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Topic: Tired of Sena - now what?  (Read 6645 times)

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RBEmerson
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« on: November 15, 2017, 09:49:06 pm »

While I generally like the Sena 20S, trying to sort out some problems with the 20S are futile. Sena apparently doesn't read their own forum. Or if they do, they very rarely respond.

I'm starting the search for a replacement. Must have: BT for phone/media and GPS. Compatible with Sena. Separate gain settings for phone, media (combined is OK, separate is better), GPS. Control media (start/stop, forward 1 track, back 1 track) Wanted: external or ambient mic, voice control.

And the winner is...?
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2017, 01:17:31 am »

This guy in Canada does a pretty good job on his reviews of Motorcycle gear and tires. Here is a review that he does on communicators.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1kQAPUnCEY



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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2017, 09:44:50 am »

V. cool video, eh?  Bigok

I guess it's Cardo, Cardo, or Cardo. But spendy. Gngh...
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2017, 10:15:27 pm »

Um... the only walkie-talkie I have requires a license and the guy I ride with most often doesn't have one. Too bad, as working 2m simplex has better range than any BT intercom. Toss in VOX and woohoo!

73 de KC3DOO  Bigsmile
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2017, 08:07:03 am »

I just wanna stream my music while I ride.  And make a phone call when stop without removing my helmet.  GPS turn by turn would be nice, too.  Thinking of wireless earbuds.
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2017, 09:26:19 am »

Maybe. Some GPS' have a music/phone/turn-by-turn collection of functions. The GPS ties to the phone, but only for comms and not media. The music function  in the Zumo 660, for example, utterly sux. The link is the lame "hands free" mode which doesn't understand music well. (Distorted and mono - worse, only one side not stereo merged to mono).  Thumbsdown Thumbsdown

Otherwise, there are two BT modes needed at the same time: "media/phone" for the phone and "hands free" for the GPS. To add to the fun, the volume from the two sources is rarely the same. Back to the Zumo, it has no volume control in BT mode. The default is 100%, which overwhelms most phones. Bottom line: buds don't handle this situation.
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2017, 01:57:06 pm »

Well, there are FRS radios. Anyway, I think this is pretty much re-inventing the wheel. The end result is probably not going to be overwhelming, and the cost will get close to older gear (e.g. SMH-10).
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2017, 03:20:14 pm »

You don't say how many friends you ride with. The Packtalk from Cardo is tremendous for groups but if you're like me, and only ride with one or two friends at a time, the Cardo SmartPack is good enough. It's also much cheaper. It does most of what you want, BT/cell, media and GPS, vox control, media sharing and individual volume levels for announcement, intercom, cell, FM, Music, etc.
 
The video from fortnine makes it look hard to configure and control. I use the Cardo Smartset app on my Android phone instead. Setup is visual and it allows music streaming from the cell and getting turn by turn indications/intercom at the same time.
 
I've never done it but you can pair in bluetooth mode with a Sena. You get basic intercom only.
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2017, 06:37:34 pm »


I have been thinking something mobile phone based.
Bluetooth or wire headset and Walkie-talkie app on your phone. Zello PPT comes up in Google search, almost half a million five star reviews.
You probably already have the parts needed so it should be relatively inexpensive and acceptable quality.
Best would be if the Walkie-talkie app used VoIP and the phone WiFi so your dataplan useage would not be too high and the range would be the standard WiFi range of few hundred meters with cellular as backup if WiFi range is too short.

If you get it working please share. Bigsmile


Sena was trying to get something like this working with their RideConnected app.

https://www.sena.com/rideconnected-app/

However, it's buggy as hell. Crashes and freezes on your cellphone. Frequent drops and disconnects. Drains the cellphone battery real quick

But the idea is compelling: Use VOIP over your cellphone data connection to link up your Sena headset to anyone, anywhere in the world. As long as they are also running the app on their smartphone. Like a global walkie talkie, just like you brought up. Full duplex communication with as many riders as you want on the party line.

The reality is that it's not ready for prime-time yet, but if Sena manages to debug and refine the app, it might be a powerful tool.

All of it hinges on having cell tower nearby though. So the usefulness goes out the window in some backcountry/rural areas. Or in the Sahara desert...
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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2017, 06:25:59 am »

Finally someone who sort of understands the concept I see. Smile But what I see, is also the opportunity get away from expensive niche companies like Sena, and use any headphones that fit under a helmet and can be connected to your phone.


Unfortunately, a lot of the tech that makes motorcycle intercoms so useful are in that "last mile" inside the helmet: Noise cancelling boom/chinbar mounted microphone tech, multi-function helmet-mounted controls, speakers (if not using earbuds).

Even with a killer smartphone app, you're going to need specialty "last mile" hardware to interface with your ears, mouth and hands.

Adhoc WiFi is a bit tricky to set up in cell phones but it is not dependant on cell towers so in theory any cell phone can communicate directly with any other phone within range, even in the middle of the Sahara desert.


That is an interesting concept! What is the real-world range of ad hoc wi-fi though (range vs battery longevity)? On the old SMH10, we were getting close to 1000 meters (1 Km) and those units went a day and half (14 hours of talk time) without recharging.

The Sena 20S range and battery life suffered dramatically. If ad hoc wi-fi can beat 500 meters, then you've got a winner.
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2017, 07:41:53 am »




Sena was trying to get something like this working with their RideConnected app.

https://www.sena.com/rideconnected-app/

However, it's buggy as hell. Crashes and freezes on your cellphone. Frequent drops and disconnects. Drains the cellphone battery real quick

But the idea is compelling: Use VOIP over your cellphone data connection to link up your Sena headset to anyone, anywhere in the world. As long as they are also running the app on their smartphone. Like a global walkie talkie, just like you brought up. Full duplex communication with as many riders as you want on the party line.

The reality is that it's not ready for prime-time yet, but if Sena manages to debug and refine the app, it might be a powerful tool.

All of it hinges on having cell tower nearby though. So the usefulness goes out the window in some backcountry/rural areas. Or in the Sahara desert...


My sense is Sena gave up on the idea and is concentrated on the 30K, the "Harley", and bicycle products. In all fairness to Sena, I don't think RideConnected was ever going to be a high demand item. It appeared to have enough complexity to discourage users looking for plug and play. Even the external radio kit is no longer in the communications product list.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 07:46:05 am by RBEmerson » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2017, 08:14:07 am »

I took my SMH-10 apart to replace the battery (another of Sena's problems - replacing the battery is either surgery for the skilled or no unit while Sena takes their time replacing the battery). There are a suprising number of seals. Assuming they haven't been brutalized, the SMH-10 appears to be certainly "rain resistant". OTOH, if I wore one off road and dunked my head in a stream hard, I wouldn't bet on it surviving. But then, Sena doesn't claim they're waterproof. I haven't been inside the 20S. Yet. I expect to find good seals there, too.

I've soaked the 20S hard (e.g. 5+ hours at 60-70 MPH in pouring rain on the Interstates) and no complaints. OTOH I've read complaints about the 20S failing  in what sounded like a heavy dew. YMMV

I have three helmets in my collection. The Nolan modular has been Sena hostile. Routing wiring was a PITA (even used a glue gun at one point - FAIL), the speakers are merely OK at best, and the mic does a good job of brushing my front teeth. Overall: fail. This is not Sena's fault! FWIW, the 103 is, second to the Cabergs I used to have, the worst helmet I've owned.

The Schuberth S1 installation was about as expected: a little wire poking, install and try repeated with the speakers, and move the mic a bit after putting on the helmet. With sidetone on, wind noise is present but I've never had a complaint from another rider or on phone calls. The same applies to my Shoei Air GT. I do have a problem with "hot spots" on occasion, but that's just my anatomy.

I used buds with the SMH-10. Ultimately I gave up on them. Finding a pair that work in limited space, seal, and don't produce hot spots was a challenge. Other than the Ety 6i's (now long gone - wahhhh) nothing has worked. The seal is great for sound, but IMHO too isolating for sound cues including sirens in the distance. And they p*** off LEO big time. As I found out on a traffic stop while wearing them. I got off with a warning but it was very, very close.

The bottom line, installation success varies from helmet to helmet. I think Sena made a fair effort to be adaptable to different helmets. NTL some days you're the dog, some days you're the tree. Or YMMV. Or some days s*** happens.  Smile
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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2017, 08:24:41 am »

 DeadHorse
My gripe with Sena is the product features in some measure. Probably the Prism is the biggest fail because of its low frame rate and poor DSP. But they have big pluses, too.

My gripe is customer support is nearly non-existent. If something goes wrong, a battery gives out, or a firmware update would fix some issues. Zilch, zip, nada.

I've contacted their front-line support people and at least there's some activity there. However, some techs are clueless. There's one (Martha - "agent #5") who's a near Zen master. But if she has to buck something up a level. Zilch, zip, nada.
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« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2017, 02:49:24 am »


I just wanna stream my music while I ride.  And make a phone call when stop without removing my helmet.  GPS turn by turn would be nice, too.  Thinking of wireless earbuds.



I have a SMH10 and a 10S that, at the moment are working just fine. I use them mainly to stream music and communicate with my kids when they ride as a passenger.

On the ear bud note. I have used corded Plugfones https://www.plugfones.com/ for a few years and love them. They are real ear plugs with a great sounding speaker built in. Whereas the Sena speakers sound tinny, the plugfones have a rich sound to them. They do have a Bluetooth version that I have not tried or have I heard from anyone that has tried them. If you don't need to communicate with a passenger/other rider or make/receive phone calls, I would give the Plugfones Bluetooth a try.


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« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2017, 10:56:34 am »


While I generally like the Sena 20S, trying to sort out some problems with the 20S are futile. Sena apparently doesn't read their own forum. Or if they do, they very rarely respond.

I'm starting the search for a replacement. Must have: BT for phone/media and GPS. Compatible with Sena. Separate gain settings for phone, media (combined is OK, separate is better), GPS. Control media (start/stop, forward 1 track, back 1 track) Wanted: external or ambient mic, voice control.

And the winner is...? Sena 20S EVO
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« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2017, 04:36:51 pm »

20S EVO is no longer the winner. I am over Sena. End of story.  Smile
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« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2018, 10:47:15 pm »

I took a road trip with another guy last summer.  He leads one of the local motorcycle "Meetup" groups.  He bought two BT headsets for about $50 on eBay.  From what I could tell, he has no problems with them.  I was still able to connect with him using the universal pairing on the Sena 10C I have.

If your needs are just to connect to a GPS and listen to tunes, that's a solution.

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« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2018, 12:07:25 pm »


If your needs are just to connect to a GPS and listen to tunes, that's a solution.

Chris


So are bluetooth earbuds.  I just haven't decided which ones, yet.
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« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2018, 11:01:23 am »


So are bluetooth earbuds.  I just haven't decided which ones, yet.

I got a MPow (brand) bluetooth receiver last year. I use it with cheap earbuds with comply isolating foam tips (which I've been using for years).
I wouldn't want to have to replace the bluetooth just because one earbud dies.
The bluetooth of my Nuvi 765 crapped out last month.  I spent some time shopping for a new GPS, but realized most (all?) current GPS bluetooth is ONLY for phone comm., not audio out.  So I got a bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the headphone jack of the GPS.
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« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2018, 11:47:43 am »




So are bluetooth earbuds.  I just haven't decided which ones, yet.


If you ride alone, and all you want is voice direction from your gps and maybe crappy sounding music too, they're fine.
If you use your cell as a gps and music streaming, that is a good option.
You need something better if you want multiple Bluetooth connections, gps, cell, riding partners, etc.
Check on the legality of riding with earbuds in your state.
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