Nextel and Zetron introduced a solution that enables dispatchers using Zetron's Series 4000 radio dispatch console to connect users of private land mobile radio, or LMR, systems to users of Nextel's nationwide Direct Connect or Group Connect push-to-talk services. Current Series 4000 console users would be able to add the new capability to their existing consoles.

The upgraded dispatch console is a result of the natural evolution of Nextel's network, according to Bill Hughes, Zetron's director of business development.

“When we heard about their migration plan [to nationwide Direct Connect], we knew we had to be a part of it,” he said.

The ability of Nextel users to connect to their department's LMR system, regardless of their location, is a crucial benefit for police departments, Hughes said.

“A police chief can be anywhere within Nextel's coverage and be involved in a tactical situation,” he said.

In addition, when first responders use Direct Connect, there typically is no way to record the conversation, a problem solved by the upgraded Series 4000.

“Just out of habit, they'll be using this radio and then go back to check the recording, and it's not there,” Hughes said. “[Now] the call can be recorded, assuming the console is connected to the logging recorder, which is fairly standard.”

Zetron upgraded the Series 4000 by changing the unit's configuration software and changing the screen to accommodate the longer identification codes required by Direct Connect, said Greg Meacham, Nextel's vice president of federal programs and homeland security.

“For a local fleet, you only have load the last four or five digits of your Direct Connect phone number, and that will allow you to connect with anyone in that market” Meacham said. “For nationwide Direct Connect, you have to enter 10 or 11 numbers, two prefixes separated by two asterisks.”

The asterisks were a significant challenge, as consoles before now didn't recognize them, Meacham said.

“They couldn't process a nationwide Direct Connect call through the console, which limited them to in-fleet, in-market calls,” he said. “Zetron has written software that allows the console to recognize the asterisks.”

Hughes called the upgrade “fairly simple” but said Zetron nevertheless tested the product extensively prior to release to make sure all of the features worked as designed.

“You don't want to take anything that goes into a public-safety environment lightly,” he said.

Meacham added that the console would be particularly useful during a multi-agency event.

“In that environment, what we used to have to do is take everybody off their existing fleets and migrate them to a common fleet,” he said. “When you get a lot of people in a common fleet, you get a lot of problems over who gets to run the talk and whose talk groups are most important. It creates an administrative problem that's very difficult to work through, particularly in times of crisis. Zetron's console allows us to recognize talk groups that are in a different fleet or a different market.”

Nextel, Motorola unveil off-network P2T service

Nextel and Motorola recently announced the introduction of Direct Talk, a back-up walkie-talkie service that Nextel customers can use when they are outside the carrier's coverage areas. The service provides a range of up to 6 miles (though terrain, weather, foliage and use in vehicles or buildings could diminish range), is available on Motorola i315 and i325 handsets distributed by Nextel and is activated via the handset's keypad. For public-safety customers, the i325 offers an emergency call button and Priority Connect, which provides five levels of priority service when the network is congested. Both handsets comply with Military Standard 810 F for blowing rain, humidity and salt fog.

Wi-Fi Wireless bases high-data-rate solution on 802.22 standard

Tigard, Ore.-based Wi-Fi Wireless recently announced it has developed mobile wireless data network based on the 802.22 standard that provides download data rates ranging from 200 kb/s to 1.53 MB/s. The network uses narrowband channels and features a proprietary segmented antenna technology that allows clustering of up to 25,000 users per base station, the company said. Because the network is able to use UHF spectrum, it also provides a range of up to 10 miles, with limited line-of-site restrictions, which reduces the number of base stations needed per coverage area. In contrast, the typical 802.11 hotspot offers a range of up to 150 feet, the company said.

Zetron, GeoComm develop mapping API

Zetron and GeoComm recently announced they have collaborated on a mapping solution that will be marketed with Zetron's Integrator 911 call-taking solution. An application programming interface is being jointly developed to allow the two solutions to communicate, said Mark Musick, Zetron's vice president of marketing. The solution will enable dispatchers to not only see Phase I and Phase II calls on the map before they're answered, but also them to answer them and provide call control directly from the map.

Being able to see the calls on a map before they're answered offers dispatchers a distinct advantage, Musick said. “Let's say you have a freeway incident and you have multiple cellular calls coming in, and then you get a call from five miles away,” he said. “The center is being inundated with calls from the accident — which the call-taker already is aware of, because on the map the calls are clustered — so he might decide to take the call that's [farther away] because it's an entirely different emergency.”

Intermec unveils more powerful RFID technology

Intermec Technologies Corp. recently presented the Intellitag Generation 2 UHF radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which the company said has been demonstrated and will be implemented in 2005.

According to Intermec, the platform provides the following benefits: reliable RFID tags with unlimited read/write capabilities; frequency hopping, to maximize read ranges needed in typical supply-chain operations; operation at multiple communications frequencies, which is required for global implementations; global interoperability and the ability to migrate to relevant emerging global RFID standards; FCC Part 15 operation to avoid the need for a separate commission site license for each U.S.-deployed reader; operation under new, higher-power European frequency requirements; and the ability to operate many readers in close proximity using the platform's “dense reader mode.”

Cobra increases two-way radio range to 12 miles

Cobra Electronics recently introduced its 2005 micro TALK GMRS/FRS two-way radio product line. The company said it increased the range of all models, including the PR 4700 WX, which now offers a 12-mile range. The handset also features 22 channels and 38 privacy codes, as well as 83 DCS codes that allow a total of 2662 privacy combinations. Other models in the line offer ranges of 4, 8 or 10 miles and a total of 836 privacy combinations. Top-of-the line models also have been enhanced with function buttons that can be accessed with one hand, the company added.

Nextel P2T earpieces

Klein Electronics has introduced a series of earpieces specifically for use with Nextel push-to-talk handsets by public-safety and security professionals. The Agent-F single-wire earphone kit offers an in-line microphone/P2T button and D-Ring earloop, while the Double Agent-F two-wire kit provides an integrated microphone/P2T button and D-Ring earloop. In addition, the Sentry-F two-wire kit offers a black or clear acoustic tube, dual P2T, integrated microphone with lapel clip and a semi-custom earpiece option, while the Stealth-F three-wire kit provides a lapel microphone, ring-finger P2T button and coiled audio tube. Finally, the BodyGuard-F two-wire kit incorporates a flexible earloop, earbud-style speaker and integrated microphone/P2T button with lapel clip.

*spotlight: Batteries, chargers and analyzers

Ultralife Batteries

Ultralife recently received a $286 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to provide five models of non-rechargeable lithium-manganese dioxide batteries. The BA-5390/U, the most widely used of the five battery types, is a 15 V or 30 V battery used to power the PRC-119 SINCGARS (Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System) and other applications. Other models in the line include the following: BA-5312/U, a 12 V battery used in the PRC-112 survival radio; BA-5398/U, a 15 V battery used in the PRC-77 radio and other applications; BA-5388, a 15 V battery used in the PRC-126 and other hand-held radios; and the BA-5357, a 15 V or 30 V battery used in the PSG-2A message device and other applications.


This series of batteries for the Motorola CP200 portable two-way radio is new. The series offers NiCad, NiMH and lithium-ion models, with each providing 7.5 V output. The batteries also are suitable for the Motorola CP150 and PR400 portables. Prices have yet to be set, but the company said the expected range is between $50 and $60.

Innovative Circuit Technology

The ICT Charger Series is microprocessor-controlled and operates as a battery backup monitoring system. The series is programmed to charge 12 V or 24 V lead acid batteries quickly and efficiently while powering a DC load. The chargers perform a three-stage charging process — bulk, top-off and float — are manually switchable between 120 VAC and 220 VAC and are available in 13.8 VDC and 27.6 VDC output models. They feature a standard backlit LCD display that shows voltage, current and charge status and are available in a desktop version as well as a 19-inch rack-mount configuration. An optional temperature sensor probe (ICT-TSP) allows the chargers to monitor battery temperature and improve charging times by optimizing voltage levels.

AdvanceTec Industries

The Negative Pulse Rapid Charger/Analyzer/Conditioner offers the user simple operation. The charging cycle begins as soon as the battery is placed in the charger; then, the cycle moves to the analyzing phase from the conditioning phase at the touch of a button. The unit uses Instant Failure Detection technology to immediately determine shorted or faulty cells and charges both NiCad and NiMH batteries in the office or in the car without damaging their cells. It also eliminates and controls the “memory effect” process (battery capacity depression) with an effective charge termination method using “inflection point termination,” according to the company.


Rack-mount battery management systems are available in the following configurations: 12 V units that handle up to 75 amps and 24 V and 48 V units that handle up to 50 amps. The systems can be operated with any existing power supply and a “smart charging” function designed for deep-cycle or Gel-cell batteries. A low-voltage disconnect function prevents battery damage due to over-discharge and automatically reconnects when power is restored. In addition, a diode-isolation system provides isolation and seamless transfer to the battery when power goes down.

Cadex Electronics

The Cadex 7000 Series battery analyzers feature SnapLock adapters that interface with different battery types and automatically configure the analyzer to the correct settings. The analyzers operate in four modes: Prime prepares new batteries for the field; Auto reconditions packs that have become weak; Boost restores dead lithium-ion batteries; and QuickTest measures the battery's overall condition in 3 minutes. The Series 7000 analyzers can generate service reports and battery labels, while optional BatteryShop software enables users to control the analyzers from a personal computer. The addition of the C7400ER enables the servicing of larger batteries. Each of the four stations can be programmed to 6 A charge and discharge current, adjustable in 25 mA increments. The analyzer accommodates nickel, lead and lithium-based batteries with voltages from 1.2 V to 36 V (28.8 V for nickel-based). Power management technology keeps the charge and discharge limits within 170 W, the company said.

Optima Batteries

While thoughts of batteries often are confined to those that power mobile and portable radios, Optima Batteries is taking a bigger-picture view by focusing on the vehicle's electrical system and addressing the power demands placed on such systems by in-vehicle electronics, an important consideration for public-safety agencies, the company said. YellowTop batteries use a “deep-cranking” capability to provide a higher level of electrical output and a stable voltage supply. The result is reliable starting power to the engine along with a consistent supply of power to the vehicle's advanced electrical system, the company said, adding that police vehicle fleets nationwide are deploying the batteries.

Nokia introduces RFID-based solution

Nokia recently introduced the Field Force Solution, enables real-time, two-way interaction between the client software, Nokia's Local Interactions Server and a company's existing back-office systems. Simply touching an RFID tag with the Nokia Model 5140 RFID-enabled phone starts the information exchange, Nokia said, adding that Finland-based Falck Security has successfully completed a pilot program and will deploy the Field Force Solution.

Northrop Grumman unveils RFID compliance solution

Northrop Grumman recently unveiled Illuminos, a “software-development toolkit” that enables the interaction of user-developed radio frequency identification solutions with RFID readers and printers from various suppliers. Illuminos supports Alien, Matrics and Intermec hardware, the company said.

The solution is available as an independent software development kit for automatic information systems developers. In addition, Northrop Grumman said it would license its electronic product code coder/decode to vendors wishing to integrate the latest EPC code data standards into their EPC-compliant firmware.

Whitney Blake intros rugged headset and handset cords

Whitney Blake said it has added a line of handset and headset assembly cords designed for rugged environments. Originally designed with a rubber jacket for military use, the cords now are manufactured with a polyurethane jacket and may be customized with appropriate contacts and connectors, the company said. The cords' length and flexibility provides greater range of motion, the company added.