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Walkie Talkies - Frequently Asked Questions

How do the radios work? Are they like mobile phones?
How far do they transmit?
What is PMR446?
How many channels do these radios have? 8? Or 38? Or 8 x 38 Or 304?
What is CTCSS (the 38 codes)?
Will Cobra walkie-talkies communicate with other brands of radio?

How do the radios work? Are they like mobile phones?

The way that the radios work is very simple. You take two (or more) radios, set them to the same channel and then you can communicate with each other by pressing the transmit (or Push To Talk - PTT) button when you want to speak, and releasing it when you want to listen. There's no fees or line rental to pay.

The radios are not like mobile phones because:

(a) they do not depend on any outside network to operate. When you press transmit, you send a signal that is picked up directly by other radios on the same channel within range. With mobile phones the signal is transmitted indirectly, via a network of mboile phone masts and the landline telephone network. You have to pay to make calls.

(b) you cannot talk and listen at the same time. You have to remember to press the Push-To-Talk button to transmit, and let go of it when you want to listen to the person talking to you.

How far do they transmit?

The maximum range is around 2 miles (3 kilometres). All PMR446 radios are legally limited to 500mW transmission power, which means that all brands will have around the same range. The range is reduced drastically when the radio signal passes through solid objects. Within buildings the range may be as little as 1/4 mile. It all depends on the thickness and density of the materials making up the obstruction between the transmitting and receiving radio. 

It is not possible to give a definitive answer to the question "will these radios work within such-and-such a building or site?" without actually trying them out on-site.

What is PMR446?

PMR446 is a European Union standard for short range walkie-talkie radios that can be bought and used by the general public with no licence required. PMR446-compliant walkie-talkies are made by a wide variety of manufacturers, including Cobra, Motorola, Icom, Goodmans, Yaesu, Kenwood, Binatone etc. "PMR446" is not a specific model of radio, so please don't ask if you can order a "PMR446" model! There are dozens of different PMR446 radios available. All PMR446 radios use the same channels, so radios of one brand can "talk" to another make.

How many channels do these radios have? 8? Or 38? Or 8 x 38 Or 304?

Our radios (and all PMR446 radios) have 8 different channels. Almost all models also have 38 CTCSS codes as well. These are NOT "sub channels" although some people refer to them as such. The 38 CTCSS codes basically "screen out" other radio messages on the same channel from radios not set to the same CTCSS code.

Sometimes advertisements mention that there effectively 8 x 38 = 304 possible combinations, which is correct. Sometimes they imply that there are actually 304 channels, which is not correct at all!

What is CTCSS (the 38 codes)?

CTCSS stands for "Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System". These codes are also often called "Privacy codes".

If a CTCSS tone is selected, a CTCSS sub-audible tone is transmitted along with the regular voice audio by the transmitting radio.

The receiving radio, set to the same CTCSS tone, will only receive audio if it contains that sub-tone. Interference from other users on the same frequency is therefore rejected (unless they are also on the same sub-tone).

This is a way of allowing groups of users of walkie-talkies on the same channel to avoid hearing messages from other nearby users.

View / download / print our handy guide to using CTCSS (PDF file)

Will Cobra walkie-talkies communicate with other brands of radio?

Our radios will communicate with other PMR446 radios, including those made by Our PMR446 walkie-talkies are fully compatible with those made by Cobra, Motorola, Icom, Goodmans, Yaesu, Kenwood, Binatone, Motorola, Talkabout, Eurowave, Icom, Goodmans ,Maxon, Dixons Telcom, Talkeasy, Audiovox, Maycom, Multicom, Kenwood, Alinco, Panasonic, Midland, Yaesu, etc. They will not communicate with non-PMR446 radios such as American FRS/GMRS radios, or radios set to other non-PMR446 frequencies.

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Viewing this site from the U.S.A.?

There are practical & legal issues involved in using our walkie-talkies in the U.S.A.

Please read the page linked below before placing an order.






Walky Talky Page | Two Way Hire

Updated 10th February 2011