Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Airtime free on-site communications

A few years ago, the "big thing" was to use all-in-one communicators for on-site communications on construction sites, manufacturing plants, and warehouses. It was great! A new gadget known as a Nextel could provide the functions of a pager, a 2-way radio, and a phone for a small monthly charge and "free" equipment.

Things have changed. Many users had to purchase in-building amplifiers to get coverage inside their facility. The ruggedized phones required for industrial use were not free and the monthly rate charges continued to escalate. Today, many users are finding that everyone doesn't need these multi-use devices. They just need good, affordable, wireless communications. That's where we come in! We have prepared a planning guide with three of our most popular airtime free 2-way radios that are ideal for on-site use. You can check the planner out at

We recognize that the ideal situation would be one where senior executives could continue to use multi-purpose devices such as Nextel along with the capability to communicate directly with 2-way radio users. We can provide this service! Now you can have the best of both worlds - Nextels for those that need them, and airtime free radios for those who only need basic on-site communications. For additional information, just five us a call at 800.489.2611. If you want efficient, reliable, and affordable communications - there is just one name you need to know - Falcon Direct!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How does Blogging work?

In the most simple terms, a BLOG is a posting of information on the Internet that can be automatically forwarded to readers that (a) have an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Reader, and (b) have subscribed to receive updated information. My Space is a form of a Blog used primarily for personal use. Business, institutional and government users post Blogs to keep those they serve up to date on happenings within their organization. Information can be sent to a desktop or laptop PC connected to the Internet or to "smart" phones capable of receiving email such as the iPhone or Blackberry. More information on RSS is available at

You don't have to sign up to receive every posting. If you prefer, you can visit the Blog at any time and review the postings for the current month or select the archive to review earlier postings. Our blogs are categorized by subject matter as "Labels". These are shown on the top right side of our Blog page. Everything relating to our comments on digital radios are under the label classification of "Digital Radios". Other popular labels include Fire & EMS News, Church News, General News, Government News, Industrial News, Institutional News, Law Enforcement News, Municipal News, Paging News, School News, and Transportation News. You can simplify your search for information by scanning our Labels for topical information, then reviewing just those post for news of interest.

Our Blogs come to you as an email, but you will need an RSS reader to receive our Blogs. You have a choice of just reading our postings or all postings including comments by our readers. A few of the more popular readers are listed in the upper right hand corner of our Blog page. Many RSS readers and Blog page host services are free. Some have enhanced features and make a small charge for their services. We use Google for a number of reasons but the others, including Yahoo, are also good. Chose one for your reader. You can then add News feeds from a variety of Blog pages. It's kind of like subscribing to a daily newspaper where YOU choose the content. We like Blogging and as you get into it, we think you will too!

We will be adding audio and video clips to our Blog with information that we hope will be of interest to those we serve and we hope that includes YOU!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Repeater Planner

Hardly a day goes by that we don't get a call to quote a price for a repeater. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as just quoting a price. We need to define the desired coverage, available antenna structures, consider FCC licensing requirements and select the model with the band, power, features and options required to meet user needs.

We decided this process could be a lot easier for all concerned if we came up with a planner that addresses all the aforementioned considerations. We selected five of our most popular repeater models (one has the ability to provide an easy migration to digital) along with the most popular accessories and options at If you are thinking about adding a VHF or UHF repeater, check this out. We hope you find the information to be useful!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

School radio study

Working with an Alabama County Board of Education, we recently offered different models of 2-way radios for review by schools throughout the county. Of all the radios submitted, the most popular choices came down to just two models. Interestingly, we found that not a single school had a required FCC license for operation of their existing 2-way radios.

You may be interested in reviewing our findings and suggested recommendations at

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Digital migration with pocket repeaters

One of the more unique plans for upgrading to digital involves the use of a centrally located "control" repeater used for redirecting signals to localized or "pocket" repeaters designed to provide coverage in multiple operating areas. Dual redundant control repeaters with automatic switchover and the ability to handle both analog and digital communications are now available at reasonable cost using the IDAS system by ICOM.

The pocket repeater system provides the ability to control a network of local area repeaters or to communicate directly with these repeaters by radio, via fiber network, or the Internet. FCC licensing is greatly simplified and there is no disruption to analog system operation (i.e. paging operations can continue in the analog mode while system operations can be analog, digital, or both without the need to maintain two separate system).

The pocket repeater system is a lesser cost alternative to P25 migration, yet both systems provide essentially the same functionality. If you are thinking about migrating a county wide or multiple station repeater system, the IDAS pocket repeater system may be just right for you. Additional information is available by calling us at 800.489.2611.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Muncipal Services

I sat in on a municipal workshop in a small Alabama city last night. The topic was what to do to combat a crime wave that had completely overwhelmed the local police department along with alternatives to address declining tax revenues and the need to cut operating costs. All city department heads were invited to attend (only one showed up) as well as members of the business, church, and school community (NONE showed up).

Only the Mayor and two members of the council were present. This same scenario is being replayed all over the USA. Apathy, indifference and fear, coupled with an attitude of "let someone else do it" is crippling our ability to help ourselves. If you are involved in municipal government and you would like some fresh ideas on how to address real problems, we invite you to visit for more information on how to cut costs and improve productivity. If you have a problem with thieves and robbers, please visit

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Motorola radio comparisons

Prices for the new MotoTRBO digital radios are now comparable to professional grade analog radios . If you would like to review the technical specifications on the Motorola CM and HT models in comparison to MotoTRBO models, please visit If you would like to compare specifications on all of the most popular Motorola radios, please visit For more information, visit or for pricing, give us a call at 800.489.2611 or email

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Digital conversion requirements for 2-way radios

There is a lot of confusion on the subject of when it is necessary to switch to digital so we have prepared a brief overview. Current technology would normally dictate switching to digital when mandatory 6.25 kHz channel spacing is required, currently projected to be in 2018, although no specific date has been designated at this time. In general, you can say that analog does not work well at 6.25 kHz, so such a change would require digital technology. There are a couple of other dates you may want to keep in mind. 2013 is when all VHF and UHF 2-way radio users must reduce their operating bandwidth from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz. This is known as "narrow banding". You can operate in either analog or digital modes, although at reduced bandwidth, digital operation seems to outperform analog. There are some other benefits such as data compatibility (GPS, text messaging, etc.) and longer battery life for portables associated with digital operation. 2011 is another date to remember. That's that date when all manufacturers must offer equipment capable of operating at 6.25 kHz or equivalent (assumed to mean two 6.25 kHz slots operating within a 12.5 kHz bandwidth). This new generation of radios, such as the IDAS offering by ICOM are designed for digital operation. Our guess is that the marketplace and the promotional incentives by manufacturers will result in 6.25 kHz channel spacing becoming the operating standard well in advance of any mandatory date by the FCC.

Digital radio system types

Trying to sort out manufacturers claims relating to digital radio systems can be quite a task. To eliminate some of the confusion, we have prepared the following overview on the three most common systems used in the USA. The best known is Project 25 (Also known as P25 and APCO-25). This is a full featured system that is backwards compatible (i.e., it can handle both analog and digital signals through a single station, mobile, or handheld). Currently, it can operate on 25 or 12.5 kHz channels. It is EXPENSIVE. DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) is a European standard that splits a 12.5 kHz channel into two "slots" (typically one for voice and the other for data). In the USA, the Motorola MotoTRBO system utilizes this technology. Unfortunately, the system currently is NOT backwards compatible through the repeater (i.e. the repeater can handle only analog or digital signals but not both) and it is incompatible with 2-tone paging systems in the analog mode. Neither P25 or DMR are currently compatible with single channel 6.25 kHz channel spacing. dPMR (Digital Private Mobile Radio) is the most cost effective of the three technologies with full backwards compatibility for analog/digital operation. 2-tone paging in the analog mode allows continued operation for fire department users and a simple migration process for any VHF or UHF system user. dPMR (Also known as the ICOM IDAS system) is the only technology capable of operating at 25, 12.5, or 6.25 kHz single channel or repeater operation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Alleged digital radio problems

The magazine article most referred to as being "the source" of a report on problems associated with digital radios was apparently written by someone who had no interest or ability in getting the facts relating to the story on problems with digital radios (See As you review the article, you will note that the article mentions neither the manufacturer, the type of digital system, or the frequency band used - all of which are extremely important. Several incidents have been reported, not only by Firehouse magazine. An article in Fire Chief magazine (earlier published in MRT magazine) provides a much better overview and factual comment on the situation (See Please see our earlier July 1st post for our comments.

P.S. We thought an update to this Blog might be in order. Since we archive our Blogs it is not uncommon for an older Blog, such as this one, to pop up when someone is doing a generic search on a particular topic such as "problems with digital radios". Since our original comments, and those of others; we can sum up the current situation in 2010 to say that there can be a problem with high noise levels when using digital radios that may be a little worse than an analog. The technical reasons are unimportant. The issue is to address, and correct the problem as much as possible. Here is an easy and quick fix that is being used by a number of fire departments all over the USA.

While on the scene, operate your radios in the analog mode. Since all digital radios have dual mode analog and digital capability, this solution is easy and affordable - just switch to an analog TAC channel and your problems are over. Life does not have to be complicated.....