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|| News Item: Posted 1998-12-13

Travel Tips: Captain Ron Approved 2-Way Radios
By Captain Ron

You're at the big game, it's the middle of the 4th quarter and it's close. The film runner has just picked up film and you're switching to Digital so you can make AM deadlines. You pop off a few frames.........

The camera dies.

You frantically search through all your pockets, looking for a spare battery but to no avail. It dawns upon you that there's a spare upstairs in the transmitter case! Reaching for your trusty cell phone, you try desperately to remember the phone number in the darkroom. Looking at the back of your credential, you rejoice, cause you had the foresight to scribble the number down with a sharpie. You punch in the number and hit the SEND key ...

SYSTEM BUSY flashes across your screen.

Hit the redial button ...

Fast busy signal, DAMMIT, your compatriot is transmitting pictures back to paper, and he's on line.

You are SCREWED!

It's 4:00; you're pulling into DFW to pickup your photo editor who's just landed. You know he's coming in on American, so you've arranged to meet him curbside. Following the signs into the airport, you discover that American has gates spread across 2 terminals almost half a mile apart.

You are SCREWED!

Life would be a lot simpler if we had that little communicator badge gizmo like they use on Star Trek.

The next best thing for the real world is called Family Radio Service (FRS) it's a new, personal, short range 2-way radio band (462.5625 to 467.7125) for you and your buddies to keep in touch WITHOUT the burden and bureaucracy of FCC licenses, radio knowledge, or monthly fees.

You've seen them advertised in all the adult toy catalogs, Sharper Image, Herrington's Brookstone, etc. Mostly it's the Motorola "Talk About" you see, (big advertising co-op dollars) but keep in mind that there are lot of other manufactures, Kenwood, Radio shack, Whistler, just to name a few.

The transceivers we're interested in, are very small, about the size of pack of cigarettes, (if you've never smoked, then you're not a real photographer. Use a deck of playing cards for size reference. If you've never seen a deck of cards, then there's no way you could be a sports photographer) 18 channels, with 38 sub channels, gives you 684 possible combinations. They run off of AA batteries and have a range of about 2 miles, line of sight. The sound quality is very good, none of that static or hiss you normally associate with handheld radios.

Capt. Ron has played, err ummm, tested them all. Now I could go on a tirade about the crappy quality of the accessories for the Motorola, or about the lack of a channel display on the Whistlers. Or I could draw a fancy table showing the different features and comparisons, but since this newsletter is done in a simple text format, I just can't import a table from EXCEL. (Actually I'm on a deadline, with Hanashiro breathing down my back.)

The only unit that gets the Capt. Ron Seal Of Approval (that means I actually bought one) is the KENWOOD UBZ-LF14, (also know as the "Freetalk"). These babies rock for the following reasons:

* Control layout is good
* Controls can be locked
* ILLUMINATED digital channel display
* REMOVABLE pocket clip
* Vertical or Horizontal carrying positions
* Features a true channel SCRAMBLED
* Automatic power off
* Battery voltage check
* 4 different CALL TONES
* Channel monitoring
* Speaker mike is first rate and has a separate volume control and channel scanning, plus a provision for a separate earpiece.

List price is $149.95 but you can buy them for $119.95 from Cabela's (800-237-4444) or

For more technical information and to check out the killer accessories, go to

(Cpt. Ron is based in Southern California and travels extensively throughout the U.S. in search of good ribs.)

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