Tagged: Chinese Radios
July 25, 2021 at 2:43 pm #1769Danial BeardModerator
I would assume most of us have had a chance to play with some of the “cheap” Chinese HTs and mobile radios, some analog FM and some digital. My queries are these.
Have you tried them?
Which ones (brands and models)?
Do you have a preferred make and model?
Would you buy one again?August 2, 2021 at 4:29 pm #1810Phillip BeallKeymaster
Kathy and I bought some of the BaoFeng UV-5R UHF VHF Dual Band Two Way Radio Walkie Talkies a couple of years ago. They were quite the bargain and other than (I think) being a little hard to program without a cable they are quite capable.
There was some noise about the FCC finding that particular radio to be non-compliant with their certification (see FCC Cites Baofeng Importer for Illegally Marketing Unauthorized RF Devices), but they are still going strong. Running about twice as much, the new and improved version, the the F8HP, is even more capable. Here (Baofeng BF-F8HP Radio Review) is a very nice review. Improvements between the UV-5R and the F8HP are a printed manual that is much better written than before (the former download only was clearly written by someone with poor English and grammar skills), an improved antenna and battery. But accessories are all backwards compatible.
BaoFeng radios are not a Yaesu, a Kenwood or an ICOM, but they are just such a bargain that anyone looking for an analog FM handheld can get into the game quite economically. If someone wanted to order a box full of radios, program them the same and put one in the glove box of each car, their motorcycle saddlebag, their bugout bag, at their second home, etc.; for very little investment they could have a radio in place, programmed and ready to go, anywhere and everywhere. They would be familiar because they are all the same and in a sudden emergency regardless of where the person was, they would have emergency comms capability. And did I mention that they are TINY! Wow! Talk about a micro-radio.
Buying several as suggested is feasible for many, whereas buying a box full of the others would break the bank for most.
My two cents. 😉
PhillipAugust 2, 2021 at 6:59 pm #1836Jim ClarkParticipant
Thanks for opening this topic Dan. Yes, I have several Baofeng and two Wouxon radios. The comments below are just my opinion. Lots of people complain about the cheap radios and I believe they are the honest opinions of experienced people trying to be helpful. Among the complaints are; they are cheaply made and they transmit spurious signals. Making them cheaply is how they sell them cheaply. In an urban area, traffic levels are probably high enough to spurious signals may be bad manners, but I live in a rural area where the signals are very unlikely to be a problem for anyone. I suspect that the first time my Yaesu is dropped, it will emit some spurious signals as well. FM transmissions enjoy a concept called the FM Capture Effect. Briefly this means you only hear the stronger of competing signals, so someone on another frequency spilling a bit of harmonic is very unlikely to cause an issue (see below). In AM and SSB modes, ‘doubling’ can make transmissions unreadable.
There are a few advantages with cheap radios though.
- Each of my vehicles has a “go bag” for emergencies. Among other things, the bag in each vehicle contains a Baofeng radio with a better than OEM antenna. The battery is kept in an outer pocket of the bag so it can be rotated monthly with a freshly charged battery. I would hesitate to subject an expensive radio to temperature cycling or the extreme heat of the local summer days. At the price, I can have a Baofeng in every vehicle and building without stretching the bank account.
- Another advantage is to those of us who enjoy tinkering. Even without opening the radio, there are a lot of things an experimenter can do with a radio as long as the cost of a mistake is low enough. (see sample interface below).
BTW: The reason I own two Wouxons is the first one missed my shirt pocket while riding my motorcycle down the highway. The aftermarket antenna was bent, the heavy battery was smashed up pretty good. I had to back order the replacement battery, so I picked up a whole new radio while I waited. Checking the old radio with the new battery revealed it still worked. I waded into chest deep flood waters on Lamar Ave to get a guy out of his car as it floated into the CVS lawn, and my Wouxun was under water part of that time with no ill effects.September 12, 2021 at 9:48 pm #1923George HanekeKeymaster
I have had good luck with the Wouxons, less so with the BaoFengs. I would buy either again if the need arose.June 9, 2022 at 5:20 pm #4571Danial BeardModerator
Not a big fan of BaoFengs. They seemed cheaply built. Don’t have a particular opinion about wouxon. I’ve never owned nor used one. That said, I do have several models of TYT radios. I’ll list them below with an opinion of each.
TYT TH-9800 — It works — most of the time. It cross-bands easily. That said, it is very susceptible to extreme temperatures and unit heating. It is also susceptible to strong or close magnetic fields. The first thing to go is the CTCSS oscillator. After that, the final amplifiers get sketchy, then it’s cooked.
The bright side? It didn’t cost like a Yaesu.
TYT TH-7800 — It works … most of the time. Cross-bands easily. It’s a little more durable than the TH-9800 … but I wouldn’t put it in mission critical mobile applications. It is also heat susceptible, although not as bad.
In a cool controlled environment, it is, however, a pretty decent performer. If you’ve got it in the shack, and don’t abuse it, you’re good to go.
TYT TH-8600 — This one is basically box-of-rocks tough, but it isn’t real asthetic. It’s an ugly little thing, but it’s solid, weatherproof, and almost idiot proof. The screen leaves a lot to be desired, but it is a reliable performer in the mobile and field environments. Program it so you don’t have to stare at the screen, and just use it. I have yet to cook one of mine, and that’s actually saying a lot. I’m kinda hard on mobiles.
TYT TH UV88 — This little beastie sits in good company with the TH-8600. It ain’t real pretty, but it’s a hockey-puck of a radio, pretty decent on batteries and sports limited controls, which makes it a good channelized functional communication device. If it means anything, I haven’t managed to break mine yet. But I will keep trying. This is my go-to tactical fire-ground radio. An added bonus is, if I do manage to destroy it, I’m only out $40.00. Keep a spare in the go-bag.
TYT TH-350 — This “tri-bander” is a good rig for those who like to fiddle and futz with their handhelds. It’s a little more traditional Ham-HT than the UV88. I enjoy mine. It’s fun. I drag it around with me for kicks and giggles. But … when the poo-poo gets deep, and things get serious, I’ll leave it in the charger, and shag the UV88s.
And that’s all of them I have played with so far. If you’ve tinkered with others, please post the assessment and results below.
- This reply was modified 5 months, 3 weeks ago by Danial Beard.
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