The Right Radio For The Right Purpose
For outdoor enthusiasts and long-distance travellers, an ultra-high frequency citizen band (UHF CB) radio is an essential device. This is especially true if you are venturing into the vast and remote Australian outback where mobile phone coverage is virtually non-existent. So, how do you go about choosing the right one? Tony Crooke, Group Marketing Manager at GME, guides us through the process.
Can you tell us a bit about GME — who are you and what do you do?
GME was founded in 1959, is 100% Australian owned and operated, and is the only Australian manufacturer of UHF CB Radios and Emergency Beacons. Based in Sydney’s north west, GME is focussed on the ongoing development and manufacture of industry-leading RF communications technology.
Please explain the importance of having a UHF radio with you when travelling, especially remotely.
Many people are not aware that less than 14% of Australia’s land mass has mobile phone coverage. As a result, UHF CB radios are a reliable, low-cost communications solution when travelling in regional or remote areas as they do not require any external infrastructure to operate.
If you have never used or owned a UHF radio before, how would you begin the process of choosing the right one for your purpose?
There is a huge amount of information available on the internet — product reviews, YouTube videos, social media groups and manufacturer’s websites are a great way of researching the available options. 4WD shows are another great opportunity to talk to industry experts who can guide you towards the right radio for your intended purpose.
Do you make different types of UHF radios for different types of travellers?
GME offers a huge range of options, but essentially, UHF CB radios can be separated into two main types — each of which have pros and cons. Handheld radios are generally lower cost, are portable, and don’t require an external antenna or power source to operate. Fixed Mount radios require an external antenna and 12V power source (usually a vehicle), however they offer much greater range, superior audio quality, and additional functionality over handheld radios.
What about the occasional traveller who may not want a permanent UHF device in their vehicle — is there an option for them?
GME offers a range of ‘Plug & Play’ style fixed mount radios that run off a 12V cigarette-lighter socket and include a suction cup mount and small magnetic antenna. These radios can be temporarily installed in a vehicle in a matter of seconds and removed when not required.
Emergency locator beacons are another important safety item made by GME. Can you tell me about the practical differences between the PLBs and EPIRB ranges for water and land? Can they be used interchangeably?
While both EPIRBs and PLBs will function anywhere on the planet, each type of beacon must meet different technical standards to be approved for sale and use. EPIRBs are primarily designed for use in marine applications, are much larger than PLBs, and must transmit for a minimum of 48 hours upon activation. PLBs are primarily designed for land-based applications, are much smaller and lighter than EPIRBs, and must transmit for a minimum of 24 hours upon activation.
What are the advantages of a GPS-equipped beacon? Are there any drawbacks?
Upon activation, GPS beacons can provide rescue authorities with a location in under 20 minutes within a 150m search radius, whilst a non-GPS beacon can take up to five hours to provide a location with a search radius of 5km. There is a small price premium for a GPS beacon over a non-GPS beacon as they include additional technology and components.