Nov 03, 2021


Categories: Radio

How Do I Extend my 2-Way Radio Range?

Range is a very important consideration for two-way radios. Range refers to the distance that a radio signal can travel, and it’s usually measured in miles or kilometres depending on what type of radio you are using. If you are having communication issues over long distances, you may be wondering, “How do I extend my 2-way radio range?”

There are many factors that affect range, including frequency band (UHF vs VHF), line of sight to the transmitter/receiver, terrain features, weather conditions, obstructions between sender and receiver. Radio repeaters can be used to extend your range by boosting signals from one area to another without having them re-transmitted through the airwaves.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about two-way radio range and how to extend it.

For advice on increasing your two-way radio range, get in touch with us here.

What does “Range” Mean?

In terms of two-way radio use, range is the maximum distance that a device can be used before it experiences signal degradation. This distance will depend on many factors, including terrain and obstructions between sender and receiver. Range is very important because if two-way radio users are unable to communicate with the other users because they are too far away then it greatly reduces their usefulness. This is why it is so important to understand what factors affect two-way radio range and how it can be maximised.

How Do Two-Way Radios Work?

Two-way radios work using radio waves in the frequency range 30 MHz to 300 GHz. Radio waves have many advantages over other forms of long-distance communication:

First of all, devices do not require a physical connection in order for users to communicate.

Secondly, using radio waves through two-way radios’ wireless technology means that the devices have practically no geographical limits because there’s no infrastructure like a radio tower needed for them to function.

Thirdly there is no need for a direct line of sight, meaning two-way radios can function through walls and other objects.

Finally, radio waves can travel both long and short distances, making them ideal for different communication needs.

For advice on increasing your two-way radio range, get in touch with us here.

How do Radio Signals Work?

Radio signals transmitted by two-way radios are just like light. The signals travel out in a straight line until they hit an object, and then the strength of the signal diminishes depending on how far away from the source it is. Think about shining a flashlight at night: if you shine your flashlight up into space, eventually all of its light energy gets absorbed or reflected so none reaches planets outside our solar system. This means that the signals only have a certain range, beyond which two walkie talkie users will be unable to communicate with each other. Therefore, it is important to maximise the distance two-way radio signals are able to travel before they fade away.

How Does Range Affect Two-Way Radio Communication?

Range affects communication between two-way radios for several reasons. Some of the most important factors to consider are:

  • UHF (Ultra High Frequency) and VHF (Very High Frequency) radio bands – These are the frequency ranges on which a two-way radio can function (UHF is typically more “line of sight” than VHF, meaning it doesn’t reflect well off walls and other objects.
  • The available channels within those ranges
  • The wavelength of the signal being transmitted – Shorter wavelengths have a greater range than longer ones because they reflect off objects or fade at a slower rate when travelling long distances)
  • The amount of power being transmitted – More power means the ability to send signals further
  • Any obstructions between the sender and receiver – For example, buildings, mountains and trees can all interfere with the signal
  • Weather conditions – Rain, fog, wind and snow can all shorten radio signals’ reach
  • Other radio signals from nearby devices
  • Atmospheric interference – This includes issues such as solar flares which cause sunspots and make it impossible for transmissions

For advice on increasing your two-way radio range, get in touch with us here.

What are UHF/VHF Radio Bands?

UHF bands typically range from 300 MHz up to 3000 MHz or higher (with the exact measurements depending on where the two-way radios are being used). VHF ranges between 30 kHz and 300 MHz. These frequencies represent different types of signals which have their own characteristics:

For example, UHF signals are typically more line of sight than VHF signals because they are more easily absorbed by other objects. UHF also has a smaller wavelength which means that the signal is stronger and doesn’t fade as quickly when travelling long distances.

On the other hand, VHF wavelengths have a greater range but fade at a faster rate. This means that VHF is more suited to longer-range communication, especially in open spaces. VHF signals also have a larger bandwidth which means that there are more available channels within each frequency band.

What are Radio Bands?

“Radio bands” refer to the specific frequency range within UHF and VHF that each set of two-way radios use (for example, one pair of two-way radios may be set up to communicate using a 400 MHz frequency within the UHF band.) Choosing the right radio band is important because it affects how the signals are transmitted. For example, if you use a UHF band with an antenna designed for VHF frequencies or vice versa, your signal may be distorted or weakened because of interference from other radio frequency waves within either range.

“Bandwidth” refers to how wide or slim these frequencies are. When they are “split” into multiple channels this is known as bandwidth allocation. When you split up radio signals among different channels it allows more people/groups to join in on the communication. This results in less interference from other devices being used in the area. When choosing a two-way radio, it is therefore very important to check how many available channels it has.

long range two-way radio

For advice on increasing your two-way radio range, get in touch with us here.

How does “Line of Sight” Affect Two-Way Radio Range?

“Line of sight” refers to the ability for two-way radios to communicate in a straight line, uninterrupted by obstacles such as mountains and buildings.

In most two-way radio communication scenarios, the receiver must be within direct sight of the sender’s antenna to receive the signal effectively – if this is not possible then obstructions between the two radios will interfere with or block out some or all of the signal. This means that the distance two-way radios can communicate over is limited by the line of sight so this is a very important factor that two-way radio users need to consider both when choosing their radios and setting them up.

As explained above, if a two-way radio is operating using UHF frequencies these radio signals are often unable to penetrate solid objects and also fade quickly over longer distances. Therefore, UHF signals require a more clear line of sight to work effectively.

VHF signals are better suited for long-distance communication because they don’t lose their strength as easily or bounce off obstacles in the line of sight.

What is a Two-Way Radio Repeater?

A repeater extender boosts the signal it receives so that two-way radios can communicate over longer distances than they normally could, or in locations where there are obstacles to line of sight communication. Receivers do not transmit their own signal, they just magnify the signal transmitted by the walkie talkies, and this means that users don’t have to worry about interference between units and those belonging to other radios using different frequencies nearby.

One way to use a repeater is to place it on top of an object like a mountain peak, a radio tower or a tall building with clear line of sight access. This means that both the sender and receiver units can be in the same zone without having to split frequencies between them.

If the users are trying to communicate across different zones (for example, one user uses UHF and the other uses VHF) or through solid objects then they will need repeaters that are capable of splitting signals into multiple channels so they can “reach” both groups by bouncing back & forth. This is called cross-banding and it is a great way to communicate in difficult situations.

Repeaters are also an effective solution for users who need more privacy when using their radios because if frequencies are split between sender and receiver units, nobody else will be able to pick up the conversations because they won’t be tuned into the same channels.

For advice on increasing your two-way radio range, get in touch with us here.

Tips for Using a Repeater

Repeaters are very useful when trying to communicate over long distances but there can be issues that arise:

  • Users may need to keep in mind who else is listening on the same frequency. This may require making sure the communication group all has different channels or even splitting the frequency so that nobody can pick up the conversation.
  • Consideration must be given to any possible legalities involved with repeater use such as licensing and permits.
  • It’s crucial that every user knows how to set up their own two-way radio unit to be used in conjunction with the repeater.
  • Some repeater systems require programming before they’ll work properly.
  • If the repeater is designed to work across various frequencies, users must know how to program their units so they are using the right frequency.

With all of that in mind, here are our…

Best Picks for Two-Way Radio Repeater Extenders

#1 DigiX Bravo Repeater

DigiX Bravo RepeaterThe DigiX Bravo Repeater Enhancer is a seriously high-performance two-way radio signal enhancer. It is fully mountable on a rack, provides simultaneous two-channel communications and is able to work in conjunction with both DigiX products and other manufacturers’ DMR devices.

Some of its notable features include:

  • Tier-2 DMR standard of ETSI TS102-361
  • TIA/EIA-603C and MIL-STD-810 standard
  • Base station mode and dispatcher mode available
  • PABX/PSTN communication
  • IP Network Connectivity
  • 4G/DMR talk through module
  • 1/5/25 output power
  • Self Diagnostic, Remote monitor and Autoconfiguration (Monitor Software Required)
  • Multiple site networking

The Bravo cannot be purchased online, so please call 0151 263 9993 to make an order or discuss the specs and functions in more detail

#2 DigiX Max Repeater

DigiX Max ExtenderThe DigiX Max is a fantastic repeater that has been shown to outperform the top repeaters on the market at a fraction of the price. It is effective in the most demanding of environments where radio signal is severely disrupted. The Max can be used both as 12V and 240V and is now available with a built-in long-life lithium battery guaranteeing hours of effective use.

Some of its notable features include:

  • Compact design, Easy installation
  • Built-in Power Supply (option)
  • 2.0inch colour IPS full View LCD display
  • Clear loud audio
  • Individual Call and Group Call supported
  • Tier-2 DMR standard of ETSI TS102-361
  • TIA/EIA-603C and MIL-STD-810 standard
  • 1/10/20 Watts output power
  • Supports both Analogue and Digital DMR formats

The Max cannot be purchased online, so please call 0151 263 9993 to make an order or discuss the specs and functions in more detail

Other Tips for Increasing Range

As well as using a repeater, there are several other things you can do in order to increase the range of your two-way radio:

  • Keep it away from large sources of interference like power lines, transformers, electrical storms/lightning strikes (which may damage equipment), metal objects and other devices which could cause noise;
  • Make sure antennas are upright because if they aren’t straight or they are touching something else this will decrease their effectiveness
  • Use higher wattage radios when possible – more watts equals stronger signals but also more battery drain so choose wisely according to how long you need to use the radios between charges.

For advice on increasing your two-way radio range, get in touch with us here.

Final Thoughts

There are many factors involved in ensuring two-way radios have a big enough range for your required uses. A quality repeat extender can help to increase range and overcome any obstacles or environmental issues that may affect range and ensure uninterrupted communication. If you are still wondering “How do I extend my 2-way radio range?”, make sure to get in touch with us for our expert advice.