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Tips for Locating a Clear Channel on your Two Way Radios

With the growing popularity of two-way radios for both commercial and personal use, it seems they’re everywhere. They’re particularly popular for both staff and visitors at vacation resorts. Since the FCC approved the Family Radio Service (FRS) band in 1996 and later allowed for integrated GMRS and FRS for a small licensing fee, the power and the number of channels available to two-way radio users increased significantly. Ever improving two-way radio technology and efforts to make radios smaller, lightweight and ergonomic has made them a top choice over cell phones for staying connected with coworkers, friends and family.

Two-way radios are a great way for family members to keep in touch on the ski slopes, mountain hiking trails, beaches and other busy vacation and resort areas.

Ski slopes, hiking trails and vacation resorts are examples of environments where two-way radios are prevalent. Most offer 22 channels and up to 121 privacy (or interference elimination) codes for each main channel. While that sounds like an awful lot, available frequencies can fill up fast in busy areas. So, offers these tips on locating a clear channel for your two-way radios.

•    Switch off your radio’s Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System (CTCSS).
•    Choose a channel and listen for activity. Skip Channel 1. Since many users don’t bother to change channels when they take their new radios out of the box, Channel 1 is usually busy.)
•    Listen for a minute or two. If conversations are ongoing, try Channel 2, then Channel 3 and so on until an unused main channel is found.
•    If you are in a high-traffic area and main channels are filled, choose the main channel with the least amount of chatter, switch your radio’s CTCSS back on and choose a privacy/interference elimination code that provides suitable communication.

Remember that others who happen to dial up the same channel and code can hear your conversation, so avoid sharing sensitive information – like the fact that your lodge room is empty while your whole family is on the slopes.

For more helpful tips on programming and using your new two-way radios, including downloadable owner manuals for Motorola RDX, CLS, DTR and XTN series models, visit’s online Knowledge Base.

Are Private Two-Way Radio Settings Really Private?

Two-way radios can help keep your family in close contact in busy areas like vacation resorts, shopping malls and parks.

Two-way radios typically offer 22 channels and up to 121 privacy codes, also called “interference elimination codes” for each main channel. These privacy codes allow two-way radio users to communicate with each other without interference by outside radios. For instance, managers of a warehouse can use two-way radios to talk with all of their employees, then switch to privacy settings to speak communicate privately with other managers. Another example is a family visiting a busy vacation resort where resort employees and other guests also are using two-way radios to communicate with one another. Those 22 channels can fill up quickly in either scenario. But using privacy codes can help assure constant contact with your family members.

Privacy or interference elimination codes also are called CTCSS (Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System) or CDCSS (Continuous Digital Coded Squelch System) codes. They allow you to subdivide main channels and minimize the amount of unwanted chatter that a two-way radio user normally would hear on the main channel. For instance, by dialing channel 17 you will hear the conversations of all others within range who also are using channel 17. However, by adding privacy code 23, for instance, your radios will tune out all other voices so that only your family’s messages are heard on that particular setting.

It’s important to note that no setting is really “private.” Anyone within your radios’ reach who also happen to dial up the channel and code that you are using will be able to listen in to your conversations. This is why many manufacturers today call them “interference elimination” codes instead. Please keep this in mind when sharing information that you wouldn’t want strangers to know. Also note that CTCSS (analog tones) codes are numbered 1-38 and generally are compatible across two-way radio bands. CDCSS (digital) codes are numbered 39 and up and may not map exactly the same across brands. Purchasing the same brand of two-way radios for your family, employees or others with whom you want to keep in touch will help assure that you will be able to communicate with your group easily and may help boost your level of privacy.

To learn more about two-way radio brands, settings and codes visit‘s Knowledge Base section or call 888-560-0758 to talk with a two-way radio specialist today.

Tips for Choosing the Right Two-Way Radios for You

Choosing a two-way radio system that’s right for you and your family, business or other group can seem a daunting task. Whether you’re a manager looking for a way to better communicate with your staff working in a large warehousing or retail facility; a parent looking to keep in close contact with your kids on a mountain hiking trip; a volunteer coordinating an emergency response operation; or a ski instructor looking to communicate with students and fellow skiers all over the slopes, offers a two way radio system with features that perfectly meet your needs.

First, choose the configuration. Two way radios come in two basic configurations: FRS (Family Radio Service) and GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service). FRS models operate with a half-watt of power and can transmit on seven FRS channels and seven shared FRS/GMRS channels for a total of 14 channels. GMRS models are higher-power radios that operate on one or two watts of power and can transmit and receive signals on any GMRS or FRS bands – a total of 22 channels. GMRS models work better for outdoor recreation (such as hiking, skiing and boating), but are pricier and require a five-year FCC license for use.

Next, consider the range of coverage you’ll need. Higher powered models boast range claims of up to 25 miles. And they’re perfectly capable of this kind of range in “optimal conditions,” meaning an unobstructed line of sight between two radio operators, preferably from a high vantage point in clear weather. A ski resort on a sunny day is a great example of these optimal conditions where even lower-powered two way radio systems should work well.

A densely wooded hiking trail or work facility where employees are separated by walls, buildings and machinery obviously will have less optimal conditions. Depending upon these conditions, even a higher powered GMRS radio may be limited to a coverage area of a few miles but is much more likely to be effective than is a lower powered FRS model. A helpful tip to maximize possible reach is to choose a two-way radio with antenna and radio bodies of equal or near-equal lengths.

Also consider the number of channels you many need. If your radio will be used only in areas where two-way radio usage is low, such as on your family farm or estate, the seven to 14 channels on an FRS or FRS/GMRS system should suffice. However, in high-traveled areas such as vacation resorts, shopping malls and business facilities, even the 22 channels offered on a GMRS system can fill up quickly. Radios with CTCSS or CDCSS systems allow you to subdivide main channels by using privacy codes (also called interference-eliminator codes). These codes allow two-way radio users to connect via a combination of channel and code.

Other features to consider are size, shape and weight. Lighter, less bulky two way radios fit better in backpacks and also are better for restaurant wait staff and others working in high-traffic areas. Skiers, mountaineers and workers who wear protective gloves will want an ergonomic design. Hands-free features, such as VOX (voice activated broadcasting), are important for many situations, as is a noise filter for crowded or noisy environments.

For safety, a Garmin RINO radio (Radios Integrated with Navigation for the Outdoors) allows users to broadcast their location coordinates – a potentially life-saving feature in, for instance, an emergency on the hiking trails, ski slopes or large work facilities where dangerous machinery is used. And a weather radio taps into the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather band stations for local forecasts and weather conditions. offers a full array of systems designed for various professions and environments. If you need help finding one that’s perfect for you call 888-560-0758 or email us to talk with a two way radio specialist today.

Many factors should be considered in finding the right two-way radio for you and your company, family or group.

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