|The 22nd Annual
U.P. Snowmobile Trip
February 9-10, 2012
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What To Bring:
We use Two-Way Radios with helmet headsets for sled-to-sled communications on the trail. These radios can be used for many other purposes. Each person will need to bring a GMRS radio and compatible helmet headset. If you already own a GMRS radio, you can likely get a compatible headset for it. The headsets cost about $60. We strongly recommend headsets designed for full-face helmets that also have a push-to-talk (PTT) switch. Some radios have voice activated talk modes (VOX), but this will not work with the noise created by the snowmobiles. You will need to deactive the VOX mode and use a PTT switch mounted on the snowmobile handlebars.
Motocomm helmet headsets can be purchased from the manufacturer or from other stocking distributors like HandsFreeDirect (they have good tech support and offer free shipping). Make sure you get the correct model for your radio. The MC-55x headsets are best for most full-face snowmobile helmets. If you can't live without a music player input, cell phone input, mic change connector, and intercomm capability for a second rider, check out the RiderLink ST-1.
If you need a GMRS radio, consider the Midland GXT Series. You can get them directly from Midland, from many online retailers, or from Best Buy (You can get these for about $70 / pair). The GTX radios transmits at full power (5 watts). Some other GMRS radios transmit at lower power, typically 2 watts. This isn't a problem for receiving, but you may not get the transmission distance of a 5 watt radio. If you purchase a Midland radio, you can also get a Helmet Headset (AVP-H2) directly from Midland for $50. It looks like it may be made by Motocomm, but it is little different and parts are not interchangeable with the Motocomm units. Therefore, we recommend going with Motocomm because we typically have some extra parts with us in case a component fails. The Motocomm headset that works with the Midland radios is Model MC-551. If you change radios later, different radio jacks can be purchased from Motocomm for $10.
Do not purchase an FRS radio. These radios share some frequencies with GMRS radios, but we will be using a higher channel (not compatible) so that we can transmit more the maximum FRS power of 1/2 watt.
You will also see notices stating that GMRS radios require an FCC license. I talked to a tech at HandsFreeDirect who told me that the license is no longer required and that almost nobody got them anyway. I checked the FCC web site and it states the license is required unless you operate your GMRS radio on the lower low power FRS channels. The license cost is $85 for 5 years, about 3 times the cost of a GMRS radio. No wonder most people don't get one!
Radio Setup Information:
1) We will use Channel 18 & CTCSS Code 07
2) If your radio can broadcast with different power levels, make sure you select "high" power mode. Also make sure you always have fresh batteries so your radio does not go in to energy conservation mode and broadcast at low power.
3) Lock your radio's keypad so you don't accidentally switch channels
4) It is also annoying when riders accidentally press the "Call" button on their radios. This transmits an alert tone to all other radios within range. On the Midland radios, this button is not disabled when the radio is locked. Others radios may be the same. I recommend that you find something to cover this button and prevent it from being accidentally pushed.
5) Deactivate any end-of-transmission beeps sent by the radio (these are very annoying)
6) Deactivate the Voice Activated Talk (VOX) mode. In this mode, the snowmobile engine will cause the radio to transmit. You must use a Push To Talk (PTT) switch
7) When you mount your headset speakers, make sure they are directly over your ears and that they are not behind a lot of padding. Overwise, they will not be loud enough for you to hear over the engine noise.
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