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FRS GMRS Radio Operating Tips and Technical Explanations: Part III

Other options available with FRS GRMS radios and how to use them continued.

   The first thing I would like to cover is the main mistake that most users of all types of two-way radios do, that is, to hold the radio itself incorrectly. The microphone that is built into the radio is designed for an audible level, not to exceed normal speech, from about two to three inches away. If you hold the radio up to your mouth directly and speak normally or a little loud as some think is necessary to be heard several miles away, I can assure you the one on the other end of the conversation will think they are talking to an alien. Or even worse, possibly their ex, which could bring back disturbing memories. So hold the radio directly in front of you with the front of the radio facing you and use, if you need to, your other hand in a fist to judge the distance that is recommended. So one fist away from your mouth to the radio is just right.

    Some models have the ability of one push-to-talk button (PTT) the option of high or low power when transmitting. So if you push on the top part of the button verses the bottom. You may be using high or low power without even being aware of it. So check your users manual. If you can maintain communications on low power continually, your batteries will last longer. Keep in mind you may be out there for along time, so conserve your batteries. So this will pay off to know if you have this option and know how to us it.

    In the dark, and possibly in an emergency, you may be holing the radio backward and did not know it. Obviously the audio may be distorted, or is so low they cannot make out what you are saying. One way to remember in the dark where the microphone is and to hold it correctly, is by remembering what side the antenna is on. Left, or right! This may sound silly but it does happen when all things go south in a moments notice. I have seen this myself when a helicopter is blowing sand all over you and making high amounts of noise and distracting the operator.

    So get to know how your radio feels in your hand, the right way and the wrong way. It may make a difference if you're not thinking clearly because you or someone else is injured. One last thing to be concerned about at the last minute, or when you should be concentrating on other things.

    Also get to generally know the operation of your radio. I've seen users pushing the wrong buttons thinking they're pushing the PTT button trying to transmit and they're not.

    Make sure that your radios are paired with common channels and private listing codes settings before trying to use them. Trying to do this in the field is never the best choice. Some models can be confusing and take a long frustrating time to get to communicate properly with the other radios. Bad time to find out they're not paired when someone is sick or injured. And once you have completed the settings, I suggest you lock the keypad out, if the option is available. This is just in case you mistakenly hit the keypad by accident and change your vital settings. This pre-keypad setting will assure all stays the same and make your day or night a better one.

    Now back to the private listing codes and channels. The term private listing is somewhat deceiving. What you're really doing by selecting a code between 1 and 121 is blocking out the reception of others so you don't have to listen to noisy traffic that does not concern you. The setting of zero usually means you will receive all radio traffic. That can get annoying if you're on a busy ski hill and others are on the same channel. So just remember, when you select your privacy code, others who have selected the same setting or have set theirs on zero can hear you.

    Now the channels. I'll go into more detail in the next article because it deserves more attention. But if you're going to be where you may want help, try channel 9 or 11, hence 911. They do not officially claim to monitor these channels at resorts. But they do. So keep it in mind if your snow skiing.

By Scott Hensler 0/12/2013

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