5 Examples of Earpiece to Hear Far Away

1. Using a Mobile Phone And Bluetooth headsets or Earpiece

To do this, you simply need to go into your mobile phone’s settings and then change answering mode to Auto; this enables your phone to answer automatically when you ring it. Most mobile phones only work in the Auto answer mode, after you have plugged in the headset.

After turning on the Bluetooth headset, make sure it’s properly paired with your cell phone, and confirm the battery has adequate charge. Hide your Bluetooth headset somewhere you know it’ll pick up the sounds clearly, however, make sure that it’s well hidden.

Leave the room, however, do not go very far. The Bluetooth connection will work through the walls, but if you happen to go far away, it’ll not work very well (the range can be up to about 30 feet or 3 rooms away). Now test your cell phone by calling it to see how far you can actually go and still get to hear the bugged room through the Bluetooth headset.

You can wait for the conversations to get to the interesting part, and then turn on voice recorder on the cell phone; it should be able to record via the microphone of your Bluetooth headset.

2. Using a Two Way Radio and Earpiece

Two way radios allow users to communicate when they’re far away such that they can not hear each other. These devices use radio frequencies instead of cell phone towers which means they will work in areas where there’s no cell phone coverage or reception.

The two way radios offer instantaneous communication; users simply need to press the Push-To-Talk (also known as PTT) key, and they can instantly talk and convey their particular message to the other party. This is due to the quick call setup time that’s entrenched in this technology. The ability to offer quick communications is one of the reasons why most organizations prefer the two way radios for their tactical and operational communications.

Another great feature of the two way radios, is the ability to facilitate one to many (also known as, group calls) communications effectively. This basically means that a single user can conveniently communicate with 2, 10, 20, and more, of other two way radio users at the same time. In short, there is no need for you to repeat time and time again when you want to communicate with many people and using a two way radio earpiece, this communication is much more secure

3. Ear Spy Application

Ear Spy App is a great eavesdropping tool. Depending on just how good your cell phone is, this app can become a very high powered listening tool. Ear Spy application can route the audio from your cell phone’s mic right to to your headset letting you eavesdrop on the people around you whilst remaining inconspicuous. When using a Bluetooth, you can use this app to spy from a room nearby; you simply need to leave your cell phone near the target, and then use your Bluetooth headset to eavesdrop. If you want to fine tune the incoming signals, you can use the graphics audio equalizer. Whether you wish to eavesdrop on particular conversations or you just want to play some spy games, Ear Spy application will be of great help in your endeavor. You should know that this app requires you to use headphones, otherwise you will get poor audio feedback.

4. Spy Glasses

This spy device comprises of an in built Bluetooth transmitter which looks like ordinary glasses, a microphone and a wireless earpiece. Connections between the glasses, the earpiece and your cell phone are wireless, thus totally unnoticeable to other people; the device’s ultra compact design basically ensures nobody will know it is a spy tool. Spy glasses are compatible with almost any mobile phone which has the Bluetooth option. Actually, the Spy glasses are universally compatible with all the standard Bluetooth enabled equipment including computers. Some of the features of this device include; excellent transmission and reception of audio signals, built in microphone, and a large capacity Lithium battery.

5. Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs)

Modern technological advances are ever increasing human’s potential for developing tiny things. As for the United States Air Force, this translates to revolutionary designs in the air vehicles to provide the war fighters with new tools which can enhance both the situational awareness, and also the capacity of engaging quickly, accurately, and with minimal collateral damage. This is where Micro Air Vehicles (also known as MAVs) come in. The term MAV or micro air vehicle, refers to the a new type of advanced remotely controlled aircraft (abbreviated as, UAV) that’s significantly much smaller than other similar aircraft. Typically, MAVs can easily blend in with the surrounding environment, stay in air for a long period of time, and can go places which can’t be reached safely by humans, or most of the other types surveillance equipment.

The target dimensions for MAVs is approximately 6 inches (15 centimeters), and the development of actual insect sized aircrafts is expected in near future. As a matter of fact, various efforts in the research on micro air vehicles have involved attempting to mimic flying insects so as to achieve the flight capabilities which aren’t attainable through the use of other means of aerial propulsion. In the year 2007, a bug like Micro air vehicle model with a wingspan of 3 cm was revealed at a robotic’s conference; in the year 2008, the United States Air Force released a video showing Micro air vehicles which were the size of a bumblebee; and in the year 2012, some engineers from Johns Hopkins University started studying flight of butterflies to discover how airborne robots can mimic their maneuvers.

The potential military use is 1 of the key driving factors, although the micro air vehicle can also be used commercially, as well as in scientific and mapping applications. The main military use envisioned for the micro air vehicle is gathering of intelligence via the use of microphones, cameras, or other types of sensor.

Conclusion

Some of the above points are illegal, and you should not do any of them. Also, do not use any of the above methods to record any intimate relations; the legal consequences of doing so are very severe. Finally, keep in mind that it’s illegal in the US to make recordings of people without their consent/permission; and depending on what you’ll do with the recordings, you might find yourself in big trouble.

Icom America announces new series of NXDN IDAS mobiles and portables

The new range of Icom Radios, the 3400 and 4400 range. With a new colour screen and an SD card slot. Icom really are making strides in the radio market, We just hope that they keep the same connection types, so we can use our icom earpieces.

Icom America recently showcased a new series of multi-mode UHF/VHF NXDN IDAS radios that are designed to provide users with a flexible feature set and an enhanced user interface.

“It’s firmware upgradeable and licensed for different features,” Mark Behrends, senior manager of strategic sales at Icom America, said during an interview at the company’s booth during APCO 2016 in Orlando. “So, you pay for the basic radio, and you license up for the features that you want.”

While the next-generation IDAS radios—the 3400 series for VHF portables, 4400 for UHF portables, 5400 for VHF mobiles and 6400 for UHF mobiles—continue to operate on the VHF/UHF bands with slightly more spectral range than previous models, this new series features a color screen, a “really intuitive” interface and greater software-upgrade flexibility, Behrends said.

“What it really changes is the user interface and the usability of the radio,” he said. “So, you can have conventional standard, or you can license up for Type D trunking or Type C trunking.”

Programming the radios can be accomplished via Bluetooth, a USB port and Icom’s standard connections, Behrends said. The Bluetooth functionality allows the radios to work with myriad accessories and third-party applications, he said.

Behrends noted that the new radios support secure-digital (SD) cards, which enable additional flexibility for users.

“An SD card is pretty handy—you can record on it, you can capture GPS waypoints on it, you can program ICFS files and add new firmware through the SD card,” Behrends said.

Icom America expects this series of radios to be available this fall, after the products complete FCC testing, according to Behrends. Pricing will differ based on the type of screen included, but it generally will be comparable to Icom’s “higher-end IDAS product,” he said.

http://urgentcomm.com/icom/icom-america-announces-new-series-nxdn-idas-mobiles-and-portables

What’s A Radio Earpiece

A two way radio is a type of communication that can both receive and transmit information. The radio enables the operators to have conversations with other similar radios operating under the same (channel) frequency. Two way radios are available in stationary base, hand-held portable and mobile configurations. Often, hand-held radios are called handie-talkies, or just walkie-talkies.

Two way radio systems normally operate in a half-duplex mode, in which the operator can listen, or he can talk, though not at the same time. A “Press To transmit” or “push-to-talk” PTT button initiates the transmitter when released, hence activating the receiver. A cellular telephone or mobile phone is an example of a two way radio that both receives and transmits at the same time (full-duplex mode).

Full-duplex is usually achieved through frequency-sharing methods or by using two different frequencies to simultaneously carry the 2 directions of the conversation. Dynamic solid state filters and use of two antennas are some of the methods used for mitigating the self-interference caused by simultaneous same frequency reception and transmission.

Types of two way radio earpiece

Radio earpieces come in a variety of types. They include: D ring, acoustic tube and ear hook. The acoustic tube type features a wireless transceiver operating in a radio-frequency band that receives audio signals. It has an acoustic chamber and an acoustic transducer, which is coupled electrically to the transceiver, and operates to activate acoustic signals.

Connectors

As far as covertness is concerned, communication must definitely be very discreet, whether it’s a just a private group or a security personnel of designated people. Two-way radios are used for conversations between compatible devices in a given location. Nonetheless, it would be much less comfortable if somebody talks through the radio and the entire communication is disrupted.

That’s why there are different types of two way radios connectors in the world, and they include Motorola, Hytera, Icom, and Kenwood, among others. Motorola is the leading connector of two way radio communications controlling about 45% of the market. It would be super stylish and discreet if you had a Motorola radio-earpiece to accompany your radio.

Hytera is another one of the best connectors you can find on the market. Its products are easily available on leading websites with all the necessary accessories. There are plenty of different two way radio earpieces designed by Hytera but most of them come with few accessories less or more. There is not much difference on how they are built or in their quality.

One important thing to have in mind is that there are three basic types of two way radio earpiece kits; the 1-wire, 2-wire and 3-wire. A 1-wire kit and 2-wire kit features a single combined microphone and “push to talk button” which clips to your collar. A wire with an earpiece then extends from this button, but from the connector on the 2-wire.

A 3-wire kit has a wire with a combined “push to talk” button and microphone that can be run down cuff or collar. There is another wire with an earpiece clip on it. Other kits have a second push to talk button that clips to your pocket or belt near the radio.

What’s The Earpiece Performers Put On Whilst Performing

Every time a singer gets on stage, he or she wants to put on his/her best performance ever. This is why he/she will try to avoid any distraction that might otherwise affect his or her performance in a negative way. They will ensure that their concentration is really high and that they can hear themselves sing during that moment. One of the distractions that is usually in almost every concert is noise. The noise can be coming from the speakers, the echoes and even form the audience itself.

The music and the song that is normally heard when a singer is performing is referred to as house mix while the song that the singer hears from the speakers is referred to as monitor mix. Usually, a singer stands at the back of the main speakers that are normally placed in front of the audience. Most of the time especially on a big stage, the song that reaches the audience is reflected back to the stage (but not immediately). Such background music will prevent the singer from hearing his or her voice.

Stage monitors are small speakers that are directly aimed at the singer for him or her to hear himself or herself sing. Stage monitors were previously used in concerts and they are still being used on some small venues where cover bands do gigs e.g. in some private parties, bars etc. In the current concert venues, stage monitors do not work very well. This is because singers and musicians move a lot on stage when they are performing. Although the stage monitors enable the singer to hear the music on the stage, they are not as clear as personal monitors (referred to as earpieces, very different to Radio Earpieces).

Earpieces give the singer a detailed information regarding his or her performance. They make him/her hear both the song and the orchestra. They enable the singer to constantly hear his/her song regardless of his or her physical movement on the stage. This is unlike the stage monitors that usually provide the band’s and the singer’s voice based on their distance from the speaker. With stage monitors, the sounds usually vary especially if the singer is moving all over the stage.

When a singer has the earpieces on, he gets to choose what he wants to hear. For instance if he wants to hear himself sing or even hear the lyrics, he can. The earpieces help in drowning out the background sounds like the noises made by the crowd or even those from the band. In fact on average, the earpieces can help the singer reduce the background noise by up to 30 decibels. This can extremely help the singer during the performance.

Usually, the earpieces are tailor- made to perfectly fit the singer. They also come in different styles and colors and therefore the singer can pick the one that suits his/her outfit on the stage.

The most important benefit of having the earpieces on is that, they help the singer in eliminating or reducing the echoes. In an auditorium specifically built for concerts, sounds usually radiate through the entire building when the singer is performing. The audience really enjoy the music that echoes back to the stage however, the singer can easily get confused with such echoes. Note that, by the time the echo reaches the stage, it will be one or two seconds off from what the singer is singing at that moment.

Earpieces also help in blocking the sounds that are coming from the band. The instruments are extremely loud especially those that use electric amplifiers. This noise can make it really hard for the singer to hear himself or herself sing.

The earpieces give the singer the sound feedback and therefore he/she is able to hear everything that is in the song. This makes it easier for him/her to keep on with his or her performance.

Sometimes, you may notice that some garage bands who work in small areas are not using earpieces. The members of such bands usually monitor one another while performing to ensure that they keep up and stay in tune during the performance. However in large crowds of say a 100000 people (i.e. in huge stadiums), one will definitely need earpieces otherwise he/she may not hear anything and may even end up with off key sounds.

How Many Walkie-Talkies Can Operate on the Same Channel?

Theoretically, you can use an unlimited amount of walkie-talkies on the same channel (although in practice you might experience a few problems if you took that suggestion literally). Basically, there isn’t really a set limit. You could use as many as you like provided they are set up correctly. Anybody set to the right channel and in range at the time of transmission would then be able to pick up the signal and respond to it.

Most radios have access to 8 channels. These channels each have 38 separate ‘identification tones’. The user sets his/her channel up with the desired tone and then only other users who know the channel/tone will be able to hear the transmissions. As a result, there are, in any given area, about 304 different combinations, so signal interference is unlikely to affect you.

Please do not interpret this answer as saying that your radio has access to 304 possible channels. It does not. It will likely only have access to 8. Some less reputable manufacturers tend to falsely imply access to 304 channels; this is simply not the case. You will have access to 304 possible tone/channel combinations, that’s all.

To better explain the CTCSS codes and how they work; we’ll include a little information from Amherst.co.uk’s FAQ page.

“CTCSS stands for “Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System”. These codes are also often called “Privacy codes” If a CTCSS tone is selected; a CTCSS sub-audible tone is transmitted along with the regular voice audio by the transmitting radio. The receiving radio, set to the same CTCSS tone, will only receive audio if it contains that sub-tone. Interference from other users on the same frequency is therefore rejected (unless they are also on the same sub-tone). This is a way of allowing groups of users of walkie-talkies on the same channel to avoid hearing messages from other nearby users”.

So, in conclusion, you can probably use as many walkie-talkies as you like on the same channel. As long as the units in question are of the same type (either VHF or UHF) and have the same CTCSS setup, then you simply shouldn’t have a problem. You also shouldn’t suffer from signal interference due to other users (although you may still experience signal loss/interference/degradation from other sources). We have talked about combating signal loss elsewhere, so please see the other questions if you have any problems in this area.

Motorola Solutions CTO: Public Safety Will Be Transformed By Data-Driven Communications

The good old walkie talkie will still have a place in most businesses, but Motorola being a technology company they are always innovating, they are underpinning their future communications on data, currently date networks cannot cope with this but as the technology grows, Motorola will be able to produce handsets, motorola accessories and communications that will seamlessly use this without any problem, we look forward to the future. 

Motorola Solutions CTO Paul Steinberg explains how data and enhanced communications can make cities safer – even if they’re not smart just yet

As CTO of Motorola Solutions (MSI), Paul Steinberg says he has three broad remits.

paul-steinberg-motorolaThe first is to advance the company’s technology with his team of engineers and data scientists, the second is to drive its patent strategy (“What patents we get and what we do with them”) and the third is to invest in startups so MSI can get access to something it doesn’t have.

“It keeps you humble because there’s always someone else doing things faster and better than you,” he tells TechWeekEurope.

Public safety

Motorola Solutions now only deals with public safety communications systems. It was spun off from the Motorola Mobility handset business that was sold to Google (and later Lenovo) in 2011 and sold its handheld computing division to Zebra Technologies in 2014.

This might seem like a very narrow focus but it’s a market in which the present day Motorola senses a great opportunity as emergency services update their infrastructure to improve service and cut cost.

In the UK, MSI is working with EE to help deliver the £1 billion Emergency Services Network (ESN) – a 4G platform that will allow for data-enabled services alongside critical communications – and save the government £1 million a day

These upgrades will power what MSI sees as the big trend in public safety: the coupling of communications with data analytics, a vision it recently outlined at Critical Communications World (CCW) in Amsterdam.

“[Mission critical communications are] every bit as important as they have been and we expect [them] to be tomorrow,” explains Steinberg.

“Mission critical intelligence brings in connecting things – data. It becomes more about context and situational awareness. The investments we’re making are more in that direction.

“One of the things we’ve been working on is the connected first responder. What we did was we built a context engine that’s at the heart.”EE 4G (3)

Context engine

The ‘context engine’ built by MSI brings together various different inputs. For example, Bluetooth connectivity can unite weapons, body sensors and imaging equipment to give a police force a greater overview of a situation.

Steinberg explains a scenario where if the context engine detects a weapon has been fired and a policeman is not at a station or at a firing range, their video camera will automatically switch on. Other situations could give a paramedic of firefighter additional information, possibly through wearable technology.

“Why did we do the Context engine? ‘Eyes open, hands free’: keep focussed on what you’re doing and keep your hands available to do what you need to do,” said Steinberg.

“We envisage this working as an ecosystem with well-designed interfaces around the core context engine. We see ecosystem partners offering applications and hardware. And some pieces of those we will offer as Motorola. We see it increasingly as a software problem.”

Connected platform

image: http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Motorola-Solutions-public-safety-3-1024×768.jpg

Steinberg favours acquisitions as a way of advancing his goals and MSI has venture capital operations to fund the third part of his remit. MSI monitors the development of numerous early stage companies with a view to boosting its own business.

Motorola Solutions public safety (3)“[Takeovers] give us technology or a skillset that we can’t do properly [ourselves],” he explains. “If the concept looks like it has legs, that’s when we make the decision. In some cases we don’t proceed.”

Sometimes the target is more established. MSI has bought Airwave for £817 million, a move which it is believed will help accelerate the transition to next generation systems. Airwave currently powers the pre-ESN communications capability of the UK emergency services and Steinberg sees the acquisition as a method to migrate customers rather than innovate.

“It brings us another data point but it doesn’t really change how my team works,” he says. “It’s a company that helps us ensure we have an orderly migration.”

Smart cities and smart vehicles

MSI says the Context Engine and its vision of data-supported communications will be strengthened by the parallel development of smart cities; even if it’s too early to have any impact right now. Steinberg describes ‘shotspotter’ technology capable of detecting when and where a gunshot is fired, aiding emergency services, and believes smart cars will also play a role.

“I think as the city becomes smarter, we can benefit from the environment,” he predicts. “We can fuse that together and help facilitate real time decision making. The next mobile platform is the vehicle. I think that will create some interesting opportunities for us.”

But the very nature of emergency services means technological jumps are not to be taken lightly. A technical hiccup can mean the matter between life and death and although political reasons might have delayed the transition to LTE, concerns about reliability will have played a role too.

Steinberg agrees and is adamant that no matter what advances are made, MSI will not jeopardise the basics.

“The foundation of our business is communications and it always will be,” he states. “Making sure our platform is resilient, usable and mission critical in harsh environments while layering on this intelligence.”

Read more at http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/networks/broadband/motorola-solutions-public-safety-data-197830/2

DJs Shouldn’€™t Have to Live With Constant Ringing in Their Ears

When you think about DJs you don’t worry about their hearing, but this is a real issue in the music world, they seem to be slow in picking up this issue, probably because the industry can be full of bedroom DJs, that don’t consider hearing protection. As the article below says, it interferes with the mixing. This article was originally published on THUMP Canada. 

I’m waiting to get my hearing tested and I’m scared. Most of my work as a music journalist, along with my social life, has revolved around loud music for more than two decades. While I often wear cheap foam earplugs, I haven’t been as consistent as I should have been, and I’m particularly worried about is the damage I’ve done while DJing.

I was never a famous touring DJ, but spent many years playing long shifts on a weekly basis at Toronto bars, sprinkled with occasional club and warehouse party gigs on larger sound systems. I’ve never worn any hearing protection in the booth, as I found earplugs interfered too much with mixing. Gradually I’ve noticed that I’ve been turning up the monitors over the course of a long night, and the ringing in my ears was taking longer and longer to fade away after each gig. A few years ago, I started to realize I was having trouble keeping up with conversations in situations where there was a lot of background noise.

Then one day that familiar ringing never stopped.

Even though hearing loss caused by loud music is a well-known reality, most working artists view it as an issue they’ll deal with when they’re retired, not aware of the fact that it can often impact artists at the height of their careers.

“I would go home after a gig and my ears would be ringing really badly, and then one day I noticed that they never stopped ringing anymore,” says Toronto house DJ and producer Sydney Blu, who’s been playing regularly since 2000. “Not long after that, I noticed that whenever I’m in a nightclub and someone talks to me in my right ear, I have to stop them and put my left ear to their mouth.”

She eventually got herself fitted for custom musician earplugs, but found she could never get used to DJing while wearing them. Instead, Blu just tries to keep her monitors as quiet as possible, and turns them down completely in-between mixes. “Most of the older DJs that I know all have tinnitus. I wish I had thought about it earlier, and realized how bad it could get.”

There is no way to reverse tinnitus currently, and the treatment options for hearing loss are still in their infancy. For busy DJs who are constantly touring and playing festivals around the world, many don’t notice the ringing in their ears getting worse until it’s too late.

“I think it’s rife in the DJ field,” says NYC house music veteran Roger Sanchez. “A lot of people have tinnitus and they haven’t even identified it. They’re just so accustomed to their ears ringing, and they think it’s just because of their gig the night before. But if you’re playing three or four times a week, your exposure is almost constant. Then when they step back, they realize they have tinnitus.”

Sanchez has been performing for 36 years, and started to experience permanent ringing towards the end of the 90s. Like Blu, he got himself fitted for custom earplugs, and feels they’ve saved him from further damage. However, he admits there was a learning curve when it came to mixing while wearing hearing protection.

“In the beginning, I felt like I couldn’t hear things clearly. It was like someone had put their hands over my ears. It took me a while to acclimate, but what I started noticing was that I could turn my monitors up, but it didn’t sound piercing any more. I also had them put bass bins in a lot of booths, which helped compensate.”

Sanchez says that it’s become much more common in recent years for big name DJs to wear custom earplugs while performing. He finally got tested properly in 2010, and found there was a significant dip in upper range of his hearing around the 800hz range, but was relieved that the loss wasn’t worse. The persistent ringing in his ears is still there though.

“Right now I hear the ringing, but I’ve just become accustomed to it. I don’t notice it when I’m walking on the street, or if I’m not paying attention to it, but the second I quiet everything down, the ringing starts. It’s not too loud, thank god. I think using the filters prevented it from getting to that level. I know some people who have it very loud.”

Custom musician earplugs can cost more than $200, but they’re one of the few options for DJs who need to be able to accurately hear the effect of their EQ tweaks and filtering. The cheap disposable earplugs you can buy at the drugstore will protect your ears the same amount, but change the sound so much that few performers use them.

“A cheap foam earplug might bring the sound down by 25db at one frequency, and 10db at another,” explains Adam Rhodes, the US director of hearing protection company ACS Custom. “They muffle the sound, because it’s not a true response. You can’t hear anything, it takes away the enjoyment of the experience, so you just end up taking them out. When you’ve got the right filter though, you’re not sacrificing the quality at all: you’re just turning it down.”

ACS works with many of the biggest names in electronic music, from Tiesto to Zedd to Deadmau5. Rhodes says that there’s much more awareness of the issue now, although too often artists come to them after they’ve already done permanent damage. “Pretty much every week we hear someone say they wish they’d heard about this ten years ago. We hear that often,” he says. “I think it’s all about education. We’re at a festival every weekend in the summers, trying to make it as accessible to them as possible.”

Many touring musicians have switched to in-ear monitors in recent years, which block out external sounds, while amplifying what they need to hear. In the electronic music world however, they are far less common, as they require DJs to completely rethink their approach to mixing.

“In-ear monitors haven’t always worked for DJs,” admits Rhodes. “They like to wear the cans over their ears, so they can take them off, and do a mix with one ear covered. There are some DJs who use them though, like Deadmau5. We have one model now that have ambient microphones built in, so that they can still hear the mix. That’s kind of the next level, but it’s still hard to persuade DJs to use them. They’re so used to wearing headphones and it’s almost part of their outfit when they’re performing.”

One artist who has transitioned to in-ear monitors is Dutch DJ and producer Laidback Luke. He started wearing custom earplugs in the early 2000s, after becoming concerned about tinnitus and a growing lack of sensitivity to loud volume levels. Around 2008, he decided to give in-ear monitors a try and has used them ever since.

“I just wasn’t getting the definition I was looking for in DJ monitors. We tried the in-ear monitoring, and I was so happy with the clarity. Even in big halls with lots of reverb, my monitoring would always stay the same,” he says. “It was a revelation to me. I could keep the volume low, and still hear every little detail in the song. I couldn’t hear the crowd anymore, but that just made me work harder to get applause.” It wasn’t until three years ago that he finally got up the courage to get his hearing tested.

Thankfully, it turns out that his early adoption of ear protection had a huge impact, and the results were completely normal. Even the constant ringing and beeping that panicked him early in his career has subsided.

My own ringing isn’t nearly as bad as it was a year ago, but it sure seems loud in the complete silence of the soundproof booth in the downtown Toronto clinic where my hearing is being assessed. I struggle to hear the tones, but feel optimistic that I’m able to notice some of the very high-pitched signals they’re feeding me. However, I’m also noticing that there are long pauses during where I probably should be hearing something.

“Do you work with heavy machinery?” the doctor asks me as he looks at my results, which makes my heart skip a beat. When I explain that I’m around loud music constantly, he tells me that explains what the chart is telling him, and why the highest frequency range of my hearing is still decent.

“It’s not actually too bad. Your left ear has a dip at 1K, but it’s still within the normal range. Your right ear has a much larger dip though, at 4K. You should really get yourself a pair of custom musician earplugs.”

I leave his office feeling relief that my hearing isn’t worse, but embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to take it seriously. Thankfully, it’s not too late for me to stop things from getting worse.

Benjamin Boles is on Twitter.

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Now it’s not the usual field that we cover, but it hit our radar. How many times have you seen an enthusiastic presenter or an excited contestant on TV drop their radio mic and crawl around on the floor, trying to pick it up! Well when a costume designer and a sound man get together then things get designed, and why this hasn’t be invented before is beyond us, but it looks like an idea that could take off. Read the full article here.

Sound recordist Simon Bysshe and costumier Laura Smith have combined their knowledge and expertise to create URSA Straps, a unique range of low profile body worn straps designed to conceal radio microphone transmitters.

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Officially launched this month and now available in the UK and Europe, URSA Straps are made from a specially developed bonded fabric that is ultra-slim and provides excellent stretch, comfort and breathability. Each strap incorporates a pouch to keep the transmitter locked in place and a cable pocket for managing excess microphone cable. URSA Straps are available in black, beige and brown skin tone colours and can be worn around the ankle, thigh or waist.

Bysshe and Smith developed URSA Straps after listening to numerous artists express discomfort while wearing radio mic straps. Traditional thick neoprene or elastic straps can irritate the skin, become soaked in sweat and are often impossible to disguise under figure hugging costumes.

“It was obvious that a better way of discreetly securing transmitters was required,” Simon Bysshe explains. “As a boom operator I had worked with many artists who disliked wearing transmitter packs because their associated straps could restrict movement and become uncomfortable. In some cases they had simply refused to wear them.”

Laura Smith’s knowledge of costume making proved invaluable as she was able to construct prototypes and identify the exact fabrics required to suit the needs of costume, artists and sound departments.

“After many months of research we decided to create our own unique hybrid fabric by fusing two stretch fabrics together,” Bysshe explains. “This resulting fabric is just 1mm thick and much lighter and softer than any other fabric of its kind. Crucially we incorporated a hook Velcro compatible outer surface that allows the straps to be securely attached to themselves at any point.”

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Bysshe tested the new straps while working on the second series of Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel. Lead actress Clémence Poésy was an immediate convert and provided valuable feedback to help develop the product. Bysshe has subsequently used URSA Straps on the third series of Peaky Blinders. The USRA Thigh straps were particularly popular with the cast members who found them secure, light and comfortable. The fact they can be worn around the thigh as opposed to the waist made them invaluable for use with the period costumes.

“With URSA Straps we have created such a comfortable low-profile solution that artists often forget that they are wearing them. Now we have to make sure that actors remember to take them off before they leave!” Bysshe adds. “The straps can be washed and re-used every day for many months. Our Thigh straps are particularly popular as they are designed to not slip down the leg. We achieved this by bonding on a strips of Polyurethane gripper to the inside of the straps.”

Outside film and television, URSA Straps are also proving popular with dancers who need to receive audio cues during a live performance. Using waist or thigh straps the sound team can easily conceal a receiver pack on their bodies without restricting movement or compromising the look of their costumes. URSA Straps have also developed a Double-Pack strap allowing artists to wear two packs on one strap.

Oscar-winning production sound mixer Simon Hayes was an early adopter of URSA Straps and describes them as a total game changer for his team.

“URSA Straps allow us to rig radio mics on costumes previously thought to be unmicable. Tight dresses, sportswear, stunt harnesses – they can all be easily miked using low profile URSA Straps. These straps are so popular with the actresses I work with that many have asked to keep theirs at the end of the production.”

URSA Straps are suitable for a variety of wireless transmitters including Lectrosonics, Zaxcom, Wisycom MTP40 and Sennheiser 5212. Two different pouch sizes are available to ensure optimum fit. Three different waist sizes are available: small, medium and large.

“Initially Laura and I were making the straps by hand in our garage,” Bysshe says. “When we realised their potential we scaled up production by taking on two experienced manufacturing firms in Leicester. Our launch has been a huge success with orders coming in from all around the world! We are now on our third large production run and expanding our market into Theatre, Concerts and Outside Broadcasts.”

Hytera Awarded Multi Million Dollar Contracts in Dominican Republic

Hytera are the fastest growing radio country this year, they have opened offices all over the world and are taking market share from Motorola. When you look at their Hytera accessories, Chargers, repeaters, hand portables and base units they are of an excellent standard and quality. That is probably why the Dominican Republic was persuaded to use them for two big projects.

Hytera, a world leading solution provider of Professional Mobile Radio communications, was awarded two projects by the Ministry of the Presidency of Dominican Republic. In order to establish a nationwide emergency response network for National Emergency Care System and Security 9-1-1 (Sistema Nacional de Atención a Emergencias y Seguridad), Dominican Republic government selected TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) technology for mission critical communications, and launched two public tenders at the end of 2015; one is to cover two cities, Haina and San Cristobal, adjacent to the capital city Santo Domingo, with 5 sites and 528 terminals, while the other is to cover Santiago, the second largest city of the country, with 30 sites and 2,155 terminals.

The existing TETRA network in the Santo Domingo area was delivered also by Hytera as a result of a contract awarded by Dominican Republic’s Ministry of the Presidency in 2013. The project includes several components: the 911 system, a camera surveillance system and the communications infrastructure with its respective terminals which was awarded to Hytera. “The system in Santo Domingo offers reliable communication services to the public safety forces, and it is a very good testimony of Hytera’s solutions and supports,” said Fernando Camelo, regional director of Hytera international business.

“Dominican Republic government officials have spent a lot effort to choose the right technologies for its public safety forces. Obviously, TETRA has been widely adopted and proved. We are proud to be part of the initiative of building a united nationwide mission critical communication system for the country,” commented Ming Kam Wong, deputy general manager of Hytera international business.

The TETRA digital standard as a global open protocol provides secure, encrypted communications for mission critical operations as well as promoting a more efficient use of spectrum. More than 750 interoperability (IOP) certificates have been awarded to more than two dozen manufacturers by the TETRA + Critical Communications Association (TCCA), the governing body, globally, for the TETRA standard.

Source – http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160912005706/en/Hytera-Awarded-Multi-Million-Dollar-Contracts-Dominican

A review of the Icom IC-7300 direct RF sampling transceiver

Icom and ham radio go hand-in-hand, one of their main markets is supplying top of the range equipment, this IC-7300 follows on from the wonderful IC-F7200 (which is a favourite in the office) and sits along side the new range of digital IC-F1000 & 2000 radios that are going really well, but have a new connector type, so new icom earpieces are needed. Read the comprehensive review we found from the swling.com website.

In August 2015 at the Tokyo Hamfair, Icom debuted a new type of transceiver in their product line––one featuring a direct RF sampling receiver. Essentially, it was an SDRtabletop transceiver.

At about the same time that the IC-7300 started shipping around the world, Icom pulled their venerable IC-7200 off the market. Yet the IC-7200 was established as a well-loved product, due to its highly sensitive receiver, its relatively robust front end, and its quality audio. Moreover, it was simple to operate, which made superb as a Field Day or radio club rig.

Therefore, even though the IC-7300 promised much more versatility than the IC-7200, for its price point it had a tough act to follow.

So, of course––even more so than with any other radio Icom has introduced in the past few years––I was eager to get my hands on a IC-7300.  I’m very fortunate that my good friend, Dave Anderson (K4SV) was one of the first purchasers of the IC-7300, and that he didn’t mind (after only having the rig perhaps one week!) allowing me to borrow it for a several weeks for evaluation.

Note:  I should state here that since this rig was loaned to me, I evaluated it based on the firmware version it shipped with, and made no modifications to it.

Icom-IC-7300-FrontThis review primarily focuses on the receiver’s performance, functionality and usability.

Introducing the Icom IC-7300

In recent years, the “big three” ham radio manufacturers have been using color displays, and––Icom most especially––touch screens. While I’m no fan of backlit touch screens in mobile applications, I  think touch screen displays make a lot of sense in a base radio. If carefully designed, a touch screen can save an operator from heavily-buried menus and decrease the number of multi-function buttons on the front panel.

The challenge, of course, is making a display with intuitive controls, and one that is large enough, and with sufficient resolution, to be useful to the operator. In the past, I’ve been disappointed by many displays; the most successful have been incorporated in DX/Contest-class (i.e., pricier) transceivers, meanwhile, entry-level and mid-priced transceiver displays often seem half-baked. While the graphics may be crisp, spectrum displays at this price point are often too compressed to be useful, and if not a touch display, force the user to pause operation in order to find the correct knob or button to change settings. In such cases, I find myself wondering why the manufacturer went to the expense of a color display at all––?

Icom-IC-7300-Display

But what about the C-7300 display?  I’m thoroughly pleased to report that Icom did afantasticjob of balancing utility and function in design of the IC-7300’s color touch display and front panel. There are  number of ways you can chose to display and arrange elements on the screen–since I’m an SDR fan, I typically chose a display setting which gave the waterfall the most real estate. Of course, one can chose to give the frequency display priority or a number of other arrangements.

User interface

I can tell that Icom built upon their experience with the IC-7100––their first entry-level touch screen display transceiver.

I was able to get the IC-7300 on the air in very little time. Within five minutes of turning on the IC-7300, I was able to:

  • change the display to feature a spectrum waterfall;
  • change the span of the waterfall display;
  • adjust the TX power output;
  • change the filters selection and the transmit mode;
  • change bands and make direct-frequency entries;
  • adjust notch, passband, and filter width;
  • adjust AF and RF gain;
  • set A/B VFOs and operate split;
  • change AGC settings;
  • turn on Noise Reduction/Noise Blanker, and
  • adjust compression.

Basically, I found that all the essential functions are clearly laid out, accessible, and highly functional.  Impressive.

The IC-7300 ships with a manual–– aptly titled, the “Basic” manual––and a CD with the full and unabridged operations manual.  The Basic Manual covers a great deal a lot more than the manual which accompanied the Icom ID-51a. If you read through the manual, you’ll readily familiarize yourself with most of the IC-7300’s higher function operations, and especially, you’ll be able to adjust the settings to your operation style. The Manual is written in simple language, and includes a lot of diagrams and graphics.

If you’re like me, you will find you’ll also need to reference that unabridged manual, so hang on to the CD, too.

Still, I imagine there’s a large percentage of future IC-7300 owners that will never need to reference the manual––especially if they don’t care about tweaking band edges or similar settings. Yes, believe it or not, it’s that easy to use.

Operation

Icom-IC-7300-Function-Buttons

While I spent a great deal of time listening to CW and SSB in various band conditions and at various times of day, I spent less time on the air transmitting.

With that said, all of my transmitting time was in CW since the IC-7300 mic was accidentally left out when my friend loaned me the rig.

I’m please to report that CW operation is quite pleasant. All of the adjustments––RF Power, Key Speed, and CW Pitch––can be quickly modified using the multi-function knob. While in CW mode, you can also toggle full break-in mode, which is quite smooth, via the function button and touch screen.

SSB functions are similar. While in  SSB mode, the multi-function knob allows you to change the tx power, mic gain, and monitor level. The function button opens an on-screen menu with VOX, compression, TBW, and the monitor toggle.

Here’s a short video I made with my phone while I made a few adjustments to the IC-7300:

Of course, my smartphones’s microphone can’t accurately reproduce the audio from the IC-7300, but you probably get the idea.

The only annoyance I noted––and perhaps I’m more sensitive to this, being primarily a QRPer––is that the 7300’s cooling fan starts up each time you key up. It even comes on when transmit power is at its lowest setting. I find this a little distracting in CW.  Fortunately, however, the 7300’s fan is fairly quiet and operates smoothly.

Receiver performance and reader survey results

Since our radio comparison shoot-outs have been particularly popular (and useful; check out our shoot-out between top portables, and ultra-compact radios, and others), I decided it would make sense to invite our informed readership to evaluate the Icom IC-7300’s performance in a series of blind, informal tests. (For information about these surveys,please read the first survey.)

Below, I’ve matched the labels (Radio A/Radio B) with the radio models.  I’ve also included pie charts which show the results from the survey.

Icom IC-7300 vs. WinRadio Excalibur

Weak Signal CW (40 meter band)

CW

Based on listener comments, those of you who preferred the ‘7300 did so because the CW was more interpretable and stable.

Some of you noted that I didn’t quite have CW at the same pitch on both rigs. I believe this is because the IC-7300’s calibration was ever so slightly off. This has since been addressed.

Weak/Strong SSB QSO (40 meter band)

SSB

This result was almost tied. The Excalibur’s audio––without any adjustments––has a fuller and “bassier” sound. The ‘7300 can be adjusted to have similar characteristics, but the default EQ settings produce very flat audio. Many of you commented that the IC-7300 more faithfully produced audio optimized for SSB.


 

Shortwave Broadcast recordings

The following recordings were made on the 31 meter broadcast band in the evening. Both radios had the same filter width: 9 kHz and 8.2 kHz.

Weak Shortwave AM (Radio Bandeirantes 31 meter band)

Weak-SW-AM

There was a noticeable preference for the WinRadio Excalibur in this particular audio set. Even though the Excalibur’s audio splattered a bit, the content was more interpretable. The IC-7300’s audio sounded flat in comparison––again, something that can be adjusted quite easily in the ‘7300’s audio settings.

Strong Shortwave AM (Radio Romania International, French 31 Meter Band)

Strong-SW-AM

Once again, the Excalibur won favor, but I imagine results would have been closer had I adjusted the ‘7300’s audio EQ.


 

Mediumwave Broadcast recordings

Note that the following mediumwave recordings were made during the morning hours (grayline). The strong station is the closest AM broadcaster to my home; it’s not a blow-torch “Class A” type station, merely the closest local broadcaster.

In the “weak” sample, I tuned to 630 kHz where multiple broadcasters could be heard on frequency, but one was dominant.

Both radios are set to a filter width of 9.0 kHz.

Strong Mediumwave AM (1010 kHz)

Strong-MW-AM

Two out of three listeners preferred the Excalibur in this example.

Weak Mediumwave AM (630 kHz)

Weak-MW-AM

In this particular example, the IC-7300 could not pull the strongest broadcaster out of the pile as well as the WinRadio Excalibur. In fairness, the Excalibur was using AM sync detection, something the IC-7300 lacks.

Icom IC-7300 vs. Elecraft KX3

IMG_20160424_105444629

I also decided to pit the IC-7300 against my well-loved Elecraft KX3.


Audio Clip 1: CW (20 meter band)

Elecraft KX3: Radio A

Elecraft - CW

Based on comments, readers who preferred the IC-7300 felt the CW sounded more pleasant and stable.


Audio Clip 2: Weak Signal CW (20 meter band)

Elecraft - WeakCW

Your comments indicated that the CW seemed to “pop out” of the noise slightly better with the IC-7300.


Audio Clip 3: Weak/Strong SSB

(Sable Island working Asia/Pacific on 20 meter band)

Elecraft SSB

These results were spilt in the middle. Again, I believe this comes down to personal preference in the audio. And again––in both radios––the audio EQ can be adjusted to suit the operator.


Receiver performance summary

I enjoy producing audio clips for readers to compare and comment upon. Each time I’ve done so in the past, I’ve had listeners argue the virtues of a particular audio clip while others have the complete opposite reaction to that same clip. Not all of us prefer our audio served up in the same way. No doubt, there’s a great deal of subjectivity in this sort of test.

I’ve had the IC-7300 on the air every day since I took possession of it. I’ve listened to SSB, CW, and lots of AM/SW broadcasters.

And here’s my summary: the IC-7300 is an excellent receiver. It has a low noise floor, superb sensitivity and excellent selectivity. I even slightly prefer its audio to that of my Elecraft KX3, and I’m a huge fan of the little KX3.

I’ve written before about how difficult it is to compare SDRs; the problem is that there are so many ways to tweak your audio, filters, AGC, noise reduction, etc. that it’s hard to compare apples with apples.

In the audio samples above, the IC-7300 and WinRadio Excalibur were both set to their default audio settings. In SSB and CW, the IC-7300 excels, in my opinion. CW seems to pop out of the noise better and SSB is more pleasant and interpretable. The Excalibur has a better audio profile for AM broadcasters, though. Its default audio simply sounds fuller–more robust.

The audio from the IC-7300 on AM sounded absolutely flat. However, if I tweak the audio of the ‘7300, adding more bass, it instantly sounds more like a dedicated tabletop receiver.

I should also mention that while the IC-7300’s built-in digital recording is a fantastic and effective feature, it doesn’t produce audio true to what’s heard through headphones live. This is especially the case when you add more bass and treble response as in the RRI example above. When the audio EQ is set to a default flat, it’s quite accurate.

To be clear:  for broadcast listening, I’ll still reach for my SDRs (the Excalibur, FDM-S2,TitanSDRand CR-1a).

If, however, I have limited space and/or budget for multiple receivers, I’d be quite happy using the IC-7300 as a broadcast receiver on the HF bands.

Speaking from the Shortwave Radio Listener (SWL) perspective, meanwhile, am I pleased with how the ‘7300 handles the broadcast bands?  Most definitely.

And as a ham radio operator, am I pleased with the IC-7300’s receiver––?  Absolutely.

In short:  the IC-7300 seems to have some of the best all-around receiver qualities of any transceiver I know under $2,000.

Summary

Every radio has its pros and cons. When I begin a review of a radio, I take notes of my initial impressions. Here’s my list for the IC-7300:

Pros

  • Excellent sensitivity and selectivity
  • Excellent, highly-customizable RX and TX audio
  • Color touch screen interface
  • Spectrum display is large enough to be useful
  • Intuitive functions
  • Twin PBT is both intuitive to operate and effective
  • Effective RF gain to compensate for noisy band conditions
  • Built-in RX and TX recording, file transfers via common SD card
  • Front panel knobs and buttons are spaced appropriately and easy to use
  • Quiet cooling fan (see con)
  • Decodes RTTY on screen
  • Built-in ATU
  • Antenna analyzer function (not tested)

Cons

  • Lacks secondary receive antenna jack on rear panel
  • Cooling fan immediately starts up on CW/SSB transmit at any power setting (see pro regarding fan noise)
  • Occasionally you may get lost in deeper customized functions
  • Supplied printed basic owner’s manual, while well-written, doesn’t fully cover the IC-7300s functions and options; you must explore the digital owner’s manual in supplied CD.

Conclusion

In a nutshell: Icom has hit a home run with the IC-7300.  If I didn’t already have an Elecraft KX3 and K2, I would buy the IC-7300 without hesitation.

Though the price point is a little high for an “entry level transceiver,” it’s worth every penny, in my opinion. For $1500 US, you get a fantastic general-coverage transceiver with an intuitive interface, nearly every function you can imagine, and performance that would please even a seasoned DXer.

Though I haven’t done and A/B comparison with the IC-7200, I imagine the IC-7300 would prevail in a test. The IC-7300 would certainly wipe the floor with it’s more economical brother, the IC-718.

Radio clubs, take note:

In my view, the IC-7300 has the makings of an excellent radio club rig in which performance, functionality, as well as ease of use are important. I expect that the IC-7300 will not only cope very well with crowded and crazy Field Day conditions, but it will also give any newcomers to the hobby a little experience with a proper modern transceiver. The fact that you can view signals so easily on the spectrum display means that it will be easier to chase contacts and monitor bands as they open and close. Indeed, what better way to mentor a newly-minted ham in modes, contacts, carriers, QRN, QRM, and so forth, than to simply point these out on the IC-7300’s bright, clear display––?

If your club is considering a transceiver upgrade or purchase, do seriously consider the IC-7300. I think you’ll find this rig is up to the task.

And for home? The Icom IC-7300 may be all of the rig you’ll ever need.

Powering Communications Throughout the UK