For a lot of reasons I wasn’t able to finish up this Puxing PX-888K review in a timely manner. When Brick kindly reminded me some time ago of my failure to deliver, I postponed all other projects this week and picked up on this article again.
The PX-888 series exist for a long time already, but all versions lacking the ‘K’ in the model number were mono-band radios. This one is dual-band, and this model offers a number of features not often seen elsewhere.
In the box
- the radio itself
- one 1200mAh Li-Ion battery (1600mAh versions available as an option)
- belt clip
- drop-in charger
- dual-band antenna
Look & Feel
There are two colors available: black and green. Mine came in green, and it is a famous shade of green. Remember the IC-2E, and a few other models from Icom? Yep, that type of green. Not 100% identical, but very close. If someone would have put the Icom brand name on it, it could have fooled me. I must admit that like this color, it doesn’t make the radio look cheap.
While those ancient Icoms were built like a tank, this radio should be handled with a bit more care. Build quality is not bad at all, far from it, but I doubt it would survive the same amount of abuse my old IC-2E could handle.
While holding a Baofeng UV-5R might feel a bit uncomfortable at times due its rectangular shape and surfaces, the Puxing PX-888K fits like a glove. It’s a small radio, just marginally taller than a Baofeng UV-5R.
The background color of the LCD can be switched from amber (default) to blue or purple. Only amber and purple are usable, the blue color is way too dark. Together with the natural lack of contrast between black and blue, the information in the display becomes almost impossible to read.
Programming the PX-888K is easy and straightforward. Alphanumeric descriptions can be added without software, and the descriptions can be up to seven characters long. Most other radios only accept six characters, although some can be hacked. By repeatedly pressing the ESC/M key, the display shows either Channel Name + RX Frequency, Channel name + Channel number, or the TX + RX frequencies. One more press switches back to VFO mode. Simple, easy and effective.
There is software available too, of course, which you need when you want to play with ANI codes or remote stun/kill/revive options. The cable needed is Kenwood compatible, the same standard used for program Wouxun or Baofeng radios.
The quality of the receiver was a surprise. Not only could the PX-888K handle strong out-of-band signals reasonably well, the RX audio is wonderful. I found it hard to describe the quality at first, but the word pleasant would fit the bill well. There’s something HiFi-ish about the sound, absolutely marvelous. Cranking up the volume doesn’t result in any significant distortion.
The TX/RX bandwidth can be switched from wide (25KHz) to narrow (12.5KHz). Contrary to some other radios I own, this really works. Activity on adjacent channels is blocked to the point of perfection, but there’s a catch. The standard FM deviation used by ham radio equipment is generally rather wide by default. When the PX-888K is set to ‘Narrow’, some signals might get choked somewhere in the filter train. This has about the same effect as a way-to-high squelch level, which in turn causes parts of a transmission to be lost. So, ‘Wide’ it is, at least for ham radio use.
Scanning is, as usual with Chinese radios, slow. I’ve seen worse (FDC 268 series, Waccom WUV-6R), but once you know what some Yaesu radios can do you’ll never get used to it. I tried to time the scanning speed, and this resulted in something close to 3 channels per second. This is rather useless in VFO mode, but can come in handy when in channel mode – as long as you don’t fill up all the 128 memory positions.
I never had a Puxing myself before, but I remembered the distinct TX audio sound of earlier models: too much bass, and almost completely deprived of highs. I sort of hoped (and expected) that Puxing would have fixed this by now, but no joy. TX audio is still muffled, and the lack of highs makes your transmission hard to listen to. Without telling anyone which HT I was using, complaints rolled in like a storm.
Some mods for earlier models involve drilling out the pinhole in the front, plus adjusting the FM deviation. This won’t address the core of the problem, but it seems to help. Personally I’m no fan of cranking up FM deviation, as such adjustments can introduce other problems like bleed-overs into adjacent channels. Early Wouxuns had the same problem, and removing a small capacitor was all it took to fix it. I didn’t look at the PX-888K’s circuit board, so I don’t know if that would work for this Puxing as well.
If you connect an external speaker/microphone, TX audio is as good as it gets, and that’s exactly what I did while using the PX-888K in the field. The use of an external speaker/microphone also revealed that the quality of the 2.5mm and 3.5mm jacks leaves something to be desired. When I finally removed the external speaker/microphone, the internal microphone didn’t work anymore. This is a problem caused by poor choice of materials, and rather typical for cheap Chinese HTs. The contacts inside the jacks don’t revert to their original position anymore.
There’s of course, CTCSS and DCS. There’s DTMF. Even the 1750Hz burst tone is there, although you have to program the side key by computer in order to get it to work. There’s ANI (MSK at default). There’s a scrambler implemented, which proved to work very well. A total of eight ‘Voice Inversion’ levels are at your disposal. When set to Scrambler level 4 (which, for some reason, seemed to be the hardest one to decode without having another Puxing), other stations could not recognize their own call sign, not even when spoken slowly and clearly. Interesting. Then there is the remote stun/kill/revive option, which uses DTMF tones to remotely render a specific radio useless. I haven’t been able to test this, as it involves diving into the Puxing software, plus the fact that it takes two to tango.
The PX-888K suffers from the same flaw as the Baofeng UV-5R: typing in a frequency only works well when the channel spacing is set to integers, such as 5, 10 or 25 KHz. Frequencies commonly used in a 12.5KHz channel spacing will be rounded down. It’s just a matter of one extra click to the right with the rotary encoder, but it is and stays annoying.
145 MHz: High 4.9 Watts, Low 0.7 Watts
435 MHz: High 3.3 Watts, Low 0.5 Watts
Output is reasonably stable on VHF across the range. On UHF output is the highest around 460MHz (4 Watts) and lowest at 400MHz (<3Watts).
|Frequency Range||136-174MHz & 400-480MHz|
|Operate Mode||Simplex or Semi-duplex|
|Dimension||100mm x 55mm x 32mm (without antenna)|
|Antenna Impedance||50 Ω|
|Output Power||VHF5W/UHF 4W|
|Max Frequency Deviation||≤5KHz/2.5KHz|
|Adjacent Channel Power||≥70dB/60dB|
|Adjacent Channel Selectivity||≥60dB|
I like the Puxing PX-888K, but the radio is not without flaws. Phase noise is generally low, but the signal is not entirely clean. TX audio is muffled. The jacks for connecting programming cables and headsets can give you trouble later in time. Harmonic suppression is fine though, and the receiver is quite good. RX audio is brilliant – the most beautiful sounding audio to date.
In spite of the price I can still recommend this radio, but using a good speaker/microphone is recommended.