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Motorcycle communication without expensive BT headsets! Answered

When it comes to communicating with the person on your back seat then often there is no need for a fancy BT headset.
Unless of course you are constaly driving on freeways at high speed and love to talk ;)

The most annoying thing though is when you want to go for a long ride with a lot of your mates.
Some might already have some BT headset, most might not have anything to communicate.
Even with just 8 or 10 riders in your group, loosing one is easy.
The most advanced headsets now offer functions for automatic pairing when the connection was lost - they come at a price though.

Around here there is two problems to face when going for long rides.
a) communication range for the riders in the group.
b) cellphone coverage is usually non existing when you actually need it.

So why not go with something totally different and much cheaper than BT headsets?
At highway speeds the range of BT headsets suffers not just from the required safety distance between riders but also from the spped itself.
Cheap headsets just crap out all the time, expensive one tend to loose the connections quite often.
Wouldn't it be great to have more than the average 800 meters of good sound quality without dropouts?
And if you ever tried to have a decent converstation with another at high speeds you already know that even the best BT headsets struggle with the wind noise unless you have a really optimised helmet (and paid a lot for it).
The alternative, if we trust all the hype and advertsiements would be to go for the latest generation of headsets out there....

Baofeng UV-5 series....
This type of UHF/VHF handheld radio has ben around for years.
It is not only quite cheap but also able to put a full 4W out.
So called battery eliminators to power them directly from a 12V socket (in your car) are cheap as well, but a good battery should last for a few hours.
The benefit of these cheap radios however is not that they are so cheap.
It is that you can actually program whatever frequency you like for your needs.
Of course you should stick to the frequencies and channels that are free and legal to use in your area.
The since is about what a pack of smokes is, so no problem to mount it descreetly on your dash or handlebars either.
Being a radio there is no need for pairing or making sure you stick to the correct order when doing things.
If you want to be "alone" on a channel you can even use celectcall and other option to make sure only those radios with the right callsigns wil open your squelch.
Quite nice if you suddenly get into an area where your channel is used by ther people.

Ok, a handheld radio might work, but what about the antenna?
The UV5 series usually ships with two antennas.
A short stubby that is good for about 1-2km - line of sight.
And a small external antenna with a magnetic base.
On a bigger bike it is often no problem to add a 15x15cm plate behind the seat that the antenna can pop on to.
Should only be required if your require a bigger distance though.

And why would a UHF radio be any better with the background or wind noise?
Biggest problem with these expensive BT headsets is that you need to get really creative if you want to change the speakers or microphone.
And options are quite limited here again - either a flexible microphone or a glue on one.
Neither is really good once the wind gets too much.
For the UV5 series you get so called throat microphones for under 10 bucks.
Often advertised as tacticle headsets but for the price nowhere near the quality of a military grade combination.
They plug straight into the handheld and come with an external push button that can be used to start a manual transmission.
But of course you can automate this on the UV5 as well by selecting the voice activation mode in the menu.
Set the level so high that you need a slightly rised voice to start the transmission.
(That way not everyone needs to hear you swearing about other drivers if you keep it quite ;) )

All up a solution like this will cost you well under $100, with all required extras.
For a bit more you can also get UHF radios for helmet use.
Basically the same like the handheld option, but smaller, a bit more convient to use and set up but also very limited in range and battery life.


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1 year ago

Does it work for a car as well? I need to use a laptop with a Virtual desktop environment.
Would it work if connected to that as well?


Reply 1 year ago

I guess that mostly depends on what you want to do.
But inside a car a normal BT heatset for computer use should do fine, maybe with a throat microphone if it can't tolerate too much outside noise.
Problem is though that in most countries you are not allowed to use headphones of any kind when driving.
It should be possible though to pair some BT hands free kit with a suitable dongle on your laptop.