Relm Wireless, West Melbourne, Fla., has expanded its digital product development program with the hiring of additional engineers to work in the company’s engineering facility in Lawrence, Kan. The company declined to number the new hires.

Relm wants to produce digital radio products that comply with the Project 25 standard of the Telecommunications Industry Association and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials. The company demonstrated engineering prototypes of its new BK Radio brand of DPH series VHF digital portable radio at the International Wireless Communications Exposition last April in Las Vegas.

The portable was demonstrated to a focus group of officials from federal and state government agencies to guide the product development to meet end-users requirements. A manufacturing pilot is expected this month, with full production runs in September and initial shipments in the fourth quarter.

The DPH was developed to offer audio clarity and longer battery life while eliminating complex, non-critical functions. The radio uses current BK Radio accessories, such as antennas and batteries. Also, the core design of the digital board allows the company’s analog flash GPH portable radios to be upgraded to the new digital platform, allowing current BK Radio analog users to transform their analog units to Project 25-compliant radios at a cost lower than the purchase of a completed DPH.

Relm’s president, David Storey, said that the new hires are no strangers to BK Radio because they previously worked for Bendix King, the company from which Relm purchased the BK Radio product line. In the interim, the engineers worked for Garmin International, Olathe, Kan., a company known for its GPS products.

“The additional engineers will speed our VHF portable and mobile unit development, and then expedite 800 and 700 MHz product development along with UHF product development. That’s my plan over the next 18 months,” Storey said.

“I want the new engineers to make the Lawrence facility a ‘biosphere of engineering,’ separate from the daily workings of the company, where they can be a new product machine,” Storey said.

Storey said that he was pleased that the first of the prototype designs were successful, and that the pilot run is on schedule to begin this month. Meanwhile, he wants to expedite the testing that the U.S. Department of the Interior conducts on behalf of it agencies that purchase radios and testing that the FCC conducts for type acceptance.

Storey added, "I can’t overstate the importance of this milestone for our company. We have long believed that APCO Project 25-compliant digital products were a strategic key to our future success. We now control our destiny by owning our digital technology, rather than licensing the technology and products of a competitor.”

Fires boost radio sales

Relm announced yesterday that it had received orders worth $676,000 for BK Radio mobile and portable radio products to be deployed in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and California to help firefighters combat forest fires. Shipments have already begun and are expected to be completed this month.

"Forest fires have been devastating this season, particularly in Colorado and Arizona. In these life-threatening emergency situations, fast and reliable two-way radio communications are critical. BK Radio brand products have long been a reliable backbone for such communications. Our entire organization is committed to providing firefighters throughout the nation with high quality products and services to assist them in doing their jobs effectively," Storey said.