Any thoughts on eXRS Radios

A place to discuss all things involving power and technology (including cameras). Generator tips, alternative energy, lighting your camp/bike/art/self, sound systems and more.
Post Reply
RichieRiot
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Any thoughts on eXRS Radios

Post by RichieRiot » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:09 pm

I was thinking about getting a set of the new digital eXRS 2-way radios so that I could keep in touch with some of my friends on the playa. These just seemed to make sense to me as I would have crossover problems from any other people who may be using 2-ways on the playa and these seem to have a lot more private channels.

Has anyone had experience with them yet at burning man or in general?

these are the radios I am thinking about.
http://www.trisquare.us/exrs.htm
"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." - Pigkiller

User avatar
phil
Posts: 2936
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Post by phil » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:28 pm

Louise and I have a pair of those. We tried them at Burning Man, but the belt clips failed big time, so we couldn't carry them.

If you have some way other than their clips to keep them on your person, go for it. They don't have the awful interference FRS/GMRS radios do from the thousands of people on the playa using them. The range on the eXRSes is better than the half-watt FRS but not as good as 2W GMRS.

Be sure you've used them before you go so you know their idiosyncrasies. They need to synchronize.

User avatar
kman
Posts: 380
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:27 pm
Location: Studio City, CA

Post by kman » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:32 pm

Interesting. What's the range of those things on the playa? And what's the battery life like?

User avatar
phil
Posts: 2936
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Post by phil » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:34 pm

kman wrote:Interesting. What's the range of those things on the playa? And what's the battery life like?
I don't know the range, as we didn't use them enough. My prediction is that they'll cover BRC. They run on three AAs, so battery life depends on your batteries. :->

RichieRiot
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Post by RichieRiot » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:27 am

Thanks, I heard the belt clip kinda sucks. I'll probably make something or mod them so they have a better clip.

I love the texting feature for a simple message should someone not hear their radio.

I too was curious about the range and power consumption.
"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." - Pigkiller

User avatar
kman
Posts: 380
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:27 pm
Location: Studio City, CA

Post by kman » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:43 am

RichieRiot wrote:Thanks, I heard the belt clip kinda sucks. I'll probably make something or mod them so they have a better clip.

I love the texting feature for a simple message should someone not hear their radio.

I too was curious about the range and power consumption.
User reviews on Amazon seem to be citing about 7-8 hrs on a full charge. Might suffice, as long as I have ways to recharge and swap in new batteries as needed. I have plenty of rechargable AAs so that's convenient. I'm thinking range will be adequate.... BRC is pretty flat, after all. Only issue I can think of is all the metal on some of the art pieces... may not punch through if you're on the wrong side of something substantial.

They make a case... Phil, were you using their case when the clip broke, or just whatever clip is on the radio itself? I may go with a nice tactical case instead... Maxpedition makes some good ones that should fit nicely.

I'm still somewhat torn between these and the nicer Motorola's... get the FCC license to use the higher band channels and they might do the trick, without the drawbacks. As awesome as guaranteed no interference is, this "lose sync if they get within 4 feet of each other" thing disturbs me quite a bit.

User avatar
Stickygreen
Posts: 307
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:17 pm
Location: Vancouver

Post by Stickygreen » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:31 am

What about MURS? Have you given any thought to them?
)'(

User avatar
phil
Posts: 2936
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Post by phil » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:09 pm

> were you using their case when the clip broke

The clips didn't break. Instead of a spring-loaded clip like a clothes pin, the clip is a single piece of plastic with no tension:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/civex/5039344097/

It's less than 2 inches deep, which doesn't work well with belts, and the lack of tension means it has no grip. I'd say regular radios with belt clips are like holding yourself up from the ground by gripping a bar with your fingers and thumbs curled around the bar. This radio is like holding yourself suspended from your thumb and forefinger held straight instead of curled. Does that make sense? There's no grip at all in the clip.

Using a case with a way to fasten it to a belt or your clothing would totally solve the problem.

The radio is 1 watt, and it's 900MHz. It doesn't have great range, but again my suspicion is that it would cover the playa as well as a half-watt FRS at around 462MHz.

> What about MURS?

I don't have any access to good, affordable MURS radios. That being the case, I suspect that would be a good alternative if you could find radios you could afford, since few or no people use MURS.

I ordered the Columbia MURS radios in 2008, and they didn't last the week at Burning Man. See
http://civex.smugmug.com/Electronics/Co ... 0389_cHaut
for photos and more details. The playa is a very harsh environment, and these radios just didn't have the quality to make it a week. They were a half watt, and we never tested for range. (The FCC allows a maximum of 2W on MURS, and the radios operate around 151MHz.)

Whatever electronics you bring to the playa you have to expect to fail at some point. We've used GMRS radios there for years, and many of our GMRS radios have functioned for years, although all eventually give up the ghost. We have a GMRS license, and some of our GMRS radios are the older single-purpose GMRS radios that have 5W of power; currently those radios are no longer available, with only the FRS/GMRS combo radios being sold with a maximum of 2W and no removable antenna.

If you want a radio that will give you some privacy from the tens of thousands of Burners on FRS/GMRS, I seriously recommend getting your ham Technician license. There are many hams at Burning Man, and often someone brings a repeater. There's a noontime net if you want to chat with other hams and get information on what's interesting on the playa. Morse code is no longer required for ham license, and the radios range in price from around a hundred dollars up to way more than you can afford. You can get used radios that are still excellent for under a hundred bucks.

One year Louise and I were in Reno in our van with an Alinco handheld radio that has 0.3W power talking to another ham in Empire; we connected to him through a repeater in the mountains around Reno, so our actual transmission was line of sight to the repeater, which then reached out at 25W to the guy in Empire on a mobile radio also with 25W. I had to turn a corner, and our little Alinco could no longer hit the repeater through the van, so we lost contact.

Lord Of Ruin
Posts: 393
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 2:22 pm
Burning Since: 2017

Post by Lord Of Ruin » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:06 pm

You folks should Google "Molle pouch"....

You can get them for any type of radio, but for odd shaped radio other pouches intended for magazines or 40 mm grenades work perfectly.

They have snap straps that can then attach the pouch to just about anything....strap on backpack, belt, etc.

Really versatile actually...

FYI, I bought and use a mess of the 40 mm grenade pouches because they happen to hold a cold can of PBR perfectly.

LoR
The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion - W. Blake (attribution corrected)

User avatar
kman
Posts: 380
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:27 pm
Location: Studio City, CA

Post by kman » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:02 pm

Lord Of Ruin wrote:You folks should Google "Molle pouch"....

You can get them for any type of radio, but for odd shaped radio other pouches intended for magazines or 40 mm grenades work perfectly.

They have snap straps that can then attach the pouch to just about anything....strap on backpack, belt, etc.

Really versatile actually...

FYI, I bought and use a mess of the 40 mm grenade pouches because they happen to hold a cold can of PBR perfectly.

LoR
Yeah, read about 3 posts up. Maxpedition. The CP-L, specifically. Very adjustable, size-wise, to give a perfect fit to all sorts of various size radios.

ImageImageImage

And practically indestructible.

RichieRiot
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Post by RichieRiot » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:08 am

I have a lot of Maxpedition gear that will be coming with me to the Playa. I plan in getting a radio pouch either way. I highly recommend them. They are not always cheap, but they are rugged. You get what you pay for.

As for HAM radios. Personally, I do plan on getting a license for myself. But I do know that my friend who is coming with me will not take the time to do that (She's a non-tech type of girl). Outside of a cell or the internet, it doesn't concern her much. Hence the reason I was looking into various radio options.

I was just looking for a simple option to communicate. Since it is just the two of us sharing a camp and I know that we will be wandering and get separated a lot over the seven days.
"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." - Pigkiller

User avatar
phil
Posts: 2936
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Post by phil » Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:58 am

> I was just looking for a simple option to communicate. Since it is just
> the two of us sharing a camp and I know that we will be wandering
> and get separated a lot over the seven days.

If you have the money, I'd suggest getting a couple of the radios now and seeing how she likes them. If the eXRS radios are too much for her, it's better to learn now than on the playa when you really wanted to use them. If they don't work out, you'll need to come up with a simpler radio system between now and the playa. The eXRS radios are not the simplest radios I've used.

If the complication factor is too great, I'd consider getting a few pairs of cheap MURS radios. Carry three between you so that if one fails out on the playa, you just replace it with the spare and continue on. Please remember that BMORg uses one of the MURS channels for its 911 emergencies and they request we stay off that frequency. I don't remember it off the top of my head, but if you go with MURS, drop me a private message and I'll find it out for you.

As I mentioned before, the Columbia MURS failed on the playa when the press to talk button jammed down and wouldn't release, jamming the 911 emergency frequency. The radio would not turn off with the PTT down, a design flaw, so I had to remove the batteries to get it to stop transmitting. If you want inexpensive radios, I'd suggest carrying them in ziplock bags. They should work fine in those bags with you able to talk and hear through the flimsy sandwich kind, which will provide protection from the playa powder, assuming that's why the PTT jammed. I'd still buy another pair as a back up, though.

The molle carriers in the photo will provide no protection from the playa, as you can see. Additionally, the straps cover everything on the radio you need access to - you can't see the display, and you can't get to the buttons to change frequencies, CTCSS tones, and such. I'm not sure how easy it is to get to the radio. You have three options to talk on the radio -- remove it from the carrier each time; remove the carrier from the belt or packpack and talk through the carrier (which may cover the mic); or buy a remote speaker/mic which you clip to your collar (assuming the socket for the mic/speaker isn't covered by the carrier).

Everything's a compromise, and you need to make the compromises that work in your favor as much as possible. But I do suggest trying them out before you hit the playa. Forcing a technical solution on someone at Burning Man when it's not a good fit for them is an argument waiting to happen. Have the learning experiences at home where there's much less stress on all involved.

I agree that you get what you pay for, but one of my lessons at Burning Man is that sometimes its better to go 'cheap and plenty of them' than 'expensive and one or two.' You just have to figure out what items fit which category.

Good luck and have fun.

RichieRiot
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Post by RichieRiot » Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:48 pm

I plan on getting whatever radio I choose with enough advance time so we both have time to get some experience with them.

I'm gonna look into the MURS radios. I already have a half dozzen of the GMRS radios, but I would prefer to not use them.

I don't plan on using any radio that much so I am not to worried about the MaxPed case getting in the way. I'm more worried about a reliable holder. The radios are more of a way for us to keep in contact for important things like "dinner will be ready soon" or "we need more ice". Basicly it's to compensate for not having a cell phone for basic communications.

Thanks for all the input guys.
"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." - Pigkiller

User avatar
kman
Posts: 380
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:27 pm
Location: Studio City, CA

Post by kman » Thu Oct 07, 2010 5:05 pm

phil wrote:The molle carriers in the photo will provide no protection from the playa, as you can see. Additionally, the straps cover everything on the radio you need access to - you can't see the display, and you can't get to the buttons to change frequencies, CTCSS tones, and such. I'm not sure how easy it is to get to the radio. You have three options to talk on the radio -- remove it from the carrier each time; remove the carrier from the belt or packpack and talk through the carrier (which may cover the mic); or buy a remote speaker/mic which you clip to your collar (assuming the socket for the mic/speaker isn't covered by the carrier).
Tough to get to the radio? Unclip the top strap's QR, pull radio. You set the case for as tight or loose as you want. You could put it in these cases inside a ziploc, if you really wanted. I tend to use a handsfree option, however. Unless you're hanging out at Root Society, hearing someone's incoming call should be easy enough, though. The handsfree plugs are on the upper right, so the TSX300's should have no interference from the case. The 100's are a lot shorter, though... those might benefit from the carrier that's one size down (CP-M instead of CP-L).

Definitely a good call on trying them out before hitting the playa, though. These are clearly not quite as plug-and-play as the talkabout-style FRS radios people are used to.

User avatar
phil
Posts: 2936
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:10 pm
Location: Codgerville

Post by phil » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:41 pm

I just noticed these on Amazon for $17 a pair:


No reviews, but they may be better for non-tech users than the eXRS; or maybe not. Who can tell? Range stated as 600 feet, though.

Post Reply

Return to “Power & Electronics”