How to Boost a Two Way Radio Signal

Is there not enough "oomph" in your radio signal? Spend a few minutes and learn how to get a more powerful radio signal for wider coverage stronger, clearer communication. If your radio is not giving you the coverage area promised in the specifications, it could be for a number of reasons. The radio's range is not an exact science, and many factors come into play. 

Indoors, the range is affected by the size and placement of the antenna, the frequency band you're using, the condition of the battery and the radio's wattage. 

Outdoors, the most important factor in a radio's range is the terrain of the area where you are transmitting. Any buildings, trees, hills, dense metallic structures or even your own body might get in the way and block the signal. There are also weather conditions to take into account as well as the time of day. 

Whether the radio is being used inside or outside, there are steps you can take to boost a radio signal.

Check Your Batteries

This may seem like a "no-brainer," but failing batteries can often cause a signal to grow weaker in strength, and it might not be the first thing you think of to check. It is good practice to make sure your radio is in proper working condition and that the batteries are fully charged at all times.

Getting to Higher Ground

The easiest way to boost your radio's range if you're having trouble sending or receiving a signal is to get to a higher elevation. Outside, that might mean walking up a small hill. Indoors, moving from the ground floor of a building to the second floor can increase the coverage. Even standing up from a seated position can make a difference in the radio's range.

Steer Clear of Obstructions to Boost a Radio Signal

Moving outside if you're inside, or at least towards a window, may improve the signal. Try not to stand near or inside of any large metal structure, as this will block radio signals (this includes inside vehicles, unless you're using an external antenna). Ideally, remove the radio from your belt and hold it vertically at face level when transmitting or receiving, so the radio signals aren't blocked by your body.

Antennas-the Bigger, the Better?

A larger antenna can sometimes improve the radio's signal, but changing the antenna isn't always an option. With many handheld two-way radios or walkie-talkies, the antenna is built-in (sometimes even inside the unit) and is not removable. Antennas in walkie-talkies are purposely kept as small as possible to keep the radio small and compact. However, certain models such as the Motorola RDU4160D UHF radio, the Motorola RDV5100 VHF radio and the Kenwood TK-2402V16P VHS radio come equipped with removable longer whip style antennas. This will give you maximum range with this antenna size, and you can switch it out for a stubby antenna for situations where you need a more compact radio. If you're looking for a compact yet still powerful antenna for your radio, Tech Wholesale carries stubby UHF antennas for Motorola radios and stubby replacement antennas for Kenwood ProTalk radios. A Kenwood whip antenna is available for certain Kenwood two-way radios.

Using An External Antenna for a Better Signal Inside a Car

If you have a two-way radio mounted inside a vehicle, you may be getting interference from the metal of the vehicle. In that case, you'd want to mount an external antenna to the roof or at least the trunk of the car. This will not only extend the signal range, but will reduce any static and interference.

Extend Your Radio's Range with a Repeater

If changing the antenna or your location isn't possible, you can consider using a radio repeater to extend the range of your two-way radios. A repeater will receive a signal, increase its power and then re-transmit. Using a repeater will let you communicate over a large area with obstructions such as buildings or mountains. An example of a two-way radio repeater is the Vertex PAX-7045 Repeater, which is a complete Plug-and-Play package. It's not just a high-quality repeater that will extend the range of two-way radios. It also serves as a base station for fleet communications. If you're already using the Motorola RPX Repeater, you can even extend the range further by using a UHF Dipole Antenna or the UHF HKKN4022 Magnetic Mount Antenna Kit.