Radios for School Tech Crew Use

Heya everyone :slight_smile:

I’m looking for radios for my high school’s tech crew to use during events and such, but I’m a little confused about which radios would be the best. I’d like to put together a sort of proposal to give to our vice principal about getting some, and I need help! I know our school already has some Motorola business radios, and so I’d like some business radio suggestions compared to generic radio shack handhelds. Price is the most important factor here, though a small form factor would also be nice (Something like the Motorola CLP 1010 would be good, not sure if that specific model would suit our needs though). We would need to buy 4-6 units and headsets.

Thanks in advance!

P.S: We’re in Canada, prices in CAD would be nice. Not sure if that changes anything reulation-wise.

This is something you probably want to discuss with the Vice-Principal before you put together a proposal. The school probably has business radios already for use in special events, traffic control or during lockdowns. They may not want anyone else on their frequency.

Don’t forget that business radios such as the CLP 1010 generally use assigned frequencies and need a special licence to operate. If the school has multiple frequencies assigned to it, no problem; they may appreciate you having business-class radios on frequencies that they can access if needed. If the school is only assigned one frequency, then they may not want students to be able to access that frequency.

So you need to check on the school’s radio licence and what frequencies are assigned to it. (You will need to provide those frequencies to the dealer for programming the radios anyway.)

There are some exceptions in the industrial-grade business-class radio area, but they are not cheap. Motorola makes a DTR-series business radio in the public (unlicenced) 900 MHz band for both Canada and the U.S. It uses frequency-hopping technology and doesn’t stay on any one frequency for longer than 90 milliseconds. It is an industrial-grade mil-spec radio and is very robust; much more than any FRS/GMRS radios on the market.

But if your school doesn’t have a radio licence with assigned frequencies or only has one frequency and they don’t want other radios on the same frequency, then your choices are limited to the public-band consumer radios such as FRS or GMRS. Both are available in Canada, but keep in mind that Canada requires lower power GMRS radios so the model numbers may differ slightly from what you read on our host’s website. (On the upside, Canada does not require licences for GMRS radios.)

You will share frequencies of course with anyone else in range who happens to be on the same channel, but unless you are in a very dense area, it is usually easy to find an empty channel.

Another choice - albeit, another expensive choice - is to use a business-class radio programmed to public GMRS channels. This can be done by dealers such as buytwowayradios, but the downside is that this option is not available in Canada to the best of my knowledge. (Most business radios exceed the 2-watt Canadian limit.)

So if you wanted a cheaper option, I would research good consumer-level FRS/GMRS radios. (Just remember that the model numbers may differ slightly for the Canadian versions.) The most important criteria for you besides quality is the ability to take good headsets. (You don’t need VOX capability, and for your purposes, VOX would just get in the way anyway.)

Another alternative is the Trisquare brand of frequency-hopping (FHSS) radio. It uses similar technology to the Motorola DTR radios, but in a cheaper consumer version. (Both Trisquare and Motorola use proprietary “channels” and neither one will pick up the other’s signals.)

One thing to keep in mind is that you pay for features and quality of the radio and the sound. You don’t pay for the range because all FRS, GMRS and FHSS radios use the UHF band, and all are limited to line-of-sight, which means a kilometer or two is about the most you will get with ANY radio.

Maybe check with the school on their existing radios and their assigned frequencies (if any) and give us more information on whether you need to stick to business radios or if you want consumer public-band radios to fit your budget. You also need to decide how much they will be used (and abused.)

Quite frankly, if it was me (or my tax dollars - and you never know; it just MIGHT be) I would buy one set of industrial-grade business-class radios to last five years, than buy a new set of consumer-class radios every ten months. But that is a decision you will have to make yourself.

Hope this helps.

I suggest stay out of the school’s business radios. They’re used by the janitors and security people, and require a frequency license. The radios are also much more expensive.

I recommend get a handful of good FRS/GMRS radios, perhaps motorola talkabouts or midland GXT’s. Find one with at least a watt or two of transmit power- Midland GXT1000 or its cheaper cousin the GXT740 are excellent choices, both have 5 watts of transmit power (which can be turned down by a menu setting to ‘medium’ or ‘low’ to save batteries if you don’t need the extra range).
Standardize on one model (or at least one manufacturer) for easy compatibility with accessories. Different manufacturers use different accessory ports, but it generally stays the same within a manufacturer.
Then buy as many as you need. Find one guy (probably yourself) to be the ‘radio captain’, who will read the manual and know the radios inside and out. Then program them all with the same channel/code and turn on keypad lock. You may have to reprogram them all quickly before an event if someone else uses your channel. Thus the only controls that’ll work are the power/volume knob and PTT, making things simple for everybody.

Also a word on costs- you can get Midland 740s on this site at $45/pair ($22.50/radio), or Midland 1000s for $70/pair ($35/radio) but the 1000 includes a headset for each radio. In contrast, the cheapest business radio I could quickly find was about $140, plus the frequency license costs. So ignoring the frequency costs, you could get 4-6 GMRS radios for the cost of ONE business radio. And when you factor in the frequency license, it only gets worse.

Best of luck my friend…