If your work or recreation calls for you to be in an extreme or remote location, you may have already experienced communication challenges. Whether you’re taking your ute out to the bush to construction or working deep in tunnels and tanks, communication lines can become scratchy and disconnected, or even impossible on a mobile phone.
Why use two-way radios in extreme environments?
Reception on a smartphone usually doesn’t have the range to reach many extreme locations and so two-way radio, also known as a walkie-talkie or push-to-talk radio is an excellent solution. These devices send a radio frequency signal through the air from radio to radio without needing a tower in between. Unlike regular “stereo” radios, you can both transmit and receive communication with a two-way radio. It has the capacity to facilitate dozens of communications on a given channel.
The benefits of using two-way radios in tough conditions
Two-way radios offer a range of other benefits including:
- Greater durability with waterproof technology (some with floatation capabilities).
- Many radios come with invaluable upgradable options, such as emergency alert,, location tracking, headsets, and customisable programming.
- You can speak to multiple people simultaneously with a two-way radio, which you can’t do easily on a cell phone.
- Walkie-talkies cost less in the long run because you only invest in the equipment without having to buy an expensive usage plan.
- The battery life on two-way radios lasts far longer than mobile devices.
- Two-way radios are easier to operate when your hands are gloved or when you don’t have your hands free.
Factors to keep in mind when operating a two-way radio
When entering an extreme environment, you want a two-way radio that has the clearest communication and the highest power. To understand how to achieve a clear line of communication, we outline a number of factors that may affect the function of a two-way radio.
The signal transmitted between two walkie-talkies is essentially travelling a straight line path from one to another. Communication works best when both radios are on roughly the same line of sight. Once you introduce obstacles to the path of communication, the signal can be reduced. These obstacles may include:
- Mountains and valleys
- Trenches and troughs
- Tunnels and tanks
- Mines and quarries
- Thick bush and forest
- Urban structures (buildings, bridges, etc.)
Inclement weather, as well as interference from other radios nearby, can also influence your two-way radio’s functionality.
The power output and antenna of your two-way radios will affect how your signal will transmit. The output, shape and size of the antenna, as well as the frequency you choose for communication, can boost or hinder your signal strength and distance.
Make sure to keep an eye on your battery levels, as a dwindling battery can reduce your walkie-talkie’s performance. We recommend that you charge your radios in their designated charging stations between uses. Make sure to perform a battery check before heading to a remote location and protect your radio as much as possible from cold temperatures (as it can drain the battery). If you know you’re going to be away from AC power for long periods, you should look into alternative charging methods and spare batteries.
You want to consider all these factors when purchasing or hiring two-way radios, whether for a job or a weekend getaway in the bush. That’s why we work with every client at Digicom Wireless to make sure they have the right PTT selection for their unique requirements. You may want to consider adding accessories to ensure you get top performance from your two-way radios in any extreme environment.
Improving two-way radio function in challenging environments
Getting the most from your two-way radio starts with choosing a model that matches your intended use. Make sure to look up the Australian laws that regulate civilian or governmental radio use so that you remain compliant at all times.
Think about how far you are likely to be from other people you want to communicate with. Are you and your mate hiking within a few kilometres of each other, or will you be trying to reach a work team much further than that?
Next, make sure your battery charging capability is sufficient for your task. Your best options here include:
- Carrying spare, charged batteries
- Carrying a second radio with a fully charged battery
- Charging with an inverter in your vehicle
- Using a solar charger to charge your battery in the field
You can also use specialised equipment to extend your radio’s signal in extreme locations. Depending on the topography of the environment where you will be using your radios, there are two key pieces of gear to consider: a repeater and / or a pump-up mast with antenna (aka telescoping antenna).
A repeater does just what the name implies – it repeats your radio signal to extend its length over a greater distance. Repeaters, typically the size of a briefcase, are ideal for use in low-lying areas and underground. Once you have exhausted your frequency “sweet spot” for the longest distance possible, you can strategically place a repeater to gain more distance.
When you need to add some height when boosting your signal, there’s nothing better than a pump-up mast. This gets you past issues with valleys and peaks that can diminish your radio range. At Digicom Wireless, we have guyed (supported) masts for sale and hire. You will appreciate these features that make their use more dependable and efficient:
- Rugged construction suited for all industries
- 10-metre plus height for the super signal length
- Clamping collars that hold the directional bearing
- Full portability – can be redeployed easily
- Quick to set up and pack up in 10 minutes with a hand pump
- Solar power and battery backup
- Extra stability from both base tripod and guy wires
- Heavy-duty carry case
- Universal antenna adapter
Digicom Wireless is your two-way radio experts
If you’re looking for two-way radios to use in extreme locations or you’d like to explore signal-boosting solutions such as repeaters and masts, Digicom Wireless can supply you with everything you need. Our experienced staff will help you find the best equipment for the job, with price matching and unparalleled customer service. For more information on our product range, get in contact with us today and start communicating more effectively on all your long-distance adventures.