Whilst not abandoning my interest in Hotspots and Digital Communications, I have recently been using my Network Radio equipment more just of late. I have used Zello for a few years but not to any great extent. I recently became aware of Network Radios Channels on Zello and decided to give it a try. To say that I’m impressed by it would be an understatement. Six channels, open to both Licenced and Non-Licenced people, there is activity all day long. There are some very knowledgeable people who participate, not only in th Amateur Radio field but also SWL’s and Android gurus. The conversations are informed, interesting and conducted in a very civilised manner. The Moderators are fair and attentive and the whole experience is very good. In light of this new found positivity, I have purchased two more Network Radios recently.
The first is an Inrico TM7 Base/Mobile unit. Audio is excellent through the front mounted speaker and it is simple to use. The only criticism would be that the screen is too small to effectively be used as a touch screen. I have overcome this issue with a Bluetooth keyboard.
The second is an Alps F40, otherwise known as the 7S+. 3/4g and WiFi, with a 4000 mAh battery, it’s excellent and cost effective as a portable unit.
Both devices run EchoLink, TeamSpeak and Zello, as well as APRSdroid and work very well.
Of course, you don’t need to buy a dedicated Radio to get on to the channels - an Android and iOS app is available for your smartphone/tablet/iPad as well as PC and iMac - so it’s accessible to everyone without the need to buy extra kit.
You will need a data plan for use away from a WiFi hotspot but data usage is quite low - 1gb per month should be enough. There are lots of PAYG deals available and the option to tether to your phone’s hotspot is also a possibility.
For those who travel abroad and do not hold a full Amateur Licence can use the channels as they don’t use Amateur frequencies.
Is it “real” radio? Possibly not in the sense of Amateur Radio, but both WiFi and 3/4g use RF to access the cells so radio is definitely involved - even if on the Mobile cellular network.
True to form, I have several devices for the Network based systems - when will I learn that one for each mode is enough?