TriSquare eXRS Radios for Secure Comms

Started by MIA, September 02, 2012, 10:52:04 AM

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I have posted this review on other forums, but I thought that I'd include it here also, so forgive me if anyone has seen it before.

While doing some investigating on how to improve the security of our family/group communications, I came across the TriSquare eXRS (eXtreme Radio Service) radios

TriSquare eXRS Radios are hand held radios using Digital, Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology that was developed for secure military communications. They operate in the 900MHz ISM frequency band, away from FRS and GMRS (both in the 460MHZz range) radios. The radios come in two models, the TSX-100 and TSX-300, with the TSX-300 having more features and ?channels?. A channel is actually a sequence of 50 different frequencies between which the radio continuously hops. Both models of the radio come in either a charcoal gray or Realtree? print, and use either three AA batteries or a rechargeable battery pack.

The TSX-100 offers 1000 channel possibilities, stores up 10 Group Channels, Voice Operated Transmit (VOX), a backlit LCD screen, Silent Mode Operation, and a Call Alert feature.

The TSX-300 offers the features of the TSX-100, but has up to 10 Billion channel possibilities, stores up to 100 Private as well Group Channels, Text Messaging, Caller ID, Call Waiting, Page/Call Vibrate Alert, Backlit Keypad, and NOAA Weather receive.

The radios can be purchased individually or as a two radio ?Value Pack?. I purchased a value pack consisting of two TSX-300 radios, a desk charger, two NiMH rechargeable battery packs, and two VOX/PTT Headsets. After unpacking everything, I put the radios in the charger and let them charge overnight.

The following morning I read through the manual and went about programming them. I?ve been a Ham for about ten years, and have programmed a lot of radios, but these were something new. It could be that I?m just getting old, but it did take a few minutes to figure out the concept, but once I did, programming was quite easy.

Next I decided to see if I could detect the radios with my AOR scanner. At best, I could detect a slight increase in the noise floor (background noise), but no other indication of radio activity was heard. While I would bet that there are Government agencies that could listen in if they wanted, chances are that the average neighbor, scanner enthusiast, or local government won?t be able to.

We have used the radios around our little 15 acre farm, while traveling to a nearby city in separate vehicles, and at a local town craft fair. Around our farm we were always able to communicate clearly, even when we were in separate outbuildings at opposite ends of the property. With the headset I was able to hear clearly when called, even while using the chainsaw at the back of the property

On the road, the furthest that we were ever separated was about a mile and a half, but were able to communicate with no problem, even with the little hills that we have. We also had no problem at opposite ends of our town craft fair. We were about a half a mile apart with several buildings between us. Although I have always meant to do a distance test, I never got around to doing so. I would suspect though, that we probably would not get much more range out of them, except perhaps on flat open ground. I?ll add to this review when I finally get off my backside and do the test,

The headsets worked well and the cords are long enough to be routed comfortably and securely. The headsets have movable clips that can be adjusted for securing the wire in a convenient spot. Another nice feature of the headset, is that the push to talk switch can also be used to change between PTT and VOX operation.

I will admit that I did not try the Text Messaging feature. I?m an old fart and it doesn?t really interest me. However, I can see where it could be useful in a situation where silent operation would be tactically advantageous.

While we have weather radios in our home and shop, we did try out the NOAA weather broadcast reception feature and it worked well. We had no problems receiving in our home, shop, or vehicles.

We have owned the radios for about a two years now and I am quite pleased with their operation and the security that they provide. We now have a total of six of these radios, using three on a regular basis and keeping the others as spares. To sum things up I would say that the radios were a little daunting to program the first time, but are reasonably priced, seem to be quite durable (although not weather proof), and provide reasonably secure communications.



Do you need a license for these radios, or should we just not mention anything about that  ;)



Thanks Gil! I can't believe that I didn't include that in the review. No license is needed for these radios.  :)


Quote from: MIA on September 02, 2012, 01:23:07 PM
Thanks Gil! I can't believe that I didn't include that in the review. No license is needed for these radios.  :)
/confirm.  ISM was originally the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical band used for RF applications that rarely had anything to do with communication.  Like microwave ovens.  In ITU Region 2, they're practically unregulated.

I believe communications devices are limited to 1W.  And bear in mind, these things are just short of microwave emission -- they're EXTREMELY line-of-sight propagated.  Obstructions?  Buildings?  Modest distances?  Forget it.

Notice how popular the 33cm amateur band is NOT.  Good reason for that.  These radios are awesome for site-level secure tactical communications, but the limitations on power and lack of tolerance for environment variables leaves them limited for general use.

Edit -- corrected allowed transmitter power to 1W.  I can't find that documented yet, but that's all the equipment I'm finding online

Edit again -- found it.  1W.


Yes they do operate near the frequency of industrial microwave ovens, home microwave ovens typically operate around 2.4GH, although both are technically still in the UHF spectrum and not microwave. And yes the higher you go in frequency, the more "line of sight" that it is, however if you understand their limitations and use them appropriately, they are great radios. We've used them on and around our property nearly everyday for around 3 years and so far they haven't let us down.

As to the bands' popularity with Amateurs... Amateurs wanting to use the band have been limited to converting commercial gear to Amateur use. The reason you do not find much in the way of  Ham gear in the 33cm band is due to the fact that it is only available to Hams within ITU Region 2, although the upper portion is also allocated to Amateur Radio in Australia. Manufacturers generally do not want to produce something with such a limited audience to sell to. It is a great band though. I haven't found any real difference between these and FRS. It's quite, and with 8 watts and a high gain yagis I am able to cover 50 to 60 miles to make contest contacts with little problem. I've also heard that Alinco released a 33cm capable radio this year, but I haven't seen one yet.


TriSquare has been out of business for a while.