’re sure you need them. You can get a fine if you use professional frequencies without a license.

7. Consult your radio’s manual and battery usage guidelines. Reduce transmitter power when maximum communication range is not required. Charge the radio correctly.

8. If you are not very careful with technology and plan to use the walkie-talkie in the forest or fishing, choose models with a simple set of functions, and use headsets and covers. So the walkie-talkies will last longer.

Radio set 10.

Why is it important to choose the right radio?

This walkie-talkie buying guide will help you understand how to choose a walkie-talkie that will be useful at work and will not fail under difficult conditions. Regardless of your goals and specifics of work, it is important to choose a device that you will use 100% and not overpay for unnecessary functionality.

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