TA-521 Full Duplex, Open Mic Radio – My Review

Filed under Football (Soccer), Uncategorized
A set of Full Duplex Referee Radios for under $500? I just had to try them out!

A set of Full Duplex Referee Radios for under $500? I just had to try them out!

Note: NONE of the links I provide in this article are affiliate links. I receive no money for anything posted in this article.

All prices are in US Dollars, and are current as of March 2015.

Last week, I ordered a set of TA-521 radios from a company in China called TA-RF Security. I have provided their contact information at the bottom of this article. While I already have two sets of Push-to-Talk radios (RefTalk, and a DIY setup that I made using a set of Midland GXT1000VP4 radios), the key selling point of the TA-521s is the fact that they are open-mic (the microphone is always on, so you just speak without pushing any buttons), and full-duplex (you can hear everyone else even while you are talking).

At the moment, there are three popular full-duplex radio brands available to referees: RefTalk2 (pronounced “RefTalk squared,” currently priced at $2,100), the Vokkero series of radios (an entry-level, 3-user kit starts at $2,200), and the Eartec ComStar series (a 3-user kit costs $1,600).

I purchased my 4-user TA-521 kit for…wait for it…$504. Including shipping. It was actually $480; the other $24 went directly to PayPal in the form of transaction fees. (Note: As of September 2015, the price of the set has increased to about $525.)

Obviously, if you’re still reading, you want to know if these radios are actually good enough to compete with setups that are three to fours times as expensive. There is so little in terms of reviews of any full-duplex radios out there, and nothing at all about the ones I purchased. So, here is my review of the TA-521 radios. I will provide as much detail as possible, as objectively as possible. This will be a long post.

Another note: Throughout 2015, this article will be a work in progress while I continue to test the radios in game situations, and come up with solutions to any issues that I encounter. This article was last updated on September 9, with a price update.

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Unfair Advantages to One Team?

Filed under Controversial Calls, Football (Soccer)
Are soccer tents an unfair advantage when one team brings one, and the other doesn't?

Are soccer tents an unfair advantage when one team brings one, and the other doesn’t? What if one team brings Gatorade, and the other team only brings water?

Two weekends ago, I arrived at a field for a U12 Girls game, and saw a bit of a commotion going on between the referee and the home team coaches. Not one to see a battle and immediately attempt to insert myself into it, I just ignore it and start my pre-match routine.

When it was over, I asked the referee what the problem was. He declared that the home team needed to remove the shade they had set up over their bench, because it was unfair to the away team, who had not brought one. He went on to say that, as the home team, if they want to use a shade for their bench, then they need to provide one for the other team as well.

I was curious why this referee singled out the home team in his decision, so I asked him what he would have done if it was the visiting team that had brought the shade. Almost proud of himself for knowing the answer, he said that he would have done nothing, because it’s not unfair if the visiting team does it. At that point I just dropped the issue. Read More »

How Do You Call Offside?

Filed under Football (Soccer), Tips and Insights

You Make the Call: Is Berbatov Offside? (NOTE: Image has been Photoshopped)

I attended a local referee’s meeting recently, where one of the topics was (of course) Offside. Ignoring the fact that many of the speakers like to call it “Offsides,” one specific scenario did spark a huge debate among the 100+ refs in attendance that night.

The speaker in charge of going through the slide show presentation with us showed us the scene. At the moment the ball is played, the Assistant Referee should take a “snapshot” of the players in his mind. In this snapshot, the defender was standing straight up, and the attacker in question was leaning forward and running towards goal, much like Dimitar Berbatov in the image you see above (NOTE: I Photoshopped the image to better reflect the scenario. I also moved Rooney forward so i could make the image larger!). Read More »

RefPlanet.com Welcomes the Morris County Youth Soccer Association

Filed under News

MCYSA logo whiteI would now like to welcome all visitors from the Morris County Youth Soccer Association (MCYSA) in New Jersey. I was very pleased to meet so many of you this evening!

Please take the time to create a username, then introduce yourself in the Discussion Forum, where you can reflect and ask questions all season related to refereeing.

Thank you for visiting, and enjoy the site!

RefPlanet.com Welcomes the Northern Counties Soccer Association

Filed under News

NCSAI would like to welcome all visitors from the Northern Counties Soccer Assocation (NCSA) in New Jersey.

Please take the time to create a username, then introduce yourself in the Discussion Forum, where you can reflect and ask questions all season related to refereeing.

Thank you for visiting, and enjoy the site!

Welcome to the NEW RefPlanet.com!

Filed under News

RefPlanet.com is an all-around resource for referees, officials, and judges of all sports.

If this is your first time on the site, here are just a few of things you can do on RefPlanet.com:

  • Discuss experiences, situations, and approaches to the game (or just introduce yourself) in the discussion forums.
  • Create a blog (or journal) of your refereeing career (or read other referees’ blogs).
  • Check out the resource database to see how to get started as a referee in your area in any sport.

The site is still new, as you can the tell by the lack of posts the forum. But every site has to start somewhere, so don’t be shy! When we share experiences, we all become better officials. Introduce yourself in the discussion forums and get started on RefPlanet.com today!

Insight from an Amateur Hockey Referee

Filed under Hockey (Ice/Field), Tips and Insights

I saw this article while browsing around for hockey refereeing information. I thought it was very insightful, so I decided I’d share it here. It’s a two part article, but the “good” stuff (from the learning referee’s perspective) is on Part 2, printed below. Part 1 is interesting, too, from a storytelling point of view. If you want to see Part 1, go to the Tonawanda News page here. The referee writing is John Hopkins, who is an editor of the Tonawanda News in addition to an experienced amateur referee.

Source: Tonawanda News

I’ve spent 25 years — more than half my life — as an amateur hockey referee. It’s been a rewarding, but sometimes frustrating, experience. Last week I shared with you some stories from my time on the ice and explained some rule differences. Today, is part two and I’d like to begin with:

Six things all parents, coaches, spectators and players should know about USA Hockey referees:

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Interview and Insights from a Major League Soccer Referee

Filed under Football (Soccer), Tips and Insights

I saw an interview posted in the examiner, and thought I’d share it here. Even though the referee stays anonymous, there are still some great insights. A lot of what the referee says is exactly what I’m thinking when I’m in the center, but wouldn’t necessary admit (like the crowd having an effect on me, whether positive or negative)! The interview is posted below.

Source: The Examiner


An MLS Referee and Freddie Ljungberg at Qwest Field in Seattle

Do referees use atmosphere / crowd excitement to maintain adrenaline like players do?
MLS Referee: Oh, yes. The adrenaline starts to build during warm-ups and peaks in the tunnel, right before you march out with the teams. There is a lot to do in the tunnel leading up to that, like quickly checking the players uniforms, shin guards, jewelry, etc., and talking a bit with the key players and maybe the coaches to get a feel for how their mind-set is that day, so we are rushing to get that done. And then when we are ready, and we pause for the music to start, the adrenaline really kicks in. Qwest field is amazing that way – the rhythmic clapping to bring the teams on is outstanding, and the noise seems to keep you going all the way through the 90th minute and beyond. The crowd energy carries you and you really don’t feel tired until you hit the locker room. That’s when your body starts asking what you did to it.

What makes your job harder, and why?

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Six Bulgarian Referees Banned for Officiating International Matches without Permission

Filed under Football (Soccer), Referees in the News
Bulgaria football union

The Bulgarian Football Union made the decision to ban the referees

While we all know the importance of informing your assignors if you plan on officiating out of state (or in this case, out of continent), this decision might be a little over the top!

Source: Eurosport/Yahoo

The Bulgarian Football Union’s refereeing commission has banned six officials for an unspecified period for breaching the BFU’s ethics code.

Luchezar Yonov, Petar Tarulov, Emil Mitev, Penyo Tashev, Ruslan Minchev and Veselin Rashkov were all banned after they officiated at international matches in South America last year without informing the national body.

“The refereeing commission made a unanimous decision to remove them from the referees’ list,” the BFU said.

Referee suspensions are not uncommon in Bulgaria while in recent years officials have complained there is widespread pressure on them to manipulate the outcome of games.

How to Become a Gymnastics Judge

Filed under Getting Started, Gymnastics

Think you have what it takes to be a judge?

Well, the point of this website is to help you get started as an official in any sport, right?

So here is the information I’ve found about becoming a Gymnastics Judge. It’s compiled from a few different sources. All of these sources can be found in the RefPlanet Resource Database (link takes you directly to the Gymnastics Section).

There are several Ratings for Judges: 5/6 (Compulsory), and ratings 7-10 which are optional (but higher in stature). One can earn a rating as a gymnastics official through a series of tests, both Written and Practical, administered under the auspices of the USA Gymnastics Judging Accreditation Program.

Contact your NAWGJ (National Association of Women’s Gymnastics Judges) State Judging Director for information about upcoming clinics, exams dates, etc. It is very helpful to attend a judges’ training clinic prior to taking judging tests. Contact information for 12 of the state directors can be found in the Resource Database (so far!).

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