Right before the start of World War II, Donald Hings, a Canadian engineer, came up with the idea of a portable radio signal system to communicate. That revolutionary technology is still one of the most used and reliable methods to speak long distances.
Yep! I’m talking about the walkie-talkie.
But do you know how to talk on a walkie-talkie?
If you’ve watched a movie or someone using one in real life, you can see it doesn’t work like the phone. You can’t just dial someone and talk and listen at the same time. The device doesn’t work that way.
That’s why, when many people start using the two-way radio for the first time, they find it challenging to use. Even though it isn’t.
And that’s what you’re going to learn today.
Talking on the Walkie-Talkie – Starting the conversation
Before learning about the protocol of talking on a two-way radio, you first need to know how to make the devices, aka the walkie-talkies, connected.
If you don’t know that, no worries, I’ve got your back.
Setting Up The Frequency:
Like you know, the device uses frequency to create a channel for communication. Let’s say, if you live in house A and your friend lives in house B, to go to each other’s place, you’ve got to have a road. That is the way you make a visit to each other’s house. And that is what the radio frequency is.
It is a channel that gives you a path to talk with one another.
Now, when you get a walkie-talkie of the same brand, the preset frequency or the path is usually the same. That means you can start transmitting right away—no need for setting up a frequency.
However, anyone having the same brand’s device can also tune in on the channel and listen to your conversations as they got the same model. That’s why you’ve got to customize the frequency to have a medium to avoid eavesdrop. This is like a secret tunnel that goes under your house to your friend’s.
So, let’s set the frequency:
If you’ve got a device with a keyboard like your smartphone, then it’s quite simple. Just press the buttons to input the frequency range on both devices. And you’ve got the channel set.
For radios without the keyboard, you’ve got to use the knob using the knob. When you get a radio, it comes with some set pre-programmed frequency ranges. So, if you’ve got the same model, you will be able to get a line.
What if you’ve got a different model?
In that case, there is a chance the pre-programmed frequencies aren’t the same. Therefore, you’ve got to reprogram the devices to have the same frequency before getting to work.
Another issue that you can face with different radios is the CTCSS and DCS blocking. You can solve that quickly following the steps here.
Sending and Receiving Messages
Ok, you’ve got the frequency set. Now, it’s the moment of truth. You’re going to talk with your friend on the other end of the channel. But how do you do that?
In your radio, there is a PTT button to send the transmission. To receive, you’ve got to do nothing as the device stays in that mode at all times.
Good. Then let’s learn the basics of sending and receiving messages on the two-way radio.
- Step 1: The first thing you need to do is set priority. If you see, police using the radio will always get a transmission from the base. This is the person who dispatches the calls to others.
- Step 2: You’ve got the dispatcher fixed. But how do you identify each other? Anyone with the frequency can transmit to you. That’s why giving each other nicknames is a general practice for discretion. Give unique nicknames, don’t use the real one as there are many Mikes and Jessicas out there.
- Step 3: After doing the above steps, you’re ready to send and receive messages. To do that, as mentioned earlier, push the PTT button. However, while speaking, the first thing you need to do is introduce yourself. And there is a way to do that. Let’s say your name is the location from where you’re transmitting. Then say, “Location to base.”
- Step 4: As I’ve told, anyone with the frequency can transmit and listen. To make sure it was for you, you will repeat, I’m listening, or I’m receiving.
That’s it. However, some codes get used a lot to keep the talk professional in walkie-talkie communication. We’ll know more about it in the next section.
Using radio codes to communicate
To get the real feel of communicating on the walkie-talkie, you’ve got to know how to use the radio codes. Now, some terms get used a lot. Then there are real code numbers representing specific messages.
Let’s take a look at both.
Some lingos get used a lot. And they are so common that you might have heard them already and even know how to use them. Still, take a quick peek.
Roger That: This phrase means that you got what the other person was saying.
Mayday: If you’ve watched the classic film “Saving Private Ryan” or any other war movie, you’ve heard these words. The term refers to a distress signal for life-threatening emergencies.
Over: When you are done speaking, you say over.
Out: Over and out. How many times have you heard these two words together? When you’re signing off communication, you say over.
Read/Copy: Roger that gets used to make the other guy know you’ve understood what he said. To ask you whether you’ve got what he told, he might ask you, Do you read or copy? Either can get used.
Now, let’s take a look at the codes. Knowing to use them will make communication much faster between you and the other person.
- 10-1: Signal Weak or Unable copy-change location
- 10-4: Affirmative (OK)
- 10-9: Repeat or Say again
- 10-13: Weather conditions
- 10-20: Location or What’s your location?
- 10-21: Call by phone
- 10-25: Report in person or Meet
- 10-36: Correct time
- 10-53: Road blocked at “location”
There are many other 10-codes that you can find here if you want to learn more.
Why do you say over on a walkie-talkie?
Unlike your phones, you can’t talk and listen on walkie-talkies simultaneously; one person needs to finish the talk for the other to speak. To let the other person know you have completed talking, you say over.
What does 10-4 mean on a walkie-talkie?
To let the other person know you’ve received the message, you use the 10-4 code.
What does the call button do on a walkie-talkie?
It is a designated frequency to get directly in contact with a particular two-way radio.
Why do people say Roger on walkie-talkies?
Just like 10-4, Roger gets used to letting the person know you’ve understood what has been told.
Ok, man, OVER AND OUT!