Monday, December 17, 2012

Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Opened December 17th, 2012!

The race is on! The FEMA Fire Protection and Safety Grant application period begins today, December 17, 2012 and closes at 5:00 pm Eastern time on January 18th.  With the holiday season taking a large part of time from our work activities, this puts you on a fast track to get a winning application prepared and submitted. But, there is time to get it done if you have a plan and a technology partner to assist you with budgetary planning.  That's where we come in.

We HAVE a plan that can save lives and help our firefighter friends to provide enhanced community safety especially for the young, the elderly & disabled as well as high risk locations where large numbers of people congregate.  Not only do we have a plan, but we have the technology and procedures to make it work with community partnerships that work for everyone.

For more information, just give us a call at 205.854.2611 or email  Let us help you by helping you to make your community a safer place for all those you serve, and those who provide that service!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Meet the FilterBulb Guys from Falcon Services!

Meet FilterBulb Guy, the newest member of the newest division of the Falcon Family.  The senior FilterBulb Guy is Ralph Wentzel with many years experience in energy management. Ralph brings to us a wealth of experience in retail and store management operations.

The FilterBulb Guys, Ralph and his associates, are headquartered with us in Center Point, AL operating as a separate division known as Falcon Services.  Ralph's job is to do the things nobody else wants to do - like maintaining air conditioning filters and fluorescent lighting systems.  With a focus primarily on small business, municipal, and professional clients, Falcon Services will provide professional maintenance and energy management services that pay for themselves.

The fact is that the services of the FilterBulb Guys doesn't cost - it pays!  Not only can these services save money, they can actually add to bottom line retained profits.  Don't take our word for it.  Check out the FilterBulb web site at If you would like to talk to one of the FilterBulb Guys right now, give them a call at 205.701.1913 or email

Interoperability News!

We have had much to say on the subject of communications interoperability over the past year.  Mostly, our comments have not been favorable since we had better interoperability in 1960 than we do today.

As a case in point, the State of Mississippi has spent millions of dollars on a statewide 700 MHz P25 trunking system.  Until recently, only a single vendor was acceptable.  However, over time, other vendors were finally able to gain approval.  So what happened?  One of the largest cities in the state moved to an alternate closed standard technology.  

The premise being that they could not afford the higher priced P25 equipment selected by the State.  But they COULD afford a closed standard alternative with no competitive offerings.  This appeared to be acceptable to all concerned since they could use a "bridge" to connect between the state system and the county/city systems.  Did I happen to mention that the approved "bridge" equipment is also limited to a single vendor?

On the bright side, there are some nations that are developing open equipment standards, one of which is China, which by the way, is the home of the second largest communications manufacturer in the world - a relatively new company called Hytera, which is producing over 60,000 radios per month!  They are now the second largest communications manufacturer in the world, and they did it, and are doing it, by doing business in the old fashioned way - good products, at fair prices, based on open standards, and free market competition.

For an example of why China is leading the way, click here. For what it's worth, there is an American company that plays by the rules and we are proud to be associated with them.  Additional information is available by clicking here. For those of you who are entrusted with spending taxpayer dollars and buying sole source based on closed standards, SHAME ON YOU!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meet Joy King Jones -The License Free Radio Lady!

Have you heard about all the new happenings at Falcon Direct?  Our boss isn't satisfied with just competing with other companies.  Now he wants us to compete with each other!  Andy Rich is doing his thing with eBay, Candice Staggs is making crazy offers on Facebook, and I am at the helm in managing our offerings at Amazon!

My name is Joy King Jones, a name to remember if you have any interest in license free MURS radios.  Lot's of people are interested in license free communications.  An FCC license can be expensive and require long waiting periods for approval.  This can be a real problem, in particular for retail merchants during the Christmas selling season.  

MURS radios don't require an FCC license, and we have a full line of commercial grade MURS radios including portables, fixed stations, customer assist wireless calling units, and 2-way call boxes for use at doors and gates.  You can learn more about MURS by clicking here.  MURS by Ritron, Inc. is perfect for churches, construction, retail stores, schools, and many other uses.  We are proud to offer Ritron MURS radios, most of which are made in the USA, and available on from Falcon Wireless Direct and yours truly!

Why not give me a call at 800.489.2611 and let's communicate!  Joy King Jones - At your service!

The last word on narrow banding.......

From the FCC.......

Licensees operating in wideband mode after January 1, 2013 that have not received a waiver from the Commission extending the deadline will be in violation of these rules. Operation in violation of the Commission's rules may subject licensees to appropriate enforcement action, including admonishments, license revocation, and/or monetary forfeitures of up to $16,000 for each such violation or each day of a continuing violation and up to $112,500 for any single act or failure to act. 

Have you thought about LICENSE FREE communications?  Details available  from your friends at Falcon by going to

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A special message to our hospital readers!

Hospital communications have come a long way since the 70's when the concept of using dedicated VHF radio frequencies for  hospital-to-hospital and ambulance-to-hospital communications.  A little later, a group of UHF frequencies was allocated for both voice and data communications between EMS personnel and hospital Emergency Rooms. Additional information on analog emergency radio channels is available by clicking here.

Over the years, the aforementioned VHF systems, most commonly known as the  HEAR system, or the UHF systems, known as MEDNET, were mostly replaced by cellular networks or regional or statewide 700/800 MHz radio systems. Then along came Katrina!

Katrina proved that cellular systems, wide area radio networks, and even AC power could not be relied upon in an emergency.  The older 2-way radio systems of the 70's proved to offer reliable communications when all the others failed.  As a result the old analog radio systems, including HF long range systems gained favor with government planners and agencies.

The problem is that older HEAR radio systems cannot be narrow banded and even if the Emergency Room (ER) radios are upgraded, the new equipment addresses only part of the real need.  Ideally, there should be a radio capable of communicating in both analog and P25 digital operating modes, in either conventional or trunking operation, on the VHF HEAR system, the UHF MEDNET channels, 700/800 MHz regional or statewide systems, all interoperable VTAC, UTAC, and ITAC frequencies, the 2 meter and 70 centimeter amateur bands, and maybe even the VHF marine emergency frequencies.

Would you believe that a single radio can cover ALL these frequencies and operational modes?  You are looking at it.  It's called the Thales Liberty, an American made product that can cost LESS than just replacing an existing HEAR system radio!  Can it handle rough use in an ER?  Click here for a short video, then decide for yourself!  Want to see one, or try one, or get prices?  Call Burch Falkner at 205.854.2611 in Alabama or Jim Tucker in Mississippi at 662.284.6724.  When you make that call, be sure and request a copy of our Hospital Communications Planner.  If you prefer, you can make your request by email to

Monday, December 3, 2012

Digital radio interoperability - Is it possible?

Some of our readers know that we are 100% opposed to any proprietary communications technology, and in particular MotoTRBO Capacity Plus and the enhanced versions of Motorola P25 offerings that lock out competition.  This is a bad choice when public taxpayers funds are paying the bill! Purchasing equipment available from only a single vendor is an impossibly bad choice both for the user and the  taxpayers!

Open standards, free trade, and rigid federal policies on guidelines for funding of communications is absolutely necessary if we are ever going to have true nationwide interoperability.  More often than not, the true cost of going with a closed standard is not revealed until it is too late to turn back.

Several days ago, I received a phone call from a Canadian reader of our Blog asking for some straight answers to simple questions (which he could not get locally).  Over a decade ago, this particular user had bought in to a proposal to install a county wide analog communications system based on LTR Passport with simulcast paging.  The users are now being told that they need to upgrade to digital.  Interestingly,  during that time, the users have been paying $90 per month per radio to use the proprietary system (Click here for more information on what can happen when oversight is not applied to "planning").

They are now being encouraged to move up to a digital proprietary system that will cost EVEN MORE.  Worse yet, the new system requires a five year contract agreement and they can purchase from only one vendor.  These kinds of abuses are a violation of customer trust and a waste of taxpayer dollars.  Enough is enough!

If you, or someone you know, is considering the purchase of a closed standard system, we encourage you to share this information with them!  We also have warned about the problems associated with VHF channel sharing using TDMA (MotoTRBO) technology.  This is not our personal crusade.  The concern has been expressed by no less than the Federal Communications Commission who reached out to the public safety coordinators for proposed solutions.  The standards proposed by the coordinators that are now under consideration by the FCC have been covered up by those who do not want you to know the real facts.  If you would like to know the real facts, click here. When everyone has all the facts, it CAN be possible to achieve interoperability in public safety communications!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Public Safety LTE versus Public 4G - I've got a question.......

Although I would never criticize senior government officials or the various individuals dedicated to planning for the safety of our citizens and first responders, there are some things that just don’t make a lot of sense to me.

For example, I understand that we have now established the First Responder Network Authority, better known as FirstNet, to oversee the building of a dedicated 4G/LTE standards based network for the exclusive use of public safety users.  I further understand if will operate in the “D” Block or 700 MHz band.  So far, so good, but I do have a question or two.

First, if it does the same thing as 4G (which is what our smart phones use), then the question is why build another network when there are already four in place (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon)?  Seems to be like this is awfully expensive just for the benefit of having an “exclusive” network….

I understand the “devices” designed for use on this network are in the thousand dollar range, which is certainly less expensive than the seven thousand dollar interoperable radios being promoted by several major 2-way radio manufacturers.  But there is also the question of the infrastructure cost.

Based on a projected individual user cost of $60 monthly per device (a little more than I would expect to pay on an LTE carrier based service), I understand that it would require 75 public safety users PER SQUARE MILE of coverage, and, this does NOT include in-building coverage. Worse yet, this cost would be in addition to what the user may already be paying for smart phone service!

So it appears that population densities of this magnitude would apply in only a handful of major cities where in-building coverage is an absolute necessity.  Have I missed something here, or has SOMEONE ELSE missed something?  I seems to me like a device capable of scanning all carrier based systems would accomplish, or even exceed the goal for reliable public safety communications.  What do you think?  Feel free to send your comments to

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fire Protection and Safety Grant Program opens December 17th

The 2012 Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program opens on December 17th.  You will have 31 days to prepare and submit your application.  We’ve got some good news and some bad news – the bad news first.  Historically most departments don’t even make an attempt to apply for this grant.  The ones that do, traditionally apply for smoke detectors, coloring books, and an occasional trailer.  These are all useful, but in many cases already done.  
So the question is what kind of program is available that is truly unique, never been done, can be effective in saving lives, and a virtual slam dunk to be a winner for funding?  That’s the good news!  We have developed such a program.  It is efficient, affordable, and manageable.

If you are involved in fire protection services and would like to do something really good for your community, we would welcome the opportunity of working with you.  For additional information, please drop us an email with full contact information along with a short note to request details.  Upon receipt, we will get back to you. This information will not be given by phone or published for the general public.  

Our email address is  We look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is there ANY reason to upgrade to digital radios?

We recently published comments that were somewhat less than supportive of VHF digital radios using TDMA technology , and in particular MotoTRBO.  Our real issue is not so much with the technology, but the sales tactics used to "sell" the product.  The absence or withholding of facts from prospective customers is a shameful tactic.  Fortunately, this is not true of all MotoTRBO dealers, but all too often, the tactic is evident.

That does not mean the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater.  There ARE many situations where digital radios DO have an advantage over analog, but NOT for wide area VHF (136-174 MHz) repeater systems used by public safety agencies.  So where does digital have the edge over analog?  The answer is when the system operates in the UHF 450-470 MHz band, and in particular for on-site use in construction, educational institutions, hospitals, logistics centers (we used to call them warehouses), and manufacturing plants, among others.

So just what exactly are the practical advantages of TDMA digital over either FDMA digital (like ICOM and Kenwood use), P25 digital, or analog?  The simple answer is CHANNEL CAPACITY.  Both MotoTRBO and Hytera radios use TDMA and both give you the benefits of having two operational channels for the price of one.  You can have two voice channels, two data channels, or one voice and one data channel on a single 12.5 kHz narrow band channel.  This is accomplishing by splitting the channel into two separate 6.25 "slots".  This is a HUGE benefit and a primary reason why we almost always favor TDMA for UHF wide area and on-site systems.  We rarely recommend the use of TDMA for use by wide area VHF users for reasons contained in the recent report issued by the frequency coordinators advisory committee (Click here for a summary of that report).

For purposes of clarification, we should point out that there are variations of TDMA. The TDMA standard employed in MotoTRBO and Hytera radios is known as the DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) standard.  You can read more about this standard, and in particular as it relates to Hytera, by clicking here.  This brings us to the obvious question is which is better?  MotoTRBO or Hytera?  Good question!  Motorola is the Number One 2-way manufacturer in the world.  Hytera is Number Two (bet you didn't know that), so we can conclude that the two companies are about equal in technical capabilities, reliability, features, function, and support.  With that being said, we will also say this.  We support HYTERA!  Here's why!

On average, model for model, Hytera is a least $100 per radio LESS than Motorola.  Hytera offers a five year warranty versus two for Motorola, and Hytera includes two channel trunking capability at no extra charge.  That is a HUGE benefit!  Most importantly, Hytera operates on an open operating standard which means it is compatible with other DMR radios.  Motorola radios can operate in the open standard mode, but most systems are designed around a feature called Capacity Plus which locks out all other suppliers.  In other words, once you have purchased a Motorola DMR system, you will pay whatever price your supplier chooses to charge and you have no alternatives.  This may be good for Motorola stockholders but not so good for the user. Oh, BTW, there is one more reason for choosing Hytera.  For every 25 radios purchased, you get a FREE repeater!

So, in summary, there ARE situations where digital is the better choice over analog.  Just make sure you have all the facts before making a decision.  If you have any questions, give us a call.  You'll be glad you did in the long run.  Our toll free number is 800.489.2611 or drop us an email to

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday Special Message for Mayors

The November elections of 2012 had many surprises.  Among some of the larger surprises was the activity at the municipal level with a lot of new mayors coming in and many of the incumbents showing surprising strength in retaining their positions. The message by the voters was very clear.  They want to see progressive action in the form of increased services and reduction in the cost of government administration.  That is easier said than done UNLESS you know about our new ServingU Program!

To accomplish enhanced services and costs reductions, you need a PLAN!  We've got it, and we are ready to share it with you! We have introduced five new programs developed to better serve the public while simultaneously cutting cost.  The flagship program for enhanced safety in the community is known as the Something Nice Program while one of the major cost savers is the LookUp Program.  You can learn more about these programs as well as three others at

Check them out, then give us a call at 205.854.2611.  We can help you serve those you serve - BETTER!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New MURS Radio at Special Introductory Pricing!

We are pleased to exclusively  introduce the all new  PT-150M!  This is an affordable alternative to high priced commercial radios that can cost hundred or even thousands of dollars more than our incredible low introductory price of just $199!  The PT-150M is IP65 water and dust resistant, MIL-SPEC 800F tested and approved. Full specifications are available by clicking here.

Better yet, you don't have the bother of FCC licensing - No cost, no processing delays, no compliance issues, no narrow band requirements, no renewals, and no threats of fines for improper use. The PT150M is ideal for churches, construction, retail and personal use

 A long life lithium ion rechargeable battery gives extended operating cycles before charging is required, and ithe PT-150M is compatible with a full line of AMERICAN MADE base stations, wireless PA's, customer assistance call buttons, and wireless intercoms. You can order the PT-150M on Amazon,, or eBay. See our special MURS product web page at for additional information on all of our MURS  and other license free products.  If you have any questions, just give us a call at 800.489.2611 or drop us an email to You're going to like the PT-150M. Try a couple - you'll see!

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Narrow Band 50W repeater less than $700!

Your're not going to believe what you can do with our new TM8000R repeater.  For starters, you can put it in a vehicle and extend the range of an associated portable radio to be equal to the range of a mobile, BOTH transmit and receive!  The price?  Less than seven hundred dollars!  Want to know more? Go to If you need a good portable radio to go with your mobile repeater, check out

Our new TM8000R repeater is also an affordable solution to replacing older repeaters that can’t be upgraded to narrow band! Three models are available. The TM8000R can be connected to an existing power supply and duplexer.  The price is right – just $695! Your choice of VHF or UHF.

The TM8000RP is supplied with a high quality slim line AC power supply for just $845.  Just connect it to you existing duplexer and you are ready to go! If you need a duplexer, the TP8000RPD at just $995 is right for you.  This model includes an AC power supply and low loss duplexer for use when frequencies are separated by 3.5 MHz or more.  

Our low repeater prices include free programming and shipping plus a three year factory warranty.  For more information or to order, just give us a call at 800.489.2611.  Do it today to assure delivery before the narrow band deadline!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A special message for Hospital 2-way Radio Users

Are rules, regulations, policies, mandates, procedures, and changes relating to the operation of hospital wireless communications systems giving you a king sized headache?

We're not surprised!  With no less than ten regulatory agencies involved with helping you do your job, often with conflicting policies, changing procedures, lack of guidance, and unfunded mandates; things can get a little confusing.

When a directive is issued that all 2-way radios must be narrow banded by the end of 2012,  the question then arises - Which 2-way radios?  In the typical hospital there can be ten or more different types of "2-way radio systems", each with a different set of licensing and operational requirements.

Then someone throws a bunch of terms at you that were never taught in the medical or even business administration professions.  Words like "D" Block, P25, FCC licensing, Interoperability, and Narrow Banding can be REALLY confusing! 

So the question is - Where do you go for help?  The answer is RIGHT HERE!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New Air-To-Ground HEAR Frequency in Alabama!

Following a recent audit of the Hospital Emergency Administrative Radio (HEAR) system in Alabama, The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) launched a program to restore the HEAR system to it’s original purpose of providing communications between first responders and hospital trauma facilities.  The HEAR system, originally constructed in the early 1970’s was designed to provide both ambulance-hospital communications as well as hospital-to-hospital systems using VHF radio frequencies in the event of a failure of traditional phone services.

Over the years, cellular phones became the accepted communications tool for day-to-day needs with the frequency of 155.340 MHz used primarily by volunteer fire and rescue first responders to communicate with air ambulances.

As the original HEAR system was revitalized for it’s new role as a backup in the event of phone service disruption (both landline and cellular), it was recognized that a new frequency would be required for air-to-ground communications.  The problem is that an airborne radio can transmit at distances well over 100 miles – not a good thing when you have many hospitals in operating range.  Additionally, in a real emergency, the frequency of 155.340 MHz could be overloaded when called upon to handle both ground rescue personnel/vehicles and air-to-ground radio communications.

The solution is to move all ground-to-air communications to the new frequency of 155.3475 MHz effective January 1, 2013.  The announcement of this change was made by ADPH in their October EMS Newsletter. This may have been missed by many public safety users.  So, we are giving the program an assist by announcing this new requirement along with the news that hospitals operating on 155.340 have ALREADY switched to narrow band. Click here for a current listing of known hospitals with operational radio systems operating on 155.340 MHz. 

If you haven’t already made the switch to narrow band, NOW would be a good time to do it. Be SURE that your radios have the proper access CODE for your local area hospital (See previously mentioned list). As for the new airborne frequency (155.3475), we would suggest that you include the same transmit code as used for 155.340 MHz for access to your local area hospital. If you are operating in the UHF band, the frequency of 453.750 MHz can be used for ground to air communications.  No tone squelch code required.

It’s not to late to get your radios narrow banding using our TEN DOLLAR PER RADIO NARROWBAND PROGRAM.  Additional information is available by clicking here, or by calling us at 205.854.2611. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Latest FCC News on VHF Digital Use

Most of our readers know that FCC Coordinators recently placed a 10 watt Effective Power Limitation (ERP) on TDMA base/repeater station digital radios (i.e. MotoTRBO and Hytera plus a couple of lesser contenders).  

Within the last week new policies have been submitted by the frequency coordinators to the FCC to apply restrictions on all VHF radios coordinated in the Public Safety Frequency Pool operating in the TDMA digital mode. These new policies  apparently could include P25 systems operating on TDMA! We should be hearing more about this in the near future. 

Or, in engineering bureaucratic double speak…….

For Base/Repeater operations:

1) You must have 250 km (155 miles) protection from your proposed base station antenna to existing co-channel and 7.5 kHz adjacent channel incumbent mobile licensees;

2) Assume an incumbent mobile receiver antenna height equal to the transmitter antenna height as licensed on incumbents granted license or pending application

3)   If a receiver antenna height cannot be inferred from step 2, then a receive antenna height of 60 meters (196 feet) will be assumed;

4)   Perform a LongleyRice propagation study at 50%, 50%, 50% (time location, probability) for proposed digital system; and,

5) A signal level of -110 dBm or greater at the incumbent site will cause the proposed sttion to fail the protection standard.

Or, in layman’s language as understood by this writer…….

If you are a public safety user contemplating a move to digital – ANY digital TDMA (not FDMA which is offered by ICOM and Kenwood) system, conventional or trunked involving a base or repeater station, you must obtain coordination for the proposed frequency(s) to be used based on that frequency being unused  within a radius of 155 miles in all directions as well as all mobile users on adjacent channels within 7.5 kHz.

This is based on the assumption that the incumbent (the guy who already has a license for analog operation) is licensed for an antenna height equal to the height of your base or repeater station.  If you can’t confirm what the incumbents station antenna height is, then a height of 196 feet will be assumed. 

You have the option of performing a propagation study AND demonstrating that you will not produce a signal level of -110 dBm at the incumbent (the guy who has an analog OR digital license) receiver site.  

The typical receiver sensitivity for 12 db sinad is -119dbm. This is 9 db below what the new coordination standards will allow. Thus the FCC is saying that at the antenna of the existing user that you might interfere with, the maximum level from your new digital radio must be no stronger than roughly 8 times the minimum signal a typical receiver can receive.

Bottom line translation for any public safety user planning to go VHF digital……. 

Talk to the frequency coordinator of your choice before signing up to purchase any VHF wide area TDMA radio system or upgrade.  Or better yet, talk to us.  You can call us at 205.854.2611 for the straight story, always!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

700 MHz Update for Alabama Public Safety Users

Alabama's plans for building out the long awaited 700 MHz interoperable communications system is moving right along.  The system build out is taking the traditional pattern of building from the gulf coast, northward with the initial emphasis on serving the major metropolitan areas. The typical reasons for moving to 700 MHz are generally stated as improving interoperability, communications coverage, and enhanced capabilities.

A recent article relating to the installation of a 700 MHz system in Madison County Alabama states the benefits generally associated with the benefits of 700 MHz.  There are a few things the article left out (such as cost), but that is a topic for another day.  Suffice if for now to say that there is a lot of interest in 700 MHz at this time.

The current focus  of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security seems to be on sharing information with State agencies and government users in the major metro areas with equipment presentations apparently being limited to a single manufacturer.  Unfortunately, the scarcity of information available to the public is causing some confusion, and for that matter, even some of the agencies the proposed network is supposed to serve.

For the sake of clarification, it should be noted that there is more than one 700 MHz equipment supplier.  It should be further noted that radios costing thousands of dollars each are generally beyond the reach of smaller public safety agencies, and for that matter outside the budgetary constraints of most state agencies, and all but a very few county or municipal users.

Having said that, the point being made to Alabama public safety users is this.  First, you have a choice.  You are not limited to purchasing from a single supplier, unless the system is being configured in such a way that only one brand of equipment is supported.  In that case, as a taxpayer, you are entitled to an explanation from those responsible for system planning as to why they have chosen sole source technology that constrains the benefits of competitive bidding and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. For a good example of what can happen when a system is built based on a proprietary standard, click here.

Assuming that the system is based on open architecture, which it should be, you should obtain the operating specifications to allow review of the offerings of multiple vendors and choose the brand, model, and vendor of your choice.  There are several vendors approved for 700 MHz interoperable radio equipment on the Alabama State Contract and many more on the Federal GSA contract.

The second point is that you don't have to purchase all new 700 MHz equipment to be a part of the network.  You can purchase, or continue using, the radios of your choice and connect to the 700 MHz network with a one time investment of just $7,500.  The Dadeville Fire Department has one of these units which offers interoperability on 700 MHz, 450 MHz, and 150 MHz using the Federal P25 operating standard.  Click here for more information.

The final thing to remember that that you have a voice in the decisions that will be made in your area.  There is a choice, actually multiple choices.  We encourage you to use them.  You can start by calling us for more information at 205.854.2611 or drop us an email to

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Narrow Band Questions - Still going around in circles?

As we get closer to the end of the year, two of the more frequent questions (and the answers) are worth sharing.  The first is Do I have to modify my license for narrow band, or do I just narrow band upgrade my equipment?

The answer is that you DO have to upgrade your license.  You can do it yourself and waste a lot of time, or pay an expert to do it for you.  We recommend having it done by Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA).  If they do the work, it costs you $260 for non-governmental licensees or $125 for governmental users. If you prefer to do the work yourself, click here for instructions.

You will need to complete a simple one page form, available by clicking here. As you will note, non-governmental users can choose to continue operating in the analog mode, or upgrade to either DMR digital (the format used for Hytera and MotoTRBO) or NXDN digital (the format used for ICOM and Kenwood) and be licensed for BOTH analog and digital.  P25 digital is also available but rarely chosen for commercial use.

As a commercial user, we recommend requesting both analog and digital operating capability, even if you don't have immediate plans to upgrade to digital. Specifically, if you are upgrading a VHF system, we recommend that you check the 4K00F1E for ICOM and Kenwood radios.  If you are upgrading a UHF system, we recommend that you select the 7K60FXE for Hytera and MotoTRBO radios.

You will note that public safety users pay less, first because they are exempt for payment of FCC fees.  In reality, a public safety user will pay MORE for any digital upgrade, the reason being the additional cost of third party coordinators. You can call EWA for a specific quote. 

The second question is Will upgrading from 50 to 100 watts on my base or repeater station make up for the loss I will experience by narrow banding? The answer is YES for talk out range from the station and NO for mobiles talking back.  Since a new 100 watt repeater will cost between $4,000 and $7,000, we think the better alternative would be to upgrade to a 50 watt analog/digital repeater at a typical cost of around $1,500 and use the savings to begin your migration to digital radios.

A good quality digital radio can operate in both analog and digital modes.  The cost is around $500 each.  This means you could replace your base or repeater station and have enough money left over to purchase your first five to ten digital radios.

The question often comes up as to whether adding a 100 watt linear power supply to an existing base or repeater radio is a good idea.  Generally speaking, a good quality amplifier and associate power supply will cost $1,500 to $2,000.As mentioned earlier, this only helps in one direction whereas a 50 watt digital base radio talking to a 50 watt digital mobile radio is essentially comparable to a 100 watt analog station talking to a 100 watt analog mobile.  Clearly, we favor the upgrade to digital, both from the viewpoint of performance, features, and cost.

Want to prove it out for yourself?  Give us a call to arrange a live trial.  Details available on request.  Just give us a call at 205.854.2611 or drop us an email to

FEMA Community Resilience Grant Update

On October 26, 2012, at 11:59 PM, the 2012 FEMA Community Resilience Challenge Grant opportunity closed.  This was a REALLY fast track grant - Written in September,  with the only known announcement buried away on an AFG web page, it was released on October 9th and closed on October 26th.  

We've never seen a grant quite like this one - administered by FEMA, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, and reviewed by The Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Foundation, the grant offered up to $35,000 to applicants submitting conceptual plans for emergency preparedness and recovery - a classic example of working together. We took it a step further!

On October 18th. we made an announcement on our Blog, and on this same date sent a targeted email to over 1000 of our friends and customers that we thought would be interested. Approximately 20% reviewed the material and approximately 100 choose to work with us in applying for the grant.  We now have applications pending in over 90% of all Alabama counties as well as in Mississippi, Texas and elsewhere.  

To those that responded and chose to allow us to assist in developing worthwhile plans - we thank you!  The applicants included Ambulance Services, County Commissions, Fire Departments, E911 and EMA organizations, Law Enforcement agencies at both the county and municipal levels, Municipalities & Townships, Schools and Universities.

While we are hopeful that all these applications will be funded, we thought it would be worthwhile to share an overview of the six basic programs for those who may wish to undertake such projects at the local community level (primarily paid for by business and institutional participants).  The six programs are as follows:

SafeCampus - An outdoor wireless PA system directly controlled by 2-way radio. Especially well suited for universities.  Outdoor call boxes, and wireless call buttons can be included as well as new digital 2-way radios with both voice and text messaging capability.

SafeCommunities - A cooperative partnership between business and institutions and law enforcement based on the use of wireless communications in times of emergency when traditional phones (either wired, cellular or both) and/or AC electrical power services are not usable.

SafePlaces - A program involving the placement of low cost emergency one-way wireless call boxes in places where large numbers of people congregate or in facilities where immediate aid is required.  This program is generally sponsored by emergency aid providers of on-scene assistance and/or transportation.

SafeSchools - Designed for multi-school districts to provide a private digital administrative wireless communications system between the superintendents office, the transportation shop, and all schools.  Each school is assigned six personal 2-way radios for administrative, housekeeping, maintenance, and security use.

SafeTran - A state of the art school bus transportation system with all buses equipped with vehicular radios capable of communicating both voice and text modes plus a GPS locator and emergency call button

 If you have an interest in any of these systems, just drop us an email to or call us at 205.854.2611.  And once again, our very special thanks to those who chose to work with us in developing these programs.  Your contributions will go a long way toward helping others.  Thank you!

January 2013 Update - FEMA has announced that applicants for this grant should be receiving information on award status in February 2013. The FEMA 2012 Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) programs awards are currently in progress as of mid January 2013.The FEMA Fire Prevention and Safety  (PF&S) Program closes on January 18th 2013. 

We will keep you advised of other grant program announcements if you will sign up to receive our Blogs (See below right)  and/or eNewsletters

Saturday, October 20, 2012

New DoorCallers Visitor Announcement Systems!

Falcon Direct is pleased to announce our second generation of wireless door announcement and wireless intercom systems.  DoorCall 1, shown at the far right is a push button activated wireless paging system first used by the Argo Alabama Fire Department to allow visitors to make their presence known.

When the call button is pushed, a tone page alert is transmitted directly to the fire pagers worn by department members on and around the premises or optionally to a receiver connected to the building PA system.  Following an alert tone, all users hear the message - Visitor at door.  The DoorCall 1 (shown at the left in the picture above) replaced an existing intercom system that didn't work out since it required personnel to be at a fixed location to hear the intercom. Now they can be anywhere on the premises!  Priced at just $595, DoorCall 1 is easily installed by most users.

DoorCall 2  has 2-way capability.  The visitor can actually speak to a person inside the building and they can speak to the visitor.  This unit provides capabilities similar to a traditional wireless call box, but at much less cost - $795 to be specific. DoorCall 2 is ideal for a variety of applications including apartment managers, church offices, day care centers, fire stations, and schools.

Additional information is available by clicking here or by calling 205.854.2611, or dropping us an email to

Sunday, October 7, 2012

America's Best Mobile Tracking GPS System!

Forget everything you know, or ever knew, about GPS vehicle tracking!  The new OBD-X5 system changes everything!  If your vehicle was produced after 1995, the chances are that the new OBD-X5 will plug right into your vehicle diagnostics connector port (Click here for more information) and begin providing instant tracking information via a password protected Internet portal from your PC, SmartPhone, or Tablet!

With this incredible device, you will know where your vehicles are, what they are doing and even   how much gas they have left in the tank. You'll even get an email when the vehicle travels outside an assigned area or travels at excessive speeds!  And, there will be no delays in reporting since all information is updated every 10 seconds!  There is no wiring and no installation.  The OBD-X5 just plugs in!  Click here to see how simple it is to install!

Are you ready for the price?  Just $199!  Click here for product specifications! You pay just $29.95 monthly for unlimited nationwide use with monitoring capability from virtually anything that will connect to the Internet!  You can get a live view at any time, plus daily activity reports along with email out of area and excessive speed alerts.  The OBD-X5 can quickly be moved from one vehicle to another for first class administrative control at minimal expense.

The OBD-X5 is ideal for fleet administrators or for use in vehicles with high legal risk.  Best of all, you pay only when you need it.  You pay just $19.95 for activation and you can discontinue service at any time.  Reactivate when needed.  Want to see how it works?  Click here to see where I am and what I am doing right now!  When you are ready to try an OBD- X5 in a single vehicle, for random use in multiple vehicles, or equipping an entire fleet, just give us a call at 800.489.2611 or drop us an email to  You'll be glad you did!