How Do Walkie Talkies Work

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

You have seen people speaking into handheld devices while working in a firm or office. Even if you haven’t seen this in real-life, you should have seen it in movies, especially in crime movies with the police.

Walkie-talkies were the instruments everyone used to communicate before the advent of telephones and handsets.

If you haven’t handled a walkie talkie yet, you are missing out on all the fun. And you need to consider getting one. You could even get them as play communication devices for your children.

Today, we are going to answer a common question beginners normally ask – how do walkie talkies work?

But before we do that, let’s take some time and familiarize ourselves with what a walkie talkie is just in case you’re completely new to the world of two-way radios.

What Is Walkie-Talkie

How Do Walkie Talkies Work

Walkie-Talkies are small, handheld radio devices. They are wireless, and you can carry them anywhere.

They are transceivers. So, they can send and receive radio messages. And they are usable over a short-range of distance.

These are basically made up of an antenna, a microphone, and a speaker.

The speaker and microphone are positioned side by side. And the speaker is so loud that anyone within close range can hear it.

They are powered by a battery. And they use a “push to talk button” (PTT), so when you are sending a message, you can’t be receiving a message at the same time.

Who Uses Walkie-Talkies

Walkie-Talkies are usable by anyone. Once you find the need for them in your home, office, or factory, you can buy them.

However, many firms use walkie-talkies, especially those who need to have constant group communication while working, for example, large factory workers. Also, it’s common in work environments where communication has to be instant, like, the military, the police, and those rendering emergency services.

Walkie talkies are also used within manufacturing companies, hospitals, construction firms, and many other sectors.

They are strong and so are also suitable for children to play around at home. Parents may also use them to communicate with their children, at home or outdoor, especially during camping exercises.

Mountain climbers and hikers also use walkie-talkies to keep in touch as some of the mountains are out of network coverage, and handsets won’t work there.

How Do Walkie Talkies Work

Walkie-Talkies are actually radio systems. But they are opposed to normal radios. In that, radio sets can receive frequency from just one source, the sender. On the contrary, walkie-talkies can play the function of both the source and the receiver.

Walkie-talkies are basically a two-way radio system, which means that both the sender and receiver can speak. They can speak at a specified frequency, usually at an average of 460MHZ. And the waves are really fast, almost the same speed as light –at a transmitting speed of about 180,000 miles per second.

However, to speak, you need to tune into a specified frequency. Grab the walkie-talkie and hit a channel, perhaps channel 7. And when you are set to talk, hold down the PTT button.  And then, speak into the device. Everyone in that frequency will hear you.

In contrast to mobile phones, walkie-Talkies use a half-duplex mode to send and receive messages. This means that once you hold down the button, no one else at the same frequency can talk until you release the button.

Even if anyone tries to talk while you are holding down the button, nothing is going to transmit. This mode of communication is called half-duplex. In telephone communication, everyone can speak when they like, and perhaps into each other’s words. And that mode is called full-duplex.

This is why most people like to say “over” before releasing the push-to-talk button. So, the receivers will know they are done, and also say what they have to say. This might be a real issue because the receiver cannot react until the sender is done talking.

How Far Can Walkie Talkies Reach

There’s no definite answer to this question. A lot of factors can contribute to the range of walkie-talkies. Let’s explore some of these factors.

Two-way radio systems travel in a straight line, and many factors will determine the distance they travel.

First, the lower the frequency of your walkie-talkie, the more distance they will travel. And most walkie-talkies come with frequencies of 130MHZ to 900MHZ.

Another factor is the type of frequency your walkie-talkie uses.

The two types of frequencies are the UHF (ultra-high frequency) and the VHF(very high frequency).

UHF frequencies comparatively travel shorter distances and have less speed than the VHF frequencies. However, the UHF will perform better in enclosed places, for example, at home and factory workshops. They can navigate small apertures and transmit waves.

Even though the VHF may be faster and more penetrative, they will not perform well in an enclosed space, because they use large frequencies. And such frequencies can’t navigate small openings.

So, VHF frequency walkie-talkies will perform better in the outdoor space than the UHF ones. For example, hiking and mountain climbing will require a VHF walkie-talkie.

The type of antenna will also contribute; there are basically two types –the whip and stubby antennas. The stubby antennas reduce wave distance by about 30%. So, you want to get a walkie-talkie with a whip antenna.

Also, the power of the device plays a part; the higher the signal strength, the more the distance your walkie-talkie can reach.

Signal strength depends on power output. Therefore, you want to get walkie-talkies with higher power outputs of up to 5watts.

None of these factors work in isolation. All of them will combine to determine the range your walkie-talkie will cover. So, you need to optimize each of them for your walkie-talkie to cover the best range.

Advantages of Walkie-Talkies

  • It’s easy to use. All you have to do is select a channel, hold down the Push-to-talk button, and start talking.
  • It’s great for places without network coverage, for example, the mountains, hills, and wilderness.
  • Children can use walkie-talkies to play around at home and mimic cops.
  • It’s great for the workplace, as every report already has a specific channel. This makes work seamless and problems easy to report.
  • They are lightweight and easy to carry around. You can hang them at your waist and communicate via a headset.
  • It can communicate rapidly during emergencies.
  • It is cheap

Disadvantages of Walkie-Talkies

  • One of the major disadvantages of walkie-talkies is the shortness of distance you need to be within, to stay in touch. Considering the fact that they are limited by obstructions, it is very hard to communicate in distances over 10miles.
  • They are actually prone to interference, and someone can easily eavesdrop on what you are saying.
  • Only one person can talk at any particular time while others listen.


Walkie talkies are terrific devices for communicating in short ranges. If you are a parent, it will prove to be an excellent play tool for your kids. And if you are a business owner, walkie-talkie can enhance communication in your workplace.

Hopefully, by now, you’re no longer a stranger to what walkie talkies are. So, the next time you’re asked how do walkie talkies work, you should know what to say!

Helpful Resources:

1. Walkie Talkie Privacy Codes – How Do Privacy Codes Work
2. Walkie Talkie Morse Code – Learn And Use Smartly

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top