Troubleshooting Two Way Radios

Troubleshooting Two Way Radios

It can be very frustrating for an operator of a two-way radio to be RT `savvy`, yet not have a serviceable radio to communicate with.

The problem/s being experienced at the time could have originated in multiple areas and it is now up to you to try and resolve this. When you have both time and technical assistance on hand then troubleshooting is not too much of a concern, however when you pressed to communicate at haste, and you are the only troubleshooting resource available, then you need to try to resolve any issue as a priority.

First let’s take a closer look at the word `Troubleshooting`. This term basically means to have a methodical approach to problem solving. This could be in the form of a checklist if you are working from a ground station for example, (what is more commonly referred to as a `fixed base station`, however this is not as simple if you are for example working with a mobile two - way radio during an emergency situation where you are away from the office environment and busy participating in a search and rescue.

Firstly, it is important to note that as the operator that by you `blowing air` into a faulty radio`s microphone, this is going to produce … nothing. Most microphones on a two-way radio are protected by a covering that forms part of the radio itself so let us rule this out of our troubleshooting `bag of tricks` from the start. Let us rather consider how we can integrate the troubleshooting checklist into a manner that will assist both the fixed base, as well as the mobile radio user without having to constantly refer to a written checklist for guidance and support.

This concept will still require you to have learnt what is about to be explained, however the guidance Talking Radio`s proposal comes in is the form of an acronym which is dual purpose for both operators using a two-way frequency radio, as well as those using a walkie-talkie. This is titled `CAPBAM` and a further explanation of each letter follows:


  • Is the radio on the proper channel?
  • Are all operators using the correct channels/frequencies when contacting the respective parties?


  • Is the volume turned up on the unit itself?

Power to The Radio

  • For mobile radios: Check if you have ground power?
  • Is everything connected and does the equipment look intact?


  • Is the battery fully charged?
  • Is the battery fitted correctly? 
  • Has the battery possibly expired?


  • For mobile radios: Is the antenna tightened to the roof of the vehicle/fitting?
  • Is it connected to the radio?
  • Is the path clear from contacts to the antenna?
  • Is the area under the antenna whip free of corrosion?


  • Is the PTT (Push to Talk) keying on and back indication is audible when selected and de-selected?

There are several additional checks that could be carried out by the operator, however the items that have been listed in this blog are specific to dual purpose troubleshooting techniques as mentioned earlier.

If you wish to discuss anything further related to this article, you are welcome to email