Help for a total novice - festivals

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Help for a total novice - festivals

Postby Sleepyoto » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:32 am

Hello,

I am hoping that someone knowledgeable might be able to help me out...

I have next to zero knowledge of all things radio (I don't even know what TX stands for). I did start googling but realised quite quickly that it would be more efficient to ask experts my specific questions, than trying to piece together through multiple sites.

I bought a set of Cobra MT600s so that the family could keep in touch when camping in areas with poor signal (and children who don't have phones). We tried using them last year at a festival and gave up because so many other people were using them, they kept blibbing the whole time and we could hear other peoples' conversations (so no doubt vice versa). I felt sure there must be a better solution so then discovered they have privacy channels (maybe I should have read the manual more carefully!).

So for this year's festival my questions are:

Is it simply a case of selecting a channel, then a number within that channel to obtain privacy (if no-one else has selected that number)?
There is a choice of CTCSS and DCS - I understand one is analogue and one is digital but which is preferable to use in our situation?
If we are set to a privacy channel that no-one else is using, what will we be able to hear of others' comms, and what will others be able to hear of ours?

Many thanks in advance.
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Re: Help for a total novice - festivals

Postby m0lsx » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:49 am

CTCS & DCS do not give privacy. If you leave your radio on with no CTCSS or DCS then you will hear everyone, regardless of what DCS or CTCSS codes they are using.
What DCS & CTCSS does, is, it allows you to only hear those radios transmitting using the programmed CTCSS or DCS code. All the other users will still be there & they will still interfere with you. But you will not hear them.
A radio frequency, as a general rule, is only capable of carrying one user at a time, any more & you start to interfere with each other & it's normally the strongest signal that wins. I say normally, because even the strongest signal may be unreadable.
Also the range on your radios is going to be in general a few hundred feet at most in most circumstances, especially in a crowded enviroment. The signal will not get past many people, or trees, buildings, vehicles etc etc. And if there is a small land rise between you, then forget it. UHF is as a whole very short range.
Using much more powerful radios that yours. Mine are amateur radio & capable of many watts & into a much bigger antenna. Whilst yours by law has a small antenna & a few thousandth of a watt. And even with mine, unless one of us has some good height, we as a whole mange to cross two fields normally & that is dependent upon the type of hedges.
Unless you are talking mountain top to mountain top with nothing but fresh air in between you. Then you can forget the claimed multi Km distances given. Expect maybe a 100 yards across a clear field & maybe if your are lucky more. But do not expect it.
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Re: Help for a total novice - festivals

Postby Sleepyoto » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:15 pm

Thanks so much for your reply.

So when you say other users will interfere although you won't hear them, do you mean that it will reduce the ability to pick up each other's signals? Or that you will hear their calls but not what they are saying?

The site is a small one, bowl-shaped with no hills but quite heavily wooded. We certainly seemed to pick stuff up over a wide area last year!

So what's the alternative to these Cobras for our situation? Can you give an example of a product, and do they need licences?
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Re: Help for a total novice - festivals

Postby G4RMT » Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:49 pm

Let's say there are 6 different users on a single channel, each with their unique tone. They only hear transmissions with the right tone. At a festival, this just means you don't get bothered by the other 5. They do - however interfere with each other. Let's assume one of your party on channel 1, tone 1 want to go and get a beer. If nobody else transmits on your channel, you hear them. If while you are talking somebody else comes up on channel 1, tone 2 - then if they are close to you, they will prevent you hearing your radio at the beer tent. If your other radio is closer, you will probably hear them but with nasty swirly-interference overt the top. The rule for radios is one voice at a time. The tones you cannot hear, but the radio does, simply stop you hearing them. At a festival, even essential business radio systems struggle with people talking at the same time. Their radios often are set to not allow a transmission off the channel is busy, which helps keep the interference to a minimum. With PMR446, it's a free for all. No discipline, idiots, children and bad language. Enough people to guarantee that you will hear plenty of conversations, and they will hear you.

Plus the enthusiasts who wig into everything for a hobby. Even worse with festivals is that all the official hire channels will be full too! The organisers, on site caterers, security, the entertainment, the toilet emptiers will all be using radios - and the hire channels will be chaos. People who want comms unofficially with less chance of being overheard buy cheap radios and put them on obscure channels, effectively hiding their use somewhere unlikely to bb noticed. PMR446 is not good with many thousands of people!
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Re: Help for a total novice - festivals

Postby Sleepyoto » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:59 pm

G4RMT - thanks so much for that post, it is very informative and helps me understand the scenario better.

Can you give an example of a "cheap" radio? This is the sort of thing I was wondering about, having something that could be set to an obscure channel - but probably not worth it if it's crazy expensive as it's only going to be used once a year.

Thanks again for the help.
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Re: Help for a total novice - festivals

Postby m0lsx » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:37 pm

Sleepyoto wrote: This is the sort of thing I was wondering about, having something that could be set to an obscure channel - but probably not worth it if it's crazy expensive as it's only going to be used once a year.


It is not possible to set a legal licence free radio to an obscure channel as there are only a few UHF channels. Using CB handhelds would probably be as obscure as you could get. But CB's are more bulky & need a much larger antenna. However, it would give you a far greater chance of finding a quiet & reasonably private channel.
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Re: Help for a total novice - festivals

Postby thelad » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:22 pm

I would go with the new 446 Freq and some cheap handys.
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Re: Help for a total novice - festivals

Postby Southwales » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:57 pm

Another option could be to get a set of binatone radios that have the secret channel 9, not many people know about or use Ch 9,. You press Ch up and down why turning on the radio to get the secret ch9,. Binatone action 950 is one set that I know off the has ch9 feature as I have a set. https://www.google.co.uk/search?client= ... TSd7HoBVaQ
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Re: Help for a total novice - festivals

Postby m0lsx » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:28 am

Southwales wrote:Another option could be to get a set of binatone radios that have the secret channel 9, not many people know about or use Ch 9,.


This is NOT an extra channel that other manufacturers fail to use. It is just one of the same licence free channels that everyone else has to use.
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Re: Help for a total novice - festivals

Postby Davie Boy » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:52 pm

m0lsx wrote:This is NOT an extra channel that other manufacturers fail to use. It is just one of the same licence free channels that everyone else has to use.


Not quite.... the binatone hidden channel is on 447.00625.... outside the PMR446 usual range :wink:
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