Winston Lawrence

KD2WLL - Amateur Radio Notes

Using a ham radio with a PC/Gaming headset

PC/Gaming Headset, Btech adapter, Mobile Radio.

Why use a headset?

I noticed that on a few calls some stations were very difficult to understand. The signal was clearly fading in and out or the audio itself had a wrbling quality that sounded as if it was being spoken underwater. Either way, if I was listening through a headset it might have been easier to understand what was being said. Also, for some longer net events, a headset-mic combination would have been both more comfortable and kept my hands free to use the computer.

I've seen the headsets used on some of the Youtube channels and had settled on a Heil headset that seemed to fit the bill. I had a hard-time trying to figure out how, or if the Heil (the BM-17D) would work with my radios. Did I need some kind of adapter for the power requirements? Did I need an adapter, in addition to the headset to physically connect to the radios? Did I need an additional PTT switch (foot or hand-held)? I went to the Heil website to order but that option wasn't really helping me so I figured Amazon and its user review section may help and it did, but not in the way I expected. Instead, I ran across the Amazon BTECH listing for "BTECH 2 Pin (K1 Connector) to 3.5MM Adapter with Push-to-Talk Button (Compatible with 2 Pin BaoFeng, Kenwood, BTECH Radios to 3.5mm Headsets with in-line Mics)" which appeared to be perfect for what I needed since I could then just use a PC/Gaming headset! I ordered one of the adapters and when it came in hooked it up painlessly with the Turtle Beach Recon50p gaming headset - sweet!

Why use an Amateur Radio headset?

Short answer is I still don't know. There are so many variations in connectors, power requirements speaker and microphone types that it is really confusing from the outside looking in. In my case, adapters like the Btech made the decision easy. Does the adapter fit your radio? Does the adapter support your headset-mic (3.5mm plug and inline mic). Yes, go for it. At worse you are out $20.00 or so, which is probably significantly less than going the ham radio headset route.

Did it work?

I am still testing it but my initial tests with Parrot showed some improvement in sound. Most of the improvement was due to consistency. When hand-holding the PTT Mic it can be at times an inch or two away from my mouth to a few inches away. The audio quality drops off significantly as the distance increases. Using the headset, the distance is pretty much always the same so that variable is eliminated and the audio improves. Using the headset itself has made listening to some of those less than perfect stations a lot better since the audio is easier to understand. I can't compare the Turtle Beach to a Heil BM 17D for example because I never got to try out the Heil. On the other hand I have probably saved between $130 and $170.00 by going with the PC Gaming headset approach.

'73 and clear.

'73 KD2WLL