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Everything You Should Know About Walkie Talkies - Best Use Case Scenario

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Communication in an emergency is key to survival but can be challenging when you're out camping with friends or family. Having a walkie-talkie makes it easier for you and your party members to communicate, even if you're not close by.

The latest walkie-talkies are smaller, lighter, and more affordable than ever before. They also come with improved range capabilities, which are perfect for the next adventure.

So, if you plan to go on a trip or want the best walkie-talkies for your needs, we highly recommend getting one. Here's everything that you should consider before purchasing one of these devices.

Owning a Walkie Talkie

Two-way handheld radios can go anywhere, anytime. They do not need cell service or wifi to work. These models also don't require a federal license, so you'll be up and running as fast as your battery charges. In addition, they can send emergency messages from any location, no matter what kind of terrain you are currently on.

You'll be able to communicate with your family and friends no matter what kind of problem life throws at you. Of course, FRS walkie-talkies aren't as powerful, but they have much better sound quality than the CB radios truckers use, and it's nice to have a radio that doesn't require registration from the federal government.

How Walkie Talkie Works?

walkie talkie

Walkie-talkies are portable communication devices that allow you to communicate from two different areas without being too far apart. They work by converting your voice's sound into radio waves that travel at the speed of light or 186000 miles per second to be precise and get converted back from electromagnetic energy to sound.

A half-duplex system is designed to allow only one signal on a particular channel to be active. As a result, you can't send and receive messages back-to-back, so you either listen or talk. It's different from the cell phone's full-duplex functionality, where data is transmitted in two directions simultaneously and without interruption from other conversations during speaking moments.

To speak into a walkie-talkie, you need to press a button called PTT (push-to-talk), and as long as your finger remains on that button, you won't be able to receive reception from other units. However, as you let go of the button, another unit tuned into your channel can send any message they want.

Most walkie-talkies operate from frequencies of 27 MHz to 400-500 MHz. These are called ultra-high frequencies (UHF), which means they're beyond the range we can hear with our human ears. Still, fortunately, these devices have been designed to overcome this obstacle by boosting their signals, so even if you're on top of a mountain, there will still be some communication between two people using a walkie-talkie.

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FRS Walkie Talkie - Low Range Radio

walkie talkie kids

The Family Radio Service (FRS) is a great way to communicate with family and friends without expensive licenses. It falls under the unlicensed category so you can use it as long as there's enough room for your device in terms of ERP allowance, which is up to 2 watts maximum power requirement. In general performance terms, this means that range will be at most about 1.2 miles away.

GMRS Walkie Talkie - Long Range and Licence 

The General Mobile Radio Service, or GMRS for short, requires a license to operate. However, this increases your ERP up to 50 watts compared with the FRS licenses and allows you to use external antennas and repeaters, which are great features. In addition, with the GMRS device, you can communicate over greater distances.

If you need a walkie-talkie that can cover more than 1.2 miles, consider getting a GMRS device. These are much better for large groups and offer clearer reception due to their higher power output level.

Where Are Walkie-Talkies Used?

walkie talkie construction worker

You can use walkie-talkies in any environment where communication is needed quickly and efficiently.

Emergency services, security industries, and military organizations are among the most popular places where walkie-talkies are used. They're also frequently seen with construction workers who need to communicate quickly from site to site or when they're on an overnight shift.

Models of Walkie Talkies

Walkie-talkies have been popular for years, but it's hard to know which one is best for a particular purpose. Many walkie-talkies are available to consumers today, and buyers often face this question: What one do I buy?

To get the most out of your walkie-talkies, you must know which type will work best. For families with children or other members who might be in contact with these devices, choose Family Radio Service (FRS) over General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS).

FRS is a lower-cost alternative to other types of radio systems. In addition, they have no licensing requirements and only 500 milliwatts of output power, which is legal in most countries worldwide.

GMRS radios are a more expensive and complex option than FRS. They come with 15 channels, but only if you have the necessary licensing from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).

Top Features When Choosing Walkie Talkie

walkie talkie types

Long-Range Coverage

Radio transmitters come in different ranges. The coverage increases as the power goes up, so 2-watt radios can reach 8 miles while 4-watt models will go up to 30.

Waterproof Design

One of the best investments you can make is a waterproof two-way radio . They are ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, mountain climbers, and campers who need reliable communication in harsh conditions or dangerous adventures. These durable products outmatch mobile phones' reception quality, so it's no wonder why they're so popular.

Range and Clarity Of Signal

The two most important considerations for the range are how far your messages can be transmitted and whether they're being received. Manufacturers offer an estimated number for their devices under ideal conditions with a direct line of sight, which is often not a real-life scenario.

A walkie-talkie advertised with a range of 8 miles may only communicate 3 - 4 miles.

Depending on what you need them for, consider choosing one that has a more extensive working distance between two-way radio communications devices.

Weight

walkie talkie work

The weight of your walkie-talkies is essential if you're planning on taking them out for a long trip. Top models range from 6 to 8 ounces, with heavier ones typically being better quality and more expensive than their lighter counterparts (which cost less).

Bonus Features

Some radios also come with privacy codes and noise-canceling features. For those going hunting, then a radio that has vibration could be the best choice because it will keep them safe in case they feel threatened or endangered during their adventure outdoors.

A radio with a keypad lock is the best way to ensure you don't press any buttons by mistake.

Other essential features include:

  • Incoming Alerts - You get alerted when there's an incoming transmission.
  • Channel Saver - If you find yourself with stations that are constantly cycling through, this feature can help. The channel saver option lets users save specific channels, so they don't have to keep switching back and forth.
  • Backlit LCD screen and keypad to easily see and use the radio in dark and low light situations.
  • Audio Jack is the perfect choice for a microphone or speaker. It can deliver clear sound and let you control your device hands-free.
  • Talk Confirmation - The signals that let you know when it's safe to start and finish transmissions, so your messages won't go unnoticed.
  • The weather radio is a great feature to have in case of an emergency. 
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Battery Life and Duration

walkie talkie battery

It's important to keep in mind that, on average, most two-way radio batteries will last around 18-24 months before you have to replace them. It all depends on the quality of your battery and how you use it. With typical usage, a fully charged battery will last around a day.

Solving Common Problems Of Walkie Talkie

Coverage Lose

When your battery is running low or dead, you might find yourself without coverage. Make sure it's fully charged so this doesn't happen. Also, be proactive about getting new batteries in 12/18 months. Poorly-charged ones can cause other problems like continuous radio beeping and poor performance.

Background Noise

The problem with too much background noise is that you can't hear a conversation properly. Consider using walkie-talkies with noise-canceling abilities.

Privacy

You might be thinking two-way radios are the most discreet form of communication, but they're not. Others can hear your conversation. So instead, start using an earpiece for privacy.

Static

If the static disrupts your transmission, it could be a result of dirty antenna contacts. Clean them to get rid of any excess buildup and improve performance on both ends.

Important Tags and Terms For Walkie-Talkie

gmrs walkie talkie

FCC

If you're a citizen of the US, it's necessary by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to register your two-way radio when using GMRS frequencies. However, there may be other applicable regulations depending on where in North America you'll use them or what country those signals will travel into when reaching their destination(s).

GMRS

The GMRS system is a licensed, over-the-air communications network that can transmit up to 50 watts of power. Operators must have their license, and it costs $70 for an entire ten-year term which covers all immediate family members.

FRS

Family Radio Service is an FCC-defined set of channels that can be shared with GMRS but does not require a license. These frequencies are 462 and 467 Mhz.

MURS

The Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) is a group of frequencies with the FCC designated for non-licensed use, much like how CB radio operates.

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PMR446

European users can benefit from the use of PMR to improve their communication. With 16 channels available, 446MHz covers all areas in which people might need coverage, and it has an output tone that remains professional at all times. However, it is equivalent to FRS. The frequencies aren't the same, which is why you'll rarely find a model number that's identical between America and Europe from big-name manufacturers like Motorola.

Written by Carl Browning

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