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Copy That! A Guide to Using Long Range Two Way Radios

two-way radios, How to Use Long Range Two Way Radios, Long Range Two Way Radios, What are Radio Repeaters, What Radio Frequencies are used by Long Range Two Way Radios

Every day more than 44.000 flights lift off or land in the USA. Did you know that most pilots depend on two-way radios to communicate with ground control and radio towers? 

Two-way radios are used in a variety of professions each day. You may well know walkie-talkies are an example of two-way radios. However, did you know that thanks to long-range two-way radios their use has been expanded into many new fields? Why not take a few moments to learn 5 things about two-way radios that you may not have known before.

1. How Far Can They Send a Signal?

This depends on how you are sending your radio signal. Radio signals, including two-way radios, require line-of-sight paths to send a signal successfully.

Radio waves also travel in straight lines. This means that we need to remember that the earth is not a straight line when making these calculations. If the radio or transmitter is approximately 6 feet off the ground and the horizon approximately 3 miles away, you should be able to send the signal 4-6 miles assuming that there are no obstructions. 

This, of course, is a general calculation. There are so many factors that can influence this calculation. These include weather, landscape, and the radio frequency you are using.

2. What Role Does Radio Power Output Play?

Radio power output is a very important factor in measuring how far it can transmit a signal. Radio power output is measured in watts. An FM radio station will try to broadcast its media over a long distance and will use 50,000 or 100,000 watts. A handheld two-way radio will use in the region of 5-100 watts. The more watts a radio has, the stronger a signal it can send. 

Radio waves are subject to the same laws of physics as everything else. Although you may transmit the signal with significant power, it will lose power along the way. However, transmitting it with stronger initial power will ensure that the signal will travel a farther distance

Power output is important. However, it is important to remember that if you have a high-powered two-way radio, it will need high capacity batteries to support it. The higher the wattage rating of your two-way radio, the faster it will drain your batteries.

3. What Radio Frequencies do they use?

Two-way radios use two main frequencies: 

  • UHF – Ulta High Frequency
  • VHF – Very High Frequency

Each frequency has its own advantages and disadvantages and professionals use them for different purposes. 

One distinct difference between the two is the size of the wavelength that they create. UHF creates a wavelength much larger than VHF. Why does this matter? Well, let’s use an illustration. Let’s imagine that you are using a bucket filled with sand and rocks. The sand will escape quickly through any small holes in the bucket. However, the rocks will not as they are too large. 

In the same way, VHF waves are much smaller than UHF. This means that they can slip between obstacles much easier than their VHF equivalents. 

4. Can they Pass Through Obstacles?

Wireless signals can pass through many solid obstacles. These could include drywall, masonry, human bodies, furniture, wall paneling, and other solid objects. However, it should be said that these objects will reduce the signal strength according to their density. 

VHF will more successfully penetrate hard surfaces than UHF in general. You may notice that none of the obstacles that we listed were metallic. This is because metallic objects will repel wireless signals more successfully than other materials. 

5. What are Radio Repeaters?

A radio repeater can actively increase the distance that your two-way radio can send a signal. Digital repeaters with this type of power can cover a large area, city, county, or even across a state. It does this by instantly receiving and transmitting signals simultaneously. 

The placement of the repeater is very important. It should be in a location where it has the optimal sight for each radio. This will help the repeater to avoid sending a strong signal directly towards obstacles in its path. You will want to optimize the signal the repeater sends. 

A radio repeater, such as a P25 radio, can instantly convert the analog signal into a digital, or binary signal. This can mean a more accurate clean signal that is sent in a smaller format rather than a large waveband.

Why Use Two Way Radios

Whether over long distances of short, two-way radios provide advantages that other forms of communication technology cannot. 

Two-way radios provide instant communication. By pressing the PTT button, you can instantly speak with the other party. These real-time communications allow people to report on events and receive information that allows them to make decisions instantly.

A telephone call allows a person to convey information quickly to another person. Two-way radio communication allows information to be relayed instantly to a selected number of people. This means that all can provide input and contribute to a successful resolution of the situation. 

This may be a small team of 5 people. However, it could also be thousands of people in a location. This could be used in the case of radio announcements of important information. For example in the aftermath of a natural disaster. 

The instant nature of two-way radios meant that they are still used by many industries including airline pilots.

How to Use Long Range Two Way Radios and Much More

Two-way radios are crucial to security, safety, and other daily secular jobs. However, you may not have known that long-range two-way radios can allow you to speak to people much farther away. This allows them to be used for a greater range of fields and applications. 

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