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Thread: What band are typical "walkie talkies" using?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Seattle Washington
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    Default What band are typical "walkie talkies" using?

    You know, you can go to like any toy store, and buy these walkie talkies (not talking FRS, CB handhelds, ham VHF handie talkies or the like; just talking about these cheap 2-way half-duplex radio toys) for kids with like a range of 100 feet. Often times they are made to look like "spy gear" or something. What band do these cheap walkie talkie toys use anyway? Do they tend to use an ISM band, a rarely used CB radio channel, or maybe a dual-use ham band that also allows unlicensed operation below a certain power level? Or maybe they just use one or two of the FRS channels? Is there some band that the FCC has designated as a "walkie talkie band" just for short range low power walkie talkies like this?

    I might consider buying a pair of these just to use them for experimenting with digital modes, so I know more about what I'm doing with them before I actually use them as a ham operator, so I don't end up unintentionally making a mess in the ham bands LOL. It should be pretty easy to replace the microphone element in a cheap toy like this with an audio isolation transformer, to interface it with an external audio source, like my computer's sound card. But it would be useful to know what frequency band these toys tend to use, so I can try to tune into it using my Icom PCR-1000 receiver that's already hooked up to my computer, to act as a simulated destination ham location that I would be practicing sending to.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Elgin, Illinois
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    Ben,

    Here you go for Toy Handheld transceivers:

    Low-power versions, exempt from license requirements, are also popular children's toys such as the Fisher Price Walkie-Talkie for children illustrated in the top image on the right. Prior to the change of CB radio from licensed to "permitted by part" (FCC rules Part 95) status, the typical toy walkie-talkie available in North America was limited to "100 milliwatts of power on transmit" and using one or two crystal-controlled channels in the 27 MHz citizens' band using amplitude modulation (AM) only. Later toy walkie-talkies operated in the 49 MHz band, some with frequency modulation (FM), shared with cordless phones and baby monitors. The lowest cost devices are very simple electronically (single-frequency, crystal-controlled, generally based on a simple discrete transistor circuit where "grown-up" walkie-talkies use chips), may employ super regenerative receivers, and may lack even a volume control, but they may nevertheless be elaborately decorated, often superficially resembling more "grown-up" radios such as FRS or public safety gear. Unlike more costly units, low-cost toy walkie-talkies may not have separate microphones and speakers; the receiver's speaker sometimes doubles as a microphone while in transmit mode.

    An inexpensive children's walkie-talkie:

    An unusual feature, common on children's walkie-talkies but seldom available otherwise even on amateur models, is a "code key", that is, a button allowing the operator to transmit Morse code or similar tones to another walkie-talkie operating on the same frequency. Generally the operator depresses the PTT button and taps out a message using a Morse Code crib sheet attached as a sticker to the radio; however, as Morse Code has fallen out of wide use outside amateur radio circles, some such units either have a grossly simplified code label or no longer provide a sticker at all.

    In addition, personal UHF radios will sometimes be bought and used as toys, though they are NOT generally explicitly marketed as such (but see Hasbro's ChatNow line, which transmits both voice and digital data on the FRS band). FRS CB Class "E" generally have 22 RF Channels & CTCSS Codes on the Commercial Business Band.

    None of the Toy or FRS Handhelds have been built for use on the Amateur Radio Bands because a License is required for transmitting.

    Dan
    WA9WVX
    Elgin, Illinois

  3. #3
    K7KBN's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
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    Bremerton WA USA
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    Ben - if you can find a "Startek" portable freq counter, get it. I have had the ATH-50 for several - well, decades - and it 's perfect for sniffing frequencies. About 6" x 6" x 1", rechargeable battery and a BNC connector where I stick a scanner antenna, a rubber duck or whatever. Works fine.

    If some of the kids in this neighborhood have such nefarious tools (!!) I'll see if I can get the information. I haven't seen kids' walkie talkies for some time, though.
    73
    Pat K7KBN
    Semper ubi sub ubi.

  4. #4

    Join Date
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    Gillingham, Kent, UK
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    Years ago, we (in the UK) had child's toy walkie talkies (very low power) that used 49MHz and even 27MHz, but nearly all of the new stuff makes use of either 446 MHz (yup, right on your 70cm ham band frequencies) or 433 Mhz (yup, right on our 70cm ham band frequencies).

    Oh how we chuckled. Especially when the pesky things interfere with our repeaters.

    You might want to make sure that the frequency you are using so that, "I don't end up unintentionally making a mess in the ham bands", doesn't actually end up making a mess in the ham bands.

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