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How To Choose A Walkie Talkie Radio

Sep 8, 2008
The walkie talkie radio was developed during the Second World War to allow military personnel to communicate effectively while in combat situations. Strangely the term walkie talkie actually refers to the backpack radio models carried by troops, the handheld varieties being known as handy talkies amongst the troops. Today the walkie talkie radio is used in all manner of industries and in the home and like so many electrical devices has shrunk considerably from the original cumbersome models used throughout the war. In general the walkie talkie has a mouthpiece to speak into and a speaker to listen to messages; modern variants however also have earpieces for discreet applications.

Predominantly the radio comes in two types; usually these are referred to as licensed and unlicensed in the industry. Licensed walkie talkies have a specific radio frequency that communications are transmitted across; typically this frequency is isolated purely for that set of radios. An example of this would be the radios used by racing pit crews in order for them to communicate with each other, the team director and the driver whilst he is out on the track. Unlicensed varieties are normally available in most electronic stores. These are not given a specific frequency and as such as susceptible to problems with cross communication from other radio devices. Because of these problems unlicensed models are normally cheaper than licensed versions.

Considering the type of walkie talkie radio to purchase can be difficult with such a large range on the market today. Firstly it is important to assess the purposes the radios will be used for; for instance, hikers may wish to use an unlicensed model while security personnel would almost certainly need to look at licensed devices. As with any purchase it is important to research the different technologies out there before purchasing. With features such as weather channels, head set transceivers and wrist communicators there is a wide selection to choose from. At this stage it is important to stick to your needs and not buy a device with features that will never be used.

The distance that radios will have to cover is also an important consideration. Anything fewer than two miles is normal although if the distance is greater than five miles, licensed models should certainly be looked at as a more appropriate option. If it is likely that multiple users will be operating the devices a compatibility system will be required. This will allow communication between many parties and will eliminate static and interference. The power supply is naturally an important factor and should be considered carefully, rechargeable models are perfect for uses with a ready power supply but for applications away from settlements changeable batteries are a better solution.

When using the device it is important to learn how to scramble the radio communications. Many models use a voice scrambler to keep messages private while some have sub channels that allow for private communications within an existing network. As part of this it is always important to realise what is being said when speaking through the walkie talkie, conversations should be kept brief and specific to the task, anything confidential should be kept to face to face meetings.

Many thought that the walkie talkie would soon become obsolete at the advent of the mobile phone. This is a fallacy however; there are certain instances where the two way radio is far more useful, such as in areas with little or no network coverage and situations where the time lag on cell phone communications is not preferable. Hopefully this information has given an idea of the uses of walkie talkies and how to select the right model for different purposes. As technology improves it is doubtless that these devices will become ever smaller and more adept at answering people's communication requirements.
About the Author
Technology expert Thomas Pretty looks into the different types of walkie talkie radio available on the market and what considerations should be made before buying a set.
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