How much range should I expect out of my system?

There are MANY factors to this equation from the length of your antenna (longer is better), length of coax (18 feet is optimal), brand of antenna- they are not all equal
(check out the Firestik FL series antennas)- antenna SWR tuned?, has proper antenna ground been achieved?, has the radio been performance tuned? how about all of the above for the biker you are communicating with and how much (white noise) are you experiencing today. (White noise) changes daily.

Below is approximations only.

1) Short antenna (6 inch rubber duck) non tuned radio. Approximately 50-100 yards.
2) Short antenna (1-2 foot) non tuned radio. Approximately 1/4 to 1/2 mile.
3) Long antenna (3-4 foot) and non tuned radio. Approximately 3/4 to 1 1/2 miles.
4) Performance tune the J&M radio – increase by 40-50%
5) Add our compressor to a GL1800 or a Harley – 5 miles typical.

About Performance Tuning

The Performance tune up increases the output of the radio by approximately 50%. The receiver gain is typically 20-30% over stock specs.
This modification includes the following changes in order to enhance the radio’s performance.
– Adjusting the modulation for maximum output without distortion.
– Aligning the receiver for optimum signal to noise ratio.
– Adjusting the squelch range
– Frequency adjustment to zero tolerance.
– Perform a complete check of all functions.
– Perform a visual of the circuit board for cold joints and flaws.

A properly tuned radio should be loud but also clear.

 

 

 

 

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Our first recommendation of course is to have your system checked out. Once your system has been given the thumbs up consider other factors such as the length and type of your antenna, performance characteristics of your radio – tuned or stock? and finally terrain and atmospheric conditions.

Read on for a scientific explanation of what is really going on under the hood so to speak.

Scientists track solar cycles by counting sunspots — cool planet-sized areas on the Sun where intense magnetic loops poke through the star’s visible surface.

Hathaway is an expert forecaster of sunspot numbers. “Sunspot counts peaked in 2000 some months earlier than we expected,” he recalls. During solar maximum, magnetic fields above the Sun’s surface become impressively tangled, particularly near sunspots.

Twisted magnetic fields — stretched like taut rubber bands — can snap back and explode, powering solar flares and coronal mass ejections. The subsequent dip toward solar minimum seemed premature to Hathaway, and indeed it was. Before long, sunspot counts reversed course and began to climb toward a second maximum that now appears to be only a few percent smaller than the first.

Solar Max eleven years ago was much the same. A first peak arrived in mid-1989 followed by a smaller maximum in early 1991. Sunspots are the most visible sign of those complex magnetic fields — but not the only one. Another sign is solar radio emissions, which come from hot gas trapped in magnetic loops.

“The radio Sun is even brighter now than it was in 2000,” says Hathaway. By the radio standard, this second peak is larger than the first. In fact, if the ongoing cycle proves to be a double, it will be the third such double-peaked cycle in a row. The last two sunspot cycles also had double-featured maxima

The source of Radio NoiseThe Radio Sun


Twisted magnetic fields
Twisted magnetic fields


Where is the best mounting location for the antenna system?

All the way to the back of the bike. To start with it simply looks correct but that is not all that is going on. Lets take an auto for this example. If we mount the antenna dead center in the middle of the roof, the system will perform equally front and back. Lets say for easy math that this equals 10 miles. 5 miles to the front and 5 miles to the back. Now lets move the antenna to the rear bumper. What impact does this have?

The performance now makes an interesting shift. The total distance is still 10 miles but it is now 8 miles to the front and 2 miles to the back. This is due to a ground plane effect. The same is for the motorcycle. Distance in a given direction can be increased by proper placement of the antenna system.

The license plate type mount offered by J&M is an excellent choice for most bikes. However, we highly recommend making a change to the mount. The ground strap that is included should be removed from the stud. Drill a hole in the bracket, remove the powder coating and re-attach the ground strap. Remove the powder coating on the underneath side of the bracket at the point the coax connector contacts the bracket.

Remember paint and primer are your enemy.

Adding a second ground strap & attaching it to a different ground potential should be considered.

illustration:

motorcycle antenna mount

We are a servicing dealer. We offer competitive pricing, excellent selection, have a knowledgeable and friendly staff, and operate with honesty and integrity.

Qualities anyone would expect but are hard to come by these days. We have at least 95% of all product on our web site in stock at all times. All product is new and will carry manufacture warranty unless stated otherwise.

About The Owner (Clay Thompson) I have been servicing and modifying transceivers since 1980. I opened Clay’s Radio Shop in 1987. I started out in this field in installation. I quickly excelled into radio repair and modification and was soon managing the service department. My apprenticeship was for 7 years. In 1987 I was skilled, experienced, and had the drive and ambition needed to prosper as a business owner in this field.

In 2004 I took a close look at motorcycles. Motorcycles had been a passion of mine since I was 14 years old. I personally owned a bike since that early age of 14. I quickly recognized the short comings of the communications systems available to the motorcycle owner and decided to enter the field.

I opened motorcycle-communications in 2004.

I was able to apply my knowledge and experience from automotive communications to the motorcycle industry. I can enhance the performance of the Goldwing’s (GL1800) and Harley Davidson communication systems by an extreme amount. There are unique problems with both brands of factory systems. These problems can be corrected and the system as a whole can be dramatically improved.

There are many other products that either fall short or have holes in the product line.

In 2012 I intend to change this by offering my communications products to the public.

Sincerely, Clay Thompson

My intercom sounds great but people on other bikes tell me they can’t understand me. What can be wrong?

More than likely you have an antenna system or a CB radio problem. If the problem were the headsets or headset cords the intercom would be distorted as well.

Basic troubleshooting procedures require a process of elimination in order to get to the culprit. Remember easy & cheap 1st, hardest and expensive last.
Can anyone understand your passenger? The likelihood of both headsets being defective is extremely low. If you are experiencing similar results from both headsets move on, it’s not the headsets.

Antenna system is next. With the antenna system you have coax, a stud mount, an antenna, and the antenna ground. Check them out in this order – ground, antenna, stud mount and coax cable. Try moving the coax or grab the antenna bracket.  If the SWR fluctuates you have a ground problem.

The SWR should be below a 2.0 and not fluctuate more than .1 up or down when moving the coax or grabbing the bracket. In other words 1.9-2.1 of fluctuation is ok. Remember, paint and primer are your enemy. Pinched or melted coax jacket is not good- replace it. Consider the MU-8R18 coax cable. It is great for running the coax through tight places.

Spin the antenna in a circular direction and check the SWR. Look for serious fluctuation or a spike. If it exhibits either replace it and same for the stud mount is screws into.
If none of the above resolves your problem and you can’t find a local professional that can resolve your issue, bring it to us. We will resolve your issue.
Please call for an appointment before showing up unless you intend to leave the bike as we may be booked for the day.

Servicing Your Equipment – More Info

There are several communication options available for the biker today. In this blog I have outlined the type of systems, pros and cons of each, cost, and their performance characteristics. In my experience, an educated customer is a happy customer, and a happy customer is a repeat customer.

That said, I am providing the information that I have found to be true for communication systems from my 31 years of experience as an electronic technician and head of R&D.

Here are some comparisons on a few systems on the market today.

Citizen’s Band (CB)
Pros – has been around for a long time. This is the type of system is installed from the factory on Honda, Harley, and Kawasaki.

You must use this type of system in order to stay compatible with factory systems.
CB is very compatible, can communicate with all factory systems (the systems that come on Honda, Harley, and Kawasaki).
Cons – Expensive- the radio, cables, and antenna system must be installed on the bike by a professional that knows what they are doing. The system is a wired system.
It is difficult to integrate other devices such as a GPS, radar detection, phone and MP3 player. Most companies (factory & aftermarket) don’t offer any solution for integration.
There are many pieces to install- radio, mounting bracket, antenna system, helmet headset, lower cord section, and an integration module for other devices such as a GPS, radar detector, phone and MP3 player.
Distance is limited- 1 to 3 miles typically depending on the length of antenna and performance enhancements ordered. (Such as performance tune ups)
Cost– (The J&M System) This system will normally cost around $600.00 for a single user and $850.00 including a passenger. If you add integration of other devices such as a GPS, radar detection, phone and MP3 player the cost will be raised to around $950.00 for a single user and around $1150.00 including a passenger. As of Feb 2011 J&M was the only manufacture we could find that offers an integration module for integrating other devices such as a GPS, radar detection, phone and MP3 player.

Wireless systems – normally Bluetooth
Pros – inexpensive, easy to install, No costly installation required, and the systems follows the user when the user changes bikes. This is because the system is attached to the helmet and not the bike.
Pairs to most other Bluetooth devices such as GPS, Phone, MP3 player and another headset for the passenger. No integration module required.
Scala Rider Q2 and G4 units can pair to other bikers headsets allowing for a closed system conference. (Max 3 bikes)
Will work on any helmet.
Cons – Not compatible with factory systems (the systems that come on Honda, Harley, and Kawasaki).
Max number of bikes in a conversation at one time (3).
The riders in the group must use the same brand of headset. Other brands and models are not compatible.
Limited range- 1640 feet for the Q2 and 1 mile for the G4
Cost – (The Scala Rider System) The headset for a single user is around $200.00 for a Q2 and around $325.00 for a pair. The G4 is around $270.00 for a single headset or around $440.00 for a pair. These prices were as of Feb 2011 but have been informed that the prices were about to increase soon. It appears the supply and demand rule has had an effect on the market. These units are in very high demand and have been for several years.

GMRS and or FRS – small portable radios that are added to another manufactures system.
Pros – Moderate cost, small radio, no antenna system has to be added to the bike.
Can communicate the most distance. Typically 7 -15 miles
The Moto-comm system is extremely integrated. Designed to integrate a GPS, MP3 player, tape player, CD player, phone and intercom system. The cost of this system is moderate especially when comparing to the J&M system.
Cons – System must be put together and installed by a professional.
Normally dealing with two or more brands of equipment. One manufacture for the basic system and another for the GMRS radio.
System must be installed on the user or in a tank bag. The system involves multiple pieces and all are portable operating on batteries. This system can make you feel like you are in a spider web. A cable connects from the headset to the main unit in your pocket or tank bag. Another cable connects from the radio to the main unit. Another connects from the PTT switch on the handle bar back to the radio. Another cable connects from the GPS to the main unit and finally another connects from the MP3 back to the main unit. I think you can see my point. J&M tried this approach and with a few years pulled the item from the market.
The GMRS radios are not waterproof and the primary unit is not waterproof.
Cost – (The Moto-comm system and Motorola T series radios) This system will normally cost around $450.00- $500.00 including a passenger. The system includes integration of other devices such as a GPS, radar detector, phone and MP3 player and I have added the cost of the T series Motorola radios (1 per person) as well.
Consideration- The Moto-Comm system is extremely versatile. It can be used with a portable CB radio for about the same price or with two different radios (CB and GMRS) for maximum compatibility for about $100.00 more. The use of a tank bag to house most of the individual pieces make the most sense.

Other technical considerations:
Experienced communications Technicians and Installation experts are hard to find and are worth their weight in gold. These types of dealerships or service centers are normally referred to as servicing dealers. From our research we could locate only a handful of dealers that fall into this category within the US, and I’m not talking about the local motorcycle dealership that assigns the communications task to a mechanic. I am referring to a business that specializes in mobile communications primarily motorcycles. Our recommendation is that if you find a good servicing dealer that employs technicians stick with them, tell others and prepare to travel.

Posted: 02/13/2011 in Overview
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