Let’s start with hand-held VHF/UHF transceivers. I didn’t test all of them, but the most popular ones were tortured here.
1. Wouxun KG-UVD1P
It is hard to fault this portable transceiver. Both the receiver and transmitter are excellent. Harmonic suppression is as good as it gets. Strong out-of-band signals are handled very well. The only comment I can come up with is the fact that the KG-UVD1P is very picky when it comes to battery voltage. Under a certain level the Wouxun will shut down, while other brands can go on for a while when switched to low power. Buying a spare battery is a must.
The KG-UVD1P’s biggest problem might become its steadily rising price. This transceiver is now about 50% more expensive than when it was introduced. However, I still think that the KG-UVD1P is worth it.
The ugly duckling in HT land, although some might not agree. Quality wise this transceiver can compete with the Wouxun, but it lacks DTMF. Unless you’re a frequent Echolink user, you probably won’t care. This flaw is compensated by a second-to-none battery life, and the addition of the 350-390MHz band. RX audio is a bit on the tinny side, but loud and free of distortion. Changing frequency can only be done by pressing up- and down keys, and I know that many people don’t like this. The Wouxun is regarded more user-friendly, and I tend to agree.
3. Baofeng UV-5R
No TYT here, or FDC? No. The Baofeng UV-5R embodies our deepest wish: value for money. For less than $60 you get a full featured VHF/UHF HT. You will have to deal with a few flaws though, some of which have been resolved already. The UV-5R is a work in progress; regard yourself as guinea pigs. Flaws (none of them major) have been discussed on this blog extensively, so I won’t repeat them here.
The worst (mono band) transceiver: TYT 800 / FM Transceiver 706 (available under more funny names).
This was my first ever HT from Chinese origin, and they were sold as a set. These things puzzled me. Battery life was pathetic. Charging was painfully slow. Parts fell off. Belt clip was horrible. TX audio was muffled. VCO/VXO locking problems. LCD hard to read. In short: a total waste of money. I wouldn’t dare to sell it to someone without feeling guilty for the rest of my life. The receiver however is surprisingly good, and I use them for monitoring purposes now.
The flaws of this model could have been fixed in the mean time, but I’m not willing to buy another one to check it.
The best and the worst dual band antennas
1. Nagoya NA-701
A reliable and sturdy antenna, available with about any connector you can think of. I tested four copies of the NA-701, with different connectors, and they were all perfect. SWR is excellent, and performance on VHF as well as UHF is above average.
2. Nagoya NA-666
Dubbed ‘The Antenna From Hell’. Performance is identical to the NA-701 in every respect. The radiating element however is easily bent at the base, and I wonder how much abuse it can take before metal/plastic fatigue kicks in.
3. The $3.79 dual band antenna I picked up recently.
Good to excellent performer for a price that can’t beaten. The best deal ever. For this price only available with SMA-F connector though, which limits it usefulness. With more connectors to choose from, this antenna would have claimed the #1 spot.
The worst antenna ever: Nagoya NA-773.
It looks like a brilliant idea: combining a loading coil at the base with a telescopic antenna. Unfortunately this antenna is the most dangerous one on earth. Whatever the length, the SWR stays close to 1:3.0. In essence 25% of the output power bounces back into the electronics, and this amount of reflected energy is not something most PA modules can handle for a very long time. To make matters worse, reception also suffers.
The gain (cough cough) of this antenna is estimated to be equal to, or worse than minus 6dBd. In other words: deaf as a post. This would make a fine present for someone you hate to the core. Total number of copies tested: three.
Any other success or horror stories to share? Feel free to leave a comment.