The virtues of 29MHz AM radios are many – they are relatively cheap and many Clubs and 4x4 drivers make use of them. They are priced at around R1100 – R1800 excluding antenna and installation. Their reliable operating range is anything from about three to five kilometres or thereabouts, but this varies greatly with weather conditions and time of day, as well as area of operation and motor vehicle suppression. AM radios are susceptible to engine and atmospheric disturbances, resulting in a crackling sound when such disturbances are present. Adjusting the radio’s squelch control can help eliminate these disturbances but this also has the effect of reducing operating range. The radios are fairly low-power units operating at around 4 – 5 Watts RF.

Antenna location is critical with a 29MHz AM radio and a permanent mount is to be preferred over a magnetic mount. Ideally the antenna should be mounted in the middle of a large expanse of metal, such as the roof of a double-cab. This might not always be convenient, and mounting the antenna elsewhere could result in directional RF radiation. A good compromise would be obtained by mounting the antenna as high as practicable on either the “B” or “C” pillar of a vehicle, ensuring that the steel whip and spring does not come into contact with any other metal work.

Below are examples of 29MHz radios:

Dragon KR-80 AM Radio

GX300 29MHz Radio