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Push-to-talk buttons as a way to connect a headset to a radio

2022-08-01
Push-to-talk buttons as a way to connect a headset to a radio

Push-to-talk buttons as a way to connect a headset to a radio

Hearing protection, especially active protection headsets, plays a significant role in tactical shooting. Thanks to utilizing such means, we don’t have to worry so much about damaging our hearing by shots or explosions. In tactical scenarios, there is one as important, if not more, thing to consider, and that's good comms. How can we connect the world of hearing protection through active headsets and our radio comms? By utilizing push-to-talk buttons!

What a push-to-talk button is, and what are its uses?

As most of us probably know, most of the active hearing protection headsets aren’t equipped with a push-to-talk button conveniently placed on the wire allowing us to mount it in an easy-to-access spot on our equipment, allowing for quick and easy use of our comms. That's where separate push-to-talk buttons come to play.

They do not only allow us to place our push-to-talk button in a convenient place, but they also let us connect devices, which might otherwise be not compatible with each other. Push-to-talk buttons come in a variety of shapes and sizes, allowing us to choose the one we are the most comfortable with. Some models even allow for easy use of two radio channels or even two radio devices using the same push-to-talk device!

It is important, when choosing a push-to-talk device, to find one suitable to our preferences, equipment, and place we want to mount it. If we are trying to act low-profile, we should choose a PTT device of small size, which could be easily concealed under our shirt or jacket. Otherwise, when we are planning to be more aggressive and act quicker, we should consider a more rough device, with bigger and thus easier to find in a midst of the fight button.

Types of plugs in PTT devices - a handful of information

In the comms world, there are many manufacturers of radio devices, some of which designed their own plug types for connecting push-to-talk devices or their dedicated headsets. To make it more clear and easier to catch, we will try to form a short list of the most common types of plugs by the type:

  • Kenwood - used by the popular Baofeng radio sets like UV-5R, BF-888s or UV-82
  • Midland - designed by Italian Midland company plug that is mostly used by their own devices like G9 or CT590S radios
  • Icom - plug designed by the Japanese company ICOM, used mostly in devices produced by the same company like IC-F4002 or IC-F27SR
  • Motorola Talkabout - one of two standards introduced by the Motorola company
  • Motorola 2-way - second standard introduced by the Motorola company, differentiated by using two pins instead of one as in Talkabout plug
  • Yaesu - a type of plugs designed by another Japanese company, Yaesu, used mostly in their own products, i.e. FT-4XE or FT-65E
  • Aux - well known and accessible type of headphones plug visible both in most cell phones and some laptops
  • Topcom - a plug standard designed by Taiwanese company TOPCOM Technology, used in their products like Twintalker 9500 Airsoft Edition or RC-6412
  • 6-pin - a plug widely used in military radios

When choosing your push-to-talk device, you should always remember to check if not only its plug will be compatible with your radio device, but also if the socket is compatible with your headset. Some headsets might also require an additional power source to be fully operative, and thus a specific push-to-talk device might be needed.

How to choose a push-to-talk device compatible with our devices?

Foremost, we need to identify what type of plug and socket our PTT device needs to have, to be able to connect both to the radio and headset. With radio, we can always check the manual, use the search engine or check our list above. To check what type of plug our headset comes equipped with, we should check its manual or again use our preferred search engine.

When we have identified what type of plug and socket our push-to-talk device needs to be equipped with, we can start searching for a device that has the aforementioned assets and will be comfortable for us to fit into our gear and use. Having a PTT device that is chosen to be ergonomic for us to use and allowing for comfortable placement will allow us for quick use of comms even in an emergency situation.

Example configuration of comms set including headset, PTT device, and radio

To make life easier for people who prefer to see a live example of choosing parts of equipment, we will present an example of a process to choose a PTT device when we already have a radio and headset chosen, in this case, our radio device will be Baofeng UV-5R and as a headset, we have chosen Earmor M32.

So as we have finally laid our hands on our radio device and active hearing protection headset, we need to find out what kind of plug and socket our next target to finalize our comms setup, a push-to-talk device, needs to have.

The Baofeng company makes radios that utilize Kenwood type of sockets, while Earmor M32 headsets come equipped with a 4-pin type of plug. 4-pin is the most popular type of plug for active hearing protection headsets, thus most of the push-to-talk devices come with a 4-pin socket.

After identifying a PTT device that comes equipped with a 4-pin socket, and a Kenwood plug, which is also in the shape we want - in this case, we have chosen M51 PTT Military standard device from Earmor - all that is left is to make that last order and connect all elements together!

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