What to expect
Private mobile radio uses the radio technology we’ve all seen on TV and become familiar with, although not everyone has actually used this kind of two-way radio. A common example of a two-way radio is a walkie-talkie, which some might’ve used before. Professional-grade private mobile radios are often used by organisers at events to keep in touch, or by security guards and the police. Walkie-talkies don’t require a licence and private mobile radio do. For this reason, many different organisations, including Scouts, have a licence for their use.
The advantage of private mobile radios is that they allow for closed (private) communications over a distance, something which can be useful at camp when playing wide games or planning activities. It’s also an activity in its own right and can be particularly useful if you’re hiking in areas with poor mobile phone reception.
An example of an activity that relies on private mobile radio might be if your group splits in half with a radio each. One half has a map and has to communicate with the other half so that they can navigate. Not only would this use communication skills, but it also draws on other important skills like map reading. Radios can also be used to supplement other activities, particularly organisations tasks, like running gang shows or activities for the Communicator Activity Badges.
What you’ll learn
Using private mobile radios is an interesting way to develop communication skills and try something that your group might not have done before. They can add a spin to activities and events, and show how keeping in touch over a distance can make life easier or more productive.
This activity can also help develop a range of technical skills and introduce equipment that people may rely on later in work or training. Not only can your group become competent radio users, they can also gain the skills needed to organise events and stay in touch with a team while planning.
The first mobile private radio was developed in 1923 in Australia by the Victoria Police, though it wasn’t very mobile, as it took up the entire back seat of a car. It was however very useful, as it allowed police to communicate directly with the station, rather than phoning the station up from a public phone box to report what they’d found. Walkie-talkies came into use during WW2 to help coordinate troops.
- Keep in touch with the comms team. Some regions, counties or districts may have set up a communications team. If so, it’s possible that they have the equipment for this activity and may be willing to lend it to groups in return for a donation. The equipment could also be purchased to be shared between groups. Things that need to be priced in include the private mobile radio sets, battery chargers, spare batteries and the annual licence fee.
- Not so private. It’s helpful to note that whilst they are referred to as ‘private radios’, private mobile radio frequencies are in fact open and anyone can listen to what’s being said. Best to agree on a secret code beforehand, so that you can identify who’s talking!
You must always:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements :
The provider must have public liability insurance
This activity helped you communicate in a way that you might not have tried before. Take a moment to think about the difficulties and advantages of using private mobile radio. What was different about talking over the radio than talking in person? When we talk face to face, a lot of communication happens through body language, which is impossible with mobile radio. What advantages are there to having radio? Being able to communicate at a distance makes it easier to organise and see what’s happening in other places. This activity also helped you develop skills that can help you become a professional in the world of radio communications.
What other types of radio communications might you want to try after this? The activities in the Communicator Activity Badge offer a number of ideas that you can try in amateur radio. With something like a USB software-defined radio interface, a person could listen to anything from music to ham radio frequencies.