Getting started with Two-way Radio: Glossary of terms

When getting started with two-way radio, some terms may seem too deep to understand.

Actually, you don’t need to become a expert physic to understand how commercial two-way radio works in today’s world.

By explaining some terms in this post, we hope you can grasp what you could need more in this moment: Have a general idea about how they work and what you should get for your company.

General terms about two-way radios

Let’s get started with the basic. So, here are some widely accepted definitions about two-way radio systems.

Radio Wave: Are radio signal waves that flow up and down and can alter in how high they peak. They are invisible to our eyes but are the cornerstone of radio communications.

Wavelength: It is the space between one peak and the next one in a radio wave. Using this measure wavelengths can be short or long, depending on how close are their peaks.

Cycle: Like the waves of the ocean, radio waves follow a pattern that repeat itself over and over and is known as cycle.

Range: The maximum number of miles (or kilometers) that a specific two-way radio device would work fine, under normal circumstances.

RX (Receive): The reproduction of an audio signal coming from another radio.

TX (Transmit): To send over a radio signal, a message to another radio.

Channel: A frequency on which two-way radio devices can communicate and send messages to each other, according with its technical capabilities.

Type and technology of two-way radios

To get a little deeper, is now the time for explain more about the different existing devices, so you could have a better idea of what you need.

Two-Way Radio: Is a device (portable or mobile, analog or digital) that transmits and receives voice communication.

Portable Radio: Is a two-way radio hand held device, also known as walkie talkie that allow people on-the-go to send and receive radio messages.

Mobile Radio: Is a two-way radio device mounted in a vehicle or a station, able to send and receive messages.

Analog or Conventional: Are radio systems that may communicate a single condition. In this devices information is sent by changing the frequency, amplitude or phase of the radio signal.

Digital: Are radio systems that, beside send voice messages, may communicate text from computer-aided dispatch (CAD). By using FDMA, TDMA or voice, information send for this devices is converted to true data bits and applied directly to the radio transmitter.

FDMA (Frequency Division Multiple Access): It gives users an individual channel allocation.

TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access): Allows multiple users to share a single frequency.

Push-to-talk: Is the button included in all portable radios. Its function is, when pressed, to open the channel for transmission.

Repeater: Is the combination of a radio receiver and a radio transmitter whose function is to receive a weak or low-level signal and retransmit it at a higher level or power in order to that signal can reach longer distances without degradation.

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About the Frequency

Frequency is a constant topic when we talk about two-way radio. As can become a very extensive matter, here is just a summary of what this is about.

The frequency is the number of cycles (radio wave that repeat itself over and over) that occur every second. Is it measured in hertz (Hz) and is correct also refer to them as “cycles per second”.

Since generally radio cycles repeat thousands of times each second, expressions like kilohertz (KHz, 1,000 cycles per second), megahertz (MHz, 1 million cycles per second) and gigahertz (GHz, 1 billion cycles per second) are pretty common.

There is a direct relationship between frequencies and wavelengths. The higher the frequency the shorter the wavelength, and visa-versa.

In order to group frequencies, radio engineers divided them into ranges and created bands. This bands are known as:

  • VLF or Very Low Frequency: 3 KHz to 30 KHz
  • LF or Low Frequency: 30 KHz to 300 KHz
  • MF or Medium Frequency: 300 KHz to 3 MHz
  • HF or High Frequency: 3 MHz to 30 MHz
  • VHF or Very High Frequency: 30 Mhz to 300 Mhz
  • UHF or Ultra High Frequency: 300 Mhz to 3 GHz
  • SF or Super High Frequency: 3 GHz to 30 GHz
  • EHF or Extremely High Frequency: 30 GHz to 300 GHz

Common expressions used when using two-way radios

Finally, when you start to use two-way radios, you need to get to know the jargon used in this field.

To that end here you can find some common expressions utilized in a daily basis for two-way radio users.

Radio check: It is used to check if the other party can hear you clean and strong.

Read you loud and clear: It would be the response to the previous question. It mean you can hear fine the other party.

Come in: To ask the other party if they can hear you fine.

Go ahead: It means you are ready to receive a message.

Say all after/before: You want part of the message be repeated before or after some keyword.

Say again: You need all the last transmission be repeated.

Affirmative: Is what you say when the answer to something they ask is yes.

Negative: Is what you say when the answer to something they ask is no.

Roger that: The same than Ten Four or Copy That. It means you have received and understand completely the message.

Roger so far: It is a confirmation you are receiving well parts of a long message.

Over: Your last message is finished and now the other party is invited to answer.

Stand by: You ask the other party to wait for a short period to receive your answer.

Wait out: It means the waiting time you asked by “stand by” can be longer than expected, so you will retake the conversation later.

Break, break: It is used when you need to interrupt all conversations to to transmit an urgent message that cannot wait.

Emergency, emergency: This is also a distress call, but in this case there is a imminent or potential danger to life, so assistance is required and urgent.

Wilco: It is a short word that mean “I will comply”.

I spell: You say this as a warning for the other party to know that you are going to spell the next word, using the phonetic alphabet.

Out: The conversation is completely finished and no other answer is needed, expected or required.

As well as this codes, may be necessary your company set some situations to codes. That way you can say “blue code” or “yellow code or even “red code” and everybody and the radio system will know what is that about.

You do not need to know all

Getting started with two-way radio system can become an overwhelming task.

Feel free to reach us by email at or calling us at (786) 306-6451.

We have over 30 years working with two-way radios and, after knowing your needs, we can get you up and running in no time.

Since 1986 we have been selling, renting and repairing two-ways radio systems

This long experience is a reason to trust us your communications devices, so important for your operations. We offer a fast and affordable two-ways radio repair service in Miami, Broward and Palm Beach.

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