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The Ultimate Rocky Talkie Manual

Reliable communication is essential for outdoor activities, and if you take a walkie talkie, but don't understand its batteries, channels, or nuances it can really hose you! My projects fall apart like a house of cards when I didn't have communication because someone (most often myself) didn't know how to use their Rocky Talkie.

Why Rocky Talkies

  1. It has a bomber way to clip it to you.

  2. The 1550 mah battery lasts for 4 days

  3. The powerful 2-watt mode reaches as far as I ever need it

  4. You can't hurt the screen and it's durable enough to be dropped from a cliff or run over by a car.

Durability Test

We threw this off a 100M cliff and the first fall broke off the antenna but the 2nd one survived with hardly a scratch. Rumor has it, that have replaced people's Rocky's a few times when it rarely breaks the antenna, like 2x in 30,000+ Rockies Sold.

I drove over with a car because, well, I could. I didn't get slow motion the first time so I backed up and did it again. The Rocky is totally fine.

I broke test the carabiner and it's a rated full-strength carabiner, so it of course broke over 20kn. The rubber eye it is attached to, we pulled it apart at 335lbs. The keeper coil broke at 50lbs. All super good enough

Battery Test

I checked two Rockies inside at room temperature every few hours and it took over a week to drain. I did it again in the cold and it lasted even longer. However, you can see on both graphs that once it hits 25% you maybe only have an hour left before you get below 15% and you can't transmit anymore (since that requires too much of the juice). Now those tests were in standby mode so realistically if you are using these throughout the day and not turning them off at night, you can easily get 3 days out of them, but I usually get 4.

To conserve battery, you can turn it off at night. Also, keep it in low power mode, especially if you are climbing and only 60M away from each other. And remember at 25% you don't have much time left. They say it takes 5 hours to recharge, but it usually only takes me 1 hour.

Range Test

If you test this on flat ground, especially in a car, you will be underwhelmed. Most of the cone of electromagnetic waves that it sends out passes by the person if it doesn't just pass them over. And a weed or butterfly or your car can block some of the signals. It shines in the mountains where the signal can bounce all over until it gets to your partner. We got less than a mile where it was flat and still in the car, we got 3 miles in the mountains. If you are direct line of site, you can get 25 miles, in case you want to rig a 25 mile long highline!

I've done big projects and I've never had a problem with range.

How Channels ACTUALLY Work

1 hears 23, but 23 cannot hear 1

They say there are 128 channels or 22 real channels and 121 privacy codes and some are CTCSS and DCS and it gets all really confusing. If you aren't a radio-ologist, this will really help.

FCC says that FRS (license free radios) can only play in the 462MHz to 467MHz range and with 125KHz increments that only gives them 22 channel frequencies to work with. If you go to channel 23 you can hear it on channel 1 because the same 22 frequencies start to repeat. But there are 121 privacy codes which is a horrible name for them because they are the opposite of private. Channel 23 on any privacy code can be heard by channel 1 but Channel 23 does NOT hear channel 1. So they are more like 121 "LEAVE ME ALONE" codes so you don't get interrupted.

You can see channel 1 and channel 23 are the same frequency. It's just the same 22 channels repeating themselves.

There are two types of Privacy codes

  • 1-38 are CTCSS or analog which is a squelch you can't hear. If the other radio has the same code, when it hears the squelch, it will tell you the message.

  • 39-121 are DCS or digital which spits out a few 0s and 1s before each message. If the other radio has the same code, when it detects the 0s and 1s, it will tell you the message.

If you keep hearing other people's conversations, move the privacy codes around as channels 23-128 are pre-programmed with some but you can change them and 22 channels x 121 privacy codes = 2662 different usable "channels" you can be in.

If you scan, it only scans the first 22 channels which have privacy codes off. If you hear someone and you try to talk to them and they don't respond, it's because they have a privacy code on, or you have 15% battery or less.

See User Manual for full list to match other radios

Other Radios

FRS shares 7 frequencies with GMRS radios, the ones you need licenses for. So you could match up to those or even different brands even if they have a different privacy code numbering system. It all works the same, just look at the end of the USER MANUAL and you can see how to match those up with someone else's radios.

Final Tips

LOCK IT! Nothing worse than it getting bumped and changing channels and you don't hear your partner when they need you.

Turn the Roger Beep off if you want it quieter. When it is off, push the power button and talk button at the same time (like a screenshot on a phone) and it will turn on without the beep. Do it again and it will bring the beep back.

The rocky is IP56 splashproof rated but they recently came out with a IP67 water proof mic which can be handy if you want to keep your Rocky in a dry bag or just on your harness and not take it off every time you want to talk to your climbing partner.

You can bring a spare battery if you think you'll need it. Just pull the rubber case off and it's easy to slip the new one on.

What's Next?

See where we dive deep into the C4 Ultralights and talk to the engineers who designed them


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