Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar Associate Editor
5/17/12 11:24 a.m.

We're gonna be talking to Speedcom on Monday to rig up a radio in our car. We've struggled along with pit boards before, and we're convinced that's cost us a ton of time on track. Coming in too soon, reporting problems, and tons of other time-wasters can be avoided if the driver can talk to crew and vice-versa.

http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/project-cars/1986-98-mark-vii/our-chumpcar-gets-radios/

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/17/12 11:37 a.m.

Also, a question from the group: What do you want to learn about radios? Yes, an article on the subject is in the works.

Sonic
Sonic SuperDork
5/17/12 11:49 a.m.

How to do them affordably. Our lemons team has struggled with the best solution here, as there are plenty of very expensive setups that will be great, but we don't want to pay $1000 for a radio system. There must be something that will work well enough, at half the cost.

dculberson
dculberson Dork
5/17/12 12:06 p.m.

YEAH!!! What Sonic said. A grassroots (ie, cheap like most of us) radio article would be awesome.

Osterkraut
Osterkraut UltraDork
5/17/12 12:41 p.m.

I wonder what an out-of-cert aircraft radio would cost? Now that's an article I'd read!

Nashco
Nashco UltraDork
5/17/12 12:55 p.m.

At $1000+, that radio system costs more than our entire crap can build cost including a set of new tires. We have successfully used Motorola "family" type handheld units with push to talk mics rigged up and were able to communicate "good enough" for crap can racing for under $100. I've also used a (motorcycle intended) Chatterbox that is a mid-range balance of increased cost and increased performance for a few hundred bucks. It's also pretty easy to rig up a 12V charger on the cheap units so you don't even have to worry about the batteries during a long race. Sure, you're not going to be getting constantly told "INSIDE!..OUTSIDE!...DID YOU SEE THAT?!" on the radio, but it's extremely good value to get stuff like, "Get ready, I'm coming in on the next lap. Something feels loose on the right front!" or "Stay out one more lap, Steve still doesn't have his driving suit on."

I think a comparison of the cheap style radios under track usage would be fantastic to get an idea of useful range with cheaper units on typical semi-hilly tracks and crowded pits. Comparing 10 $1000 set works. Yeah, no E36 M3 it works, it cost $1000!

My 0.02 bucks.

Bryce

stan_d
stan_d Dork
5/17/12 1:29 p.m.

Cell phones with hands free sets usually free cell to cell already 12 volt chargers out there.

Steve Chryssos
Steve Chryssos Associate Publisher
5/17/12 2:07 p.m.

We tried the MacGyver / Radio Shack experiment at a race last year. Not only was it impossible to swap the rigged up headset from helmet to helmet, but the solution crapped out on lap three which torpedo'd our race strategy. For example, drivers came in with half full tanks. Another example? We had no knowledge of Heath's crash until he limped into the pit and even then, it took 30 seconds to register that the right front had damage.

If you care at all about being competitive, radios are as important as tires and fuel.

Toyman01
Toyman01 PowerDork
5/17/12 2:18 p.m.

We used Midland GTX1000 radios with their car kit and headset. It worked great for the price. Total cost was $90 for the radios, the car kit with headset was $40. I bought enough for all the helmets so all you had to do was unplug one helmet and plug in the next. Not close to the quality as a true race set, but it was what I could afford and it got the job done.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
5/17/12 2:35 p.m.
dculberson wrote: YEAH!!! What Sonic said. A grassroots (ie, cheap like most of us) radio article would be awesome.

While low-cost alternatives are a good idea (keep em coming), "real" radios can also be used for all kinds of events. Keep in mind that these radios will probably also be used on other race car projects. IMHO getting the full scoop on radio communication would be very useful.

and once again........Grassroots does not always = cheap!

using ingenuity? yes

making the most out of what you have? yes

fabricating, and outside the box thinking? yes

cheap? sometimes, but not always.

Nashco
Nashco UltraDork
5/17/12 2:36 p.m.
Steve Chryssos wrote: We tried the MacGyver / Radio Shack experiment at a race last year. Not only was it impossible to swap the rigged up headset from helmet to helmet, but the solution crapped out on lap three which torpedo'd our race strategy. For example, drivers came in with half full tanks. Another example? We had no knowledge of Heath's crash until he limped into the pit and even then, it took 30 seconds to register that the right front had damage. If you care at all about being competitive, radios are as important as tires and fuel.

Maybe it's worth asking other teams that have used them successfully. There are teams consistently finishing in the top without $1000 radio sets. There is a way to solve your problem without throwing money at it, other people have proven it. Maybe they paid more attention when watching MacGyver, or maybe they used something that wasn't Radio Shack stuff.

Radios are probably nearly as important as tires and fuel if you want to be a top team, I won't argue that. Well, of course, you CAN win without a radio but it's really tough to do without fuel or tires. With that said, the top teams are running DOT 200+ treadwear rating tires, regular unleaded fuel with stock fuel systems, and $100 radio kits. If they can do it, why can't GRM? The whole point of crap can racing is to have fun racing on the cheap, and $1000 radios don't fit that model in my mind.

Bryce

dculberson
dculberson Dork
5/17/12 3:18 p.m.

Good prep and not hitting anything is more important than a radio when it comes to top finishing.. my highest Lemons finish yet (8th) we didn't have radios at all. But that was because the team captain is an animal at making sure the car is 100% prior to the race.

@Joe - I know grassroots doesn't equal cheap, that's why I specifically mentioned "cheap like most of us." :-)

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/17/12 3:38 p.m.

Let's back up for a minute, because we're not saying that you need expensive radios for crapcan racing. First off, yes, we have a crapcan enduro coming up. Our crapcan car needs a radio system. We also have other race cars here in the fleet, so while the radios will first be installed in the Lincoln, they will then migrate to something else. In the end, the big thing is that we all get a story about radios.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
5/17/12 3:42 p.m.
dculberson wrote: @Joe - I know grassroots doesn't equal cheap, that's why I specifically mentioned "cheap like most of us." :-)

Thanks That always gets under my skin. Maybe it's because of our name, but some companies assume our readers are cheapskates and resist advertising thinking the return won't be good. It just isn't the case. Most of our readers make good $$$ and are more than willing to spend it. Our advertisers also generally get great results. Whenever someone equates GRM to cheap, it sets me off a bit as we've been fighting that misconception for years.

Steve Chryssos
Steve Chryssos Associate Publisher
5/17/12 4:00 p.m.

I want to never ever think about radios during a race so that I'm free to concentrate on that racing thingie. Zero out the problem. There is real value in that. With crapcan racing, the actual act of competing can sometimes get shuffled down the list of priorities somewhere below the crap part.

Most of all though, I can't wait to finally have a real headset installed into my helmet so that I can use it in a variety of settings--including driver training. I will never borrow another sweaty, "cootie" infested mic again.

Our Preferred Partners
L7R6SzCrmdtxOv7ionOdF27GRXptmAPk94okr2gKQPwi3kd161u3DMFNKOAHEIOe