special requests…

16 Apr, 2014

Custom BPR40Recently we had a request from a great customer in Washington. Angela had seen a red BPR40 radio we had customized for her food warehouse employer. She asked if we could do one in another color for her. The answer was “Yes”.  Our radio service center is able to take a basic black new radio and transform it to another color. What you see pictured here is Angela’s new radio. We think the BPR40 looks pretty spiffy in Blue!

Some businesses choose to do this for radios which have a specific purpose or use. It makes the radio quickly recognizable, and alleviates workers from misplacing radios intended for a special purpose. One of our clients has red radios for emergencies in their forklift battery changing area. It is quickly spotted if a radio is taken from the area. Some land surveyors have brightly colored radios to help them find the radios if dropped while surveying.  Customized colors are only available for some radio models. Call or email us if you want more information about costs and lead times.

Antenna ID Bands shown in colors available.

Antenna ID Bands shown in colors available.

Another helpful item to differentiate radio work groups are Antenna ID Bands which are available 10-packs. This is an inexpensive, quick and easy way to identify where a radio belongs. These bands are available in a variety of colors and can be easily placed on your existing radio antenna.

~cl

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cellphone vs radioWe often are asked by friends, family and clients about the status of 2-way radio in a world where everyone seems to be carrying their own personal communications device, a cell phone. Here are some of our thoughts and thoughts of those in this industry concerning this subject.

Most people would admit they could not function without their smart phone, the computer attached to your hip. But in reality, as a communications device, a cell phone is still a device for making a phone call to another person. You dial a number, let it ring, wait for an answer, hope to talk to the person you are calling, possibly leaving a voice message. The process takes at least a minute of your time or more just to connect. And following this routine, you may end up having a conversation for several minutes.

When using a two-way radio you simply press the push-to-talk (PTT) button and instantly speak to your group (or one-to-one depending on your radio system). You can give a brief message or instruction, receive an immediate response and finish your task accordingly. The entire process typically takes a few seconds. It is fast and efficient, saving time and money. In the realm of public safety and businesses such as construction, it can save lives. In addition, radios are highly effective in high noise environments, built rugged for long-term use, offer an intuitive one-touch user interface, and feature a battery designed to do a full day’s work.

Nearly all business models of two-way radios are repairable and have replacement battery packs available. The life expectancy of a two-way radios is up to 10 years, with many exceeding this mark.  Computing the cost of purchasing a typical business 2-way radio (Motorola CP200) over 10 years including replacement batteries every two years and 1-2 repairs, it would calculate to under $10/month to own/operate the radio. Much less than the overall cost of cellular for the same time period.

Cellular devices are generally speaking rather fragile. The majority are too lightweight for work environments. Battery packs are often non-replaceable.  If you talk to those in the cellular industry, you will find the life expectancy of a phone is about two years. At the 2-year mark, the cell carriers are ready to make a deal with you where you can get the next model “free” or inexpensively to keep you as a client. The industry is reliant upon the monthly fees we all pay. We’ll let you do the math on what a maintaining a cell phone will cost you over the course of 10 years.

Radio communication is instantaneous with the simple use of a PTT button. The person needing information  receives it quickly. Requests for assistance are heard by everyone monitoring the frequency. This is essential in many industries and especially in public safety. Radios designed for public safety can also have other features such as an emergency button or a mandown feature where the radio will notify dispatch of an officer who is no longer vertical. In construction when giving instructions to a crane operator PTT radio technology is the quickest form of communication.  Think about restaurant hostesses or retail clerks communicating with others on their team. This type of communication is done more efficiently using a radio versus a cell phone. It would be hard to imagine the public safety or business world without 2-way radios.

Cellphone & CP200 side-by-sideAnd up to now we haven’t mentioned the downside of using a cellular device instead of a radio, things such as surfing the web, playing games, making personal calls, just aren’t a problem when businesses use two-way radios for their onsite communications. So when choosing between using your smart phone and 2-way radios, you can see where the two devices differ both in features and overall long term cost. Both have their place where they can work to the best advantage. It’s up to you as a business person to choose your communications device wisely. ~cl

humorous arrival…

27 Feb, 2014

You never know what might ride along to the radio repair facility with the two way radios. This week we opened up a box to find this rubber chicken (and a handful of other novelties) along with several Motorola MagOne BPR40 two-way radios for repair. And just in case you were wondering why a customer would have a rubber chicken… they are in the novelty business. They use radios aka push-to-talk (PTT) technology to communicate. From time-to-time them and another West Coast client will send us a little surprise in the box. We’ve received plastic spiders, switchblade combs, stickers, magnets, finger puppets, and an ostrich puppet, just to name a few. It definitely adds a little humor to the day and a smile to everyone’s face.

The novelty company’s handy little BPR40 radios have been repaired and are on their way back across the country to California. We kept the chicken.  He has found a temporary home in a drawer at the radio check-in desk. I’m sure we’ll come up with a humorous use for the plucked fellow. According to Wikipedia: A rubber chicken was customarily kept behind Johnny Carson’s desk on NBC’s The Tonight Show as a comedic talisman, as it was believed that “A rubber chicken always gets a laugh.”

It definitely got a laugh here. (Thank you Scott.)

~cl

CP200d_frontThe newest radio to come along is the Motorola CP200d. It is part of the widely touted MOTOTRBO digital/analog line of radios. Trbo radios are a great transitional radio into the digital world. You can add them into your fleet as an analog radio to match your existing radios, and then one day when you are ready they can be upgraded or reprogrammed to be digital. Or even be digital or analog on a per channel basis. Much like the existing CP200 radio, the “d” model is available in either VHF or UHF and has 16 channels.

The CP200d is available from Motorola Channel Partners (a fancy way of saying authorized dealers) in two versions:
1. Analog only model, upgradeable later to digital (upgrade MSRP $83).
2. Digital/Analog model. Straight out of the box the radio has both features.

The advantages of digital are much like you would have experience when changing to a digital cellphone a few years ago, 40% longer battery life, clearer transmissions, and a small to moderate increase in range. Good news is the radio uses the same batteries and chargers as the standard CP200. Some audio accessories will be backwards compatible such as the PMMN4013 remote speaker mic. Many other audio accessories are available for the digital models. Watch for the digital symbol to be on the accessory to insure good functionality with the digital radio.

The analog model is priced pretty much the same as the standard longstanding CP200 radio. The digital version of the CP200d is $50 higher. Also new on the scene are the CM200d, CM300d, and XPR2500d mobiles.

At this time the standard CP200 you have known for several years is still available, and we continue to repair this model in our Radio Repair Center for a flat rate repair of $85.

Have a great 2014!
cl

NNTN4497The Motorola CP200 radio has come with 3 different battery types over the past few years. The current CP200, CP200-XLS, and new digital CP200d come with the NNTN4497 Li-Ion 2250 mAH battery. You can expect this battery to give you a good full work day of 12-14 hours. Life expectancy is approx. 18-24 months. Li-Ion is less likely to suffer from the memory effect which is common to the NiCd chemistry of batteries. It is the preference battery by most users.

The current NNTN4497 Li-Ion battery and the earlier NNTN4851 NiMH batteries need to use the fast rate charger to properly charge their battery packs. The fast rate charger is easy to differentiate from the trickle charger. The fast rate charging tray has outlines of several batteries depicted on the bottom of it, while the trickle charger has only one outline of a battery.

The trickle (slow rate) charger is only useful for charging one chemistry of battery, the NiCd NNTN4496. Early models of the CP200 radio came with the NiCd battery and a trickle charger. Note: The NNTN4496 NiCd battery is no longer available from Motorola, but still available from after-market vendors. Older model CP200 radios can be upgraded to use the current Li-Ion NNTN4497 battery and a fast rate charger with no modification needed to the radio. You would simply need to purchase the Li-Ion battery and a fast rate charger.

The next step up in radios from the CP200 is a nearly identical PR400 radio. The PR400 radio can also use the same chargers/batteries as the CP200 line of radios. The PR400 comes standard with a slim Li-Ion 1600 mAH battery NNTN4970, which will also fit the CP200 radio.

The single unit and multi-unit fast rate drop-in chargers for the CP200/PR400 radios will accommodate any of the above mentioned battery types. The charger features a convenient insert which can be removed and turned around to fit the size of battery being used. This same insert has vertical rails which guide the battery into place, and will hold a battery alone or a battery attached to a radio in place during charging.

Tip: Always have your radio turned off when on the charger. And only charge your battery when it is 80% or more depleted. This will help you achieve a long full life from your batteries.

Most batteries will last approx. 2 years (or 3 years if you treat them really well). Use the manufacturers date code to determine the age of your battery. On a Motorola brand battery the first digit(s) are the year and the last two digits are the week of the year.  Example: 1226 would be 2012, the 26th week, and 226 would also be the same date (or if very old it could be 2002, the 26th week). Keep in mind using an old battery for an extended period of time can eventually lead to the radio needing repair. If you plan to use your radios for many years it is wise to replace your batteries every 2-3 years. This will help keep your radio in tip top shape.As always, call us if you have questions.

~cl

CP200Hardworking, durable, tough, will take a drop, these are all phrases we hear when people are talking about the CP200. It is the best choice in the mid-tier of Motorola radios. It is an all around construction grade radio. It is the replacement radio for the SP50, P110 and P1225 radios in the former Radius Division, now Commerial Series for Motorola. It durable 40-hour a week working radio, has a full two year factory warranty, and comes equipped with both a long-life Li-Ion Battery and a Fast Rate Desktop Charger. All the month of February this model is $20 off. PLUS, if you get 6 radios Motorola is offer a $185 rebate.

Flat rate radio repair is available for the CP200 after it is out of warranty for $85. Includes parts, labor and return shipping.

~cl

Thinking License-Free?? If you are looking to replace your fleet of radios with something that doesn’t need an FCC license, the ideal choice for you might be the DTR650. It is license-free 900 MHz, (not VHF or UHF). It has simple text messaging, up to 20% more range than the CP100, and it is digital with a crystal clear transmission that will amaze you. The DTR650 is currently available for $229 ea., includes 1-hr drop-in style charge, carryholder w/swivel belt clip, rechargeable Li-Ion battery, stubby antenna (not shown) and 1 year warranty. Multi-unit charger is also available.  Note: 3″ antenna differs from photo.
We are seldom so excited about a radio, but this little gem has us talking. One of the office girls took one home for lunch, and was able to talk back to the office from her living room just over a mile away. This was through houses, trees, and talking from inside. Crystal clear transmission, no static or noise. AMAZING! We are not making any guarantees on range, because every situation differ. Just saying, we were impressed.
If you are thinking of an upgrade or complete change, this might be the radio for you.
~cl
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