Review – BTech UV2501+220 (Tri-Band)

by John ‘Miklor’

BTech has introduced a low profile Tri-Band Mobile Transceiver to the ham radio marketplace.  It has all options of the UV2501 with the addition of the 220MHz US Ham Band, both transmit and receive.

The +220 is specifically designed for 210-230MHz operation.  This is note worthy for US hams as some models currently advertised as Tri-Band operate in the range of 240-260MHz. Unfortunately, this is not the the range needed for the US ham band, and they are not adaptable to frequencies below 240MHz due to their internal filtering. 
BT25+220L

In the Box
Included with the radio are:
–  Microphone with a 16 button keypad
–  Chrome metal microphone hanger
–  Metal mounting bracket with screws
–  DC power cable with connector
–  USB Programming cable (which was optional)
–  Full 30 page English User Manual (not a pamphlet)

UV2501+220 – Weight:  408 g (14.4 oz)
Size:  98(W) x 35 (H) x 118 (D) mm  (3.8 x 1.4 x 4.6″)

Enclosure
The frame is rugged, with a solid cover and a hefty aluminum heat sink and now includes a cooling fan that draws air from the inside of the radio, not just the heat sink.  I would still be careful mounting the radio in an extremely tight location.  As with any transceiver, it will need room to breath.

The radios are terminated with a standard SO-239 connector.

Transmitter
The +220 includes 210-230MHz transmit capability. My main interest was the 220MHz US ham band, as I have several 220 Ham repeaters within 35 miles from my house. The signal strength and audio reports have been excellent.

–   Power
– The UV2501+220 is rated at 20-25W and holds true to those estimates.

A 13.8VDC power supply was used emulate a standard auto battery.  Running the radio at high power into a Bird Wattmeter for 3 minutes showed no decrease in power. There’s a thermally connected cooling fan in the rear that helps keep the radio at a respectable temperature level. The fan pulls warm air from the radio, not just the heat sink.BT25+220Power

–   Frequency Steps –  Steps range from 2.5 to 25 kHz.
–   Audio Scrambler –  The Audio Scrambler utilizes the voice inversion process. This feature must be activated on two similar radios (Tx and Rx) to be effective. Although the function works properly, check with your countries regulations regarding its use.
 
Receiver
The radio has 200 channel capability with a top end range to 520MHz.  The receiver sensitivity is on par with any mobile I’ve used in the past and there’s plenty of smooth, clear and loud audio.

New Features Added 
–   High / Low Power – Now selectable from the microphone keypad.
–   External Speaker – This is a new addition for the UV2501 series
–   Cooling Fan – Increases the airflow from inside the radio

–   Display SYNC
– An option has been added to allow the Upper and Lower displays be synced, allowing the upper display to show channel Name while the lower displays the Frequency.  Dual channel display (TDR) is still there, but sometimes you just want to display the channel you’re using. Now you have a choice.
–   Memory Mode Lock – The radio can be Locked into the channel mode (MR).
–   Menu Lock – While in the channel mode, the Menu option can be locked out to prevent accidental field programming.
–   Reset Lockout – The Reset option can be locked out to prevent accidental reset. Another nice safety precaution.
–   Auto Power Off – This allows the radio to shut off if the receiver is inactive for a preset amount of time.
–   Dual Watch Delay – allows the receiver to stay on a channel for a preset amount of time before returning to the primary channel after the secondary channel is clear.  You can now select the delay time (up to 50 seconds) before the radio returns to the Dual Watch mode.
–   Squelch Tail Elimination – Eliminates the squelch tail if the station or repeater being received has the same function active.

Microphone
The radio comes with a full function keypad style microphone. Functions include: Menu, Up, Down, A/B, Exit, Reverse, Scan and Lock, and Hi / Lo power selection.
The OTA reports are excellent with plenty of audio, so there’s no reason to shout.  My best results were talking in a normal voice about an inch or two away.

Display
The radio has a tri-color display, allowing color options of the familiar blue, orange and purple.  The LCD colors can be selected to suit your personal preference with a screen size of 1.4″ (3.4mm) wide. The LCD can be formatted in three different formats: Alpha Characters, Frequency, or Channel number.

Programming
Manual programming is pretty straight forward once you enter a few channels. A programming guide can be found at Manual Programming with a Menu Definition summary available at Menu Definitions.

There is a single bank of 200 channels. You can set a channel to be added or removed from the scan list using software.

Software
The software for the UV2501+220 was designed specifically for this radio, due the added features and frequencies.  Prior software is Not compatible with this radio. Loading this software to another radio will Not add new features to that radio.  Use only the software that is designed specifically for your radio.

This software can be downloaded from Miklor.com UV2501+220_Software.
CHIRP software for this radio is currently under development.

Programming Cable
The programming cable is a 1m (39″) USB to 3 pin 3.5mm.  My recommendation is to purchase a cable that utilizes an FTDI chipset, such as the PC04.  It may cost a few dollars more, but it’s plug-n-play.  If a generic cable is acquired, it will more than likely require a backdated driver.  Those drivers can be found at  Cable_Driver

Front Panel Operation
The buttons may be a bit difficult to read in the dark.  There is enough light to show where the buttons are, but not to clearly read them. Fortunately, the microphone keypad is well lit, so programming can easily be done via the keypad.

The 7 buttons are Function, Monitor, Call, VFO/MR, FM Radio, Exit A/B, and Hi/Lo Power.

Up to six Alpha Numeric characters (upper and lower case) can be displayed to identify each channel.

Scanning in the VFO mode allowed me to scan either the VHF, 220MHz, or UHF band.  In the Channel mode, the scan would select any channel in the list regardless of band.

Prior issues resolved
Early first generation radios had a few audio issues that required ‘work around’. After many hours of drive testing with the new +220 series, I can attest to the UV2501+220 having none of the prior issues.  The developer and manufacturer listened and got it right.

Pros
–  No audio issues (base or mobile)
–  Display Synching option
–  Extra features listed above not found in similar models
–  Plenty of power with clean audio
–  Lightweight and durable enclosure
–  More than ample heat sink with heat sink fan
–  Excellent sensitivity and receiver audio quality
–  Small compact size
–  An external speaker jack
–  Added 220-225 MHz for the US Ham Band

Cons
–  Small front panel buttons

Conclusion
For mobile drive testing, I teamed this radio with a Nagoya Tri-Band TB320A and SB-35 NMO mag mount and the results were excellent.  With the added features mentioned above and no issues, this radio was quite an impressive tri-band package.

More Information:   Miklor.com    

Build your Own Programming Cable

by John ‘Miklor’ K3NXU

CP2102j[1] Frustrated with that generic programming cable?
This $2 solution might just be your ticket to sanity.

Let’s See…

You purchased a radio and programming cable, loaded the software, and that’s as far as you’ve gotten. You’re fighting with error messages:
– Radio did not respond
– Could not open COM port
– Run Time Error
and Windows (TM) 10 keeps changing your drivers.

Now you do what many owners do. Put the radio in the drawer to be worked on later. This is like buying a roll-away treadmill and putting it in the closet until the next time you want to exercise. (NOT going to happen)

But wait, yours has the company name and logo right on the cable.
– It doesn’t matter. Keep reading.

There are a few options available, such as an FTDI cable. It’s truly Plug ‘n Play, and costs about $20.

But here’s a project that just might solve the issue for around $2. All you need is a small flat blade screwdriver, a soldering pencil, and a CP2102 board.

CP2102

The CP2102 is a USB to TTL UART chip. What?
Long story short… It’s the same thing that’s in your current cable now, except these work.

CP2102 boards can be found on eBay for around $2 and on Amazon.

Here’s How

Let’s start with that original cable.CP2102j[1]

Take a small screw driver and pry the open the case from the back where the cable enters.
CP2102a
It should only be snapped together.CP2102b
Unsolder the 3 wires connected to the board.  GND is Black, TX is Red, RX is White.CP2102c
Solder the 3 wires to the corresponding terminals on the new board.CP2102g


Note 1:
Some boards may have the TxD and RxD reversed. If it doesn’t work the first time, reverse the two wires. No damage has been done.

Note 2: Some boards have pins on the back requiring small connectors. You can either remove the pins, solder to them, or use the connectors. (Whatever floats your boat.)

Driver

When you insert the new board into the USB port, give Windows a chance to find and load the new driver. Should take about 30 seconds. When it says Driver Found, you’re done.

If the driver is labeled CH340 instead of CP210x in Device Manager, that’s not a problem. Both chips are designed to do the same thing.

But I don’t have a Cable

If you don’t have a generic cable, you can use 2.5 and 3.5mm stereo jacks. Here are the pin outs, and what Jim’s (KC9HI) cable looks like.
CP2102jim CP2102o

 


Cosmetics

If you are adventurous, try retrofitting the new board inside the original plastic housing. This will require a Dremel tool, X-Acto knife, Glue, and some patience, but it can be done.

If the board only has 5 terminals instead of 6, it’s not an issue. You only need GND, TX and RX.

Some come protected with a piece of clear heat shrink over the board so you can see the cool blinking lights.

Note 3: If you are trying to retrofit the board inside an existing shell, the red board below is a bit shorter and easier to fit.          Amazon       eBay
CP2102k
For about a dollar or so more, you can find the same boards in a metal case.
CP2102m

What’s the Advantage

– First and Foremost, it works. Take the radio out of the drawer, program it and have some fun.

– Next, it only cost around $2 to save the generic cable from the trash.

– Very Important – Bragging Rights. Now, when you go to a club meeting and someone says they can’t get their cable to work, tell them they can build their own, just as you did.

I hope you had fun with this project. It’s super simple and very rewarding. I’ve made several and never had a failure. Say goodbye to driver issues.

My thanks to Jim KC9HI for his input on this project

More Information: Miklor.com

Review – Pofung (Baofeng) UV-82HP

by John ‘Miklor’ K3NXU

Not just a Power Upgrade
The new UV-82HP is not just a power upgrade, but a combination of all major features of both the UV82 and UV5R series in one package.

82HPWhat’s in the Box
– The UV82HP
– Newer upgraded A-V85 Antenna
– 7.4V 1800mAh Li-Ion Battery
– Upright Charger and wall-wart
– Manual written in English
– Belt Clip
– Hand Strap

The radio sports all traditional features of the UV82 design, with the larger keypad buttons and the zero at the bottom of the number pad where it belongs, etc.  It also is built using the latest generation chipset.

– The frequency range is the full  136-174.99 MHz, 400-520.99 MHz range.
– VHF output on the test unit clocks in at 7.3W with UHF at 6.0W
– The Dual PTT button is now an option that can be turned off. Previously only available with the commercial version (UV82C)
– Live On-the-Air audio reports are exc
ellent.
– Alpha tags can be added with the required software below.
– The receiver sensitivity is still excellent.

So, What makes this version an upgrade?
– The original UV82 took a traditional UV5R, and added design features such as an upgraded case and Dual PTT switch. (comparison)
– Next came the UV82C which included options to synchronize the Dual PTT function to emulate a Single PTT, and the ability to lock out the VFO to prevent accidental field programming.
– Next came the 8W F8HP, the first of the high power Baofengs.
– An expanded feature added is R-Tone, a repeater tone for those requiring a 1000, 1450, 1750 or 2000Hz audible tone for access. This is not to be confused with CTCSS or DCS. Prior models provided Burst for 1750Hz only.

The UV-82HP now includes all of the above features in one package. The PTT synchronizing, VFO lockout, High Power, R-Tone, and newest generation chipset.

It has kept the traditional UV82 case design to ensure compatibility between all existing options, including Dual PTT Spkr/Micr, battery cases, holsters, battery eliminators, etc.

Feature UV82HP UV82 UV82C F8HP UV5R
High Power  7-8W Yes Yes
Dual PTT Yes Yes Yes
Single PTT Sync Option Yes Yes
VFO Mode Disable Yes Yes
Repeater Access Tones
    1000, 1450, 1750, 2100Hz
Yes 1750Hz 1750Hz 1750Hz 1750Hz
As mentioned above, with software, the UV-82HP can lockout the VFO mode to prevent accidental changes.
.
The Factory Software has been added to the Miklor.com  Software section.  The radio has also now included in the Latest Daily Build of CHIRP.
Note: A programming cable is required to run the software. Acquiring a quality cable is highly recommended. You will spend more time using the radio and less time trying to load special backdated drivers to your PC. A generic cable is less expensive, but a cable with an FTDI chip is Plug ‘n Play.
.
The UV82HP allows locking the PTT Button to simulate a Single PTT and override the Dual PTT feature.
.
Software Note
As you may have expected, running the UV82HP software will not activate or create new features on an older UV-82/82C.
.
Compatibility
All of my accessories for the standard UV82 are compatible, including the Dual PTT speaker/micr. With the exception of the battery and charger, all UV5R accessories work as well.
.
Conclusion
You can always run this radio in low/mid power to conserve battery, but when you need the extra power, it’s there.It’s nice to see a true upgrade of features to the UV82 series, and not just a fancy case or the addition of extra letters and numbers to the UV82 label.
.
A Feature Comparison published between the standard UV82 and its predecessor can be found at UV82_vs_UV5R
.
A full in-depth Technical Review of the Original UV-82 was done by Hans last year.
.
More Information:  CHIRP,  Miklor.com, Review, BaofengTech

CHIRP Support now available for the new Anytone 8R series

By John ‘Miklor’ K3NXU

CHIRP, software that now supports over 80 different models of transceivers, isCHIRPlogo now providing basic support for the two newest models of the Anytone series, the TERMN-8R and the OBLTR-8R.  CHIRP’s Latest Daily Build can be found HERE.

The advantage of the basic settings is the “spreadsheet memory editor” which will allow owners to:
– import channels from a *.CSV file
– import channels from an *.img filexTERMN-LG
– copy-and-paste the stock config file
– load from external sources like RepeaterBook and RadioReference.

That is a BIG step and additional settings will be added in small groups.

SUPPORT:
Development of CHIRP is an all-volunteer effort and is offered as open-source software, free of charge. If you like CHIRP, please consider contributing a small donation to help support the costs of development and hardware.

More Information:  CHIRP, Miklor.com

 

Inverted High Frequency Loss with LMR-450G

By John ‘Miklor’ K3NXU

PERFORMANCE  TESTS  –  LMR-450G
The recently announced LMR-450G cable has aroused much curiosity since its characteristics have not been collectively available by any one source.  By multiple inquiries to several manufactures (only three at this time) and numerous lab tests, we hope to put many of the existing questions to rest.

DESCRIPTION
The physical make up of this cable varies slightly from most conventional RF cables.  The center conductor is a semi-stranded copper alloy surrounded by Telfon, which will absorb and distribute cable ‘hot spots’ caused by excessive standing wave.  The double silver braid and foil outer coating which provides a 98.6% shield is what the inverted high frequency loss characteristics are attributed.  The loss is substantially less as the frequency increases, making this cable especially attractive for UHF, cellular, PCS and microwave applications.

Measuring cable loss under lab conditions

Measuring cable loss under lab conditions

LOSS PER 100′
30 MHz     2.4 db
50 MHz     2.1 db
150 MHz    1.6 db
450 MHz    1.1 db
800 MHz    .51 db
1200 MHz  .37 db
1950 MHz  .31 db

The cable’s most unique property is attributed to the outer jacket material Neo-glow, an RF sensitive composite plastic which will visibly indicate RF ‘hot spots’ in the cable.  Adjusting the cable length to the antenna system for the ‘perfect’ impedance match is crucial at high frequency, thus the importance of a low SWR for peak performance.

LMR-450G

From 100 Watts and up this cable will brighten up your world.

PROPER  INSTALLATION
The low level emission of light from LMR-450G cable can be enhanced by wearing lightly tinted sunglasses with UV protection, which enhances the light radiation from the cable.  Select an approximate length of cable needed for the installation which must be multiples of a 1/4 wavelength for the desired frequency.  The exact length can be determined by using the formula 467 / Freq (MHz) plus approximately 18 inches.

The initial tests should be run with a 50 ohm dummy load at one end of the cable.  With a minimum of 7 watts from the transmitter, you will see a faint glow from the cable indicating the ‘hot spots’ to be eliminated.  These are the points along the cable where the RF is at its maximum.  It is at these points where the RF connectors should be mounted.  Trimming the excess cable may be required at both ends of the cable to produce the most effective match.  Use caution not to trim too much cable as the loss characteristics improve with longer cable lengths.

SUMMARY
This could be the beginning of the long awaited high frequency “SUPER” cables.  Only available in limited quantities at this time; contact your local cable supplier for more details.