tips: remote mics

Push and hold the PTT button while transmittingRemote Mic
One common mistake many radio users make is starting to speak before they’ve completely pressing the PTT (push-to-talk button), or releasing the PTT before their transmission is complete. You might only miss a few words, but those words could be critical. It very well could be a matter of safety. Push the PTT and give yourself a moment before speaking. Hold the button until you are finished.

Speak clearly in your normal voice
Shouting CB-style can cause distortion of your voice, just as speaking to softly can make your communication non-discernible. Speak clearly, enunciate, and at a normal volume for best communication when using a remote speaker mic.

Hold the remote mic 1-3″ from your mouth
It is a common mistake for users to have their mouth too far away from the microphone. This can make it harder to pick up your voice, and also leave you open to environmental noise.  Having the mic too close to your mouth can also be a problem. This unwelcome mouth noise and breath sounds could be a distraction to those receiving your transmission. Practice keeping the microphone a nice 1-3″ from your mouth, and speak clearly.

Don’t wrestle the microphone around in your hand
While most modern remote microphones have some noise suppression, you should still avoid unnecessary movement while transmitting.

Connect the microphone securely to the radio
If your microphone has a two-prong plug, make sure it is completely seated before turning on the radio and beginning to communicate. You should feel a small snap when it seats into place correctly. Avoid unnecessary plugging and unplugging, over the course of time this will lead to a bad jack connection. Plug straight in and pull straight out, refraining from side-to-side wobbling, which can wobble out the jack. If possible leave your audio device plugged in all the time. If your radio has a multi-pin connector, be certain you security to the radio. Clean your contacts with a pencil eraser for best connection.

Always have your radio turned off when attaching any audio device
Most modern radios will sense the audio device and react accordingly. In the event you plug the device in with the radio turned on, many times you will experience problems such as temporary or intermittent voice activation (VOX), or an unresponsive audio device.

Keep your microphone clean
Read our blog post about Hygiene for more info.

Most radio models have remote speaker microphones available. Call us if you need help determining which mic would work best with your model.

 

 

2-way radio hygiene

Motorola Radio Hygiene Guidelines

Disinfecting your radios and audio devices:

Radios may be disinfected by wiping them down with over-the-counter isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) with at least 70% alcohol concentration. When cleaning with isopropyl alcohol, the alcohol should never be applied directly to the device. It should be applied to a cloth, which is then used to wipe down the device.

The effects of certain chemicals and their vapors can have detrimental effects on plastics and the metal platings.

DO NOT use bleach, solvents or cleaning sprays to cleanse or disinfect your device.

General Cleaning: Apply 0.5% detergent-water solution with a cloth, then use a stiff, non-metallic, short-bristled brush to work all loose dirt away from the device. Use a soft, absorbent, lintless cloth or tissue to remove the solution and dry the device. Make sure that no solution remains entrapped near any connectors, cracks or crevices.

Motorola disclaimer which accompanies the above information:
Important: Motorola Solutions, Inc. is unable to, and did not, determine whether any particular cleaning product is effective in removing specific foreign substances (including viruses) from the device, nor whether any disinfectant will remove all germs or viruses. However, the above cleaners, disinfectants and processes have been approved for use by Motorola Solutions, Inc. related to their less degrading effect on the physical device. Please consult the chemical manufacturers’ documentation for specifics on cleaning product efficacy with regards to foreign substances (such as viruses).

wet 2-way radio?

Don’t wait until your radio is corroded and rusty inside to send it in for repair. By then it may be too late to repair. Once a radio has become wet, corrosion starts to form rather quickly and deteriorate the metal. Good news, many times it is possible if caught early to restore a radio which has become wet. Early signs of corrosion can be removed and stopped.

Some basic information on what to do if your radio encounters water:

  1. Remove the battery. Do not turn on or try to use the wet radio, as this could cause further damage. (If you feel the battery has became wet inside, you will need to replace it.)
  2. Thoroughly dry the radio. You can use a towel on the exterior and any internal battery compartment. If you feel the water has intruded further, use a blow dryer on a low setting to air dry the radio. Specialty EVAP-bags can help to remove the moisture (700x more effective than rice). Call our office, 800-872-2627, and inquire about availability of EVAP-bags.
  3. Get the radio to a radio repair facility ASAP. The longer you wait, the more likely the radio will grow corrosion, and be deemed non-repairable.

Watch for IP57 or IP67 ratings when purchasing radios for the most water resistance. IP stands for Ingress Protection.

We’re here to help, and do our best to bring your radio back to good working condition. Give us a call if you have questions or need more info, 800-872-2627.

Poor range – is it your bad antenna?

Your antenna may be shortening your range. Here are some reasons:

  1. Your 2-way radio antenna is weather check, missing the top cap, some outside sheathing or has a crinkle or big bend in it. Exposing the coiled wires within to outside elements can oxide or corrode the metal, causing them to be inefficient and reduce range. If you can bend the antenna and see the metal coils or it is crooked in appearance like someone shut it in your car door, you need a new antenna.
  2. You are not using the correct antenna. Somewhere along the line you decide to use another antenna on your radio. It seemed to fit, so you weren’t worried, despite being shorter, taller, VHF vs. UHF, etc. See #4 below.
  3. You’ve used the antenna as a handle. This can strip the threads, or pull the antenna connection loose from the component board. When this happens you will need to get your radio into the repair center, or in some instances there is a chance the radio would be deemed non-repairable due to non-reversible damage to the component board.
  4. Any of the above three problems can also lead to a radio problem called reflected power. Instead of doing its job of getting all the power away from the radio and returning none to the transmitter, the bad antenna reflects the power back down into the radio and beats up the transmitter. This can quickly lead to a radio needing repair.

The inexpensive fix is simple, buy a new radio antenna. Most antennas range between $9.10 and $20. Delaying taking care of the problem can lead to the need for both a new antenna and a radio repair ($85 and up).

A good rule of thumb to remember is HEIGHT and PLACEMENT determines range. Holding your radio upright, perpendicular to the ground, will give you the best range. Tilting your radio to the side or using a stubby antenna will reduce your range by up to 2/3s. Educate your radio users on how to hold their radio for best range, you will be amazed at the difference it makes.

No time like the present to check your antenna. If it seems bad or weather checked replace it.

~cl

bulging, smoking, flaming batteries

Scary even when it’s not Halloween! This bulging DTR series battery is from a radio that came into Delmmar’s 2-way radio repair center for repair. The customer has chosen to have their DTR650 radio repaired (flat rate $85) and purchase a new battery to replace this bulging one. Bulgy has been disposed of in hazardous waste.

In the news recently there has been a lot of talk about electronics devices catching fire on planes. An educated guess would be the battery in the device was damaged or poor workmanship. It could have been physical or liquid damage, overcharging, poor manufacturing, or the effects of the change in air pressure in the cabin. While we have not heard of any incidents involving 2-way radios (which have restrictions when taken on a plane), users should always use wisdom whether in the air or on the ground.

There are dozens of youtube videos showing these types of batteries in flames once they are abused, overcharged, wet or mistreated.  Short story: If your battery bulges, or shows any sign of puncture/damage DO NOT use it. Motorola has a good explanation concerning the differences between Li-Ion and Li-polymer batteries. You can read it here.

For your two-way radio choose a good name brand battery from a reputable radio dealer. Choose good quality Li-Ion or NiMH batteries instead of Li-Polymer.

~cl

why care about battery dates?

GOT STATIC? GOT POOR TRANSMIT? Using an old battery on your radio can cause you problems, including poor or intermittent transmit, a battery that no long last the full day, lots of static or white noise, poorly functioning add-on audio devices, and more. Continual use of an old or bad battery can eventually cause wear and tear to the radio itself, resulting in the need for repair. The life expectancy of the average rechargeable battery used in 2-way radios or other devices is 2 years. This includes your rechargeable flashlight as well as your portable radio.

How can you tell the age of your battery?
Nearly every manufacturer of a rechargeable battery marks the battery with a date code representing the date of manufacture. Sometimes these date codes are hidden in plain sight. You might feel like you need a secret decoder ring to break the code. Motorola is no different than most manufacturers, their batteries and accessories are marked with manufacturing codes.

Motorola batteries follow a very simple date code system. You will find a 3- or 4-digit number on the battery label (or embossed in the plastic of the battery itself). Use the example 1611, the first two digits are the year, and the next two digits are the week of the year. The battery shown is dated 2016 the 11th week.
If you have a 3-digit code the first number is the year. 611 would be either 2016 or 2006. (You can usually tell by the appearance of the battery if it is 10 years or more old.)

Next time you have a poorly functioning radio check your battery date code. Maybe you simply need to replace your battery.

Battery tips:

  • Clean your battery contacts on your radio and charger periodically with a pencil eraser to remove any film or debris. This will allow your radio to make better contact on the charger. (Never use chemicals or a sharp object to clean contacts.)
  • Always have your radio turned off when placed on the charger, and if in an emergency you must have a radio turned on when on the charger, never ever transmit while charging. This can burn out components in your radio causing the need for repair.
  • If you feel you have an old, bad, or poorly functioning battery, try trading batteries with a known good radio and see if the problem is solved. You may simply need to replace your old battery.
  • The shelf life of a battery which has never been charged (initialized) is supposed to be indefinite. If you store new batteries before you use them, mark them with the date you initially charged the battery. This will give you a better idea on your 2 year life expectancy.
  • When initially charging a battery that has been in the cold or stored for a period of time before use it may take 2-3 charge cycles for the battery to successfully take that first charge. If you charger is blinking when it usually doesn’t, leave the battery on the charger and let it blink a few hours, even try again the next day doing the same thing. The battery will usually wake up, charge and be fine.
  • Beware of aftermarket batteries from less than reputable sources. We’ve seen or tried them all. We do offer a good aftermarket battery for most models if you are looking for such a battery.
  • Dispose of all old batteries in hazardous waste. Most big box stores have handy recycling bins where you can deposit your old batteries for recycling.

What are you waiting on? Go check your date codes!
~cl
#motorolaradiobattery #nntn4497 #motorolaradiorepair #motorolabatterydatecode

more than just for public safety users

So you are probably used to seeing your local law enforcement officers wear a remote speaker mic on their shoulder. It’s identifiable, something that seems to be part of their uniform. But did you know many other industries use these devices too? Just to name a few: manufacturing, amusement, sporting and entertainment venues all take advantage of the convenience of the remote microphone. Remote mics (aka lapel or shoulder mics) can be used anywhere two-way radios are used. They move the convenience of your radio on your lapel.

You can find a remote mic for most types of commercial two-way radios. Mics vary in features with some including submersible, windporting, display screens, antennas, emergency buttons, audio jacks for earpieces, coiled or straight cords. For basic business two-way radios a remote mic may simply have a speaker, microphone, coiled cord, lapel clip, and a push to talk button.  Everything you need to have the convenience of your radio near your head, where you an both talk and listen.

Ever seem like you are constantly taking your radio off your hip to talk? Maybe a remote mic is right for you!

~cl

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

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