Radio repeaters might be expensive but it is considered one of the best solutions available to aid weak radio signals. But if you have some spare radios at home, it is actually possible to make a portable repeater system on your own!
After you read this guide, it is sure that you can make a repeater right at your home. So proceed reading and uncover how to build a radio repeater in the most cost-efficient way.
- What Are Radio Repeaters?
- What Are the Types of Radio Repeaters?
- Step-by-Step to Build a Radio Repeater
- What to prepare:
- Step 1: Survey your area
- Step 2: Locate the best position
- Step 3: Draw the plan
- Step 4: Create the container of your radio repeater
- Step 5: Connect the RX and T
- Step 6: Detach and reattach the antennas
- Step 7: Turn on the radios and adjust the volume
- Step 8: Test the radio repeater
- Step 9: Place the radio repeater in the most appropriate area
- Radio Repeater Functions
What Are Radio Repeaters?
Radio repeaters are the amplifiers of unsatisfactory radio transmissions so they can be retransmitted over greater distances, ranges, and aid any obstructions between communications. If used correctly, these could also banish static and unnecessary noises that interfere with the clarity of the messages being sent off.
This device is composed of a radio receiver and a radio transmitter which is why it can retransmit radio frequencies. And if you place a repeater high enough, it will help two disconnected radio stations that normally cannot reach each other to interact.
Furthermore, these repeaters are used in Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High frequency (UHF) radios for a more widened communication in cities and even ocean expeditions. The same benefits are applied to dual-band (VHF/UHF) mobile radio repeaters.
Moreover, since 2 way radios follow a “line-of-sight” propagation of their radio transmission, having and building radio repeater could make a huge difference. It is because it can make you avoid the obstructions that affect the linear transmissions by putting them in better areas.
So if you are a radio lover, this technology could be your new best friend. So have one or you can just set up a radio repeater, and save money by making it on your own.
What Are the Types of Radio Repeaters?
Existing in the radio industry are several classifications of radio repeaters available which are varying in different features and functions. But generally, these are categorized into two which are the following below.
1. Low-Power Radio Repeaters
On-site communications are made possible using this equipment with radio repeaters which usually have intentionally shortened height of antenna placement. These are often utilized for buildings or campuses and even for places with massive buildings like cities.
Through these devices, your radio could have a little transmission strength ranging from 2-5 watts.
2. High-Power Radio Repeaters
To increase coverage regions, high-power radio repeaters are elevated usually on top of towers, buildings, and even on top of some hills. Users who utilize this equipment could now communicate with one another across great distances with these devices.
Also through them, your radio could have a transmission capacity of not more than 100 watts.
Step-by-Step to Build a Radio Repeater
In this guide, you will learn to create a simple portable repeater system for your radio. Just never skip the initial parts because it is necessary for you to know the best locations you can put them.
So gather 4 dual-band radios of yours and prepare all the materials. You may start creating a cheap UHF repeater and/or an affordable VHF radio repeater system through the following.
What to prepare:
- Local Topography Map
- Bond paper
- (4) Dual Band (UHF/VHF) Radio
- Radio Adaptor
- Heavy-Duty Box
- (2) 4-inch Pigtail Antenna Connector
- Zip ties
Step 1: Survey your area
The first thing you need to do after gathering all the materials is to survey your area. Know where the places that already have radio repeaters are and test if they are still working and effective.
Step 2: Locate the best position
Using your local topography map, locate where the possible places you can put your radio transmitters. Avoid areas where many obstructions exist and you may choose highly elevated places like hills or a strong tree.
Just make sure that the place you have chosen is suitable to have a secured station where it cannot be easily tampered with and broken by any physical interruptions like rain and wind.
Step 3: Draw the plan
Using bond paper and a pen, visualize your plan by drawing the place, parts, and radios themselves. Mark the receiver radio as RX and the transmitter radio as TX.
This step is important especially for you in making one by having a visual aid and minimizing actions that might affect the performance of your radio repeater. Keep this concept map for your future reference.
Step 4: Create the container of your radio repeater
Using a cutter, create two holes on any side of the heavy-duty box (rubber or plastic). Then insert the 4-inch pigtail antenna connector and secure using a sealant (epoxy is preferred).
Make sure that no liquids can enter inside so that the box remains dry, and so do the radios.
Step 5: Connect the RX and T
To connect the receiver to the transmitter, use an appropriate radio adaptor. Note that the small port must be on the receiver and the large port must go to the transmitter.
Step 6: Detach and reattach the antennas
Remove first the antennas of your radios and put them inside the box. Then hook their antenna slots to the pigtail connectors.
Reattach the antennas to the other end of the pigtail connectors which are outside the box.
Step 7: Turn on the radios and adjust the volume
Turn the RX and TX radios on and turn down the volume of the RX radio to avoid static noises upon usage.
Step 8: Test the radio repeater
Using another two radios, test the radio repeater you’ve made. If it is not working, recheck the steps above and aid them until you get the right connection.
Step 9: Place the radio repeater in the most appropriate area
Finally, go back to the local topography and concept map you’ve made, and locate the best location you can put the radio repeater into. Once you already found it, make sure to properly place it and you may secure it using zip ties.
And congratulations! You just made your radio repeater. But if you still find it hard to visualize the steps, the following is a supplementary YouTube video you can watch.
Radio Repeater Functions
1. Boosts the radio performance
If you have a walkie talkie repeater, for example, it can boost your radio’s performance by making you connect to another walkie talkie in areas that are normally out of your radio’s reach.
2. Extends radio signal
Many industries utilize a two way radio repeater setup because it can lengthen the radio signal. Somewhere exist are places where obstructions like mountains can hinder the transmission so having it placed on top of it enables a radio station to connect to its radio receivers.
Also, it is known that VHF and UHF radios like 2-meter bands are perfect for emergency communications since it enables dependable cross-town contact in smaller communities. However, several remote areas still exist that are hard to reach which is why having these devices with 2 meter repeaters makes better communication during emergencies.
What is the range of radio repeaters?
Generally, any type of radio repeater can range around a hundred miles and even more.
Also, a handheld radio repeater such as through walkie-talkies could reach not less than 5 miles. However, this is highly dependable on your location and the specifications of your device so its coverage could be more.
Just remember that whether you are using a portable VHF repeater or a portable UHF repeater, the logic of its range is affected by the obstructions that exist between its radio transmitter and receiver. So it is advised that you place your radio repeater in a place where less blockage happens like the top of a hill or a tower.
Is there another way to boost the range of the radio repeaters?
If you have the budget, you may focus on the antenna gain of your radio by buying a stronger one. It is another way to have a transmitter with more power, and together with the right placement of the radio repeaters, you will notice a huge improvement.
How do I turn my radio into a repeater?
Firstly, you need two radios of the same type (dual-band radios are usually used nowadays). Then start learning your area by making a map and after that, prepare all the materials needed so you can proceed in making your radio into a repeater.
For the on-point details, just follow the detailed steps to build a repeater with two radios above so that you are guided and can easily make one.
It is amazing how distant communications have improved over the years because of the emergence of radio repeaters. Together with the information available online, it is now so much easier to create one.
So, did you learn how to build a radio repeater in this guide? Might as well share it with others so that many will be informed about this useful radio hack.
Hello! I am Hart, the content writer and editor here at G0HWC. I used to be in the same local radio club with Howe, and he convinced me to join him in spreading my love for the radio with others. With a background in radio studies, I spend every day crafting accurate, easy to read content on various topics related to owning and using radios. I hope that my content can help you confidently venture in your radio journey!