Note: This write up was put
online 10/13/07 but we have been using some sort of FRS/GMRS Radio since
2003. This update roughly coincides with the receipt of our FCC
There are some things that have persisted
in my consciousness since childhood. One of the fantasies I had as
a kid was to own walkie-talkies. The advertising in the early
1960's portrayed all kinds targeted at the kid market. The promise
was of of cool looking radios that matched the ones used by GI's during
WWII, or the ones in use by first responders.
The problem was, the ones we could afford
didn't really work. Well, I should qualify that by saying that
they did work, but usually you could just as easily hear the other
person's voice without the walkie-talkie because they had to be so
close, there was no point in using walkie-talkies! The great irony
in this experience was that we could hear the taxi calls coming from 3-4
miles away but they could not hear us!
So after abandoning the concept as a kid,
several years passed (believe me...) and walkie-talkies were ignored.
We tried them again when we got our first home, for talking to each
other from the garden to house and stuff like that. Again we made
poor purchase decisions, and were "rewarded" with poor performance.
So again I ditched the idea.
When I started wheeling with organized
groups in 2000-2001, we encountered people who were using small FRS/GMRS
units. At the time I thought it silly that the group was using
CB's and these people were also using these little units. Asking
around, I learned that these units worked a LOT better than what I had
played with, so I purchased a pair of Motorola T4500 Talkabout radios.
Product Features and Technical Details
- 22 Channels
- 500 mW
- Audible Low
Output Power: 500 mW
Operating Distance: 2
Battery Type: 3 AAA
Operating time: NA
Weight: .13 lbs
Dimensions: 1.0"D x 4.5"H
Water Resistant: Yes
Channel lock: No
Audible low battery alert:
Time-out timer: Yes
the box: 1 T4500 radio,
belt clip, user manual and a 1 year warranty.
Weighing in at only .13 lbs, these radios will
rest nicely inside a pocket or purse. With twenty-two total
channels (seven GMRS/FRS, seven FRS and eight GMRS) you'll have
plenty of options to contact friends or family. The weather
resistant housing gives you the option to have the radios out in
minimal weather conditions. Other features include audible call
tone, audible low battery alert and talk confirmation. Remember
that with GMRS channel capability you'll need a FCC license
before beginning operations.
What's in the Box
Two T4500 radios, belt clips, user manual and
a one year warranty.
Motorola Talkabout 2-Way Radios - This
two-pack of 2-way radios makes it easy to keep in contact with
family and friends. They work anywhere within a 2-mile range, so
they're great in spots with poor cell phone reception, making
them perfect for the mall, theme parks, camping, and anyplace
else that quick and easy communication is essential! Audible
Call Tone 10 Audible Call Alerts Talk Confirmation Tone (like
saying over or roger Audible Low Battery Alert Powered by 4 AA
batteries (not included) Unit Dimensions - 1 (d) x 4.5 (h) x 2
(w) Unit Weight - approx. 0.13 lbs.
They are low powered/low featured, but I
found they would work very well over short distances. We were able
to communicate from car-to-car even when we sometimes lost sight of each
other. As small as these units are, I was finally starting to
realize the dream of personal two-way radios.
The kids reached an age where they wanted
to go away from the house playing, or to separate from us when we were
away from home. As a kid, I had unrestricted freedom in these
regards. Growing up in the 50's and 60's in rural Massachusetts,
our world had not yet been violated by the risks so common today.
While I do recall endlessly watching number plates for one particular
person of interest, we were generally able to play unsupervised over
hundreds of acres of woods. We rode our bikes 5 or ten miles to
nearby towns on outings. There were of course other risks (getting
hit by a car - been there done that...) or getting injured (my sister
fell off her bike and broke her arm...), but these possibilities were far from
our minds. My parents cared about our safety but didn't restrict
us in our comings and goings.
This freedom surely accounts for the
adventurous spirit that I enjoy today. It also formed the basis of
my four-wheeling interest. What is so different between going out
into the woods with a map and compass on your bike, or today with a GPS
and Jeep? 40 years...? With regard to the radios, they would
have been handy then but nothing we could afford would have been
I wanted to give my kids the same freedom
that I had as a kid. But with the passage of time and the risks
facing parents and kids today, we have set the boundaries a lot closer
to home than what I enjoyed. Having said that, we realize how
restrictive it is for us and the kids. Enter the radios. We
started letting the kids go a few hundred yards out of sight carrying
the Motorola's. It was a boost to our confidence and the kids were
having a blast. On one occasion Tom crashed his bike badly and got
some decent road-rash. Ted called us on the radio and I went down
the road and helped out.
Then the kids started spending more time
on their bikes and wanted to go further from the house. I
purchased two Cobra PR 245's so that the kids would each have radios and
Maria and I would have them too.
Cobra PR245-2VP GMRS / FRS
These Cobra FRS/GMRS 2-way radios with desktop
charger keep you connected with friends and
family while out and about.
- 22 channels and 38
Privacy Codes provide for a total of 836
- Backlit LCD display
provides maximum ease of use even at night
- Call Alert provides 5
easily recognizable alert tones for incoming
- Key Lock activation
provides key pad security eliminating
accidental channel changes
- Selectable "roger" beep
tone indicates the completion of your
transmission, and signals to others it is
clear to talk
- Battery low indicator
- Battery saver circuitry
extends the life of your batteries
- Auto squelch
automatically shuts off weak transmissions
or unwanted noise due to terrain or range
- Maximum range extender
overrides Auto Squelch to provide extended
- Single pin
- Belt Clip secures your
MicroTALK® radio while on the go
We began carrying them whenever we went
to places like parks, zoos, large shopping destinations, and so on.
We took them on hikes and camping. We found that they gave the
kids more freedom and greatly improved our ability to coordinate family
movement. We were hooked.
One day the kids were out and came home
one radio short. It was disappointing but since they had been so
inexpensive, and so useful, I purchased a pair of Cobra
PR 3850 WX radios. These are more powerful with a few additional
|PR 3850-2 WX
12 Mile Range. PR 3850-2 WX EVP MicroTalk FRS/GMRS - 2
Way Radio two pack with up to 12 mile range,
rechargeable batteries, 2-port desktop charger, 2 earbud
- Range Up to 12 Mile Range
- 22 Channels
- 836 Private Channels
- 10 Channel NOAA Weather
- VOX (Hands Free
- SCAN (Channels/Privacy
- Battery/Power Saver
- Auto Squelch
- Key Lock
- Roger Beep Selectable
- Water Resistant
- Rechargeable Batteries
- 2 Earbud Microphones
- Desktop Charger Included
Additional Features of the PR 3850 WX EVP
||Ultra-clear long distance
|Up to 12 Mile Range
||Extended range capability
provides up to 12 Mile Range. (Range will
vary depending on terrain and conditions.)
||Front panel push buttons
give you easy access to all 22 channels (7
GMRS/FRS, 7 FRS, 8 GMRS).
|38 Privacy Codes
||Provide for a total of
836 "sub-channels" when the 38 privacy codes
are combined with the 22 channels.
|10 NOAA Channels
||Full coverage of all
government operated NOAA broadcasts.
||The user's voice is
detected and the radio transmits without the
need to press any buttons, freeing hands for
other tasks. 3 VOX sensitivity levels allow
the user to select at which point the radio
will detect their voice.
|10 Channel Memory
||Allows the user to
program up to 10 channels (or
channel/privacy code combinations) for easy
|Battery Saver Circuitry
||A unique circuit extends
the life of your batteries. If there are no
transmissions within 10 seconds, the unit
will automatically switch to battery saver
||Allows the user to scan
either channels or privacy codes within a
channel to locate conversations in progress.
||Improved reliability for
||When activated, provides
key pad security eliminating accidental
|10 Call Tones
||Allows the user to
differentiate between up to 10 different
parties on incoming calls.
|Roger Beep Tone
indicates the completion of the user's
transmission, and signals to (selectable
on/off) others it is clear to talk. This
feature is selectable and can be turned on
||Automatically shuts off
weak transmissions or unwanted noise due to
terrain or range constraints.
|Maximum Range Extender
||Overrides Auto Squelch to
provide extended range reception.
|Illuminated LCD Display
||Provides maximum ease of
use even at night.
|Keystroke Tone Signal
||Confirms key activation.
||Allows use of wall
charger, or earphone speaker/microphones
(not included) for "hands-free" operation.
||Secures your microTALK®
radio while on the go.
|1 Year Warranty
||On radios. For products
sold in the U.S.A.
|8 AAA Rechargeable
||Radios can also be used
with 4 AAA alkaline batteries per radio (not
|Two Port Desktop Charger
||Charges supplied NiMH
batteries inside radios. Charger
accommodates 1 or two radios.
|2 Earbud Microphones
||Earbud microphones (with
“push to talk") free hands for other tasks.
||6.693" x 2.323" x
1.575" (170mm x 59mm x 40mm)
||3.8 oz (107g)
(462.550 MHz- 467.7125 MHz
||PR 3850-2 WX EVP
||0 28377 90728 9
Master Pack Bar Code
||1 00 28377 90728
||12.36" x 8.189" x
3.622" (314mm x 208mm x 92mm)
||1 lb 6.4 oz
Master Pack Dimensions
12.913"x12.283"x8.661" (328mm x
312mm x 220mm)
Master Pack Weight
||7 lbs. 3.71 oz
batteries per radio (included) or 4
AAA alkaline batteries per radio
Master Pack Qty
subject to change without notice*
*All Dimensions (H x W x D)*
* Weights and
dimensions are estimations and are
subject to change.
FRS vs. GMRS
We found that the units running on FRS
frequencies were adequate for some of the things we did when everyone
was close by. But the effective range (no matter what the
advertising says...) is well below one mile in
outdoor situations where foliage and terrain stand between us. One
day the boys and I left Maria at home and took a hike. At our greatest
distance, we were about 3 miles from the house. Incredibly, we
were able to reach Maria and to each other across that distance until the trees and
hills stood in the way. Then we managed about 1 mile.
Reading the manual I learned that if I
used the GMRS frequencies, I would have a choice of high and low power
transmitting. I also learned a FCC license is required to use
these frequencies. So I logged on to the FCC web site and
purchased a license. This was processed immediately and I was
issued call letters (WQHI891). Technically if the radio has GMRS
capabilities, a license is required even if the GMRS frequencies are not
With the license in hand, I set the radios to a GMRS frequency
and bumped the power up to high. This greatly increased the
quality of sound and the range over which we can communicate. I
taught the kids the rules of using these frequencies and how to
broadcast our call sign properly. They understand it is for the
use of our immediate family only and not for play talking.
Because the latest radios had more
features and a little more broadcasting power, I bought two more so that
all our radios would be the same. We have to extras for when we
have visitors and the little T4500 in event we need it.
For our lifestyle, these radios have
been very useful. We recently went to the zoo. It was very
crowded and busy. The exhibits are spread out of a large area.
We brought the radios. We were able to stay
connected, let the kids roam a little ahead of us, and to regroup
precisely. It was also useful even when the kids were still in
range of sight but might not heard us except if we yelled. Locating each
other in the dark of the aquarium for example required only pushing the
talk button and listening for the beep that the other radios made.
It's important to get the FCC license.
It gives you access to the stronger frequencies and keeps you from
getting in trouble with radio fans who take this stuff very seriously.
I do not consider myself a radio geek, but this license has been one of the best
purchases we made.
If you find yourself using cell phones to call
each other at events or in stores, or wish you had a way to reach the
rest of your family when you're out and about, or if you want to be able
to respond to your kids' needs when they're out playing, take a look at