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FRS Radios

May 22nd, 2006
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For Christmas, my wife gave me a set of two FRS radios. These are the walkie-talkie looking devices that work over many miles instead of the 100 feet like the ones we all played with as kids.

These radios do not require a license and are freely operable here in Canada, which has made them a popular choice for many people. About a year or so ago they started dropping in price which has truly made them mass purchased and used.

This weekend we were out in the middle of nowhere, Central Alberta at a function held in an older community hall that wasn’t actually situated in any community. One of those “Turn left at the yellow barn and go down about 3 miles” kind of locations.

We had brought along the radios so that if we wished to wonder off we could stay in contact.

Now back when we had our “100 Feet if your lucky” walkie talkies, you had to accept a few givens, such as:

  • 9V batteries, stock up: they won’t last. This is how the Radioshack battery card came to be, I’m sure.
  • Learn a new language because english goes into one radio and doesn’t quite make it out the other one.
  • Interference / Crosstalk

Now that last point is actually the biggest one.

If we were running around the school with our radios and some kids a half block over were playing with theirs, we could all hear each other. Kind of a 4 way communication at this point. And what did we do about it? Nothing. What could you do? We’d either stop using ours, they would stop using theirs, or we would talk amongst each other in a real “Kid sized CB radio” kind of fashion.

15 or so years later with these FRS radios, you run into similar issues. Since the signal can travel over 2 kilometers, it doesn’t take much to end up on the same channel as someone else. So now 15 years later, how do people handle this situation?

The smart ones will do one of two things. You can either use one of the coded channels to limit how many others will have the same channel / code settings, or you can switch to a different channel. Thats my personal advice right there.

Screaming over the radios, however, such charming phrases as “who the #$^@ is on the channel” or “get the #$%# off this channel you @#$^&” is probably going to be less effective, especially since nobody Owns that channel. Furthermore, have such etiquette and be on the same channel as someone like myself, and you better expect people to amuse themselves with your antics.

I found replying with such nice and polite phrases like, “Awww come on buddy, I just want to be your bestest friend” sends a nice message of peace and goodwill.

“Sounds like somebody needs a hug” was another pleasent message that really seemed to help the troubled individual focus on any major vocabulary difficulties they may have been experiencing.

I feel sorry for any retail people that end up having to deal with people such as this. This guy is probably the guy in the restaurant who orders steak, and puts ketchup on it, lets his kids run around the restaurant freely like it was a playground, complains when a single french fry is overcooked out of his pile, and tops it off by giving the waiter a $2 tip on his $40 supper.

Buddy, maybe its time to grow up and learn how to share. The rest of us seem to be a lot happier for it.

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