ANY TIME we’re out and about in the 4x4s or just in the bush, we like to keep in touch with the other vehicles and people in our group. As a lot of the cars we drive are new vehicles owned by the manufacturers they don’t have UHF radios fitted to them so we rely on handheld radios for convoy comms.
And when we have some one joining us on a trip or road test, we insist they bring a handheld and that it should be a 5-watt unit as the lower powered, cheaper units just don’t cut it for reliable communications. For us this is a safety issue as we’re photographing or filming cars often on narrow dirt roads and we need to communicate with other drivers or the photographers that might be over a rise or around the next bend.
BUYER'S GUIDE: UHF radios
I’ve used plenty of handheld UHFs over the years, but I’ve got to say that the latest unit I’ve got, GME’s 6160XO is the best yet. I have to admit that I do have a preference for the GME product just because they are Australian-made, but you can’t argue when the performance of the product is first rate.
The 6160XO is the Blaze Orange version of GME’s popular 6160X which is usually black in colour. You can also get the black ones in a twin pack or as a pair of bright yellow ones in the 6160YTP. The bright colours are handy for finding them if you drop one in the car, in the bush or wherever. They are compact and could easily be lost in the scrub. There’s even a bright pink 6160 available.
The 6160 feels good in your hand. It’s solid and has a bit of weight to its die-cast body giving it a feel of quality and durability. The unit has an IP67 rating against dust and water ingress and should survive a quick dip in a creek should you drop it (up to one-metre depth) or in heavy rain.
The housing is simple to use with a on/off/volume dial and scan button on the top; push to talk and squelch buttons on the left side; menu and function up/down buttons on the front under the illuminated LED screen. There’s even a little LED torch built in to the top for use at night that has a strobing mode for attracting attention.
CUSTOM RANGER: Gets a GME radio
Five-watt radios use more power than lower wattage units but the 6160’s 2600amp/h Li-Ion battery gives up to 30 hours of life. I’ve found I’m getting three to four days of use when using the 6160 in road test convoys where we’re on the road and using the radios most of the day.
The 80-channel 6160 comes with a desk charger and belt clip and accessories like a 1-volt charger, case and multi-chargers are all available from GME. The housing has an attachment point for a lanyard which I use to keep the radio close by all the time. The 6160 comes with a 2-year factory warrantee and being an Australian company you get great aftersales service if needed.
GME’s 6160XO has proven to be a powerful and reliable handheld UHF for use in convoys or in camp and has become my personal go-to radio when ever I need one.
ESSENTIAL INFO: GME6160XO
AVAILABLE FROM: www.gme.net.au
WE SAY: Compact and reliable UHF for everyday use.