Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page. These
FAQ's answer some of the most common questions we are asked. If
there is still a question you have that you don't find on this
page, please contact us! Feel free to e-mail us or call
us and we will get an answer to you just as soon as possible.
What does Narrowband Channel
What is the toughest, easy to use,
low cost handheld two-way radio available to me?
What is the best way to care for
my battery on my handheld?
My radio makes chirping, squealing,
annoying sounds and is unusable when I am near a hill with
towers on it, why does it do that?
Is there anything I can do about problems
with paging towers?
What does trunking mean?
Can you tell me more about trunking?
So what does trunking have to do with
Is there more than one type of trunking?
Q. What does
Narrowband Channel Spacing mean?
A. Generally speaking, the FCC used to license
channels every 12.5kHz or 15kHz apart. For example, 154.280,
154.295 and 154.310 MHz were three adjacent channels spaced
15kHz (or .015 MHz) apart. Now there are newly available frequencies
in between all the old frequencies. Because your old radio
was "transmitting" and "listening" to a
certain bandwidth that is wider than new radios, your old radio
will hear.... and they will hear you...on the new "in
between" narrow channels. All radios will HAVE TO BE OPERATING
IN THE NARROWBAND MODE by Januaury of 2013 because then it
will be ILLEGAL to use an older radio that will interfere with
the new channels. You MUST upgrade your current radio to listen
to a smaller bandwidth and transmit with a smaller bandwidth
per channel or you will be forced to purchase another radio
that can operate without interefering with narrow spaced channels.
Q. What is the toughest, easy to use,
low cost handheld two-way radio available to me?
A. We believe, and the US
Army believes, that it is the handhelds made by ICOM. They
tested all brands, chose ICOM and bought over 22,000 of them ($7.5 million
Q. What is the
best way to care for my battery on my handheld?
A. Ni-Cad and Ni-MH batteries should typically be re-charged after every
use so that you have maximum talk time available. Alkaline batteries,
unless they are the rechargeable type, get used until they are dead and then
thrown away. If Ni-Cad batteries are used only briefly and then recharged
again (typical volunteer fire dept use) then they should be discharged to nearly
dead once a month to avoid a "memory effect." It is unnecessary
to do this if you use your radio 8 hours or more a day (typical business use
or police/sheriff use) and unnecessary with Ni-MH batteries as they have no "memory." If
you are using a slow charger, always make sure that your radio is shut off
when recharging overnight or you may not have a fully charged battery by morning
(to get you through the next day). Also, batteries are not meant to be
left on the charger for extended periods of time without being used. If
you do, the battery can get warm/hot and can shorten it's useful life.
Q. My radio makes
chirping, squealing, annoying sounds and is unusable when
I am near a hill with towers on it, why does it do that?
A. For some reason the FCC allowed paging transmitters to be licensed
in the middle of the VHF business and public safety band. A particularly offensive
frequency is 152.600 MHz that often pages (transmits) with 500 or even 1000
watts (or more) of effective radiated power! If you have a VHF frequency close
to a paging frequency and you are trying to listen to someone in your company
who has a 5 watt handheld and is five miles away, by the time the handheld's
signal gets to your radio there is only a fraction of a fraction of a watt
available left for your radio too "listen" to. If you are close
to a paging transmitter your radio may get overloaded by the 1000 watt paging
transmitter and won't be able to hear the intended signal.
Q. Is there anything
I can do about problems with paging towers?
A. Maybe! Some radios have a better "front end" than
others, meaning they are better able to discriminate from the wrong signals. In
other words some brands of radios are more selective and filter the "garbage" signals
better than others. Some brands of radios can be sent back to the factory
to have better filtering installed. If the radio's "front end" simply
can not be improved enough to rid the problem than sometimes you can install
additional filtering external to your radio. However, this only works
if the paging transmitter frequency is far enough away from your frequency.
We have spoken with many dealers around the
country before we chose the ICOM line. Every dealer that
we spoke to who sold ICOM, along with other lines like Kenwood,
Motorola, Vertex-Standard, etc... told us that, in their opinion,
ICOM outperforms them all when it comes to the front end
of the radio. Because of our experience, and the experience
of our peers, we recommend ICOM radios in a location prone
to this annoyance because they simply have a "tighter
front end" and are less likely to be overcome by paging
signals and other interference. Of course EVERY radio,
no matter how well built, has it's limit.
Q. What does trunking
A. Have you ever been in line at a bank with four tellers and you pick
the shortest line only to find out that someone in front of you has a complex
transaction and takes a long time? You start to notice people that came
in after you that joined a different line, perhaps even a longer line, are
getting waited on before you (happens to me every time I go to Home Depot)! You
probably wished that you had chosen one of the other lines right? Nowadays
most banks have only one line where everyone waits together for the next available
teller. Everyone is waited on in the order that they came in. It
is much faster and fair for everyone. That is a trunking system. Trunking
Q. Can you tell
me more about trunking?
A. Trunking was actually invented for telephone companies. As the
demand grew for telephone lines many years ago they realized that a town of
10,000 people does not need 10,000 lines leaving the town to the central office
in the next town since not everyone talks on the phone at the same time. They
realized that it would be too costly and time consuming to run a pair of copper
wires for all 10,000 people between their central offices. At that time,
with statistics and calculations, they discovered that 1,000 lines would reliably
handle 10,000 customers.
Q. So what does
trunking have to do with my radio?
A. In the not to distant past companies were assigned to a repeater that
you shared typically with up to 10 other companies. Statistics show that
the average repeater with 10 customers, each having 10 radios, was in use approximately
20% of the time. In other words you had a 20% chance of NOT being able
to use it when you wanted it. If somebody else was already using it
you had to wait, sometimes 10 minutes or more, until they were finished. With
a trunking system, there is more than one repeater available to you. Simply
by adding a second repeater (each having 10 customers) the odds of both being
busy at the same time is reduced to approximately 4%. Of course if both
did happen to be busy, the wait time is GREATLY reduced as well (because you
get the first to become available). The trunking system provider can
keep adding repeaters as the need arises. Trunking is much more efficient
for customers, providers and use of the radio spectrum in general.
Q. Is there more than
one type of trunking?
A. There are two basic types of trunking, centralized and de-centralized, and
there are several varieties of each. Basically, centralized trunking
logic is performed at the tower site and de-centralized logic is performed
in the mobile units. Centralized systems typically take 300 milliseconds
from the time you key the microphone until you acquire a channel. Once
you unkey the microphone you may or may not get the same channel (repeater)
the next time you go to talk. Regardless, it always takes 300 milliseconds
(typically) to acquire a (new) channel, provided one is available. De-centralized
systems are much slower to acquire a channel, taking up to one second or slightly
more. However, with a de-centralized system once the channel is acquired subsequent
communication is instantaneous. Centralized systems are typically located
at one tower site because the logic requires the equipment to be physically
together. De-centralized systems are typically located at multiple sites
because the logic is in the mobiles and does not require the base equipment
to be together. An advantage of de-centralized systems is that if there is
a disaster (power outage, lightning strike, hurricane, tornado, etc) at one
site you will still be able to access the other tower sites. If a centralized
system is struck by lightning (or hit by another disaster) you may be out of
luck for a while! Unfortunately, many people have found this out the hard way!
The biggest thing to watch out for with trunking is a proprietary system. We
recommend a system that is flexible (allows conventional use in addition to
being used on the trunking system) and a system that gives you many options
for selection of brands of radios. Most major brands of radios such as
ICOM, Kenwood, Motorola, etc... are very flexible and can be used conventionally
or accept plug-in trunking boards to allow them to be used on the most common
trunking systems. These radios won't be outdated whereas proprietary
equipment will become virtually worthless (a bad investment) if the service
provider or the manufacturer fail or if you decide to go to another provider. Unfortunately,
many people have found this out the hard way!