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4x4 convoy communication: UHF radios

05 Oct 2015 Gear

4x4 convoy communication: UHF radios

Car-to-car comms can save lives. We tested some Oricom-supplied UHF radios on our recent Great Australian Bight expedition.

Among the more important things taken on 4X4 Australia’s recent Great Australian Bight expedition were UHF radios.

Car-to-car communications (C2C comms) are essential for safety and convenience when travelling in a convoy. They allow drivers to discuss hazards or points of interest on the road, and to just chit-chat as they drive. The most common and reliable form of C2C comms is the use of UHF radios, and we needed units for all three Rovers.

Oricom came to the party with three different UHF units and antennae to suit. As the cars were not ours and had to be returned to original condition when we gave them back, mounting the radios semi-temporarily posed a few challenges. For a start, the two Discoveries didn’t have bull bars – the preferred place to fit the antennae – and we couldn’t put any holes in the interior trim to mount the head units.

4x4 convoy uhf communicationThe Oricom radios supplied were the UHF300,UHF380 and the UHF028PNP. The UHF028 was probably the ideal set-up for our semi-temporary installs, as it’s made to be easily put in and out of vehicles without having to permanently mount it. The PNP signifies Plug and Play, so it’s pretty simple. The five-watt, 80-channel head unit sits in a bracket that can go anywhere and it comes with a 12-volt ciggie lighter plug and magnetic-base antenna for easy fitting.

The UHF028PNP even has its own carry case that keeps all the components together and ready to go when they are not fitted to a car.

4x4 convoy uhf028pnp oricomThe Oricom UHF380 was also well-suited for fitting to the Discovery, but for a different reason. The 380 features a compact remote head unit that can be stashed anywhere in the vehicle cabin, with all the controls and the LCD screen that the operator needs incorporated in the handset. Also a five-watt, 80-channel radio, the 380 includes all the features of the other Oricom UHFs, but the remote head unit means it’s easier to install in modern vehicle cabins where space might be a premium and isn’t easily found.

4x4 convoy uhf380 radioThe UHF300 is your traditional head unit with display and seperate handpiece. It’s a five-watt, 80-channel radio that you mount somewhere within reach and sight of the driver for everyday access. A clever feature of the 300 is that the head unit can be flipped upside down to fit a particular spot in your vehicle and the display rights itself to accommodate this.

4x4 convoy uhf300 oricomEach of the Oricom UHF units worked well to keep us in touch with each other and the other vehicles in our convoy, which at times stretched out for kilometres. The range was reasonable depending on the terrain, with the best reception in the flatter country.

The only problem we faced was knocking the magnetic antennae off the roofs of the Discoveries when we were in tight scrub, so we strategically placed them within the confines of the roof racks.

Check out the range of Oricom UHF radios at www.oricom.com.au

Click here for great tips on 4x4 convoy communication