Communications Electronics

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Commercial 2-Way Radio - Sound - Closed Circuit TV

Help FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Common Problems & Solutions

These are questions posed over the years that have been heard frequently enough that the answer may be of some help

Q. I just put a new antenna and cable on my (brand) radio but I can only talk a few hundred feet. I tried it in another truck and it's fine with an old antenna.

A. The most common problem is frayed shield wires touching the center conductor of the coax connector center pin. Use an Ohm-meter or continuity tester to check the cable without the antenna attached. There should be no conductivity between the center pin and the shell of the connector.

Q. I can't get the (Tone Squelch) to work when I hang up the microphone - I keep hearing other people no matter which switchs I try.

A. Many of the later model radios require that the microphone hanger clip be grounded to the vehicle body to activate the tone squelch - check to be sure that the clip is either connected directly to the body thru a clean mounting point or that a grounding wire is run from the clip to ground if it is mounted on plastic.

Q.I've been told by [somebody] that I need a license before I can use the radios I just got [usually from e-bay or one of the chain stores].... (rest of comment deleted)

A. First, not all radios need a license. The radios sold as "Family Radio Service" and for "CB" (Citizen's Band - Class D - characterized by typically having 40 channels or 23 in the case of old units) do not require licensing. However, ALL the other radios you see for "commercial use"...even those in the chain stores that are in the "bubble packs" require an FCC license before use. The FCC takes a dim view on unlicensed operation and has the ability to assess fines of over $5000.00 and even jail time! The licensing proceedure is a little confusing for most people but not impossible if the instructions (that come with the license application) are followed to the letter. License terms run for 10 years after which they can be renewed with little effort. For actual forms and the fees for licenses check out the FCC's web site.

Q.When I transmit the (dash indicator light) comes on.

A. Most likely you are experiencing R.F. interference from the antenna system leaking into the vehicle's computer. This can be especially bad on Low Band-Hi Power radios where the RF from the antenna gets into the rear window defroster wires and travels up to the control system. There is no single answer except to check the grounds on both ends of the antenna cable to be positive that they are solid or try moving the antenna to a location on the vehicle that doesn't "look" directly at some vehicle internal wiring (usually center mount to the roof is best). You may also want to make SURE that no other systems in the vehicle are being affected such as the fuel delivery or braking system when the transmitter is activated. If all else fails you may need to find a service shop that is familiar with RF problems in vehicles and may even have to resort to replacing or modifying the computer in the car with additional shielding.

Q. My portable sounds funny on transmit but the service shop says it's OK.

A. I suspect you've sent the portable in for repair without including the battery. A battery with a bad cell can receive just fine but can have STRANGE problems show up on transmit-- have the battery checked or if it's over 3 or 4 years old replace it.

Q. My portable will only run for a few hours and stops working (remainer deleted). The shop says it is OK but it keeps doing the same thing.

A. Make sure you have the radio turned off before putting it into the charger. Most charges cannot properly charge the battery and run the radio at the same time.

A. Added 01/2002..... We've been seeing a rash of this problem that has been traced back to the users buying the "new technology" NiMH (Nickle-Metal Hydride) Batteries (usually mail-order). The problem is that even tho the NiMH batteries don't show as much of a memory problem and usually have higher capacity ratings compared to the same style NiCad battery that the radio came with, the charging technique and time to get a full charge on a slow (standard) charger are different.
Since the capacity is higher it also takes LONGER to fully charge the battery... so if you're used to charging the battery for - say - 14 hours it may take 18 hours or more with NiMH.
Even scarier are the "fast chargers" that are common for the NiCad batteries... Since the charge characteristics are different with NiMH, it's quite possible to overcharge them... worst case ... and even have them explode. You may want to check the temperature of the battery at the end of a charge cycle (in fast chargers) and see if it's just WARM or HOT!
The answer is to either get batteries compatible with your charger or get a charger designed to charge NiMH!

Q. My radio works fine on receive but not on transmit.

A. This is a tough one without more information. A bad antenna will often work fairly well on receive but fail miserably on transmit. Also check the leads supplying power tot he radio - a poor connection can cause the radio to "starve" for power during transmit but work fine on receive. I'd probably check the antenna first then the power leads.

Additional Info - Advice