Radios that can receive and transmit communications are known as 2 way radios. Some common examples are walkie-talkies, CB radios and even cellular phones. While these products are very different in nature, they are common in that they receive and transmit communication and are classified as 2 way radios.
There are many uses for 2 way radios, including a camping trip with the family where walkie-talkies help everyone to stay in touch. When in the wilderness, a cell phone is not likely to have a signal and this is why walkie-talkies are so helpful. If individuals should get separated from one another while camping, having a way to remain in communication is invaluable. In order for 2 way radios to work, individuals must be on the same frequency or channel to communicate. Before separating, families should make sure that everyone is on the same channel incase the devices are needed.
The uses of other 2 way radios, such as cell phones, are more obvious. Car problems while out on the highway can be a major issue unless you have a cell phone to keep you in contact with the outside world. In addition, landline phones often have problems and may be out of service temporarily. In many of these instances, however, cell phones are still operational and can offer a way to report the outage to phone companies, stay in touch with family and friends or make emergency calls if needed.
There are a number of places to find 2 way radios, including retail and specialty stores. The internet is also a wonderful way to find 2 way radios in a variety of styles, features and price ranges. Most electronics feature a manufacturer’s warranty when purchased new, so take note of any such offerings when browsing for 2 way radios. Warranties often last for 90 days to one year and cover repairs and/or replacements of any product that is defective as a result of workmanship or materials. It is best to keep any warranty information tucked away in a safe place for later retrieval.
As a final thought with 2 way radios, it is best to test the product before putting it to actual use. In other words, the best way to test a walkie-talkie is not when you are already out on a camping trip. The best time would be before you leave home and always be sure to test the distance at which you can still communicate without any problem.
Frequency Considerations for Recreational 2 Way Radios
If you are in the market for 2 way radios for personal use, you have an immediate and important choice to make: What radio frequency band do you require?
Frequency! 2 way radios obviously utilize ‘wireless’ communication methods so when using a 2 way radio you are transmitting and sending your message through the air — the same air that is currently carrying television signals, commercial radio signals, Ham radio signals and literally thousands of signals from other private 2 way radios. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the job of controlling all of these communication signals so they don’t run into each other; to accomplish this they have reserved frequency bands for use by certain types of communication (signal sending) devices. There are two frequency bands in use for recreational 2 way radios, these are called Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS).
In 1996, the FCC reserved a set of radio frequencies they called the Family Radio Service (FRS) band, specifically for short-range 2 way radios (radios that operate no more than 2 miles away from each other) with a small power output (up to 500 milliwatts or one-half watt).
About fifty years before the FCC created the FRS band they had reserved a set of frequencies for higher power 2 way radios that operated over a longer range this is the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) band. The GMRS band is for radios with a power output between one and five watts and a range over 2 miles. The FCC regulates the 2 way radios that operate on the GMRS band and requires users of this type of radio to obtain a license and pay a fee. The GMRS license is good for five years and costs $80.00; the license must be obtained by an adult (the radios operating under the license may be used by minors but only with the licensed adult’s knowledge and permission). Go to the FCC’s Internet page at: http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=service_home&id=general_mobile for more information on GMRS licensing.
When buying 2 way radios, your choice is between a set of radios that operates only on one of these frequency bands or a set of radios that is able to operate on either one of these frequency bands. This determination will obviously have to be made based on the maximum distance the radio users will be from each other. If the radios are to be used within two miles of each other, FRS will be the best (and least expensive) choice. If a greater distance is consistently required, 2 way radios that operate on the GMRS frequency band will be required. If the need for distance is uncertain or if you want the option of occasionally transmitting up to five miles a FRS/GMRS hybrid is the radio set to choose.