Nice.

GooglePlusWithout much (if any) advertising the Google+ ‘Chinese Ham Radio Equipment‘ community reached a 1000 members today. I intentionally made the community public, so there’s no need for a Google account in order to read there.

The downside of a community becoming larger is spam. Some of it is captured by Google itself and kept in a moderation queue, but some of it slips through and has to be deleted by the moderators. Because the moderators live in different time zones, spam never lives long.

What I still miss a bit there is the interactive part. If the community would be just another URL with the same content, it’s basically pointless. Questions about Chinese ham radio? Ask there, there’s a lot of knowledge and experience there.

Also nice: a carton box.

The carton box didn’t waste much time to cover the distance between the USA and Europe, but took almost the same amount of time to travel from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to my QTH — a one hour drive under the most challenging traffic conditions. Customs took their time…

AnyToneTechSamples

The best and worst of 2014

GT-3 Mark II Stock Photo

A little bit late, but better late than never!

The best Chinese hand held:

  • Baofeng GT-3 Mark II. Good, bright and loud TX audio, a good front-end and a good stock antenna tuned to ham radio bands.
  • The Baofeng UV-B5/B6. Has been around for some time, but still one of the best buys out there.
  • Most Wouxun dual band radios, and the (now ancient) Quansheng TG-UV2. These are more expensive, but worth it.
  • Zastone ZT-2R. Excellent miniature hand held, 100% identical to the Yaesu VX-2R. Receives from 500 KHz up 10 1000 MHz.
  • There are Anytone hand helds which might belong into this category, but these didn’t arrive in time to be incorporated here.

The worst Chinese hand held:

  • To be honest, there really isn’t one. Most just fall into the category “You get what you pay for”, even the $17 Baofeng BF-888S. Just don’t expect top quality. TX/RX audio and the ability to keep unwanted signals out will disappoint at times.

Most interesting hand held developments:

  • Wouxun KG-UV8D and Puxing PX-973. With two independent VFOs and cross-band repeater capability these radios offer more or less the same functionality as a mobile radio.
  • TYT DM-UVF10. This radio combines analog with digital (dPMR), and is dual-band instead of single band. While pricey and not yet 100% perfect, this radio is a shape of things to come.

Best mobile radios:

  • Alinco DR-138 (VHF), DR-438 (UHF) and DR-638 (VHF/UHF). While based on Anytone designs (AT-588 mono-band and AT-5888 dual-band), Alinco managed to shave off the last annoyances that were left.
  • The VERO VR-6600PRO might deserve a place here, but we can’t be sure until we got our hands on one. My review sample is in transit.

Alinco DR-638Worst mobile radios:

  • QYT KT-UV980. A total waste of money, unless the manufacturer sets things straight — FAST.
  • Leixen VV-898. It’s fun, but quality-wise underwhelming in almost every respect. Reports suggest that the failure rate is high.

Best technical ham radio blog:

Best ham related websites related to Chinese radios:

  • Chirp. More and more hams start to rely on Chirp more than on any other radio programming tool.
  • Miklor. If you have trouble figuring out your Baofeng radio, John’s website is the place to go.

 

Ah, a genuine FTDI cable! Oh wait….

Brick posted that Baofengtech.com is selling programming cables with genuine FTDI chips inside. Guaranteed! Good work, gents! Only $17.16 on Amazon.com, not too bad.

ftdi-1Amazon is present in Europe too, so I went to Amazon.de and searched for the same cable. Yes, it’s there, and it’s also from BaofengTech. Price: € 128,00. WTF?

FTDI-2