What to use for major obstructions?


I work in a warehouse that’s approximately the size of 4 football fields. There are 4 separate warehouses that all connect along the long side. Communicating from the offices which are attached at one end to the back of the furthest warehouse is fairly difficult. Things are made more difficult because one warehouse is concrete and most are filled with racks of core (basically solid walls of rock). Our current Motorola CP200 radios do an OK job across most of the warehouse but fail to reach all the way across.

What I’m struggling with is how to make sure that signal reaches across the entirety of the warehouse. We are testing some GMRS radios but having to use a call sign and get a licence isn’t the way we want to go if we can help it. I’ve been looking into repeaters but it seems like they’re usually GMRS from what I’ve read. Does anyone know what the best setup would be for this type of short range but very high obstruction environment would be?

Thank you

Hi, The CP200 is rated at 4.6 watts and the highest wattage GMRS radios are going to max out at 5 watts or less, so a GMRS radio isn’t going to get you much better coverage. The CP200 is only FCC type accepted for business frequencies, so, at least in the US, you won’t be able to talk to the GMRS radios anyway.

There are two viable options and neither involve using GMRS radios. The first option is to use a repeater, which does make sense in your scenario. I don’t know where you heard that repeaters are usually GMRS, because it is definitely not true. There are many makes and models of business repeaters for both UHF and VHF bands. For the typical office and warehouse setup spread out across multiple buildings within the same complex, a repeater is generally considered the way to go.

The second option, and one that may actually be more attractive in the long run, is to use a Radio over IP (RoIP) system such as the Icom IP Advanced Radio System. This would require switching to new radios, but if you are planning to do that anyway, this may be an easier and perhaps more economical solution in the long run.

Here are a few resources that explain how it works.
Radios over WiFi! Introducing Icom’s IP100H IP Radios
Is the Icom IP100H Radio Worth the Price?
TWRS-82 - The Icom IP100H Advanced Radio System (podcast)
Take a look at the Icom IP Advanced Radio System (video)

Thanks for the reply!
I’ve only been working on this issue for a few hours so I’m not sure what information is reliable and what isn’t. The thing about the GMRS repeater may have been specifically about repeaters for GMRS radios and it wasn’t made clear that they weren’t just for those types of radios. The links you provided will definitely be of help!

We’re looking to see if we can find some smaller radios that were stronger to replace the CP200’s we already have. If we could just add a repeater and assuming more modern radios with similar or better functionality are approximately the same size this may be the best option for us.

All of the warehouses are connected (imagine 4 American football fields all connected on the sidelines. There are walls between each warehouse and lots and lots of racks of rocks which means the signal has to effectively travel through up to 9-10 two foot (approximate) concrete walls, except where the openings between the warehouses are.

I’m going to read through all those links before I ask any more questions so I don’t waste anyone’s time. Thank you so much for the help and the information

No problem. Considering the obstructions, the Icom IP system may be the best solution. The IP100H radios are small and considerably rugged, which may fit conditions in your warehouse.

I don’t think the systems that work over IP are going to work. Each warehouse has a wireless router, something like this http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/wireless/aironet-3700-series/index.html at the front of the warehouse (think goalline in the football field analogy) and if you walk down any particular aisle the signal is lost entirely by the time you reach the 50 yard line. The first picture on this page is a look down one of the aisles, with each box containing 3 feet of solid rock http://www.ogs.ou.edu/level3-OPICcorefacility.php

EDIT: I’m listening to the podcast link and the wireless signal issue may be surmountable with an external antenna on the IP100H radios (I tested signal strength with my cell phone). I’m wondering if there is a way to have a rep come out and test this? The dead spots are huge and I’m assuming that signal drops off even lower from where my phone loses signal.

I’m beginning to think that a repeater is the best option. Will this work with our current CP200 radios? We’re affiliated with the University of Oklahoma and with funding issues getting even a cheap repeater and a whole new suite of radios will be considerably trickier than just getting the repeater.

If we do decide to get new radios is there something comparable to the CP200’s that is smaller and lighter?

Thank you again

The IP100H system is specifically designed for this sort of situation. The external antennas will help, but if you already have dead spots with the Aironet access points, you may want to resolve that anyway for your network devices that already use them.

This is fairly easily done by simply adding more access points to extend the signals along to cover those dead spots. The Aironet is not actually a router, it is an access point or wireless hub, which should make it easy to add more of them to cover the entire area.

Once you have those in place, IP radio coverage should not be an issue.

I believe the CP200 is repeater capable, however it was discontinued last year. This was another reason I mentioned the IP100. It is not only smaller and lighter, it also has digital features not found on the old CP200. You don’t need a license to operate them, either.

As for cost, a full repeater for business radios won’t be cheap, and because a repeater uses more than one frequency, you may need to purchase a license for each additional frequency used.

The IP system is license free, so that is one cost you won’t need to worry about.

After a couple weeks of putting out other fires I can finally come back to this project. I’m still unsure about the IP100H system. We’d have to put in at least 5 if not 7-8 extra Aironet access points and because we have to purchase them and have them installed via the university it ends up costing quite a bit. That on top of the cost of the IP100H system and a 5% across the board budget cut I’m not sure if it is doable. I’m also hesitant to suggest an expensive system that I’m not even sure will work properly. If there was a way to test it out and see exactly what kind of upgrades we’d need I’d feel much more comfortable. Currently we only need IP service along the front of the warehouses in order for clients to access email, etc. which is why we don’t worry about the coverage much.

If we need a licence for a repeater for our current CP200 radios should we have a license for the radios as we’re using them now? The models we have have 4 channels only and I have no idea if they’re GRSM or not. Currently we’re using them without a license. A repeater plus licenses for the frequencies we’d be using looks like it would still be cheaper than an entirely new system.

We also got some Motorola DTR 550’s to play around with. While I like a lot of the features the beeping when you make/receive a call really gets on my nerves. I looked on this forum and as far as I can tell there’s no way of turning it off. There is also still a problem with receiving signal from one end of the facility to the other, as in these radios don’t. Being able to set different groups is a nice feature as is not receiving static filled broken signals, but if the signal isn’t any better switching may not be worth our while. I’m assuming repeaters are available for digital radios as well, is this true? It might be worth slowly upgrading as long as I can get over that annoying beeping!

Hi, I have been reading thru this thread and would like to offer some suggestions for you…

First things first, if you think that adding the 7-8 extra Aironet access points would not be worth while, then I think we can definitely consider adding a repeater and licensed frequencies to your existing system. This way, you would not be replacing an entire fleet of radios. You could simply re-program the CP200’s that you have, and replace them with something smaller/cheaper as each unit gets phased out. I would recommend something like the Vertex VX-231-AG7B for a replacement handheld radio. They are not significantly smaller, but they are much lighter and probably around half the price of CP200’s, while still offering the same durability specs and range.

The DTR550 radios are good in that they offer excellent sound quality and operate legally without a license, but the downfall is that there is no way to extend the range. Unfortunately, the DTR series radios are NOT repeater capable.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me directly at 1-800-584-1445 ext. 230 and I’ll be happy to help. Thanks!

One of the simplest things to try:

If you are currently using the very small uhf antennas (2-3 inches), consider the longer standard duck which is about 6 inches. I don’t know the Motorola part #, but they should be available.

Check with your programmer to see if the CP200 has a “loose” or “tight” squelch option in the CPS software. I’m not a programmer, so I’m not sure if that’s available.

Also consider testing a pair of the newer CP200D (digital) radios. If you are just out of range with analog, these just might cut it - again I’d opt for the standard 6 inch long antenna. If that does work satisfactorily, then be sure to update your license for the digital mode.

This is the longer antenna he is talking about:
One cannot violate the laws of physics, but the longer antenna does provide a noticeable increase in range.

Note however that the latest generation (gen III) versions of the DTR550 already come with the longer antenna and the faster (one-hour) charger, and the first generation (gen I) DTR550 radios have a fixed antenna that cannot be upgraded.

It is worth a try with the longer antennas, but a repeater may be the only solution, and the DTR series cannot use a repeater.

Cane Wireless makes a repeater for the DTR.