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Old 12-01-2020, 08:17 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Best solution for intercom - noisy bus

I'm researching the best intercom solutions for speaking to others in the bus. Problem: driving is a noisy thing. If you want to talk to someone in the back, how do you do it without shouting?

Searches in this forum and elsewhere are not illuminating.

I envision a device at the driver's seat, and at least one by the passenger seat (about 6 feet behind the driver).

Ideally it would be hands free or close to it, and it would allow back and forth communication, not just one way. Also, I'm sure there's some integration with my smart phone that would be cool and helpful in ways I haven't yet thought of.

I've briefly looked at CB radios, which have the additional benefit of being able to talk with someone outside the bus. I also looked at motorcycle helmet mike/headsets.

What have you found or done? Anyone already crack this nut?
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:23 PM   #2
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CB radio on PA setting with loudspeaker connected. If two-way is needed, x2. A pair of cheap DX19 IVs would do for this. CB is also good for getting info about road conditions ahead (antenna required for radio transmission).
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:26 PM   #3
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I'm sure there's some integration with my smart phone that would be cool and helpful in ways I haven't yet thought of.
You could use your smartphone to call the person you want to talk to.
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Old 12-01-2020, 09:41 PM   #4
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bluetooth handsfree comes to mind. "Call Susan".

You can use two-way radios, like family radios.
For my racecar to talk to the pit boss I created a system using an amplified speaker and throat mic in the car using two-way radios. Put the push-to-talk button on the shifter.
Pit boss just used a handheld, with the volume turned up they are pretty loud.
So can leave it on in back, and when you talk they can hear it and pick it up to talk back.
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Old 12-01-2020, 10:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rucker View Post
I'm researching the best intercom solutions for speaking to others in the bus. Problem: driving is a noisy thing. If you want to talk to someone in the back, how do you do it without shouting?

Searches in this forum and elsewhere are not illuminating.

I envision a device at the driver's seat, and at least one by the passenger seat (about 6 feet behind the driver).

Ideally it would be hands free or close to it, and it would allow back and forth communication, not just one way. Also, I'm sure there's some integration with my smart phone that would be cool and helpful in ways I haven't yet thought of.

I've briefly looked at CB radios, which have the additional benefit of being able to talk with someone outside the bus. I also looked at motorcycle helmet mike/headsets.

What have you found or done? Anyone already crack this nut?
If you don't mind being tied to wiring, you can research standalone aircraft intercom systems that use earphone/mic sets that plug in, and you could install the plugs in strategic locations in the bus. Think of the Fire Fighters you see wearing headsets in their rigs. Same situation. Plus they have access to the radio through the intercom systems, which function is also built into the aircraft intercoms. Aircraft intercoms can be found that are portable and used in whatever the pilot is renting/flying. They are "Aircraft" so there's a premium on their costs, but if you look you can find them used on Ebay for reasonable prices. Most of them have a VOX controlled feature so you don't need to push buttons for the intercom. The Radio usually does require a separate button.

I'm actually thinking of doing something like this in mine when the time comes. It's not very loud but I can use the headphones for music and radio communications. I would want a very light and comfortable headset so I don't block out the outside sounds. There are many lightweight headset/mic units around and I should think you could find one that works for you.

If all else fails you could always just get the very handy electronic loudspeaker/
megaphone common to all the group protests we see on the news. Amazon, Ebay, has them and they are available anywhere, and cheap. Useful anywhere around loud vehicles I'd guess, inside or outside, but not too friendly to the neighbors.
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Old 12-02-2020, 12:32 AM   #6
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best of the best.....

for noise control and intercom all in one go? I have to second the aircraft headset intercom thing.... I use a motorcycle bluetooth thing on my helmet and use "plugphones" with it... I can link up to four of the headsets with each other and connect with my telephone too..... Mine is the Sena brand smh10 is the particular model I have. They make versions for wearing with bicycle helmets too.... and so if you have like a baseball cap... you should be able to mount unit, headphones and microphone .... go look at them .. you will see.

people that call me cannot tell I am on a motorcycle when I talk to them on the telephone. noise cancellation is that good. I use helmet speakers or the "plugphones" I prefer the plugphones. I do not listen to music when riding... I want to be able to hear stuff around me, the wind noise is bad enough with out adding more volume from music...

I can link more than four units, but the band with is tight when I do. I can blue tooth to a gps unit and/or phone, while I am linked to other people.

william
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Old 12-02-2020, 01:20 AM   #7
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Should you choose to do the phone method (not recommended) - Another possibility is a Bluetooth headset made for commercial drivers - I recommend Blue Parrot or Blue Tiger. Their noise reduction is equal to what was mentioned earlier... Most people couldn't tell I was in a noisy road tractor cruising along at 68 mph, engine, gearbox, and differentials all whining away in harmony...

The Blue Parrot is not as comfortable, but is more reliable. The Blue Tiger is comfortable, but I had to replace mine twice in the first two years I had it. The answer button on the earlier models just did not seem to last. Perhaps they have fixed that issue. I still think a pair of CB's on PA mode with loudspeakers is your best bet, and it has some other uses and benefits as well.
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:38 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Crown_Guy View Post
If you don't mind being tied to wiring, you can research standalone aircraft intercom systems that use earphone/mic sets that plug in, and you could install the plugs in strategic locations in the bus. Think of the Fire Fighters you see wearing headsets in their rigs. Same situation. Plus they have access to the radio through the intercom systems, which function is also built into the aircraft intercoms. Aircraft intercoms can be found that are portable and used in whatever the pilot is renting/flying. They are "Aircraft" so there's a premium on their costs, but if you look you can find them used on Ebay for reasonable prices. Most of them have a VOX controlled feature so you don't need to push buttons for the intercom. The Radio usually does require a separate button.

I'm actually thinking of doing something like this in mine when the time comes. It's not very loud but I can use the headphones for music and radio communications. I would want a very light and comfortable headset so I don't block out the outside sounds. There are many lightweight headset/mic units around and I should think you could find one that works for you.

If all else fails you could always just get the very handy electronic loudspeaker/
megaphone common to all the group protests we see on the news. Amazon, Ebay, has them and they are available anywhere, and cheap. Useful anywhere around loud vehicles I'd guess, inside or outside, but not too friendly to the neighbors.

a buddy of mine is a private pilot and he has the Bose aviation headsets in his plane, he takes them with them in their bus and has jacks throughout for them.. they have a light switch in the front and back of the bus to turn on a Lamp to alert that he wants to talk to the family or the family wants to talk to him (lights up on the dash).. that way they dont wear the headsets all the time .. of course Bose aviation headsets arent cheap but boy do they work.. when we go fly they are incredibly quiet even in the single prop plane
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Old 12-02-2020, 09:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
a buddy of mine is a private pilot and he has the Bose aviation headsets in his plane, he takes them with them in their bus and has jacks throughout for them.. they have a light switch in the front and back of the bus to turn on a Lamp to alert that he wants to talk to the family or the family wants to talk to him (lights up on the dash).. that way they dont wear the headsets all the time .. of course Bose aviation headsets arent cheap but boy do they work.. when we go fly they are incredibly quiet even in the single prop plane
I like that signal light idea, quite a brilliant (like that?) idea. For all the reasons you state. I fly as well and the idea of having to keep a headset on all the time is something I'm not in favor of. In a plane it's quite normal and too useful not to do it, but not on the road in a Crown that just isn't that loud. The Cummins anyway. It's remarkably quiet and easy to talk over at all speeds, very nice with a very low noise footprint, pleasantly so.

Now, the Detroit 6-71TA is another story. For that one I own and drive it BECAUSE it's loud, and screams the Holy and Divine Detroit 2-Stroke Song Of The Road. Music to my ears. If I want to talk while driving that one I will need a GOOD, probably aircraft quality, intercom system along with a very good noise cancelling Headphone/Mic combination, for me and the passengers. But then that light signal idea is very appealing so I don't have to keep the "ears" on all the time. I can cruise along and enjoy the DD Scream'n Jimmy that I've paid so dearly to own and drive. Nothing comes remotely close to it. I was born in these and they are so in my blood. DD 2-stroke Crowns forever!!!

I know of more than a few guys with DD Crowns who have removed their mufflers and straight piped the exhausts. Now, That's a whole n'ther level of awesomeness. Who knows.... I might even join them in that, later on, in this madness. It's true the turbo's don't have the same excellent DD sound the naturally aspirated non-turbo's do. So I may want (and need?) to up the volume some by reducing the mufflers' influence on the sound output, however that may need to be accomplished....... All In Due time.
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Old 12-03-2020, 04:43 PM   #10
Skoolie
 
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Thank you all for the quick replies! Love this community and the diversity of approach, perspective but mostly for the thoughtfulness.

Cadillackid: Bose aviation headsets is the Cadillac solution. Just two headsets would be ~$2K, though, so out of my range. If the rig were impossibly loud that would be a good way to make life bearable though. However, Flightcom IISX or Faro Portable 2 Place intercom are two excellent options! One of these costs about $110 and has a bunch of additional functionality (some of which will require additional cables or components.

Having an indicator light might help with that. Great tip.

Crown Guy: My bus is not excessively noisy but you canít have a normal conversation because the passenger seat is behind and to the right of the driver. Conversation is strained, and Iím thinking on long trips it would be easier on the throat if voice conversation was augmented.

Cheese Wagon: Yes-Blue Parrot headsets are an inexpensive solution. It made me realize both my wife and I use our headsets all day long so maybe we could use those and just find some USB-based solution. We use corded headsets because batteries donít last and are annoying to replace. Also, your suggestion about CB radios makes me think that adds some key functionality, especially when youíre out of cellphone range.

Magnakansas: Motorcycle Bluetooth headset intercom thingies are what I first looked at, and though they are a bit pricey they would improve our mountain biking experience a bit as well, so thatís worth a few additional points.

BeNimble: I have a set of walkie-talkies, and we use those when weíre running two cars. This will be what I go out the gate with. Thinking about someone way in back (itís just a shuttle bus, but you know what I mean), being able to sqawk to the driver, so yes.

Musigenesis: We use smartphones and walkie-talkies right now, especially in caravan.
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Old 12-03-2020, 04:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Cheese Wagon: Yes-Blue Parrot headsets are an inexpensive solution. It made me realize both my wife and I use our headsets all day long so maybe we could use those and just find some USB-based solution. We use corded headsets because batteries don’t last and are annoying to replace. Also, your suggestion about CB radios makes me think that adds some key functionality, especially when you’re out of cellphone range.
Precisely why I suggested CBs in PA mode with loudspeakers. Antenna is only required if calling for help over CB. CH9 isn't monitored much anymore, but someone on CH19 with cell signal could relay with your location info, hence I recommend taking advantage of that functionality.

A small basic radio such as a Midland or Cobra 19DX IV will have limited range - 1-3 miles at most. A well-tuned Cobra 19 LX or Galaxy 929 DX (I have a 929 DX myself) with an equally well-tuned good-quality antenna can transmit and receive up to 5-7 miles ahead and perhaps 3-5 miles behind or more under ideal conditions.

I recommend Wilson antennas, the 2000 Trucker is a good one that could mount to a side mirror with an appropriate bracket. A magnet-mount Lil' Wil could attach to a steel roof. I also recommend Astatic mic upgrades, they have excellent noise reduction.

Switching is required between PA and CB modes, however, so you may want to consider a third receiver just for listening for road / traffic updates (CH19). If transmitting, however, be courteous. If you're running with someone for a few hours and want to pass the time with small talk, don't clog up CH19 - invite your running buddy to another channel and switch - there are 38 more. Just be aware you won't be on CH19 for updates at that point until you switch back. One channel at a time, one function at a time, one transmission at a time.

Oh, and to clarify, the idea would be to have the front CB connected to a rear loudpeaker, and the rear CB connected to a front loudspeaker. Some buses already have a basic setup in the front that can be repurposed for this, which would save some money.

I might also add that DynaMat could help quiet things drastically but that could be quite costly with a bus, depending on how much is needed to quell the noise to where it is acceptable.
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