What’s The Range Of A Walkie Talkie? Part 1: In Town

by Andrew Hughes – 10th October, 2014

Motorola GP340 Two-Way Radios

We’ve been hiring Motorola radios for several years now, and there are three questions that everyone wants the answer to:

  • how long does the battery last? (Around 8 hours based on average use)
  • how much do they cost? (£10+VAT per week, but big discounts for longer periods)
  • what is their range in km?

The last question is the trickiest one to answer. However rather than giving a typically unhelpful engineer’s response of “how long’s a piece of string?”, Graham, Dan and I have decided to put our radio fleet to the test.

Under perfect conditions

We know that manufaturers claim 8km. Incidentally we have a customer who organises obstacle courses in the Aberdeen area (through muddy bogs incidentally !). He’s reported getting 9km out of our Motorola GP340 radios.

Motorola Radios – Digital vs Analogue

However as you’re probably aware, the world of 2-way radios is changing. GP340 Motorola Radios have been the industry stalwart for the past 2 decades but all that is about to change with the introduction of Mototbro technology. In a nutshsell, this means that technology which was previously only available to emergency services is now available to all users. Motorola seem to be pitching the DP1400 as their digital replacement for the GP340 and this is the model that we’ve chosen to stock up on. The benefits are:

  • longer range (read on!)
  • better battery life
  • increased encription (To put it another way, we estimate it’s a 16 million to 1 chance of someone breaking through onto your channel on one of our radios)
Test Results

So we put the range to the test, over two parts. Next week I’ll be in Snowdonia and will have the chance to try them in some of the most wild and open terrain in the British Isles.

But first, we experimented in town. We used an iphone app to measure the distance from each other and here are the results:

Area & Conditions: Chiswick / Hammersmith (heavily built up, few low-rise building. Urban terrain). One radio and base station located on second floor of office block.
GP340 (Analogue Radio): 475metres
DP1400 (Digital Model): 653metres
Digital Base Station to DP1400 Handheld: 842metres

I’ll report back from Wales next week, and see if we can beat the 9km from our Aberdeen customer.