Race radios?

Snowsk8air2

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Hey everyone, so after 3 years or so of having the truck caged I finally added front bypasses tied into the cage, and tied the bed cage into the cab cage. And bypass clicking escalated exponentially. Can deal with it for a short run here and there which is what the truck usually sees, but this past weekend I put over a hundred hard dirt miles in a day on the truck and am considering headsets.

My question is what are others running for in car headsets? Good brands to look at (other than rugged and pci)? Important things to look for when choosing a radio?

Features I know I want to have:
Bluetooth radio for music
Ability to take phone calls? (Not sure if this is a thing)
Hands free in car communication
Car to car communication

Never been big into radios and communications and what not. Bought an old baofeng vhf handheld off a friend a handful of years ago and that’s all I’ve been running for car to car since. Looking to finally upgrade to a proper setup for the truck
 

theycallmeWALLY

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@sdecurti - Hopefully Scott can chime in. His headset/com/radio set up is dialed. I beleive everything is rugged besides the radio itself?

I've ran PCI and they for sure have a nice set up but my stuff is all older and I'm going to be upgrading the com and headsets.

With all of that said... The Race guys only talk trash on Rugged. It's just not as reliable from what I've been told.
 

sdecurti

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Mar 30, 2022
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I would say for a fun prerunner toy and wanting all the options you listed rugged is going to be the way to go. IM happy with the money i have spent. I have found paying for the more expensive headsets makes a big difference. With that said I will agree with Wally that the reliability over the years is not on par with PCI, but rugged has gotten better. If your truck is more race truck but never races, I would go with a pci setup. Nothing against either company really, im just a cheap skate and i go for what i can afford.

As for radio, you can shop all over the internet for a mobile ham radio and get a good deal. All you need is a 50watt one. The intercoms seam to work better with the more name brand radios from my experience (easier to interface with the intercom). I've run kenwood/icom/yeasu in the past.

There really isnt any good option other than rugged or pci. I've tried to piece together other systems in the past and they never sufficed.
 

Snowsk8air2

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Flagstaff, AZ
I would say for a fun prerunner toy and wanting all the options you listed rugged is going to be the way to go. IM happy with the money i have spent. I have found paying for the more expensive headsets makes a big difference. With that said I will agree with Wally that the reliability over the years is not on par with PCI, but rugged has gotten better. If your truck is more race truck but never races, I would go with a pci setup. Nothing against either company really, im just a cheap skate and i go for what i can afford.

As for radio, you can shop all over the internet for a mobile ham radio and get a good deal. All you need is a 50watt one. The intercoms seam to work better with the more name brand radios from my experience (easier to interface with the intercom). I've run kenwood/icom/yeasu in the past.

There really isnt any good option other than rugged or pci. I've tried to piece together other systems in the past and they never sufficed.
Thanks. Truck is definitely more of a toy than anything. No real racing going on. And it sounds like there’s a reason those are the two brands that most people run. I’ll hit them up and see what sort of options they have or might suggest for my usage
 

mobil1syn

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Apr 9, 2022
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if you are going full radio/intercom system i would suggest going a complete package from a rugged/pci. there all do things goofy in a effort to keep people from piecing their components with other components. everyone i know who has tried to piece a system together has had some issues and then the mfgs are just play the blame game with each other.
 

theycallmeWALLY

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if you are going full radio/intercom system i would suggest going a complete package from a rugged/pci. there all do things goofy in a effort to keep people from piecing their components with other components. everyone i know who has tried to piece a system together has had some issues and then the mfgs are just play the blame game with each other.
That sounds about right...
 

Tomaslav90

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There's also methods that can be used to open normal ham radios to all frequencies. I'm running an icom 2730a and found a quick and permanent work around so I can transmit on the normally restricted race frequencies.
 

the bodj

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There's also methods that can be used to open normal ham radios to all frequencies. I'm running an icom 2730a and found a quick and permanent work around so I can transmit on the normally restricted race frequencies.

Yup, I'm using an Icom 2300h and removed a diode the size of the period at the end of this sentence, which opened up my TX range a ton.
 

Snowsk8air2

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Yeah currently just have a handheld ham that with a few aux splitters works pretty good for playing music and doing car to car stuff. But want to upgrade to more of a whole car setup with headsets to help drown out the noise. Sounding like going with one of the rugged or pci “kits” will be the way to go. Need to talk to my brother in law because I’m pretty sure his work is a rugged dealer and might be able to help out. Be a pricey initial setup but would be a one and done purchase. Can add headsets later if I ever add a back seat or something
 

theycallmeWALLY

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Yeah currently just have a handheld ham that with a few aux splitters works pretty good for playing music and doing car to car stuff. But want to upgrade to more of a whole car setup with headsets to help drown out the noise. Sounding like going with one of the rugged or pci “kits” will be the way to go. Need to talk to my brother in law because I’m pretty sure his work is a rugged dealer and might be able to help out. Be a pricey initial setup but would be a one and done purchase. Can add headsets later if I ever add a back seat or something
Headsets are a game changer. Lets you focus on driving and not all the little BS noise that you think is a problem but really isn't.
 

Cleandezert

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I am 50/50 on headsets. On loud race trucks and prerunners its worth its weight in gold. But also after a full day my ears would be killing me. On my truck now, my goal is to keep it as quiet (yes i am old) as possible so i dont need headsets.
 

84projectFORD

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Apr 1, 2022
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Ive pieced together kits and ive just bought kits. its way simpler to just buy a complete kit. That said, rugged is very overpriced chinese stuff. i guess that drives me nuts knowing the market they are doing with cheap parts BUT they do house a all-in-one package.

my sand car has a PCI icom radio/antenna which connects to a Rugged in-car intercom, then those to behind the head headsets. i dont like the 5 pin connection at the head sets. its weak and ive lost two headsets over it, go with the 7mm jack if at all possible. thats all PCI uses i think.

the tracker uses a modded Icom 8000 so all the tx is open and i just use the icom speaker inside and a hand held mic.

your biggest thing will be getting the antenna placement and type correct AND getting comfortable headsets. since you will have a windshield, id get the over-the-head style headsets and get the gel style pads for around your ears. probably wont need a wind sock on the mic with a windshield.

wattage is only as good as the antenna in the next car, keep that in mind.
 

Cleandezert

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anyone here tune antennas? i think i have the wrong antenna for my radio. currently have a 100 watt kenwood 790 i got off ebay for cheap.
 

Snowsk8air2

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Flagstaff, AZ
Ive pieced together kits and ive just bought kits. its way simpler to just buy a complete kit. That said, rugged is very overpriced chinese stuff. i guess that drives me nuts knowing the market they are doing with cheap parts BUT they do house a all-in-one package.

my sand car has a PCI icom radio/antenna which connects to a Rugged in-car intercom, then those to behind the head headsets. i dont like the 5 pin connection at the head sets. its weak and ive lost two headsets over it, go with the 7mm jack if at all possible. thats all PCI uses i think.

the tracker uses a modded Icom 8000 so all the tx is open and i just use the icom speaker inside and a hand held mic.

your biggest thing will be getting the antenna placement and type correct AND getting comfortable headsets. since you will have a windshield, id get the over-the-head style headsets and get the gel style pads for around your ears. probably wont need a wind sock on the mic with a windshield.

wattage is only as good as the antenna in the next car, keep that in mind.
Good to know. My brother in laws shop is a rugged dealer and he said they have all the headsets there to test fit. So need the wife and I to go try and see what we like best. Then wait for some Black Friday deals most likely
 

the bodj

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anyone here tune antennas? i think i have the wrong antenna for my radio. currently have a 100 watt kenwood 790 i got off ebay for cheap.
antennas are just cut (like with an angle grinder) from the bottom. You can look up cut charts for uhf frequencies. But you need to know what kind of antenna you have. I didn’t want a super long one, so I got a quarter wave and cut to the appropriate length.


 

Tomaslav90

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anyone here tune antennas? i think i have the wrong antenna for my radio. currently have a 100 watt kenwood 790 i got off ebay for cheap.
Try contacting a local ham radio outlet. If they don't have something in stock, they can at least help with info or point you in the right direction. There's been a few times where I went in looking for parts thinking I'm on the right path but they were able to do something better. They have no problem taking the time to help you figure out what you need, even if it means you will spend less in store.
 

84projectFORD

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i wouldnt cut an antenna till you put a SWR meter on it. i tried cut antennas and lost performance, the SWR meter on it and found it was waaaaay out.

if you can build your own coax cable, you will help your antenna as well. otherwise you need to make the loop of the extra cable as absolutely long as possible, dont bundle it and pinch together with zip ties.
 

the bodj

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i wouldnt cut an antenna till you put a SWR meter on it. i tried cut antennas and lost performance, the SWR meter on it and found it was waaaaay out.

if you can build your own coax cable, you will help your antenna as well. otherwise you need to make the loop of the extra cable as absolutely long as possible, dont bundle it and pinch together with zip ties.

This is huge, too. I cut mine shorter and re-soldered it together. Easy peasy.
 

PreRunnGrampa

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I'm a radio dork, I can probably help. Rugged radios are relabeled radios. They buy existing radios and they slap a rugged sticker on it.
You can get the same radio for a much lower price.

I run Kenwood radios with Sigtronics headset. Similar to what you will find in a firetruck.

Antennas are based on what radio frequencies you'll be operating in. Race radio usually operate in the 151 to 154 MHz. So when you look up antennas, look within that frequency range.
 
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