Communications Connection

A Beginner's Guide to Two-Way Radio

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Fri, Jan 8, 2016 @ 16:01 PM

For years you've been seeing two-way radios everywhere you've gone.  The usher in the movie theater was using them, the engineer at the hotel you stayed at, the security guard in the casino, the front desk supervisor at the office building, even the football coach in the game you were just watching, now it's your turn at your job.  Your organization has decided to make the jump from cellular to two-way radios and it's your responsibility to set up the communications but you don't have the slightest idea as to what would be best. 

This is Part 1 of our beginner's guide to navigating the world of two-way radio communications.  In it we will address how to choose the right two-way for you and your organization.  Part 2 will cover the actual usage and operation of a two-way radioExpressions-16.jpg


When deciding on the appropriate two-way radio there are some questions you need to ask.

  1. Mobile vs. Portable - How are you planning on using the radios?  Mobile radios are units that are installed in a vehicle like what a bus driver would use.  Portable radios are your "typical walkie-talkie" - units that can be carried around.
  2. UHF vs. VHF - UHF ("Ultra High Frequency") 403-512 MHz is used primarily for indoor applications where there may be some obstacles.  VHF ("Very High Frequency") 136-174 MHz is better suited for outdoor applications without much interference.
  3. Number of Users/Number of Channels - The number of people using your radios system should be considered when thinking about how many channels you would need.  Also consider if you need private channels for management, security, emergency etc.
  4. Number of Locations - How many locations will be using the radio system?  Multiple locations can be linked allowing you to communicate from one location to another or you can have radios for a particular building only.
  5. Features - In an utopian world, what features would you like on your two-way radio?  Do you need a "man down" alert?  Would you like to be able to text message?  Do you need a display that will show names?  Depending on the unit chosen, those features are a few of the options available.
  6. Ruggedness - Do you require intrinsically safe units?  Are your radios going to primarily be used by executives or do you need a more rugged unit for the maintenance workers?
  7. Budget - The pricing of two-way radios range depending on the units and features.  It's a good idea to have a budget in mind when you start talking to a sales rep about your wish list.  Put together a list of what is an absolute must and also what you would like if possible.


Don't be overwhelmed with the options available.  Start by asking yourself the questions above.  Below is a link to a radio selection guide that should also help you see what options are out there.  Call your local radio dealer and they will help guide you through the process.  Once you have your radios up and working you'll wonder why you waited so long to switch.

Radio Selection Tool

 

Topics: motorola, MotoTRBO, two way radio

11 Savvy Ways To Spend Your Left-Over Communications Budget Money

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 @ 11:11 AM

With the end of the calendar year quickly approaching, many of you are looking at your two-way radio budget and realizing you will have money left to spend.  You want to spend it so you don't lose it, but you also want to be smart about what you purchase.  Here are 11 ideas on ways to spend that left-over budget money.


1. Preventative Maintenance - Check it before you wreck it.  Call your local radio repair shop and set up a preventative maintenance check.  If you have a backbone system, a technician can come in and complete a tune up to make sure all of your equipment is running efficiently and is not in need of being replaced.  You can also have your portables checked.  Are they tuned and aligned properly?  Are they programmed correctly?  How are your batteries, antennas and belt clips?

2. New Batteries - How old are your batteries?  The average battery life is 12-18 months, depending on usage.  Old and under performing batteries can effect the operation of your radio.  Another good idea is to have spare batteries for your radios, especially if they are being used on long and/or multiple shifts.

3. Spare Radios - In addition to having spare batteries, it is also a wise decision to have spare radios on hand.  These can be programmed and ready to go in case one needs repair or an employee misplaces their radio.  This would help to prevent communication down-time and helps to keep you efficiency to the level you are used to.

4. Multi-Unit Chargers - Do you have six plugs running into a power strip charging your radios?  Have you thought about multi-unit chargers?  These would allow you to charge up to six batteries at one times, from one device.  This will help you keep your spare batteries charged as well as create a centralized charging location.

2661016046_6eb98c67d9_z.jpg5. Antennas - The antenna on your two-way radio can take a beating.  Have you looked at them lately?  If you can see the damage it should be replaced (bent, cracked, split etc.)

6. Earpieces - Earpieces are a great way to keep your two-way radios from being intrusive to your environment.  They allow your people to have conversations without everyone else hearing them.  If you don't have any, you may want to consider some.  With the different varieties available, such as Bluetooth or "secret service style" surveillance kits, you will have your choice of what will work best for your organization.  If you already have them, make sure to check your ear buds and acoustic tubes.  These can get grotty over time and are easy to replace.

7. Cases - Your employees are carrying their radios around with them all day.  They get banged, bumped and scratched.  Investing in cases will help to keep down the physical wear and tear on the units.

8. Battery Fleet Management - Motorola Solutions has an IMPRES Battery Fleet Management system.  This works with IMPRES batteries and allows you to monitor battery usage and make an informed decision when it comes to replacing your batteries.

9. Digital Conversions - There are many benefits of converting from analog to digital.  We have covered this in previous blog posts (/bid/106819/6-Things-About-Digital-Two-Way-Radios-Your-Boss-Wants-To-Know and/bid/38413/Digital-Two-Way-Radios-The-Future-of-Professional-Radios  so why not start now?  You can do a slow conversion of your fleet or do it all at once, whatever works best for your organization.

10. Maintenance Contracts - No one lies getting repair bills they did not anticipate.  Consider purchasing a maintenance contract to help prevent this.  Having a contract will allow you to budget for your repairs and increase your peace of mind.

11. Radio Repair Bank - Having a radio repair bank is an alternative to a maintenance contract.  This works on a debit basis where you pre-pay for repairs allowing you to utilize budget money now, and as your radios need repairs or preventative maintenance checks, the amount gets deducted from that bank.

 


These are just a few ways to use that left-over budget money.  Your local sales rep can help you decided what works best for your company.  Don't let that budget money go to waste, contact them today.

Request a Communications Consultation

 



 *Photo Courtesy of Jason Rogers

Topics: motorola, service, two way radio, charging, batteries, preventative maintenance

6 Things About Digital Two-Way Radios Your Boss Wants To Know

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 @ 09:04 AM

You've done your research, you're convinced your company needs to upgrade to digital radios, now your obstacle is to convince your boss.  How do you explain to them the benefits of using digital radios.  Here are 6 things that they want to and need to know about converting to digital.

1- You do not have to convert all of your radios at once (but you can) - Many digital radio models also function in analog mode.  What this means is you can slowly replace radios as the need arises and have the radios programmed in analog mode.  Once all of your radios are purchased and you're ready to flip over to digital all it takes is reprogramming the radios.  If you want to purchase all of the radios at one time but financing is an issue, inquire about leasing options.

2- Long term costs will be reduced - Digital radios and analog radios use about the same amount of power in stand by mode however once you begin transmitting and receiving, digital radios are much more energy efficient.  On average their battery life is increased 40% over analog.  This leads to long term savings since you won't have to replace your batteries as often.

3- Better Voice Quality - When you transmit using an analog radio every sound, every background noise is transmitted.  When you transmit using a digital radio voice clarity is exceptional.  The noise suppression technology allows the transmittal to come through without the background interference.  Watch this quick demonstration to see (and hear) what I mean.

4- Better Coverage - Depending on your environment and your frequency band, your radios only cover so much area.  When you use an analog radio, the closer to the end of your coverage area you are, the weaker your quality is - think similiar to a cell phone in a poor signal area.  While your coverage area with a digital radio will be about the same as your analog, the sound quality will not.  The features of the digital software, the built-in error correction, will allow you to communicate clearly throughout your entire coverage area.

5- Better Capacity - Spectrum efficiency has been a hot button issue lately.  The FCC required commercial two-way radios to be narrowbanded which means operating on 12.5 kHz instead of the previous 25 kHz.  Digital repeaters allow for two talk paths - in essence two "channels" while only using one repeater with one channel.  This not only allows you to have more users but also less equipment and less licensing which decreases your costs.

6- You Can Connect Multiple Locations - In the past, in order for your multiple locations to be able to communicate with each other, you would have had to install a very complicated, very complex, and very expensive system.  Now you have the ability to link your locations using IP Site Connect.  What this means, simply put, you put a digital repeater at each location and then connect them over IP.  Think of the possibilities.  Your maintenance workers in your lower Manhattan  facility talking to the security officers in your Jersey City location.  Your boss will think you are brilliant!

Take these points to your boss.  Explain how you will increase quality while decreasing long-term spending. Digital Radios are the future, make sure your company is on board. Go ahead and take credit for figuring it all out - we won't tell.

 Request a Communications Consultation

Topics: motorola, MotoTRBO, two way radio, digital radio, video

Introducing Motorola's Latest Addition - the NEW SL300 Two-Way Radio

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

Motorola SL300Motorola Solutions, Inc. has recently announced an addition to their ever growing MOTOTRBO portfolio, the new SL300 portable radio.

This innovative radio measures less than an inch thick and can easily be carried in a pocket or purse.  It's ergonomic design allows one-handed operation, similar to that of a cell phone.  It has a shatterproof Active View display that uses a matrix of LED lights behind the radio housing to communicate radio information and shuts off when not in use to conserve battery life.  It is both analog and digital capable which allows you to get all the benefits of digital, including better voice quality, better range and better battery life—but retain compatibility with your existing radio fleet. With analog and digital capability, you have the freedom to migrate to the latest technology at your own pace.  This is the perfect radio for retail, hospitality and education (just to name a few). 

Contact Us for more information or to see a live demo of this great new radio

Motorola SL300 Spec Sheet

Watch this video to learn more about the Motorola SL300 two way radio

Topics: motorola, MotoTRBO, SL series, two way radio, new product, 2 way radio, hospitality, digital radio

Two-Way Radio Solutions for Education

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 @ 14:08 PM

 

The end of summer is rapidly approaching.  For children this mean no more beach days or running for hours in the neighborhood, for parents this means daytime quiet and order restored to the house but for school administrators this means a whole new school year with a whole new set of efficiency and budget issues.

With the economy being what it is and budgets being slashed year after year, it becomes a task of how to do more with less for less.  Investing in the proper equipment can help with this.  I'm sure by now you have heard about the mandatory F.C.C. Narrowbanding (if you haven't, read more about it here).  One way to accomplish the conversion and streamline your operations in one felt swoop is to upgrade your equipment. 

Wouldn't it be a dream to be able to communicate throughout your district, connect to your school buses and keep your students safer in the classroom while reducing operational costs?  Well it isn't a dream.  You can make it a reality.  The Motorola MotoTRBO portfolio can help you and your organization achieve this dream.  To learn more about MotoTRBO and it's impact on Education, check out this education application brief "MotoTRBO: Score High Marks for Schoolwide Safety". (to download the brief click here)

You will learn:

  • How to locate your staff, students and buses instantly
  • Prioritize communication immediately
  • Manage employee attendance and payroll automatically
  • Respond remotely with tracking applications
  • Connect your campus completely
  • Reduce operational costs
  • Communicate without disturbing others

Many districts have already deployed the MotoTRBO solution.  To read about how one district did this click here.

Topics: education, motorola, MotoTRBO, two way radio

It's a Boy, no wait it's a Girl...no it's a TRBO!

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 @ 14:01 PM

Motorola has recently announced their newest aXPR6100ddition to the MotoTRBO family, the XPR6100.  This is an entry level MotoTRBO digital radio with crystal clear audio, digital performance and efficiency and a great price.  It is voice centric and backwards compatibile with your traditional analog radios. This 32 channel portable radio is available in UHF anf VHF frequency bands and comes standard with an IMPRES Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery. 

For more information on the Motorola XPR6100 click here

To learn more about the MotoTRBO product family visit http://www.telecomny.com/mototrbo/why_digital.htm

 

 

Topics: motorola, MotoTRBO, two way radio, new product

Optimizing Two-Way Radio Battery Usage to Save Money and Time

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Mon, Oct 10, 2011 @ 14:10 PM

This post is written in conjunction with Sean Sweeney, Public Safety Communication Specialist for Telecom Communications, Inc.

October is Fire Prevention Month, and a time of year when fire departments visit schools to talk about fire safety, smoke detectors and what to do in the event of a fire in the home.  One item that is addressed is changing the batteries in your smoke detector.  However, what about the batteries firefighters, EMS and Law Enforcement use?  We need to change those from time to time, but we often forget.  Batteries go bad, get abused, bounced around and when we think they have been recharged for the last time, we discard and purchase new ones.  This doesn't have to be the case.  You have options.  Depending on the type of battery being used (impres vs. non-impres) you can either opt for a Battery Fleet Management System or a Battery Maintenance System (BMS).  To learn more about impres technology click here.

IMPRES Battery Fleet ManagementBattery Fleet Management

The IMPRES Battery Fleet Management system is transparent and allows your organization to manage hundreds or thousands of radio batteries and chargers wherever they may be located.  It automatically and remotely retrives key battery data from any compatible IMPRES charger each time an IMPRES battery is inserted into the IMPRES charger.  The information is collected and you choose whether you want to view predefined or user-customized reports.  This will allow you to see a database of active batteries, purchase reports for batteries, lost battery report and more to keep communications reliable and productive.  For more information on the IMPRES Fleet Management system, download this application brief.

Battery Maintenance System (BMS)

The Motorola Battery Maintenance System will analyze your battery (up to 6 at a time) and recondition them.  Using interchangeable battery adapters (sold separately), the BMS Plus is capable of charging and discharging, analyzing, conditioning and cycle test on batteries.  At the end, you will be able to see whether you need a new battery or if you can get more use out of them.  This helps prevent you from discarding a battery that might last you for a few more months or even a year. 

Batteries are not cheap, and wouldn't it be nice to have a little extra cushion in your budget when funds are not always available?  By using one of the above systems and optimizing your batteries, you not only save money on replacing batteries that didn't need to be replaced, you also can budget for the replacement when they finally do give out.

 

fall battery special title for web resized 600

Topics: motorola, two way radios, charging, batteries

Are Your Communications Prepared For An Emergency: 6 Questions to Ask

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 @ 10:08 AM

This post is written by Sean Sweeney, Public Safety Communication Specialist for Telecom Communications, Inc.

First an earthquake and now a major hurricane in the Atlantic?  Are your communications prepared?  Redundant communications are a key component of emergency preparedness and without it you could find yourself using smoke signals to communicate.  This is important not only for public safety entities but also any organization dependent on communications for the safety and functionality of their employees.  However for purposes of this blog, we will be concentrating on Public Safety in this discussion.emergency storm response

Here is a list of the "Top 6 Questions" you should ask yourself so that you are prepared if the lights go out.

1- Do you have redundant communications?

Do you have radios that do not rely on repeater systems?  If so, great.  They may only work in smaller areas, but it's better than nothing. Operating in direct mode, or Simplex, is an easy way to maintain communications during a power outage without a repeater.

2- Is your radio room on generator power?

If you aren't sure, it probably isn't.  Your main base station needs to be on redundant power to maintain continuity of communications

3- Are your repeaters on battery back-up?

If you lose power, you lose your repeater system.  If it isn't on an auxiliary power system, it should be.  Even if the system is on power back-up, most repeaters go into "fail-safe" mode when a surge is detected.  Do you know how to properly reset your repeater?

4 - Do you know how long your back-up will last if the power is out for days?

Auxiliary power systems are only designed to last a few hours, 18 hours in most cases.  What is your plan if the power is out longer than this?

5- Do you have lightning protection for your antenna systems?

Most people forget about their antennas when planning on protecting their communications.  A lightning strike to the antenna system can wipe out your communications.  To  minimize the risk and damage, you should have the proper protection, such as lightning arrestors and grounding, in place for this.

6 - Does your Mutual Aid have the ability to activate you and vice versa?

If you go down, who will activate your pagers and handle radio transmissions?  Having a mutual aid agreement in place with surrounding departments and your county control points is an excellent way to ensure your communications continue.

These are not questions you should be asking yourself right now with the storm brewing, but if you haven't been thinking of these things, Telecom can help.  We have a staff of qualified engineers who can evaluate your system and get you these answers.  Arm yourself with Uninterrupted Power Supplies and redundant power supplies that transition seamlessly into your current system. 

Be prepared because the public safety is our number one priority.

To set up an appointment to analyze your communication system preparedness click here Click me

*Telecom Communications is a full-line Motorola dealer and most of the equipment mentioned above is available via the state or county contract

Photos used under creative commons from taigasylvan

Topics: motorola, two way radio, fire depatments, emergency preparedness

What is MotoTRBO?

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 @ 14:07 PM

You've heard me talking about digital two-way radios and MotoTRBO and you are probably wondering what exactly they are.  The MotoTRBO two-way radio is Motorola's digital platform radio.  I have touched on digital radios and the future of two-way radios in a previous post (read the blog here). 

Motorola has created a series of 16 videos about their MotoTRBO radios explaining what they are and how they can help different vertical markets/industries and, as I promised in my previous post about MotoTRBO reaching 1 million users  I will be posting them here over the next few weeks so stay tuned, there's more to come.

The first video by John Jaderholm of the Motorola Solutions Systems Team talks about "What is MotoTRBO?" So, without further ado, here we go.

Topics: motorola, MotoTRBO, 2 way radio, digital radio, video

Motorola MotoTRBO reaches 1 million strong

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Fri, Jul 15, 2011 @ 15:07 PM

Motorola has announced that they have reached 1,000,000 (1 million!) MotoTRBO subscribers.  That shows the versatility and popularity of these two-way radios.  Between the digital capability, text messaging and various apps available there is a fit for virtually everyone. 

Stay tuned because over the course of the next few weeks we will be posting some videos Motorola has created to show how MotoTRBO radios work and how they can be used in different industries such as retail and transportation just to name a few.

Have you tried the Motorola MotoTRBO radios yet?  What are your thoughts on them?  How have you implemented them into your organization?  Let us know in the comments below.

Topics: motorola, MotoTRBO, two way radios, video