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Kenwood Freetalk


Paul_Burkett

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Paul_Burkett

I was looking through a catalog and found Midland hand held GMRS 5 watt radios for $79.99 per set with a 14 mile range. Quite astounding for such a small unit, I thought, and since I paid over $200.00 for a 2 watt unit that can only get out maybe 5 miles with a good tail wind. Is there any way that the power can be boosted and not damage the electronic components? To me it seems that the less expensive units have better range, are smaller and 2 for $80 is a better deal for something that is not used often.

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Sounds like a good deal but I'd be suspicious about deals that sound that good. Kinda have to wonder about (automatic)functions that a higher priced unit may have that these may not...also the range statements are always BS so I wouldn't put much stock in that....but then again...maybe it's an amazing unit.

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Paul_Burkett

I would like to see the Kenwood model go up to 5 watts, then maybe it would reach out 10 miles or maybe more. I wonder why a mil-spec unit doesn't come with more power.

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With the exception of being on a mountain-top, I've found that the 2 watt Kenwood doesn't get much more range than any of the 1/2 watt FRSs. Getting more thatn a half mile is unreliable IMHO.

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Kenwood tests its radios over land. I have found that I get a realistic 1.5 - 2 miles in traffic at speed on GMRS. That's clear, understandable transmission.

 

One trick that can be used to maximize range is to test them over water. I don't know what method Midland or others use, but a less expensive radio with a longer range always makes me wonder. Another question is the quality of the reception. Do you just hear someone keying up at that range, or do you get clear transmission? Each manufacturer may have their own criteria.

 

Autocom sells Kenwood because their testing shows they work the best and have the best reliability (or so my Autocom rep told me). But they also sell Cobra simply because some people want to pay less.

 

I currently use a Kenwood XLS 1-watt and love it. I do own a Freetalk XL 2-watt, which is for sale. It really is twice the radio that the 1-watt is. But I've found that, except for the PITA of hauling them with me and replacing three AA batteries every day, the 1-watt does a very good job. The 2-watt XL has the option of the Autocom powered battery plate which takes its power from the Autocom so you never need batteries.

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Add an external antenna. It will improve BOTH receiving and transmitting. If you can't hear them, 5 watts doesn't do you any good anyway and 5 watts just runs the battery down faster.

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Paul_Burkett

I have heard that the antenna's are matched to the unit.

Is there any way that the power can be boosted and not damage the electronic components?
It would be nice to boost it up to 5 watts, and if eveyone could do it, that would be great. I am hooked to the bike's power, so there isn't any drain on the battery, so, I'm still interested in this setup, either that or getting lisensed for HAM and CB.
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I have heard that the antenna's are matched to the unit.
Yes that's true - in theory anyway. Although if you want to get into the nitty gritty - a rubber ducky antenna is not all that great a match. An external antenna would have to be cut for the 460 MHz range with a good quality 50 ohm feedline it would be a much better match. Not a big deal to buy or make yourself.

 

Is there any way that the power can be boosted and not damage the electronic components?
Don't know - there is a .ro website where you can download the software for the TK3101, and perhaps it allows you to modify the output power. Usually the parts in a milspec radio are rated for much more power than they normally run.

 

On the other hand, you could get your ham radio license, and buy a Kenwood TH-F6A which has 5 watts, is 1/2 the size of the TK3101 and you can also use it on the ham bands, as well as listen to AM/FM broadcast bands.

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I have never been able to go farther then half a mile and thats on a good day. I don't know how they can claim 15 miles. I wish for 1 mile.

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Timmer mentioned the Kenwood TH-F6A. In

addition to the radio, what do you need to connect it to an Autocom

unit? I have the Kenwood 3101 and the connecting cable.

 

Also, any other stuff I might need to know before pursuing this option?

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Paul, if you are considering the Midland radios, you can get them much cheaper at Bulverde Home Theater (http://www.bulverdehometheater.com/gxt500.htm). I also didn't want to invest a lot of money on a radio that I would only use on my RT and that only marginally performed better than a "cheapie" hand held. My cheapie Midland GXT-500 radios work just fine at a range of about a mile. I use the radio's VOX setting and have it connected to my Baehr Ultima with PTT switch. On a long day of travel I take both of them and switch after about 6 hours if I transmit alot. And they also are very convenient for car-to-car communication if you are traveling with friends/family in another car. smile.gif

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Paul_Burkett

I already purchaced the freetalk XL two years ago, and it isn't that they don't work well, because they do, I just think that if a $35.00 unit can have 5 watts, why don't the manufacturers put in 5 watts in a $250.00 unit and give it the max that the law allows. I'm not cheap, I just like to get the most for my money. I also have a pair of the less expensive radios that give up to 1 mile range, on a clear day with no obstructions and the moon in sync with the planets.

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Timmer mentioned the Kenwood TH-F6A. In

addition to the radio, what do you need to connect it to an Autocom

unit? I have the Kenwood 3101 and the connecting cable.

 

Also, any other stuff I might need to know before pursuing this option?

 

If you have the cable that connects the Tk-3101 to the Autocom, that part is just plug and play. The cable works on both the TK-3101 and the TH-6FA. The Autocomm push to talk switch for Kenwood radios works too.

 

To get the TH-6FA to work on the FRS & GMRS channels you need to remove a surface mount diode internally. I can send you the details on that, as well as the external antenna info, as an email attachment.

 

Take a look at this previous THREAD about two way radios. It has some great photos of an RT mount for an external antenna, and also some info about the Yaesu handi-talky.

 

If you're going to Gunnison either BeniciaRT or I can show you how it looks and works.

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