A Group Call, as the name suggests, is when you send a voice message to multiple recipients.
Think of Group Calling as the RF version of a WhatsApp or Skype Group Call/Message – you can send crucial information to all the members in your team(s) at the same time. The only difference is that, when you transmit your voice call with your two way radio, your team members will hear the message over their radios when you send it (you don’t have to wait for them to first accept your call or download your voice note).
When your Group Info has been programmed, your radio dispatcher can simply select the appropriate group(s) that they need to contact, either by manually dialling the designated group code, or selecting it from their contact list.
With modern Radio infrastructure and associated digital functions, reaching out to multiple people has become easier than ever before. There is no need for any of your Team Members to miss out on crucial information. This priority broadcasting function is especially useful in the public safety and security sectors.
Please contact our Sales Team if you’d like to know more about our Radio options that can facilitate Group Calls.
These safety tips should actually go without saying:
- Don’t use your hand-held radio whilst driving, unless the device is placed in a car kit holder utilising appropriate wireless or Bluetooth accessories.
- Do not utilise non-intrinsically safe two-way radios in the vicinity of petrol stations or areas where large quantities of solvents or combustible materials are stored.
Also, make sure that all employees who use installed two-way radio kits in any vehicles as part of their day-to-day jobs are sufficiently trained to do so safely; using hands-free solutions and audio accessories.
Make sure that everyone is aware that they need to handle their 2-wayradio in a responsible manner. Advise employees to:
- Exercise care when handling replacement batteries.
- Keep radio in a vertical position and the antenna at least 2.5 cm from the nose or lips to minimise RF exposure.
- Report any damage to the radio or antenna to a line manager.
- Ensure the device is carried ergonomically, utilising approved accessories appropriate for the work setting (such as carry case or holster) to avoid discomfort.
- Secure the device when working from height and utilise approved audio accessories to remove the risk of the device falling.
- Never place a radio’s speaker directly against the ear.
Acoustic Safety and Hygiene
Where high levels of background noise are an issue, radio users will be issued with a headset or earpiece that they must utilise at all times. Some basic housekeeping tips should include:
- Check you’ve turned down the volume before adding a headset or earpiece
- Sharing headsets or earpieces is unhygienic – don’t do it
- Ensure you regularly clean your headset/earpiece/voice tube with anti-bacterial wipes as per the user instructions.
- If you work in a noisy environment that exceeds the noise at work regulations, ensure you utilise an attenuating headset to prevent noise induced hearing loss.
In hazardous industrial or manufacturing settings, workers should be using handsets and accessories specially designed to operate in such environments.
Ensure personnel are briefed on the European Directives (ATEX) covering equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres, so they understand the importance of:
- Always using ATEX approved handsets and headsets – and check equipment classifications for atmospheres containing propane/ethylene/hydrogen
- Checking specific on-site regulations for the use of headsets/battery changing.
For over a century, Two-Way Radios have been used in multiple sectors. We find it quite impressive to think that, in a world where tech devices are replaced so quickly, the walkie-talkie is still relevant today.
Over the years, two-way radio devices have definitely evolved to adapt to our ever-changing needs and requirements, but can they really outperform phones in the workplace?
Let’s first have a look at some of the mainstream modes of communication available:
As the name suggests, landline telephones require fixed locations and an infrastructure relying heavily on extensive cable networks. In South Africa, these are usually installed and supported by Telkom.Fixed lines may be perfect for people working in office desk jobs, but they are much less practical for the factory floor, construction site, school grounds, university campus, or any other work site that requires workers to be mobile while talking to each other.
Fixed lines may be perfect for people working in office desk jobs, but they are much less practical for the factory floor, construction site, school grounds, university campus, or any other work site that requires workers to be mobile while talking to each other.
Mobile phones and smartphones offer excellent mobile communication as long as their batteries are charged and they have adequate signal strength. However, mobile coverage is notoriously inadequate in some and totally unavailable in other areas, for example, remote areas and indoor spots like elevators, stairwells and underground tunnels. Furthermore, cellphone service (GSM networks) are easily overloaded in an emergency, rendering it useless when needed most.
Sending texts or emails are great options for people who are (more) comfortable with instant silent communication, but some people are just more comfortable when having an actual voice conversation – and some information simply must be conveyed by voice. Such scenarios render text and email useless.
Digital two-way radios with keypads and displays can be ideal for texting along with all of the other benefits they provide.
Now let’s contrast them with some advantages of two-way radios:
Mobile & Durable
Two-way radios are more durable in rugged environments and often meet waterproof and dustproof military specifications so they can be used effectively just about anywhere.
Unlike cellphones, obstructions are not a major challenge. Your two-way radios might just require added power or the addition of repeaters to increase signal range. In larger facilities and across vast campuses, distributed antennas and bi-directional amplifiers can even boost signals further in even the most challenging environments. This is why two-way radios are so essential in jobs like warehousing, security or property management where users have to roam over wide areas.
On two-way radios, users push just one button to talk to each other, saving the trouble of scrolling through a contacts list and workgroups can be programmed to give users the choice between communicating with a whole team, or with other users one-to-one.
This flexibility makes workers much more efficient and it’s invaluable in emergencies or other situations where critical communications are vital.
With a cellphone or landline telephone, you have no choice but to wait for the call to 1) connect and start ringing, and 2) be answered. On a two-way radio, one-button functionality enables instant voice communication as soon as you start talking.
Instant communications are not only vital in any emergency when delays can cost lives, but also to speed maintenance technicians to the site of production line breakdowns or to help sales staff check with the warehouse to see if more products are available.
On a two-way radio network, a single user can call an entire group of people with the push of one button. Ever tried to set up a conference call or find different workgroups using a cell phone in a hurry?
Digital technology makes radios even cooler:
Digital radios convert voice signals into packets of data that can be transmitted over traditional networks, both wired and wireless. This makes your two-way radio a computing device that can send texts, receive text (including emails) and transmit voice signals around the world via the internet.
Digital radios also improve sound quality in noisy areas, and they use less battery power than analog radios, which means you can keep them on the job for longer periods of time.
They can even generate user data that can help track people’s locations and identify inefficiencies to help make businesses more profitable.
“Now, aren’t you glad we’re still here?”
– Two Way Radios everywhere
If you have already tried buying some two way radios (walkie talkies) for yourself, you will now know that there are quite a few ICASA rules and regulations that needs to be adhered to.
One of them, is the fact that you need (a) your own ICASA Spectrum frequency, or (b) permission to use someone else’s (eg. Radio Rentals).
We would be happy to see what type of Rental Arrangement we can come up with to suit your communication needs and resources, but if you still prefer to just pay & go, have a look at the Vertex Standard VX-241 license-free walkie talkie.
This rugged little buddy, needs no proof of frequency licenses or radio certificates before it can be purchased. It comes pre-programmed, and the range on it is about 3 km (line-of-sight).
Various optional accessories are available for this handheld radio, but what comes standard in each box, is:
- Antenna (fixed onto radio)
- Battery (1380mAh Lithium Ion)
- Charging bucket (cradle) & Adaptor
- Belt Clip
- User Manual & Safety Guide
Oh! And have we mentioned the 12-month product warranty? It covers all mechanical failures on the radio for 1 year from date of purchase (same warranty as on all other Vertex Standard radios).
We came across an old blog post by Michael Martens, which contains an excellent explanation of what it means when people talk about Antenna Gain / Dbi.
Since it also clarifies the reason for antennas in the two way radio world, we HAD TO share.
“I’m gonna take a confusing subject and hopefully demystify it. Antenna Gain is a popular subject amongst hams. We talk about gain all the time, we’ll compare antenna systems and apply values to as how impressive they are by their gain figures. But what exactly is antenna gain, and what do those numbers mean to…”
Source: Antenna Gain Explained
“Radio communication plays a critical role in ensuring the safe and successful management of rail networks. With trains often passing through several regions, it is important that they can regularly communicate with the different control centres for each area. Without this contact, the control centres are unable to oversee train movements, and operations and safety would therefore be in jeopardy.” (Simoco on Twitter, 11 Jan 2016)
— Simoco Group (@SimocoGroup) January 11, 2016
Those affected by the devastating train collission in Italy earlier this month, must still be reeling from the after shock. Such a tragedy could surely have been avoided?
From what we understand, the investigation is still under way, but what stumps us is the fact that – unlike Transnet – they still rely on an outdated method of signalling: “The line has no hi-tech signalling, so stationmasters have to notify each other by telephone if a train is on its way.” (The Guardian, 14 July 2016)
Hopefully it won’t take long for them to pinpoint what exactly went wrong so that disasters like this can be prevented.
The commercial radio band is mainly divided into VHF (Very High Frequency [longer wave lengths, longer distance]) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency [shorter wave lengths, shorter distance]), but if you’re buying your very first two way radio, these terms are probably more confusing than helpful.
We could probably simplify things by stating that VHF is usually suitable for any scenario where line-of-sight is possible (outdoor, no obstructions), whereas UHF works well indoors and between buildings; and although we wouldn’t exactly be wrong, we do recommend National Instruments’ RF tutorial as additional reading material for you.
This is probably the most frequent (if not the first) question posed to members of the two way radio community. We wish we could give you a clear-cut, rule-of-thumb type of answer so that you can apply it to every communication scenario, but due to the way two way radio frequencies work, there are simply too many factors at play.
What we can do for you, in today’s blog post, is to give you a rundown on the most important facts to consider when trying to pinpoint which two way radio solution will work best in your environment / set up.
- A fair distance expected from a standard VHF/UHF commercial two way radio, is about 1 – 2 km.
- The ideal (optimal) area would most probably be one with perfect line of sight, in other words, an area in which there are no peaks / buildings / structures obstructing the view between two users.
- Contrary to a common misconception, the range of analog and digital radios are the same. The only difference is that analog radios’ audio quality will continue to decrease gradually the farther away one user get from another, whereas the digital radios’ sound will remain just as crisp and clear until range is eventually lost (it will cut out as soon as range is lost).
You can, of course, purchase additional equipment to extend your reach. Renting or purchasing a repeater, with its own duplexer and antenna mast (usually a dipole antenna on top of a aluminium pole), used to be your only two options; but thanks to Vertex Standard, if you have a digital network, you can now also link your sites/users via an internet line and their new EVX-Link system.
However, in conclusion, if you need a communication solution, and you’re not sure whether a two way radio could seal the deal, give our Sales Team a call on 0861 326 6774, or send us a message with your contact info via firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll call you.
Meet the radio that has been frozen, driven over, blasted with dust, pelted with ball bearings, submerged under water, and dropped on the ground repeatedly: