Held in early January, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas has become the flashy launching pad for high-tech devices ranging from high-definition television sets to matchbook-sized hard drives capable of storing 5 gigabytes of information. However, radio manufacturers also are taking advantage of CES to launch new products designed for both professional use as well as the demanding hobbyist user.

Uniden introduced a digital hand-held scanner and two GMRS radios. Scheduled to be shipped in late summer 2005, the Bearcat BCD396T hand-held digital scanner is capable of monitoring unencrypted APCO 25 transmissions as well as existing analog signals in a frequency range from 25 MHz to 1300 MHz, excluding cellular; previous scanners required a separate board for monitoring APCO 25. Uniden product manager Paul Optiz expects the scanner will be a favorite with emergency services personnel and press crews in areas where there is a mixture of analog and APCO 25 radio systems. “Some jurisdictions are on analog systems and want to be able to monitor what is going on next door [on APCO 25 systems],” Optiz said.

It also includes Close Call RF capture technology, dynamic memory management and fire tone-out. “Close Call is a patent-pending technology that isn't scanning and is unique to Uniden,” said Optiz. “It senses frequencies in use and tunes into them. We can take this unit and easily incorporate it into a vehicle mount or control it through a PC.” It will be packaged with a control cable and software for PC control.

The BCD396T will replace Uniden's BC296D high-end hand-held scanner and is expected to have a list price around $850. It is smaller and more compact than its predecessor. Three standard AA-sized batteries power the unit — Uniden is eliminating proprietary batteries in new products — and the company expects an operation life of about 10 hours on a fresh set of batteries.

Both of Uniden's new GMRS two-way radios have a 10-mile maximum operating range. “GMRS is a fairly mature [product] category,” said Optiz, “We use a more sensitive receiver to get better range.” The GMRS 1058-2CK pair of radios with recharger will list at $69.99 and have 38 built-in privacy codes. NOAA weather channels, emergency/weather alert, and 99 privacy codes are included in the pair of radios in the $79.99 list GMRS-1088-2CK package. Both GMRS radios are shipping now and will be on store shelves in the spring.

Midland Radio also took the opportunity to introduce longer-range GMRS radios at CES. The LXT410 radio has a 10-mile range and will retail for $54.99 in a two pack; the radios use four AA batteries and are sold without a charger. The GTX500 radio provides up to 14-mile range with 5 W of power, with a three-position switch for high, medium and low power. It also includes five call tones and NOAA weather radio. Both radios and other new products will be available in the second quarter of 2005.

Among Panasonic's many announcements was the introduction of a new disposable battery technology for the North American market. OxyRide AA batteries will appear in stories this spring and deliver anywhere from “50% more to twice the battery life” of ordinary AA alkalines, according to Panasonic spokesperson Brian Kimberlin. The Oxyride battery uses a new blend of chemicals and manufacturing processes to generate more power. Since being introduced last year, the Oxyride batteries make up a third of all of Panasonic's AA battery sales in Japan. A package of four Oxyride batteries will list at $3.99.

Verizon Wireless announced that its 3G EV-DO broadband wireless high-speed Internet service is now operational in 32 cities around the U.S. The service is capable of delivering anywhere from 300 kb/s to 600 kb/s of data per second to appropriately equipped laptop computers and PDAs, as well as select wireless phone handsets.
— Doug Mohney

Dataradio certifies Mentor equipment

Mentor Engineering said its Mobile Data Computer (MDC) and XGate middleware products recently were certified for the Dataradio private wireless data network.

After Dataradio base stations are installed at necessary locations, in-vehicle MDCs equipped with a Dataradio Gemini series radio can access the network. Mentor's XGate middleware serves as the link between the MDC, the Dataradio network and the host software.

RelComm introduces small coaxial relay

RelComm Technologies has introduced a 1P4T coaxial relay that offers performance to 18 GHz — VSWR 1.50:1 maximum, insertion loss of 0.50 dB maximum and isolation better than -60 dB. The device exhibits a short electrical length and compact mechanical package and is available in failsafe and latching configurations, the company said.

MIMO-based wireless networking solution

D-Link last month introduced the Super G with MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) line of wireless networking products that are based on the 802.11g standard and which employ smart antenna technologies such as beamforming to enhance the speed and reach of Wi-Fi networks. Super G with MIMO is backward-compatible to 802.11 g/b devices, provides WEP and WPA security layers and is capable of supporting AES encryption.

RELM adds six radios to RM series

RELM Wireless has introduced six products to its new RM Series of mobile radios that operate in one of three frequency bands at either high power or low power. The radios operate in the 136 MHz to 174 MHz (VHF), 430 MHz 470 MHz (UHF) or 470 MHz to 512 MHz (UHF) bands, with a high-power (45 W) and a low-power (22 W) model for each band. All products have received FCC type acceptance and Industry Canada certification, the company said.

Retro version of Motorola P2T handset

Nextel subsidiary Boost Mobile, which targets the youth market, has launched an exclusive limited edition version of Motorola's i860 push-to-talk handset, which is designed to tap into the retro craze with a wood-grain design, the company said. The handset comes with Boost Walkie-Talkie, a pay-as-you-go version of Nextel's Direct Connect P2T service costing $1.50 per day for unlimited nationwide connections.

Motorola enhances HT pro-series radios

Motorola said it would extend its impres (Intelligent Motorola Portable Radio Energy System) Smart Energy System to its HT Professional series radios. The impres system includes batteries and a three-in-one charging unit that acts as a rapid charger, a conditioning charger and a reconditioner. It eliminates “memory effect” by automatically reconditioning the battery during the charging process; the system's “smart circuitry,” which monitors battery charge levels and other characteristics, determines when reconditioning is needed.

Aztech Systems adds walkie-talkies

Singapore-based Aztech Systems expanded its walkie-talkie portfolio by adding the PMR5000 series for professional users. Radios in the series offer a voice-activated feature and 38 sub-channel privacy codes. The PMR5000 series launch follows last year's introduction of Aztech Systems' entry-level PMR3000R series that is being sold in parts of Europe, Asia and South America, the company said.

*spotlight: towers and antennas

Sti-Co Products

Sti-Co's window clip antenna is constructed with a “flexi-whip” mast that will bend but not break, the company said. The antenna is field tunable between 136 MHz and 1000 MHz and handles up to 150 W.

The Transparent GPS Antenna is encased in a clear film so thin that it is extremely hard to detect and comes with an optional substrate to stiffen it, making it easy to reinstall on another vehicle or to hide behind a bumper for covert applications.

Phazar Antenna

New is a high-gain omnidirectional antenna for municipal areas or wide area network deployment of point-to-multipoint public-safety band systems (4940 MHz to 4990 MHz). The antenna offers a 10 dBi gain and measures 24 inches tall and 0.75 inches in diameter.

Also introduced was a directional antenna for point-to-point wireless links. The waveguide antenna offers 40 degree horizontal and vertical beamwidths with a 12 dBi gain covering the 4.940 GHz to 4.990 GHz public-safety band.

Astron Wireless

A line of 700 MHz directional antennas offers the standard features of the company's 800 MHz and 900 MHz lines, including an “ever-sealed” balanced feed system and a 1-foot pigtail for quick and easy installation, the company said.

Also available is a compact dual-band (400 MHz and 800 MHz) low-profile antenna that measures 7.5 inches in diameter and 1.4 inches in height, and offers the performance of a 3 dBi gain antenna, the company said.


Now available from Telewave is the F2 series of compact vertical antennas for public-safety and government base stations. Each antenna produces 2.5 dBd gain and handles 500 W, with a 38 degree vertical beamwidth. Wind rating is 200 mph without ice loading. The F2 series also eliminates shadowing problems in canyons near a mountaintop site, the company said.

Sabre Site Solutions

Sabre Site Solutions' pre-engineered 12-inch and 18-inch lightweight towers can be used as guyed, freestanding or wall-bracketed towers. The company's towers also include a line of pre-engineered self-supporting towers available in heights up to 240 feet. Sabre's catalog provides detailed charts that indicate wind-speed ratings (from 70 mph to 110 mph) and foundation designs for every size and type of tower.

Comprod Communications

Low PIM filtration systems for the VHF, UHF, 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz frequencies are available. The systems minimize the number of contact points and dissipate heat very quickly, the company said. In addition, all loops, plunger assemblies, tuning rods and connectors are silver plated to guard against rust. Comprod also said it has decreased the number of junctions, connectors and cables to minimize the potential for intermodulation, unlike feed-through and star junction combiners.

Speedcom announces dual P2T radio line

Speedcom has announced that its two-way radio line is ready to ship, including its flagship DT-100, which features its DualTalk technology (see related story page 26). The DualTalk feature allows users to switch from one push-to-talk conversation to another at the press of a button

Radio Waves

Recently released is a series of 28 GHz sector horn antennas for point-to-multipoint broadband wireless systems in the millimeter microwave bands. The sector horn meets ETSI specifications, provides a CSC2 shaped beam with null-fill, and offers a low profile, compact, and waterproof design.