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

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

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

 

tips on avoiding radio repair…

CDM1250 radio in for repair

CDM1250 radio in for repair

While we enjoy helping people and repairing radios, we also know how frustrating it can be to have your radio fail and need to come into the repair center.  We’ve compiled a list of ways to help you keep your radio out of the radio repair center.

  • Keep radios dry and free from dust and debris.
  • If your radio gets wet, do not transmit, take the battery out, dry it as much as possible and get it to the repair facility pronto.
  • Utilize dust covers provided to cover audio jacks and openings, do not remove them.
  • Refrain from operating the radio at full volume continuously.
  • Replace bad or weather checked antennas.
  • Use only the antenna, charger, and accessories designed for a particular radio model.
  • Always have the radio turned off when charging.
  • Never transmit when a radio is on a charger.
  • Charge overnight, not an extended amount of days (a weekend is okay).
  • Clean your battery contacts using a pencil eraser, never a sharp object or solvent.
  • Replace the battery every 2-3 years, or sooner if needed.
  • Safeguard your radio from crush damage, avoid back pockets and places people sit.

Please remember we are here if you need us, happy to help repair your Motorola radios, so you can put them back to work.

~cl