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Intercoms

Old 09-03-17, 07:15 AM
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Shadowx
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Intercoms

Hey, anyone found a good headset for use with either phones or walkie talkies? want to be able to call without wind issues. would like to use radios on our family rides with minimal button pushing so the kids can use it. one system would be nice but i can deal with one comm system, and one phone system. Most of what I am finding seems to be regular phone head sets which don't seem suitable for wind, or motorcycle systems designed for a full helment. The motorcycle kind of setup is what i am looking for, but need something that will work with a regular bike helment.

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Old 09-03-17, 11:57 AM
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Sometimes I think it would be nice to be able to talk and hear the people I'm riding with but not have to be right next to them. But then I get to wondering if the earpiece will make me like those walkers and runners that get so absorbed in what's coming through the headset, they fail to notice my announcement to pass them.

Even with the headset in one ear only, it's going to affect how I perceive sounds of traffic around me.

However, I thought there where some phone apps that turned your smartphone into an intercom. Of course then you still need to find a mic that's not bothered by wind.
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Old 09-03-17, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Sometimes I think it would be nice to be able to talk and hear the people I'm riding with but not have to be right next to them. But then I get to wondering if the earpiece will make me like those walkers and runners that get so absorbed in what's coming through the headset, they fail to notice my announcement to pass them.

Even with the headset in one ear only, it's going to affect how I perceive sounds of traffic around me.

However, I thought there where some phone apps that turned your smartphone into an intercom. Of course then you still need to find a mic that's not bothered by wind.
i agree somewhat. That said it is no worse than being on the phone and driving, or on a motorcycle with a comm. I have a radio with an ear piece for work, one of the secret service looking things for my radio, it has a tube for the ear but it also somewhat open to allow in outside sound. I get the radio traffic loud and clear and still get most of the ambient noise around me as well.
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Old 09-04-17, 11:37 AM
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https://www.terranosystems.com/

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Old 09-06-17, 06:52 PM
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This seems like it would be a good application for a bone-conduction headset. That and a GMRS 2-way radio communicating over bluetooth should do it (2-way radios typically use a different kind of audio jack, so a wired system would require some fiddling).
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Old 09-13-17, 05:16 PM
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We use a motorcycle SENA smh-10, it took a bit of modifying to fit our bike helmets tho. Only draw back in use is the helmet is a bit heavy on one side. It is a simple bluetooth set up, wind noise is acceptable up to 25 ish mph
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Old 11-26-18, 11:33 AM
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I'm asking to revive this old thread, wonder if anyone has tried or is using the new Sena X-1 ? (https://www.sena.com/product/x1/faq).
The batteries in our , now 6 y.o. Senas are not lasting as well and don't seem to be replaceable.
R&J
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Old 11-26-18, 08:35 PM
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I've spent a lot of time working on just this problem and it's actually quite tough to solve. There really aren't any easy high quality solutions.

The best intercom solution is the Terrano Systems stuff. We used the first version for years and upgraded to the new version this year. The noise cancelling is great, it's full duplex. We primarily use it for the two of us but it is also supposed to work with a total of 4 units but we've never done that. Range is about 0.5 to about 1 mile. The more line of sight it is the better it is. For the two of us riding, this is excellent which you would expect based on the price. We have been using their stuff since it first showed up as Cardo System (now spun off as the cycling stuff into Terrano Systems).

I've also worked with Zello (a free walkie talkie style app) on the cellular phone. You will need to buy a $20-30 PTT button to put on the handlebars or on a lanyard under your jersey, but it worked fine with an Apple AirPods earbud in one ear. This has unlimited range, unlimited number who can join a conversation but you have to be in a cellular data system. It uses very little data. The noise cancelling is as good as your bluetooth headset although you can improve the performance by adding one of the Cat Ears fuzzy wind blockers to your helmet strap ($17 for a pair and help with most any headset in any system). This is probably the lowest overhead set up provided you already have either iPhones or Android phones for everyone AND you'll be riding in a cellular service area.

The third solution I've developed is using a Baofeng BF-F8HP UHF radio ($60 on Amazon). The thing is a very small radio that easily can be carried in a jersey pocket. To this, I found a bluetooth kit that replaces the speaker mic connection and a PTT button for the handlebars, and works with a provided earbud. This device is about $50 and I then bought this nifty MPOW tiny bluetooth headset for $17 that fits almost entirely in your ear. In order to use this, you will need the free CHIRP software to program the radios - I set them up with GMRS channels in the US and when we cycle in the EU I switch to their analogous frequencies and reprogrammed the radios. This works very well in remote areas and doesn't depend on cellular but it does mean you need to understand a little bit about radios to set them up. It's a nice set up but you'll have to be competent setting up electronic stuff. Range is easily a couple of miles. Side benefit is that this is a set up that can work well for other activities besides cycling with our without the bluetooth earbud. But make sure you're comfortable with the 2-way radio technology to set this up.

All three of these solutions address different problems and we haven't found a solution that works for everything. Handheld walkie talkies are not a good idea - you have to find the stupid thing, get it up in front of your mouth, they are not very tolerant of wind noise and they would be a disaster for the kids to use while riding. Rudimentary communication at best and probably for most people shouldn't be used when riding.

Overall, I see what the OP wants to do. I ride a lot alone. When my wife and I ride together, it always felt like we were both going on two separate rides together. With the ability to communicate, it became safer, easier to coordinate movements in traffic, didn't have to worry so much about sticking close enough to yell back and forth, and it was a lot more fun to talk about stuff we were seeing. So I'd say that for riding together, this was definitely a good thing.

J.
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Old 11-26-18, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by gracehowler View Post
I'm asking to revive this old thread, wonder if anyone has tried or is using the new Sena X-1 ? (https://www.sena.com/product/x1/faq).
The batteries in our , now 6 y.o. Senas are not lasting as well and don't seem to be replaceable.
R&J
I have 2 Sena X1's. I use mostly to listen to music from my phone.
Most of my phone communication usage is thru texting. will try having
a phone conversation one of these days and let you know.

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Old 11-27-18, 01:06 PM
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Thanks,
John: quality is an issue and battery life, Sena's are not VOX, so we can usually get 3 touring length days from a charge, unfortunately that's now 2 days, due to age of units. Quality fair, because the mic is close to the mouth and I rigged the speakers fairly close to ears, but still open.
Id certainly like to improve on what we use as our hearing is not improving either, we are a 141 y.o. team. Enclosed a picture of our rigged set up.

Interceptor: I liked your pictures and look forward to your X-1 comments.

Sena set up
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Old 11-27-18, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by gracehowler View Post
Thanks,
John: quality is an issue and battery life, Sena's are not VOX, so we can usually get 3 touring length days from a charge, unfortunately that's now 2 days, due to age of units. Quality fair, because the mic is close to the mouth and I rigged the speakers fairly close to ears, but still open.
Id certainly like to improve on what we use as our hearing is not improving either, we are a 141 y.o. team. Enclosed a picture of our rigged set up.
If its' just the two of you, the Terrano units would work really well. They are full duplex and I'd rate the fidelity as very high. The previous version had good noise cancellation but the new version has excellent noise cancellation. We just finished a biking trip in Florida where we are cycling near the ocean in a 10mph constant crosswind (out and back type of ride) and I don't think I ever heard any wind noise in our conversation at all. Sometimes it was so quiet, I wasn't sure we were connected anymore (we were). The v1.0 units were analog over BT. These are digital over bluetooth. Battery life is rated at 12 hours, and I'd believe that is true but I don't know how that stacks up against your touring hours in the saddle over several days. If you had to go longer on a charge, you can charge them while you're using them and it would be a simple USB battery type interface however you make that happen. The units are small so I'd guess the amount of battery charge required is low probably less than a cell phone. Given that, a very small battery could give you long legs in communication.

The other benefit to the Terrano units is the smaller installation on the helmet in both weight and appendages. It's pretty clean and lightweight. My wife has to be careful and is intolerant of helmet weight due to a neck injury years ago and this works for her. Personally, the long mic for the Sena would bother me. This doesn't have that and the mic does't really extend beyond your mid jaw line. The speakers mount on a velcro strip at the back inside of the helmet and are on flexible gooseneck wires that support them hovering over your ears. You have full situational awareness and you have the advantage in audio quality from it coming from both speakers. I don't have hearing issues at all and I was considering cutting one of the speakers off so it would be just the right side with the integrated speaker and mic assembly.

Finally, you could also have full duplex communication between the two of you and then cellular or Zello style communication seamlessly through the Terrano units. I have tried it with Zello in echo mode and it works fine for outbound comm but I haven't checked how it would work with inbound. This would set up the condition where the two of you could talk in full duplex and then if you wanted to communicate with others in your group, you simply push the Zello PTT button and then communicate over the cellular data network to others in your group.

Only thing you might want to check since you are riding a tandem (if I have that right) is that with any digital system there is going to be a slight lag due to digitization just like in your cell phones. If that isn't a problem, and I wouldn't think it is, this is what I would select since you'll never have a range issue if you're using them predominantly on a tandem.

There is a third option that I'm going to try for our skiing and would also work well on the bike. It's made by Domio Sports called the Domio Pro (https://domiosports.com/pages/domiopro). This uses different technology where it turns your entire helmet into a speaker so no speakers hovering near your ears are required. It uses the cellular data through your phone and their phone app to provided the duplex or simplex communication (you can choose) but it does require cellular connectivity to make it work. The mount on the helmet requires two square inches to attach the speaker driver unit and then there is 1 sq inch required to mount the microphone piece. This could work, but I do worry about cellular connectivity some of the places we ride. It's also supposed to be able (if I recall) to pair up to the BT based systems like Terrano an I believe Sena (not sure if Sena is BT). Their app is similar to Zello but full duplex but I also intend to see if I can make it work with our UHF radios via the BT interface we have for them.

J.
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Old 11-27-18, 08:47 PM
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@gracehowler, you are an extremely handsome and fit looking couple!
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Old 11-28-18, 06:24 PM
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Tom,
You are supposed to be looking at my cool Sena intercoms! But thanks, we hope to be an example of lifelong fitness, whatever that is, I thank God for good genes
Rod
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Old 11-28-18, 06:26 PM
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John, thanks for the details, will keep the thread posted on what and why we choose. Riding here in CO is pretty much for the foolish until Valentine's, the tandem is on the trainer, we will wait on others input.
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Old 11-28-18, 09:47 PM
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FRS with VOX.
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Old 05-09-20, 09:48 PM
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Terrano XT

Have just ordered the Terrano today will share impressions if anyone is interested (Terrano XT Double Package).
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Old 05-11-20, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by koenbro View Post
Have just ordered the Terrano today will share impressions if anyone is interested (Terrano XT Double Package).
We have used ours two full seasons, been very pleased except for the glue holding the earpieces and mic inside the helmets. I replaced one of our helmets and ordered a new "mounting" kit, seems this one may stay better.
I might advise there are many settings for vox, intensity, etc that you will have on a phone app. It took us a while to dial these in to our suiting.
R&J
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Old 05-11-20, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by gracehowler View Post
We have used ours two full seasons, been very pleased except for the glue holding the earpieces and mic inside the helmets. I replaced one of our helmets and ordered a new "mounting" kit, seems this one may stay better.
I might advise there are many settings for vox, intensity, etc that you will have on a phone app. It took us a while to dial these in to our suiting.
R&J
likewise, weve used ours for the last two seasons and the prior version for 4-5 urs before that. Works really well.

What I finally did was use 3M VHB tape (available from Amazon in a number of sizes) and its worked very well. Easy to trim to fit.

I think there are chemicals left from manufacturing the plastics that are hard to remove and interfere with adhesion.

j.

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Old 05-11-20, 09:31 PM
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Thank you JohnJ80
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Old 05-17-20, 01:43 PM
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So we got the Terrano units yesterday. Installing them inside the helmet, and pairing with the cell phones, were easy. Pairing the two units to work as intercoms was surprisingly challenging, and the fold-out paper quick guide was not much of a help. Finally found a YT video from the company that helped pair them. Went out riding with my wife, and struggled again to pair them, but after I finally succeeded, it was smooth sailing.

The units fit comfortably in the helmets, and the open ear design makes it safe by not blocking ambient sounds. The quality of the sound is exceptional, even in mild wind. We were both very pleased with the ability to communicate while riding and am very happy with the purchase; would buy again. Never listen to FM radio anywhere, so have not tested that function.

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Old 05-17-20, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by koenbro View Post
So we got the Terrano units yesterday. Installing them inside the helmet, and pairing with the cell phones, were easy. Pairing the two units to work as intercoms was surprisingly challenging, and the fold-out paper quick guide was not much of a help. Finally found a YT video from the company that helped pair them. Went out riding with my wife, and struggled again to pair them, but after I finally succeeded, it was smooth sailing.

The units fit comfortably in the helmets, and the open ear design makes it safe by not blocking ambient sounds. The quality of the sound is exceptional, even in mild wind. We were both very pleased with the ability to communicate while riding and am very happy with the purchase; would buy again. Never listen to FM radio anywhere, so have not tested that function.
Great to hear! We very much like ours and finds it adds a lot to the ride when we can communicate so easily. I think it does a lot for safety too.
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Old 05-17-20, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
I've spent a lot of time working on just this problem and it's actually quite tough to solve. There really aren't any easy high quality solutions.

The best intercom solution is the Terrano Systems stuff. We used the first version for years and upgraded to the new version this year. The noise cancelling is great, it's full duplex. We primarily use it for the two of us but it is also supposed to work with a total of 4 units but we've never done that. Range is about 0.5 to about 1 mile. The more line of sight it is the better it is. For the two of us riding, this is excellent which you would expect based on the price. We have been using their stuff since it first showed up as Cardo System (now spun off as the cycling stuff into Terrano Systems).[..]
Extra thanks for the recommendations in this review, John. I bought the Terrano system based on your review.
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Old 05-17-20, 04:52 PM
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I bought the Terrano before it was sold to Terrano. I think the name was the Cardo BK-1. I used it for years until I crashed that helmet. My new helmet doesn't fit the device so I purchased the Aftershokz device. It works fine unless there is a headwind. With a headwind, I can still hear the person talking to me but they can't hear me at all. I wouldn't buy it again. I'm considering purchasing a new helmet that will fit the Cardo BK-1 I have that still works fine after five years.
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Old 05-18-20, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by koenbro View Post
Extra thanks for the recommendations in this review, John. I bought the Terrano system based on your review.
Glad we could help. Its a good product.

Im going to experiment here this month with using it with a handlebar PTT button to see if it works with Zello. That could be a really cool feature when were riding with another couple with whom we often do credit card touring. My wife and I would be able to talk back and forth in full duplex as normal and then by pushing the handlebar PTT button, it would go out in walkie talkie mode over the cellular data as a communication to the other couple or if my wife and I get past the range of the Terrano radios.

J.
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Old 06-28-20, 06:49 AM
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I'm very interested to learn how well the Terrano units integrate with the Zello app and how, exactly, this app is used when applying it to a Terrano.
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