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Motorola Talkabout

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#1
Is it possible to remove the stock antenna from the Talkabout series handhelds and replace it with a bigger or higher gain antenna?
If so would the replacement have to be a Motorola antenna or is there some type of adapters needed to use aftermarket antennas?
 
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#2
Is it possible to remove the stock antenna from the Talkabout series handhelds and replace it with a bigger or higher gain antenna?
If so would the replacement have to be a Motorola antenna or is there some type of adapters needed to use aftermarket antennas?
No. First of all, besides voiding any warranty, it would also be illegal to use since Frs radios are required to have a fixed or non removable antenna. It would make more sense to simply use a commercial radio to begin with rather than butcher your talkabout.
 
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#4
So, to expand slightly on this....
In the USA most radios require FCC Type Certification to be sold. This is basically the manufacturer and an "independent" test lab filing test results and promising that the radio meets the FCC rules for the particular radio service it's intended for. This is an attempt by the FCC to make sure the radios sold in the USA meet the technical requirements.

Your Motorola TalkAbout radio has type certification under two distinct sections of Part 95. Part 95 is for the "personal radio services".
The two parts for your radio are FRS and GMRS. They are two distinctly different radio services, even though some of the channels are shared.
Under the FCC rules for FRS:
§95.194 (FRS Rule 4) FRS units.

(b) You must not make, or have made, any internal modification to an FRS unit. Any internal modification cancels the FCC certification and voids your authority to operate the unit in the FRS.

(c) You may not attach any antenna, power amplifier, or other apparatus to an FRS unit that has not been FCC certified as part of that FRS unit. There are no exceptions to this rule and attaching any such apparatus to a FRS unit cancels the FCC certification and voids everyone's authority to operate the unit in the FRS.

Since your radio will work on FRS channels, this rule prevents the manufacturer from making the antenna removable. FRS was always designed to be a short range radio service, so the 500 milliwatts limitation on the FRS channels is an attempt to keep coverage fairly short and allow the limited number of FRS channels to be reused in close proximity.
Removing, modifying or replacing the stock antenna would violate the rule, void the type certification and, if you want to follow the letter of the law, make it illegal to use the radio in the USA.

Yeah, I know, no one is going to catch you, no one out there would be able to tell the difference unless they were actually looking at your radio, but I'm just passing on what the letter of the law says. Please don't shoot the messenger.

So, since your radio covers the FRS channels, this is the limitation, according to the FCC.

It's kind of a shame, since there isn't anything in the FCC rules limiting the Effective Radiated Power of FRS, only the transmitter power (500 milliwatts). Manufacturers could build FRS radios with more efficient antennas, however the end user/consumers really like compact, cool looking radios, and long antennas don't meet this. Many years ago Icom sold and FRS only radio, there were two sub-models, one with a short stubby antenna and one with a longer more efficient antenna. Not sure how the longer antenna models sold, but it was sort of rare to see them anywhere but "special order".

Now, here's what you CAN do:
1. Get your GMRS license. It's $70 bucks or so, last time I checked, for 5 years. You should technically have one for the radios you have if you are using the GMRS channels, but again, no one really checks.

2. Ditch the consumer grade radios and get something designed for the job. There is no shortage of suitable radios out there.

The nice thing about getting away from FRS is that the FRS limitations go away. Once you are -just- GMRS, you can have removable antennas, run up to 50 watts, repeaters, etc. With a good radio and a well placed repeater, coverage of 50 miles are more is possible. Many years ago I had access to a GMRS repeater on a mountain range near me. I used to talk in excess of 100 miles with either my mobile radio or a portable radio, through the repeater.

But, back to your original question:
The antennas are not removable on purpose. There isn't a secret antenna jack hiding inside your radio. You could crack open the radio and wire up an external antenna jack, but it would require some light fabrication and some soldering to do correctly. Then you would be able to add whatever you wanted. But, as I mentioned above, the legality issues come into play. You'd need to decide how comfortable you were doing this.

The big limitations on these radios is lack of efficient antenna. You are on the right track. The other limitations is usually receivers that are lacking in the sensitivity department. Usually these consumer grade radios are not adjusted very well as the roll down the assembly line.
 
Joined
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Messages
409
Location
Nassau County
#6
So, to expand slightly on this....
In the USA most radios require FCC Type Certification to be sold. This is basically the manufacturer and an "independent" test lab filing test results and promising that the radio meets the FCC rules for the particular radio service it's intended for. This is an attempt by the FCC to make sure the radios sold in the USA meet the technical requirements.

Your Motorola TalkAbout radio has type certification under two distinct sections of Part 95. Part 95 is for the "personal radio services".
The two parts for your radio are FRS and GMRS. They are two distinctly different radio services, even though some of the channels are shared.
Under the FCC rules for FRS:
§95.194 (FRS Rule 4) FRS units.

(b) You must not make, or have made, any internal modification to an FRS unit. Any internal modification cancels the FCC certification and voids your authority to operate the unit in the FRS.

(c) You may not attach any antenna, power amplifier, or other apparatus to an FRS unit that has not been FCC certified as part of that FRS unit. There are no exceptions to this rule and attaching any such apparatus to a FRS unit cancels the FCC certification and voids everyone's authority to operate the unit in the FRS.

Since your radio will work on FRS channels, this rule prevents the manufacturer from making the antenna removable. FRS was always designed to be a short range radio service, so the 500 milliwatts limitation on the FRS channels is an attempt to keep coverage fairly short and allow the limited number of FRS channels to be reused in close proximity.
Removing, modifying or replacing the stock antenna would violate the rule, void the type certification and, if you want to follow the letter of the law, make it illegal to use the radio in the USA.

Yeah, I know, no one is going to catch you, no one out there would be able to tell the difference unless they were actually looking at your radio, but I'm just passing on what the letter of the law says. Please don't shoot the messenger.

So, since your radio covers the FRS channels, this is the limitation, according to the FCC.

It's kind of a shame, since there isn't anything in the FCC rules limiting the Effective Radiated Power of FRS, only the transmitter power (500 milliwatts). Manufacturers could build FRS radios with more efficient antennas, however the end user/consumers really like compact, cool looking radios, and long antennas don't meet this. Many years ago Icom sold and FRS only radio, there were two sub-models, one with a short stubby antenna and one with a longer more efficient antenna. Not sure how the longer antenna models sold, but it was sort of rare to see them anywhere but "special order".

Now, here's what you CAN do:
1. Get your GMRS license. It's $70 bucks or so, last time I checked, for 5 years. You should technically have one for the radios you have if you are using the GMRS channels, but again, no one really checks.

2. Ditch the consumer grade radios and get something designed for the job. There is no shortage of suitable radios out there.

The nice thing about getting away from FRS is that the FRS limitations go away. Once you are -just- GMRS, you can have removable antennas, run up to 50 watts, repeaters, etc. With a good radio and a well placed repeater, coverage of 50 miles are more is possible. Many years ago I had access to a GMRS repeater on a mountain range near me. I used to talk in excess of 100 miles with either my mobile radio or a portable radio, through the repeater.

But, back to your original question:
The antennas are not removable on purpose. There isn't a secret antenna jack hiding inside your radio. You could crack open the radio and wire up an external antenna jack, but it would require some light fabrication and some soldering to do correctly. Then you would be able to add whatever you wanted. But, as I mentioned above, the legality issues come into play. You'd need to decide how comfortable you were doing this.

The big limitations on these radios is lack of efficient antenna. You are on the right track. The other limitations is usually receivers that are lacking in the sensitivity department. Usually these consumer grade radios are not adjusted very well as the roll down the assembly line.
Oh ok - Didnt know that even modifying the antenna would be illegal
I may have suspected that trying to do something like crank up the power a bit would be illegal but not the antenna
Thanks for the info

But to clarify - if i did have a GMRS license then it would be legal to modify the antenna or use a higher power radio? Or if its a modification where soldering is involved would that make it illegal no matter what?
 
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#7
Oh ok - Didnt know that even modifying the antenna would be illegal
I may have suspected that trying to do something like crank up the power a bit would be illegal but not the antenna
Thanks for the info

But to clarify - if i did have a GMRS license then it would be legal to modify the antenna or use a higher power radio? Or if its a modification where soldering is involved would that make it illegal no matter what?
In the case of these types of radios, yes, modifying the radio from it's original design would void the type acceptance.

Getting a GMRS only radio opens up a lot of possibilities for you. It's worth the effort to get licensed and purchase a better radio.
 
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#8
Gotcha
thanks :D

Theres actually a video on youtube where a guy that has the same radio i have is modding the antenna https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH4Gva-NZB0
I guess soldering would be the only way but as mentioned the Talkabout antennas are not removable on purpose
And the radio is really not so bad for what its worth - after all it is a motorola
Its just a bit outdated (manufacture date says around 2000 i think) and its been banged around a bit so if i really want to get into this i will be looking for one of the newer Motorola models they seem decent or maybe one made by Uniden
Something with a scan feature would be nice
I would definitely stay away from the Baofengs - not only are they technically illegal in the US but i also heard the transmitter can overheat and whatnot even with just a little bit of use
Of course i can always look into a real pro grade radio such as a HT or Saber but im not sure if they are type accepted ...
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Chicago
#9
Gotcha
thanks :D

Theres actually a video on youtube where a guy that has the same radio i have is modding the antenna https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH4Gva-NZB0
I guess soldering would be the only way but as mentioned the Talkabout antennas are not removable on purpose
And the radio is really not so bad for what its worth - after all it is a motorola
Its just a bit outdated (manufacture date says around 2000 i think) and its been banged around a bit so if i really want to get into this i will be looking for one of the newer Motorola models they seem decent or maybe one made by Uniden
Something with a scan feature would be nice
I would definitely stay away from the Baofengs - not only are they technically illegal in the US but i also heard the transmitter can overheat and whatnot even with just a little bit of use
Of course i can always look into a real pro grade radio such as a HT or Saber but im not sure if they are type accepted ...
Type accepted for FRS? I posted an FCC link above.
 
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8,884
Location
PA
#11
I would definitely stay away from the Baofengs - not only are they technically illegal in the US but i also heard the transmitter can overheat and whatnot even with just a little bit of use
Baofengs may not be type accepted for GMRS, but they can be programmed to meet the emission requirements for GMRS (frequency, modulation bandwidth, etc). Unless you're doing something stupid with the radio, nobody is going to care exactly what the FCC sticker inside the radio says. It's technically illegal, but less likely to get you in trouble than modding the antenna on a FRS/GMRS radio.

And as to overheating, that's not an issue unless you're doing 5-minute on-air monologues.
 
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#16
Actually, a company named Giant makes them for Motorola.
Intresting
So they arent "true" Motorolas then
Is this true for all models of the Talkabout series?

I got my eye on these https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUzRCOQeQh4
Looks decent

Im not one to jump on the Motorola bandwagon
They make some good stuff but as do other manufacturers
And from what i gather its kind of tricky to get a hold of some Motorola programming software...
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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#17
Intresting
So they arent "true" Motorolas then
Is this true for all models of the Talkabout series?

I got my eye on these https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUzRCOQeQh4
Looks decent

Im not one to jump on the Motorola bandwagon
They make some good stuff but as do other manufacturers
And from what i gather its kind of tricky to get a hold of some Motorola programming software...
Some Older motorola Frs/Gmrs radios are made by Motorola. Newer models no.
 
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Messages
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#18
Intresting
So they arent "true" Motorolas then
Is this true for all models of the Talkabout series?
I believe so. At least it was a few years back. If you took the FCC ID off the back of the radio and ran it through the FCC OET page you'd find the certification paperwork. Under the "applicant" you'll see Giant Electronics out of Hong Kong.

You can take a look by going here: https://www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid
The FCC ID for the radio you linked to is K7GMRCEJ
Under "Grantee Code" enter K7G
Under "Product Code" enter MRCEJ

Start clicking on the links and you'll find the "Grant", which shows the pertinent info. If you keep looking, you'll find test results, internal and external photos, and a lot of other interesting information.

You can do this with just about any radio that has an FCC ID on the back. If you do some searching, you can usually find the FCC ID listed for most radios on the internet, so you can research before you purchase.


Probably not going to be much better than what you already have. Looking at the FCC grant for those radios, they show 1.56 watts output on the GMRS channels and 0.324 watts on the FRS side. Not very impressive compared to what a commercial radio can do with a GMRS license and a better antenna.

Im not one to jump on the Motorola bandwagon
They make some good stuff but as do other manufacturers
And from what i gather its kind of tricky to get a hold of some Motorola programming software...
I bailed off the Motorola bandwagon at work a few years ago. With a few exceptions, and a few repeaters, all our gear is Kenwood. Motorola service went in the tank many years ago. They were more interested in selling new radios than supporting what they'd already sold. They do mostly make good stuff, but the high cost isn't justifiable when comparing products side by side.
I do have several Motorola radios for my own use, CDM mobiles, HT-1000's portables and a pair of JT-1000's.
It's usually good stuff if you are buying the higher end commercial/public safety stuff.

Legally obtaining Motorola software can be difficult and expensive. Also, if you haven't programmed commercial radios before, Motorola probably isn't the place to start. Some of their newer radio programming software is better than the older DOS based stuff.
 
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