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In car radios - what do you run, how well do they work?


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I get the impression other teams can have better radio performance than I see with my current setup.  Below is my setup and performance at some of the tracks we attend.  
 

My current setup:

 

- Baofeng UV-5R in car, Tram 1181 antenna (18.9”) mounted on the rear quarter, racing radios in car PTT harness/wiring.  

- Baefeng UV-5R in pits, antenna either the “stock” as supplied with radio or Nagoya NA-771 (15.6” long), this doesn’t seem to make a big difference in performance.  

 

Performance:

 

Road Atlanta - loose contact between 5/6, gain it back around 10a

AMP - lose contact going into 10, gain it back about 1/2 way between 14/15

NCM - Lose contact between 16/17, gain back right after sinkhole

Mid-Ohio - lose contact in the Esses, gain back just before 11

Barber - lose going into Museum, gain it back for a short time on the back straight, lose again around 12, comes back around 14.  
 

How does that compare to other setups being used?  Any experts have suggestions on things to change/upgrade without breaking the bank (guessing radios?)?

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This is the setup I bought a couple years ago. Other than getting channel and volume knobs confused. It is always clear. Shawn is a great guy. I raced with him back a lifetime ago. if you want something special call him and let him know what you want. 
https://www.sampsonracing.com/Endurance-Starter-System-p/endurance-starter-package.htm

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3 hours ago, Rodger Coan-Burningham said:

Motorola CP200's, in the car and pits. External antenna for the car.  We use a base station in the rv.  Pretty good reception most everywhere, other than places like Ozark with lots of elevation.

I know you run many of the same tracks I have mentioned.  Do you guys have no reception problems in the pits/car at all of those tracks?

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For example at rd atl when the car is at 6 and 7 it breaks up. But line of sight is pretty tough at places like that. 
 

Barber we are good everywhere. 
Sebring is sketchy when on the back side but for the most part coverage. 
AMP I am sorry I can’t recall but seems like we had full coverage. 

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I run evx531s. 5w digital UHF units.  Use an antenna on the car. 

 

Longest track I've been to is Road America. Worked everywhere. 

 

Biggest radio issue I have is the driver helmets...

 

 

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We use 4 motorola/vertex VX-261 with a standard car harness and PTT. 1 radio in the car and 3 in the pits.

https://www.motorolasolutions.com/en_xp/products/two-way-radios-story/analog-business-radios/portable-radios/vx261.html#tabproductinfo

 

The car radio is connected to a roof antenna which looks a lot like this one: https://www.arcantenna.com/products/trab7603-m2m-740-896-mhz-black-low-profile-omni-antenna?variant=32296996798595&currency=USD&utm_medium=product_sync&utm_source=google&utm_content=sag_organic&utm_campaign=sag_organic&gclid=Cj0KCQiA_P6dBhD1ARIsAAGI7HB4IFIF2YgrA9TqaXHOAF_UtLw4pr2tJNRBaEkHM4X972k4fTZmA1saAnQNEALw_wcB

 

We really like this setup. It is only unusable (due to range / static) between the carousel and 13 at Road America. Everywhere else it works very well, no complaints. Knowing the range issue there, we just don't talk in that part of the track.

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On 1/11/2023 at 4:52 PM, Chappy said:

I get the impression other teams can have better radio performance than I see with my current setup.  Below is my setup and performance at some of the tracks we attend.  
 

My current setup:

 

- Baofeng UV-5R in car, Tram 1181 antenna (18.9”) mounted on the rear quarter, racing radios in car PTT harness/wiring.  

- Baefeng UV-5R in pits, antenna either the “stock” as supplied with radio or Nagoya NA-771 (15.6” long), this doesn’t seem to make a big difference in performance.  

 

Performance:

 

Road Atlanta - loose contact between 5/6, gain it back around 10a

AMP - lose contact going into 10, gain it back about 1/2 way between 14/15

NCM - Lose contact between 16/17, gain back right after sinkhole

Mid-Ohio - lose contact in the Esses, gain back just before 11

Barber - lose going into Museum, gain it back for a short time on the back straight, lose again around 12, comes back around 14.  
 

How does that compare to other setups being used?  Any experts have suggestions on things to change/upgrade without breaking the bank (guessing radios?)?



Do you have your Baofengs set to High (4-5W) power?  Not a lot required for clear radio comms - just need enough power, correct freq band for the application (UHF), and DCS settings so you are on a private channel.  There's lot out there under the Google term "Program U5-VR with CHIRP".   Here's a good start, with links to programming cable and software.  https://modernsurvivalblog.com/communications/program-a-baofeng-radio-with-chirp-quick-start/

When we started I programmed 10 channels using GRMS/FRS frequencies on ours (I bought the 10 year FCC license, avoids all the FRS channels anyone might be using) with randomly selected DCS codes (the encryption everyone talks about) and have the same coverage at Road America as others mentioned here, and zero dead spots at Ozarks. Amazon variety U5-VR in the car with a blade antenna (correct antenna for the freq band is critical) and a U5-VR with antenna on a stick lashed to the canopy.  Marginal loss of signal if the pits is using the antenna the radios come with instead. Oh and we have only ever used one of the ten programmed channels, digital encoding is great for that.

 

Setting it up requires a cable, CHIRP software and a little learning about frequencies/digital encoding but it is very simple stuff.  Certainly does not require hundreds or thousands to invest in, let alone a 25W transmittor base station..  If you don't want to buy a license, you can program FRS frequencies instead..same frequency band but no license required.

 

As others have stated, helmet hardware is critical.  Rugged Radios versions were suggested to us based on their use in offroad racing..

Edited by BollingerChump
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