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Reviews Categories | Direction Finding equipment | Altai-144 2m DF receiver Help


Reviews Summary for Altai-144 2m DF receiver
Reviews: 1 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $(missing—add MSRP)
Description: 2m hand-held DF receiver built into the boom of a 3-element yagi
Product is in production.
More info: http://
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WB6BYU Rating: 4/5 Jan 19, 2004 17:58 Send this review to a friend
Convenient receiver for DF on foot  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Altai-144 is a commercial Russian 2m DF receiver designed for ARDF training and competitions. It has a super-het receiver built into the boom of a 3-element yagi, with the controls placed for convenient one-handed use. This certainly isn't the best DF receiver in the world, but is far more convenient than trying to carry an HT, attenuator, and antenna individually. Of course, it has some quirks...

The receiver is designed to cover 144 - 146 MHz with a built-in rechargable ni-cad battery. There is no voltage regulation on the oscillator, so the actual frequency setting will change with battery voltage. This is good - the receiver will tune up to the common hidden transmitter frequency of 146.565 MHz using a reasonably fresh Alkaline 9V battery - the snap is the same, just need to add a bit extra padding inside the case so the battery doesn't rattle. The Barnaul Radio Factory seems to have stopped making these receivers in the early 1990's, and most of the nicad batteries are about dead by now anyway.

The big advantage of the Altai is convenience - the receiver and antenna are a single unit, with headphone output to the operator for all indications (no meter or display to look at.) The wide-range gain control allows hunting right up to a transmitter. The receiver is AM, and FM signals can be slope detected. The antenna elements are curved aluminum, so they can bend and snap back into shape like the blade of a tape measure. (The Russians are not known for being gentle on their ARDF equipment - this really is designed to be used while RUNNING though the woods!) There is also a TONE option that is useful for hunting unmodulated carriers, and a threashold switch that sharpens up the pattern for more accurate bearings.

The Altai makes a good sniffer antenna for mobile hunts as well. The elements don't flex quite as easily as a tape measure yagi, but it isn't hard to toss it in the trunk fully assembled and pull it out quickly when needed. This is a nice accessory, as long as you plan to hunt below about
146.6 MHz. (The frequency range can be adjusted with some internal tweeking.)

Going price for a used Altai-144 is around 120 to 150 dollars, depending on condition and demand. Occasionally hams have brought receivers into the US and Canada from Russia, and the hardest part is finding one for sale.

Quirks: the bandwidth is relatively wide, due to the high IF frequency. Trying to use one around a ham convention is almost impossible due to all the
strong signals - we usually had to go 50 to 100m away from the building to avoid interference from adjacent frequencies. Some of the imported sets have intermittent problems - this is most often due to the use of rivets to connect the top and bottom layers of the circuit board. A wire jumper passed through the rivet and soldered on both sides helps a lot. The headphones are high impedance with a dual banana plug: apparently a common practice is to tape the cord to the plug and to tape the Y joint in the headphone cable to the headband to reduce problems with intermittent connections in the headphones. The switches are covered with rubber boots, making it reasonably rainproof (though I haven't tried using it under water yet.) Manual is in Russian, though the schematic diagrams are understandable, and the receiver uses discrete parts so you should be able to find a suitable replacement transistor if needed.

The VK3YNG Mk 4 2m sniffer runs rings around the Altai for most North American applications, at least when you know the frequency you are hunting. (A tunable receiver does have advantages when the transmitter frequency is not known exactly, or is drifting.) But, in spite of the quirks, the Altai-144 is a good solid performer. There are better serious ARDF receivers built in Russia and the Ukraine which are lighter and available with a narrower IF bandwidth, but one still sees the Altai receivers in use at the World ARDF Championships.
 


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