posted by 433 Spaceman, 12/15/2017

Linking Zello to a Conventional Walkie Talkie (the cheap way)

This is for people that are into 2-way radios. If you have 2 walkie talkies for example, you can link one of them up to a pc running Zello, and communicate back and forth to other Zello users using your other walkie talkie.

The downside of doing this:

  • Sometimes it's hard to get the button on busy channels.
  • You can't see any avatar or names of who's talking unless you're near the PC.
  • You'll be heard loud and clear to other Zello users as long as you stay in range of the walkie talkie that's hooked up to the PC.
  • Lastly, the other downside is if anyone else with a walkie talkie near you and on your same frequency keys up and talks, they will transmit on Zello *AS YOUR USERNAME* so be careful of that. (I personally use the low power FRS frequencies and I turn on CTCSS or DCS privacy, but that doesn't completely keep others from keying up. I just recommend NOT leaving this hooked up and logged into a channel. Only hook it up when you are actively listening and talking.)

So, here you go....

How to Go Old School and Talk on Zello Using a Walkie Talkie:

  1. Make sure both walkie talkies are on the same frequency and CTCSS or DCS.
  2. Connect the first walkie talkie to your PC:
    • Hook the speaker out of the walkie to the mic input of your pc
    • Hook your mic in of the walkie to the speaker out of the pc
    • set your walkie talkie's volume just under half way
    • Notes: Most walkies have a spot where you can hook up a speaker mic, and you can use those connections to connect to. Usually walkie talkie input/output jacks are different sizes: 2.5mm and 3.5mm. So, for the 2.5mm jack, you would need a cable that has a 2.5mm plug on one side and a 3.5mm plug on the other.
  3. Configure Zello on your PC
    • Start of Zello, and get logged in under your account
    • go to your Echo contact for testing purposes
    • Go to Options --> Sound Alerts and place a check mark next to Incoming Message Alerts. This will help activate your walkie's VOX sooner and you won't miss the first word of incoming messages.
    • Go to Options --> VOX and turn on the VOX option. Also, you might have to play with the Activation/Deactivation settings. I have mine set to -42dB
    • Make sure the button with the padlock next to the talk button is activated
  4. Configure settings on the connected walkie talkie
    • Go into your Walkie's menu and turn on VOX. (It might be called something else, like hands free, voice activation, etc.)
    • Some walkies have a setting for the activation/deactivation threshold - you may need to mess with that setting as well once you have everything else set up
  5. Start talking on your 2nd walkie talkie. If you're talking to the echo contact, you can hear yourself after you unkey. Here's where you need to play with the following settings to prevent your transmit or receive from being too low or too loud
    • Check the PC's speaker volume - personally, I have mine set to 10, but everyone’s settings may differ.
    • Check the PC's mic volume - I have mine set to 77, but again, everyone’s settings may differ.

Finally, once you get your transmit and receive sounding good, try to connect with another Zello user in solo and see if it sounds good to them. See if they sound like they normally do to you. When you get it the way you want it, then you can try going into a channel with multiple people.