How to increase radio communication distance - B.C. Communications

Portable 2-way radios communicate directly to each other without subscribing to a network as a cell phone does. Radios can operate kilometers apart but sometimes they need infrastructure to increase their coverage footprint. This is especially true when operating in buildings.

We have many solutions available to increase the coverage and capacity for your specific needs. B.C. Communications owns the repeater network on Mount Seymour, which is available to give lower mainland wide coverage for your digital radio fleet. We can also design custom repeaters, which can be installed at your facility or at our site.

Factors that can affect your radio coverage

  • Frequency: VHF travels further distances than UHF or 800MHz but their signals do not bounce as well so are less effective indoors. Most people find that UHF is ideal for in-building use, whereas VHF is better outdoors.
  • Body loading and antenna efficiency: Portable antennas require a ground plane, which on handheld portable radios are too small. This means the signal to and from a portable is never as good as from a vehicle-mounted mobile or base station. This factor is more significant in VHF than UHF. Avoid stubby antennas if you are concerned about coverage.
  • Obstructions: Hills, trees, and buildings block signals while outdoors to reduce your expected coverage. Inside buildings common obstructions include tinted glass, reinforced concrete, doors, walls will reduce your coverage rapidly.
  • Interference: there are many electronic devices in our lives these days. Most now are computer-based, and those computers create a lot of radio frequency (RF) noise. That noise makes it harder for 2-way radios to hear other radios trying to reach them. LED lighting has caused several of our customers grief with their radio equipment. If you operate your radios on a frequency which is shared with another company, you might not even know, and that other company could be causing interference to you that you wouldn’t likely even hear. It is best to ensure you are properly licensed. Ask us to review this all for you.
  • Weak batteries: older batteries often drop their voltage under load when the radios transmit. Low voltage correlates to low output power, which reduces coverage. This is worse when it is cold when the user transmits a lot or works an extended shift. Always replace your batteries when they reach 80% of their original capacity when they are fully charged or every 2-4 years depending on usage. Motorola’s IMPRES batteries keep track of this for you and those stats can be viewed on an IMPRES charger that has a display.
  • Radios out of spec: All 2-way radios should be serviced yearly to ensure they have the output power and sensitivity they had when they left the factory. Motorola radios are no exception. Call us if you want your fleet serviced.
  • Analogue vs. Digital: digital has a better overall range than analogue has, however, some users find that the opposite is true when in a moving vehicle.

Motorola SLR8000 Repeater

This is Motorola’s highest tier industrial grade, rack mount repeater. Designed to operate continuously for 15 years, it is the natural choice for the backbone of your radio system. It is important to choose carefully because repeaters are often a single point of failure to your system. The SLR8000 features:

  • Integrated 120VAC power supply
  • Integrated 1-100Watt transmit power amplifier
  • Integrated 5 Amp charger (12 or 24VDC)
  • Analogue and digital operation
  • Can be set up as a base radio
  • Can be connected to other repeaters and hardware using IP
  • Digital Trunking options – Capacity plus (single or multi-site), Capacity Max
  • All repeaters require additional RF filtering, grounding, and antennas.
  • 2 rack units high, 31 lbs/14kg

Available in 136-174MHz, 403-470MHz, 800&900MHz
The SLR8000 replaces similar legacy repeater equipment such as MTR3000, MTR2000, MSR2000, MSF5000

SLR8000 Brochure

Motorola SLR5700 repeater

This repeater is similar to its big brother, the SLR8000. The main differences are:

  • Can accommodate extended range direct mode (single frequency repeater)
  • One rack unit high, 19lbs/9kg
  • 3 Amp 12V charger
  • 1-50 Watt power amplifier
  • Reduced spec for intermod and selectivity, which means it is not as well suited for dense RF sites with multiple repeaters.
  • No wireline card available
  • Not available in 800MHz or 900MHz
  • It is about half the cost of the SLR8000 unit

The SLR5700 replaces Motorola legacy repeater equipment such as the XPR8400, XPR8300, GR1225,
GR400, GR500, R.I.C.K repeater, Desktrack

SLR5700 Brochure

Motorola SLR1000 Repeater

SLR 1000 Repeater - Motorola Solutions

The SLR1000 is similar to the SLR5000 but is packaged in a smaller outdoor rugged enclosure. The main
features are:

  •  Packaged for outdoor use (pole or wall mount)
  •  1-10 Watts transmitter output
  •  Ideally suited for extended range direct mode (single frequency repeater)
  •  Attachable antenna available to eliminate the need to run cable
  •  12V DC input. External power supplies available

SLR1000 Brochure

Codan MT4

For low power consumption operation, there is no better choice than the Codan (formerly Daniels) MT4 repeater. It is highly reliable and modular in design. We recommend and install this repeater for customers needing coverage in remote areas and sites with no access to power. Currently, the Codan does not support the DMR Motorola digital format, which means we can only install in analog mode or P25 (public safety format) digital.

Motorola Repeater Systems at a Glance

Bi-Directional Amplifiers

A Bi-Directional Amplifier (or BDA) is used for On-Site radio and/or cellular coverage enhancement. BDA ‘s have a few components: A donor antenna collects signal from the rooftop where it is strong and delivers it to the BDA for amplification. The amplified signal is delivered to one or more distribution antennas in areas which have poor coverage. BDA s typically have a backup power system UPS and alarm output for when there is trouble with the system. BDAs are available in many specific bands: VHF, UHF, 700MHz, 800MHz, and cellular/LTE

BDAs are the most common coverage enhancement solution for the E-Comm radio network in the Lower Mainland of BC in larger buildings to comply with the local bylaws in all municipalities in the lower mainland District of North Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, City of North Vancouver, Whiterock, Richmond, Langley and Vancouver.  All BDA must be NFPA and ISEDC approved, and provide full coverage throughout the building

B.C. Communications BDA System Installation Services

We have an expert team ready to help you with your BDA project.

Our scope of work for the installation of BDA systems include the following:

  • Analyze architectural drawings and consult with engineers (there is a cost of $2000 for this phase)
  • Apply for necessary licenses
  • Obtain a low voltage building permit for installing the coaxial cable
  • Install an NFPA approved amplifier, including alarm notification and UPS
  • Liaise with fire department 
  • Supply maintenance and as-built document package
  • Engage radio P. Eng. To sign off on the design and stamp final docs
Our labour services includes the following:
  • Stage and assemble components, ship/deliver in stages
  • Install donor antennas
  • Mount BDA & UPS
  • Provide alarm pigtail wire ends for others to connect to alarm panel
  • Connectorize cable runs by others
  • Install splitters, antennas located on 12x12 junction boxes supplied by others
  • Sweep coaxial cables and confirm appropriate losses to each antenna
  • Meet with fire department and engineers to ensure bylaw compliance

Contact us for more information and to see what B.C. Communications can do for you.