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let's talk about radios


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#1 bartman

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Posted 20 February 2010 - 01:11 PM

So what to buy?

Needs to do a couple things for me:

1) be reasonable in price vs quality
2) be suitable after the mega-fly for something (maybe for other team flying) not just a paperweight
3) easy to use and does well being just a radio (doesn't need to be like most cell phones these days - everything but decent cell)

What should I look for?

Brands, models, etc.

Would like to hear from people that own one. Don't want to have to educate myself first before I go looking.

Thanks.

Bart

#2 LS Kite Stakes

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Posted 20 February 2010 - 05:22 PM

The 'bay has all kinds of FRS/GMRS radios. Motorola, Midland, and Cobra are the names you will see the most. A refurbished radio with headset can be found for $15 or less with shipping included. FRS/GMRS radios are legal in the US for everyday use by citizens, but if you live elsewhere, check your laws first. For the purposes of the mega fly, no need to get a high dollar radio. You only need to receive a signal from the leader, not make transmissions that need to be heard.

Here is a link to a 'bay search page:

http://shop.ebay.com...sacat=0&bkBtn=1

I am sure others will pipe in with other places to get a FRS/GMRS radio.........;)
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#3 Wayne

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Posted 20 February 2010 - 05:28 PM

Bart,

I have an old pair of Motorola FV200 series radios, purchased around a decade ago. They were near the cheapest models available at the time and not still sold anymore. When I planned on attending an event last year in New Jersey in which we wanted to use radios, I found a Jensen headset (Model JTF910) in Best Buys for US$18. They have an ear bud-style speaker with an inline mic with push button to talk. They include an adapter for the radios that use 2 separate plugs instead of the single plug my units use. I found the sound quality fine for my needs while team flying, and much better than trying to hear the caller over the ambient noise.

My suggestion, since I am not familiar with the current radio offerings, is to make sure whichever units you consider have headphone/mic jacks. When I recently went in to get a second headset I noticed that some do not have this feature. I imagine higher quality headphone units might make sense for some, and I think the style with the mic on a boom might do better for the caller, these cheap units are fine for my listen-only purpose.

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#4 HedgeWarden

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Posted 20 February 2010 - 06:31 PM

Since the FRS/GMRS radios are always (as far as I know) sold in pairs, for those without, you might team with someone to buy one pair.

They are quite inexpensive now (as low as $33/pair). Be sure to get 22 channels - John will probably broadcast on the GMRS channels - which are higher power, longer range than the FRS channels. 22 channels covers them all.

Might want to look for rechargeable batteries. All that I have seen have them, but check anyway.

As for headsets, I am having quite a bit of difficulty finding headsets for my Motorola MR350 that specifically state they are compatible. I have earbud headsets for them, but that is far less than ideal in a team flying environment.

For the guests from other countries, it may be best to borrow - since I don't think the US FRS/GMRS radios are compatible with many other country's spectrum laws. Wikipedia has good info on this (search FRS/GMRS)

Also, it should be known that GMRS (hi-power) requires a license to transmit (not to listen tho), FRS does not. That means transmitting on some of the channels of a FRS/GMRS radio require a license, and on other channels no license is required. Practically speaking, manufacturers do not educate their customers well, so few people actually get a license to use the GMRS capabilities of their radios.

(That is why the US prison system is overflowing with FCC violators. :kid_devlish: - just kidding.)

The easiest to use, and compatible with standard MP3 player headphones, is my old Cobra set with few features. Unfortunately one of the pair has died. This older interface has a dual plug for the headset - audio out (compatible with standard mini-plug earphones) and microphone in (sub-mini plug.) My newer set has one of those sub-mini plugs that "do it all", assuming you can figure out what is compatible with it. I don't know yet if the plug is compatible with the similar plug on cell phones or not. Probably is. Doing experiments.

If I get more or better info, I will post it.
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#5 Kitelife

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 12:27 PM

Wow, great info coming out here... Thanks for starting this topic Bart!

Also, a reminder for all - SPARE BATTERIES - always make sure you've got enough. ;)

Also, head sets are another consideration:

On iQuad, we typically use the ear buds with an over-ear hook to keep them in place... Full on headsets are okay too, but the "stick-in" ear buds that so many folks like have a tendency to fall out without warning, and in a large mega fly, there is no opportunity to land and stick 'em back in.

John Barresi

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#6 Keith Griffiths

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 12:55 PM

...but the "stick-in" ear buds that so many folks like have a tendency to fall out without warning, and in a large mega fly, there is no opportunity to land and stick 'em back in.

If you only have these, then run the wire over the ear first, it'll help keep them in place.

How about when practicing with music, how do people cope with relaying music to the team. The walkie talkie radios are not really designed for constant input, does the battery life suffer badly if it's constantly transmitting?

Over the years we have used an FM transmitter (highest legal power possible) but it's not great. These days we've given up and bought a small PA and stuff the neighbours :-)
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#7 andelscott

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 03:31 PM

Also, a reminder for all - SPARE BATTERIES - always make sure you've got enough. ;)


The good news is that those of you just using the radios as *receivers* will not experience the same current drain and the batteries should last long enough (just make sure they're new disposable batteries or freshly charged rechargeable cells). The biggest problem with pre-used radios is that the old NiCd batteries may well be thrashed and not have the life expectancy nor take a full charge, so if hitting eBay, be prepared to buy a new set of batteries too... JB will have the biggest problem of course, as the caller's transmitter will be keyed continuously - and FM uses a 100% duty cycle.

I'll leave Stephen or Gary of TFS to comment on the question of music for team practice...
Andy

#8 kiteking

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 03:47 PM

Noticed this deal today


Pair of 2-way GMRS Radios for $30 from Amazon

A pair of Midland LXT480VP3 22-Channel 2-Way Radios with charging station for $30 with free shipping. The pair usually sells for around $60. The real world range is about 1-2 miles in an area of trees, hills, or buildings.

Midland LXT480VP3 22-Channel 24-Mile 2-Way GMRS Radio with NOAA All Hazard/Weather Alert, Rechargeable Batteries and Desktop Charger (Pair, Black)
Wind to your back, Kite in the air.

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#9 Kitelife

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 06:09 PM

We use Midland a lot, have had good luck with them.

As for transmitting, we *only* use disposables (to avoid surprise "end of life" times), and get about 2 hours out of each set of 4 batteries, give or take.

John Barresi

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#10 bartman

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 06:34 PM

I like the price range of what Kite King just posted. I can't order those via Amazon in Canada, but I have something to search for now. Hoping I can use a regular headset or something that is not propriatory to these.

Kite Cowboy has midland as well and likes it.

Bart

#11 Wayne

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 06:52 PM

I like the price range of what Kite King just posted. I can't order those via Amazon in Canada, but I have something to search for now. Hoping I can use a regular headset or something that is not propriatory to these.

Kite Cowboy has midland as well and likes it.

Bart


I believe cell phone headphones don't work. I bought a set before realizing this myself.

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#12 Kitelife

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 09:05 PM

Yep, that's typically true.

Most of our guys use these simple, inexpensive ear phones:

Sony MDR-J10 h.Ear Headphones with Non-Slip Design (Blue)

As for walkie talkies, Amazon is indeed chock full of options:



Beware, some brands like Motorola often have proprietary headset and battery requirements.

AA or AAA is the name of the game, easily found anywhere.

Does someone know the specs for a regular earphone/headphone jack?

John Barresi

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#13 dagnabbit

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 09:24 PM

Someone mentioned borrowing radios if from outside of the U.S....

I've got four radios that we use at other kite festivals that I'd be willing to loan to a "radio pool", anyone else?
dagnabbit!

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#14 quaa714

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 10:16 PM

Someone mentioned borrowing radios if from outside of the U.S....

I've got four radios that we use at other kite festivals that I'd be willing to loan to a "radio pool", anyone else?



Rev Riders also travel with some spare radios we can lend out.

Typically, most radios have 3.5mm jacks which are standard ipod/walkman/cd player headsets.


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#15 andelscott

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 02:37 AM

Does someone know the specs for a regular earphone/headphone jack?


Ah - as you mentioned - the 'proprietory' override sometimes applies. Vertex (maybe some Motorola now) used 4 pole jacks - so headphone and microphone combined. Most radios with separate microphone and speaker/earpiece outputs would use mono 3.5mm jack for the speaker. If it is a single socket for both, best to Google it - or RTFM!



Edit: emphasis added.

Edited by andelscott, 22 February 2010 - 02:38 AM.

Andy

#16 Wayne

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 07:53 AM

Yep, that's typically true.

Most of our guys use these simple, inexpensive ear phones:

Sony MDR-J10 h.Ear Headphones with Non-Slip Design (Blue)

Beware, some brands like Motorola often have proprietary headset and battery requirements.

AA or AAA is the name of the game, easily found anywhere.

Does someone know the specs for a regular earphone/headphone jack?


John,

That looks like a nice choice for headphones, but it would not fit my old Motorolas since they have the single plug headphone and mic in one. The plug looks like a stereo headphone jack, only smaller diameter. I don't know if the dual plug design is the new standard - it should be since it lets you use normal headphones like you linked to for receive-only. Do you then then need a separate mic if you are a caller?

My Motorolas use 2 AAA batteries. I have only used disposables thus far and get 4 or more hours of receive-only on a set. Transmit takes several times the mA that receive consumes.

Wayne Reed
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#17 Mike

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 08:15 AM

Radios are available at Wal Mart and Target very cheaply too.
Look at the connections for headsets/microphone.
If there is only one jack, then you will likely need a proprietary headset.
If there are two jacks, usually with one hole larger than the other, then you are good to go. You can use any ear buds you have.
Yes, the sound will only come in one ear, but that's good. It can be helpful to use the other ear to hear the guy standing next to you saying "am I odd or even?" or "get off my lines!"
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#18 Mike

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 08:20 AM

Oh yeah,
180GO! uses rechargeable AAA batteries in our radios. The receiving radios (what y'all will be doing) last all day on a charge. I usually go through two, occasionally three sets, of rechargeables on the transmitting radio.
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#19 Kitelife

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 09:49 AM

Bazzer bought us some kind of adapter that allows us to plug our regular headphones into a walkie talkie.

I'll try and get him to post here with the info. ;)

John Barresi

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#20 play365

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 10:36 AM

The good news is that those of you just using the radios as *receivers* will not experience the same current drain and the batteries should last long enough (just make sure they're new disposable batteries or freshly charged rechargeable cells). The biggest problem with pre-used radios is that the old NiCd batteries may well be thrashed and not have the life expectancy nor take a full charge, so if hitting eBay, be prepared to buy a new set of batteries too... JB will have the biggest problem of course, as the caller's transmitter will be keyed continuously - and FM uses a 100% duty cycle.

I'll leave Stephen or Gary of TFS to comment on the question of music for team practice...


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