What Radio To Buy & Where It’s Most Effective

License Free
License free radios are an ideal solution should you be looking to cover a small distance for communications, often simple to use a PMR446  radio takes all the hassle away from complicated licensed alternatives but this does come at a cost of reduced range. Often found in smaller institutes such as educational environments or activity centres, a license free radio is cheap and cheerful but will often get the job done providing it is used in the right environment.

All major manufacturers produce their own models of license free radios, Motorola, Kenwood and Hytera all leading the way similar to the market for business grade radios. Kenwood have the highly popular TK-3401D which is the license free equivalent to their TK-D340 one of the most popular radios of 2018. Providing the working environment only requires short communications the TK-3401D would be ideal for use in tougher working conditions, this due to its IP55 protection rating and being built to military specification.

Motorola is the manufacturer of the most popular license free radio range, with many people opting to use the TXX models due to both its cheap price and easy to use interface. Radiotronics’ bestselling license free radio is the T82, available in a quad pack these radios are most commonly used by families when on activity holidays or camping trips, allowing for easy communications between parents and children due to the simple design and operability.

UHF/VHF
A UHF radio is a licensed option for your communication needs, with UHF being ideal for work where transmissions need to penetrate buildings or areas with obstructions between workers. Warehousing and construction companies are common place for UHF radios, this due to the heavy steel and aluminium walls separating the building.

VHF radios are also a licensed option most commonly used in farming environments. Many farmers will often have VHF mobile radios installed in their tractors or machinery, this to allow workers to communicate between themselves when transporting livestock/harvest or completing a job on a separate piece of land. VHF radios are not suitable when trying to communicate through buildings, therefore they are ideal for farmers and other outdoor working environments where extended range is required.

Companies will often separate radios by bands using separate product numbers, an example of this being Kenwood with their TK-D240 for VHF and TK-D340 for UHF models, the usual change being between odd and even first numbers.  Often the common choice and most recommended, UHF is ideal for almost every communication need. A UHF radio is what Radiotronics will always recommend even if buildings are only a small part of your site due to the consistent communications that the UHF band provides.

PoC
Push to talk over cellular technologies has come to the forefront of radio communications in 2018, this due to it unlimited range allowing for communications to continue no matter where around the world operatives are located. Abbreviated as PoC, these radios are available in a variety of designs ranging from a simple black box with the Inrico T199 through to the Hytera PDC760, a radio that can operate as both a two way radio and an android mobile phone.

Commonly placed in transportation businesses, PoC radios allow for drivers of lorrys, taxis, buses and trains to remain in contact with a head office to make them aware of any ongoing issues. Due to cellular technology this means that PoC devices are able to be tracked at all times, giving a control room the exact location of a person or vehicle should an issue arise, helping to improve both efficiency and safety of workers.

The most popular PoC radio that we at Radiotronics offer is the Telo PTT TE580, available for both rental and purchase the radios are a customer favourite due to their compact size yet robust operation. Running on an android operating system the TE580 is the ideal choice should you be looking into purchasing a PoC communications system, this due to its affordable price and advanced capabilities when using dispatch software alongside.

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Icom Remains Loyal To Features Despite Facelift

The designers at Icom have obviously been watching Love Island, as just like many viewers they felt a pinch of body confidence issues with their IC-F1000 & IC-F2000 range. Icom has decided to give the manufacturers most popular batch of radios a facelift, implementing a more clean and sleek looking design to rival competitor models.

As an already well established set of radios, Icom has done little to change the functionality of the IC-F1000 and IC-F2000 radios, choosing to instead improve the appearance and feel of the transceivers. There are 3 different models for each VHF and UHF radios with the most basic simply being a black box design, the S version having an LCD display and 4 programmable buttons on the front, and the T version having both an LCD display and 4 programmable buttons alongside a full alphanumeric keypad.

Although a change in appearance has been implemented, each model remains as rugged and reliable as its predecessor, meeting military standards and having an Ingress protection rating of IP67. MIL-STD-810 C/D/E/F/G ensures the radios continuous operation in a variety of different environmental conditions, working through humidity, sand and dust storms, vibration, shock and other severe weather conditions. An IP67 rating ensures the radios durability when exposed to both physical objects and liquid submersion, the 67 rating implies that the radio is entirely protected against dust intrusion whilst also being submersible in water for extended periods of time.

Supplied with a 1570mAh BP-279 Li-Ion battery will allow for up to 14 hours of operation with the radio, ensuring that it is fit to last full shift cycles in whilst in a working or leisure environment. Icom has produced a radio that is not only fit for purpose on a busy construction site but also able to be used discretely in hospitality environments due to its small stature. Standing at just 12cm in height, 5cm in width and 2.5cm in depth the radio is easily placed out of site using the included belt clip or an optional extra carry case, allowing for discretion should the radio user require.

When a customer inquires with us about a new two-way radio system often the first questions asked is about its safety features. The IC-F1000 and IC-F000 range certainly aren’t lacking in this area with such features as an emergency key, emergency call, lone worker and man down functions all being present as standard with the radio. Lone Worker and Man Down work in similar ways, monitoring the activity levels and orientation of the radio respectively, should the radio be inactive or laid on its side for a pre-set period of time then an alarm will sound to other radios or a base station that is connected via the same network.

This batch of radios benefits from improved sound quality, with 1500mW large volume audio from an Icom custom speaker for much-improved sound clarity. A channel announcement function lets the user know what channel they are switching to whilst using the rotary knob, meaning that the operative can keep an eye on what they are doing without having to look down at the radio to ensure they are on the right channel. When needing to communicate hands free the F1000 and F2000 have VOX functionality on all radios, this allows for the radio to recognize should the operative begin speaking and then broadcast the message, this feature being ideal should the user(s) be in a position where it may not be possible to free a hand in order to relay instructions.

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Hytera Digital Radio Programming Guide

Hytera Logo

Programming radios can be a minefield. So we’ve put together this useful guide to Hytera programming cable and software guide.

Hytera’s DMR digital radios are split into two types, entry tier and mid to high tier. The entry tier is made up of the PD3xx and PD4xx series. The mid to high tier consists of PD500, PD600, PD700, PD900 portable radios, DM615/625 and DM785 series mobile radios and finally RD625 and RD985 repeaters.

Hytera Programming Guide

Radio Name Cable Software Driver
Entry-tier Series Portable Radios
PD355, PD365, PD375 PC69 PD3 / PD4 Software PD3 / PD4 Driver
PD405, PD485 PC76
Mid to High Tier Series Portable Radios
PD505, PD565 PC63 DMR Software DMR Driver
PD605, PD665, PD685, X1p, X1e PC45
PD705, PD755, PD785, PD985 PC38
Mobile Radios
MD615, MD625 PC109
MD665, MD785 PC47
Repeaters
RD625 PC75
RD985 PC47

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Icom IC-F1000 & IC-F2000 Get A Facelift

The Icom IC-F1000 (VHF) and it’s brother the Icom IC-F2000 (UHF) have undoubtably become one of the best selling radios on the market right now. Not only down to their very small size and lightweight design, but also value having an average retail price of around £150 each *.

* Average price. Current prices are on our website.

But here’s the good news – IC-F1000 and IC-F2000 are getting a facelift. Their physical appearance will look just like the image above. The top half remains largely the same. But the bottom part of the front panel appears to have an inner embossed design which will lively be ideal for dealer branding labels.

Here’s even better news – IC-F1000 and IC-F2000 are also getting a speaker upgrade. The current model has an 800mW speaker. Whereas the facelift model has a massive 1500mW speaker. That means louder and clearer audio.

The facelift IC-F1000 and IC-F2000 models are not yet available. If you’d like to be notified when they are released, please join our mailing list by using the form at the very bottom of our website.

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New Universal Motorola Analogue Radio Programming Cable

Radiotronics has developed this amazing multi-radio analogue programming cable for almost all analogue Motorola two way radios that removes the need for a Radio Interface Box (RIB) and hence is considered a “RIB-Less Cable”.

> You can buy the Universal Motorola Analogue Programming Cable here

Compatible Radios Include

  • GP-Professional Series: GP340 & GP640
  • GP-Professional Compact Series: GP344 & GP388
  • GM-Professional Series: GM340 & GM640
  • CP-Commercial Series: CP040
  • CM-Commercial Series: CM140, CM340

Programming Software

This cable does not usually include the programming software. The correct software is as follows, which can be purchased from our website separately.

What Else Do I Need?

USB to Serial Adapter? You will need a computer with a serial RS232 port that looks like the image below. If you don’t have an RS232 port on your computer, you will need a USB to Serial cable which we also sell (click here).

> You can buy the Universal Motorola Analogue Programming Cable here

Note: For analogue radios only.

Note 2: Only suitable for programming. Not suitable for upgrading radio firmware.

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Analogue To Digital Migration Possibilities

Analogue radios have been used for business purposes from as far back as the 1930’s, although variations were first used by US soldiers back in World War 1. Many companies today may be still using analogue radios as there is no legal requirement to change over to digital, but the additional benefits of a digital two way radio may be enough to sway you towards an upgrade or migration.

In comparison, a digital system can offer a variety of incentives that will help to improve efficiency and safety of your workforce. A wider coverage area allows for radios to be used freely over larger working environments, whilst also having clearer communications at these distances due to the digital voice. Multiple conversations can be had at once using these radios, this allowing for a second channel to be monitored by an entire team for important announcements or instructions.

Should you already have existing radios that are fully operational and not in need of being replaced, there are many radios that are both analogue and digital compatible allowing for a slow migration. With your new digital radios being programmed to have half analogue and half digital channels, this will allow for your old radios to continue in operation with the new ones up until the point where they are replaced, then allowing for the analogue channels to be replaced by further digital.

Here are a few radios and repeaters that may be used in order to help complete a digital migration, although your options may be limited based on the existing system that you have in place.

Kenwood TK-D240/340
The TK-D240/340 are the UHF and VHF versions of Kenwood’s leading two way radio. Available to be used with both analogue and digital signalling types, this radio is unique in the fact that it is capable of recieving both types to the same channel, something that is not a possibility with many other radios. DMR TDMA is a technology that allows several users to share the same frequency channel by dividing the signal into different time slots. The Kenwood TK-D240/340 has a 32 channel capacity, but also has a selectable 16 channels using the channel stopper feature. Built to MIL-STD-810 (C/D/E/F/G) this also aids to the radios reliability, noting that it has been tested in harsher working environments whilst maintaining the same level of operation.

Motorola DP1400
The DP1400 is one of Motorola’s most popular radios, a direct replacement for the CP040, the DP1400 is a mainstay in many workplaces due to its reliability and ruggedness. IP54 Ingres Protection means that the DP1400 is protected not only against dust intrusion but splashes of water, meaning that the radio is suitable for a variety of working conditions. 2 Programmable buttons allow for the radio to be personalised to the users’ needs, allowing for quick access to features that may be important within the workplace. 16 Programmable channels allow for sufficient communications between teams, allowing for a split between analogue and digital channels means that the radio is ideal for a migration system. The Motorola SLR5500 is a repeater that can be used to help complete n analogue to digital migration process.

Hytera PD405
The PD405 is a radio allowing for analogue to digital migration from Hytera. A robust and reliable radio, the PD405 is a simple communication solution that is easy to operate whilst being ideal for a variety of industries. Ideal for an analogue to digital migration, the PD405 is packed full of features to help improve both efficiency and safety of the workforce, features include an emergency mode and pre-programmed quick text messages. IP55 rating means that the radio has a limited Ingres protection against dust whilst also being safeguarded against splashes of water, this allows for the radio to be used in outside environments or conditions where the radios may be subjected to damp. A 32 channel capacity allows for the radio to be parted into analogue and digital channels, giving the PD405 to be used as part of a migration process from analogue to digital. The Hytera RD625 is a repeater that can be used to help complete an analogue to digital migration process.

More Information?
For more information about Radiotronics installed radio communications solutions, please contact our sales team by sending an email to sales@radiotronics.co.uk or telephone us on 0345 0 955 955. Currently our installation solutions are only available in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

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New Ofcom Frequency Spectrum Tools

Ofcom Logo

Ofcom has released a selection of new tools, presumably to replace the WTR tool that was removed last year.

Tool 1 – Spectrum Map

The spectrum map allows you to quickly, easily and visually see what part of the spectrum is used for what purpose. There’s also handy check boxes at the top to show and hide frequencies of interest.

Tool 2 – Frequency Allocation Table

Whilst this is not strictly a new tool, this tool works similar to the tool above. However the results are in table format.

Tool 3 – Spectrum Information System

This is the tool that presumably replaces the frustratingly removed WTR system. There are 4 sub-tools: Spectrum Overview, Application Detail, Licences and Licence Trades.

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Wheelabrator Technologies Chooses Hytera

Wheelabrator Technologies, a pioneer in clean energy generation from normal daily waste has chosen Hytera as it’s two way radio communications solution at it’s forthcoming facility in Kent.

Wheelabrator initially required a basic conventional two-way radio system that would give 4 individual talk channels and a small number of radios for Wheelabrator’s staff and colleagues to have instant communications whilst the facility is being built. Once the facility is built, the system is to be moved to the main building and expanded to a large number of radios with multiple talk channels, lone worker and many other features. This undoubtably means Hytera XPT is the ideal solution. Since Wheelabrator didn’t need the Hytera XPT features until the facility is fully built and the system is moved to the main building, it made sense to start with the basics, but keep expansion and upgrade in mind.

This meant that we two options. Option one was for Wheelabrator take a conventional system on a rental basis until the facility was built. Option two was to initially invest in XPT-compatible repeaters but leave the XPT licence investment until it was actually needed. Wheelabrator opted for the latter and decided to make the investment in the start of their system.

Since multiple voice channels would be needed in the final solution, we also recommended a Procom 2-channel antenna combiner which solved the issue of needing multiple antennas.

The amount of equipment required was starting to mount up, it was all housed in a nice and neat wall-mountable rack mount cabinet with a lockable door. One key is given to the client to ensure they have access to the cabinet for emergencies. The other key stays with us at Radiotronics H.Q. so that we will always have the spare if needed.

Here’s what the wall mount cabinet looks like:

Here’s the list of what’s in the cabinet. All of these items are available from stock, except the combiner which takes 3-6 weeks as it’s made to order.

Build Plan – Here’s The Technical Bit

Repeater & Power Supply

The Hytera RD985S repeater, which is the XPT-ready version (RD985-non-S is not XPT possible) does not not have an internal power supply. Therefore an external power supply is required. We opted for the Samlex SEC-2125G Power Supply as it supplies a constant regulated 20-25A of current. But in order to rack mount the PSU, the Single Unit 19″ Rackmount Kit was also required.

Repeater & Combiner

As one would expect the Hytera RD985S has both a N-type TX and RX connector on the back panel. That means that N-Type patch leads were required to connect all 4 sockets to the combiner. There’s a notable amount of loss in the combiner itself. In order to minimise further loss by insertion, we used LMR195 cable with 50 ohm tuned crimped N-Type connectors finished with heat-shrink.

Wall Mounting

Wheelabrator did not need the rack cabinet installing on the wall at it’s temporary initial location. However, wall brackets were provided as it did need wall mounting at it’s final destination once the facility was fully complete. Our rackmount cabinets come with a pair of wall brackets that can take up to 60Kg of weight inside the cabinet (provided the cabinet is fixed onto a solid brick wall using suitable anchor bolts).

Two-Way Radio Choice

Wheelabrator’s portable radio requirement was the capability of individual calls, lone worker. But most importantly, transmit interrupt, future XPT-compatibility and they must be lightweight. Only one radio fits the bill. The Hytera PD600 series is both lightweight and XPT-compatible.

There are three radios starting with the PD605 which is the non-display version. The PD605 can receive individual calls but making individual calls is challenging. So that leaves the PD665 and PD685. They’re the same radio with the PD685 having a complete telephone-style keypad. To easily make individual calls, as long as the radio has the recipient in the internal contact list, a full-keypad is not required. That means that the Hytera PD665 is the right fit.

A Note About Carry Cases

It was also important to note that, initially whilst the facility was being built, the site is a building site. In order to keep the radios in as good condition as possible, we recommended that the team at Wheelabrator used carry cases. This will ensure that the radios suffer minimal damage and will still be an a reasonably useable condition when the facility is complete.

If you use a carry case with your two way radio it can mean the difference between you radio lasting a couple of years to a decade or more.

More Information?

For more information about Radiotronics installed radio communications solutions, please contact our sales team by sending an email to sales@radiotronics.co.uk or telephone us on 0345 0 955 955. Currently our installation solutions are only available in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

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Beneficial Accessories

Chargers

Multi-Chargers are a highly recommended product by Radiotronics. Many variants are available, these including the readymade 6-way charger, or a rack mounted charger that allows for the user to expand their charging facilities alongside the addition of new radios. Multi-Chargers allow for all radios to be kept in a centralised location when not in use, this meaning that the potential loss of single chargers is removed whilst also minimizing the likelihood of losing a radio.

Something never before seen with a two way radio was the ability to wireless charge, this however was implemented when Hytera introduced the PD365. The new wireless charging feature will allow for the radio to be placed on charge and ejected easily, allowing for the fast access of the device should immediate contact need to be made.

Carrying Solutions

There are many different carrying options with two way radios, with the choice you make being heavily dependent on your working environment. Shoulder and wrist straps allow for a radio to be carried close to hand, allowing for fast use should it be needed, these methods of carrying also mean that the risk of dropping the radio and damaging it is removed. A strap is tightened around the body part that the user is carrying it by, meaning that should the radio be accidently dropped it will not come in contact with the floor minimizing the risk of fall damage.

Belt clips are the most common carrying solution of two way radios. Almost all radios supplied with one upon purchase, a belt clip attaches directly to the battery meaning that they are easy to attach and detach when necessary. Belt clips allow for the user to connect a radio to their person so that it is in reach at all times, with a quick release function often being implemented to allow the user to quickly detach the radios when needed.

Leather cases help to protect the radio from various aspects of damage. These cases are often connected via a belt clip, dependent on the style of case purchased this will either be connected to the case or a space will allow for one connected to the actual radio to be pulled through. A leather case will help to protect the radio from both dust intrusion and damage, helping to ensure the lifespan of the radio is protected.

Radiotronics can supply shipping cases to help with the transport and storage of your two way radio equipment. With two-layers the case has space for 6 radios and a multi-charger, custom cut foam helps to protect the contents of the case meaning that radios are protected against bumps and scrapes that may occur. The shipping case is an ideal investment should you need to transport your radios between locations or for storage when not in use, a central location will mean radios aren’t lost and also don’t suffer damage.

Earpieces

There are many different variants available when looking to purchase a headset. The earpiece style can be dependent on the noise levels of the environment you are in, with a covert earpiece allowing for operatives in loud facilities to hear any transmissions clearly.

The microphone style/placement is also a variant with the option of having an in-line microphone similar to that on a set of cellular mobile headphones, or a boom mic attached. VOX Voice activation is available with selected headsets, although not always used the most common users of voice activation as a function are retail and hospitality, the hands-free use allows for staff members to remain presentable at all times.

Remote Speaker Microphones

The use of remote speaker microphones is most commonly associated with the emergency services.  These can be used in a variety of different working situations, allowing for the user to use the radio without having to continuously unclip and clip the radio from their belt. Noise cancelling technology ensures that messages transmitted from the microphone are not disturbed by noisy environments, whilst these can also be paired with a separate compatible earpiece to receive incoming messages.

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Two Way Radio Anywhere

Push to talk over cellular is a technology that has been readily available for a number of years. Communicating using 3G and 4G networks allows for seamless interactions between the workforce, extending the reach potential over a considerable distance helping to improve the efficiency of a team.

A technology that has been available for years, PoC has become more prominent in 2018 due to the new hardware releases from major companies within the radio communications industry such as Motorola, Hytera and Icom. Businesses within traditional industries are starting to open up towards the possibilities of using cellular over the conventional systems, this due to the compatible radios functionalities alongside the often great value for money radios available.

If you check out the application store on your mobile device and search “push to talk” an amass of apps will appear, these all claiming that they offer a push to talk service between users. How they really work is by sending voice messages similar to that available on WhatsApp, meaning that the conversations aren’t consistent and free-flowing, yes allowing for a vocal communication over large distances, but not without breaks.

If you are looking to implement a push to talk cellular system within your workplace then there is a variety of radios for you to choose from. The Telo TE580 is the post popular of those we currently have in stock at Radiotronics tunning on an Android OS, this due to its compact size yet reliable connectivity. Supporting GSM, 3G and 4G/LTE capabilities the TE580 has a 2.4″ touch screen with partial keypad allowing for easy operation of the radio. The TE580 comes as standard with a 3600mAh Li-Ion battery giving it an extremely long usage period, the radio having been used in such industries as Transport, Leisure and Haulage. A price of just £275 ex. VAT* means that the radio is extremely affordable.

*Price Valid of 16/05/18

If you are looking for a high spec PoC radio then the Hytera PDC760 is your answer, but should you be looking for a simpler black box design these are also available. Inrico and Telo offer their own radios respectively that look like any normal radio that transmits over UHF and VHF frequencies, this allowing for simple operation with extended coverage at a low price.

Samsung has recently released a mobile phone that features a mappable button, this allowing for what appears to be a mobile phone to operate with a push to talk function. The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 is compatible with the Radiotronics two way radio anywhere system, meaning that in any location where you have a mobile connection the push to talk function is able to be used.

We at Radiotronics have helped many companies across a wide range of industries install their very own PoC system, from transportation to cross site construction projects there is no end of businesses that won’t benefit from such a system. For transportation or taxi companies who will often travel considerable distances, a push to talk over cellular system will allow for the driver to remain in consistent communication with a base station. Ideal for such situations as delays due to traffic, allowing for the company to be in contact with the recipient of the service to inform them of such delays, meaning that drivers of vehicles do not need to risk being caught using a mobile telephone device whilst driving.

Should you be looking at purchasing a radio communications system that uses LTE technologies you can find a wide range of radios on our website. We are able to supply and help you to understand the implementation of such a system, with our very own sim cards being available to purchase in quarter 3 of 2018. Should you wish to purchase radios, all devices shown on our website will work alongside the use of a sim card from leading mobile communications companies such as 3, EE and o2.

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