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Reviews For: Alinco VHF FM Transceiver DR-B185

Category: Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held)

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Review Summary For : Alinco VHF FM Transceiver DR-B185
Reviews: 7MSRP: 169.00
2 Meter FM Transceiver with high stability PLL synthesizer, newly designed power circuit that
puts 85W max Power out, 7-digit alphanumeric display, a wide variety of scanning features. EMS-
57 DTMF Hand Microphone.

Transmits from 144-147.995 MHz and has receive coverage from 136-173.995 MHz. If features
alphanumeric display (up to seven characters). Two power outputs (85/5 watts) are available.

85 watts, H/L power settings
500 memory channels, Front panel Speaker, Wide and Narrow FM modes, 39 tone CTCSS/DCS/2-Tone
encode and decode, Offset direction and frequency variable, Keypad lockout/ Revere function,
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
N5LAZ Rating: 2022-02-03
Somewhat of a specialty rig, but working fine Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought this radio for mostly simplex use in a rural setting, where I need every watt I can get. The transmitter is stout and produces all of the promised power. Audio quality during both transmit and receive is on par with other mobile rigs I've used. My unscientific assessment of sensitivity shows no deficiencies. Programming without the aid of a PC is very easy. The old-school style mic connector seems to promise durability. I like the way squelch adjustments are managed in the absence of a dedicated knob. Pressing the dedicated sql button converts the main dial into a temporary squelch knob - adjust it, then just press the sql button again to exit. I also like the lock switch on the mic (which locks only the mic, not the radio). A gripe is the extreme heat held by the heat-sink during extended QSO. The design trend seems to be large heat-sinks without integrated cooling fans. I get that it makes for a quiet radio with less to wear-out, but still, I believe this radio begs for some forced cooling (or to be larger, with a more massive heat-sink). When first trying the rig mobile I had it laying on the front seat of my car, heat-sink down. Admittedly there was little air circulation and the transmitter turned itself off after an extended transmission; but no damage was done. There is no mention of this feature in the manual, but a look at the schematic (Alinco on-line) indicates a temp sensor. Lesson learned. Overall a nice and potent VHF rig for the price, meeting more of a niche need for those actually requiring higher power. For urban and suburban use, I believe owners would find themselves wanting for an intermediate power setting, which this rig does not offer. It's either an anemic (for a mobile) 5 watts, or an 85 watt hot-running powerhouse. But that works for me operationally. The real test of this rig will be mobile use during the summer months, where its own heat will create a really tough operating environment. If the radio can last years through that, then fine. If it can't then I would say it's under-built. Only time will tell. I'm glad this radio was available. Recommended (for some).

Update: Since I couldn't hear my own signal when I was putting the first review together, I had no idea of the poor quality transmit audio this radio has. After receiving numerous reports of weak, muddy audio, I did some experimenting. Long story short. I replaced the microphone with the palm-mic version of the old D104. The amplified ceramic element Astatic microphone I bought new for $40 solved the problem handily and I won't be shopping for a replacement radio. The rig is in a base installation and I don't miss the numerous buttons the factory mic provided. If I need that for any reason, I can temporarily swap back. I can no longer recommend this transceiver.
W5KVV Rating: 2021-10-10
Interesting rig Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Neat little rig that does what it's supposed to do well. Easy to program from the front panel & overall the fit & finish is good. Audio reports are good, no tinny audio, no funny sounds. RX is good with no noticeable intermod issues.
However this rig does have some uniqueness that are borderline flaws & they need to be pointed out.

First & foremost, the fact Alinco advertises this radio as 85 watts is just pure marketing hockey. It utilizes the same 80w Mitsubishi RA80H1415M1 power module as the Yaesu FT2980. Brand new out of the box on high power my radio produced 76 watts as measured by my HP8935 service monitor. Not a big deal, but when mfg's make claims like this I have to laugh.

This radio is built on the Chinese chassis shared by numerous commercial radios, namely the Midland Olympian series and RELM RM series. Overall they're decent radios. Here's the problem: Those are 40w radios. Even at 40 watts they are 5% TX 95% RX duty cycle radios. The Alinco has a 80w PA stuffed inside the same chassis. This rig gets hot QUICK on high power. If you're long winded with your QSO's and need the 80ish watts of power, I strongly recommend you use a muffin fan to move air across the heat sink. Doing so brings the duty cycle way up. If you rely on straight convection for cooling on high power, the rig WILL fold back power once it gets hot. Not to mention it's very hard on the power module.

If you can live with the above, pick one up. They're neat rigs. I grabbed one a few months back from HRO knowing Alinco was about to pull the plug on them & I'm a sucker for mono band radios. I'd pay good money for a UHF version.
NF0G Rating: 2021-02-12
Working great as my base transceiver Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I got this on sale, I found a great deal and picked it up because of the higher power rating. I am hearing repeaters and simplex stations much better than with my old Kenwood TM-V7 was. Since there is very little 70cm activity here it is now my main radio for VHF FM operation.
N5RV Rating: 2019-03-06
Great bush radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Great radio when you live off in the bush and are 20+ miles away and behind a mountain and in a hole. The 85w does what 25w should do if I were line of sight to the repeaters in the nearest town. I am pleased with the functions and manual documentation. I bought the RTSystems software to program it, but thinking I should have just done it all by hand. It would have taken more time, but it would have saved me $48. The radio is easy enough to program by hand, so you might give second thought to the extra software. Even the Alinco cable itself is $44 even though their software is free. Good radio all around for VHF only. Just what I needed.
ROCK1N Rating: 2017-12-31
Great Radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Just bought this radio from HRO Plano Texas for $155, so far very impressed, the 85w is allowing me to hit repeaters over 27 miles away. I reside in the DFW Metroplex and have lots of obstructions. This is my second mobile radio and I have been using it as home base. I recommend this radio for anyone who is starting out on the hobby, the sound is very clear and the radio feels solid, well build and the price is great.
KD4ONT Rating: 2016-08-16
Big mouth little ears Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
It seems like this rig is very similar to the kenwood 481. Pics of the mobo are similar. The kw is made in China. This one probably is too. 85w output is nothing to shake a stick at. Simplex, I give distant stations more signal than they are giving me. I have a Larsen nmo 150 2m 5/8 roof mounted. The rx doesn't match the tx range. It out talks its receiver. Since the programming jack is the external speaker, I tried plugging in a mono external speaker. The jack has 3 contacts. Plugging a mono speaker in disables all mic keypad functions except channel up down. Internal front firing speaker can but loud, but anemic in frequency range for its size. It handles mobile driving rfi kinda average, even though it is kinda deaf. Like the kw 481, memory channels also store the power output. You have to program 2 memories if you want a high and low output choice. If you ragchew, the fanless heat sink will get VERY HOT! Put a big fan on it if you want to keep it cool.

Is it better than a 50w icom? Tough call. The rx in a 50w rig seems to match its output power better. If you run simplex, and want to be heard, then this might be for you. Accept that you won't be able to hear as good as you can tx.
K4PEW Rating: 2015-08-08
Great 2m FM Transceiver Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Bought this for Simplex operation due to it's 85 watt transmit power. Works terrific with excellent receive sensitivity, ease of programming, and DTMF mic that is included.

Excellent user manual, and free downloadable cloning/PC programming software from manufacturer.

On the negative side:
No cooling fan and most of body is a finned heat sink that gets really hot, so I installed externally-powered 5w scrap laptop fan on base.

Only two power-out choices: 5 watt and 85 watts and needs to be something in-between.