PRODUCT EVALUATION: RUGGED RADIOS RRP660 2-PLACE INTERCOM SYSTEM
Communicate with your passengers By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Rugged Radios is the biggest name in off-road communications applications. When you see serious UTV off-roaders, it is more than common to see an intercom system and/or a radio kit from Rugged. Until you have experienced clear conversation with your passenger(s) without shouting, you don’t know what you are missing. In addition to talking between passengers, you may listen to music with the RRP660 system. All in-car communication is hands-free. You simply talk, and the microphone that is part of the included helmet kit picks up the sound and activates the intercom. All passengers hear in stereo with two small, flat speakers in each helmet. If you add a two-way radio to the system for car-to-car communications, there are push-to-talk (PTT) buttons.
When you have music playing, the music auto-dims when you or your passenger speaks. With the voice-activated (VOX) knob, you can adjust what speaking volume level activates your mic and dims your music for clear conversation. It is rare to have engine or wind noise interfere if you have the VOX sensitivity set correctly.
Being able to communicate with your passengers (or friends in other machines) is not only safer, it adds to the enjoyment of recreational riding, and it is required for racing. The RRP660 2-place intercom system with helmet kits sells for $805.
WHAT IT COMES WITH
In addition to the RRP660 intercom, the kit comes with helmet kits that have speakers and a microphone. All required cabling is included and labeled for easy set up. Included with this kit are two PTT (push-to-talk) buttons for use with an optional 2-way radio (not included). You can add a 2-way radio at any time. It also includes some assorted hardware, including brackets to help mount the intercom using the extruded slots in the case. We added two quick-install helmet kits. That is a $40 billet-aluminum mount that prevents loads on the helmet kit wires and makes mounting the helmet kits easier and cleaner. For our somewhat unique application, we added the 12-volt accessory port power plug.
With the RRP660 you are able to set the VOX volume threshold to activate your mic for in-car communication. You have the auto-music-dimming already mentioned. It has ports for four headsets or helmet kits, and that is expandable to eight! There are inputs for music and cell phone with the required 3.5mm music cord included. The high-output amplifier provides outstanding music listening. You can even connect an optional cable to the rear AUX port to record your intercom audio to GoPro or other device!
The first thing to do is install the helmet kit into your helmet. The ease or difficulty of this process has everything to do with how easily the interior of your helmet comes out for washing. If the interior goes back in your helmet easily and cleanly, the install is a snap. Other helmet brands make it a pain. Figure a half hour for your first install if the helmet interior goes in easily. You stick the speakers to the helmet inner liner with an adhesive pad that is already attached to them. You may want to fasten the wires in. Use tape or hot glue, not chemical glue around the liner and shell.
Next, you will want to install the microphone. The microphone should be flat while touching your lips with the ability to flex the microphone away from your mouth while putting the helmet on. At this point you can use a hot glue gun to glue the flexible microphone cable in place, under the helmet padding, from the base forward so you can still bend the mic cable. The helmet padding should all go back in place without modifying the helmet’s integrity in any way.
You will need to route the wire that you plug into the helmet each time you enter the machine. As we found out the hard way, you’ll need to unplug before you exit the car. It gives your helmet a good tug and the connection pulls out, but that can’t be good for the plugs and cable.
Finally, you must mount and cable-up the intercom. Rugged Radios has a number of mounting options that puts the intercom and all of the cable in the dash area, but we are constantly changing machines, and we wanted a quick-change install that would let us easily switch the intercom to other cars. Plus, we don’t want to store the car with the intercom in it. We mounted the RRP660 to the passenger grab handle. For the first install we used zip-ties, but we will make a quick bracket using the parts supplied with the kit. Cabling everything up was a snap. The entire install required around 25 minutes, and that included consulting the directions and taping the helmet plug cables to the roll cage. Rather than wiring the system to the battery or fuse block, we simply added the accessory plug adapter and plugged it into the stock 12-volt outlet. Rugged warned that some installs will pick up interference, but ours did not. We could swap the system to another car in minutes!
HOW IT WORKS
As soon as you have in-car communication, your life will change. It will be extremely difficult to go back to shouting at your passenger. Off-road adventures are rewarding and fun to a new and improved level. It only took a few minutes to adjust the VOX to our liking. After that we just enjoyed the ride. It is easier to navigate, make sure everyone is comfortable with the speed and driving style, and share information about the area you are in. We didn’t try the music feature on this install, but we have on other Rugged intercoms, and it works great.
Go to www.ruggedradios.com or call (888) 541-7223 to check out the impressive lineup of communication systems.