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Radio Technical Information FAQ

For all your questions about using 2-Way Radios in the Racing environment. For any items not covered here, please feel free to contact us for further help.

 

 

 

Q. What is the difference between UHF & VHF? 

A. In short, uhf has a better ability to travel thru things, i.e. metal, concrete, trees, etc., it is also less susceptible to interference. vhf is more prone to interference from spurious outputs from other electrical devices; i.e. HEI ignition systems. Generally uhf Radios are used in most racing situations today.

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Q.  How do I know if I have a UHF or VHF radio?

A. If you know the channel frequencies, then you can tell by that; 300mhz-3ghz is UHF (Ultra High Freq.) , 30-300mhz is VHF (Very High Freq.) If you don't know the channel frequencies, then you generally can tell by looking at the length of the Antenna on the radio, uhf tend to be shorter, 3-4" and vhf longer, nearly twice. (that is assuming they are both the same wave length)

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Q. What is the wattage rating on a radio?

A. Wattage is the output power of the Radio, generally more is better, but also means it consumes the battery more quickly. Higher wattage is more helpful on longer race tracks, tracks that have a lot of obstructions, building, trees etc. Also when there are many other people around you using radios, i.e. very crowded Pit Lane.

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Q. For racing do I need an external antenna?

A. General rule of thumb for any radio is, the higher the antenna position, the longer the distance that can be covered. That being said, unless done properly it may not be better than the existing Antenna on the Radio. Tin top cars, top of roof is a great location. Open cockpit cars can sometimes get away with the antenna on the radio as long as the Radio is positioned high enough with the Antenna pointing up.

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Q. What are privacy codes (DCS & CTCSS)?

A. Are a set of selectable unique tones that the assigned channel/frequency put out that allows only the radios configured for that specific code to be able to hear or transmit among themselves. Example: ch freq = 455.0000, ctcss = 126.4; only radios with this config can talk & hear each other, someone using freq 455.0000 can not hear them or can not be heard by the first party. There are a couple of items to note when using these codes; in the example above, if the second party (freq 455.0000) is talking amongst their group and the first party trys to talk within their group, they will not be able to hear, as the first on the freq get precidence, regardless of having privacy codes set. The other item is there is some delay in using the privacy codes, so unless the person talking pauses (1 sec) after pressing the PTT, the first part of what they say may be clipped. The other item is, there has been in some instances, performance degridation when using privacy codes.

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Q. Should I use privacy codes?

A. If you want to reduce the likelihood of you hearing someone else on your channel or someone hearing you, or you are easily distracted as a driver by hearing someone else's communication, then you probably want to assign a privacy code. I was racing once at a large event, and during the event I was hearing someone asking about Hotdogs and what someone wanted on them... not good. With the advent of so many FRS & GRMS radios around today, that sort of thing can happen.

 

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Q. What is a battery eliminator and should I use it?

A. This is a replacement item that is put in place of the recahrgeable battery and allows the radio to be connected directly to a 12v source, i.e. cigarette lighter. These are very helpful for longer races where a rechargeable battery wouldn't last or in situations where there is a lot of chatter; talk = battery drain. The Battery Eliminator also helps the radio to operate at it's maximum output wattage all the time.

 

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Q. What is the importance of "good" cabling/harness?

A. Many time the importance of quality cabling/harnesses are over looked, When in fact it is one of the most important items in a wired communications system. There are (2) important factors in good cabling; the electrical shield characteristics and the mechanical strain relief. Without proper shielding you will get interference from other items such as ignition noise and with out proper strain relief you will develope breaks in the connections and/or intermittant problems.

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Q. How should I mount the radio in a car and run the cabling?

A. The Radio should be mount such that any shock or vibration is minimized, and that it is protected from weather elements. If you are using the rubber antenna that comes with the radio, then location is also important to optimize the performance. Mount it as high as possible in the car, but not right up against a roof panel, as that will act as a shield to the antenna. Usually door sill high is a good location. The cabling should be routed where it won't get caught or pinched and as far away from other electrical sources as possible. Any metal shelled connectors should not come in contact with any metal framework on the vehicle; a piece of electrical tape works well here. Where coil cords are involve, such as on a PTT, enough slack should be allowed to turn the sterring wheel from lock to lock without over stretching the cord. There also needs to be enough slack on those vehicles that have removable steering wheels. Lastly route it where it won't get pinched while turning the wheel. btw, throwing the steering wheel with the coil cord attached, only works in the pros where the pockets are deeper...

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Q. What are "custom earmolds"?

A. The typical Pro Style Earbud come with a compressable foam  earpiece on them. For some, these work just fine, for others, they have difficauty keeping them in the ear. The Custom Earmold, is a Kit that makes an exact impression of your ear and replaces the foam piece. They serve a number of purposes, They stay put in your ear, offer greater noice blockage and they help to strainrelief the delicate wires on the Earbud transducer.

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Q. What about using helmet speakers vs earbuds?

A. This is an opinion item; Earbuds will block more noise, thus allowing you hear the communication, better for louder cars. While some don't like to have things in their ears... Earbuds are typically more costly and also more delicate.

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Q. Why are those darn earbuds so costly?

A. The Prostyle Earbuds utilize a small, very expensive transducer used in Hearing Aids. Need I say more?

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Q. What is the difference between the Behind the Head (BTH) headsets vs the Over the Head (OVH) headsets?

A. OTH or Aviation style Hadsets have only one strap or band that goes over the top of the head, BTH style Headsets have (2) bands, one over the top and one behind, the benefit in these is when you bend over the headset doesn't fall off.

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Q. Is it difficult to mount the microphone helmet kit in the helmet?

A. Our Helmet kits come with all necessary mounting hardware as well as step by step instructions. Usually take about 1 hr to 1 1/2 hrs, a Drill with 1/8" dia bit, a Pop Rivet Gun and removal of some of the foam padding from inside. If you work on a race car, you can handle this task.

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Q. What is a noise cancelling Mic?

A. This is a special Microphone that is used in high noise environments, it allows only the intended sound to be picked up, for this reason, these microphones need to be very close to your mouth (almost touching your lips). Many times people will complain that they have their volume on the radios turned all the way up and they can't hear. Usually due to the Crew person wearing the headset not having the mic close enough. From 0"-.38" make a big difference. This is also why the Mic in the Helmet is on a flexible boom.

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Q. Do I need a remote antenna for my crew headset?

This is a situational call. Put simply if you take any of these 2, 4 or 5 watt radios in an open field (no obstructions) they will be able to transmit up to 4-5 miles away. Now this is far greater than any straight point to point distance at any race track, so why does "drop out" occur? Any time there is an obstruction to the antenna, power transmission will be reduced, i.e. your body, buildings, trees, earth, other Radios, etc. So it really depends on the performance you are seeing at the types of track you run...flat, least obstructions better than hilly, treed tracks, i.e. Sebring or Daytona, vs. Watkins Glen, Road America or Laguna. The other item as mention previously, the higher the Antenna the better.

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Q. What is the difference between a full radio package and a crew radio package?

A. A full Radio Package, like the ProValue Package, includes everthing a new user would need for the Car, Driver and one Crew member. The ProValue Crew Chief Package is for those individuals that already have  car to crew communications and want to add another Crew member. Remember to get the frequencies and privacy codes of the existing radios to program into the new radio.

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Q. What is the Scanner Jack and how do I use it?

A. This is a 3.5mm stero jack on the earcup of the Headset, usually opposite the coil cord connection. It allows you to plug any other audio device into the headset and the pearson wearing it can now hear two audio streams at once. This could be music, monitoring other teams, corner workers, track officals etc. We find it extremely helpful to monitor the corner workers. Someone once said, "If someone lays down oil and I can be alerted of it from my crew person and save me from putting the car into the wall, well, then the radio system just paid for itself"...

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Q. What is the difference between NiCAD & Lith-ION Batteries?

A. NiCad (Nickle Cadnium), NIMhd (Nickle metal Hydried) batteries are the older technology to the new Lithium Ion  batteries. People are most familiar with the Lithium Ion batteries as this is what is in everybody's cell phones now a days. There is a condition called "memory" that is very important to understand for the NiCad & NiMHd batteries.

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Q. How should I charge the Batteries?

A. Based on the fact that the NiCad & NiMHd batteries have "memory" it is very important to follow these charging details to maximize the life of the battery. The procedure is as follows: a new battery must be fully charged for 12-15hrs before use, then the device may be used, but before recharging the battery, make sure that it is all the way depleted, usually by leaving the device on until it is "dead", then put back on the charger making sure it again gets a full charge, 8-12 hrs. This is the cycle to follow always and you should have many, many years of service. (it should be noted that you don't want to leave the device "on" for long periods to drain down, i.e. days weeks, etc as damage may result) Due to the "memory" condition, if you recharge the battery before it is totally depleted, the battery may never have the same capacity it should.

Q. What is the difference between IMSA and NASCAR style cabling?

A. The basic difference between the two is, IMSA is a (4) wire connection and NASCAR is a (3) wire; where the grounds for Mic and Speaker are seperated for IMSA and are tied together for NASCAR. Some Motorola radios require the IMSA style, but most radios work with the NASCAR style. Most systems we have sold over the last 12 years have been the NASCAR style. The only other time this cabling becomes important, is if you have multiple drivers; what type of connections do the have on their helmets. Adaptor cords are available to convert a drivers helmet from one to the other.

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