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  #11  
Old 09-16-2015, 05:21 PM
paulears paulears is offline
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Default Re: Two Way Radios (Walkie Talkies) for Film Set

Your budget is simply not going to let you do this, the list of must dos, is going to be problematic.

Full duplex is a specialist area - the usual radios mentioned here are semi-duplex, as in they use two separate frequencies for send and receive, but you cannot speak and listen at the same time - as cellular radios can. Duplex systems use a repeater, so that's another cost, but does increase range, but you also need antenna systems and height. Range between handsets working simplex - the usual system for handheld to handheld, is not really set by power output. Going from 1W to 5W output doesn't help the range very much at all. Lack of interference requires dedicated channels, so in most countries, licensing and modest cost. Clarity isn't usually an issue, as comms audio response is pretty narrow. reliability is an interesting one. Technical performance varies little between cheap Chinese to full business quality radio. What does change is physical strength. The business radios (and oddly amateur radios made by the same manufacturers) can be dropped, misused, poorly looked after and still work. The cheap Chinese radios might loose their belt clips, crack the cases when dropped and even snap off antennas and knobs. Many business users who do cheap radios just bin them and open a new box! You have to decide what you want.

I use some full duplex comms systems here in the UK and they are notorious for being unreliable. Digital cleverness doesn't help either. If you are doing comms for broadcast TV or radio, then semi duplex is usually OK - you hear the running comms, and then if a response is needed, you transmit. At that point your audio cuts off, and your comms goes out to everyone else. This works pretty well for us as usually the response is yes, no, hang on. We don't need telephone type service. This means a system that can listen and transmit, and base stations are fairly expensive compared to hand held radios.

I don't think duplex is really needed - as multiple simplex radios should seem to be enough - unless you need the ability to have both ways working at the same time? VHF systems, as opposed to UHF might give you a bit better range outside - but how much range do you actually need? Behind a few trees locally isn't a problem, the other side of a hill may be. Using a base station as a repeater in a vehicle increases the working area nicely.

keep in mind that taking kit to another country is a different thing altogether. Radios in your kit may well be examined by customs on exit and entry, and if they ask for licenses, you are stuck. Your business band could be used by the fire, police and ambulance service in another country. I've taken kit to the US, and just used it - having a fiddle after a few days use revealed my working channel was between two busy Police channels, and I'd been lucky! American free to use radios and business radios may well be in bands used for other things in Europe.

I'd suggest getting a pair of cheap Chinese ones to have a play with and see if they do the job. If the range is insufficient, then business expensive radios will be very similar, so you need to add range boosting features like base stations and semiduplex operation. This adds to the expense considerably.
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  #12  
Old 11-01-2016, 01:15 PM
obigibo obigibo is offline
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Default Re: Two Way Radios (Walkie Talkies) for Film Set

Hi there,

Interesting thread. Q for Chickenhawk mainly - you seem very knowledgeable on these things!

I work as an AD on film/tv/commercials in the UK where we pretty much universally use the Motorola GP340 (which i believe is v similar if not identical to the HT750 you mentioned?). I am looking into making an investment to purchase 30-40 Motorolas that i can hire to production and want to make sure this investment is future proof.

I understand they have stopped making the GP340 and are only supplying parts until they run out - i.e. the 340 will go the way of the old GP300 brick (which used to be the standard here) and we will HAVE to go digital in our on-set comms. This has an issue in our industry, as i am sure you know, as the digital latency in the DP series is highly annoying and unpractical for the film set. Precise cuing from the AD's / Stunts goes out of the window, if filming without sound (and so without coverts) you can hear yourself on multiple other radios on set speaking half a second after you speak, and if you use a two radio system on your belt so you are always dialled into channel 1, you go mad as the delay from the words you are saying permeates your ear!

I was wondering your thoughts on the above problem and how you see the industry moving forward with digital walkie talkies? Certainly in the UK industry, we have shunned them and will be clinging on to our GP340's until they die off completely.

Also, if making a investment in two-way radios for the set (and yes i do want Motorola), which model would you purchase? and UHF or VHF? I do see both UHF and VHF on set, with different sized ariels on both, but now i look at purchasing one or the other I wondered which is best. Logic would lean to UHF.

I am leaning towards the DP1400 and just having to suck up the digital delay, but i know for the time being at least my colleges will hate my radios, as i do all digital radios, as they are not practical for the film set and a naff re-invention of a wheel that worked very well!

Any thoughts or guidance much appreciated. Many thanks.
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  #13  
Old 11-01-2016, 04:36 PM
paulears paulears is offline
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Default Re: Two Way Radios (Walkie Talkies) for Film Set

Two main issues with DMR compared to the frequency dividing systems (dPMR, Icom and Kenwood systems etc) - DMR tier 2 - working through repeaters is a very invasive system used next to audio devices. The constant RF from the frequency division systems seems much more friendly. My DMR radios close in seem to get into the audio preamps of two of my professional cameras and produce a nasty thumping sound. dPMR and Kenwood Nexedge which I have here too do not do this. UHF would normally be my preference in local area comms simplex, but I've been operating a VHF semi-duplex system for the pas 6 months with excellent results - Kenwood kit with a Kenwood repeater linked into the wired duplex comms system. Semi-duplex from the outstations works fine, allowing break into the wired comms and radios on receive. The only negative is that a radio cannot break into another radio on transmit - but this has not proven to be a pain at all. I have a large inventory of Kenwood kit analogue and digital, and like it for it's interchangeability. I can mix in the radios with LCD displays with those without, and use the fleetsync programming to simply give a display of who it was who sent the message - comes in very handy. The few extra simple radios with no display, send their ID, and just cannot display info themselves. Motorola is of course a decent brand, I just prefer by my own history, Icom or kenwood, and Kenwood worked well for me. Although the latency issue when you hear your voice delayed is very odd - it's actually shorter than half a second, and shorter than mobile phones in most cases - which also sound odd in use when you can see the recipient! However - we've found no practical problem with cueing at all. There clearly is a delay, but it's actually not a problem timing of cues wise. We set up one of our backstage systems with an analogue channel and a digital one, and users only comments were the slightly odd sounding digital voice, NOT delay. Not sure this helps much - but for me - dropping a radio and having it bounce and not crack is the key for me. We do have a half dozen Baofeng 888s on the shelf in boxes, brand new - and we use these on the jobs where it's likely the radios will get dropped into water, mud, or fall out of pockets up in the air. We then replace them - disposable radios. Technically, they work fine - they just break.
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  #14  
Old 11-02-2016, 02:17 AM
Chickenhawk Chickenhawk is offline
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Default Re: Two Way Radios (Walkie Talkies) for Film Set

All of the above is good advice. I have never experienced a problem with the half-second delay, and the user will likely never even know it is happening unless they are standing beside an open walkie while transmitting. Obviously, cues are important in my line of work, and it has never been a problem.

If we are coordinating a gunshot for example, with a zirc ball hit or a window breaker, we never use radio. It is done with audible or light triggers (that I hate because they are so flaky) or old-school by reacting to the sound (which is always the best and most reliable way if you have a good special effects tech on the trigger.)

All that being said, analog will be around for a long time. Parts will become scarce but used radios will get cheaper and you can just buy double the amount you need and sell the broken ones for parts if they wear out.

Radios are like cameras; just because new ones are on the market, doesn't mean the old ones perform less than what they did before.

It seems most of the industry in North America and the UK run similar (if not identical) radios. They are solid radios and will continue to work for years. Up here, we run UHF almost exclusively. This is mostly because our rental radios are not on fixed frequencies. Most of our rentals are on analog trunked frequencies (although few end users even know this, as it is 100% transparent to the user and there is no latency delay.)

Personally, I feel that the old adage that VHF is better for foliage and UHF is better for glass and steel, is not really true. There may be slight differences, but I would personally just go UHF.

I only use the DTR and DLR radios on my own film sets or when helping out low budget filmmakers on their own projects. Otherwise, i spend 14 hours a day with my earpiece plugged in to the UHF rental radios as provided by the production. (HT750)
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  #15  
Old 12-19-2016, 02:28 PM
Faked Faked is offline
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Default Re: Two Way Radios (Walkie Talkies) for Film Set

This thread has been a huge help. I work at an events company, and we're looking to finally stop renting CP200s. The DTRs look great, but, at the same time, I realize that they're old tech by now. The Motorola TRBO line (and other DMR and/or compatible models) seem to be newer tech, but I am wondering about the differences. I know I'd need to get a national itinerant license if I went the DMR route, but what else?

-Is the push to speak, wait for the chirp delay longer or shorter or the same with newer radios as the DTRs? That is one thing that I won't look forward to with the DTRs.
-I know the DMRs can have more power than the DTRs. Does it translate into actual usable range? Also, I understand there are differences here, between the TYT and the Motorolas and the Hyteras and Vertex etc. But because a license is required for broadcast on a lot of the DMR radios, they're allowed to go above 1 watt (let me know if I'm wrong here).
-The DMRs seem like they can do all the great stuff the DTR can, like private calling and group calling (though maybe not frequency hopping). That being said, what's actually the difference between frequency hopping and encryption for actual usability?
-I know that DMRs can use repeaters (the DTRs have a 3rd-party repeater option), and it seems like there are a lot of "public" repeaters. Does that mean that a DMR would automatically use one in the area? If yes, it seems like this would increase the range quite a bit. I know that some are marked as "permission needed."
-Another plus to the DMRs is that it seems like you can find submergible (IP67) spec models.

All in all, I'm looking for privacy (if other people are on your comms channel, it's the biggest headache), clarity, and range. The license won't deter me either, if I decide to go that route. Any suggestions?
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  #16  
Old 12-20-2016, 11:25 AM
paulears paulears is offline
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Default Re: Two Way Radios (Walkie Talkies) for Film Set

DMR is far less simple and user friendly. Repeater access needs proper programming and is rarely straightforward. In terms of range it's a bit different to how the adverts put it. Analogue FM vs Digital should mean that at the fringes the digits hold up a bit better, then die suddenly, while analogue gets noisier and noisier then dies - however, canny operators get used to the impending dropped signal and move the radio a little, minimising noise and maximising distance. Digital doesn;t give you a clue disaster is near, apart from perhaps a few missed called, or "say again" messages - but because they come either loud and clear or not at all, the extra distance can't really be banked on.

I've been introducing digital kit and am a bit underwhelmed because while they have all these great features, many of my clients simply cannot cope with them. Spending ages making every radio unique with it's user's name or department is possible - so when a general call comes through to everyone, the radios say for example "John Stage Left" in the display - however, when John picked his radio up, he'd forgotten to turn it off, so it was on the charger, still charging, so he simply takes Dave's radio and the confusion starts - programming in groups and other features means people need to remember certain button pressing sequences - so a general call transferring to a one to one group or maybe a department group falls over when they forget to return to channel 1, or whatever. I find so far the most popular request is simply one channel, and a display that doesn't need reading - exactly the same as the analgue ones they replaced at great cost. I've not yet found the repeater thing that handy, as some of the advertising suggested that users could migrate in stages using a mix of analogue and digital - which is partly true. The repeater can handle FM and the digital radios - but they're not linked I assumed wrongly, that FM into the repeater would come out as digital inside the machine, and it doesn't so not as wonderful and handy as I thought. I've discovered that total strangers can also get into my system and use it, but I don't know because their programming prevents my radios hearing them - so apart from seeing the TX light come on, I'm unaware, and I don't like this.
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  #17  
Old 12-20-2016, 11:35 AM
Faked Faked is offline
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Default Re: Two Way Radios (Walkie Talkies) for Film Set

It sounds like DTR is the way to go then. No wonder they still sell it. With DMR, I think if you have 2 repeaters connected (this is based off a non-expert --me-- watching a Hytera video explaining DMR) you're able to do analog in digital out. I know what you're saying about programming in specific names and people just grabbing whatever walkie is on the gang charger. It'd be nice to have priority broadcast capability to a couple people in charge, and a time out function for some PA keying though.
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  #18  
Old 12-20-2016, 07:37 PM
K6CPO K6CPO is offline
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Default Re: Two Way Radios (Walkie Talkies) for Film Set

Quote:
Originally Posted by ass3rtiv3 View Post
Wow, Chickenhawk, thanks so much for your detailed responses!! Extremely helpful and much appreciated! Also, sounds like you have a really cool job on set and have worked on productions much much larger than ours...

First, I would say that we are probably looking for license-free radios. The FHSS radios sound promising, since they are UHF and can be used indoors and outdoors.

I looked up the Motorola DTR series as you suggested and they look ideal. The only thing is they are probably out of our price range for the time being. Maybe I can find them used on eBay or elsewhere, or rent for the time being with an eye on purchasing them in the future. Any particular model you recommend?


I started looking into buying radios because we will be shooting overseas for over a month, but on a very limited budget. I?ve gotten rental quotes (mainly CP200s it seems) but have been also investigating purchasing our own since we will definitely be using radios in the future.

One possibility that occurred was buying a larger number of inexpensive amateur radios, such as the following Baofengs or the slightly more expensive Wouxuns:

Baofeng BF-F8+ Dual Band Two Way Radio
http://www.buytwowayradios.com/produ...f-f8-plus.aspx

Baofeng UV-82 Dual Band UHF/VHF Radio
http://www.buytwowayradios.com/produ...eng/uv-82.aspx

Baofeng UV-5R Dual Band UHF/VHF Radio
http://www.buytwowayradios.com/produ...eng/uv-5r.aspx

Ham Radio Starter Kit - HT
http://www.buytwowayradios.com/produ...-HAM-UV5R.aspx


It seems that these dual band radios would be versatile, but I don?t really know the difference between an "Amateur Radio" and a "Business Radio". So I?m not sure if they would be appropriate for our usage scenario or if a license would be required. From reviews on Amazon, they appear to be used by a wide variety of people, including regular people in work situations, but also radio enthusiasts and some SAR (search and rescue).

Baofeng Fan Page
https://www.facebook.com/BaofengElectronics


I?ve heard differing opinions about the quality of these radios, but in general it seems they will not hold up as well as more expensive radios. But for the price of one business class radio, it looks like we would be able to purchase a large number of these cheaper radios, and just replace the ones that go bad:

BaoFeng BF-888S Two Way Radio (Pack Of 6): $89.70
http://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-BF-888...dp/B00ECWE4WC/

BaoFeng BF-888S Two Way Radio (Pack of 20): $283.31
http://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-BF-888...dp/B00ECWHI8E/

BaoFeng 10 Pack BF-888S (USA Warranty) 400-470MHz Two Way Radio - With Battery, Antenna and Charger (UHF Only): $153.99
http://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-BF-888...dp/B00N296B5O/


It does look like they would need to be programmed, but it seems like there are places that will program for you before shipping. I could also purchase the programming cable and attempt to program them myself (I?m fairly tech savvy).

However, I understand that these radios probably do not fit the description "quality that lasts". And I believe that buying quality pays off in the long run. But they are certainly cost-effective!



On another note, I heard back from BuyTwoWayRadios.com (I emailed them), and they recommended the Motorola RM RMU2040 radios:




I also found a blog post on BuyTwoWayRadios.com (Dec. 2014) suggesting alternatives to the soon to be defunct CP200 (which is the only model I?ve used on film sets). They include the Motorola RDU4160d, the Motorola RDV5100, and the Vertex Standard VX-231.
http://www.buytwowayradios.com/blog/...the_cp200.aspx


Finally, I really appreciate your advice regarding headset and microphone combinations. I will take that to heart and pick some up, as your suggestions seem spot on. I had one question: what is the difference/benefit of using an acoustic tube surveillance earpiece vs. a standard headset earpiece?

Again, thanks so much for your advice and opinions!! I hope I haven?t offended anyone with my lack of knowledge in this area, but I am seeking to learn more and hopefully benefit from your impressive expertise and experience.
Since no one else seems to have done so, I will address your questions about amateur radios.

  1. Amateur radio is a licensed service. There is a written examination that has to be passed before the license is issued. Also, everyone using the radios would have to obtain a license.
  2. Amateur radio regulations prohibit using the service for business purposes, so that would rule out what you propose.
  3. The Baofeng radios, for the most part, are certified for use in the land mobile radio service (business radio) but this is another licensed service and much more complicated and expensive than amateur radio.
Possibly the best option for you might be the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS.) You might give that a look.
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  #19  
Old 12-21-2016, 02:48 AM
Chickenhawk Chickenhawk is offline
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Default Re: Two Way Radios (Walkie Talkies) for Film Set

There is no easy answer. One has to balance 1) renting versus buying, and then 2) licence versus licence free.

There is always a tradeoff. My friend above did a very good job explaining the advantages and disadvantages of digital versus analog, so if the decision is made to buy, and to obtain a licence, it then becomes analog versus digital (such as DMR.)

Hopefully, I did a good job explaining the advantages and disadvantages of the DTR/DLR Motorola digital radios.

1) Most film sets rent. Most theatre productions buy.

2) If your activities are in a relatively fixed area, business licences guarantee you an interference-free experience, in exchange for a considerable ongoing cost (depending on the country.) If you are getting outside your home geographic area, licence costs go exponentially higher because you need a frequency not currently used in your whole state or province.

Itinerant (shared) business frequencies can be a good solution, but you still need to pay for a licence. They will try to get you a frequency well away from other users, but there are no guarantees. Plus, when you get outside your home area, some interference is almost assured.

Licenced frequencies have the advantage of reasonable privacy and a WIDE range of business radios - both analog and digital - available at every price point.

Licence-free radios just don't have the wide range of radios available. In digital, it is the Motorola DLR or DTR. The DTR is complicated to program, but one can simply unpack them, turn them on and be almost guaranteed to not have anyone else on the same frequency no matter where you go in the country. They also have the unique ability to call up any other radio individually, leaving the channel still open for other users at the same time.

The DLR series uses the same technology but are much simpler to program. They are also half the size and weight of the DTR. So, yes the technology behind the frequency-hopping spread spectrum radios is not the latest, but it still works great. Users will not care if it is the latest digital interface; it still sounds very good.

I highly recommend the DLR if you don't want to spend too much time programming them, and like the smaller size and weight. I recommend the DTR for have proper names listed instead of obscure numbers and for private one-on-one calling to individual radios.

As for repeaters, there is a third-party solution, but not that many users go that route, simply because the DTR/DLR provides greater range at 1-watt than most analog business radios at 4- or 5-watts.
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