Thursday, February 15, 2007

Radios (#2) Radios (#2)

The Motorola G68 radio I got came with a 220 volt charger. It fit into a 110 socket, so I figured that I would just charge it twice as long. But the first two times I took it up onto the mountain, the battery went dead w/i an hour. I figured that it was either a charger or battery problem. After all, the batteries that came with it weren't that big. So, I first ordered a 110/220 step up transformer, then a new charger, and finally two large capacity batteries.

The 110/220 volt step up transformer showed up first, and when I plugged my charger into it, all of a sudden I got different lights for normal and quick charging. Hmm.. So, I let the radio charge at normal over night, and then gave it an hour or two of quick charge, and then took it up on the mountain. And, voila, it worked just fine, lasting the entire day.

In retrospect, it should have been obvious. Motorola typically uses 7.5 volt batteries in its commercial portable radios. The charger is supposed to put out 10 volts to charge that. But if it is designed to convert from 220 volt AC to 10 volt DC, then when faced with 110 volt AC input, it is likely to output closer to 5 volt DC to the 7.5 volt battery. No wonder it wouldn't charge.

All is not wasted though. The new charger is supposed to trickle charge and has a light that changes color when the battery being charged is fully charged (like the more expensive Motorola chargers). And the specs on the battery that came with the radio would suggest that it is probably only good for 8 hours, if run on low power, and kept warm - which is problematic at a ski area. This way, I can carry the smaller, original, battery as a spare, JIC one of the bigger ones runs out during the day through overuse (battery usage estimates are based on the assumption that you mostly listen).

I should add that scanning worked fairly well, except that there is about a 5 second pause after each incoming transmission where it isn't scanning. So, I do know that I missed one or two messages that were walked over by another frequency.

Nevertheless, it was a simple matter to set up the radio with channels 1-6 identical with our usual radios. Then channels 11 and 13 were set up with their receive the same as 1 (SP) and 3 (MW), but to transmit on 3 (MW)'s frequency. Then the radio was set to scan just these two channels. The result is that I scan channels 1 (SP) and 3 (MW) during the day, but always transmit on 3 (MW). Then, when our MW dispatch shuts down at about 4, I turn off scanning and just use channel 1 (SP).

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