Now for those that care about these things, I have not received any compensation of any type for this review. I am reviewing this device because I think EVERY prepper should have at least one ham radio, and with the quality/price ratio this radio is worth looking into.
First strike against this radio is that is Chinese made. Some don’t care –some do, personally I’d rather buy American made, but a simple internet search will show you how hard it is to find a American made ham radio.
First positive comment is that it’s around $100 bucks. This is in a world where almost all other handhelds start at 5 times that amount. I first learned about this radio from a group of ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) volunteers in East TN. These guys all had at least one and they were of the opinion that it was good enough, and sturdy enough, and if they broke the thing it was only a $100 radio.
As I said in the video my intent was to buy one, try it out, and if mine was as functional as the ones I was shown in Athens then I would buy a couple more for the wife and for storage. My wife is now expecting, so I had to add another prepper tier to my list, so the extra radios were bumped back, but I still intend to buy a couple more once I stockpile a lot of diapers and bottles…
I am not going to get into too much detail on these radios, as a ham will just go dig up the spec sheet (check my downloads link) and it may cause informational overload to a non-ham. But basically:
- Dual band monitor (VHF/UHF, VHF/VHF, UHF/UHF)
- You can monitor two different sets of frequencies at the same time
- The radio comes in different flavors so you can almost pick which two bands you want.
- Selectable high/low power settings (VHF: 5W high/1W low) (UHF: 4W high/1W low)
- You can select more time or more power
- 13 hour battery life
- Includes intelligent desktop 3-4 hour rapid charger
- Loud speaker audio output (500 mW)
- Bright flashlight illumination function
- Meets IP55 waterproof rating
- English female voice prompts enable non-sighted operation (can be turned off)
- The Chinese lady scares me so I turned mine off
- 128 memory channels (shared)
- VOX Function
- Digital FM radio (76-108MHz) with automatic tuning and storing, radio frequency display, 18 FM memories in 2 banks
- Wide/narrow bandwidth selection (25 or 12.5 kHz)
- Power on display: show battery voltage, 6-character customizable welcome message, or display test
- Windows PC programmable, free software available for download. Optional low cost cable
- This is the selling point for me – I found the manual programming wasn’t as bad as some reviews claimed it to be, but I liked doing it from my computer even though
- There is some bugs in the setup and you may have to try more than once to get your radio to connect to your computer
- The program is limited to a “legal” frequency band and not actual – meaning I can listen to the weather radio and FRMS and GRMS frequencies (among other things) but I have to put them in manually.
- Radio to radio cloning with optional cable
- 105 groups DCS/50 groups CTCSS
- DTMF encoding (includes ABCD tones, continuous with button press duration)
- CTCSS encode/Decode (no decode delay)
- Stopwatch function
- SOS function
- Low-voltage voice prompt
- Busy channel lockout
- Selectable transmit over timer (from 15 to 600 seconds)
- Selectable step sizes of 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5, 25, 50 or 100 kHz
- Multiple scan modes including priority scan
- Keypad lock (auto or manual)
- Programmable by computer or keypad
- High contrast white backlit keypad. All keys are backlit (except A/B & TDR)
That’s a lot of stuff, add in that you can unlock the radio to get additional channels (see downloads section for program)* and that it feels like a Kenwood (very sturdy feeling) transmits clearly and loudly and you can buy an adaptor to run a longer antenna makes it (IMHO) a very good buy.
*about that unlocking;
1. It’s illegal, and I am not suggesting you break the law
2. With the advent of trunking and other digital radio advances just because you can transmit and receive on the local law enforcement channels does not mean you can communicate with them.