You’ve probably used a walkie talkie at least once in your childhood. If so, you will know how fun they are. It makes playtime so much more interesting, allowing you to live out cop and detective fantasies with a greater degree of realism. Of course, walkie talkies aren’t just children’s playthings. They’re also used by policemen, security guards, military personnel, trekkers, movie set coordinators, construction workers and more, on a daily basis.
Whether you’re buying a walkie talkie for your kids or for yourself, it’s good to know the basics of using one. In this article, we’re going to be answering the most frequently asked questions about walkie talkies.
What Exactly Is A Walkie Talkie And How Does It Work?
Walkie talkies are small, hand-held devices which can both send and receive radio transmissions. They might sound like a bare-bones version of a phone but there are key differences. For one, a walker talkie’s speaker and microphone are placed right beside each other. Secondly, the speaker is much louder than a phone’s, meaning that the incoming sound can be heard by anyone who is nearby.
Another key difference is that walkie talkies have what is known as a ‘half-duplex channel’. This essentially means that only one device can transmit a message at any one time. So if you and a friend are communicating via walkie talkies, each one has to take turns talking and the other is unable to interrupt. You also have to press a button to talk, and as long as you have it pressed, no other signals can interrupt your transmission. This is known as a push-to-talk system or PTT.
When Was The Walkie Talkie Invented?
The first walkie talkie was designed back in 1940 by a team of engineers at Motorola. The original model was the Motorola SCR-300 and the apparatus was so huge that users had to wear it on their backs like a backpack. That’s very different from what we have today!
What Is The Range Of A Walkie Talkie?
It depends because there are both short-range and long-range walkie talkies. Short-range walkie talkies typically cover an area between 460-920 metres. They’re less expensive as well. On the other hand, the most powerful long-range walkie talkies will allow you to speak to someone who is more than 40 kilometres away!
The range is affected by the environment you’re in. For instance, things like tall buildings and trees can get in the way of the radio signals and severely limit the maximum distance they can travel.
What Are The Frequencies Used By Walkie Talkies?
The two main radio frequency bands used by walkie talkies are called the VHF (very high frequency) and the UHF (ultra high frequency). The VHF signals comprise of frequencies from 30MHz to 300MHz while UHF signals are on frequencies from 300MHz to 3,000MHz.
Frequencies may vary from one country to another, so it’s best to check what is used in yours.
What Are Video Walkie Talkies?
These are walkie talkies that contain a surveillance camera and are quite useful for pranks. You could place the walkie talkie in a hidden spot and be able to see anyone who comes by. By leaving the talk button ‘on’, you can then scare the living daylights out of them by speaking through the walkie talkie!
Where Can You Buy Walkie Talkies From?
There are many places you could buy walkie talkies from, including the manufacturers’ websites. Chances are that you can find what you’re looking for on either Amazon or eBay.
How Do You Talk On A Walkie Talkie?
Talking on a walkie talkie is quite easy. All you need to do is follow these instructions:
- Decide who the dispatcher is and name this person ‘Base’.
- You can give people nicknames if you wish but it’s not recommended in a professional context.
- When you’re initiating a conversation, use the following syntax: “[Your Name] to [Receiver’s Name]”. Hence, if you’re name was Aaron and you were speaking to ‘Base’, you would say “Aaron to Base.”
- If your name is being called, the typical reply is “Go ahead”.
- Once you’re done speaking, you have to say “Clear” each time and then let go of the talk button.
- You can use the term “Roger” to say that you understand what was said to you.
What Does VOX Mean On A Walkie-Talkie?
VOX is short for Voice Operated Exchange and is a modern feature that replaces the talk button on some walkie talkies. VOX is basically a sound sensor that turns the transmitter of the walkie talkie on when you speak at a loud enough volume into it. It also automatically turns the transmitter on when the volume falls below a certain threshold.
How Much Do Walkie Talkies Cost?
It depends. As we’ve mentioned before, long-range walkie talkies cost more than short-range ones. In addition, it also depends on things like build quality and brand.
A top of the line long-range walkie talkie from a brand like Motorola can cost you upwards of $200. However, you could get a decent one for less than $100 and cheap ones for $30 or less.
How Do You Set Walkie Talkie Frequency?
The process of programming Walkie Talkies varies according to the specific device you have. If you have a high-end device, you will have to connect it to your computer with a programming cable. Afterwards, you will have to download the appropriate driver for the particular walkie talkie model you own. You will also have to install specific programming software to get started.
Once the installations are done, you will have to follow the configuration instructions in the walkie talkie’s manual in order to set up the right frequencies.
What Is The Best Walkie Talkie To Buy?
Here is a list of some of the best walkie talkies you can buy in 2019:
If you love trekking outdoors, then this walkie talkie is worthy of consideration. The spec sheet boasts a range of more than 50 kilometres and 50 channels, and has eVOX technology so that you don’t have to be bothered with PTT. The latter actually allows you to configure the volume at which the transmission is automatically activated, which is very useful if you have to be quiet. The audio quality is excellent, so even if you whisper, your transmission will have enough clarity.
As if that weren’t enough, this walkie talkie is waterproof as well, making it perfect for outdoor activities during rainy weather. In addition, it is extremely lightweight, has an SOS siren function to send out quick distress functions, automatically receives alerts about hazards and poor weather conditions and has an eight-hour battery life.
BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band
This walkie talkie can receive and transmit both VHF and UHF signals, which makes it useful in a number of different scenarios. The VHF signals are longer-range but are limited by buildings and trees, unlike the UHF one, which can effectively penetrate most large obstructions.
The BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band boasts 128 channels, which makes this walkie talkie well-suited for large scale operations like movie set coordination or warehouse management. It also has a feature known as ‘dual watch’ which allows you to listen in on two transmissions at once.
In addition, this walkie talkie is lightweight, has a battery which lasts longer than the Midland GXT1000VP4, a belt clip and a wrist strap, VOX, a battery-saving feature, and a built-in LED flashlight (which makes it ideal for underground operations).
The biggest downside of the BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band is that it isn’t waterproof. Therefore it is less suited for outdoor activities.
The Motorola MR350R is the best option on this list if you need the best long-range communication. The spec sheet boasts a range of about 56 kilometers and 22 channels, which is quite impressive. But that’s not all! It also has the most ergonomic design out of all the walkie talkies on this list, meaning that you won’t suffer a hand cramp from holding one for a long period of time.
The Motorola MR350R is well-suited for outdoor activities like camping and hiking. It is waterproof (it can handle light rain but not full submersion in water), has a battery which lasts up to eight hours on a single charge and is sturdy enough to survive drops onto hard surfaces. In addition, it is quite light and allows you to clip it your belt for hands-free operation.
Proster 16 channel
The Proster 16 channel is the only kids’ walkie talkie on this list. It’s quite inexpensive at around USD 27 but in terms of quality, it’s certainly not cheap. While they’re technically considered ‘toys’, they can be used for business purposes as well. With a maximum range of 3.2 kilometres, the Proster 16 channel walkie talkies can be used to manage small to mid-sized business operations like a construction project, supermarket or an office space.
Other features include:
- Sturdy build quality
- USB port for easy charging
- Built-in flashlight for nighttime operations
The greatest downside of the Proster 16 channel is not waterproof.
The Motorola RMU2080D is the most expensive device on this list at USD 250. Its build quality is most aptly described as ‘military grade’ and can resist shock, dust, and wind. The Motorola RMU2080D is capable of operating on 99 ‘business-exclusive’ UHF frequencies and is capable of transmitting radio signals over a 250,000 square foot area without any hindrances.
Other features include:
- Antimicrobial coating on the body to prevent growth of germs
- Weather alerts 24/7
- A remarkable 15-hour battery life
The Motorola RMU2080D is well-suited suited for large-scale operations like organizing massive outdoor music festivals or the construction of a skyscraper. It is certainly not something you can buy your kids!
Walkie Talkies are incredibly useful for a number of activities, from hiking to overseeing large scale business operations. However, it’s best to know at least the basics about them before you get one. That’s why we’ve covered the most frequently asked questions about walkie talkies in this article.