Mobile two way radios are built to install and operate in automobiles, pickups, commercial trucks, off-road or recreational vehicles and, for some models, even motorcycles. The power, advanced features and versatility of the typical mobile radio allows it to be easily converted into a base station. It can be placed on a table or desk without a mount or hardware, connected to a proper antenna, powered on, and it's ready to go on the air.
Of course, there is a little matter of power. A mobile radio is specifically designed to operate on DC power from a vehicle. It has no internal power transformer or inverter of its own, so it isn't made to plug into the AC wall outlet of a home or office building. In that case, how do you power a mobile radio for use as a base station? That's easy. Get a power supply.
One important factor in the distance a two-way radio will communicate is its power output. This power output is measured in watts. Youve likely heard an FM radio station say they are broadcasting at 50,000 or 100,000 watts. Well, a handheld business-type two-way radio usually broadcasts at 1-5 watts. A vehicle mobile radio may broadcast anywhere from 5 to 100 watts. The more watts a radio has, the farther it can transmit.
Certain models of two-way radios provide a feature of selecting the power output of the device. The different modes offered to the user are high power, medium power and low power modes. Most radios include only the high and low power mode. This feature is also known as the Power Selectable feature.
When a 2-way radio is used in for short range communication, it's always best to use the low power mode. Always try to use the lowest power setting. Running the device in low power mode conserves battery power therefore giving more time between charges.
Another reason to use the lower power setting is that your radios won't transmit as far, therefore limiting the number of people outside your group that can hear your conversations.
The high-power mode should be reserved for long-range communication, or for when there are lots of obstacles to penetrate.
When shopping for a walkie-talkie or setting up your new communication system, please try to keep in mind that there may be "soft spots" in coverage. A soft spot means that you may get great coverage in a building complex with a 1-watt UHF radio, but there may be trouble between the basements of building A and building C. If this is the case, and those locations are important, increasing your wattage may help. Considering the relatively low incremental cost of stepping up your wattage, it is generally best to review several radio types and purchase a little more wattage than you think you will actually need, just to ensure complete coverage in all situations.
Again, communication may happen at much greater distances than what we've stated here, but not on a consistent basis due to obstructions, weather changes, and so on. The key is to find the proper power level for your needs and get as close to 100 percent coverage as possible in your setting.
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