In an effort to further organize our group, it was decided to introduce a standard method of communication for group events such as Fun Runs, detail parties, meet and greets, etc. The standardization kept being put off since no one could agree on the best method. Originally, in the days of the first fun runs and meets, cell phones were the only way to go during the long trek to the destination. If outside your home roaming area, however, this can prove to be expensive.
When the annual SOGI/PacNW Vegas meet time came around this year ('98), Keith and I decided we needed something to keep in contact for the long trek down from the Northwest to the Southwest. After numerous comparisons and tests, we found what we were looking for in the Motorola TalkAbout personal communicator.
We tested it completely on the trip down and it didn't let us down. It's 2 mile range, incredible voice quality, durability, ease of use and ergonomics made it a natural addition to our caravan. Compared directly to the same product from Radio Shack, the Motorola's auto-squelching and voice quality improvements algorithms made a huge difference in being able to clearly hear people over the blare of the radio and road noise. As far as range verification, our best test was me being able to hear Keith while he was at the Rio and I was at the Tropicana!!!
If you want, it has the ability to go completely hands-free with the purchase of an additional headset unit. It will then go into a voice-activated mode and trigger when you speak. You could probably make this work without the official headset, but that looks the most comfortable. Keith and I were simply clipping them to our seat belts once buckled in and keeping the unit up near our ears so we could hear each other even over the radio without cranking everything up too loudly.
Since we were so impressed, we decided to make it the standard method of communicating for all future PacNW events. If you want to get in on the action, this will be the product we'll be endorsing.
The official channel to listen in and be involved with during fun runs will be:
This obviously means that you're not stuck on this channel, but if you'd like to tune in an be a little more involved than you are currently, this is how to do it. Check in before each fun run to see who will have a radio and to double check the code for the day.
Finally, for the more frugal members of our group, Motorola does make a non-digital display version of our radio. They are also 14 channel and 38 codes. To set them to a channel, I believe it will speak the code to you (voice-synthesis). Either way, they're a little bit cheaper. Also, they do make a more expensive model with a scanning ability I believe as its primary new feature. This will work as well, but we couldn't justify the added expensive of being able to scan when we prefer to remain on one channel. Lastly, Motorola makes a much more expensive model which claims a 5-mile range. Do not purchase this one since it works on a totally different frequency band and technically requires FCC registration. Ours uses the free FRS (family radio service), which is a free-to-use block of channels set aside by the FCC.
In a final note, Radio Shack does make a radio which is cheaper and works with this band, but after many many miles of trials with it (Chris E had one coming back from Vegas98), it has awful voice quality and poor range. But, you get what you pay for right? I just wanted to alert people of this option since it is about 2/3rds the price, but PacNW won't be endorsing its use.
Created: 10/05/98 by C. Jensen
Last Updated: 11/08/98