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paulmbowers

Latest Comms Update But wait... there's more!

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I was recently asked again about the radios some folks are using, and I thought I'd post a quick update. There are a few options, but this is what I (and many others) use.
 

I still use my old Yaesu VX170, which was later replaced by the 270 (I think). Most people have transitioned to the BaoFeng radios- much cheaper and appear to be very reliable. Here are the components you'll need to create a solid VHF system with the BaoFeng.

Radio: https://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-UV-5R-Dual-Radio-Black/dp/B007H4VT7A/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1516128160&sr=1-3&keywords=baofeng+uv-5r

Helmet kit, with speakers and mic:https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=139_144&products_id=2150


Main Harness: https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=61_1298_73&products_id=147

 

Radio jumper kit- goes between the radio and the harness: https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=53_36&products_id=104

or the longer coiled-cord version: https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=53_74_890&products_id=137

and some sort of push-to-talk button- this one mounts with velcro: https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=294_19&products_id=585


This is a system that uses VHF radio, and one is required by the FCC to have a license to operate on these frequencies. Ahem.
 

NOTE: One CAN buy a system much cheaper than this, but please (please!) don't. The cheaper systems fail quickly and have high-gain microphones that distort your voice, making it difficult for others in the group to understand you. You'll be REALLY LOUD, but unintelligible. You won't hear the difference, but everybody else will, and they will be wishing you bought the right system ;  )

The bluetooth systems like the Senas are getting better- still very limited range. Very clear digital comms when within range and you can add bluetooth music (and share it among your group).

I've lost track of the number of riders (old guys) who hated the idea of communications- until they tried them. And now they'll never go back, and prefer to ride with radio-equipped groups. It's much safer and your group will spend much more time riding than trying to find each other.

 

 

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Thank Mr. B

Good intel, especially on the mic. Please buy the mic first, then piece together system.

As example: We were riding in the area of South Carrizo wash through man high

( woman high n places ) creasote brush at start of ride. One gent was late arrive and some of us rode east for a warm-up and I stopped to take photos after pulling off the two track. So I finish the shots and ready to ride back toward start area. Even thowbI am off the bike I hear CID call out “We are coming At You”. I return “ Copy”.   As I step off the track to my  moto, here comes Chris. Whoa, you do not want to see CID coming At You on the trail. The Point - Both of us knew what to expect!

Radios save your butt

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My 2 cents. Have a couple of Yaesu’s (VX-170 and an FT-270) plus a Baufeng UV5R. The Baufeng is a good usable radio but the Yaesu’s are much better particularly with regard to receive sensitivity and squelch circuitry. If you’re on a tight budget the Baufeng gets the job done.  Whatever antenna you add make sure it is tuned for the frequency you are using. The Nagoya sold on Amazon is tuned for the amateur band (144 - 148 MHz) and will perform poorly in the higher business band (150 - 156 MHz). I know this is contrary to some but I encourage you to use a frequency in the Business segment if you do not possess a ham license. You are much less likely to encounter an enforcement action. Not so much of a risk using handhelds since the range is pretty limited but once you move into the mobile radio arena licensed hams don’t take kindly to you poaching their band. 

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@paulmbowers

 

Thanks for the valuable info. Your links to speakers and harness are the same, and they both point to the harness. Would you be so kind as to give us the link to your favorite speakers and mic?

 

Thanks!

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Just an fyi, The generic rugged radio set to use on a moto is on sale often, right now for $ 217. And, for 2 hours only yesterday, some noticed that it was on sale for $185. 

https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1104&products_id=1911

The Ham radio license is not hard, takes a little time, but is inexpensive (even free at times, Thanks SDAR), and there are great internet study guides to guarantee that you pass. It is worth it.

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2 hours ago, carlos said:

@paulmbowersThanks for the valuable info. Your links to speakers and harness are the same, and they both point to the harness. Would you be so kind as to give us the link to your favorite speakers and mic?

Oops!

 

I fixed it above, but here it is: https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=139_144&products_id=2150

 

This is the  basic helmet kit with the "improved" audio. One can also get helmet kits with 3.5mm jacks for inputting audio or outputting for earbuds. The music quality is not great, and it's mono, so a non-starter for me. I listen to music constantly using a set of earbuds for music, but keeping the volume low enough to be able to hear other riders.

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2 hours ago, MacDuncan said:

Just an fyi, The generic rugged radio set to use on a moto is on sale often, right now for $ 217. And, for 2 hours only yesterday, some noticed that it was on sale for $185. 

https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1104&products_id=1911

Yes!

 

But.

 

The RR radio will not dial in our most-often used frequency, 146.505, without using a computer (and cable) to change the programming. It's easy to do, but just be aware.

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He is sayin'   Out of the box it is 150MHz - 174MHz.   Can be programmed for 146.505 the club uses. 

 

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Just tell RR and they will be sure it includes the right freq.  They did mine on-site when I picked it up at their shop.  It did not include the clubs freq in stock form. (That's what I found out when I bought mine last year).

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Rugged has this setup on sale. However the frequency range doesn’t cover what most of us on SDAR use.

Am I missing something?

https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=296_35&products_id=1911&utm_source=Rugged+Consumers&utm_campaign=25965b5955-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_01_11&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_29b332f7ed-25965b5955-47252397&mc_cid=25965b5955&mc_eid=1d79b72a81

Trying to get a new riding buddy fixed up and don’t want to screw up.

CiD

 

Just read above post. Never mind. I’m old what can I say 

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10 minutes ago, Covered in Dust said:

Just read above post. Never mind. I’m old what can I say 

But wait- there's more!

 

The other consideration about that kit is the plug they use for the PTT. It's a RCA plug, which is fine- but- it's not compatible with the spare parts of other riders. If the PTT fails, you can only borrow another RCA style- and there are not many.

Not a big deal, but a consideration.

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Another thing to consider about that kit is that it's hardwired for the RH5R or Kenwood radios only.   

MH-O-RCA-K-LG.jpg

They offer a harness that can accept different "jumper cables" depending on what radio you're using.   This can come in handy if happen to use a different radio brand/model.  All you would have to do is get the corresponding jumper cable.

https://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1104_1239&products_id=147

 

 

MH-O-2-MD.jpg

1st pic is the hardwired version, 2nd pic is the one that can use different jumper cables

Edited by beniflas

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Just because we're talking here- the radio jumper is a weak spot. Weak enough that I always carry a spare, and use it fairly often. I've never determined what part fails- the radio end or the connector end.

 

Maybe the hardwired harness is better?

Or maybe the part will still fail and require the entire harness to be replaced?

 

Pfft. Who knows?

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 Mystery failures -  Yes that happens every time I forget to plug it into the push-to-talk and the cord is caught by the chain,, wraps around the sprocket assembly a few times.  Suddenly, the harness fails!   Design flaw in my opinion.   :huh:

 

Possibly all those tiny splices and wires don't like to be stretched by passing trees and other plants. I have a spare that was cut up and spliced back together. Not pretty, but functional.

 

 

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1 minute ago, Bagstr said:

 Mystery failures -  Yes that happens every time I forget to plug it into the push-to-talk and the cord is caught by the chain,, wraps around the sprocket assembly a few times.  Suddenly, the harness fails!   Design flaw in my opinion.   :huh:

 

Possibly all those tiny splices and wires don't like to be stretched by passing trees and other plants. I have a spare that was cut up and spliced back together. Not pretty, but functional.

 

 

I have the same failure on my system... obviously a class action suit should be considered

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I hate being passed by trees and plants. Especially when they grab my wires. 

 

And laugh at me. 

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Since we started using comms I've been a bit disappointed with the range. I've wanted a solution where I can use a higher-watt radio and an external antenna, but continue to use the existing helmet setup- works pretty good. Not a lot of options to do so, and would take a bit of soldering and fiddling.

But I was trolling the Rugged site the other day- lots of new options, especially for the SxS market. I found this radio in the demo section for $100. Compact size- not much bigger than a walkie-talkie. 25 watts, dual-band- it's a rebranded BaoFeng at slightly premium cost.

 

BUT!

 

They've done a little micro-surgery and lookie here at the familiar pigtail they've added! Plugs right into the RR harness system. I popped the case off to have a look- it's not something I'd really undertake as a DIY job, which means should I go this route, I'd be unable to buy a cheaper BaoFeng off radio from Amazon and convert it myself. Besides, they've done the work, they deserve the extra $35-ish out of my pocket. They also offer a very similar radio that is waterproof.

 

Stay tuned. (Isay that's a joke, son) I'll be working on a bike-mounted box/container and an external antenna solution.

IMG_9426.jpg

IMG_9429.jpg

IMG_9425.jpg

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That looks like neat radio.  I've been looking at similar configurations.  Very interested.

So what's the antenna and ground plane solution for the 25 watts?  The antenna is always the pinch point, otherwise you're just turning the added watts in to heat energy instead of radio frequency output.

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Antenna is certainly a problem. Easy enough to mount one, and they even offer antennas that “don’t require a ground plane”.

 

It’s nice they say that, but it does not cancel out the laws of physics. I suspect any external mounting solution will outperform a rubber ducky stuffed in a backpack, but by exactly how much is subject to real-world testing.

 

Other antenna issues- does it get in the way? Can I swing my old leg over it? Does it stab me in sensitive areas of my body during a fall? Does it break off during a fall? Is a 1/4 wave length sufficient?

 

Who knows?

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In order to use an  antenna without a ground plane it must be a half wave antenna. A half wave antenna without a ground plane will perform essentially as a quarter wave with the other quarter wave segment acting as a ground plane. Not very efficient but much better than a rubber duck. Any quarter wave antenna must have a ground plane to perform correctly and you will not be able to tune a quarter wave antenna to an acceptable SWR without a ground plane. Not good for performance and not particularly good for the transmit section of your radio. Half wave antennas are typically ~38" long however Comet makes a shortened version using a loading coil that's 27". Still kind of long but a little better.

https://www.amazon.com/Comet-SS-680SB-Spring-Antenna-Warranty/dp/B00Q5I8OK4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517174214&sr=8-1&keywords=ss-680sb

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On 1/26/2018 at 10:27 AM, paulmbowers said:

Since we started using comms I've been a bit disappointed with the range. I've wanted a solution where I can use a higher-watt radio and an external antenna, but continue to use the existing helmet setup- works pretty good. Not a lot of options to do so, and would take a bit of soldering and fiddling.

But I was trolling the Rugged site the other day- lots of new options, especially for the SxS market. I found this radio in the demo section for $100. Compact size- not much bigger than a walkie-talkie. 25 watts, dual-band- it's a rebranded BaoFeng at slightly premium cost.

 

BUT!

 

They've done a little micro-surgery and lookie here at the familiar pigtail they've added! Plugs right into the RR harness system. I popped the case off to have a look- it's not something I'd really undertake as a DIY job, which means should I go this route, I'd be unable to buy a cheaper BaoFeng off radio from Amazon and convert it myself. Besides, they've done the work, they deserve the extra $35-ish out of my pocket. They also offer a very similar radio that is waterproof.

 

Stay tuned. (Isay that's a joke, son) I'll be working on a bike-mounted box/container and an external antenna solution.

IMG_9426.jpg

IMG_9429.jpg

IMG_9425.jpg

Interesting. Do you know which colored wires are wired to which pins?

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