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Helmet Radios

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Does anybody out there use helmet radios? The wife just started riding and we would like to stay in contact with each other on the trails. What would be a good system to use? Not a whole lot of info out there, so please give me some help. Thanks, Scott in Michigan.

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Check out www.motorola.com to see all their offerings. I got a pair of their TalkAbout units (model number T5950) that have jacks for a headset, but I'm not sure the headset would fit inside a helmet. We actually bought them for car-to-car comms when we're travelling somewhere in two vehicles. Depending on the layout of the land (i.e. hilly, flat, forests, desert, etc) the range is usually around 1-3 miles but can get up to 5 miles if the other person is within line-of-sight. They're pretty tough little units and are basically weatherproof, but I wouldn't want to drop one in a creek.

The Motorola website lists a lot of accessories for them, so take a look and see what they have available. I would highly recommend the rechargeable batteries w/charger. If I remember correctly, I paid less than $100 for the pair.

Cheers,

Mac

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check out some of the street riding forums, those guy's use them all the time, and can give you some great input on what works well and what does not.

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Collett Electronics makes what I consider the best offroad communicator. They are tough, have great battery life, and are WATERPROOF. I bought extra sets of headphones and put them in our snowmobile helmets, so when it's time to take the sleds out, I just unclip the Colletts from the motorcycle helmets and put them on the sled helmets. The VOX seems to work well in nearly all conditions.

They are especially nice for talking new riders thru a tough section, or capturing the precious sound of your riding buddy using too much front brake on a rocky downhill :)

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I have been looking into helmet radios for a while also. The thing that always seems to set me back is the $500-600 price tag to get into a quality set.

I want them so I can keep in contact with / coach my 8 yr old son.

The leading 2 systems I have found is the Collett as stated above. Cant go wrong with them. The other is the Chatterbox systems.

The thing I like better about the Chatterbox units is

1. The battery is contained within the unit on the helmet -vs- the Collet's external battery pack.

2. The Chatterbox unit works on FRS frequency's. So I can talk/coach my kid when we go to the MX track with a normal $30 FRS radio.

You can hook up FM radios/cd players/mp3 players to these also so you can listen to music while you ride. I think you can also hook your cell phone up so you can answer the phone while you ride. Just what I want to do....NOT :)

I remember hearing that if you get the Chatterbox you also need the noise reduction headphone/mic to make the VOX work properly. But I hear that it does work good.

If you want to go cheeper Chaterbox has FRS radios for like $45 and VOX noise reduction helmet speakers/mic that will work also. I was kinda looking into this to save some cash.

Once you decide what you want keep an eye on ebay. These units show up from time to time pretty reasonable.

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MXbob60,

That Collett unit looks quite nice. The Motorola that I recommended earlier is a small handheld unit, but the Collett looks to be more useful for bikers. My wife and I use the British AutoCom unit as an intercom on the street bike, but that's nearing the $1000 mark.

I'll look real close at the Collett unit for use on the off-roader, especially if my wife can contact me by using a FRS radio like our handheld Motorolas.

Thanks for the info.

Cheers,

Mac

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I've found this setup to work for me. Any Motorola radio, Usually from Circuit city etc..

We use the Motocomm headset, and cabling from Crawford Marine, $50- $60, (same as the Motocomm site, a little cheaper though).

I would suggest you forgo the in helmet speakers though and wire in a plug for earbuds. Some people like the Koss earbud units (cheap $15, modified,( the foam only), can be found at Aerostich's web site), I really like the Sony Fontopia's (found at Best Buys, and other places $35).

The Motocomm units are plug and play with cables to speakers, and the radio, and a press to talk switch, (recommend, as VOX, voice activated set ups have issues, with wind noise, exhaust notes, etc.).

Put a cellphone pouch, on your chest protector, and put the radio there. You can also mount the radio where you can reach it, you have volume control while riding this way, remember you'll have gloves on. I like ones with a big knob for volume control. You then run a wire, provided, to the left handle bar grip for the PTT switch.

To wire the cables from speaker to earphone, you cut the speakers off, and wire (solder) the commons, the same colored wire, from the left, and right, to a walkman female connector from radioshack, both to the end connector (the one at the end), and left, one of the other colors to the middle lug, and the other right, the last color to the one nearest to the plug base. The left / right for the stereo doesn't matter as it is mono I believe.

I don't use helmet speakers from experience, they have to be close to the ear to work, (hear), but if too close to the ear, hurt while riding, maybe not at first, but a half hour later with the helmet moving on your head the pain comes. You must pretty good at helmet rework to do this, and make it work.

The soldering is a little tricky, if you can't do it, or have a friend who can. I know this can be the hard part, but worth it in the end.

The reason I use the Sony Fontopia's is that they are the smallest unit with good sound, and go in the ear canal with the least amount of protrusion into the helmet. Smaller than standard earbuds, and don't hurt, or pull getting helmet on, and off, they also block out external noise some.

I use the Motorola, because they are cheap and pretty universal. The last pair I got, from Circuit City, were $30 a pair.

When putting the earbuds on I put one, in one ear (pull up on the top of your ear, arm over head, while inserting, as this seats them in the ear canal) and then the other in the opposite ear, same way. I then run the wire between the two over the top of my head, just before putting the helmet on, to eliminate extra wire hanging out of, my helmet, You don't want any wire into your ear to snag a branch, and the other wires should disconnect at a connector, if said happens.

On the subject of radios get FRS/GMRS (they are in the same radio). FRS has about a claimed 1 mile range, GMRS, claimed 2 mile range. In real world use the distances are about half, in trees/woods, but about the claimed range. line of site.

In regards to microphone placement, it must be as close to your lips as possible, I put mine close enough to brush my lips. Either build up foam in the front of your helmet, to the velcro (provided), on a full face helmet, or run the open face model in either, open, or full face helmets. This is critical for all mics to work, from the high end systems, to the cheapest. To build up the foam, I cut different thickness to get the desired results, and then use hobby spray adhesive to glue the mess together, (remember this is semi permanent though).

Another hint, when sticking an adhesive (like a sticker, or velcro backing), use a blow dryer to heat it up, and the surface to stick it to, fairly hot, before sticking, as this helps to get a good initial bond, it's worked for me, I haven't had one fall off yet.

In regards to the press to talk (PTT) switch provided, they can be a little bulky for some people, (they velcro on the grip, kind of large), I replaced mine, using the velcro, for the grip, and velcroed on a miniature pressure pad switch for laser gun sights, (I picked up at a gun show for cheap), to the left grip. Wiring it requires soldering also. It is straight forward as you just solder any two of the wires from the harness to any two from the switch, polarity doesn't matter, as it is just a make, or break switch. Another option to this is use a regular dirt bike kill switch for a PTT, (make sure it doesn't ground to the handlebars though). Things to think of for PTT switches, is, operated by the first finger, or thumb.

When all this is done it should work transparent, ie you don't have to think about any of it once you get riding, it becomes a natural act after a little practice.

One of my favorite things I like about riding is that, as a group activity, you are still alone with your thoughts even though, your with a bunch of people. I first balked at the idea of everybody chatting, and interupting my thoughts.

The safety aspect, of warning following riders of danger ahead. I've watched good friends get hurt because they hit something I missed, and I couldn't tell them. The ability to actually have someone say something, without cryptic hand gestures, (was he motioning he's having a great time or a seizure?), far out weigh the intrusion. No more confusion at forks in the road, or gas reserves status, or having someone attempt to tackle, a bit of road or trail, they can't do.

FWIW this set up works for me. I've been butchering cheap walkie talkies, and headphones for years. I've spent four times the money, time, and frustration, trying to come with a system that works. In the end you can do the same, sure make some variations to my setup. What works for me might not work for you, (sorry, we're all different).

Baseline this setup works, and works pretty good , at about the cheapest you can do it easily, including the soldering, and switch setups. I've found out it's a waste of money, if I spend $100.00 dollars on something that doesn't work, only to spend $200.00 on something that does.

As an added note I have heard about a FRS/GMRS radio comming out from Cobra Radios, (March, or April) that claim to have a twelve mile range, even halved, could be good for large groups, or getting REALLY LOST, from yor group. Suggested price $60-$70, apair.

Motocomm full face headset

Motocomm open face

Aerostich Koss speakers

Go to product search, and when the search page loads, type in Koss

Pressure Pad Switch

Cheap radios, at Circuit City

Sony Fontopia's in Ear/bud speakers

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