by John ‘Miklor’
Four years after its initial design, the VGC 6600PRO has evolved into the BTech UV-50X3, a full featured Tri-Band mobile that delivers a full 50W on VHF and UHF, with addition of a 220 MHz module that delivers 5W output. The 220 MHz module was specifically designed and filtered for 222-225MHz US ham band operation. I mention this as there are currently radios being advertised as Tri-Band operating in the range of 240-260MHz that are not adaptable to frequencies below 240MHz due to their internal filtering.
Included with the radio are:
50X3 Weight: Main Chassis 2.1kg (4.6 lbs)
The 50X3 is FCC Part 90 certified for commercial use in the US.
The suction mount is about the best I’ve ever used. It requires a smooth metal or glass surface, but the silicon rubber cup will not let loose. My control head has been mounted atop my computer for over a month, and it is going nowhere.
The button functions are displayed on the LCD screen for easy function identification. The PTT button on the upper right is for Momentary or Toggle PTT. One press turns the TX on, next press turns it off. Setting to Toggle is convenient if running a net or using a mobile headset.
The 220 ham band transmit range is limited to 222-225MHz. The receiver is capable of being programmed above and below those frequencies, but may be outside of the performance range due to the ham band specific filtering.
The radio comes with a full function keypad style microphone. On the right side are two slide switches that control the Lock and Lamp feature, and on top of the microphone are two frequency Up and Down buttons. Along with a 16 button DTMF style keypad are 4 programmable function keys. Choices are Squelch Off, TX Power, Rptr Shift, Reverse, and Tone Call.
There are two microphone input jacks. One on the control head, the other on the main unit. There is also a built in microphone element inside the control head. Although the audio quality is excellent, the sensitivity is that of a standard microphone. The OTA reports were excellent with plenty of audio, so there’s no reason to shout.
A nice feature in the audio section is an adjustable microphone gain control. There are 5 settings available. Min, Low, Normal, High, and Max. Normal is great for speaking in a normal volume an inch from the microphone. Running a net with VOX and a headset, you can bring it up a bit. Driving in an off road vehicle, you just might need to set it back.
Along with the standard VHF / 220 / UHF frequencies, the receiver covers:
0.5-1.7 MHz (AM Radio)
The control head has built in speakers, as well as one in the main module. An external speaker jack in the rear also allows for a larger speaker if desired. The jack provides for either mono or stereo output. (each receiver can have it’s own speaker). I found a menu setting to adjust the tone of the speaker as well. Although there is more than ample audio output, when the volume control is all the way down, the radio is silent, as it should be.
Cross Band Repeat
The radio takes full advantage of the independent receiver by including a Cross Band Repeat function. I entered the VHF and UHF frequencies, power level and tones, selected the Cross Band mode, and was ready to go. The audio levels are preset and the audio quality reports were excellent.
Cross band repeating using a 220MHz frequency was not possible. This is more than likely a precaution due to the minimal frequency separation.
The control head has a large 5″ LCD with your choice of background colors. Options include White-Blue, Sky-Blue, Marine-Blue, Green, Yellow-Green, Orange, Amber, and White. The brightness and contrast are also menu selectable.
Unless you are only entering a few channels, I would recommend the optional PC05 programming cable. The UV-50X3 uses the CHIRP programming software.
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.
There are radios that draw less power whose power cables use thinner wire, lower value fuses, and can be plugged into accessory plugs. Do NOT use these cables, even though they may be plug compatible. The 50X3 draws twice the current, and will blow the fuses and possibly overheat the wire.
The cable on the 50X3 appears to match that of the hi-power Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood series. ONLY use the proper cable for the radio.
Base Station Operation
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.
Some of the added advantages to the US market are the FCC Part 90 certification, local US support, and exclusive program support using CHIRP software. The radio can also be shipped worldwide by contacting BTech directly.
This is definitely one of the nicest mobile transceivers I’ve used; and yes, I’ve owned the “big 3”.
More Information: Miklor.com
by John ‘Miklor’ K3NXU
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.
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.
Take a small screw driver and pry the open the case from the back where the cable enters.
It should only be snapped together.
Unsolder the 3 wires connected to the board. GND is Black, TX is Red, RX is White.
Solder the 3 wires to the corresponding terminals on the new board.
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.)
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 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
For about a dollar or so more, you can find the same boards in a metal case.
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
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.
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 excellent.
– 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.
|High Power 7-8W||Yes||–||–||Yes||–|
|Single PTT Sync Option||Yes||–||Yes||–||–|
|VFO Mode Disable||Yes||–||Yes||–||–|
|Repeater Access Tones
1000, 1450, 1750, 2100Hz
As you may have expected, running the UV82HP software will not activate or create new features on an older UV-82/82C.
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.
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.
By John ‘Miklor’ K3NXU
CHIRP, software that now supports over 80 different models of transceivers, is 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 file
– 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.