Remember the game of “telephone” where you whisper one message to the person next to you and they do the same and so on until the last person receives the message? This is similar to how a radio repeater works.
The only difference is that the message is crystal clear and always accurate, unlike the classic game of telephone and mixed-up messages.
Radio repeaters work to extend the range of your radios. Now, instead of losing a signal over a long distance, you use a repeater to extend the signal and reach your team no matter where they are.
What is a Radio Repeater?
A repeater is a combination of both a receiver and radio transmitter with a powerful signal.
It is designed to act as a waystation to both receive and transmit radio signals across long distances.
Similar to a WiFi extender, a radio repeater extends the range of communications for your existing two-way radios.
How Does a Repeater Work?
A radio repeater receives a radio signal and re-transmits it simultaneously. However, the transmission is at a much higher power than is possible with a hand-held radio alone which allows users who are farther away to still receive the message clearly.
In some areas, multiple radio repeaters can be used to transmit messages. The boosted signal from a repeater can also improve the clarity of the transmission between radio users where obstructions or distance are a problem.
The repeaters receive radio waves on one frequency, called the repeater’s “input” frequency, and then re-transmit the information on its “output” frequency.
5 Common Reasons You May Need a Two-Way Repeater
For many who use a two-way radio, no repeater is necessary.
You can communicate within close range easily and clearly with a high-quality antenna and good radio systems.
However, there are several reasons why a two-way repeater may be necessary for your application.
1. Poor Coverage – This is the number one reason for needing a repeater. If you are working away from your main base, and you have workers on the road or in the field, a repeater allows your team to coordinate with the main office and with each other.
2. Poor In-Building Penetration – Sometimes using two-way radios within a building on multiple floors can be cumbersome. A repeater breaks through those barriers so your team doesn’t have to go to multiple floors to get a quick answer.
3. Team Coordination – If you’re coordinating different teams for an event (i.e. food, vendors, tech, security, etc.) a repeater can make this significantly easier. You can have different channels for these various departments and enjoy seamless communication across your entire team.
4. Unique Applications – As radio technology evolves, there are additional features and applications that you can take advantage of. This includes things like ticket management, man-down features, and more that support the unique working environment of your team.
5. Wide Area Coverage – Keep a consistent conversation no matter where you go with a repeater that extends your area of coverage. This has been shown to increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
Who Uses Radio Repeaters?
Anyone who relies on a radio system to communicate more than a mile will likely need a radio repeater.
Some of the industries that rely on radio repeaters include the following:
- Commercial Businesses – Many corporations operate over large areas, in multiple buildings over several miles. This may include companies like Disney, hotel resorts with multiple buildings, a large business complex, etc.
- Emergency Services – Police, fire, and rescue personnel depend on dedicated radio channels to mobilize and communicate in a crisis. They need to use a repeater so they can go where they are needed without worrying about losing their radio signal.
- Public Transport – Truck drivers often use mobile radios mounted in their vehicles to communicate with other drivers, dispatch, and receive traffic information. Two-way radio repeaters are necessary to keep this important communication going.
- Large Warehouse – A large warehouse can use a repeater where signals may be disrupted due to obstacles in and around the building. Repeaters can be programmed to send instant alerts to managers, maintenance, and others working in a warehouse.
Benefits of a Radio Repeater
While two-way radios are an excellent resource, their range is limited. For example, if you have a 40,000-acre ranch, you’ll need a repeater to reach from end to end.
In addition to extending your coverage range, a radio repeater totes several additional benefits:
- Clear Coverage – With repeater radio systems, mobile radio signals are amplified and obstructions are decreased.
- Enhance Signal – Even in areas where you have little or no signal, the repeater will strengthen the signal so you can communicate with a weak connection.
- Instant Communication – Repeaters give you instant communication, allowing for faster responses, so you can enjoy continuous service without the inconvenience of broken signals.
- Inexpensive – The cost of repeaters is less compared to purchasing a whole new fleet of radios. This one addition makes better use of the radios you already have.
Radio Repeater Components
In order to receive a frequency from portable two-way radios and re-transmit them in real-time, a radio repeater uses innovative technology.
Although the results are impressive, the components are relatively simple.
- Receiver – A radio receiver accepts the incoming signal. On a repeater, the receiver is very sensitive so it can pick up even a very weak transmission. It eliminates any distortion in the process and sends the message to the radio transmitter in real-time.
- Transmitter – This separates the transmission from reception. The frequency of a repeater transmitter range lies between 500 kHz to 5 MHz. This separation point is called “offset” and it also prevents repeaters from interference.
- Controller – The controller is the heart of the repeater that activates the transmitter and sends out the pre-recorded messages.
- Antenna – The antenna is on top of the radio receiver. It is an ultra-powerful component that both transmits and receives signals.
- Feed Line – Aluminum cables create a feed line on a repeater system. These cables have better quality when compared to regular coax, allowing signals to be retained even from weaker sources delivering great performance.
FAQs About Radio Repeaters
Can I link repeaters together?
This is possible but gets complicated with radio frequencies and outputs. At this point, it’s best to call a professional to get the correct setup that delivers the range you need.
Do I need a repeater license?
Yes. Typical repeater licenses at UHF require a frequency pair operating 5 MHz apart.
What’s the best location to mount a repeater?
The repeater should be on a flat surface that is clear from interference. Choose a location that has plenty of clearance for ventilation and is away from other power cables, TVs, filing cabinets, etc. The antenna should be able to reach in a fully vertical position without obstruction.
How do digital repeaters differ from analog repeaters?
The main difference is in how the messages are processed. In an analog repeater, the receiver voice is filtered and sent directly to the transmitter. In the digital repeater, the processor first converts to binary bits and then sent to the transmitter.
Are repeaters compatible with all types of two-way radios?
Yes, repeaters can be used with all types of two-way radios that have a channel designed for use with a repeater.
Get More Coverage with a Repeater
A number of businesses have made the switch from mobile phones to digital two-way radio in recent years, and have reaped the benefits. You can enjoy better communication, increased technology, and better connectivity than cell phones.
Using a radio repeater may be the key your team needs for better communication anywhere you work. If your business needs a repeater, contact us today!