I'm often asked how I came to make the first "communicator". Well, as with many inventions, there's a story to it. This one begins on a cold, clear, Febuary night back in 1979. A friend and myself were snowmobiling back to Transcona, (a distant suburb of Winnipeg), from a popular snowmobilers' night spot in Selkirk, Manitoba. The trip is about 20 miles each way and the route we took was along the frozen Red River, then along the Winnipeg Floodway. (The Floodway is really a marvel. Built around 1966, it's a huge canal which diverts the waters of the Red River around Winnipeg and then back into the river, when the Red is in flood. It saves the city from the devastating floods Winnipeg has suffered in the past.)
Going out, we rode along the east side of the Floodway. Now coming home, we were on the west side, I had travelled this way many times and knew what lay ahead, but I wasn't sure my companion knew - and he was in the lead. I decided to catch up. I wanted to warn him, a few miles ahead lay a storm sewer outlet with a guard rail which stretched right across our path. I accelerated and was almost alongside him when he roamed out in front again. This was repeated a number of times. Each time I got close enough to wave at him, he took off.
I did finally catch up - but it was after he hit the guard rail. His machine was flattened against the thick post holding up the railing, it was demolished, a complete write-off. Using my headlight and a small pocket flashlight, I found him about 60 feet away in a snowdrift. On impact, he had flown over the railing, over the sewer outlet, and landed on the other side. He was unconscious and I wasn't sure how bad he was hurt, but I remember thinking his neck might be broken. I was carefully turning him on his side, so his air passages would be clear (I had seen this done on television), when he began to regain consciousness. Amazingly, after a few minutes he was able to stand, and a short time later, we both got on my machine and continued home. He told me later that he didn't know the guard rail was there , and when I accelerated up to him, he thought I wanted to race.
The next day I decided to use my background in electronics to make a pair of 2-way radios I could attach to helmets and use to talk from one snowmobile to another. I knew this type of communication would have prevented the previous night's near fatal accident and I wanted to be ready when such a situation occurred in the future.
Well, I did it, not on the first try, but eventually. And they worked so well some of the people I was snowmobiling with asked if I would make radios for them. One radio led to another and a few months later, along with my brother and a friend of ours, I formed a company to manufacture 2-way radios for people riding snowmobiles and motorcycles. We called them Helmet to Helmet Communicators®.
We've certainly made a lot of improvements in the years since then, but one thing has never changed - our desire to make your ride as safe and enjoyable as possible. I like to think we've helped. Happy trails,
P.S. If you have any interesting adventures while using our radios, drop me a line. I'd enjoy hearing about them.
Hi Riding Enthusiasts!
Our Engineering department has never rested on it's past achievments. Proof of this is the new "Platinum PLUS" (Bluetooth).....it is the latest product in the Collett Communicator line-up and the World's most technologically advanced helmet Communicator available. It has quickly become the top selling Collett Communicator.
The Platinum PLUS is a result of over 30 years of dedication to providing the best in helmet radio communications.
Circuit boards had to be re-configurated. These same circuit boards had to be completely re-designed to permit assembly by robots on the new ISO 9002 certified, surface-mount assembly line we use in the manufacturing process.
The very first COMMUNICATORS I made came as a result of watching helplessly as a friend of mine was nearly killed in a snowmobile accident. It was dark, he was about 500 feet in front of me, and when I tried to catch him, he thought I wanted to race and went even faster. I knew what he didn't, that a guard rail lay directly across the way ahead.
He hit hard! Fortunately for him, so hard that he flew right over the rail and the storm sewer outlet it was guarding, and then made a soft landing in a big snowbank about 60 feet away. He survived, but the snowmobile was 3 feet shorter.
Deadly situations can develop in seconds when you're riding, and effective communication can literally mean the difference between life and death.
At the time, I felt the radio communication could increase rider safety as soon as they were installed. I also knew, only time and experience would tell.
Collett Communicators are the only "waterproof" helmet communicators on the market today. Interlocking upper and lower sections compressing a silicone rubber gasket guarantee a watertight seal. Input jacks are protected by the attached weather-caps.
Have lots of fun and try to stay out of trouble.
"...None of us would have made it out alive."
An article by Sid Collett which appeared in the winter 98 issue of
Snow Squall magazine
That's what a letter accompanying a Communicator to our warranty department said. It's been a few years, but I still remember the story like it was yesterday. I'll repeat it here because it vividly illustrates the life-saving value of instant, voice communication.
It was late on a dark, moonless Saturday night in February. Three young men were crossing a frozen lake in Northern Ontario, talking back and forth on their Communicators as they travelled. Suddenly, the small white ridges of wind blown snow illuminated in the lead snowmobiler's headlight disappeared and a smooth black surface took their place. Instantly he reacted and shouted into his microphone "Open water! Jump!!" A second later he was under the freezing water, struggling to get to the surface. On the way up he heard the other two snowmobiles roar into the water and sink on either side of him.
The snowmobiles were lost but not his two friends. They had jumped in time. When he broke the surface they started to edge carefully toward him on the thin ice. They got hold of him but he kept breaking through as they tried to pull him up onto the ice. The strength of all three young men was nearly exhausted by the time he was finally pulled to safety. The letter writer stated flatly, "If all three of us had gone in the water, none of us would have made it out alive. Those radios saved us."
Well, they were lucky. Most times you can't make things better once an accident has happened, You just have to live (or not) with the consequences. It's in accident prevention that voice communication really shines. The collision that didn't occur because someone says."... there's a guy coming up fast behind you" or "...someone's coming at us on the wrong side" or "...slow down, there's a groomer ahead."
Crossing roads is one of the most risks situations a family or group will ever face, especially if children are involved. Once one sled makes it, there is a tendency for everyone to follow without looking. All it takes is for someone to say "... there's a car coming" --- and a life can be saved.
Nighttime presents a whole new set of dangers for snowmobilers. Things easily seen and avoided in daylight become invisible and deadly at night. Guard rails, barbed wire, rocks, tree stumps, even tight curves and --- open water --- become a real menace when you can't see them until the last second. A few words of caution can mean the difference between a non-event and a tragedy. Radio communication gives you the opportunity to give or receive that warning.
And what about when you are hurt and need help? As one customer put it... "Who's going to find you, off the trail in a gully, with a snowmobile on top of you?" That's what happened to him. He had a broken leg and crushed ribs. His friends didn't notice he was missing until 30 miles later back at the lodge, and they had no idea where to start looking. He watched daylight fade into night, and it got colder and colder. He was saved only because he heard a group of people talking on Communicators as they went by on the trail. He called out to them on his Communicator and after some searching, they found and rescued him. At night, help can be just a few hundred feet away, but without a radio, who's going to know you're there?
Of course, snowmobiling isn't all doom and gloom. It's a fantastic sport that lets you leave the worries of the world behind while you enjoy the sights, adventure, and camaraderie of friends on the trail. Instant voice communication allows you to make the most of every minute you're out there. There are many after-market products a snowmobiler can buy. Clothes that make you look better, boots that keep your feet warmer, engine parts that make you go faster. But there is nothing that will enhance your enjoyment of riding like a Communicator. Once you try it, you'll be hooked. And maybe one day, it will mean the difference between the accident that didn't happen --- and the one that did.