6 Common Two-Way Radio Problems and How to Fix Them

Are you new to two-way radios and having a bit of trouble with them?

Perhaps you’re searching for a guide to assist you with all of your troubleshooting needs. 

While our team at ROCK Networks does our best to ensure that you’re well set up from the beginning with on-site demos, you may still be experiencing some difficulties.

Chances are, you may be making one of the following simple mistakes we see a lot of users make when starting out, and that’s okay! So instead of having to pick up the phone and possibly even wait for a service member to be dispatched out (or even having to come into the office), hopefully this blog post will help you.

1.      Charging Issues

Perhaps the most common problem people face with their two-way radios takes place when charging their radios.

When first charging their batteries, a lot of people will insert the battery into the charger and notice a steady amber or orange-coloured light. This is an automated reconditioning, which is designed to preserve your battery’s life cycle by fully depleting your battery and then recharging it. This process takes 12 hours.

Many people make the mistake of using the radio during this period, but doing so will drain your battery. You need to allow the radio to complete this cycle until you see a steady green light (which means the radio is completely charged).

motorola battery indicators

However, you can also stop this automatic reconditioning process by setting your charge to “rapid charge.” To do this, place the radio in the charger once and quickly take it out, and then place it back in the charger again.

You will notice that the radio then changes from a steady orange light to a steady red light, which indicates that it’s rapid charging.

Here is what Motorola’s charging indicators mean:

Charge Indicator Description
SINGLE GREEN FLASH Charger has 100% power
FLASHING RED Battery is not making proper contact with the charger
FLASHING ORANGE Battery is recognized by charger but is waiting to charge. (Either the battery voltage is too low or the battery temperature is too low or too high to allow charging. When this condition is corrected, the battery will automatically begin charging)
STEADY RED Battery is in rapid charge mode
FLASHING GREEN Battery has completed rapid charge to 90% capacity. Leave in charger to complete the charge.
STEADY GREEN Battery has completed charging and is 100% charged.
FLASHING RED/GREEN Battery has completed charging and is fully charged. Battery continues to be
useable, but may be nearing the end of its rated service life.
STEADY ORANGE Battery is in recondition or initialization mode. The length of time the charger remains in this mode depends upon the state of charge remaining in the battery when inserted. (Fully charged batteries require more time to recondition, 8 to 12 hours or more, than fully discharged batteries)

2. Why am I experiencing a Delay/Lag?

Another one of the most common two-way radio mistakes people make – particularly when just starting out – is that they experience a delay or lag when trying to talk.

However, more often than not, the problem is just a simple user error (again, no worries!): you likely aren’t holding the push-to-talk (PTT) button down long enough. Remember: it needs to be held down the entire time you’re talking.

Some people also forget to release it once they’re finished, which can also cause transmission issues.

3. Users Can’t Hear Your Transmission (You’re Cutting Out)

Are the users on the other end of the radio having trouble hearing you? Are syllables getting lost?

When first starting out, people commonly start talking the very instant they press the PTT button, however, you need to wait a second before speaking to make sure the first couple of syllables aren’t lost. This is particularly true for digital radios.

Similarly, a lot of mistakes happen around talking into the actual radio itself. People tend to be either too close to the microphone or too far away (or they speak too loudly or too quietly). Generally speaking, you need to be 3 inches or so from the microphone and speaking at a normal volume. Also make sure you don’t speak too quickly.

In some cases, you may have damaged your antenna (although this isn’t very likely for a new radio). However, it’s still possible, so check to see if there any bends or even scuffing. This can cause transmission issues as well.

4. Why Does my Radio Cut Out? Why am I Experiencing Coverage Issues (Dead Spots)?

  • Are you trying to communicate through concrete?

It’s important to be realistic. Generally speaking, the number of floors and stairwells (and the thickness of the stairs) can affect coverage. Put another way, it’s not realistic that you’ll be able to communicate from within a concrete parking garage. So before you do anything, evaluate where you’re experiencing coverage issues.

  • Are your radios analog?

This might be part of the problem. Analog radios don’t get nearly the same amount of range (or sound quality) as digital two-way radios. As a general rule, digital radios get 40% more coverage than analog.

If you’re considering making the switch to digital, one of our two-way radio representatives will happily give you some demo radios (free of charge) to test out.

Here is a blog post comparing analog to digital radios, and why many people are making the switch to digital.

  • You might be trying to communicate over too large of an area

Lastly, it might come down to the sheer size of the area that you’re trying to communicate in.

Your two-way radio expert might recommend a different solution such as Icom’s LTE radio which communicates via cell towers.

However, if you don’t want to switch to another type of radio, and if the area is particularly large, you may need to purchase additional infrastructure – repeaters – to amplify communication and ultimately expand your coverage area if the area is particularly large.

Most users, however, get by without the need for additional repeaters, especially small to medium-sized warehouses and properties. However, if you’re communicating over a large area, especially if you’re on the move (i.e. a transportation or logistics company), repeaters will likely be recommended.

5. Your Earpieces are Falling Out

Another common question we receive is that the earpieces aren’t staying in peoples’ ears. If this is happening to you, you can actually switch to a different type of earpiece/surveillance kit.

Most people think there is only one type of earpiece, but this isn’t the case. For instance, some simply sit inside the ear, some have plastic pieces that fit around the ear and some have earpieces made of jelly that mold to the inside of the ear.

We carry all of these types of these earpieces at ROCK Networks (some of which can be purchased directly on our website here), but if you don’t see the option you’re looking for, contact us directly at 1-877-721-7070.

6. Your Earpieces Aren’t Getting Sound

Luckily, this tends to be a simple fix.

You likely plugged in them after the radio was turned on, but you need to plug them in before turning the radio on.

Wrapping It Up

Lastly, as tempting as it may be, we always like to tell our customers to try their best not to play around too much with the functionality of the radio as this can cause some additional problems.

But when in doubt, refer to this Motorola Portable Radio Selection guide!

Still having trouble? We’re sorry to hear it. Call us at 1-877-721-7070 or contact us online here.

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