How Do Walkie Talkies Work?


Quick Answer

Walkie talkies use radio waves transmitted and received by an antenna tuned to a single bandwidth, and then convert the electronic signals into sounds using a magnetic coil and a paper or plastic cup. Walkie talkies are a common method of sharing information over a short to medium range area.

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How Do Walkie Talkies Work?
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Full Answer

Walkie talkies are small, wireless handheld radio communication devices that generally broadcast at 460 megahertz and require no transmission towers. They have battery powered transceivers with a half duplex channel, which allows only one unit to transmit at a time. Walkie talkies have a push-to-talk button that must be depressed to speak and released to hear communications. They work regardless of power outages or networked communication interruptions.

Most walkie talkies have a single speaker that allows for transmitting and receiving sounds; however, some models have separate devices. They transmit radio waves at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, so communication is nearly instantaneous.

Users can operate walkie talkies as a single pair, or in groups, if they are tuned to the same frequency, such as police, military units, emergency responders, public event organizers and businesses. If privacy issues are a concern, walkie talkies use open transmissions that can be easily intercepted. However, encryption capabilities are available, but generally reserved for military use.

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