Collett Electronics Communicator 900
It all got started when Les Collett, and avid snowmobiler, decided that he needed to build some type of helmet mounted communication device after his good friend nearly killed himself in a snowmobiling accident. If only Les could have warned his friend of the danger that was waiting just around the next bend... That was over 10 years ago and Les has been in the helmet to helmet communications business ever since. I don't do much snowmobiling but I do quite a bit of ATV dune running and haven't found a better way to keep track of my buddies, notify each other of trail hazards and generally enjoy each others company while riding. It has added a whole new dimension to my ATVing experience.
The Communicator 900 is an improvement on the earlier Model 40 Communicator that Les and the other folks at Collett Electronics have been selling for several years. The Communicator 900 uses 900MHz frequencies for it's communication, just like the new fancy cordless phones. This gives them better performance and longer range than the 49MHz version (which are still available by the way and are good units in their own right). In a nut shell, the Communicator 900 is a simple two way radio device that connects directly to the helmet and lets you enjoy hands free communication while riding.
The unit I tested came with helmet speakers, battery pack with rechargeable batteries, along with The Communicator itself.
1. Place the speakers in the helmet "ear holes".
2. Neatly tuck the speaker cord into helmet lining.
3. Clip on the Communicator unit with the supplied Velcro and "binder" clip.
4. And adjust the flexible mic "boom".
This process takes all of about five minutes. The battery pack that powers the unit is then clipped to your belt.
|Operation is equally simple. There is an adjustment for the voice activated (vox) mic sensitivity, volume, and a choice between a general channel (1) or a "club" channel (2). Each helmet communicator unit comes with two channels. One is universal, meaning all units have the same channel. This channel is also set to the same frequency that is used with snow plow safety beacons warning snowmobiliers of an approaching snow plow. The second is programmed to one of several thousand dedicated club channels. This way you and all your riding buddies can in effect have a "private" channel all to yourselves. This helps if there are a lot of other riders in the area also using this type of Communicator.||
Additionally the unit does have an audio in port allowing you to plug a Walkman style radio into the Communicator. The volume from this input is automatically reduced when someone is trying to talk to you from another Communicator radio. Generally I wouldn't recommend using this feature during serious dune runs.
The manufacturer claims that the new 900Mhz units have a 1 mile range. We tested the units at Pismo beach during a recent weekend ride. Prior to our ride I charged up the supplied rechargeable batteries overnight per the manufacturer. After attaching the new 900 MHz unit in place of our old helmet communicators, We were off. Immediately we were impressed. The 900Mhz units sounded as crisp and clear as my Sony cordless phone back at home. Next were set out to test the claimed one mile range. My buddy sat on the first row of dunes and I rode down the beach until I could no longer see him and WE WERE STILL TALKING. After some minor adjustments to the vox which allowed us to keep the mic from clicking on and off due to engine and wind noise, we were off for a day of riding. The only distortion I noted was when me and my riding buddy were very close to each other. The sound was actually cleaner the farther we were from each other. This may have been due to ignition noise. The manufacturer includes special notes on how to prevent excessive noise and next time we are out I will test several of their suggestions.
Bottom Line I think these are great devices. The product is made to take the abuse. The units are water resistant, shock resistant and can withstand extreme temperatures. In addition Collett stands behind the Communicator 900 with a full 3 year warranty. ATV OnLine gives the Communicator 900 two thumbs up.
For more information you can contact Collett Electronics at http://www.collett.mb.ca or 1-800-665-7888.
Note: Look for future updates to this review following our New Year's Glamis trip.
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