Bike-to-bike Intercoms

What have you got bolted onto your bike, or draining the battery?

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Bike-to-bike Intercoms

Postby stevewp » Tue Jul 04, 2006 9:24 pm

As there was some recent discussion about bike-to-bike comms, I thought I'd give a little extra info on radios.

Myself and 3 others tried several setups before settling on our kit. These were all done with Autocom Pro M1's.

The first was PMR's. They worked ok, but above about 70-80 the became unreadable. They also had only a very short range (less than 1/2 mile I'd say, and probably nearer 1/4 mile).

UHF radios with standard 'rubber duck' antenna. These were noticably clearer straight away, and worked right up to higher speeds (over 100 mph). They also worked up to around a mile range.

UHF radios with external antennas. Suddenlt the range increased massively. We tested around 2 miles over here (never bothered trying any greater distance), but achieved somewhere nearer 4 miles in the Alps.

The PMR's only run 50mW (IIRC) and have fixed antennas that are very inefficient, without the ability to plug in an external antenna.
The UHF radios had switchable power (2.5W or 1W or so) and, as they use a BNC, you can connect an external antenna.
The external antennas we use are 1/4 wave colinears, with around 8dB of gain. They're unobtrusive and fit inside your panniers when you're parked up.

We actually run the radios on low power as the antennas are close to the radios, and with the gain through said antenna, actually cause the radios grief.

We bought Icom U16's, which are old but very hardy (not like modern stuff that is likely to break), easy to program, have enough features on them, and cost us around £35 from a radio rally.

Now, a friend of mine runs a bit of a business selling, installing and repairing radio gear, and says he would do UHF radios at £45 each. I haven't the specs on these. I only know they're Chinese and he rates them, especially for the money.

If anyone is interested, I'll happily find out more details. No-one's going to hold anyone to anything - I just don't want to aks the question if no-one's at all interested.
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Bike-Bike intercoms

Postby OmegaChassis » Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:37 pm

I would be interested in the radio's, do you have any photo's available
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Radio Licence

Postby 24c » Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:47 pm

Don't you need a licence?... for these radios & the Chinese ones :) , as mentioned in your post for the older topic.
I've just started riding the GTS again, and it'll be changing

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Postby stevewp » Wed Jul 05, 2006 12:42 pm

You do. However, it's also very cheap to do the course and buy the license. Or of course, you could use them unlicensed, but I'd never suggest or condone that! :whistle:

I'm not saying this setup won't cost you more than a PMR. It will - noticably more. But if you've spent £350 (or however much they are these days) on a decent intercom, another £100 or so to make it worthwhile having is nothing.

Tony - I'll ask him this weekend for some more details.
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Postby Dave Carey » Thu Jul 06, 2006 12:23 pm

:D :D

Steve ( Or a Moderator ) can you recollect where the other posts were relevant to MP3's and stuff were...just thought be a good idea to have it all under this heading...

My views have changed somewhat since the summer arrived....Riding with my precious behind me slows me down to the point where I think I could enjoy some radio/music on a ride full of tedium...ie m/way plus my shoulder wouldn't be bruised from being thumped....which at the moment is Maries's way of communicating with me.

I bought some of the ..so called crap radios with vox..ideal for pillion to rider...however having ridden with several different groups of members it would be "Way to go" to have a more powerful system for rider to rider.

Be pretty cool if members stayed on the same page for bike to bike..range etc..That way when the inevitable happens, a confusing junction and suddenly you are seperated from the main group..hey presto you have communication for maybe five minutes before the guys and dolls are out of range. Enough time to be guided back to the the group.

So Bossman as Omega asked...any pics..more info..are they Vox.

Thanks I await with baited breath for your reply..
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Postby stevewp » Thu Jul 06, 2006 1:10 pm

Um....mp3 info....good question. I can't remember off the top of my head where it is, but will have a search over the weekend if no-one beats me to it (I'm sure Ansco will cos he the keenest man alive - fortunately!).

And I don't know any more details about the radios. I'll talk to him over the weekend, work permitting and get full specs :D
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Postby Dave Carey » Thu Jul 06, 2006 2:53 pm

8) 8)

Steve I think Vox is a must...PTT..naghhhhh, unless I have overlooked something....Braking..steering and holding on is about all I can do at the same time..don't really want another button to press.

I think maybe the Club could have an objective in mind here to buy a strong radio, kept in the care of a sensible person for the more frequent CLUB rides we are likely to have.

Sale of patches should get us somewhere near, if not this year, then later...just a thought.

Be easy as well to round us up at any bike functions we attend so our beer doesn't get warm. A call to order so to speak..
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Postby stevewp » Thu Jul 06, 2006 2:57 pm

The autocom itself sorts out the vox if I'm correct, so you don't need a ptt switch. I just have the multi-function switch on mine cos I liked having the options.

I'll check to make sure it doesn't need to be vox, but if it does, I'll get a price on a vox radio.

As for a setup for base, I can sort that with what I have already, so no need to splash out (although a car or some other source of power would be useful, though not necessary).
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Postby stevewp » Fri Jul 07, 2006 4:23 pm

Looking at Autocom's website, the unit itself definately seems to sort out the vox on it's own, and trips the PTT on the radio automatically.

Further details on the radios to follow!
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Postby stevewp » Sat Jul 08, 2006 3:25 pm

Okey dokey,

just chatted to my chum and he can do us a potentially better deal.

There's a Licensed PMR band at VHF. The license for this is £60 for 3 years, and should be buyable for the club - ie anyone in the club can operate on this band under the one license.

He can do us some radios for £50 each. They run 5W and you can plug an external antenna into them. Obviously 5W at VHF is going to produce massive improvements in range and robustness of signal over our little 1W at UHF.

He reckons about £15-20 for the antennas.

He'll program up the radios for us and give us the software if we want it so we can alter the programming.

So, I'm going to go over there soon and run a test. My main concern is whether we get the same problems as when we ran high power on our UHF radios, so we'll hook one up and see what happens.

I haven't got details of the exact model, as they're a clone of another radio - the GP344 shown towards the bottom of this page.

The only other thing though is with regards the license and so on. He recommends that if we're going to get ourselves licensed, we should have one CE approved radio (which these aren't cos they're clones). Now, if we're going to run a purely mobile setup, I'm not sure I'd even bother with the license, but if we're going to have someone back at base on our meets, we perhaps should think about doing this. I haven't asked about the cheapest CE approved radio available cos it seemed unneccesary at this time, but obviously it'll cost us a bit more, and we have to work out if it's worth it to us.

As soon as I've run a test, I'll let you know.
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Postby Dave Carey » Sun Jul 09, 2006 5:30 am

stevewp wrote: Now, if we're going to run a purely mobile setup, I'm not sure I'd even bother with the license, but if we're going to have someone back at base on our meets, we perhaps should think about doing this. I haven't asked about the cheapest CE approved radio available cos it seemed unneccesary at this time, but obviously it'll cost us a bit more, and we have to work out if it's worth it to us.

As soon as I've run a test, I'll let you know.


First off...Thanks the quote box now works as it used to do without fiddling and fussing.

I am speaking for myself here....Yes Would willingly support cost of a Mobile Rider to Rider etc on VHF. I do not see the need for a base unit at all.

One.....So That's a No from me in Base unit as it seems so superfluous to our needs.

Two...... Just need the information on the actual or thereabouts reasonable distance these portable radios transmit and recieve.

Three .....Just an observation but we seem to ride out in very small clusters throughout the summer....with at the moment only Two Club meets in England a Year which most people cant attend for full duration if at all. ( Not having a pop at you Steve :) )

Thanks for your efforts Steve...Intrigued as to the "WE" you keep referring to...3-4 non GTS riders you ride with? ..Tell them they are welcome to ride out with the "Rubbish" any time you are snagged up at work, :( :)
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Postby 24c » Sun Jul 09, 2006 7:01 am

These radios seem like a very good idea, and the thought of getting a licence doesn't seem so bad. Great move if we do rideouts, and I like the idea of increased range as bike to bike intercoms over distance is said to be trickier. Not sure how the things perform in say twisty hilly bits and would welcome feedback from anybody's personal experiences with these devices.

I would be interested in having a one or obviously a pair worst case (hint hint OmegaChassis you need one).

PS I notice the Autocom site is being updated and the product range seems to have come down in price...Kit150 about £100

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Postby stevewp » Sun Jul 09, 2006 1:48 pm

Range-wise.....the best we achieved was around 4 miles through the Alps. It really was THROUGH the Alps, as I was having to go tippy-toed cos Hannah was scared shitless, and the other guys moved ahead, so I was still in the mountains when they were just about to park up at the bottom.

That was 1W at UHF. If the 5W is achievable, with it being on VHF too, I reckon you can happily double that range. And it's not just the range itself, but also the robustness of the signal.

UHF gets stopped by a building pretty easily. VHF doesn't suffer nearly so badly. So all in all, it's a good move, and one that we'd been considering before.

The 'we' is myself and two guys form work. We used to go touring into Europe each year, and one year figured this might be useful. It's amazing how much time you save when you don't have to stop to discuss directions/options etc!! I know one of them (who lives by me) was sounding quite interested in this radio too when I was talking to him about it.

I tend to agree with you Dave about the one back at base. Hopefully everyone would be riding anyway, so no-one should be left back at base. I have a spare radio that I think will transmit at that frequency anyway, so they could always have that if wanted (even if there's no tx capability, it'll be able to receive happily, so they can at least listen!).

As for paying for them, I think everyone should just buy their own (Dave, I may have misunderstood you when you were saying about contributing to the cost). The only other thing to check is if Autocom do a lead that'll work. If not we'd either have to rethink which radios we got, or make patch leads to get them to work. I shall probably have to make a patch lead anyway, cos I've already got an ICom lead, and I'm not buying another!! Lol
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Postby Dave Carey » Sun Jul 09, 2006 2:01 pm

stevewp wrote:As for paying for them, I think everyone should just buy their own (Dave, I may have misunderstood you when you were saying about contributing to the cost).


Steve I thought I had seen a cost for a 3year license fee of $60 quid. Or am I playing space Rangers again?
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Postby stevewp » Sun Jul 09, 2006 2:03 pm

Ah no. You're right. Sorry Dave.

If we stick purely mobile, it may not be worth having one (sssh).
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