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Proposal: PMR446 walkie talkie usage

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Old Sunday 16th February 2020, 12:33   #1
Borjam
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Proposal: PMR446 walkie talkie usage

I guess most have seen those reasonably prices walkie talkies, called PMR446, usually sold in pairs. Actually all of them are compatible, there is no need to use the unit with its pair (although some may wrongly believe that) and in Europe these units don't need any license. In the USA there is a similar concept called "family radio".

PMR446 is the name of a standard, not a brand. These units are made by multiple vendors such as Motorola, Cobra, Midland, etc.

I am always surprised at how many birders usually rely on mobiles phones and Whatsapp to keep in touch, for example, if a group splits.

- The mobile is cumbersome if you are also using binoculars, spotting scope...

- Mobile phones don't like bad weather. Walkie talkies are much more robust and some are even submersible.

- Try to use a mobile phone with gloves.

- If you need reading glasses you will pull your hair out with the glasses-on-glasses-off ritual

- You can't operate the mobile phone while you are looking at anything else.

- If there is no cell phone coverage it's useless.


To make it worse, the mobile phone is a closed group communication tool. You can only communicate with people you already know who are on your contacts list. Sometimes it may be useful to hail other birders in the area in order to ask a question.

There is already an initiative in Spain to standardize the usage of channel 7 + subtone 7 for mountain emergencies.

https://www.researchgate.net/publica...ncies_in_Spain

In Spain it has been used successfully by the emergency services in order to coordinate volunteers helping in a difficult mountain search. Of course the emergency services have their own equipment in specifically authorized frequencies but they can use PMR446 in order to communicate with mountaineers in an area.

My proposal is to define a standard birding channel in order to hail other birders in the area, share observations, ask for tips, etc.

It can be channel 2 + subtone 2 given that the World Wetlands Day is the 2nd of February.

Beware, though. Always buy PMR446 equipment or, if travelling outside Europe, equipment authorized for the area being visited. Also, remember that the usage of radio transmitting equipment by civilians can raise suspicions in some countries. Avoid those cheap walkie talkies that advertise broad VHF and UHF frequency ranges. Those are not authorized and an unlicensed user can be fined.


What are the advantages of these units?

- First and foremost, they don't demand your full attention. You can speak and listen while you look at whatever you fancy. No need to stop looking through your optics. Also, no need to put on your reading glasses.

- These walkie talkies are robust. Some are even submersible. No weather problems.

- You can operate them with gloves of course.

- No cell coverage needed.

- Most use standard AA batteries available everywhere. You can of course AA NiMH rechargeables (Panasonic Eneloop Pros work very well).

- There are no privacy problems (no need to exchange telephone numbers) nor a need to prearrange anything. If these units get popular you can hail birders in an area.


What do you think? I wil begin carrying a walkie walkie turned on on 2-2 when birding.
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Old Sunday 16th February 2020, 16:35   #2
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What is the range? Based on that and the area in question, it can end up being completely dead or impossibly crowded :)
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Old Sunday 16th February 2020, 17:56   #3
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Originally Posted by opisska View Post
What is the range? Based on that and the area in question, it can end up being completely dead or impossibly crowded :)
Depending on terrain, a few Km.
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Old Sunday 16th February 2020, 18:02   #4
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They were used extensively in the Scillies in migration time back in the day. Not sure if they are still hanging on in usage these days?
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Old Sunday 16th February 2020, 18:02   #5
Mike C
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These radios (or something like them - Midland GXT models) are used in October on Scilly.
Outperformed both pager and WhatsApp last year on some occasions, although almost everyone I know was using radio, WhatsApp and pager.
I think they are also used (but a private group) on Spurn.
My ringer friends certainly use them.
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Old Sunday 16th February 2020, 18:04   #6
Mike C
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dantheman View Post
They were used extensively in the Scillies in migration time back in the day. Not sure if they are still hanging on in usage these days?
Back in the 80's & 90's it was Citizen Band (CB) radios
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Old Monday 17th February 2020, 08:31   #7
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Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
Back in the 80's & 90's it was Citizen Band (CB) radios
But CB radios are bulky and much more expensive while these PMR radios are much cheaper, more robust and they can fit in a pocket.

And even cheap ones (say, 60 euro a pair) have a surprisingly good speech audio quality.
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Old Monday 17th February 2020, 08:47   #8
Mike C
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Borjam View Post
But CB radios are bulky and much more expensive while these PMR radios are much cheaper, more robust and they can fit in a pocket.

And even cheap ones (say, 60 euro a pair) have a surprisingly good speech audio quality.
Correct
That’s one of the reasons why they fell out of favour.
I have a Midland GXT 1050 and it has good audio, good battery life and it’s compact and robust.
Borjam - we are agreeing.

Last edited by Mike C : Monday 17th February 2020 at 08:47. Reason: Spelling
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