Walkie Talkie: What to look for when buying a Walkie Talkie?
By Zachary Reginato 2019-06-21 1789 0
Various radio technologies are available. Notable are PMR-446, DMR-446 and CB radio. Nowadays, almost all walkie talkies in Germany that are available for sale work with the PMR446 technology, which is sufficient for most applications. The frequency range of PMR is divided into 8 analog channels.
DMR-446 is a further development of the PMR-446 radio standard, with up to 16 digital radio channels.
In addition to the channels, good PMR radios have sub-channels, which makes a connection more secure against eavesdropping and reduces the chance of receiving noise from other radios. Each channel is assigned several subchannels, resulting in a significantly higher number of channels. The call partners must both select the same channel in order to be able to communicate. A distinction is made between CTCSS (filter for minimal interference) and DCS (digital filter).
On this page we will deal exclusively with PMR radio.
The achievable range depends on the environment. With a PMR radio, in densely populated areas, ranges of no more than 3 km are often expected, and in rural environments up to 5 km, with acceptable voice quality.
The maximum range of a walkie talkies depends strongly on the environment. Under optimal conditions it is possible to bridge up to 10 km (e.g. from the top of the mountain into the valley in visual contact). However, this environment is unrealistic for most users. In heavily built-up areas, such as large cities, it is often not even possible to cover a kilometre (especially with low-price radios). In forests, the range is usually between 2 and 3 km. In the country you can reach up to 5 km. The greater the distance between the walkie talkies, the more background noise there is, which affects the speech quality.
Of course, the achievable ranges depend on the radios. Although it is specified that these may transmit with a maximum of 0.5 watts, the installed technology can nevertheless lead to large differences in this segment.
"Cheap" walkie talkies, despite their partly robust and high-quality appearance, usually have a lower range and voice quality. At best, these devices are suitable as toys for children who play with them at home or in the neighborhood. For demanding hobby radio operators or the outdoor area, one should already look around for a higher quality walkie talkie. In our Walkie Talkie Test you will find the right device for your needs.
Walkie Talkies can be supplied either with normal batteries or integrated rechargeable batteries, depending on model and scope of delivery. NiMH rechargeable batteries (nickel metal hydride) are outdated and should be avoided if possible. In contrast to the newer Li-Ion batteries (Lithium-Ion), these batteries have an enormous charging time of up to 14 hours. In addition, they usually have a poor, or no automatic shutdown during the charging process, which means that you must be careful not to overcharge the battery. If the battery gets overcharged, it may start to boil and even burst. In any case, the battery is permanently damaged by overcharging (memory effect).
● A PMR radio can have various special functions in addition to normal communication at the touch of a button:
● (Automatic) Power Saving Mode: To ensure a longer battery life, the radio switches to power saving mode when no transmission has taken place for a certain period of time. The walkie-talkie can still receive transmissions in this mode.
● Vibration alarm: When a transmission is received, the walkie talkie vibrates.
● Channel Scan: To locate radio traffic. All available channels are scanned in an infinite loop for active radio signals.
● Channel monitoring (monitor): With the help of channel monitoring it is possible to monitor a set channel for radio signals. As soon as radio activity takes place on the monitored channel, it can be heard. There are also devices that can monitor more than one channel. The function is then referred to as dual channel monitoring.
● Room monitoring (baby monitor): Allows the walkie-talkie to detect speech or sounds (according to the set sensitivity level) and transmit them back to the listening radio without having to press the push to talk button. The monitoring radio cannot receive transmissions in this mode. The VOX function is used for this purpose.
● Hands-free (VOX): Allows hands-free talking without having to press the push to talk button. You can set different sensitivity levels (depending on the volume of the environment). This allows the walkie-talkie to recognize when someone starts talking and to activate the selected channel without having to press a button. Theoretically, the VOX function makes it possible to set up baby monitoring. However, it must be checked whether the sensitivity levels of the hands-free function are sufficient to be activated by the child's noises.
● (Automatic) squelch/noise suppression: filtering out background noise and silencing the speaker if no signal is received.
Depending on the purpose of the purchase, you should consider what characteristics the walkie-talkie should have.
If the Walkie Talkie is only to be used within your own four walls, you can do without splash water protection or watertightness. For outdoor use in wind and weather, however, this property is mandatory.
Here the overview of the protection classes for water:
● IPX0 no protection
● IPX1 Protection against dripping water
● IPX2 Protection against dripping water, if the housing is inclined up to 15°.
● IPX3 Protection against falling spray water up to 60° against the vertical
● IPX4 protection against splash water on all sides
● IPX5 Protection against water jets (nozzle) from any angle
● IPX6 protection against strong water jets
● IPX7 protection against temporary immersion
● IPX8 Protection against permanent immersion
● IPX9 Protection against water during high-pressure/steam jet cleaning
What one should also pay attention to is the robustness of the case. Especially in the outdoor area or with walkie talkies for children you should make sure that you choose a stable radio.
What do you need a walkie talkie for nowadays?
Some people will certainly ask themselves what you need a walkie talkie for in today's world of mobile phones and smartphones. Let's have a look at the advantages and disadvantages in comparison:
● Free communication
● Speed of contact
● Robust, weatherproof
● Limited functionality
Due to these advantages and disadvantages, there are some areas of application which are also dominated by walkie talkies today. They are used, for example, on construction sites, in road traffic, by security services or for various outdoor activities such as hiking or skiing. Walkie talkies are also very popular as toys for children. Some models can even be used for baby monitoring or as an alternative to baby monitors.
In road traffic, these small radios are still used today, for example by motorcyclists. Walkie talkies can also be practical on holiday, on the beach or anywhere else, because the radio network is not only usable in Germany. Due to this, one can, in part, do without expensive international calls with the mobile phone.
Not to forget of course the authorities and organizations with safety tasks (BOS), which use however, a not public radio network. Police and fire brigade are to be mentioned here for example.
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