Walkie talkie with a good hands free speaker?

New here,sorry if this is a strange question.My dad is in an old folks home and the only visits we are allowed are standing outside his window (closed) due to covid.Is there a simple walkie talkie type device that has a fairly powerful hands free speaker/mic so that we could communicate through the window without pushing buttons?No idea were to look for such a device,so I thought I would start here.Thanks in advance for any advice

Unless there is a sound reason why they (the staff/operators) of the home would not permit for EM safety reasons, you’d be just as well to buy a rechargeable pair of PMR446 radios as used for leisure, send one to him etc. Alternatively a cheap pair of certified 49 MHz units - both can be used license free/license exempt.

Alternatively, if he’s not already using a smartphone, see if there’s anything like the old 3 Network Skype phones out there - they, once registered on the network, gave you free Skype and Skype IM for life of the network. I had the cheaper ZTE version of the two, which was rock steady on Skype over a much poorer 3g than we see today, even managed to hang in barely a continuous convo ranging from brilliant coverage to barely registering SQ - where audio bordered on metallic and the Skype app was using a low rate and bandwidth codec at the worst point, but convo was maintained, you’d have zero issues for your use.

But I’d just go with cheap PMR446 radios, preferably ones with an earphone socket or earphone/mic combo sockets to aid his not having to have the vol turned up too much

There’s really, for how you described the situation (which I fully appreciate is awkward at best), about your best options I can think of without diy construction.

There are phones that have an NFC style short range radio transceiver on board, but useless in the UK as they are fixed on restricted frequencies (in the UK) you’d never be able to argue justifiable or fair use of. The function was more like a baby intercom/monitor type range use, but would otherwise be an option.

Or you could go old school and use classic resonator style communications using the glass as a sound board :slight_smile:

Good luck anyway, and keep the old timer smiling - it’ll always be worth it no matter how :slight_smile:

Thanks for the reply.Is there a specific model that can be used without pushing a button to talk?On my dads end the only thing that would work would be a device that could simply lay close to him and use like a hands free speaker phone.

Would a cheap phone with handsfree not be the simplest?

Yea it would be for normal people,but for 85 year old seniors that have never used a cell phone its gets a little complicated setting of 2 phones,2 plans etc. :frowning_face:

Well, I can’t cite specific PMR446 models to recommend, since the only ones I’ve tested don’t fall into licence-free exemption and never tested any of the rare beasts that have speakerphone type mode bar the W305/R700 clones of BoxChip S series cellphones with an isolated DMR and PMR446 FM interoperable transceiver, but they are useless for you since they cannot be used for either in the EU/UK as the spec defines because the claimed CE/RDA type approval is a fake as you can get, disbarri g it from legal UK/EU DMR and PMR446 licensed or license exempt use. I only use my test units on 70cms for simple simplex/repeater usage under ham radio permitted use.

That’s why I suggested any PMR446 leisure market set with ear/mic socketry for use with a ear/mic hands free style headset. The range out there in the leisure market are pretty evenly equal, unless you go into actual Motorola territory where they are a better build quality typically - which given Motorola kit is sort of the bargain basement not junk of pro LMR radio kit, is probably overkill for you.

There are DMR handhelds, which some actually are targeted as legit Tier 1 license exempt use items, which also use 446 MHz channels (power and range limited and certified), but unless you buy a pair preprogrammed, you’ll need a programming cable and CPS software to build a codeplug (in simple terms, a channels/frequencies/mode config) to then program the two units.

So that’s why I suggest leisure market PMR446 despite there being utter DMR bargains - because most bargain priced sellers of DMR kit only supply Tier 2 kit which isn’t effectively legit to use even correctly programmed for Tier 1 usage. Some of the bargains are, like the W305 radio phones, as fake as ■■■■ with their TA certifications at the sewer end of prices.

A set of old school 49mhz handhelds, if you can find examples with loud (and often preset) speaker volume levels would be a cheap and dare I say ‘idiot proof’ off the shelf solution. Alternative being a pair of two-channel 27 MHz handhelds if your local CB usage is nil to ■■■■■■ all.

But respecting your need to keep it simple, the essence of Paul’s suggestion of using phones on hands free mode is the technically easiest and most accessible off the shelf and unless you bargain basement buy obscure Chinese eBay sourced clone phones, fully legit items. If he’s not already possessing a cellphone, it would kill 2 birds. If you only intend to use a pair for intercom/handhelds ‘radio’ use, some of the communicator over IP apps do support Bluetooth linked networking so allowing station to station (simplex/p2p) operation with needing cellular tariffs or WiFi, but I don’t know of anything app-wise that’s out of the box setup in a launch and use form without being configured.

Sorry I keep harping on about TA, Certified, etc - but I’m keeping my advice to within known licensed/license-free limits when highlighting options, both because I don’t encourage ‘pirate’ use of radio equipment and abiding by forum rules.

Clearly, what you are happy to do or live with in practice is your decision.

Good luck getting sorted - just try not to end up buying overkill and overpriced excessive solutions unless you want extended scope use at other times.

Overcomplicating the issue. I know what it is like, standing outside a window while a loved one fumbles with a cell phone, especially when the staff forget to switch it to speaker mic. Quite frankly, the home should be providing some kind of provision. Our home has a cell that you dial on your own cell, and it works pretty good most of the time. Sound isn’t always great, and the delay can be a bother.

Walkie talkies will not work well. They are made for communication, not casual conversation. Speakers are small and speaker output is miniscule on most of them. VOX is a joke, and no 85-year-old is going to want - or know how - to put an ear piece in their ear.

Look at wireless intercoms. They will work MUCH better. You can get ones that plug in to the wall and will transmit through a window easily. No delay. Some can even be powered by powerpacks, so if there is no AC outlet on the outside, you can run yours off a powerpack.

Trust me; walkie talkies are great for a lot of uses. This is not one of them.

I deliberately overlooked the wireless intercom suggesting simply because I reasonably assumed that had been looked into - but it’s a fair point to suggest they’d be a better option for such a limited use.

The other thing that came to mind after I posted my second reply, was killing two birds with one stone. DECT phones, and there are plenty of pair sets out there, are fairly cheap and most are speakerphone capable - but I’d look at them as they also have an intercom mode, some even have direct phone to phone intercom use without needing bases.

The ones we use at home (no point mentioning brand and model as they’ve been unavailable for over 10 years now) had that capability as they are dual mode, a late precursor to DECT, ex Rabbit units we use with a modified ex-shop mounted Base station (which for outdoor cellphone style use at short range) and direct or DECT style indoors as intercoms.

Irrelevant really as they’re unobtainable now in working order and complete and the commercial base stations make hens teeth look plain rare. Paid 30 ukp for a pair of new-old stock handsets, and a 5 for the base station that just needed 1 replacement part to restore to working order. So even by today’s bargain prices, they were a cheap kit.

So don’t discount any thing as useless with a wireless intercom as previously suggested. If it’s cheap and works, just avoid the ones with split-frequency operation like the early cordless phones (the ones that used a vhf and LF split frequency pairing) as they were pretty useless even back in the day. Talking of those, reminds me of the lo-band VHF/LF split operation exe security walkie talkies me and my brother had - the kind you saw security use in shopping centres and shops in the 70s. Mind you they were so cheap surplus and it didn’t take a genius to knock up a crude LF base station/repeater for them.

Those were the days before I cared about the complexity of ‘rules’ (in fairness, I was 8 at the time). In fact, we’ve still got the plans and circuit diagram for the base/repeater framed like a bit of tech artwork.

Anyway, having gone into a parallel dimension of off-topic, I just hope you find what you need.

Thanks for your replies,was hoping there would be a simple solution.I will follow these leads and see if I can come up with a workable solution!!Again,thanks for taking the time to help me here.
Dave

I’m sure there is, probably right under your nose so to speak, the kind you never notice unless you’re looking in the right direction or peripheral vision glimpse :slight_smile:

Really, the complications are less about lesser of evils and bombproof simple but more about making it work for the less able person - and let’s be honest here, even with possessing a razor sharp mind still - when your father’s elderly and infirm, there’s always something that makes even the relatively simple a pain to do for him.

We’re all gonna be there one day, as sure as we’ll be ashes or soil dwellers eventually. Hopefully, things work out and he gets a peaceful stress free remaining time and you actually be allowed to spend the time I’m sure you’re dying to spend keeping him company once it’s safe for him & other residents.