Archive for the ‘review’ Category

Review – BTech UV-50X3 (Tri-Band)

by John ‘Miklor’

50X3combo-SFour years after its initial design, the VGC 6600PRO has evolved into the BTech UV-50X3, a full featured Tri-Band mobile that delivers a full 50W on VHF and UHF, with addition of a 220 MHz module that delivers 5W output.  The 220 MHz module was specifically designed and filtered for 222-225MHz US ham band operation.  I mention this as there are currently radios being advertised as Tri-Band operating in the range of 240-260MHz that are not adaptable to frequencies below 240MHz due to their internal filtering.

 
What’s in the Box

Included with the radio are:
–  Remote control head
–  Control Head Suction Cup Mount
–  18′ Separation Cable
–  Microphone with a 20 button keypad
–  Chrome metal microphone hanger
–  Metal mounting bracket with screws
–  Cooling Fan with Thermostat
–  Heavy Duty DC Power Cable (HD Auto Fuses)
–  Full 33 page English User Manual

50X3  Weight:  Main Chassis  2.1kg (4.6 lbs)
Chassis Size: 5.5″ x 1.8″ x 6.0″  (140 x 46 x 150mm)
Control Head: 6.3″ x 2.6″ x 6.0″  (157 x 66 x 33.5mm)

Specifications

The 50X3 is FCC Part 90 certified for commercial use in the US.
Full specifications can be found HERE
 
Enclosure and Mount


The main chassis i
s a solid 4 lb heat sink with an added cooling fan. The chassis and cooling fan can be mounted either under the dash, or trunk mounted using the included 18′ control cable.  The radio is terminated with a standard SO-239 connector.

 50X3case-S  50X3mount

Control Head

The suction mount is about the best I’ve ever used. It requires a smooth metal or glass surface, but the silicon rubber cup will not let loose. My control head has been mounted atop my computer for over a month, and it is going nowhere.
 

The control head has two tuning knobs as well as two volume controls allowing the transceiver to essentially function as two separate radios in one package. The left can be scanning in the Channel mode while the right can be monitoring in the VFO.

The button functions are displayed on the LCD screen for easy function identification. The PTT button on the upper right is for Momentary or Toggle PTT. One press turns the TX on, next press turns it off. Setting to Toggle is convenient if running a net or using a mobile headset.

50X3head-S

Cooling

The radio chassis is one large block of heat sink that when testing takes forever to heat up. When it does, the 70 x 70 x 15mm cooling fan turns on. It’s very quiet and because of it’s size it’s very effective.
  
Transmitter

 
One of my main interests was the included 220MHz US ham band, as I have several Ham repeaters within 35 miles from my house. The power on 220MHz is rated at 5W, which I found was more than enough to reliably get into my local repeaters.  The signal and audio reports have been excellent.

I used my 13.8VDC power supply to emulate a standard auto battery. Running the radio at high power (50W) into a Bird Watt meter for 3 minutes showed no decrease in power or excess heat.

The 220 ham band transmit range is limited to 222-225MHz. The receiver is capable of being programmed above and below those frequencies, but may be outside of the performance range due to the ham band specific filtering.

Freq Low Mid High
146 8 20 50
222 5 5 5
446 10 24  55


HP 6580 analyser images

Microphone

The radio comes with a full function keypad style microphone. On the right side are two slide switches that control the Lock and Lamp feature, and on top of the microphone are two frequency Up and Down buttons.  Along with a 16 button DTMF style keypad are 4 programmable function keys. Choices are Squelch Off, TX Power, Rptr Shift, Reverse, and Tone Call.

There are two microphone input jacks. One on the control head, the other on the main unit. There is also a built in microphone element inside the control head. Although the audio quality is excellent, the sensitivity is that of a standard microphone. The OTA reports were excellent with plenty of audio, so there’s no reason to shout.

A nice feature in the audio section is an adjustable microphone gain control. There are 5 settings available. Min, Low, Normal, High, and Max. Normal is great for speaking in a normal volume an inch from the microphone. Running a net with VOX and a headset, you can bring it up a bit. Driving in an off road vehicle, you just might need to set it back.

50X3mike-S

Receiver

The UV-50X3 has two Double Conversion Super Heterodyne receivers, each with 500 channels, for a total of 1000 memories.

Along with the standard VHF / 220 / UHF frequencies, the receiver covers:

0.5-1.7 MHz   (AM Radio)
76-108 MHz   (FM Radio)
108-136 MHz  (AM Air Band)
137-250 MHz  (Ham & TV Band)
300-520 MHz  (Ham & General)
with a scan rate of 4 channels per second.

The control head has built in speakers, as well as one in the main module. An external speaker jack in the rear also allows for a larger speaker if desired. The jack provides for either mono or stereo output. (each receiver can have it’s own speaker). I found a menu setting to adjust the tone of the speaker as well. Although there is more than ample audio output, when the volume control is all the way down, the radio is silent, as it should be.

Cross Band Repeat

The radio takes full advantage of the independent receiver by including a Cross Band Repeat function.  I entered the VHF and UHF frequencies, power level and tones, selected the Cross Band mode, and was ready to go. The audio levels are preset and the audio quality reports were excellent.

Cross band repeating using a 220MHz frequency was not possible. This is more than likely a precaution due to the minimal frequency separation.

Display

The control head has a large 5″ LCD with your choice of background colors. Options include White-Blue, Sky-Blue, Marine-Blue, Green, Yellow-Green, Orange, Amber, and White. The brightness and contrast are also menu selectable.


Programming

 

When you first attempt to program the radio manually, it may take a few tries to understand the flow of the menus.  After that, everything falls right into place. I’ve put together a programming flow to help assist with understanding the process.  All functions including the entry of 6 character Alpha labels can all be entered manually.

50X3menu

Unless you are only entering a few channels, I would recommend the optional PC05  programming cable. The UV-50X3 uses the CHIRP programming software.
 
Up to six Alpha Numeric characters (upper and lower case) can be displayed to identify each channel.

Scanning in the VFO mode allowed me to scan either the VHF, 220MHz, or UHF band.  In the Channel mode, the scan would select any channel in the list regardless of band.

Power Cable

The power cable supplied with the 50X3 is properly fused and will easily handle the current draw of the radio. This cable was meant to be connected directly to the battery or fuse panel.

There are radios that draw less power whose power cables use thinner wire, lower value fuses, and  can be plugged into accessory plugs. Do NOT use these cables, even though they may be plug compatible. The 50X3 draws twice the current, and will blow the fuses and possibly overheat the wire.

The cable on the 50X3 appears to match that of the hi-power Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood series.  ONLY use the proper cable for the radio.

Base Station Operation

The 50X3 draws upwards of 11-12A on high power transmit. A power supply capable of 15-20A continuous (not just surge) is recommended. Here are a few power supply Examples.

For mobile drive testing, I teamed this radio with a Nagoya Tri-Band  TB320A  and SB-35 NMO mag mount and the results were excellent.

Conclusion

The 50X3 has the power, functions and quality you would expect in an upper end tri-band transceiver.  It is based on a proven design, and I have found no issues with the radio over the past month. A bit more power on 220 would have been a plus, but it still gets me into the local repeaters fine.

Some of the added advantages to the US market are the FCC Part 90 certification, local US support, and exclusive program support using CHIRP software. The radio can also be shipped worldwide by contacting BTech directly.

This is definitely one of the nicest mobile transceivers I’ve used; and yes, I’ve owned the “big 3”.

 

50X3combo-S

More Information:   Miklor.com


Review Pofung (Baofeng) GT-1

I didn’t pay much attention to the GT-1 because I assumed it was just old wine in a new bottle. Time to rectify this, due to popular demand.

We all know the Baofeng BF-666S / BF-777S / BF-888S radios: 16 UHF channels, no display, low power output, a receiver which can be overloaded by snapping your fingers, but they are dirt cheap. The GT-1, co-developed by SainSonic, promises to improve on this concept by adding FM radio, a higher capacity battery and higher power output.

Look & feel
When it comes to looks, the GT-1 looks a bit more modern than its predecessors. The radio is slightly taller and less deep. All in all the GT-1 looks and feels nice. The basic concept didn’t change: 16 programmable UHF channels between 400 MHz and 470 MHz, scramble (voice inversion), a on/off/volume pot, a 16-step rotary encoder and a flashlight. Apart from emitting a steady beam of light the flashlight now offers an ‘SOS- mode: three short, three long and three short pulses.

You can order the radio with side keys in different colors: yellow, orange or green. The (of reasonable quality) manual comes in three languages: English, French and German. Nice touch.

Pofung GT-1Battery
GT-1 Battery LabelAccording to the specs printed on the battery the nominal voltage is 7.4 Volts @ 1800 mAh, the same capacity as the UV-5R battery.  Such a capacity would be in line with the higher power output promised on the radio label: a solid 5 Watts instead of ‘less or equal to 5 Watts’ printed on a BF-888S (which proved to be 2 Watts only).

The first hint of something being terribly wrong was the weight of the battery. It felt so light that I was afraid that it might end up at the other end of the living room if I had a nasty cough. Time to to take a closer look at things. Let’s take a look at the weight first as more cells always translates into a heavier battery.  The amount of plastic used plays a role too, of course. So while this is not a 100% reliable method, it does give you an indication.

Battery weight comparison
Pofung GT-1: 47 grams
Baofeng BF-666S: 54 grams
Baofeng UV-5R: 80 grams
Anytone NSTIG-8R: 96 grams

As you can see the weight of the GT-1 and BF-666S batteries are close. The UV-5R and NSTIG-8R batteries are too, both proven to be 7.4 Volts @ 1800 mAh. The GT-1 battery seems just too light to be in the same 7.4 Volts / 1800 mAh league.

I took my multimeter and checked the GT-1 battery. Not to my surprise it only measured 4.0 Volts (freshly charged), so the nominal voltage is 3.7 Volts only, just like the BF-666S battery. The capacity will likely be the same too, somewhere between 1000 mAh and 1500 mAh.

GT-1 Radio LabelTransmitter
After finding out that the battery might even be inferior to the one supplied with its predecessor I didn’t expect the GT-1 to be able to reach 5 Watts output at all. That proved to be correct. Two samples measured the same: between 1.5 – 2 Watts, depending on the frequency.

TX Audio
A bit brighter and slightly louder than my BF series, which is a plus.

Phase noise and harmonics
Less phase noise than the BF series. There are some unusual peaks visible, but nothing scary.

Pofung_GT-1_spectrumReceiver
At -126 dBm the GT-1 is sensitive enough, but that won’t help you much. It doesn’t take much of an out-of-band signal to make the radio as deaf as a post. Even the local repeater can’t be received in my city center; only if I’m about 3 kilometers away from the center the receiver comes to life.

FM Radio
By holding the upper side key while switching on the radio, the GT-1 will switch to FM radio, something the BF series don’t offer. There doesn’t appear to to be a way to tune to a preferred station though; it randomly tunes into stations it finds. This makes the feature of limited use.

RX Audio
A bit raw, just like with the BF series, but more tinny. Audio distorts quickly if you crank up the volume.

Software
The GT-1 can be programmed with the same software developed for the BF series. CHIRP works too, but lacks a few options such as switching on scramble. Changing power output from ‘High’ to ‘Low’ in the software still doesn’t work; the radio just ignores that setting.

The verdict
After being confronted with all the lies surrounding the Pofung GT-1 there’s no way I can justify a diplomatic way of saying things. The GT-1 is just old wine in a new bottle, the battery voltage / capacity is one big lie and so is the promised power output.

The receiver is still disappointing unless you live in the proverbial ‘middle of nowhere’. To make matters worse the GT-1 is more expensive than a Baofeng BF-666S / BF-777S / BF-888S.

In short: don’t buy one unless you’re a notorious masochist. Go for a UV-5R instead or, if you like/need this particular concept, buy the superior Anytone ANILE-8R.

 


Review Pofung (Baofeng) GT-1

I didn’t pay much attention to the GT-1 because I assumed it was just old wine in a new bottle. Time to rectify this, due to popular demand.

We all know the Baofeng BF-666S / BF-777S / BF-888S radios: 16 UHF channels, no display, low power output, a receiver which can be overloaded by snapping your fingers, but they are dirt cheap. The GT-1, co-developed by SainSonic, promises to improve on this concept by adding FM radio, a higher capacity battery and higher power output.

Look & feel
When it comes to looks, the GT-1 looks a bit more modern than its predecessors. The radio is slightly taller and less deep. All in all the GT-1 looks and feels nice. The basic concept didn’t change: 16 programmable UHF channels between 400 MHz and 470 MHz, scramble (voice inversion), a on/off/volume pot, a 16-step rotary encoder and a flashlight. Apart from emitting a steady beam of light the flashlight now offers an ‘SOS- mode: three short, three long and three short pulses.

You can order the radio with side keys in different colors: yellow, orange or green. The (of reasonable quality) manual comes in three languages: English, French and German. Nice touch.

Pofung GT-1Battery
GT-1 Battery LabelAccording to the specs printed on the battery the nominal voltage is 7.4 Volts @ 1800 mAh, the same capacity as the UV-5R battery.  Such a capacity would be in line with the higher power output promised on the radio label: a solid 5 Watts instead of ‘less or equal to 5 Watts’ printed on a BF-888S (which proved to be 2 Watts only).

The first hint of something being terribly wrong was the weight of the battery. It felt so light that I was afraid that it might end up at the other end of the living room if I had a nasty cough. Time to to take a closer look at things. Let’s take a look at the weight first as more cells always translates into a heavier battery.  The amount of plastic used plays a role too, of course. So while this is not a 100% reliable method, it does give you an indication.

Battery weight comparison
Pofung GT-1: 47 grams
Baofeng BF-666S: 54 grams
Baofeng UV-5R: 80 grams
Anytone NSTIG-8R: 96 grams

As you can see the weight of the GT-1 and BF-666S batteries are close. The UV-5R and NSTIG-8R batteries are too, both proven to be 7.4 Volts @ 1800 mAh. The GT-1 battery seems just too light to be in the same 7.4 Volts / 1800 mAh league.

I took my multimeter and checked the GT-1 battery. Not to my surprise it only measured 4.0 Volts (freshly charged), so the nominal voltage is 3.7 Volts only, just like the BF-666S battery. The capacity will likely be the same too, somewhere between 1000 mAh and 1500 mAh.

GT-1 Radio LabelTransmitter
After finding out that the battery might even be inferior to the one supplied with its predecessor I didn’t expect the GT-1 to be able to reach 5 Watts output at all. That proved to be correct. Two samples measured the same: between 1.5 – 2 Watts, depending on the frequency.

TX Audio
A bit brighter and slightly louder than my BF series, which is a plus.

Phase noise and harmonics
Less phase noise than the BF series. There are some unusual peaks visible, but nothing scary.

Pofung_GT-1_spectrumReceiver
At -126 dBm the GT-1 is sensitive enough, but that won’t help you much. It doesn’t take much of an out-of-band signal to make the radio as deaf as a post. Even the local repeater can’t be received in my city center; only if I’m about 3 kilometers away from the center the receiver comes to life.

FM Radio
By holding the upper side key while switching on the radio, the GT-1 will switch to FM radio, something the BF series don’t offer. There doesn’t appear to be a way to tune to a preferred station though; it randomly tunes into stations it finds. This makes the feature of limited use.

Edit: pressing the upper side key shortly will make the radio switch from station to station. Some in-house interference made the system fail when I tested it. The interference caused the scan to stop when encountering these false positives.

RX Audio
A bit raw, just like with the BF series, but more tinny. Audio distorts quickly if you crank up the volume.

Software
The GT-1 can be programmed with the same software developed for the BF series. CHIRP works too, but lacks a few options such as switching on scramble. Changing power output from ‘High’ to ‘Low’ in the software still doesn’t work; the radio just ignores that setting.

The verdict
After being confronted with all the lies surrounding the Pofung GT-1 there’s no way I can justify a diplomatic way of saying things. The GT-1 is just old wine in a new bottle, the battery voltage / capacity is one big lie and so is the promised power output.

The receiver is still disappointing unless you live in the proverbial ‘middle of nowhere’. To make matters worse the GT-1 is more expensive than a Baofeng BF-666S / BF-777S / BF-888S.

In short: don’t buy one unless you’re a notorious masochist. Go for a UV-5R instead or, if you like/need this particular concept, buy the superior Anytone ANILE-8R.


Anytone Tech models, additional notes

Overall, reviewing these Anytones was a pleasant experience. After the reviews I looked into a few other things.

  • The batteries of the ANILE-8R (1300 mAh) and the NSTIG-8R (1800 mAh) are exchangeable.
  • The belt clips used on the ANILE-8R and NSTIG-8R are never a perfect fit. With the 1300 mAh battery there’s a gap (easy to lose a radio that way), with the 1800 mAh battery it’s too tight.
  • The antenna on the NSTIG-8R heats up fast at maximum RF output; the behavior resembles that of a Baofeng UV-5R stock antenna. The antenna appears to be reasonably efficient though. More tests are in order.
  • No such problems with the antennas of the ANILE-8R, the TERMN-8R or OBLTR-8R.
  • The NSTIG-8R, TERMN-8R and OBLTR-8R can display the remaining battery voltage. Measurements show that the radios are surprisingly accurate. If the radios say “8.1 Volts”, it really is 8.1 Volts. The ANILE-8R will round it down/up to the closest integer.
  • The OBLTR-8R is difficult to use on SW because it defaults to 10 KHz steps. SW stations are 5 KHz apart, not 10 KHz. You can use the keypad to enter the correct frequency though. I had the bug confirmed by John; it’s now on the ‘to do’ list and will be fixed.
  • The more I had the TX audio compared by other hams, the more impressed I (and they) became.
  • There’s an odd problem concerning spectral purity with all x-band capable hand helds I reviewed. It only occurs when both VFOs are active; we (me and a few more knowledgeable RF lab gurus) are looking into that right now.

 


Anytone Tech models, additional notes

Overall, reviewing these Anytones was a pleasant experience. After the reviews I looked into a few other things.

  • The batteries of the ANILE-8R (1300 mAh) and the NSTIG-8R (1800 mAh) are exchangeable.
  • The belt clips used on the ANILE-8R and NSTIG-8R are never a perfect fit. With the 1300 mAh battery there’s a gap (easy to lose a radio that way), with the 1800 mAh battery it’s too tight.
  • The antenna on the NSTIG-8R heats up fast at maximum RF output; the behavior resembles that of a Baofeng UV-5R stock antenna. The antenna appears to be reasonably efficient though. More tests are in order.
  • No such problems with the antennas of the ANILE-8R, the TERMN-8R or OBLTR-8R.
  • The NSTIG-8R, TERMN-8R and OBLTR-8R can display the remaining battery voltage. Measurements show that the radios are surprisingly accurate. If the radios say “8.1 Volts”, it really is 8.1 Volts. The ANILE-8R will round it down/up to the closest integer.
  • The TERMN-8R is difficult to use on SW because it defaults to 10 KHz steps. SW stations are 5 KHz apart, not 10 KHz. You can use the keypad to enter the correct frequency though. I had the bug confirmed by John; it’s now on the ‘to do’ list and will be fixed.
  • The more I had the TX audio compared by other hams, the more impressed I (and they) became.
  • There’s an odd problem concerning spectral purity with all x-band capable hand helds I reviewed. It only occurs when both VFOs are active; we (me and a few more knowledgeable RF lab gurus) are looking into that right now.

 


Review Anytone OBLTR-8R

by John ‘Miklor’ K3NXU and Hans PD0AC

xOBLTRI now get a chance to review the OBLTR-8R which is  a slightly scaled down version of the TERMN-8R which is the top of the new 8R series offered by Anytone. The only outward difference between the two models is the absence of the orange keys on the left.  Once again, when you get one in hand, it becomes very obvious that these radios are were not meant to be competition for the lower end brands, but more of a match for the Wouxun and existing Anytone radios.

This radio is FCC Part 90 certified (Commercial) applications, as well as Part 95A GMRS and 95J MURS services.  For GMRS and MURS, the frequencies and power levels hard coded in the firmware.  Anyone with dual licenses may now only need to carry a single radio.

What’s in the BOX
There you’ll find the radio, a nicely written and illustrated 104 page English manual, belt clip, wrist strap, Earpiece/Microphone, 7.25 inch (18cm) flexible antenna and hefty 2200mAh 7.4V battery with charger.
OBLTR-8R box
The side of the battery has a small charging jack for the optional 12V mobile charger is available for on the road charging.

First Impressions
The overall weight and feel of the radio is solid. The top of the radio has both a Volume/PowerOn switch and Channel Selector knob. The left side has the PTT button and well as two programmable function buttons. The right side has a 2 pin ‘K2’ Kenwood, Anytone, Wouxun, Baofeng style connector. Programming cables and Spkr/Micr for these radios will be totally compatible.

My prior Anytones have somewhat of a concave keypad, where the OBLTR-8R keypad buttons are level and easier to access. Also, the keypad numbers and definitions are illuminated making manual programming a bit easier.

Transmitter
The OBLTR-8R, like its big brother the TERMN-8R, also has  3 power levels that can be changed from the keypad. In the GMRS and MURS mode, the power levels are fixed, per certification requirements.  Audio level and quality reports were excellent.

Receiver
The OBLTR-8R has a single Dual Watch receiver that covers
VHF – 136-174 MHz           UHF – 400-520 MHz
FM Broadcast – 64-108 MHz  (with 100 memory channels)
It incorporates Fast Scan with a scan rate of approximately 10 channels per second.

Some measurements

Power Levels on the test unit were as follows:
VHF – 5.6W, 1.9W, 0.9W
UHF – 4.75W, 2.3W, 1.2W
GMRS – 4.25W
MURS – 1.8W

Sensitivity
Sensitivity VHF (@ 145 MHz): -126 dBm (@ 50Ω, 12 dB SINAD).
Sensitivity UHF (@ 435 MHz): -125 dBm (@ 50Ω, 12 dB SINAD).

Harmonics
Good numbers: -57.54 dBm on VHF,  -54.74 dBm on UHF.

OBLTR-8R-VHF

OBLTR-8R-UHF

When in the Dual Watch mode, the receiver continuously samples the main and sub-band for activity.  To eliminate adjacent channel interference, the radio’s receiver reverts to true Narrowband when selected.  A full 1W of audio makes the receive quality both loud and clear.

GMRS and MURS operation  (FCC part 95A / 95J certified)
Like its big brother, the OBLTR-8R can be switched to operate on any of three modes. GMRS, MURS or Commercial/Normal. To eliminate the possibility of being on the wrong band, a Key Press at PowerOn selects either GMRS or MURS mode. Channel frequencies are hard coded in the firmware as well as their power levels, but allow for CTCSS/DCS tones can be added/changed via the keypad.

Commercial Application (FCC Part 90 certified)
For Commercial, Fire, EMS and EmComm use, the OBLTR-8R is fully certificated with 2.5kHz steps, and software which prevents Field Programming.

NOAA Weather Alert
The seven US NOAA weather alert frequencies are preprogrammed into the radio. There are 3 options to choose from. ON, OFF and ALERT. When WX Alert is chosen, the NOAA weather channel remains silent in the background until the 1050Hz emergency tone signal is received. This is especially useful in areas where severe weather conditions are prominent.

Dual PTT Capability / Programmable Function Keys
There are two PF keys below the PTT switch. Either can be programmed to function as a sub-channel (lower display) PTT button, while the PTT switch activates the upper channel.

The PF keys can also be used to select your choice of:
– Battery Voltage display
– Frequency display
– Tone Calling (DTMF/5TONE/2TONE)
– FHSS (Frequency Hopping)
– Tone Pulse (1750, 1450, 1000 or 2100Hz)
– Alarm Button
– Dual PTT
– MONI (Squelch off)

Channel Banks
The radio supports 200 channels and 10 memory banks. Scanning Group 0 will scan all programmed channels entered into the transceiver. Banks 1 > 9 can be assigned up to 32 channels each.

I found a nice added feature that isn’t on my 3318UV-A. If I want to remove a channel from a particular bank, I can dial in the channel, press two keys, turn the knob and it’s gone. Eliminates the need to me to use the computer to delete the bad ones.

2TONE Sequential Paging
This is extremely useful for the EMS user. I personally have used 2 tone pagers in the past. I can now monitor local EMS channels with one radio.

Pager-ChEditDetailed instructions on how to set up the 2-tone and 5-tone paging system can be found  HERE.

Software
The OEM software is relatively easy to follow, and with a little practice, easy to navigate. Some areas may be a bit tricky, and I’ll try to address those area in the Miklor FAQ section.  CHIRP developers are aware of the new Anytone 8R series, but it takes time to backward engineer a radios software.

As always, it is recommended to get a quality programming cable so you spend more time talking on the radio and less time loading special drivers to your PC. I personally use an FTDI cable that is Plug ‘n Play with no driver issues.

Upgradeable Firmware
The OBLTR-8R has Upgradeable Firmware. If features are added in the future, your radio is not obsolete. The firmware can be updated (re-flashed) by an authorized dealer so you will always be able to  have the latest version available to you.

IMHO
The developers of the Anytone OBLTR-8R packed a lot of features in a small package. The inclusion of:
– Certified GMRS, MURS and Commercial in one radio
– Upgradeable Firmware
– 200 channels/10 Banks
– Dual PTT
– 2TONE / 5TONE / MSK Messaging
– Stun / Kill capability
at a price tag under $100 level is pretty darned impressive.

Comparison
There are four models in the 8R series. At the top is the TERMN-8R, followed by the OBLTR-8R, NSTIG-8R, and the ANILE-8R.  Confusing?  Here’s a hint. They are alphabetical.  That’s the only way I can keep them straight.

For a comparison between the OBLTR-8R and the others in the 8R series, you can follow this LINK

Price: $98.89 USD (Amazon)
More Information:  Anytone Tech, Miklor.com

 


Review Anytone OBLTR-8R

by John ‘Miklor’ K3NXU and Hans PD0AC

xOBLTRI now get a chance to review the OBLTR-8R which is  a slightly scaled down version of the TERMN-8R which is the top of the new 8R series offered by Anytone. The only outward difference between the two models is the absence of the orange keys on the left.  Once again, when you get one in hand, it becomes very obvious that these radios are were not meant to be competition for the lower end brands, but more of a match for the Wouxun and existing Anytone radios.

This radio is FCC Part 90 certified (Commercial) applications, as well as Part 95A GMRS and 95J MURS services.  For GMRS and MURS, the frequencies and power levels hard coded in the firmware.  Anyone with dual licenses may now only need to carry a single radio.

What’s in the BOX
There you’ll find the radio, a nicely written and illustrated 104 page English manual, belt clip, wrist strap, Earpiece/Microphone, 7.25 inch (18cm) flexible antenna and hefty 2200mAh 7.4V battery with charger.
OBLTR-8R box
The side of the battery has a small charging jack for the optional 12V mobile charger is available for on the road charging.

First Impressions
The overall weight and feel of the radio is solid. The top of the radio has both a Volume/PowerOn switch and Channel Selector knob. The left side has the PTT button and well as two programmable function buttons. The right side has a 2 pin ‘K2′ Kenwood, Anytone, Wouxun, Baofeng style connector. Programming cables and Spkr/Micr for these radios will be totally compatible.

My prior Anytones have somewhat of a concave keypad, where the OBLTR-8R keypad buttons are level and easier to access. Also, the keypad numbers and definitions are illuminated making manual programming a bit easier.

Transmitter
The OBLTR-8R, like its big brother the TERMN-8R, also has  3 power levels that can be changed from the keypad. In the GMRS and MURS mode, the power levels are fixed, per certification requirements.  Audio level and quality reports were excellent.

Receiver
The OBLTR-8R has a single Dual Watch receiver that covers
VHF – 136-174 MHz           UHF – 400-520 MHz
FM Broadcast – 64-108 MHz  (with 100 memory channels)
It incorporates Fast Scan with a scan rate of approximately 10 channels per second.

Some measurements

Power Levels on the test unit were as follows:
VHF – 5.6W, 1.9W, 0.9W
UHF – 4.75W, 2.3W, 1.2W
GMRS – 4.25W
MURS – 1.8W

Sensitivity
Sensitivity VHF (@ 145 MHz): -126 dBm (@ 50Ω, 12 dB SINAD).
Sensitivity UHF (@ 435 MHz): -125 dBm (@ 50Ω, 12 dB SINAD).

Harmonics
Good numbers: -57.54 dBm on VHF,  -54.74 dBm on UHF.

OBLTR-8R-VHF

OBLTR-8R-UHF

When in the Dual Watch mode, the receiver continuously samples the main and sub-band for activity.  To eliminate adjacent channel interference, the radio’s receiver reverts to true Narrowband when selected.  A full 1W of audio makes the receive quality both loud and clear.

GMRS and MURS operation  (FCC part 95A / 95J certified)
Like its big brother, the OBLTR-8R can be switched to operate on any of three modes. GMRS, MURS or Commercial/Normal. To eliminate the possibility of being on the wrong band, a Key Press at PowerOn selects either GMRS or MURS mode. Channel frequencies are hard coded in the firmware as well as their power levels, but allow for CTCSS/DCS tones can be added/changed via the keypad.

Commercial Application (FCC Part 90 certified)
For Commercial, Fire, EMS and EmComm use, the OBLTR-8R is fully certificated with 2.5kHz steps, and software which prevents Field Programming.

NOAA Weather Alert
The seven US NOAA weather alert frequencies are preprogrammed into the radio. There are 3 options to choose from. ON, OFF and ALERT. When WX Alert is chosen, the NOAA weather channel remains silent in the background until the 1050Hz emergency tone signal is received. This is especially useful in areas where severe weather conditions are prominent.

Dual PTT Capability / Programmable Function Keys
There are two PF keys below the PTT switch. Either can be programmed to function as a sub-channel (lower display) PTT button, while the PTT switch activates the upper channel.

The PF keys can also be used to select your choice of:
– Battery Voltage display
– Frequency display
– Tone Calling (DTMF/5TONE/2TONE)
– FHSS (Frequency Hopping)
– Tone Pulse (1750, 1450, 1000 or 2100Hz)
– Alarm Button
– Dual PTT
– MONI (Squelch off)

Channel Banks
The radio supports 200 channels and 10 memory banks. Scanning Group 0 will scan all programmed channels entered into the transceiver. Banks 1 > 9 can be assigned up to 32 channels each.

I found a nice added feature that isn’t on my 3318UV-A. If I want to remove a channel from a particular bank, I can dial in the channel, press two keys, turn the knob and it’s gone. Eliminates the need to me to use the computer to delete the bad ones.

2TONE Sequential Paging
This is extremely useful for the EMS user. I personally have used 2 tone pagers in the past. I can now monitor local EMS channels with one radio.

Pager-ChEditDetailed instructions on how to set up the 2-tone and 5-tone paging system can be found  HERE.

Software
The OEM software is relatively easy to follow, and with a little practice, easy to navigate. Some areas may be a bit tricky, and I’ll try to address those area in the Miklor FAQ section.  CHIRP developers are aware of the new Anytone 8R series, but it takes time to backward engineer a radios software.

As always, it is recommended to get a quality programming cable so you spend more time talking on the radio and less time loading special drivers to your PC. I personally use an FTDI cable that is Plug ‘n Play with no driver issues.

Upgradeable Firmware
The OBLTR-8R has Upgradeable Firmware. If features are added in the future, your radio is not obsolete. The firmware can be updated (re-flashed) by an authorized dealer so you will always be able to  have the latest version available to you.

IMHO
The developers of the Anytone OBLTR-8R packed a lot of features in a small package. The inclusion of:
– Certified GMRS, MURS and Commercial in one radio
– Upgradeable Firmware
– 200 channels/10 Banks
– Dual PTT
– 2TONE / 5TONE / MSK Messaging
– Stun / Kill capability
at a price tag under $100 level is pretty darned impressive.

Comparison
There are four models in the 8R series. At the top is the TERMN-8R, followed by the OBLTR-8R, NSTIG-8R, and the ANILE-8R.  Confusing?  Here’s a hint. They are alphabetical.  That’s the only way I can keep them straight.

For a comparison between the OBLTR-8R and the others in the 8R series, you can follow this LINK

Price: $98.89 USD (Amazon)
More Information:  Anytone Tech, Miklor.com

 



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