Wrong number

Not a 2-way radio

Are you going to call?

Several times a day the same scenerio plays out in offices across the United States, and ours is no exception. The call either starts out with a long silence, or may it is someone saying “this isn’t the bank?”. We politely say “No, this isn’t the bank, their number ends in 57, you’ve dialed 27”. If the caller is insistent they have dialed the correct number (like we’ve answered the wrong phone), we go on to tell them “you’ve reached a two-way radio shop in Missouri”. At this point they usually hang up in disbelief, sometimes just to call us again. Other callers wanting to reach an Aircraft Owners Pilots Association transpose numbers and reach us. Guess there are some dyslexic pilots out there. During the 2006 Olympics people wanting information about the US Bobsled team were calling us by dialing 800-USA-BOBS incorrectly.

What makes us most happy is to find you, a radio user on the other end of the phone line! We are here Monday-Friday waiting on the other end of the phone line to help you with your radio needs. Give us a call. 800-872-2627.

Who calls your office? Are you a wrong number? Have a funny story? Tell us!

Poorly charging battery

It’s a common phone call, “my battery won’t hold a charge” or “my battery won’t take a charge”. One fast and easy tip: Clean your battery contacts, both on the radio and charger, with a pencil eraser. This will clean off the day to day grime and film, allowing your radio to make better contact with the charger. Refrain from using any alcohol or cleaners, which may cause a film to develop.

If you are still having difficulties, check your battery’s age. There should be an easy to read date code on the label. For Motorola brand batteries this will consist of a 3- or 4-digit number.  On the 3-digit date code the first number represents the year and the next two numbers are the week of the year of manufacture. On the 4-digit codes the first two numbers are the year, followed by the week of the year. Example: 0912 would be 2009, the 12th week.

Battery life depends on the chemistry and how you treat it. A typical NiCD battery will last 18-24 months before needing replaced. (NiMH 14-18 months, Li-Ion 12-14 months) If you have conditioning chargers you can typically get an additional year out of most batteries. Charging your battery only when it is nearly depleted is a good habit. Users who only put their radio on the charger once a day have better results. Placing your radio on a charge periodically throughout the day will age your battery quickly.

The technicians in the repair department will tell you many radio repairs could be avoided if the radio user would simply have replaced the battery when it was needed. Once the radio is allowed to operate with a bad battery for a while, soon that radio is needing repair. Why? The radio may have components damaged by a shorted out battery, the radio may operate in a brown-out of sorts slowly damaging components, or corrosion from the battery may eat at the charge contacts internally and eventual cause charging and power problems.

What are the signs of a bad battery, aside from checking the date code? You may experience problems with static and intermittent transmit, along with the battery not going a full day on a charge. Simple test to see if it is your battery or the radio having the problem, try a known good battery from another radio. If this clears up the problem, you need to replace your battery.

Motorola batteries have a one year warranty. If you have a battery less than one year old which is having problems. Send it to us, along with a note, and we will run the battery on the reconditioner/analyzer. If it tests bad, we will replace it under warranty.

Hope these tips help. Let us know if you have questions.

What’s new in 2-way?

Here are a few brief comments about “what’s new”:

  • MotoTrbo radios: the beginning of the digital narrowband radios (using TDMA technology). This radio offers a stepping stone to becoming fully digital. It can be programmed to match your existing units, then later when you are ready to make the digital change it can be reprogrammed for digital.  As with any new technology, they are a little pricey at $843-$960 (retail) for the basic model. We look for this type of radio to become more common and more affordable in the future.
  • CP200 now has a new cousin, the CP200-XLS. It comes with an 8-character alpha-numeric display, and can be ordered with a full or limited keypad. Pricing on the limited keypad model is the same as the regular 16 channel CP200 pricing. Same construction-grade durability as the CP200. (This one is so new, we don’t have the photos up on the website yet.)
  • CP110, not necessarily “new”, but still new to many, is capable of being 20% louder than the CP100 and is more water resistant too.  Sadly, the replacement battery is higher priced than most (probably due to being more of a sealed unit). When adding to a fleet of CP100s you’d have to consider either the CP110 or the more powerful BPR40 as a replacement radio. They are priced about the same as one another, around $189-$199.

There’s a lot of talk about digital everything these days. Radios are slowly starting to follow suit. For now, your current type of radio is still the most efficient and economical route to go.

Pam’s radio…

I am a Fairy Princess! I’ll bet that sounds funny coming from a 2-way radio, but I am sure that I am. I know this because of the beautiful Fairy Princess sticker on the front of my housing and that my user, Pam, calls me that every morning when she gingerly removes me from my gang charger to start our work day together.
I love going about our work in the plant with Pam, keeping her in contact with the main office guy – Jerry. But one day recently I began to have “hearing issues”, Pam could talk to Jerry and the other workers at the plant, but we could not hear their transmissions back to us. I could tell this made Pam unhappy – it also made doing our job much harder.
At the end of that frustrating day Pam takes me to Jerry’s office. “She needs to go into the Repair Center at Delmmar,” Pam said to Jerry. “But, please, make sure I get my Fairy Princess back. It just wouldn’t be the same without her,” Pam sighed softly.
Jerry is a big burly guy, but somehow he understands Pam’s attachment to me. “The staff at Delmmar will take good care of her and she’ll be back at work before you know it.” Jerry says.

After Pam leaves Jerry takes a after warranty repair form from a file in his desk and fills out the information. At the bottom of the form he adds in capital letters: PLEASE, DO NOT REMOVE THE FAIRY PRINCESS STICKER.  He wraps me in bubble plastic, which kinda tickles, and places me in a cardboard box.

Upon arriving at the Repair Center the check-in girl gently opens my box and unwraps my bubble plastic, which again kinda tickles. She smiles at me. “What a pretty Fairy Princess you are!” she says to me as she places me into a bright yellow tub- see, I told you so! After generating a check-in sheet for me she adds to the instructions: Please, do not remove the Fairy Princess sticker and back to the waiting for repair shelf I go.

In a flash the tech takes me to his work bench, gently removes my housing and hooks me up to the power supply on this bench. He quickly finds the problem and with some new parts and a little solder I am as good as new. He slips me back into my housing and tests me one more time. “You’re ready to go home, Princess,” he says to me with a smile as he places me on the ready to invoice shelf.

Again, I get wrapped in the that tickly bubble plastic and placed into a cardboard box for the ride home. I am excited to be going back to work with Pam and I know she will be so glad to see her Fairy Princess back, too!


NARROWBAND: Are you ready?

Remember the recent change to digital TV?  The radio industry is also going through an FCC mandated change from wideband to narrowband channel spacing. Good news: most 2-way radios purchased in recent years can simply be reprogrammed to the new narrowband channel spacing. Older radios may need to be converted (during a repair) or simply retired. Do you need to know more about this? We have a Narrowband Worksheet made to help you at our eradiostore website. Read the simple worksheet, and then if you still have questions give us a call, 800-872-2627.

Jack’s radio

If your radio could talk………

My user, Jack takes me off the shelf in the garage and gently plugs the charger into my charge jack. I can feel the juice surging into my power source and I begin to perk-up a bit. As I gain some strength I take a look around the garage, I see familiar items. A tent and sleeping bags lay on the floor, as well as a cooler and a dark green duffle bag. Looks like we’re going HUNTING!

Jack & I love to go hunting – being out in the wild with our buddies, just doesn’t get any better than that. I can’t wait!

As I sit patiently on the shelf I begin to feel that my battery is not taking the charge like it did when we were younger. I really need a fresh battery pack every 18 to 24 months to work my best and keep Jack in contact with our buddies. I sure hope he has a new, fully charged battery to take along on our trip, for I fear this one is “not going to do the job” and Jack will be disappointed in me. I really don’t like it when he shakes me and pounds me into the palm of his hand. I like being crisp and clear for Jack, but I can’t do it with a tired old battery pack. What if Jack doesn’t have a new battery for me – what will I do?

Please, Jack, call the girls at Delmmar Communications and order me a new battery, they will ship it out to us PDQ and we’ll have a wonderful hunting trip. Just doesn’t get any better than that!

2-way radio range

Handheld radios, such as the Motorola CP200, will generally transmit radio-to-radio, line-of-sight up to 2 miles. Once you start putting obstacles between the radios you will shorten your range. Even the body fluid of the person wearing the radio on their hip will absorb some of the range. Higher wattage radios will have a slight increase in range and a significant increase in clarity of transmission on the outer fringes of your range.

Mobile radios, such as the Motorola CM200, will generally transmit radio-to-radio up to 8-10 miles depending upon the obstacles and the terrain.

Base stations will generally transmit approx. 8-12 miles.

What can you do to improve range? Contrary to popular belief wattage does not determine distance. Antenna height and placement determines distance.  Hold your portable radio perpendicular to the ground, not slanted like you would hold a phone. This problem alone could decrease your range by up to 2/3s. Don’t shout CB-style, shouting reduces talk-range on industrial-type radios. If you have a radio user who stays in a fixed location, think about adding a small base station into your system. Have your radios serviced every two years to maintain peak performance.  When using a mobile radio or base station: Be certain with your antenna that it is installed correctly. You can improve the range of your mobile radio by using an antenna which is cut to the appropriate length for your primary transmit frequency. Proper positioning of the antenna on the vehicle is key to good range.

Necessary Motorola verbage:
MOTOROLA and the Stylized M Logo are registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.
All other product and service names are the property of their respective owners. © Motorola, Inc.

Flying through the air…

The last thing I remember, I was flying across the room. Manny, my user, had mumbled some expletives and with no warning tossed me into the air with great force. I could feel the breeze blowing through my grill. I thought to myself, this must be how it feels to be a football. I have no recollection of the impact, nor the ride in the brown delivery truck to the repair center. The next thing I knew, I was awakened at the radio repair center. I found myself sitting upright in a bright yellow tub, in line with numerous other radios awaiting surgery. I had heard about this place, but had never been here. Manny had broken my antenna and dislocated a few components when he tossed me onto the concrete floor of the warehouse.

As I began to get my bearings and look around the room, I saw the walkie to my right was named Fred. He could not speak, but I knew his name from reading what was scrawled on his front housing by someone with a yellow parts marker. He was from an automotive recycling center, and smelled strongly of automotive fluids. His antenna was bent and weather cracked. His battery was removed and laying in the yellow bin. If he’d been a human, he would of had grey hair. He was old. His user must have still had need of him, since he was at the repair center.

I could not see the radio to my left, as he was laying down in the bin. From time to time I could hear his low battery beep, and knew someone had left him turned on for the ride to the repair center. He did not have enough power left to transmit, only the faint and dying beep of the failing battery.

I waited patiently in line and listened to the Tech whistle and say audio-audio into each of the radios which came before me. After a while, it nearly sang me to sleep. Just as I was about to doze, wahoo, he picked up my bin. I was next! He swiftly popped off my battery door, and stripped me of my broken antenna. Faster than I could think, I was hooked up and powered by his equipment. My battery was placed on the analyzer, and I was being ran through rigorous tests. (I’d tell you he put me on a treadmill and did a stress test, but you’d never believe me. Thou it felt like it.) He turned me off and on several times, plugged and unplugged items from my audio jacks, tested my antenna port. Then without any warning, he quickly stripped me of my shell. My housing was gone… I felt so exposed… totally naked. Yikes!

Here I was all exposed for the world to see. Well, I guess for the technician and the other radio soldiers lined up to see. I tend to get a little dramatic here, but you get the picture. His whistle tickled as it spun air through my uncovered speaker. The words audio-audio were now coming through me like a song being sung by the technician. After he discerned the situation, the tech skillfully and painlessly replaced several of my key components. His soldering iron was hot, but I felt no pain on my green component board. He tweeked and aligned my electronics, and I was thinking and feeling better than ever. He pressed my PTT and I was so quick to respond. “Wow” I thought to myself, “It is great to be alive”.

Just a quickly as he had disrobed me, he put a new exterior housing and antenna on me, then reunited me with my battery and I was carried to the “waiting to invoice” shelf. I was fixed. Good as new. I could hear the invoice clerk on the phone talking about me to Manny. From hearing only one side of the conversation, it sounded like Manny was happy I would be coming home. He had missed me and I had missed home too.

Soon I was whisked away to the shipping department, where they carefully placed me in a box full of soft packing peanuts for the ride home. Before I left, I did see old Fred one more time. He was on the shelf where I had waited for them to call Manny. The invoice clerk was explaining to Fred’s master that Fred had been patched up one more time, but didn’t know how many more repairs Fred had in him. Fred was getting to go home too!

Then I was homeward bound, riding in my little cardboard box, nestled in the packing, bouncing up and down in the brown truck, happy to be going home to Manny.

Many stories to be told

You may have never thought about it but your two-way radio leads an interesting life. It is with you many hours everyday. For some people it is only when you are at work, on the clock for eight hours., for others, it is 24/7. The radio hears everything you say, see everything you do. The radio saves you many steps everyday.

If your radio could talk, what would it have to say? Would it tout how wonderful a person you are, or would it tell of abuse and misuse? Or of interesting things which happen each day? This blog has been started to tell their story. The story from the radio’s perspective. And just in case you were wondering, the names will be changed to protect the innocent. If you think your radio has a story to share, send us an email. We’ll try and include your radio’s story here.