Communications Gear from the FDIC Show Floor

The APX 7000XE is specifically designed to be used by firefighters wearing heavy gloves.
The APX 7000XE is specifically designed to be used by firefighters wearing heavy gloves.
Apollo TP-200
The Apollo TP-200 has a 120- by 44-mm viewing area.
Unity family of first responder radios
The Unity family of first responder radios is P25-compliant in conventional and trunked modes.
Relm Wireless
Relm Wireless had a complete family of portable and mobile radios at the show.
Setcom's Liberator Wireless intercom headset
Setcom's Liberator Wireless intercom headset offers a range of up to 500 feet.
SyTech's RIOS TAC2 Interoperability Gateway
SyTech's RIOS TAC2 Interoperability Gateway can support up to eight inputs.

Communication comes in many forms for the fire service, whether being alerted to a fire, while responding to an incident, or on the fireground. Communications are often cited as an area in need of improvement in post-incident reviews. To address fire service communications, vendors are always devising new products. Several new communications innovations were debuted on the show floor at FDIC this year.

Motorola made the point about its new APX 7000EX handheld's water resistance at FDIC 2011 by running it while immersed in a clear container of bubbling water. This new yellow-encased radio is specifically designed to be used by firefighters wearing heavy gloves. In fact, attendees were invited to put on gloves at the booth and then operate the radio and its "exaggerated controls" themselves. The APX 7000XE also offers extremely loud, clear audio, to ensure the firefighters can hear what's being said to them at noisy incident scenes.

David Clark displayed its wireless headset communication system. It allows firefighters to connect their headsets to wireless belt packs, eliminating the need for intercom wires. The belt packs communicate with the 3800 gateway unit, which interconnects with the vehicle's intercom and mobile radio systems. The belt packs are compatible with all David Clark wired headsets.

Bob Daigle, product manager, also points out David Clark's VOX control on its belt station. This proprietary technology, which sends a low-frequency tone to the user's headset on activation, is present while the user adjusts his squelch setting and disappears at precisely the optimal setting for that particular noise environment. "This is also very handy, for example, when a driver arrives at the scene, leaves the apparatus, and positions himself at the pump panel, wherein a squelch readjustment for a different noise environment than that present in the vehicle would otherwise prove more challenging, thereby saving valuable time in optimizing communications for that user," Daigle says.

Rescue 42's Vault Incident Command Post is all about economy. The reason: The Vault is a steel container on wheels about the size of a very large Coleman cooler. Inside, there's room (and a desk/shelves) for a mobile workstation, radio interoperability bridge, printers, chargers, and any other devices required–all powered by the Vault's built-in, and included, Honda generator. The best part: The wheeled Vault can be rolled out to any trailer hitch; jacked up using its own crank to mount onto that hitch; and then have its wheels retracted so that it can be legally carried as a box, not a trailer. For areas where lighting is required, the Vault has running lights and even room for a license plate.

The Apollo Digital Paging Company featured its TP-200 Desktop Receiver. Key features include adjustable volume, loud buzzer, 120- by 44-mm viewing area, and four-line display that can zoom to two lines. Options include battery backup, relay/data output and external antenna, and multiple languages.

EF Johnson Technologies' Lightning Control Head features a bright 320- by 80-pixel display. In fact, the company bills the Lightning as the "brightest and clearest display on the market today." The Lightning is designed for EF Johnson's ES Series Mobile Radio.

Harris spotlighted its Unity family of first responder radios at the show. These are multiband portables and mobiles that can cover VHF, UHF, and the 700-and 800-MHz bands. The user-friendly Unity products are also P25-compliant in both conventional and trunked modes; track and broadcast their GPS locations in real time; and are Bluetooth-compatible.

Hub-Data911's M6 mobile computer system offers a three-piece design that eases installation and maintenance. The rugged construction of the M6 holds up to the harsh environment of public safety vehicles. The M6 CPU supports all Hub-Data9ll M-series displays.

The company also showcased its bright red M6 mobile computer display. According to one salesman on the exhibit floor, "These red monitors are for firemen only. No police allowed!"

P25 interoperability was front and center at Kenwood's booth. Among the P25 radios shown was the TK-5410 portable. This is a three-watt unit that operates in the 700-/800-MHz bands, offering 100 zones and 1,024 channels. The TK-5410 is available in four-key and 16-key models and features a 16-character LCD. Kenwood is now offering radios in bright yellow and orange cases.

MP Antenna's SenComm-NMO addresses unreliable vehicle wireless communications. Encased in a black plastic dome, this multi-polarized antenna improves reception and transmission from 698-999 MHz. The SenComm typically offers a signal gain of 5.2 dBi. That could be enough to resolve radio issues without having to replace your entire system.

Raytheon was exhibiting its new ACU-5000 at the show. Short for Audio Connect Unit, the ACU-5000 can patch 12 communications channels together to create interoperability nets across disparate devices. The nets can be local or connect to distant users using Internet Protocol (IP).

Relm Wireless had a complete family of portable and mobile radios at the show. Among the noteworthy items is the Rapid Deployment Portable Repeater. This is a suitcase-based unit that can even charge itself using an included solar panel. It can support analog and digital modes in all bands and can be used to provide cross-band interoperability by interconnecting two different portables.

Setcom's Liberator Wireless intercom headset offers a range of up to 500 feet. New for this year, the Liberator has a motion-detecting on-off switch. Pick it up to use, and the power comes on. Leave it alone for a while, and it switches off–no buttons to worry about.

SyTech's RIOS TAC2 Interoperability Gateway is an all-in-one interoperability device that can support up to eight inputs. Built in an FAA-compliant Pelican transit case, the package is made up of the RIOS TAC2 I/O module for connecting radios and cell phones, and MIL-STD-810F RIOS Durabook Gateway Controller laptop computer.

JAMES CARELESS is an award-winning freelance journalist who specializes in fire/EMS stories. He has appeared in a host of first responder magazines in the United States and Canada.

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