|For many years I had owned an old set of walkie talkie
radios. These tended to operated on channel 14 in the CB band (27
MHz). Consequently, they had a very limited range. Radio
Shack (Tandy Corp) lobbied the FCC for a new set of frequencies for the
Citizen Band (CB). Because of their efforts, we now have FRS
radios (400 MHz). They are also part of the Citizen Band and fall
under the same umbrella. To make sure part of the public doesn't
modify them and screw up the band for everyone else (like CB), they are
designed not to be modified. The antennas are permanently mounted,
and they are limited to 1/2 Watt.
Even though FRS radios have very low power, they do have an incredible range. They are advertised to have a 2 mile range, line of sight. That's very dependent on the terrain they are used in. If you are in your vehicle, talking to someone else in your convoy, that range will drop to half or less. Same goes for using them in buildings and in the forest. However, I'm still amazed by how well these actually work inside a structure. The higher frequency does a good job of penetrating walls and doors.
There are 14 channels available on the FRS spectrum. You can use privacy codes to limit the amount of chatter on your radio. This feature produces a tone that isn't audible to the user, but it unlocks the squelch on the other radio. If anyone else talks on that same channel, but isn't using that same privacy code, they won't unlock your squelch. Some people think that the privacy codes provides encryption. Nothing like that. Anytime you transmit on your FRS radio, anyone else can listen in. If they haven't enabled a privacy code, they'll hear all your chatter too.
You can get optional accessories for these radios. The lapel mike/speaker is a great feature. If you are going into a noisy environment, or want to keep your noise to a minimum, this puts the mike/speaker near your head. Great for hunting.
|These radios are very tough. I've only ever seen
one die. Don't know the reason it quit working, and couldn't
visually see anything wrong with the circuit board. I also use
Motorola FRS radios at work. They get dropped and banged around
quite a bit. I even let my young kiddos play with them.
They come in very handy when backing a trailer or motorhome. Hand one to your spotter, get them to talk you through it. I've watched as a Class A motorhome backed into a tree. The spotter had no method of communication and was useless.
There are other radios now on the market with more features. But you might find a set of these for cheap. The audio quality is excellent, as is the battery life. No license needed. Can be used for home, business, or even kids are permitted to use them.
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Last updated 04/04/05 All rights reserved.