rough treatment or poorly packed?

Some days when boxes arrive from all over the country with radios for repair there will be one like this example. A slightly crushed, broken open package. The investigation begins! Questions arise: What’s inside? Is it damaged? Do we think anything is missing? Who does it belong to? Where’s the camera? The fact the radios inside were coming for repair anyway helps alleviate some of the problem. If it is broken, the technicians in the repair facility have a good chance of fixing it. (They are good that way!)

This package happen to have two mobile (vehicle install style) radios inside. Thankfully, it didn’t appear anything was missing or severely damaged. The customer’s paperwork was intact. The radios were checked in, repaired, and shipped back to the customer with in a few days. Yet this box can serve as a good example for those shipping radios in. Here are some points to ponder and suggestions:

  • Mobile radios and other heavy devices can be double boxed (a box within a box) or wrapped well with bubble wrap, to prevent them from banging together or shooting out the side of the box during rough shipping.
  • Use plenty of packing materials to make the box more rigid. Whether you use packing peanuts or bubble wrap, make the package tight. The contents have more of a chance of arriving at their destination intact. (You never know when an elephant might be sitting atop your box during shipping.)
  • Save money! Most carriers now charge by dimensional weight (height x width x length, divided by 1.66 = UPS dimensional wt.) instead of actual weight. To keep shipping costs down, use the smallest box possible, while still maintaining 1″ of packing around your cargo.
  • Remove extra labels when reusing shipping boxes to prevent the box from boomeranging back to you. The box in the example had both a label addressed to the Delmmar Radio Repair Center and a label from when someone else sent the box to our customer.
  • Expedite your repairs by enclosing a copy of the Radio Repair Form and/or a packing slip letting us know who is sending them and pertinent information needed to get the radios repaired and on their way home.

It’s our job, everyday, waiting and watching for those boxes of all shapes and sizes to come in the door. Send us your radios, we will fix them and get them back to you as quick as possible. Thanks!

~cl

I’ve been working on the railroad

well… maybe not all the live-long day, but often enough. The radio repair center works on many kinds of radios and electronic devices associated with 2-way communications. One of the larger and more interesting is the Motorola Spectra Clean Cab Railroad Radio. Large enough to require a handle like a suitcase, these radios were built rough and tough. Ham radio users and railroad enthusiasts have been scooping up the good used ones as they become available, as the larger railroads are replacing them with newer digital style radios. If you want to see one in action you can find one here on youtube. If you are looking for one to buy, check out this one for sale on ebay.

new, small and clever…

Forget the old brick shaped radios. Motorola has recently introduced the SL300 portable radio. Available in either UHF or VHF band splits, your choice of 2 or 99 channel models. This is a new digital/analog radio in the Mototrbo line of radios. It is ultra-slim being less than an inch thick, 4.95″H x 2.17″W x 0.87″D.  In a modern twist this radio features a shatterproof Active View display with LEDs which shine through the housing to give the user radio information. Motorola describes it this way: “Designed for easy and intuitive use, the SL300 has a side volume control, dedicated power button, prominent push-to-talk button, and top toggle channel switch to enable quick one-hand access. Channel “fast toggle” allows users to scroll through 10 channels at a time.” We think this cleverly designed radio is destined to be widely popular amount radio users who are looking for a small, discrete, lightweight radio which can be stowed in a pocket or purse.

~cl

have radio, will travel…

Charging radio batteries can become a problem when away from the office. We’ve seen clients improvise all kinds of devices to charge their radios when away from their home/office. Being this close to Halloween, we can tell you, several of these jury-rigged devices were downright scary! Today, we received good news from Motorola, they will be offering a new Travel Charger for the CP200d and PR400 family of radios.

While some models have had a travel charger available, the CP200 family of radios did not. The new PMLN7089 Travel Charger includes a single unit charging tray, mounting bracket, and cord w/cig. lighter adapter.

While we still suggest users only put their radio on the charger overnight (think of it as putting your radio to bed), there are still times where a charger in a vehicle would be very handy. This little device will take care of that need.

Happy Autumn!
~cl

wet 2-way radio rescue…

We’ve found a new innovative product available to assist in saving a wet 2-way radio or cell phone. It’s the EVAP Rescue Pouch. The manufacturer states it is ” 700% more effective at removing moisture than rice. EVAP contains a unique drying agent that safely removes the moisture from sensitive electronics preventing damage while restoring use — fast!” The kit consists of a specialized ziplock pouch with moisture indicator, 2 large packets of drying agent, and easy instructions. The price of $15-$22 each is less than we expected, considering most smartphone related items start at $29.99.

We received our first one in to look at and we were impressed. It comes sealed to keep moisture prior to use away from the special drying agent. The instructions are simple and concise. The bag is big enough for most modern 2-way radios or a cell phone. (Size:  5.196″W x 6.299″H) In the event your device is too large for the bag supplied you could still use the kit by putting your item in the pouch and then sealing it in a large ziplock bag. The handy moisture indicate on the bag will tell you when it is done in 6-24 hours.

Here at the radio repair facility we see radios coming in for repair daily which have liquid damage. The keep to repairability is getting the device dry and getting it shipped to us as soon as possible. With this new EVAP Rescue Pouch you could even ship it to us pouch and all. It could be drying out on the way here. Such a neat idea we wish we’d came up with it ourselves!
If you are interested in getting an EVAP-bag to have around in case of emergency, just give us a call, 800-872-2627.

~cl

radio vs cell phone, continued discussion…

We often are asked by friends, family and clients about the status of 2-way radio in a world where everyone seems to be carrying their own personal communications device, a cell phone. Here are some of our thoughts and thoughts of those in this industry concerning this subject.

Most people would admit they could not function without their smart phone, the computer attached to your hip. But in reality, as a communications device, a cell phone is still a device for making a phone call to another person. You dial a number, let it ring, wait for an answer, hope to talk to the person you are calling, possibly leaving a voice message. The process takes at least a minute of your time or more just to connect. And following this routine, you may end up having a conversation for several minutes.

When using a two-way radio you simply press the push-to-talk (PTT) button and instantly speak to your group (or one-to-one depending on your radio system). You can give a brief message or instruction, receive an immediate response and finish your task accordingly. The entire process typically takes a few seconds. It is fast and efficient, saving time and money. In the realm of public safety and businesses such as construction, it can save lives. In addition, radios are highly effective in high noise environments, built rugged for long-term use, offer an intuitive one-touch user interface, and feature a battery designed to do a full day’s work.

Nearly all business models of two-way radios are repairable and have replacement battery packs available. The life expectancy of a two-way radios is up to 10 years, with many exceeding this mark.  Computing the cost of purchasing a typical business 2-way radio (Motorola CP200d) over 10 years including replacement batteries every two years and 1-2 repairs, it would calculate to under $10/month to own/operate the radio. Much less than the overall cost of cellular for the same time period.

Cellular devices are generally speaking rather fragile. The majority are too lightweight for work environments. Battery packs are often non-replaceable.  If you talk to those in the cellular industry, you will find the life expectancy of a phone is about two years. At the 2-year mark, the cell carriers are ready to make a deal with you where you can get the next model “free” or inexpensively to keep you as a client. The industry is reliant upon the monthly fees we all pay. We’ll let you do the math on what a maintaining a cell phone will cost you over the course of 10 years.

Radio communication is instantaneous with the simple use of a PTT button. The person needing information  receives it quickly. Requests for assistance are heard by everyone monitoring the frequency. This is essential in many industries and especially in public safety. Radios designed for public safety can also have other features such as an emergency button or a mandown feature where the radio will notify dispatch of an officer who is no longer vertical. In construction when giving instructions to a crane operator PTT radio technology is the quickest form of communication.  Think about restaurant hostesses or retail clerks communicating with others on their team. This type of communication is done more efficiently using a radio versus a cell phone. It would be hard to imagine the public safety or business world without 2-way radios.

And up to now we haven’t mentioned the downside of using a cellular device instead of a radio, things such as surfing the web, playing games, making personal calls, just aren’t a problem when businesses use two-way radios for their onsite communications. So when choosing between using your smart phone and 2-way radios, you can see where the two devices differ both in features and overall long term cost. Both have their place where they can work to the best advantage. It’s up to you as a business person to choose your communications device wisely. ~cl

a humorous arrival…

at the radio repair center

You never know what might ride along to the radio repair facility with the two way radios. This week we opened up a box to find this rubber chicken (and a handful of other novelties) along with several Motorola MagOne BPR40 two-way radios for repair. And just in case you were wondering why a customer would have a rubber chicken… they are in the novelty business. They use radios aka push-to-talk (PTT) technology to communicate. From time-to-time them and another West Coast client will send us a little surprise in the box. We’ve received plastic spiders, switchblade combs, stickers, magnets, finger puppets, and an ostrich puppet, just to name a few. It definitely adds a little humor to the day and a smile to everyone’s face.

The novelty company’s handy little BPR40 radios have been repaired and are on their way back across the country to California. We kept the chicken.  He has found a temporary home in a drawer at the radio check-in desk. I’m sure we’ll come up with a humorous use for the plucked fellow. According to Wikipedia: A rubber chicken was customarily kept behind Johnny Carson’s desk on NBC’s The Tonight Show as a comedic talisman, as it was believed that “A rubber chicken always gets a laugh.”

It definitely got a laugh here. (Thank you Scott.)

~cl

early indications of Spring…

Our customers in the Nursery and Greenhouse business are starting to prepare for Spring. Radios which had been set aside from last season are beginning to arrive at the radio repair center to be tuned up and repaired for the busy season ahead.

Many in the growing industry use push-to-talk radio technology instead of cellular for on-site communications. A variety of reasons include: two-way radios are dedicated primarily to voice capabilities, which support immediate person-to-person and group communications; and while smart phones provide many features and Apps, it is the simplicity of two-way radio that makes it attractive for situations where simple communication is important. Simply push the button and talk! It’s easy with no learning curve, or games and Apps to get distracted.

Two-way radios are designed to be rugged, and take the punishment of a 40-hour work week. Nearly all models are repairable and have user replaceable batteries. This is why many nursery and greenhouse owners rely on basic push-to-talk technology to save the steps of many workers while providing communication throughout their facilities. One of our growers explained one increased productivity benefit this way, “You don’t have to worry about an employee calling or texting his girlfriend on his radio… unless she is an employee too.”  Guess that can be listed as another side benefit of 2-way.

So this is your reminder to check your radios over before the busy season and get them in for repair if needed. Also, now would be a great time to replace batteries during the Bulk Battery Deal. If you order at eradiostore.com during February 2014 use the discount code ITSNEW at check-out to get a nice discount.

~cl

crispy Motorola CP100

Just take a look at this CP100 radio that arrived at our repair center. Definitely crispy! No explanation as to how this one became so melted… just a note with the customer’s info in the box. Sometimes this is just how it happens… a radio randomly arrives in a dirt little brown box without a repair form, just a business card tucked inside.

This box arrived at the Radio Repair Center and was opened to discover this melted CP100 radio. The radio check-in person probably thought the radio was a lost cause. But upon examination by one of our electronics technicians, surprisingly the component board was not in too bad of shape following the meltdown of the external housing. Our miracle working technician was able to replace the front and back housing along with a few other key components to get this radio back to factory spec.

We are often amazed by our techs who seem to defy odds and get seemingly hopeless radios back to good working condition. We have to be honest here, not all crispy radios can be repaired. However, just when you think all is lost… your radio may indeed be repairable. We just wish we could have been on the other end and see the face of the radio owner when they opened their box from the repair center.  ~cl

2020 note: Repair parts are no longer available. Batteries and some accessories are still being offered.

superglue + radio = no

Glue damaged radio arriving at the repair facility.

Glue damaged radio arriving at the repair facility.

Sometimes a well meaning radio user will use a superglue like adhesive to glue items to their radio, or even attempt to fix an internal component. As nice as we can, we’d like to say… please do not do this. Why? you might ask… When a radio comes in for repair the electronics technician repairing the radio utilizes the radio’s accessory jack to connect his test equipment. If glue has been used to attach the remote mic or other audio device to the accessory jack then the two must be broken apart. This generally causes damage to both devices. This can be an unnecessary expense to the customer. As you can see in the picture both the radio housing and the accessory’s plug were damaged getting the two apart.

On the CP200 style radio a simple solution is to use an audio accessory retainer. This is a device that screws onto the side of the radio to hold the plug in place. On HT750 and other HT Pro Series radios this screw on device is built into the accessories. On many other radio models which do not have this feature the accessory’s plug should fit tightly enough in the jack to keep the plug in place. (If not your radio likely needs a new jack.)

Internally you should never use glue or solvents on the component board of the radio. Superglue-like adhesives are an explosive/fire danger to a technician with a soldering iron. When touched with a hot iron components can actually be blown off the board causing a danger to the eyes, face and hands of the repair technician. Our techs are trained to watch for these types of substances, however, with the substance being clear it is sometimes hard to detect. So please keep this in mind the next time you or a well-intentioned employee thinks to glue something to a radio. Just say no! It will save you an unnecessary expense during your radio repair.

~cl