AKE PowerCom Motorcycle Intercom
AKE Electronics PowerCom
ROGER One Intercom System
by H.B.C. for webBikeWorld.com
In This Series:
Owner Comments (Below)
Motorcycle Intercoms Home |
Part Two: ROGER One and Bluetooth
Isn’t Technology Great?
This section continues the ROGER One evaluation, but with some
very tangible differences. With a companion PowerCom Bluetooth
Headset on hand, along with other optional goodies, and driven
by curiosity, this foray into wireless and mixed environments
The information and assessments
presented are based on both documented and undocumented features,
all of which were identified and validated for the overall ROGER
One evaluation. As eluded to in Part 1, with the right accessories
and patience, functionality of the basic system can be enhanced
AKE PowerCom Bluetooth Helmet
Set 101 and PB-HC2 Bundle
Bluetooth has provided a simple
technology-based solution to provide "fit-for-motorcycle
handling” (interfacing) of Bluetooth mobile phones and Bluetooth
GPS, thus extending the functionality and versatility of not
only the ROGER One system, but all PowerCom systems.
This AKE solution is now bundled
in one kit comprising the Bluetooth Helmet Set and a companion
Bluetooth module, the PB-HC2. All components are extremely low
profile and depending on the type of helmet to be used, can
be mounted under the neckpiece or between the shell and liner
material, rendering the whole setup virtually invisible.
AKE PowerCom Motorcycle Bluetooth Intercom Set 101
the Bluetooth Helmet Set 101 is a stand-alone headset that can
be interfaced to virtually any other Bluetooth peripheral or
device that might be available, providing a completely wireless
However, adding the optional PB-HC2
Bluetooth module provides a wireless link to the ROGER One control
module, allowing a mix of wired or wireless devices and thus
the best of both worlds. It is a cost effective means to enhance
and tailor the basic system.
AKE PowerCom PB-HC2 Bluetooth Module
AKE Bluetooth Helmet Module
Fitting the Kit
contains a stylish and slim 18 x 116 x 6 mm and light (21 grams)
Bluetooth module with integrated booster, the PB-HC2 Bluetooth
dongle, a set of helmet speakers similar to the HighVoice components
(300 to 5,000Hz), a round vice rectangular wind noise compensated
microphone, one replaceable battery module and a 100-240V travel
charger, with a 220v plug.
A short set of installation and
operating instructions in German and English is provided, along
with a Velcro fastener for mounting the microphone and some
small cable ties. For initial evaluation, the kit was installed
in a black Arai Corsair and for riding it was installed in the
Nolan 102 Flip helmet.
Although the module is designed
to fit up under the neckpiece of a helmet with the control button
accessed by feel or pressure, it introduces some guesswork in
manipulating the control, especially through any liner material.
While not impossible, it could be difficult and many helmet
neckpieces would not be flexible enough to accommodate the pieces.
Alternatively, as the module is
unobtrusive and seemingly sealed to withstand the elements,
it was mounted on the left side just above the neckpiece, secured
on the soft plastic trim using two round hook-n-loop fasteners.
This worked well in that it provided about 5mm of clearance
between the two surfaces, providing both vibration protection,
and keeping it accessible.
Power is provided by the standard
rechargeable 120mAh Li-ion battery. This battery module measures
a diminutive 40 x 15 mm (1.5 x ½ in) and is connected to the
main module by a two pin flat mini-connector, all of which is
easily tucked out of sight under the neck liner.
The optional high-power battery,
rated at 750mAh, is larger at 60 x 30 mm (1.25 x 2.25 in). On
the Arai RX-7 Corsair helmet, the larger battery module could
be squeezed up under the neck liner and secured in place with
a Velcro hook tab. On other helmets, it might have to be secured
on a bottom edge or on the shell.
Key to this whole wireless thing
is the PB-HC2 Bluetooth Pair-and-Go module that plugs into the
DIN (F) plug, replacing the wired connection to the headset.
This Bluetooth dongle has a not-to-be-missed red button, two
small LEDs, RED and GREEN and a microphone adjustment trimmer
on the bottom end.
The Master Pairing
states the Bluetooth Helmet Set 101 and bundled PB-HC2 dongle
are delivered ‘paired’, which they were. Turning on the 101
headset first, then the control module sets the two units into
a brief introductory session. After fifteen seconds, the LED
on both units blinked their respective ‘paired’ message, indicating
that a link has been established.
Inside the helmet, a short squelch-like
tone was heard, verifying that the system was live, followed
by a short multi-tone sequence, confirming a complete system.
A quick verification of system functionality was done using
one of the radio devices. Figuratively, the cord was now cut.
To say that a lot of different configurations were tried and
documented would be an understatement. Both documented and undocumented
features were evaluated, the objective being to validate basic
functions and take a building block approach to enhancing system
The initial configurations identified
below are based on use of the Bluetooth headset and specific
Bluetooth enabled devices, on a one to one pairing or more complex
(multiple pairing) arrangements using the ROGER One system with
a Bluetooth module, the PowerCom Bluetooth Helmet Set 101 and,
other Bluetooth headsets.
AKE ROGER One, AKE Bluetooth Module, HTC Touch Screen PDA and
Bluetooth Helmet Set 101 and
Garmin zumo 550 GPS
Pairing with the control module accomplished,
it was time to see how the headset, as a stand-alone system,
would perform using Bluetooth peripherals. Following the instructions,
the helmet set was powered down and restarted by holding the
control button for about six seconds, putting the device directly
into the learn mode. The LED will flash a rapid red and blue.
With the zumo Bluetooth pairing
mode activated, it only took fifteen seconds before the headset
was found and identified as a 3xxx Plantronics (Chipset used).
Connection accepted, the security protocols were initiated (no
pass code was required for this pairing) and the link secured.
Once done, audio generated by the zumo unit was almost instantly
received in the headset.
Before moving off the zumo Bluetooth
menu, this connection was named HS101BT and saved. This is a
recommended procedure in any case, as it allows the helmet set
or other devices as named to be readily identified and paired
up with the zumo in future.
With this connection made, the zumo’s
MP3 player was activated, sending mono audio via Bluetooth to
the headset. Despite the omnipresent white noise on the connection
the audio is of very good quality: the stereo headset provide
a nicely centred listening environment within the helmet.
Considering that the audio being
streamed via Bluetooth is mono, the difference between the HighVoice
and the HighSound headsets is very evident -- HighSound audio
is much clearer and even bass effects can be felt.
A volume setting of 20 to 40 percent
on the zumo menu was typically more than enough for comfortable
listening inside the helmet, depending on noise levels. Volume
of the helmet set can also be adjusted by pushing the main control
toggle forward (+) or backwards (-), although volume range is
As with most Bluetooth devices,
when the connection is lost, or broken for whatever reason,
one or both of the devices may need to be restarted or the connection
re-initialized so they will pair up again. It was found that
with the zumo, using the ‘restore’ button usually re-established
the connection to the helmet at any time, a nice feature.
When a connection or pairing is
present, the helmet set module LED pulses blue about every five
seconds. To turn the module off, hold the control button in
for about five seconds - the LED will flash RED and then a steady
RED, following by the unit powering down, with a confirmatory
beep heard inside the helmet.
Bluetooth Helmet Set 101 and
HTC Touch PDA
An HTC Touch PDA was next up. Compared
to the three year old device it replaces, this one is pretty
sophisticated. With typical PDA software, voice control, Bluetooth
v2.0, and A2DP capable, it is a very nice toy…er, tool. Being
able to access email and other data services as needed (for
a fee of course) is a good option, especially on long trips.
As no compatible interface cable
was available for the HTC device, a simple one to one Bluetooth
connection with the headset was initiated. Pairing was quick
and the helmet headset subsequently configured as a hands-free
partnership and saved off as HTC Touch.
With this pairing, calls could be
received from the HTC via the headset or manually initiated.
Answering or terminating the calls was done by simply tapping
the main control button on the headset module, or manually terminating
the call on the HTC.
Bluetooth Helmet Set with zumo
550 and HTC Touch PDA
As the headset had been paired
previously to the zumo 550, this pairing was re-initiated. While
listening to music from the zumo, a new device pairing was initiated
from the ‘Connect Phone’ menu on the zumo 550 and under the
Bluetooth menu of the HTC.
The zumo 550 was found on the first
pass by the HTC and with the appropriate pass code entered (as
offered up by the zumo), a phone link was made. The zumo 550
also presents a message stating “ready to make phone calls”.
Pushing the phone icon on the zumo
to initiate the phone menu allowed calls to be initiated. An
incoming call will activate the pop-up phone screen so that
the call can be rejected or received. Switching was fast, and
audio clarity was excellent. Both the rider and the intercom
user were able to participate in the sessions.
ROGER One with Bluetooth Modules,
Bluetooth Helmet Set, zumo 550 and HTC Touch
the basic one to one pairing requirements between the Bluetooth
Helmet and Bluetooth peripherals, it was time to re-introduce
the main player, the ROGER One, back into the equation.
As well, the chance to evaluate
two other optional Bluetooth modules to verify just what the
ROGER one could, and would accommodate was not to be ignored.
The start state for this activity
had the ROGER One with PowerCom Operating device plugged in
to the ‘R” lead for manual control and the intercom user plugged
in to the system. The headset connections in the Nolan 102 Flip
helmet that the rider was using were switched over to the Bluetooth
Helmet Set, an action that takes about 30 seconds, it is that
Before initiating the Bluetooth,
a little house-cleaning was in order so as to keep previous
connections from offering up their services, before being wanted.
After clearing all connections on the zumo 550 and the HTC Touch
devices, they were both turned off and then on, as was the Bluetooth
With the rider lead disconnected,
the PB-HC2 module was inserted in its place. The green LED on
the PB-HC2 module flashed once a second, indicating search mode.
Within ten seconds the control welcome tone sequence was heard
in the headset, step one done. When paired, the Bluetooth module
Green LED remains on, while the RED LED pulses slowly.
Step two was a quick radio check,
using both the iVOX and PTT settings on the PowerCom operating
device, just to confirm that everything was working well. If
connected, the intercom is an omnipresent feature with the rider
once a link is in place.
AKE PBM-N2 (Left) and PBM-H2 Bluetooth Modules
Motorcycle Books, GPS, Electronics,
Training Videos, Clothing and More at the
PBM-N2 and PBM-H2 Modules
These two little Bluetooth
modules are the keys to expanding the ROGER One world. While
AKE states that these components should work with all PowerCom
modules, they have only been documented for use with the AKE
CONNECT, ON TOUR or INNOVA units. Getting them working with
the Roger One would put us in a somewhat undocumented feature
The first of two AKE PowerCom Bluetooth
modules, the PBM-N2 module DIN ‘N’ connector was mated to the
DIN ‘F’ plug of the control module. This module is identified
for use as a means to add Bluetooth navigation (GPS) capabilities
to an enabled system.
The desire to get this working was
strong. If the zumo could be added successfully, then it would
be able to host the HTC Touch, thus adding a mobile phone capability
to the configuration, a specific target for this evaluation.
With the module connected, two tones
are heard. The first indicates start-up, the second that it
is ready for pairing (lasting two minutes). With the zumo 550
in discovery mode the module was found immediately, again identified
as a 3xxPlantronics device. When accepted, the link was made,
with an audio link created (almost) immediately.
Before moving on to the second module,
some nearby wood was touched, and the HTC Touch configuration
process was started (see note below). The ‘connect phone’ menu
on the zumo provided the search mode and the two devices found
each other. With the required pass code (as supplied on the
zumo screen) entered into the HTC, a link was established --
so far, so good.
Now a quick frown -- the zumo keeps
saying that the link has failed, this typically happens two
or three times, in a row. However, again typically, it will
come back and say “ready to make phone calls’, which it is.
Hopefully the lag is just due to processing loads. AKE identifies
that this might happen with some systems, a good note.
Several phone calls were initiated
and received by using the zumo phone menu or icon. Once a number
was put into the call-book, dialing was fast and connections
made quickly. Audio sessions in the wireless headset were almost
as clear as in the wired intercom user headset.
Note: if problems are encountered
in pairing phones, it is sometimes better (and recommended by
some manufacturers) to pair the phone to the host (GPS) device
first and get that one to one configuration addressed. In any
case, it is a workaround that usually works.
In this four-way configuration,
the primary PB-HC2 module can be used to provide a measure of
control: pressing the RED button will terminate its Bluetooth
connection and if the power harness has been installed correctly,
this action also powers down the control module.
When turned back on, both lights
will flash to indicate search mode, then the Green LED should
flash and then go steady, with the link re-established, typically
within 10 to 15 seconds. It is all very simple and very effective.
The PBM-H2 module proved a bit more
problematic. This module is intended to be used with either
Bluetooth navigation or mobile phone devices. Plugged into the
‘F’ lead, it took three pairing attempts before a good connection
was made and then, on the third pass, a pass code (0000) had
to be entered into the zumo before the link was secured.
Other than this issue, likely related
to its possible use with a mobile phone, most of which are pretty
rigid in having a pass code provided before a ‘secure’ link
is established, all zumo and phone functions enabled under the
PBM-N2 were available with the PBM-H2 module as well.
Note: it was found that with configurations
using the PBM-H2 module and with the operating device connected,
the iVOX could not be used, necessitating PTT button use.
Audio Priority Management
The PowerCom ROGER One does not have active signal (audio) management
given its single device connection. However for the rider and
intercom user audio signal management was still provided by
the attached Bluetooth device which does have audio priority
Lower priority audio (i.e., music)
is instantly muted when any telephone session is initiated and
then restored a few seconds after the higher priority session
Never leaving a good thing untouched, the Roger One Bluetooth
module (PB-HC2) was pulled out and then plugged back in after
a few minutes -- the connection was re-established in six seconds.
Turning the module off and then on resulted in an eight second
delay -- sweet! This stuff really works.
In general it was found that the
PBM-H2 module would typically restore itself when unplugged
or if dropped under the zumo menu, whereas the PBM-N2 would
typically, but not always, require a new pairing sequence to
get it back into the loop.
Headset Battery Life
standard 120mAh battery is claimed to be good for up to four
hours of continuous music or eight hours of navigation voice
announcement or 150 hours of stand-by. Of course, all of this
will vary by individual operating environments.
Use revealed that the standard battery
is good for about 2.5 to 3.0 hours of mixed voice, GPS and music
streaming use. No doubt it would last longer if just used for
a single purpose. The larger unit typically ran for about 7.5
to 8.5 hours under the same mixed load. Discharged, the standard
battery took about 90 minutes to refresh itself and the larger
unit about 4.5 hours.
The battery is recharged by connecting
the charger ‘jack’ into the plug on the end of the module: the
main LED glows red when it is charging. Care must be taken however
as the snap-button style connection is easily dislodged. Being
disappointed the next morning is a distinct possibility.
The ROGER One and Other Bluetooth
AKE states that the PowerCom Bluetooth Helmet
Connector PB-HC2 is compatible with other Bluetooth helmet headsets
as long as they are working with Bluetooth headset protocols.
As both the scala-rider Q2 and the Interphone Bluetooth headsets
were at hand, it was only prudent to see if the claim would
ROGER One and scala-rider Q2
With the ROGER One powered up, the
PB-HC2 module is plugged into the rider ‘F’ lead with a power
click verifying connectivity (the intercom was connected by
cable so that all ROGER One proceedings could be monitored).
Following the instructions, hold
the Red button down for ten seconds or more- the two LEDs will
(eventually) alternate, indicating pairing mode. At the same
time, the scala-rider Q2 (wBW
review) is put into pairing mode. After about 30 seconds,
both lights will pulse on the PB-HC2, then the Green LED will
become steady and the Red LED will pulse, indicating a link.
On the scala-rider Q2, a double-Blue
flash every three seconds will indicate that a session is being
initiated. To make the actual connection, tap the CTRL button.
A multi-tone sequence will be heard in the scala-rider Q2 headset
and with another single tap to the CTRL button, the connection
between the Bluetooth headset and the ROGER One will be live,
with the intercom user automatically in the loop.
Interphone Bluetooth Headset
The baseline for this activity was the same, except the Interphone
headset was turned off to start. The Interphone Bluetooth Intercom
review) is put into its pairing mode by shutting the unit
off, then holding the single main control down for about six
seconds, the LED will flash an alternating RED and Blue. At
the same time, the PB-HC2 module is put into pairing mode.
This pairing was fast, taking only
five seconds. To make the pairing ‘live’, the Interphone control
was pushed once, which results in a series of four beeps and
then a single, possible confirmation, tone. Once done, this
headset is connected to the ROGER One – that was easy!
Powering down, or dropping the connections,
restoration is fast, a few seconds of letting the two devices
communicate, and one push on the Interphone control button,
typically followed by a double-tone, re-establishes the whole
link to the ROGER One.
Ad-Hoc – Roger One, PB-HC2 Bluetooth
Module, Interphone, zumo and HTC
With the HTC Touch
paired to the zumo 550, the ROGER One PB-HC2 connection to the
Interphone Headset via Bluetooth was re-established. This was
done by simply powering-up the Interphone first, then the PB-HC2
– the link was re-established automatically.
The PBM-N2 module was plugged in
to the ROGER One system and when it was ready for pairing, the
zumo pairing mode was initiated. A link was made immediately,
with the audio from the zumo heard in the Interphone headset
via Bluetooth and as well in the wired intercom headset.
In this configuration, phone calls
could be answered, with some perceptible lag, by pressing the
Interphone button once. However calls could not be ended or
rejected this way. Using the zumo phone menu provided all functions.
GPS Device Use
record, both the Garmin Zumo 550, one on version 3.90 and one
on version 4.0 were used, along with a BMW Navigator III+. In
general, the zumo on version 4.0 worked flawlessly, while the
zumo with version 3.90 exhibited ‘issues’ from time to time.
The Navigator would work well in
a one to one pairing, but it did not like a more complex environment,
although this could be related to firmware versions or something
else not yet defined.
Conclusion - Part Two
The wireless or mixed environment environments are almost as
quiet as the completely wired world. The usual white noise encountered
on most RF connections is omnipresent but never obtrusive and
becomes part of the operating environment.
Main (PB-HC2) or secondary (PBM-H2/PBM-N2)
Bluetooth connections are established or re-established quickly
- the lack of a physical tether between control module, helmet
and all other devices, initially somewhat disconcerting, quickly
becomes familiar and easy to live with.
Note: As expected configuring
the scala-rider Q2 and Interphone Bluetooth headsets to pair
with the ROGER One Bluetooth module ‘broke’ existing Buddy or
pairing configurations that might have existed with a second
Interphone, or second and third scala-rider Q2. But with the
primary ROGER One Bluetooth module turned off, both systems
searched for and found previous pairings with other like devices.
In one instance (not reproduced)
the scala-rider Q2 acting as the ROGER One headset via Bluetooth
actually initiated a search for its partner that had intentionally
been brought in to close range. For a few seconds, a link was
made, but then lost…a shame. More playing is obviously needed…
Based on the success in interfacing
other Bluetooth devices and headsets, and perhaps sounding like
a broken record (you know, those black spinning things), the
fact remains that wired, wireless or in a mixed environment,
the AKE PowerCom equipment, wired and/or wireless just plain
Overall Evaluation Conclusion
Things We Like
• Simple design, rugged
components, weatherproof cables and connections
• Major components and
accessories can be interchanged between PowerCom
• Interchangeable and
interoperable components and accessories
• Versatility – a host
of undocumented features adds options.
• Lead connections are
weatherproof and easy to use, even with gloves on
• Small component connectors
are solid and foolproof to use (keyed connectors)
• Functionality - everything
works as advertised
• Bluetooth functionality
is the best ever used – pairings are fast and fail-proof
• Wired/wireless options
provide optimum versatility and flexibility
• Audio - all three
headsets provide very good audio for voice communications
and listening to music but the delta in audio quality
when moving up to the HighSound speakers is simply
amazing (this headset should be the standard) .
Things We Don’t Like
• Bluetooth Helmet Set
battery charging. The button style connector is
small and easily disconnected. A more positive connection,
ie – plug style, is needed
• Bluetooth module construction.
After heavy use and multiple installations in various
helmets, the bonded covers started to separate,
although this use is not likely to be typical for
most users. But a more effective bonding or encasement
approach would be better.
• AC to DC Charging.
Acknowledging the current European market focus,
the charger comes with a 220v plug, so acquiring
a Type ‘A’ adapter for North American use is necessitated
(typically from The Source, Radio Shack, etc). This
issue is being addressed by AKE
In This Series:
Comments (Below) |
Motorcycle Intercoms Home |
Motorcycle Books, GPS, Electronics,
Training Videos, Clothing and More at the
Product Review: AKE
PowerCom Motorcycle Intercom System
|Available From: AKE
AKE Motocom USA
Price: (Unconfirmed) ROGER One basic kit, ~
$425.00 USD, PowerCom Bluetooth Helmet Set 101 -
$304.50 USD; HighVoice Headset (full-face kit) -
$139.70 USD; HighSound Headset (recommended kit)
- $218.18 USD.
Date: April 2008 Certifications:
FCC, IC, CE and Bluetooth Standards NOTE:
Pricing may fluctuate depending upon the vagaries
of currency valuations.
The webBikeWorld intercom evaluators always wear properly
fitted ear plugs while riding during the intercom evaluations and this is reflected
in thee opinions on sound quality and speaker volume. Your experience may
and probably will differ. Always wear high-quality, correctly fitted ear plugs
when riding a motorcycle (more
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