One of the biggest selling points for two-way radios is their simplicity. Radios are extremely easy both to initially set up and to use.
The average two-way comes equipped with a PTT (or Push To Talk) button. This button is held down when you want to speak into the device and released when you wish to hear the reply. It is important to say “over” after you have finished talking, this way the person receiving your message knows that you have finished speaking and aren’t simply distracted or taking a breath. If you both try to talk at the same time, neither signal will come through.
Most two way radios will operate at a decent distance, but as we discussed earlier this month, there are many variables that can affect a radio signal. Obstacles, be they man-made or naturally occurring, can seriously affect signal quality and transmission efficiency. The manufacturer’s promises about maintaining perfect signal over long distances (they all do it) almost always refer to optimum conditions with no interference (and must therefore be taken with a pinch of salt!).
Before you do anything practical, read the instructions carefully and familiarize yourself with the radio’s various functions and capabilities. Learn how to send an emergency signal and how to set your device to different channels. Despite being relatively simple gadgets (as well as blessedly easy to operate), many modern radios now come with a plethora of extra features (such as a digital screen, or a text messaging option) and it is wise to make sure you know what these features are and how to use them.
When carrying your walkie-talkie, you must always remember to keep it securely fastened to your body at all times when the device is not in use. Most radios come equipped with some sort of method to attach them to clothing (like a belt or a safety jacket), but if yours did not, then you’ll definitely want to buy one.
Once you are a licensed radio user, the first thing you’ll need to do is go for a test run. Give a friend or colleague one walkie talkie, keep another for yourself and then travel over progressively longer distances, contacting each other regularly, until the signal becomes unrecognizable. This test should ideally be performed in an area similar to the one you are going to be using the radio in, for obvious reasons.
As a side note, it is also advisable to make sure that your friend/colleague has your mobile phone number and that you have theirs, that way you can keep in touch with one another should any unforeseen technical problems arise.