I Bought a Two-Way Radio With a Range of 25 Miles…Why Won’t It Work?

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Sorry, but you’ve been had. Although many manufacturers boast that their radios can reach amazing distances, this is, in almost every instance we’ve encountered, a fallacy.

How is this legal, you may ask?

Essentially, your radio quite probably could work over a range of 25 miles, but that is a theoretical estimate, working on the assumption that the myriad variables that affect two-way radio signal (such as atmospheric conditions, topography, objects in the way and etc) are simply not in effect.

All of them. At the exact same time.

So, assuming that you used your two-way radio in a vacuum, where weather didn’t exist and no obstacles, man-made or otherwise, were present, you would be able to communicate with someone else who was further away in that impossible vacuum, maybe even 25 miles away, but otherwise? Forget it.

The fact is that the average two-way radio has a range of between one and two miles and not much more (maybe three, but we’re not making any promises). CB radio fares significantly better, largely because it makes use of large aerials. Now, Signal-boosting equipment can be used to improve your two-way’s performance (for example, repeaters), but such equipment is expensive and hard to obtain for legal reasons.

There are, however, a few factors that can have an affect on your radio’s range. The frequency being used, the power output, the size of the antenna, the complexity of the signal being sent, signal interference, background noise and (as we wrote earlier) objects in the way are all factors that can improve (or hamper) your efforts to get your signal to reach as far as possible.

So, talking on your radio whilst in the car will have a deleterious affect on your signal, as will deliberately walking through wooded areas or places with a lot of rocks/mountains if you can take an easier path.

However, a larger antenna (if you’re tech orientated, the antenna can be replaced with a better one – although this should only be attempted if you are

  1. a) Sure about licensing laws

And

  1. b) Tech savvy enough to void the warranty and not regret it later, can really add a few hundred meters to a radio’s range, as can a switch in frequencies.

Also, your choice of VHF or UHF radio will have an affect as well, a UHF signal, for example, generally penetrates buildings and objects better than a VHF signal, whereas VHF is better for outdoor use where there is a lot of open space to transmit across.

Having said/written that, even in optimum conditions, you are extremely unlikely to transmit over a distance of 25 miles. Sorry.

As an aside, mobile phones don’t suffer from this lack of coverage, largely because cell towers are in place that bounce the signal from one to the other and thus carry it across a far larger area, your mobile is still your best bet to break that 25 mile mark, we’re afraid.

If you really must use radio communications over long distances, we recommend going to the Website 2 way radio online

Hope that helps.

MIT’s new method of radio transmission could one day make wireless VR a reality

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VR is the Buzz word for this year, every technology company clambering to get their headset out on to the market. Much of the market needs to catch-up though, the power of home computing needs to improve and removing the inevitable extra cabling and wires that come with current headsets. Luckily this article is about the future technology of VR headsets, see what we can expect as this technology grows.

If you want to use one of today’s major VR headsets, whether the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, or the PS VR, you have to accept the fact that there will be an illusion-shattering cable that tethers you to the small supercomputer that’s powering your virtual world.

But researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) may have a solution in MoVr, a wireless virtual reality system. Instead of using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to transmit data, the research team’s MoVR system uses high-frequency millimeter wave radio to stream data from a computer to a headset wirelessly at dramatically faster speeds than traditional technology.

There have been a variety of approaches to solving this problem already. Smartphone-based headsets such as Google’s Daydream View and Samsung’s Gear VR allow for untethered VR by simply offloading the computational work directly to a phone inside the headset. Or the entire idea of VR backpacks, which allow for a more mobile VR experience by building a computer that’s more easily carried. But there are still a lot of limitations to either of these solutions.

THE MOVR PROTOTYPE SIDESTEPS TETHERED VR ISSUES

Latency is the whole reason a wireless solution hasn’t worked so far. VR is especially latency-sensitive, along with the huge bandwidth requirements that VR needs to display the level of high-resolution video required for virtual reality to work. But the MIT team claims that the millimeter wave signals can transmit fast enough to make a wireless VR headset feasible.

The issue with using millimeter wave technology is that the signal needs a direct line of sight, and fares poorly when it encounters any obstacles. MoVR gets around this by working as a programmable mirror that can direct the direction of the signal to the headset even while it’s moving to always make sure the signal is transmitting directly to the headset’s receivers.

For now, the MoVR is simply a prototype, with the team hoping to further shrink down the system to allow for multiple wireless headsets in one room without encountering signal interference. But even as a proof-of-concept, it’s an interesting perspective on how virtual reality could one day work.

These Are Three Similar Types Of Security Earpiece You Can Get

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If you are looking for a security earpiece with a mic, then you will need to know the varieties available out there. While some types are more expensive than others, what ultimately matters is the quality and durability of what you get at the end. Below is a look at what you get out there:

One wire kit

With this one, there is only a single wire, which emerges from the radio, runs through the PTT and then ends where the earpiece starts. This makes for a simple yet effective look. As for the length of the cable, the one wire kit has a piece that runs between 28 and 34 inches. This means that you have at your disposal a length sufficient to cover the distance between your ears and the waist without any kind of stretching or straining. Of course, the reach of every security earpiece will be determined by the height of the person wearing it . The one wire kit is great for an average height and will work for anyone 6 feet and below.

Most one wire kits come in the original D and G shapes. There are some fancier designs out there as well if that’s what you are looking for.

Two wire kits

As the name suggests, there are two wires involved in this scenario. One runs to the Push to Talk (PTT) button. The other runs up to the earpiece, making for a good looking dual connection. For the purposes of discretion, you are allowed to wear this cable partially disguised within your clothing. One wire will emerge from the radio, rising up your back to the ear in a way that keeps you comfortable. The other cable runs from the radio, up the length of your hands and terminates at the cuffs if you are wearing a long-sleeved shirt or sweater. In terms of length, the two-wire kit is essentially the same as its one wire counterpart, with a reach of 30 to 34 inches. This accounts strictly for the length of each individual wire, and allows the unit to comfortably cover the areas between your waist and the ears. Two wire kits commonly come in the form of an acoustic tube that many who know a little about surveillance will be able to understand.

3 Wire kits

Here, you have three wires coming off the radio. The first wire will terminate where the earpiece is built. The second will end where the Push to Talk button is located. The last will end at a connection with the mic. As with the two wire kits, this one is worn under ordinary clothing, with a cable for the mic, earpiece and PTT button. There is really no standard length for all the three wires and there is no guarantee that all of them will be equal in length, but there is a sense of flexibility in the way you get to use the piece. Always try on sample pieces before making a purchase at a store. Over the internet purchases are trickier but then the measurements will be highlighted long before you order.

Understanding the functionality of PTT technology

Push to Talk is a cutting-edge technology that allows for direct communication between parties at agreed-upon frequencies and distances. The greatest thing about PTT is that it switches communications from duplex to half duplex. This means people do not talk over each other but get to alternate between speaking and listening. PTT is able to loop in two or more speakers at an instance of communication, allowing for conference-like types of engagements between participants. This streamlines communication. Most enterprises prefer this approach to communication because there are no limitations in terms of allotted minutes. As such, there is absolutely no need to stay within the confines of a data plan, which would be both expensive, inconvenient and rigid.

There is no such thing as a right security earpiece. What works for you may not work for all other parties across the board. While your budget matters a lot, you are looking for something that works optimally and stands the test of time. The three types mentioned above are alright if you are looking for something that works all the time. Remember, prices will vary across brands and models.

Cover your ears! Amsterdam Dance Event goers invited to hearing pill tests

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Anyone will tell you, we are the first to champion hearing protection and the progress to hearing health. With all the latest technological developments, we are looking at a new era of hearing health. This supplement is supposed to ‘be beneficial for reducing hearing loss due to aminoglycosides and overstimulation’ and if the test come back positive we might see further advancement in this field.

The Amsterdam Dance Event is about more than top DJs and partying, reports Senay Boztas

As 375,000 people prepare themselves for big noise at the five-day Amsterdam Dance Event, a business has asked them to listen up: Hearing Health Science is looking for recruits to trial its ‘protective’ hearing pills.

The Amsterdam-based business, co-founded by a leading inner ear neuroscientist from the University of Michigan Dr Josef Miller, has joint US patents on a dietary supplement combination including vitamins A, C, E and magnesium.

Studies have shown some evidence that this ACEMg supplement ‘can be beneficial for reducing hearing loss due to aminoglycosides and overstimulation,’ according to a report in Nature magazine in February, co-authored by Miller. Hearing Health Science hopes to begin producing pills next year and is taking pre-orders at the festival, at a cost of €30 for a four-week supply.

Pilots

It is also looking for volunteers to take part in pilot tests, signing up recruits at the Amsterdam Dance Event, which this year is putting on 2,200 acts in 140 venues and expecting a peak of numbers.

Barry Seifer, co-founder and chief executive of the company explained: ‘The pill we are bringing to market is safe, and you cannot test in the lab by giving someone a problem and then offering to cure it. If you are going to do epidemiological research on something like this – noise – you have to do it in the real world, where the problem happens. This is a great place to do that research.’

The company is planning pilot tests with volunteers from the ADE – although Seifer said they won’t be handing out pills at the door – and hopes to invite some of these to a modified crossover study. This should take place when the ‘festival’ season begins from March next year, and subjects will be followed for a period, taking the drug and a placebo at different times, and measuring their hearing through a special app developed at the University of Michigan.

Tinnitus

‘We’ve done it once with a tinnitus trial and now we want to do real-world studies in the music industry,’ says Seifer. ‘Our initial idea was to recruit 20 or 30 people but we have such intense interest that I think we’ll have 500 who sign up. We would love to be able to give this to people now because millions need help, but we’re not quite there yet. We’re not going to stand at the doors and hand out pills.’

A spokesman for ADE said the festival has worked with Hearing Health Science in the past and invited it to speak at an event on Thursday. ‘We believe you need to protect your hearing and welcome initiatives in this field,’ he said. ‘HHS has been working on this hearing protection for a long time and at ADE we are always looking out for innovations in the field of (electronic) music…we also actively offer earbuds to visitors.’

Highlights of the event this year include Afrojack, Hardwell and Martin Garrix, and the festival expects 3% more clubbers, with a steadily pattern of growth over its 10 years. House music and techno are currently the most popular genres.

Seifer adds: ‘We would never tell you to turn the music down. Entertainment goers are trying to keep the music to lower volumes and encourage people to use filters and party plugs – these are good. The problem is that this is supposed to be fun!’

Read more at DutchNews.nl: Cover your ears! Amsterdam Dance Event goers invited to hearing pill tests http://www.dutchnews.nl/features/2016/10/cover-your-ears-amsterdam-dance-event-goers-invited-to-hearing-pill-tests/

Army to Launch Another Competition for New Soldier Radio

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In the modern world the army has to have perfect communications, from coordinating attacks to communicating with other platoons, on the battlefield it really could mean the difference between life and death. This article plans to find the next Military radio.

U.S. Army tactical radio officials plan to launch a competition for a new handheld radio next year that would give soldiers twice the capability of the current Rifleman Radio.

The Army currently uses the single-channel AN/PRC 154A Rifleman Radio as its soldier handheld data radio. It runs the Soldier Radio Waveform, which small-unit leaders use to download and transmit maps, images and texts to fellow infantry soldiers in a tactical environment.

If they want to talk to each other, they often rely on another single-channel handheld — the AN/PRC 148 MultiBand Inter/Intra Team Radio, or MBITR, which runs the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio, or SINCGARS, for voice communications.

The Army plans to release a request-for-proposal in 2017 for a two-channel radio that will allow soldiers to run the Soldier Radio Waveform, or SRW, for data and SINCGARS for voice on one radio, according to Col. James P. Ross, who runs Project Manager Tactical Radios.

The change will mean that soldiers will no longer need the 148 MBITR and be able to rely on the new, two-channel radio for both data and voice communications, Ross said.

“We know industry can meet our requirements. … We know it’s achievable,” he said.

The move represents a change in strategy for the Army since the service awarded contracts in 2015 to Harris Corporation and Thales for a next-generation version of the Rifleman Radio.

“We went out with a competition for the next generation of the [Rifleman Radio]. Two companies, Harris and Thales, competed,” Ross said. “We went through testing, and we were on the verge of being able to buy more of them when the Army said, ‘Our strategy now is two-channel.’ ”

The Army had planned an initial buy of about 4,000 Thales AN/PRC-154B(V)1 radios and Harris AN/PRC-159(V)1 radios, according to Army program documents for fiscal 2015.

“We will not be taking action on those,” Ross said.

The current Rifleman Radio was developed as part of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit, or HMS program. HMS radios are designed around the Army’s tactical network strategy to create secure tactical networks without the logistical nightmare of a tower-based antenna infrastructure.

It’s also a key part of the Army’s Nett Warrior system. It hooks into an Android-based smartphone and gives soldiers in infantry brigade combat teams the ability to send and receive emails, view maps and watch icons on a digital map that represent the locations of their fellow soldiers. The concept came out of the Army’s long-gestating Land Warrior program.

The Army purchased about 21,000 Rifleman Radios under low-rate initial production between 2012 and 2015.

Army officials maintain that are enough single-channel, handheld radios already produced under the low rate initial production that are sitting waiting to be fielded. The service plans to field another two brigade combat teams per year with the single-channel Rifleman Radios through 2019.

The Army will conduct testing of two-channel radios in 2017 and early 2018 and then down-select to one or two vendors sometime in 2018, Ross said. Operational testing is scheduled for 2019 and fielding will begin in 2020 if all goes as planned, he added.

For now, the Army intends to field four BCTs a year with two-channel handheld radios, Ross said.

Small-unit leaders would then be able to retire the MBITR radio from their kit — a weight savings of about three pounds, according to Army officials at Program Executive Office Soldier.

“One thing the PEO Soldier is very passionate about is weight — driving that weight down that the soldier carries,” said Lt. Col. Derek Bird, product manager for Ground Soldier Systems, which helps oversee the Nett Warrior program.

“If we can cut three pounds off a soldier by taking two radios and shrinking it to one … that is a big deal.”

Radio Earpieces: Eight Top Tips For Choosing The Right One

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When choosing a radio earpiece, there are several factors that should be considered. A radio earpiece should not only aid in communication it should also protect the user’s ear against cumulative ear damage that may eventually result in ear loss. Below are the factors that you should consider when buying a radio earpiece;

1) Clarity of communication

The most important reason as to why you have a radio is for clear communication and this is what your radio earpiece should enhance. Although there are several radio earpieces out there, many of them use bone conduction when transmitting the user’s speech meaning that they heavily rely on vibrations of one’s skull as they talk. This does not help much in ensuring that the communications are clear especially when one is on the move.

You should therefore go for a system whose in-ear microphone does not use bone conduction and this will enhance the sound clarity. Such a system can even transmit speeches when one is whispering and this comes in handy especially when in an environment where secrecy is very crucial.

2) Comfort

It is very important to select a system that you feel comfortable with most importantly when you are to wear it on your head. Note that, you will probably be wearing the gear for long hours and that is why it should be of lightweight and should not in any way interfere with your eye wear or helmet.

Avoid heavy, sweaty and coiled tube earpieces that are very uncomfortable and will cause ear fatigue. Instead, go for a radio earpiece whose microphone is built into the earbud itself. Such earpieces come in various shapes and sizes and can even be customized to fit the specific needs of a user. Note that, military-grade materials are specifically designed to be of lightweight.

3) Durability

Durability is a very important factor that should be considered when choosing a radio earpiece. You obviously don’t want to be wasting your time and money going back to look for another earpiece just because the one you chose did not last. This is why it is very important to select a system that is durable and has been tested for rugged use of a soldier or a SWAT officer. Go for one whose manufacturer is experienced in manufacturing earpieces that can withstand water, dirt, shock and even extreme temperatures.

4) Ease of use

Your radio earpiece should be easy to use because you can’t afford to mess up with the push-to-talk or the on & off buttons especially when on the move. Your gear should immediately fit into your actions with minimum effort. Look at the operational and the ergonomic features of the various radio earpieces and make sure that all its features are both of the right sizes and in the right places.

5) Hearing protection

Claims related to hearing loss and its related disabilities is on the rise among police & military veterans and this has led to the need for hearing protection for officers. Note that, hearing loss occurs cumulatively over time and it is irreversible. This is in addition to the fact that it has been associated with cognitive decline and that is why even the minor hearing loss can have a huge impact in the course of time. Select a radio earpiece that not only ensures effective communication, but also the hearing safety of the user.

6) Situational awareness

An earpiece is basically meant to keep you focused and keep your hands free. You should be aware of what is happening in their surrounding and that is why a radio earpiece should allow one to hear sounds that are outside, to stay alert with their surroundings.

In order to have full communications (just like one would have without anything in their ears), it is wise to choose a radio earpiece that has an external microphone. There are systems that even enable you to adjust volume of the external microphone and this ensures that you are aware of the happenings in your surroundings.

7) Modularity & Compatibility

There are several systems that are available out there and you should look for one that fits your requirements. As mentioned above, some of them can be customized to fit an individual user’s specific needs so you can never run out of options.

A radio earpiece that has a modular connector is good as you can change it to match even a different radio without having to replace the entire system. Some systems can even go with both earbuds and over-the-ear earpieces so depending on your needs, select the appropriate system.

8) Affordability

Many years ago radio earpieces cost £100 and upwards, these days you can get a D-ring earpiece for less than £15 and an acoustic tube for about £25. Bone conductor earpieces that were previously and expensive piece of technology, can be yours for about £40.

Can You Use A Walkie Talkie Headset On Your Motorbike

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Motorcycle helmet intercoms have recently gained lots of popularity for the safety and convenience they offer. They have lots of enhanced features which help riders focus on driving. That being so, you should know that being able to choose and use the right type of motorcycle helmet intercom is extremely important as it makes it easy for riders to perform all kinds of actions and do all kinds of things without any fear of losing control of their motorcycle. In this article, we’re going to be talking about the best features to look for in a motorcycle helmet intercom, and the different types of motorcycle intercoms available in the market;

Here are the features to look for when looking for a walkie talkie headset for your motorcycle helmet:

Well, riding in a motorcycle usually makes the rider quite vulnerable to various kinds of road and environmental factors. This includes dirt, dust, rain, humidity, and all types of things which one can possibly encounter. Because of this, you should consider getting a completely weatherproof motorcycle helmet intercom. Fortunately, most of the motorcycle intercoms in the market today are weatherproof, water resistant or waterproof. For the best protection from the elements, consider choosing a weatherproof or waterproof intercom, instead of the water resistant ones; this ensures that despite any hazards and rain, your system will be safe, and still work efficiently.

You should also consider getting a system that has a headset speaker for both ears or one ear. This particular factor depends on personal preference as some may find it more convenient to use a one ear headset, while others may prefer both years as some riders like hearing sound in both of their ears. That being so, you should know that installation and moving of the intercom to a different helmet is much easier for the systems which have only one ear.

Another important factor to consider is voice activation. Many systems have the voice activation feature which keeps the headset(s) quiet when no one is talking. The voice activation feature also has the ability to get disabled and a push to talk switch feature can be used instead. Apart from that, sound quality and noise cancellation is something you need to put into consideration. Many motorcycle intercoms have the noise reduction feature with digital signal processing which helps reduce the noises/sounds they pick up from your microphone; this feature is especially important if you are a fast rider.

For those who like riding with some music playing, you should consider going for the motorcycle intercoms which come with either a built in FM stereo, or an auxiliary stereo input for iPod, a Walkman, MP3, or a satellite radio unit. This type of input can also be used to receive driving directions from voice prompted GPS unit.

There are some motorcycle intercoms which can be mounted in your helmet, on your belt clip, on your bike or even put directly to your ears; this usually depends on just how big or bulky the intercom is. Choosing this feature depends on personal preference. You should choose the one that you’d be most comfortable using.

Last but not least, connectivity for cell phones is another crucial factor to consider when choosing a motorcycle intercom. This feature allows you to access the phone’s features while you’re on the road. The feature is best paired with hands free operation.

Without a motorcycle intercom, riding can be a very solitary experience. Using an intercom is a great way of clearing your head and putting your thoughts together when you’re riding alone. However, if you’ve a passenger, or you are biking with another rider, sooner or later you’ll want to converse with them. A motorcycle helmet intercom will let you do this, and so much more.

That being said, the problem is that there are very many motorcycle intercoms to choose from. And given the fact that motorcycle helmet intercoms need to work in extremely difficult environments, choosing the best one can mean all the difference between enjoying your ride and hating it. Below, we are going to give you the different types of motorcycle helmet intercoms available, to help you make the best choice for your particular needs;

Acoustic Motorcycle Intercom

This is the most basic form of the motorcycle helmet intercoms. With this type of intercom, there are no electronics involved since it uses hollow tubes which have rubber tips that are normally inserted into the rider’s ear. A different tube is used as a mouthpiece for talking into, and they both connect through a junction box. This system simply uses the hollow tubes which the voices travel through.

One of the main benefits of a walkie talkie headset is the fact that you’ll find no batteries to mess with; this makes them highly reliable. However, there is no amplification which means that there is no way of regulating or adjusting the volume or filtering the wind noise. therefore at high speeds, it’ll likely be much harder to listen to. Another issue with this system is the fact that many riders tend to realize that the ear plugs are uncomfortable in their ears for an extended period of time. These acoustic motorcycle intercoms only work with driver to passenger and not bike-to-bike.

Wireless Intercom Technology

This is a most complex and technologically advanced system as it utilizes different forms of radio technologies namely FM, GMRS, FRS and Bluetooth.

FM (abbreviation for Frequency Modulation) is widely used because it’s very efficient when it comes to transmitting clear sound, however, if it’s used by driver to driver, its’ performance isn’t good if they’re too far apart. It is quite similar to the FM radio you normally listen to, however for the motorcycle intercom, a much narrower frequency is usually used. The FM intercoms work best when there aren’t any kind of obstructions (like hills) between the receiver and the transmitter.

If long range is the most important feature, then the GMRS Walkie talkie headsets will offer a much better performance. The FRS (abbreviation for Family Radio Service) and GMRS (abbreviation for General Mobile Radio Service) are the modern equivalents to old walkie talkies you might have used during your childhood days. The FRS intercoms typically have a maximum range of 2 miles provided there are minimal obstructions in between, while the GRMS intercoms can effectively communicate up to several miles. Just Like the FM, these two are public frequencies which means other people can get to hear your conversations, and vice versa. In some heavily populated areas these FRS/GRMS radios are heavily used, while out on the open road you should enjoy fairly private conversations.

One great thing about using the FRS or GMRS walkie talkie headset is that you can visit Headsetonline and purchase a walkie talkie headset and handheld radio which you can use to contact these units. In case someone is following you in a car, or they have a wired intercom system which allows them connect to an FRS or GMRS handheld radio, they will be able to communicate with you. The only downside is that you’ll find countless of these radios in the heavily populated areas and you’ll end up picking up lots of other transmissions.

A review of the Icom IC-7300 direct RF sampling transceiver

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Icom and ham radio go hand-in-hand, one of their main markets is supplying top of the range equipment, this IC-7300 follows on from the wonderful IC-F7200 (which is a favourite in the office) and sits along side the new range of digital IC-F1000 & 2000 radios that are going really well, but have a new connector type, so new icom earpieces are needed. Read the comprehensive review we found from the swling.com website.

In August 2015 at the Tokyo Hamfair, Icom debuted a new type of transceiver in their product line––one featuring a direct RF sampling receiver. Essentially, it was an SDRtabletop transceiver.

At about the same time that the IC-7300 started shipping around the world, Icom pulled their venerable IC-7200 off the market. Yet the IC-7200 was established as a well-loved product, due to its highly sensitive receiver, its relatively robust front end, and its quality audio. Moreover, it was simple to operate, which made superb as a Field Day or radio club rig.

Therefore, even though the IC-7300 promised much more versatility than the IC-7200, for its price point it had a tough act to follow.

So, of course––even more so than with any other radio Icom has introduced in the past few years––I was eager to get my hands on a IC-7300.  I’m very fortunate that my good friend, Dave Anderson (K4SV) was one of the first purchasers of the IC-7300, and that he didn’t mind (after only having the rig perhaps one week!) allowing me to borrow it for a several weeks for evaluation.

Note:  I should state here that since this rig was loaned to me, I evaluated it based on the firmware version it shipped with, and made no modifications to it.

Icom-IC-7300-FrontThis review primarily focuses on the receiver’s performance, functionality and usability.

Introducing the Icom IC-7300

In recent years, the “big three” ham radio manufacturers have been using color displays, and––Icom most especially––touch screens. While I’m no fan of backlit touch screens in mobile applications, I  think touch screen displays make a lot of sense in a base radio. If carefully designed, a touch screen can save an operator from heavily-buried menus and decrease the number of multi-function buttons on the front panel.

The challenge, of course, is making a display with intuitive controls, and one that is large enough, and with sufficient resolution, to be useful to the operator. In the past, I’ve been disappointed by many displays; the most successful have been incorporated in DX/Contest-class (i.e., pricier) transceivers, meanwhile, entry-level and mid-priced transceiver displays often seem half-baked. While the graphics may be crisp, spectrum displays at this price point are often too compressed to be useful, and if not a touch display, force the user to pause operation in order to find the correct knob or button to change settings. In such cases, I find myself wondering why the manufacturer went to the expense of a color display at all––?

Icom-IC-7300-Display

But what about the C-7300 display?  I’m thoroughly pleased to report that Icom did afantasticjob of balancing utility and function in design of the IC-7300’s color touch display and front panel. There are  number of ways you can chose to display and arrange elements on the screen–since I’m an SDR fan, I typically chose a display setting which gave the waterfall the most real estate. Of course, one can chose to give the frequency display priority or a number of other arrangements.

User interface

I can tell that Icom built upon their experience with the IC-7100––their first entry-level touch screen display transceiver.

I was able to get the IC-7300 on the air in very little time. Within five minutes of turning on the IC-7300, I was able to:

  • change the display to feature a spectrum waterfall;
  • change the span of the waterfall display;
  • adjust the TX power output;
  • change the filters selection and the transmit mode;
  • change bands and make direct-frequency entries;
  • adjust notch, passband, and filter width;
  • adjust AF and RF gain;
  • set A/B VFOs and operate split;
  • change AGC settings;
  • turn on Noise Reduction/Noise Blanker, and
  • adjust compression.

Basically, I found that all the essential functions are clearly laid out, accessible, and highly functional.  Impressive.

The IC-7300 ships with a manual–– aptly titled, the “Basic” manual––and a CD with the full and unabridged operations manual.  The Basic Manual covers a great deal a lot more than the manual which accompanied the Icom ID-51a. If you read through the manual, you’ll readily familiarize yourself with most of the IC-7300’s higher function operations, and especially, you’ll be able to adjust the settings to your operation style. The Manual is written in simple language, and includes a lot of diagrams and graphics.

If you’re like me, you will find you’ll also need to reference that unabridged manual, so hang on to the CD, too.

Still, I imagine there’s a large percentage of future IC-7300 owners that will never need to reference the manual––especially if they don’t care about tweaking band edges or similar settings. Yes, believe it or not, it’s that easy to use.

Operation

Icom-IC-7300-Function-Buttons

While I spent a great deal of time listening to CW and SSB in various band conditions and at various times of day, I spent less time on the air transmitting.

With that said, all of my transmitting time was in CW since the IC-7300 mic was accidentally left out when my friend loaned me the rig.

I’m please to report that CW operation is quite pleasant. All of the adjustments––RF Power, Key Speed, and CW Pitch––can be quickly modified using the multi-function knob. While in CW mode, you can also toggle full break-in mode, which is quite smooth, via the function button and touch screen.

SSB functions are similar. While in  SSB mode, the multi-function knob allows you to change the tx power, mic gain, and monitor level. The function button opens an on-screen menu with VOX, compression, TBW, and the monitor toggle.

Here’s a short video I made with my phone while I made a few adjustments to the IC-7300:

Of course, my smartphones’s microphone can’t accurately reproduce the audio from the IC-7300, but you probably get the idea.

The only annoyance I noted––and perhaps I’m more sensitive to this, being primarily a QRPer––is that the 7300’s cooling fan starts up each time you key up. It even comes on when transmit power is at its lowest setting. I find this a little distracting in CW.  Fortunately, however, the 7300’s fan is fairly quiet and operates smoothly.

Receiver performance and reader survey results

Since our radio comparison shoot-outs have been particularly popular (and useful; check out our shoot-out between top portables, and ultra-compact radios, and others), I decided it would make sense to invite our informed readership to evaluate the Icom IC-7300’s performance in a series of blind, informal tests. (For information about these surveys,please read the first survey.)

Below, I’ve matched the labels (Radio A/Radio B) with the radio models.  I’ve also included pie charts which show the results from the survey.

Icom IC-7300 vs. WinRadio Excalibur

Weak Signal CW (40 meter band)

CW

Based on listener comments, those of you who preferred the ‘7300 did so because the CW was more interpretable and stable.

Some of you noted that I didn’t quite have CW at the same pitch on both rigs. I believe this is because the IC-7300’s calibration was ever so slightly off. This has since been addressed.

Weak/Strong SSB QSO (40 meter band)

SSB

This result was almost tied. The Excalibur’s audio––without any adjustments––has a fuller and “bassier” sound. The ‘7300 can be adjusted to have similar characteristics, but the default EQ settings produce very flat audio. Many of you commented that the IC-7300 more faithfully produced audio optimized for SSB.


 

Shortwave Broadcast recordings

The following recordings were made on the 31 meter broadcast band in the evening. Both radios had the same filter width: 9 kHz and 8.2 kHz.

Weak Shortwave AM (Radio Bandeirantes 31 meter band)

Weak-SW-AM

There was a noticeable preference for the WinRadio Excalibur in this particular audio set. Even though the Excalibur’s audio splattered a bit, the content was more interpretable. The IC-7300’s audio sounded flat in comparison––again, something that can be adjusted quite easily in the ‘7300’s audio settings.

Strong Shortwave AM (Radio Romania International, French 31 Meter Band)

Strong-SW-AM

Once again, the Excalibur won favor, but I imagine results would have been closer had I adjusted the ‘7300’s audio EQ.


 

Mediumwave Broadcast recordings

Note that the following mediumwave recordings were made during the morning hours (grayline). The strong station is the closest AM broadcaster to my home; it’s not a blow-torch “Class A” type station, merely the closest local broadcaster.

In the “weak” sample, I tuned to 630 kHz where multiple broadcasters could be heard on frequency, but one was dominant.

Both radios are set to a filter width of 9.0 kHz.

Strong Mediumwave AM (1010 kHz)

Strong-MW-AM

Two out of three listeners preferred the Excalibur in this example.

Weak Mediumwave AM (630 kHz)

Weak-MW-AM

In this particular example, the IC-7300 could not pull the strongest broadcaster out of the pile as well as the WinRadio Excalibur. In fairness, the Excalibur was using AM sync detection, something the IC-7300 lacks.

Icom IC-7300 vs. Elecraft KX3

IMG_20160424_105444629

I also decided to pit the IC-7300 against my well-loved Elecraft KX3.


Audio Clip 1: CW (20 meter band)

Elecraft KX3: Radio A

Elecraft - CW

Based on comments, readers who preferred the IC-7300 felt the CW sounded more pleasant and stable.


Audio Clip 2: Weak Signal CW (20 meter band)

Elecraft - WeakCW

Your comments indicated that the CW seemed to “pop out” of the noise slightly better with the IC-7300.


Audio Clip 3: Weak/Strong SSB

(Sable Island working Asia/Pacific on 20 meter band)

Elecraft SSB

These results were spilt in the middle. Again, I believe this comes down to personal preference in the audio. And again––in both radios––the audio EQ can be adjusted to suit the operator.


Receiver performance summary

I enjoy producing audio clips for readers to compare and comment upon. Each time I’ve done so in the past, I’ve had listeners argue the virtues of a particular audio clip while others have the complete opposite reaction to that same clip. Not all of us prefer our audio served up in the same way. No doubt, there’s a great deal of subjectivity in this sort of test.

I’ve had the IC-7300 on the air every day since I took possession of it. I’ve listened to SSB, CW, and lots of AM/SW broadcasters.

And here’s my summary: the IC-7300 is an excellent receiver. It has a low noise floor, superb sensitivity and excellent selectivity. I even slightly prefer its audio to that of my Elecraft KX3, and I’m a huge fan of the little KX3.

I’ve written before about how difficult it is to compare SDRs; the problem is that there are so many ways to tweak your audio, filters, AGC, noise reduction, etc. that it’s hard to compare apples with apples.

In the audio samples above, the IC-7300 and WinRadio Excalibur were both set to their default audio settings. In SSB and CW, the IC-7300 excels, in my opinion. CW seems to pop out of the noise better and SSB is more pleasant and interpretable. The Excalibur has a better audio profile for AM broadcasters, though. Its default audio simply sounds fuller–more robust.

The audio from the IC-7300 on AM sounded absolutely flat. However, if I tweak the audio of the ‘7300, adding more bass, it instantly sounds more like a dedicated tabletop receiver.

I should also mention that while the IC-7300’s built-in digital recording is a fantastic and effective feature, it doesn’t produce audio true to what’s heard through headphones live. This is especially the case when you add more bass and treble response as in the RRI example above. When the audio EQ is set to a default flat, it’s quite accurate.

To be clear:  for broadcast listening, I’ll still reach for my SDRs (the Excalibur, FDM-S2,TitanSDRand CR-1a).

If, however, I have limited space and/or budget for multiple receivers, I’d be quite happy using the IC-7300 as a broadcast receiver on the HF bands.

Speaking from the Shortwave Radio Listener (SWL) perspective, meanwhile, am I pleased with how the ‘7300 handles the broadcast bands?  Most definitely.

And as a ham radio operator, am I pleased with the IC-7300’s receiver––?  Absolutely.

In short:  the IC-7300 seems to have some of the best all-around receiver qualities of any transceiver I know under $2,000.

Summary

Every radio has its pros and cons. When I begin a review of a radio, I take notes of my initial impressions. Here’s my list for the IC-7300:

Pros

  • Excellent sensitivity and selectivity
  • Excellent, highly-customizable RX and TX audio
  • Color touch screen interface
  • Spectrum display is large enough to be useful
  • Intuitive functions
  • Twin PBT is both intuitive to operate and effective
  • Effective RF gain to compensate for noisy band conditions
  • Built-in RX and TX recording, file transfers via common SD card
  • Front panel knobs and buttons are spaced appropriately and easy to use
  • Quiet cooling fan (see con)
  • Decodes RTTY on screen
  • Built-in ATU
  • Antenna analyzer function (not tested)

Cons

  • Lacks secondary receive antenna jack on rear panel
  • Cooling fan immediately starts up on CW/SSB transmit at any power setting (see pro regarding fan noise)
  • Occasionally you may get lost in deeper customized functions
  • Supplied printed basic owner’s manual, while well-written, doesn’t fully cover the IC-7300s functions and options; you must explore the digital owner’s manual in supplied CD.

Conclusion

In a nutshell: Icom has hit a home run with the IC-7300.  If I didn’t already have an Elecraft KX3 and K2, I would buy the IC-7300 without hesitation.

Though the price point is a little high for an “entry level transceiver,” it’s worth every penny, in my opinion. For $1500 US, you get a fantastic general-coverage transceiver with an intuitive interface, nearly every function you can imagine, and performance that would please even a seasoned DXer.

Though I haven’t done and A/B comparison with the IC-7200, I imagine the IC-7300 would prevail in a test. The IC-7300 would certainly wipe the floor with it’s more economical brother, the IC-718.

Radio clubs, take note:

In my view, the IC-7300 has the makings of an excellent radio club rig in which performance, functionality, as well as ease of use are important. I expect that the IC-7300 will not only cope very well with crowded and crazy Field Day conditions, but it will also give any newcomers to the hobby a little experience with a proper modern transceiver. The fact that you can view signals so easily on the spectrum display means that it will be easier to chase contacts and monitor bands as they open and close. Indeed, what better way to mentor a newly-minted ham in modes, contacts, carriers, QRN, QRM, and so forth, than to simply point these out on the IC-7300’s bright, clear display––?

If your club is considering a transceiver upgrade or purchase, do seriously consider the IC-7300. I think you’ll find this rig is up to the task.

And for home? The Icom IC-7300 may be all of the rig you’ll ever need.

Where You Should Buy a Walkie Talkie Headset

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Walkie talkies are widely used in almost any setting where the portable radio communication is necessary, including but not limited to; loud environments, in forests, in airports, when hunting, in airports, hiking and other outdoor recreation, among others. The units come in handy in situations where many people need to listen, and only 1 needs to talk at a go, for instance, when giving instructions to workers on a camping site. In other words, Walkie talkies are a great communication tools to have, regardless of whether you’re using them for fun, at home, or at work, to help in facilitating things to run smoothly. That being so, they have one major limitation, and that’s the fact that they’re hand held devices which you’ve to carry with you at all times, and handle whenever you want to communicate. If both of your hands are full, then that can be very inconvenient. Fortunately however, today, there lots of accessories you can use, such as the Walkie talkie headset, which frees up your hands, thus allowing you to talk or communicate with much ease. Moreover nothing helps enhance the audio quality of the Walkie Talkie more than the headset.

To use the headset, you simply need to plug it into the Walkie talkie, and then you can leave the unit clipped onto your belt. The headset will allow you to not only hear clearly, but it also helps in cancelling out noise from your surroundings or environment. The boom mic of the headset allows you to talk directly into the Walkie talkie without having to hold the device up near your mouth.

Radio Connector Types

Walkie talkies don’t use the same types of connectors for attaching the speakers, earpiece/microphones or headsets. Today, there are many different connector types available on the market. Even different Walkie talkie models from the same company might have different connector types. Actually, just because 2 different radios have a same physical connection socket, doesn’t always mean that they’re internally wired up the same way; this means that you should never assume that having the same socket means similar accessories will work in both Walkie talkies. So always be careful when choosing the connectors for your radios.

Active vs Passive

The Active Walkie talkie headsets normally manage the ambient sound that’s around it, and send a similar frequency to unwanted sounds to cancel it out; this increases the sounds to noise ratio of unwanted sounds, eventually cancelling the noise out. The Passive Walkie talkie headsets rely on the insulated or the sound absorbent material to muffle the sounds; this is a cheaper option which only protect ups to a certain decibel level.

Conclusion

Today, there is a wide range of walkie talkie headsets to choose from. Your choice should depend on your particular needs, however, you should also make sure you choose one which will work great in your particular ambiance. If you are looking to buy a Walkie talkie headset, contact Headsetonline.co.uk today, and we will gladly provide you with the perfect unit geared to meet each and every one of your needs.

Imtradex Aurelis Handheld Microphones Future Proof to fit all Purposes

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We call these Remote Speaker Mics (RSM) and they have come in all different shapes and sizes over the years. Normally a staple of the emergency services, but we have seen a upsurge in general radio users using RSM’s. So it comes as no shock to us that a pro-active company like Imtradex has designed one to suit the needs of the masses.

What was originally developed as a handheld microphone for digital radios, has blossomed over the past few years to an essential equipment accessory for digital radio standards of emergency service: The Aurelis hand microphone from Imtradex.

Meanwhile with the Aurelis, the specialist for critical communications, have a whole series of hand microphones on the market, all adapted to the specific challenges of the communication in critical applications of security agencies, fire departments, dispatch and emergency services. The Aurelis series addresses the different needs of the user: based of the basic model Aurelis Base, Imtradex manufacture customized versions that are specially tailored to the range of functions that meet the customer’s requirements.

All the Aurelis hand microphones have a send button, a microphone and high quality speakers. “All devices contain a cable attachment and also the possibility to connect external audio accessories” adds Ralf Kudernak, CEO of Imtradex. Depending on the radio, different data applications can be integrated, so can ex. on the model Aurelis AudioDis, information be displayed on the LCD display.

“The youngest member of the family is the Aurelis USB handheld microphone, which is designed for connection to computer-based communication system, especially for control centers” informed Ralf Kudernak. “The USB interface gives the easy integration and can be connected independently to each operation system and used with existing hardware. With the development of the Aurelis USB, we followed the desire of several control centers, which wanted to use a handheld microphone which you can also hang at the table of the workplace” said Kudernak.

In terms of digital communication, security and flexibility the innovative ultra-lightweight Aurelis Nexus PTT set new standards. It was specially designed for fire fighting. Thanks to it extra large PTT, with short sensing path and exactly defined pressure point, the operation with use of working gloves is possible.

The user can also be flexible in their choice of radio and headset: All Aurelis handheld microphones can be combined, not only with many headsets, for example with the monaural neckband headset from the NB Series. They are convenient and safe to wear, provide a maximum safe mobility and provide an excellent voice quality. Imtradex can also build them with the different connectors required, so they can easily be connected to different digital radios. All Aurelis handheld microphones have a robust plastic housing. Is splash-proofed and protects the device against dust and against temperature influences, so they can be reliably used in a temperature range from -30 to + 70 degrees Celsius. The 180 gram lightweight Aurelis handheld microphones are also available in different colours and optionally equipped with a car holder or cloth clip.

– See more at: http://www.tetra-applications.com/33213/