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Reviews For: Altai 3.5

Category: Direction Finding equipment

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Review Summary For : Altai 3.5
Reviews: 2MSRP: 199,95
Altai ARDF sets from the Barnaul Radio Factory in southwestern Siberia are used throughout the former Soviet Union. That factory makes the "Altai-3.5" for eighty meters, which has a tunable receiver and loop/spike directional antenna system . The loop is about eight inches in diameter.
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
WB6BYU Rating: 2004-01-13
A solid, dependable 80m DF receiver Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The Altai-3,5 is a good ready-made 80m DF receiver, and will hold its own with all but the most serious competition receivers. Bearings are sharp and there is plenty of RF gain. It provides the choice between standard CW reception and a tone mode that is useful for drifting signals, and which can be used to make the antenna null very sharp and distinct.

The rechargable battery is rated 7.2V at 175mAH, but the most recent ones I've seen were manufactured in 1991, so don't expect full performance from them! Fortunatly a standard 9V battery will fit instead with a bit of extra padding to keep it from rattling. Current draw is 20mA.

Frequency coverage is 3.5 - 3.65 MHz. Receiver sensitivity is good, but limited by the front-end noise of the receiver. Gain control range is quite good. The manual comes in Russian, but the schematic diagram is adequate for most repair. The heart of the receiver is the Russian equivalent of the European TCA-440 IC. The circuit board is coated with some clear substance for weather resistance which makes it difficult to take voltage measurements on what may otherwise appear to be bare wires - but it comes off easily
when scraped or by soldering.

The headphones are sensitive high-impedance, and are connected directly in series with the collector of the audio output stage (so they must pass DC or there won't be any audio output.) The headphones are VERY uncomfortable if you lose one of the foam ear pads!

Overall the receiver is quite easy to use, and the sense antenna works well. The main drawback is the size and weight, especially when one is running 8 km / 5 miles through the woods holding it. But it should suffice for the needs of most hunters, at least until they reach the ranks of the serious competitors.
WM5R Rating: 2003-02-10
Built like a tank Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Until something better comes along, this is still my favorite ARDF receiver for 80 meters. it is built like a tank - there is a definite military heritage behind its construction. The units I've purchased came with a styrofoam packing case that included a charging cord for the internal rechargable battery (Russian-style plug - you can get adaptors at any Radio Shack,) headphones, some spare screws, a small screwdriver, two steel tape sense antennas (I guess in case you damage one,) some extra screws, and a case of grease for water-sealing the case again if you have to open it up. The sense antenna detaches for storage and reattaches to the receiver with a single screw.

Even though it is not light weight, the case is designed to be held in a way that balances the unit in your hand. The operational controls are available at your fingertips, so everything can be done with one hand (specifically, your right hand.) My biggest gripe with the rig is that there is no frequency lock function, and the tuning knob is in a location where you can accidentally bump it. The tuning is fairly sensitive, and this can cause you to lose the signal completely.

The headphones that come with the Altai 3.5 are high impedance. They have very heavy rubber earpads that really cover the ears with a good audio seal. The headphone connectors are the same as the power connector - basically a dual banana plug. I know of at least a few Altai users who have built dual banana plug to 1/8" stereo phone jack adaptors (out of parts you can get at any Radio Shack) and used small stereo headphones of the common variety with success.

Finding an Altai 3.5 may require some dedicated searching. I found mine through a contact on one of the ARDF email reflectors. Ask around.