|The following is a Copy & Paste of an e-mail I wrote to friends asking about this rig, so to save some keystrokes, much editing and no PIC's here. Awh...|
Try #3 in getting the right, and even a good working, BTech # UV-25X4 Quad-band rig. (At least Amazon was good about the returns.) Interesting that the bottom of rig says "Designed in USA / Made in China" and the FCC ID. Surprised that this got FCC approval with the 3rd band being the 350MHz band. In the CHIRP softwares, I've just covered over that band from showing up in my memories, and hopefully, in the VFO mode. I've had this rig since THUR 7/13/2017, but have only really had a couple of days to do some hardcore on-air and software testing. (Thanks to those that were being my repeater and simplex Guinea pigs for that.) So, here's what I've gone through, thus far.
This rig does seem all software defined and has about a 1/2 sec delay in key-up and key-off. Fortunately, I've seen that before with Radio Shack business band radios #19-1210 used as license-free MURS rigs. Something to remember if you want to jump in between a tight QSO going on, this would not be the key-up speed demon to do so. Using WIN 8, I did run into it not letting me initially letting me run CHIRP, and http://chirp.danplanet.com/projects/chirp/wiki/Home
Home - CHIRP
will warn of this. No biggy. Just hit INFO and RUN ANYWAY option, should work fine. Now, I did view that Youtube VID ARRL Webinar on Chirp, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbj_L8Dl-gc
ARRL Webinar: CHIRP Programming October 20, 2016
but, I really didn't like it. For me, it was hard to view, and the guy used MAC OS. Fine for the 10% of folks with Macs, but the market is saturated with Windows. And, I found this more of a quick guide. He really didn't explain how to do anything. Still, not useless to view. (BTW, when you do your SAVE AS Chirp files, do yourself a favor and include the date in the name of your files. You WILL thank yourself later for doing so.) Just my $0.02 worth here as you may believe differently, and that's fine.
Radio operations? On a dummy load, expect the rig to put out the High / Low power settings as spec'ed on 135MHz, 230MHz, 350MHz, and 440MHz, of High = 25W, Low = 7W However, I measured 146MHz at High = 21W, Low = 11W, 223MHz High = 16W, Low = 15W, 446MHz High = 19W, Low = 12W. Reading various Blog comments, I'm not the only one to notice this. (Almost make you think of what's the point to a High and Low power setting?)Preferably, I would have liked 5W, or less, for Low Power, and +20W for the High Power. One perk is that nice, bright, and sharp, OLED display screen. I love that, but did they fix that problem of blue fading away after long use? That was the concern that delayed OLED to computer screens and TV's in 2005. Unlike LCD screens, you don't have to just look down, or straight, at it to view it. How big is it? Diagonally, it's 2". From what I've heard, the TX audio level is set right. I have it set to 15, and DTMF tones TX level to 30. (Nice that you can do this!) On receive, unlike my Kenwood TM-741A tri-band rig (Which is really 3 separate radios with a single controller package.), this rig apparently has to scan to monitor the other bands from the main one that you may be using. What's bad about that? 222MHz is separated in this rig via a mechanical relay, while 146MHz and 440MHz uses PIN diode switching. So, if you enable the other monitoring of bands (Called TMR feature here.), that relay is heard just clicking away. Not only is that annoying, but makes you wonder just how long that relay will last. So, my TMR is off, allowing me to just monitor the main band that I'm on. (Oh well... But I do believe that possibly I'm not setting the TMR functions right.) back to transmit, this rig does get more than luke warm, even on low TX'ing rag chews, and you can hear that 1" fan in the back wizzing in speed to cool the rig. It is effective, just remember not to block that when mounting this rig. BTW, this rig does get luke warm just sitting on receive. I used my other tri-bander to test the RX / TX of this rig, a Kenwood TH-F6A HT. I would put the HT to REV duplex mode (a.k.a. hearing repeater input's sides), and set the HT to CTCSS tone squelch. Good thing that I did, one of the spreadsheets that I've downloaded and copied onto didn't have the right PL tone for 444.500+MHz AB8DY/R of 151.4Hz. Going through the menu, I had to 1st delete that channel memory, then rebuilt it. The RX / TX FREQ's took, but the CTCSS PL tone did not. I ended up doing that in Chirp, then re-uploading back to the radio to fix that. Speaking of REV feature on repeater FREQ's, how do you do that? Je ne c'est pas! At least in memory modes. Now in VFO mode, you can input direct FREQ via mic keypad, like Alinco radios. That part is nice, so that's a way of doing it. Memory programing manually, that's a way different story. The closest that I can tell you is a cross between programing those old 1980's Wilson and Regency commercial rigs and Azden radios. (I absolutely hated programing them.) Anyway, from what I've experienced, thus far, there's no guarantee that this will work. Even following step by step with the manual.
That built-in 1" top mounted speaker is quite perky, crisp, and loud, but I still want an EXT speaker in the truck, where I intend to eventually mount this rig, and just want to plug & play. Some big pitfalls to work around here, the rear EXT Speaker jack is also for an EXT mic and TX / RX key-up, so you can't just plug-in a straight 2 conductor 3.5mm (1/8"), jack to this, but a special 4 conductor one. So, I made two adapters for this. On the 4 conductor plug, the first 2 conductors are for EXT TX / RX and EXT mic / APRS data audio, the third is the audio output to speaker, and the forth is the GND / Common. (BTW, not a lot of room to work with 4 conductors on that plug when the plastic cover is off it. The two short leads are the key-up and mic audio, and I just isolated them each with heat shrink. The two longer leads are the speaker audio and GND. Then, ran two wires to a 2 conductor 3.5mm (1/8"), socket. That 4 conductor plug can be bought at All Electronics, http://www.allelectronics.com/item/mpp-4/4-conductor-3.5mm-mini-phone-plug/1.html (Please get these plugs from whatever company of your choosing has them, but that company was my goto place for these plugs.)
Here's the other pitfall, the plastic plug cover is too big to fit into that recessed 3/8" hole. So, I bevilled ground down the front of that plug cover until it did fit. (You may decide to forgo that plug cover and just cover with heatshrink.) Anyway, the two EXT speaker adapters work well and that rig's 2W audio is good, loud, clear, and nice sounding.
Here's a big minus of this rig on the receive side. if you have your antenna of this rig anywhere near HF, CB, and 6M, operations, this radio will just freak out! You'll hear loud spurts and growls come out of the rig's speaker audio and the display will flicker with various colors and RX meter will read crazy. And this is testing this rig off of my Diamond Discone antenna over 30ft from an A-99 CB antenna with a 4W CB keying up, or hitting the Autotune on the HF rig with it's 5W sample output. If this is the only rig that you plan to put in your vehicle, then this may not be as much of an issue. However, presently in the truck is a Kenwood TM-241A 2M rig and a Uniden Pro520 CB and their antennas are just 20"-some apart from each other, and they do not interfere with each other at all. Hmmmmmmmm, installing this BTech rig with the CB in the truck will be a game changer, for sure. And, I'm not about to get a commercial high pass filter for this rig that will cost many times more than the rig itself. So, this makes this rig not an idea candidate for Field Day, or go-kit emergency, operations. (I am starting to see where the $128.00 price tag for the rig is having its drawbacks. Any DIY ideas on a 25W high pass filter for this? I see a potential electronics building circuit lesson here.)
How does this rig hear? The .25uV sensitivity kind of put me off, but that's what my scanners are spec'ed too in receive, so it should hear at least as good as them, and it does. Using my Kenwood TM-741A as a receive reference, it seems to hear the two 222MHz repeater here, the WB8YST/R 224.360- about 10 miles away in Nitro (Under test at this time at 20ft AGL.), and the KC4QK/R 223.940- some +50 miles away in Ashland, KY. (Albeit, I can't key that up normally until I get a temperature inversion that way, and that's the same with what I can do with +30W from the TM-471A.) On the local 2M repeater, I've been told that I've got good, loud, audio that rivals the Kenwood rigs. (Nice there!) Receive audio, especially testing on a 5" old GE MASTR II speaker, is good, clear, and very multi-room filling. Power requirements? Myself, I like that a 12VDC cigarette plug is included, since I've standard my radios that way. On the bench, receive idle is about a 300mA draw in current (About that of CB's.), while transmit Low Power = 3A to 4A draw, and High Power = 5A to 6A draw. The rig comes double fused at 7A.
Software-wise? It's recommended to keep downloading the Chirp Daily Builds, when they come out. And the latest, at time of this writing dated 7/14/2017, seems to fix two previous problems I had. Supposedly, you can TX disable FREQ's that you don't want to key-up in, like the NOAA Weather FREQ's. I thought that selecting SKIP in Chirp would do that, but did not. Also, the APO (Auto power Off), timer feature would only do either OFF, or 300min, and not the 60min, like I wanted. It does now with the latest Daily Build uploaded into it and the NOAA Weather FREQ will not TX now, but display a series of ????????? on the display. (GOOD!)
Obviously, with this rig being so new (Being release March 2017.), there's plenty of bugs to work out. Still, for about $130.00 USD's, it's what I could have only dreamed of having when I'd gotten my Tech HAM ticket in early 1991 where I bought an Alinco DJ-560T dualband HT for $500.00 new. And rigs like the Kenwood TM-471A / -742A, and the few others that were like it, are still commanding at least +$400.00 on ebay and at Hamfests, so this is a great starter rig for sure. Although, on the eham.net Reviews, I will rate this rig as a 3, out of 5 stars, but would rate it a 3.5 if I could. Thanks for your time, and patience with my views and biased opinions here.
OH, one more thing. Even though this rig can indeed do MURS, GMRS, Marine VHF, EMS, Public Safety, commercial, railroad, etc., FREQ's, I believe that being Part #97 compliant, this rig is not legal to use in those FREQ's in the USA to transmit on. Am I wrong in assuming that here? Anyway, there's my C.Y.O.A. disclaimer. 73!!!!!