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Tamworth Manufacturer case study

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A Tamworth manufacturing business approached Yesway, seeking to improve their factory communications system.

Tamworth, which is in the west midlands county of Staffordshire has many manufacturing businesses.

The clients factory already had an aging analogue license free PMR446 radio system, but there were coverage issues, due to the site being spread over a large area.

Yesway travelled to the clients Tamworth site, and carried out a full equipment inspection of their existing equipment.

A comprehensive radio coverage range survey was carried out, to identify the coverage blackspots.

It was identified that parts of the furthermost goods yard from the main office, had no communication coverage at all.

The clients manufacturing premises is spread across two separate sites, with a road between them.

Another issue is that like many modern factories, the buildings are largely made of steel.

Radio waves do not like penetrating steel, and causes what is known as attenuation.

Attenuation is when the strength of the radio signal being transmitted or received, is reduced by physical objects.

Physical objects can include man made objects such as buildings, or natural features of the landscape, such as trees and hills.

As the buildings were largely metal structures (which radio waves don’t like), presented am exciting challenge for our Yesway engineering team.

Of course being Yesway, our team was fired up to improve the customers radio system.

The Yesway team initially tried a VHF Hytera PD405 radio, but it was established that VHF was not going to work best with the clients site.

We then tried UHF, using our demo Entel DX series radios.

UHF worked better than VHF at the location, but there were still a few blackspots in communication coverage.

The conventional solution would have been to add a radio repeater.

A radio repeater is a device that boosts signal range, by receiving and re-transmitting the radio signal.

A radio repeater however would have doubled the cost to the customer.

Yesway engineers decided to try something else first.

We cut a helical antenna to the actual resonant frequency length. This optimised the performance of the handheld radio antenna.

With this optimisation of the handheld radios antenna, full coverage was achieved, at half the cost of adding a repeater.

The customer therefore saved money, and still gained full site coverage.

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History of Two Way Radio

History of two way radio

History of two way radio
Information on the history of two-way radio communications.

History of Two Way Radio

Radio communications systems started to appear in the late 19th Century, with pioneers like Marconi sending signals across the Atlantic by morse code.

[bctt tweet=”Radio communications systems started to appear in the late 19th Century, with pioneers like Marconi sending signals across the Atlantic by Morse code.” username=”acraigmiles”]

Soon such systems were being rapidly adopted by both government and industry, as an alternative to the existing ‘Wired’ telegraph systems.

Radio offered advantages over the Telegraph system, due to cheaper infrastructure costs. This is because the telegraph system required purchase and installation of telegraph wires & poles.

Radio communications on the other hand, did not require expensive long distance wires, and the installation of many telegraph poles.

Radio proved to be particularly cost effective compared to the telegraph, for international communications, which required undersea cable installation.

There were some  disadvantages of early radio communications systems however.

One such disadvantage was call privacy, as early radio systems did not use the modern encryption methods available on radio systems today.

This meant that confidential messages, could be easily eavesdropped, by ‘Third Parties’.

This was an issue for both government and business users, but modern systems have overcome this.

A famous early example of radio communications use, was the ‘Titanic’ ship disaster of April 1912. The Titanic being a state of the art ship, had been equipped with a two-way radio system, which used Morse Code for communicating messages.

As the ship was sinking, radio messages were able to be sent out for help, and it was the first time that the new emergency code ‘SOS’ was used.

Although there was a massive loss of life, many lives were undoubtedly saved due to being able to get the message out to rescue ships in the area that they were sinking.

Without radio communications, the first indication of the disaster would have been, when the ship failed to arrive in New York as scheduled.

 

In 1922 the BBC was formed in the UK, and for the first time the ordinary (non geek) public were able to experience radio. Although public broadcasting is only one way communication, it is worth mentioning as a milestone in the history of radio communications.

World War Two necessitated innovative approaches to communications, and the american company Motorola was the first to develop a handheld portable ‘Walkie Talkie’.

As the Transistor and solid state electronics were not invented till the 1950s, the wartime Walkie Talkie used ‘Thermionic Valves’ (Tubes in the USA). This meant that they were not particularly efficient, and quite large in size.

The Motorola designed Walkie Talkie was however an important step forward in radio communications development.

Private commercial use of Two Way Radio by businesses in the UK started just after the war in the late 1940s. This allowed businesses to instantly communicate with there drivers out on the road, and was very useful for Taxi firms.

Early equipment was not particularly efficient compared with the latest Digital & Analogue radios available now. Reasons for this include, inefficient use of frequency bands (wide bandwidth), and less efficient electronics available to the designers of the equipment.

In equipment prior roughly to the 1980s, the frequency that the radio was required to operate on (set by what is now OFCOM), was controlled by a ‘Crystal Oscillator’.

These had to be custom made for a particular frequency, and then installed into the Two-Way Radio. Once installed, they needed to be set up using a Radio Communications Test Set.

Modern equipment does not require crystals to be purchased and installed, but does instead require the radio to be connected to a computer system and programmed to the required frequency and options.

Modern Two Way radio systems are sometimes also integrated into the internet, and it is possible to communicate using a handheld Walkie Talkie, from a field in the UK to a factory in Australia.

To do this the signal is recieved from the handheld radio by a Digital Repeater Base station located near and within range of the handheld radio. The voice signal is then fed onto the internet by the Repeater.

At the Australian end is another internet connected Repeater, which then transmits the voice signal out to the nearby Australian factory workers handheld Walkie Talkie.

When the Australian worker talks back, the process works in reverse.

 

Author: Craig Miles BSc( Hon’s), PGCE

Twitter: @acraigmiles

craig.miles [at] yesway.co.uk

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Entel

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The Dependable and Rugged Entel range of Analogue and digital Two Way Radios are established winners in the Marine Industry, and also produce durable handheld radios for dry land too!

As Authorised Dealers for Entel, the British designed radio range, we would like to offer businesses in Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire an on-site demo during this month.

We are sure you will be impressed with the Sturdiness and ease of use, that the Entel range offer serious business users.

Call (01522) 740818 or (01482) 520818

From £150

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Should I buy secondhand radio equipment

secondhand radio equipment

We often are contacted by people who have, or are considering buying secondhand radio equipment from auction, and other websites. They often want us to reprogram the equipment, which we can do for £20 + VAT per unit.

According to the UK distributor of two-way radio equipment, they recommend that the reliable lifespan of handheld radio equipment, is between three and five years.

Whilst secondhand equipment might fine for non safety critical applications, in other words if no ones life could potentially be impacted by equipment failure, we recommend new equipment for peace of mind.

For example if you run a security firm, then you are potentially putting your employees well being at risk, if the radios fail at a critical time.

Are you as an employer prepared to take that risk?

If not then we can supply brand good new equipment from £130 per handheld radio. Your choice of course!

(c) Craig Miles 2014

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Gainsborough Two Way Radio Services

Two Way Radio Services For Gainsborough

Yesway Communications of Lincolnshire can provide full two way radio services, including voice communications, Industrial IOT & M2M integration, to businesses in Gainsborough.

Our specialism is providing business users with robust wide area communications solutions, that can cover wide geographical areas of the UK, as well as locally in Gainsborough, and wider Lincolnshire.

Whatever your business requirements for wide area or localised radio communications, we can provide the solutions you seek.

Our solutions include the ability to create custom product solutions, to achieve exactly what you need.

 

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Why mobile phones can be an expensive business communication solution

A number of years ago when I worked for a Worcestershire based two way radio company, mobile phones were starting to seem a viable alternative to two way radio for large organisations such as councils.

Indeed some council departments and private companies replaced their free to call, two way radios with mobile phones, believing that the call packages offered by the mobile phone companies would work out cheaper than the cost of maintaining a fleet of two way radios.

What happened was that they had no control over call cost expenses, and it was expensive, slow and almost impossible to send a ‘group message’ from the base controller to all personnel quickly.

An example was in  an emergency situation when you did not want you vehicles and employees to be in a certain location. With mobile phones it was slow and inconvenient to have to call up each employee, whereas with two way radio, all users could be contacted simultaneously which aids safety in an emergency, and has no call costs involved.