The world of two-way radio is a complicated one. While the average consumer will simply buy a walkie talkie set and not give much thought to the way it works, or what it does, hobbyists, specialists, and businesses will need to give a lot more thought to what they’re purchasing.
There are significant differences between different types of radio. A simplex radio system is very different from a duplex system. Digital has specific advantages over analog, though not in all cases.
And push-to-talk works better in some settings than voice activation.
In this post, we’ll discuss another dichotomy: engineered vs not engineered systems. What are these, and how do they impact on your choice of handheld two-way radio?
An engineered system refers to a system that is designed to perform to a particular specification or standard. These systems are designed with particular equipment intended to work together.
So, a local two-way radio system in the US may be designed to operate on a specific band and to provide 95% coverage over a specific area. Designing such a system can actually be a complex engineering challenge – with designers needing to consider things like topography, interference, and more. They need to think about the strength of the signal and whether this will work over the predefined area. Designers will use drive testing, field testing, and more in order to ensure that they meet their target level of performance.
A cellular telephone system is another example of a highly engineered system – and this ensures that all the hardware that operates on this system will be compliant and will work as intended.
Not Engineered Systems
By contrast then, a ‘not engineered system’ is essentially the exact same thing, but without all of that engineering. These systems haven’t been designed to meet specific objectives and instead simply have to be ‘good enough’.
For example, if you are setting up a radio system in order to manage communication within a particular area, then you might simply create a radio transmitter/base station that is strong enough not to require much specific consideration for the terrain.
In some cases, these systems can then be built upon as demands and needs change, and therefore may behave similarly to an engineered system. In many cases, these ‘legacy systems’ can be just as efficient and as complex as the engineered systems.
Of course, the distinction between engineered and not-engineered systems can be a somewhat blurred line in some cases. Most commercial commercial handheld two-way radio systems for example, will likely be engineered to some extent – in order to be able to advertise specific coverage and features. But all radio is going to be engineered to some extent.
A ‘truly’ not-engineered system, would actually be the kind of signal produced by a celestial body such as the sun with zero human input!
This is particularly important for business two-way radio – which may require certain assurances in order to be useable in high pressure situations.