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Old 03-26-2010, 09:13 PM
Tim Burton Tim Burton is offline
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A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

Presently, there typically is a problem with any major scenario with more than 100 players. What happens is the radio ends up being congested due to the number of FRS radios in use. Last April, I played a game with about 200 players and the radios were absolutely useless. It was so bad, that the commander finally decided to cut everyone off radios except when he was giving orders.

Another problem was when he was giving orders he needed to use code words. Well, never underestimate the confusion that can occur when code words are used. When code words aren’t used the enemy will know what you are ordering. It does happen, because our team had a guy listening to the radios channels of the other team.

Until now, there wasn’t much that could be done, except invest in some high end equipment. The two problems with this is that either you need a license (aka tax dollars from you and time to get the license) from the FCC or you need to spend a ton of money on higher end radios. Either really isn’t an ideal option.

So I started to look into a radio that was inexpensive, yet provided the same range as a regular FRS. The main feature I wanted was a radio that did not have problems with privacy or overlap of use. The dumbest thing I have ever seen in order for a team to keep their communications private was to take their cell phones onto the field and use them. I can’t help but wonder how many of those phones broke on the field. Worse, I realized that the communications were very limited and none were on the fly communications. Ultimately, I guess you can’t put a price on privacy.

So one day, I came upon the Trisquare radios. These radios use a channel hopping system, better known as FHSS. Basically, you set the code to an algorithm, then the radio “randomly” jump through a series of about 50 radio channels in synch over the period of less than 30 seconds (They don’t tell how long it takes to go through the cycle, but says that the radios change channels more than once every second, and the FCC states the frequency should not dwell more than 400ms). This means that it makes it virtually impossible for the radios to be followed by a scanner. This also means that since every radio channel is only using that channel for a fraction of a second, the radios has an exponential amount of channels compared to typical FRS radios.

While the company won’t provide an exact range, they do state that the radios have the same range as FRS radios. The radios you pick up at Walmart and Best Buy that say 30 mile range is bordering on fraud. Those radios only work that far if you are on an absolute plane, as opposed to the curvature of the earth, and there is nothing between the two radios and the sun isn’t giving any radiation off. I find that to be more honorable for a company to state that they won’t use an unrealistic number for range. Plus one for integrity!

The radio operates on the 900MHz spectrum. There have been complaints that it uses the same spectrum as WiFi. This is true, but the manufacturer says that the radio and the WiFi don’t interfere with each other.

The output of the radio is 1 Watt. While legally they could increase it to 5 Watts, they state that it does not provide additional range, but does drain the batteries faster. I’m not an electronic engineer, so I can’t judge that statement, but seeing how they show integrity in their range quote, I’ll accept their answer.

Let’s get to where the rubber meets the road. How many users can use these radios before they end up interfering with each other? Well, according to a Kansas State University study, they determined that 100,000 users could use the radios before interference starts to occur. Considering that a few dozen users can overwhelm the FRS radios, this is a great leap forward.

How many channels are there so these radios can host 100,000 users without interference? 10 Billion. Yes, with a B (10^9). This virtually assures that there will be 100% privacy from prying ears. This means that eaves dropping will only occur because the radio frequency was leaked and not because people were “channel surfing” (unless of course you team decides to use the channel : 867-5309).

Another feature that these radios have is SMS text messaging. While not dire, it is nice if you want to communicate a channel for someone or if they ever put keypads on “nuclear weapons” and you need the code to disarm it.

Durability: Outside of functionality, this is probably the second most important factor in a radio that is being used for paintball. When X3 Magazine did their review, not only did they go and play on the field with them, but they then decided to do a shoot test on the radio. For comparison, they shot a Motorola TalkAbout also. The Motorola did not survive, but the Trisquare radio did. X3 shot the radios twice, once in the keyboard and once in the screen. Both were shot from pointblank range.

I’ll quote X3’s comments about the test:
Quote:
“Both radios were shot in the most vulnerable parts, the keypad and the display. Obviously this test simulated the worst case scenario, seeing as how most players don’t set their radios on a flat rock to be shot at point blank range, but rather carry them in some sort of protective radio pouch. At first glance, the Motorola’s keypad had survived with no damage, save the interchangeable color band that had popped off. The TSX300 appeared to have some minor keypad damage as a few of the keys had been pushed into the radio and appeared to be un-usable. The displays on both radios appeared to have survived at first glance. Upon further inspection and cleaning, it was found that the keypad damage to the TSX300 was superficial at most and the keys were popped’ back in place with a small tool in a matter of seconds. The radio worked fine and the impact of the two paintballs had not affected the performance of the radio once the keys were put back in place. The Talk-About however was another story. The damage to the radio seemed to be cosmetic at first glance, but once the paint was wiped away, display damage was evident. While the display window was intact the screen below had sustained damage. The radio was turned on but the display could not be read. The “roger beep” had also stopped working and when a sister Talk About was turned on, nothing was getting through. The radio would not transmit or receive and was pretty much useless.”


Batteries: The TSX300 combo pack comes with rechargeable batteries, but the batteries can be swapped for 3 AA batteries. This is great for scenarios that last a couple of days. When you’re at a scenario, typically being able to plug in a charger is at a premium, even more when you have a cell phone you need to charge. The ability to use 3 AA batteries allows you to use the radios after the first day. Typically the batteries seem to last about 8 hours of solid use.

Group use: This seems to be the weakest part of the radio. The problem isn’t the radio in themselves, but is typically the fact that these radios need to have some time spent learning its features. Most of the reviews by consumers about the radio complain about how they never were able to get group radios to work. This is an ID Ten T error. In the honestly of full disclosure, I only have a pair of radios. I’ve tried picking up a second pair, but unfortunately can’t afford the second set. I’ve low-balled a few people here, but to no success.
The other group use complaint is that radios at extreme ranges will unsynch the FHSS. This means that as the frequency jumps, one radio will lag behind the other radios. This typically only happens at extreme ranges and most responses have said that all that is required is re-tuning the channel to get it back synched. Since most games are played on areas that are smaller than a square mile, unsynching should not be much of a problem.
When compared to group use of radios using FRS, these radios still are many times better than the FRS. The “problems” (which really aren’t) are minor compared to users of FRS radios.

Complexity: This radio is more complex than most FRS radios, but they are no worse than a Blackberry (but not an iPhone, which is easier). This is a case where reading the instructions and spending an hour or two experimenting with the radio before you are at the field will pay dividends. Cloning the radios is extremely easy and wireless. This is great for two squads that are placed on the same team. Everyone can have their channels set in less than 5 minutes. The reason why is the exponential ability to clone, since the limiting factor is not a wire, but the number of people willing to share their radio to clone to others.

External Mics: This radio uses the same plug as Motorola, this means that most people will not need to purchase new mics to use this radio. This is a huge financial boon to the player who decides to upgrade their radio, since Motorola has a large market share of FRS radios.

Privacy Channels: This is a great feature for officers and for officials trying to deal with specific issues. They can use “call waiting” to indicate to a specific person that they want to talk. They then can “switch to a private channel” and discuss whatever they need to discuss, in virtually total privacy. The nice thing that works with this, is the fact that there are so many people able to use the radio without overlap, you literally can have all 10,000 people at D-Day on private channels with one other person and yet they won’t overlap.

I think with about 9 weeks left before as many people planning to play at D-Day should spend the $70 on two TSX300 radios. Not only will this provide privacy for each team, but it will also limit the massive traffic that FRS has. While, the FRS channels will not be 100% empty of traffic, it will ease the amount of crowding at the event. Even more important than the privacy for the people using the TSX300 radios is the speed of communication that the TSX300 provides. There is no need to wait to jump onto the radio to yell out a command or provide intelligence. It also means that the communication won’t be cut out mid-sentence.

I think it is time for paintball to un-officially start to move to the Trisquare radios for the purpose of freeing up communications and allowing all players who want to use a radio able to use a radio without being crowded out. If you are looking for a radio, I strongly recommend you spend the extra few dollars to get a radio that is actually usable at a scenario.



If you are interested in the radio, there are more reviews by professional reviewers at this link:

TriSquare Electronics Corporation - Media - In the News
A blog review: The Range Reviews: Tactical: Tactical Reviews: TriSquare’s eXRS TSX 300 Two Way Radios

Hope this helps make your team's radio purchase easier.

Froogle Link:

trisquare tsx300 - Google Product Search

Last edited by Tim Burton : 03-26-2010 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 03-26-2010, 09:29 PM
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Re: A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

Great write up. I may just have to invest in some
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:09 PM
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GRreaper GRreaper is offline
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Re: A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

Some of our guys including I have these and cant wait to use them in the next big game.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:19 PM
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Re: A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

Nice review. What's the height on them? I want to see if it will fit in the standard radio pouch that I make.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:26 PM
Tim Burton Tim Burton is offline
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Re: A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanuck
Nice review. What's the height on them? I want to see if it will fit in the standard radio pouch that I make.

Not sure, that is why I did the iPhone comparison picture. When I get home, I'll measure them.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:29 PM
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Re: A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

I saw the Iphone comparison pic, but I don't have an iphone
Thanks for taking the time to do the measurements.
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:00 PM
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Re: A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

Isn't there an actual reviews section for these??
Edit: This one - http://www.x7og.net/product-retailer-reviews/

I'm surprised you didn't catch that K... You must be slipping in your old age 'dad'!
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Old 03-27-2010, 12:47 AM
Tim Burton Tim Burton is offline
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Re: A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

Here are pics.

The radio basically is 1.5 inches thick. The height is 5 inches. The antenna is another inch. Two inches wide.

http://img547.imageshack.us/img547/8643/radiosize3.jpg
http://img260.imageshack.us/img260/5849/radiosize4.jpg
http://img28.imageshack.us/img28/8895/radiosize.jpg
http://img545.imageshack.us/img545/7091/radiosize1.jpg
http://img260.imageshack.us/img260/1672/radiosize2.jpg

Hope it helps.
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:36 AM
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Re: A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

Thanks for the measurements, Tim! It will fit in my standard radio pouch with no issue.
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Old 03-27-2010, 07:48 PM
Tim Burton Tim Burton is offline
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Re: A review and endorsement of TriSquare eXRS radios

NP.

I hope someone with a team gets them and tells me how they work as a group, since I only have 2 radios, I don't really have experience with that.
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