Sunday, May 20, 2012

Walkie Talkie Guide (UHF CB Radios)

Once upon a time, I had a pair of really cheap 3xAAA walkie talkies. They were small and well built, but batteries died within three hours, and range was terribly limited. That was in 2006. Walkie Talkie tech has not progressed much since then (it's still all FM on an analog signal), but the quality and affordability of decent walkie talkies have improved.

There is a dearth of information on the internet regarding realistic Walkie Talkie / UHF CB practical range. Manufacturers often claim 22 to 36 mile ranges which is utterly inaccurate. Alot of people are also misled into purchasing small walkie talkies that are no more than kids toys.

This article covers UHF Citizen Band (CB) class licensed (public spectrum) radios. VHF is used in marine applications where range over unobstructed surfaces / water is more important. Ultra High Frequency (~477MHz in Australia) does have significant ability to penetrate objects and is better in built up environments. If you've used a cellphone, you've used a UHF radio so you already have some idea about how well it penetrates walls. Since cellphone towers are located at very strategic vantage points (hills / towers), cellphones get by with relatively low power output. GSM cellphones maxes out at 2W and averages less than 0.5W during a typical phone call. With a walkie talkie, both parties are the cellphone tower but located at ground level - a very big caveat as UHF does not penetrate ground/earth.

In this article:
  • Basic facts about walkie talkie range.
  • Buying Guide.
  • Nice accessories to have.