Friday, November 01, 2013

How Advancedbiker uses a radio during his sessions

Earlier this week I was invited to do a talk, well 'natter' to WHAM, the Worcester and Hereford Advanced Motorcycle Group at the monthly meet at Bromyard.  I took along some bits and bobs, radios, ear pieces, video equipment and the night went very well.
I got thinking, I have not really explained what I use for my training, especially radios, so here goes........
I have been using radios for training/mentoring what ever you want to call it since the 1980's and a few ups and downs settled with the system I have a present.
Just to set the scene....
In the United Kingdom there are basically three methods of communication between riders when riding motorcycle and they are:

  • PMR 446 Radio -  Personnel Mobile Radio 446 is a handportable short range voice only communication system, which provides a basic but effective radio service for both business and non business users. It is ideal for providing communication over short distances; such as within office buildings, factories and building sites. Only speech transmissions can be made.  It is licence exempt and works on 8 dedicated frequencies.  However on many radios these channels have upto 38 sub channels.  Power output 0.5 watt.
  • Private Business RadioThe PBR UK General Licence allows customers to use hand-portable or mobile radio equipment anywhere within the UK without the need to inform RA. The licence for this service has been designed to allow customers access to one or more of fifteen frequencies spread across four PMR bands. As this is a "go-anywhere" type of service, the use of base stations is not permitted unless prior authorisation has been obtained from RA. There is no limitation on the number of sites where a licensee can use radios covered by the UK General licence, or on the duration of use at any location. The maximum permitted effective radiated power of equipment used under this licence is 5 watts.  This costs £60.00 for three years.
  • BLUETOOTH - Many devices available from manufacturers like Interride, Scala etc.
So you can see you have a choice, but I always kept coming back to PMR 446 and Autocom.

I started with the Autocom Pro 7 Sport which was hard wired to my motorcycle according to the manufacturers instructions, noting to connect the live feed to a switchable source, ie rear light and earth back to the motorcycle battery.  In this way it minimised any interference.  The unit served me very well for a number of years until Autocom updated the systems and brought out the 7 pin leads and easier ways to connect you sat nav and mobile phone to the units.  AT THIS POINT can I say that there are still a great number of Autocom units available on E Bay and they still provide an excellent communication system.  All you need to do is perhaps change the foam on the mics,etc, which can still be bought. 

Next the way of getting communication between the motorcycles, well I went for ICOM PMR 446 and that was back in 1990 and they still work as good as new today.  These particular radios can be powered directly from the Autocom units, so no need to keep charging batteries. HOWEVER any Autocom units manufactured after 2009 do not have this facility.
The most popular radios appear to be the Kenwood Protalk range, the 3101, 3201 3301.

The price of these radios in the region of £150.00 - But check E Bay you may be surprised.
I have just fitted an Autocom to a client Honda and used a MITEX radio, cost £75.00 and half the size of the Icom and Kenwood.

Time to update to the present system....Autocom AVI 300 Duo, now fitted to the BMW R1200GS and using the Icom PMR 446 radio for transmissions.  At this point it is worth mentioning that as any potential clients, riders, associates etc do not have to transmit back to you, you can consider buying cheaper PMR446 radios. Some at MAPLINS for instance.....They work....

I used these Cobras for many years and all that is need is audio and this can be achieved in a number of ways with:
You can try the D shaped ear hangers, in ear ear phones or I have found the ones sold a MP3 speakers work very well.  For just over £5.00 from Ebay you get two slim speakers which can easily be fitted in minutes to the helmet.  If the helmet is too tight, slip them in after wards.

The twin speakers from E Bay - note the extra adapter fitted.  Converts mono from radio into stereo for the speakers and in effect fills the helmet with sound.

So a typical set up (above) for me is a radio bag, Wintec radio, E Bay speakers.  

This bag is given to your client associate etc, or they can put the radio in a pocket.  But for better reception I prefer the radio exposed with the aerial upright. With having a  number of Autocoms over the years and the fact I am a bit of a horder I had some spare units so I decided to put a kit togetherwhich included the Pro 7 Sport, spare headed (speakers and mic) and Wintec PMR 466 radio

The unit is contained in a small Autocom Tank Bag, which is magnetic and I give all my clients to option to try the system.  To date I have not had any rider who has not tried it. 
 The unit is self contained and powered by a small 9 volt battery, however if you chat wit your client before hand I often find they have some sort of system fitted and or or an external power supply, 12 volt cig lighter socket will do,

Back to the AUTOCOM - How do you know is it working, well you can hear your speech as background in your helmet speakers.  

And if you don't like VOX, you can always fit this  a three way switch which gives you the option of : 1 - VOX, 2 - Permanent transmission, 3 - Transmission but not going out on radio - Handy and the red button Press to Talk

I Hope this has all been useful.  I am only a Blog, or email  away if you need any more help.

Well having bored you with the technical stuff here is a video off Youtube showing it in practice,  In this clip the rider has the spare Autocom unit and is doing his own commentary for the first time.  WHY ?Well he freely admitted that he had a few issues with his concentration, so I suggested he talked to himself whilst riding...This them developed into, well how about trying some commentary and this is what happened.......

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