Topcom Twintalker 9500 Airsoft Edition
The company Topcom’s known for producing Walkie Talkies that uses 446 MHz band, the so-called Private Mobile Radio (PMR) as used by some airsofters. Now they have made a PMR specifically for us Airsoft players. Based on the Twintalker 9500, that was originally produced in non-camouflage colours, this one is tailored for us…
Contents of the package
The package includes two handsets that are packed in their own separate smaller boxes. Included is a belt clip for each radio (already installed), 4 rechargeable (NiMH) AAA batteries, battery chargers, air-tube headset (security headset), instruction manual and an advertising brochure of Topcom’s communications equipment.
Build Quality and Ergonomics
The Walkie-talkies are mainly green with black parts. It feels solid and is comfortable to hold. The green coating feels like hard rubber and grips firmly in your hand. The antenna is short enough to not be in the way but can be bent slightly. The power button and the combined volume controls are not in the way and its coating is the same material and feel as the green skin, but black in colour. The buttons layer in the unit is in glossy plastic with white icons printed on. The unit is classified according IPX2 which means it can withstand a certain amount of water, such as raindrops. Since it is IPX2-rated so you see no visible screws, but two are under the battery cover and two are hidden behind the rubber stoppers on the top of the back.
It is easy to access the PTT (Push-to-Talk) to speak or the other buttons to navigate the menu, whether you use left or right hand. If you plan on keeping the device in one hand and the gun in the other during an intense game, then you probably would rather use a headset, which you receive in the package. The enclosed Air-tube headsets (Security headsets, PMR SEC01) works well and it attaches it with clamps at two points on your the vest or clothing.
The included belt clip is able to attach to belts up to 45 mm. At the bottom of the clip it is a small hook that will ensure it won’t fall off, which is good. The hook means that you do not necessarily need the walkie talkie in a radio pouch on a Modular vest.
On the right side, in height with the display, there is a rubber cover for the interface socket which consists of two jacks. The top jack is for connect the battery charger and the lower jack is for a headset (1-pin 2.5 mm) to connect for example the included Air-tube-headset. Because that the product is safe for raindrops (IPX2) it’s important to close the rubber cover carefully. We did however find closing the cover correctly a little tricky, on occasion.
On the bottom there are two metal contacts which is to charge the batteries with a desktop charger but such is not included with the Airsoft Edition, but is with the ordinary Twintalker 9500.
Batteries and Charging
To remove the battery cover you must first open a lock, it is also advisable to remove the belt clip for easier installation of the batteries. For each Walkie talkie 4 rechargeable (NiMh) AAA-batterys (1,2 volt, 600 mAh) are included. To simplify the removal of the batteries, is a strip of fabric that is to be placed under the batteries and tugged on to remove the batteries.
According to the instruction manual, it is recommended that the batteries should be charged for 8 to 10 hours. A reference from Topcom is that the batteries will last 50 hours in standby mode and 1½ hours in transmission mode. With fully charged batteries we nearly reached those estimates.
Begin to transmit and functions
When the batteries are inserted, the walkie talkie is started by turning the knob next to the antenna. You feel a click and shortly thereafter you hear a short tone melody and the display shows black text and numbers on a display with red backlight (the backlight goes off after a few seconds). The text and numbers are clearly visible on the display when you look out the right angle and the best viewing is when you look a little obliquely from below.
If you continue turning the knob to the left you will increase the volume. When you turn it off, you turn the knob in the opposite direction until you feel a click. Below the display on the front, there are four buttons. The top button is used to send out a tone to attract attention for the others on the same channel. The menu button (the biggest button on the front) is used when you, for example change channel or any other settings. The PTT button on the left side is used to confirm some settings.
Because it’s a PMR (Private Mobile Radio) it can reach 8 channels on the 446 MHz band. For each main channel there are 38 analog sub channels (CTCSS, Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System) and 83 digital sub channels (DCS, Digital-Coded Squelch), so you have lots of channels. Older PMRs usually do not have the digital sub channels so it’s important to ensure that the other players have systems that are up to date enough that they can handle the DCS if any of these channels are used.
To access all settings you push on the menu button and for each press you will continue in the menus. If you hold the button pressed in few seconds, the keylock will be activated. By default you hear a tone with every button pressed, but you can turn it off.
When you want to transmit, you press the PTT button (Push-to-Talk) and a red diode lights up. When you are done with the transmitting the diode will go out and shortly thereafter you hear a ‘roger-beep’. The ‘Roger-beep’ can be disabled by using the ‘turn off tone’ button. The built-in microphone is placed below the buttons on the right side . For the best sound quality when you speak during a transmission (without headset or other external microphone) a good distance is ten centimeters from the microphone.
To transmit, there is also a sound activated (VOX mode) where there are three sensitivity levels. It works very well, often the radio starts to transmit a second after it hears your voice on the most sensitive level. Then it waits a second to end the transmission after you have stopped talking. When you connect the headset and use the included Air-tube-headset you can choose between PTT mode and VOX mode. Both work well but after transmitting it is a hard snap at the end.
There are 15 ringtones to choose between to attract attention from the other PMRs on the same channel. When someone else is calling, it is possible to adjust the settings their own Walkie Talkie vibrates or sounds a ringtone and vibrates. There is a lock so you can’t transmit when someone else is transmitting on the channel at the same time.
If you want to check if there is someone’s radio traffic (on the PMR band) close to you, you can search all the channels (including the CTCSS and the DCS) or just single channels CTCSS and DCS. You can also adjust the settings so the radio works on two channels.
When you transmit, there is a TX icon on the display, and when you receive a transmission you see a RX icon. When the batteries are running out, the radio warns you by emitting some tones and finally powering off. You can all the time follow the battery status on a icon on the display to see how long is left.
According to the manufacturer is the transmitting range 10 km with direct line of sight, but we have not that topography in our region. But we have done radio checks in different terrains. We observe clearly that differences in altitude, dense forest, stones and buildings decrease the transmitting range somewhat. But the transmission range is very good and the voice quality is good many kilometers before any loss in voice quality, deterioration into noise or nothing.
|Model:||Twintalker 9500 Airsoft Edition|
|Product:||Private Mobile Radio|
|Subchannels:||38 CTCSS and 83 DCS|
|Frequency:||446.00625 MHz-446,09375 MHz|
|Range:||Up to 10 km (open field)|
|Battery:||4 x 1.2 V NiMH Rechargeable|
|Transmission power:||=< 500 mW ERP (0.5 W)|
|Modulation:||FM – F3E|
|Channel sharing:||12.5 kHz|
|Charger:||In: 230 V AC/50 Hz|
|Out: 9 V DC/300 mA|
|Weight:||147 g (with batteries)|
|105 g (without batteries)|
|Height:||165 mm (antenna 65 mm)|
|Height (body):||100 mm|
|Width (body):||53 mm|
|Depth (body):||27 mm|
All specifications except Weight and Dimensions (approximate) are from the included instruction manual.
Twintalker 9500 vs Twintalker 9500 Airsoft Edition
We wondered what the difference was between the Twintalker Airsoft Edition and the ordinary Twintalker 9500. Well, the Airsoft Edition is green and black and the original is red and black.
With the ordinary Twintalker 9500 is included a storage box and two desktop chargers. For Airsoft Edition, two Air-tube-headsets are included instead.
If you are looking for a Walkie Talkie/Private Mobile Radio that uses the 446 MHz band, the Topcom Twintalker 9500 Airsoft Edition a good choice. Even if several PMR models similar to the 9500 AE also work for the purpose, Topcom is marketing this model for us. Because this model is green and a headset is included to each Radio. In terms of the design, we think that the radios looks good, feel good and the quality is okay. The user interface is simple and with that easy to get started with. It’s very smart that each radio comes in a separate smaller package, which means, for example two friends can carrying home their own radios in a package.
It is however worth checking out several more professional PMR that are better, but they’re in other price ranges.
This review is originally written in Swedish by Daniel (Coordinator Product testing) but our friend Josh has helped us with the translation. The company Topcom Sverige AB has provided us with this product.