I finally got to explore the world of Digital Coded Squelch. The midland 75-515 incorporates this, as well as CTCSS to give a user all possible combinations, for a total of 1694 channel/code combinations.
Early reviews on my website of this unit were not too good. There were reports of DCS and CTCSS not functioning. I made sure to test these functions and I can assure you, I experienced NO erratic operation in any way. What I reviewed was a pair of radios that functioned perfectly.
Upon powering up the radio, it indicated its awakening with a prominent tone. The LCD display is large and easily viewed. The only trouble I had was viewing the upper part of the display, where the CTCSS and DCS mode indicators are. Other than that, the display is VERY well laid out and easy to read.
Volume levels are pretty darn loud for such a small speaker. Receive audio qualiy is pretty good. It is easily understood.
Range checks: This unit was detectable 1.5 miles away with my wife inside our house and myself in the car. Effective communications were possible with one mile distance between us. In a mobile environment, I consider this range to be VERY good for an FRS radio.
Also, we were in communication from inside the grocery store about .25 miles from the house... perfect communications was a result while shopping. These units can communicate well between buildings.
Power output is 500 mW ERP, verified by FCC test data. This applies to use of fully charged alkaline batteries. We used the nicad rechargeables for our tests.
The battery life as listed, is pretty good. I have yet to have had my rechargeable go dead, and I've used the radios a bit. although I do admit some charging time.
Intermod and other interference: We experienced no intermod. In our area, though, this is not unusual. We are out of the range of many dirty pager transmitters and such.
Features and evaluations of such:
DCS: Digital Coded Squelch comes to FRS!! This system is the latest in selective squelch systems. It is reported to be more efficient than CTCSS. We used it in our tests and it performed perfectly, even at maximum range.
CTCSS: In case you want to communicated with units without DCS, CTCSS is there for you to use. As expected, the CTCSS system worked perfectly.
Our "home channel" had additional traffic when we were conducting our tests. Our communications was not interrupted by the other signal.
SCAN: This radio can scan for active channels, and clear channels. I would have like to seen a way to lock out unneeded channels; but you can set a CTCSS tone, or DCS code, which will allow the scan function to skip over that channel, unless that code has traffic. With that in mind, the radio scans whatever characteristic you have programmed with that channel. This is useful if you want to scan your group's channels and thay have CTCSS or DCS set.
BABY MONITOR FUNCTION: This function will sit and listen for any noise in its range, sound the call tone and transmit for a period of time, then go to receive mode, and back and forth. It does work as indicated, but we have no use for it (until we get a young 'un). However, it could be useful in many other ways, such as listening for the doorbell, or the microwave beep to go off. Use your imagination...
END OF TRANSMISSION TONE: AKA Roger Beep. It is there, if you wish, and can be turned off if you do not wish.
BATTERY SAVE FUNCTION: during recive, except for scanning, sort of puts the radio to sleep until it receives a signal. Good for unnecessary drain on batteries... Problem though... It takes about a half second or so for it to wake up, so it is likely you will miss the first word or so of your communications. The delay is a bit short for my tastes. Too bad you can't turn it off.
5 MEMORY CHANNELS: This allows you to set up a channel and keep its characteristics set. While this radio holds any Tones or Codes you may set for a channel permanently, the memory function allows you to store the same channel as a memory location. You could have channel 1 as your primary channel, with a differtnt DCS or CTCSS tone set. Too bad this radio doesn't allow memory channel scan.
VOX: This unit allows voice activiation right out of the box. with or without a spaeker mike, you can talk hands free. Good to mount a radio on the sunvisor :) With a selectable sensitivity and selectable delay setting, the VOX on this unit is the best I have seen so far. If you use VOX, this radio can't be beat IMHO.
BATTERY STRENGTH METER: This is a 4 segment LCD that will give you your battery charge state.
TRANSMIT/RECEIVE INDICATOR: Will display the appropriate icon. It will indicate when a channel is receiving a signal, so you can see activity on another CTCSS or DCS code.
ACCESSORY JACKS: These units have TWO sets of jacks! You will be able to plug almost anything into this radio.
CHARGING CONTACTS: The radio can be charged with a desk charger OR an AC adaptor type charger.... Versatile!
This radio is a clear Winner!
It has a nice look and feel, good sound quality, and range. Plenty of good functions. I have in the past, heard of problems with this series, however, I have discovered NO flaws whatsoever in the operation of these units. The multiple accessory/charging jacks are unique to the industry and allow for greater flexibility. Kudos to Midland for a job well done.