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Tip: Chatterbox FRS Radios
Category: Radios
Several members have asked me about the Catterbox radio system that Debbie and I use on our quads.

We originally identified the need for rider to rider communication and purchased the handheld Motorola FRS radios and bought accessories to adapt them for riding use.

We found that while they made communication possible, they had several drawbacks. The earbud was uncomfortable, you had difficulty using the push to talk microphone and they were hard to hear while riding. There had to be a better way to get the job done.

I ran across an ad in one of the magazines for a new Chatterbox brand radio that used the same FRS frequencies and offered several features that were far superior to our modified system.

The only drawback was the cost. We decided that the convenience and safety features out weighed the cost and we bought two of the radios.

The Chatterbox system is designed to be helmet mounted, using inside the helmet speakers on each side and a voice activated mike, but you can buy an accessory to use it without a helmet. When you order the system, you have to specify what type of helmet you use, open or closed faced. This is for the voice activated microphone included in the system.

We put the radios on our helmets and found them to work much better than what we had been using. However, we found that because the radios were mounted on the side of our helmets, it was difficult to adjust the controls while riding. The built in rechargable batteries also wouldn't last for a weekend of riding. The helmets have a feature that allows you to listen to a CD, MP3, or radio which is muted during rider to rider communication. This feature required a wire to run from the device to the radio.

I ran across a retailer on the internet and found that they not only sold the system for a better price than I'd paid, they had also put together a set of modifications that solved the problems that I'd found with the system.

They're at http://store.valueaccessories.net/store.asp

The company is called Value Accessories. I've been very satisfied with their level of customer service and products. There may be others out there on the net.

This is a list of the equipment that I use and what it costs (October 03).

Chatterbox FRS X2 model-
This radio is compatible with all standard FRS radios. The standard model costs $185, the dynamic noise reduction (DNR) headset model costs $208. I have the standard model (the DNR wasn't available when I bought mine) and mine has a slight hisssing sound that you really don't notice when the engine is running. If you can live with the hiss, it'll save you some bucks. When you order the radio it comes with everything you need to mount it on your helmet and you'll need to specify wether it you need an open or closed face model.

RAM Handlebar Mount-
This takes the radio off the helmet and mounts it on the handlebars or front rack of your ATV. This is a nice feature that facilitates easy operation of the radio's controls and allows you to use the quad's electrical system to charge the radio batteries with the below listed accessories. Cost is $38.95.

Headset extension chord-
This is required if you move the radio off your helmet using the handlebar mount described above. Cost $17.

12 volt power chord-
This hooks the radio to your quad's electrical system. This keeps the batteries in the radio fully charged, eliminating the problem with the radio going dead on a long weekend. Cost $21.

Audio chord-
This is used to hook up your CD player or MP3 to the radio. The radio plays the music in your helmet mounted speakers and then mutes when you talk. When the conversation is over, the music automaticly comes on. Cost $8.50

As you can see, the equipment isn't cheap. It does offer safety features though, allowing instant hands-free rider to rider communication and no looking back while riding to see where your partner is. It also offers some cool features if you want to listen to some tunes while riding.

Let me know if you have any questions about the system.

Submitted by: daveh
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