Alinco DX-10

Some questions around the Alinco – Anytone connection pointed to another radio: the Alinco DX-10. This radio is part of Alinco’s official product range.

Alinco DX-10

CB enthusiasts will recognize the radio immediately as an incarnation of the CRE-8900. And yes, it’s an Anytone design, not dissimilar to the Superstar SS-6900N I reviewed a while ago.

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Any hams abroad who can hear PI6TEN?

After a long time the Dutch 10 meter repeater, PI6TEN, is back on the air. TX frequency is 29.690MHz, input is on 29.520MHz. No CTCSS needed.

PI6TEN

PI6TEN location. Click on image to go to PI6TEN.nl.

I’m curious if any of my non-Dutch readers can hear the signal or, even better, can open it up. If you have Echolink, you can check your own signal when you connect to PI6TEN-R.

Rx location
Alticom radio tower
Witte Kruislaan- Hilversum
52°13’20N – 05°10’09E
Tx location
PI6HVS building
Kapittelweg – Hilversum
52°12’54N – 5°8’36E
Receiving information
Antenna : Hi-gain
Antenna gain : 0 dBi
Antenna height : 140m above sea level
Receiver : R&S ESMC
Frequency : 29.590 Mhz
Polarisation : Vertical
Transmitting information
Antenna : Antron 99
Antenna gain : 0 dBi
Antenna height : 60m above sea level
Transmitter : Motorala
Frequency : 29.690 Mhz
Output power : 60 Watts
Polarisation : Vertical
Other information
Echolink : PI6TEN (#512885)
CTCSS : none

Preview Anytone AT-6666

This is a preview and not a definitive review; the sample I got is just a snapshot of a product under development. This means that features, bugs and test data can change. All you’ll get is a basic idea of what to expect. Many thanks go to K-PO, the company that sent me this sample.

The radio didn’t come with a manual, so I tried to figure out the menus by trial and error.

Anytone AT-6666 Front

Anytone AT-6666 Front

Anytone AT-6666 Back

Anytone AT-6666 Back

Dubbed to become the successor of the AT-5555, I wondered if some flaws were fixed, or about to be fixed. When I reviewed the Superstar 6900N, which I still own and use, I ran into a few problems. The most prominent one was the presence of unwanted mixer products up and down the carrier.

CRT France, apparently very annoyed by my findings, refused to send a service manual. This ruled out the possibility of finding the cause, let alone a fix.

Last flaw: 5 KHz steps are too coarse for amateur use.

“Export Radio”
The AT-6666 is one of many so-called export radios. An export radio is basically a CB transceiver that can’t be sold legally in most countries. Either the power output is too high, the frequency range is too wide, or some modes aren’t allowed. In most cases all of the above applies.

The trick some manufacturers use is to initially limit the frequency range to 28.000 – 29.700 MHz and advertise these radios as ham radio transceivers. Suddenly these radios are legal to sell, because ham radio operators may use any mode and generally don’t have to worry about power output restrictions.

The catch: without exception it is very easy to modify these transceivers and change them into an (illegal) CB radio.

Anytone AT-6666 frequency ranges

Band Channels / band
Frequency Range Remarks
A 40 28.0000-28.1950 MHz Amateur mode
B 40 28.2000-28.3950 MHz (Default)
C 40 28.4000-28.5950 MHz
D 40 28.6000-28.7950 MHz
E 40 28.8000-28.9950 MHz
F 40 29.0000-29.1950 MHz
G 40 29.2000-29.3950 MHz
H 40 29.4000-29.5950 MHz
I 20 29.6000-29.6950 MHz
Band Channels / band Frequency Range Remarks
A 40 25.615-26.005 MHz “Export Mode”
B 40 26.065-26.505 MHz
C 40 26.515-26.955 MHz
D 40 26.965-27.405 MHz
E 40 27.415-27.855 MHz
F 40 27.865-28.305 MHz
G 40 28.315-28.755 MHz
H 40 28.765-29.205 MHz
I 40 29.215-29.655 MHz
J 40 29.665-30.105 MHz

Other factory specifications
– Modes: AM/FM/SSB
– Power Output: AM 60 Watts, FM 50 Watts, SSB 60 Watts
– CTCSS and DCS encoder/decoder (optional)
– Automatic Squelch (AM/FM)
– Computer Programmable
– Power / Signal Strength / SWR indication
– Dual Watch
– Scan mode
– Roger beep
– Adjustable echo
– Multi-color display

First impressions
The first thing I noticed is that this radio looks more like ham radio equipment than previous models. The ‘old’ Anytone AT-5555 and all its identical twins can be recognized as CB radios from miles away, but this model could fool you.

The AT-6666 is a small radio: 24.6mm x 15.7mm x 4.8mm  (depth x width x height, heat sink and knobs included). The microphone is simple but ergonomic with Up and Down buttons located on top.

The LCD background color is selectable, something I like a lot.

AT-6666 Colors

AT-6666 Inside
If this is a beta version, it doesn’t show. This is a nice PCB, neatly built.

Anytone AT-6666 InsideRF power is generated by four 13N10 Power MOS FETS (download specs here). Three are mounted at the back, one at the left.

13N10 Power MOS FETS

13N10 Power MOS FETS

Harmonics, Phase Noise and Mixer Products
Whatever Anytone did they did right: the strange, unwanted mixer products are gone, and harmonic suppression is excellent. There’s no phase noise of any importance present, which is a sign of a stable oscillator.

AT-6666 Harmonics

With a harmonic suppression better than 60 dBm, this Anytone joins the ranks of the best.

AT-6666 Carrier

No phase noise, no unwanted mixer products.

Frequency accuracy
At the highest resolution of the counter I measured a difference of +5Hz. Such a small difference is completely irrelevant.

Power Output Measurements (@ 29.000 MHz)
FM: 40 Watts
AM: 15 Watts carrier, 30 Watts @ 100% modulation
SSB: 55 Watts

Not quite at the promised levels yet. Don’t forget that this is a preview sample.

Menus
The menus are divided in two parts. One is hidden under the menu button, the other under the channel selector. The menus pop up when you press these keys for about one second.

Channel Selector Menu

  1. Hi Cut (on/off)
  2. Noise Blanker (on/off)
  3. Echo (on/off)
  4. +10 KHz (on/off)
  5. Roger beep (off, 1-5)

Main menu:

  1. Beep (on/off)
  2. Indicator (Off, SWR, Time Out Timer, DC Voltage)
  3. Microphone Gain (1-36)
  4. NOG (monitor volume, 1-32)
  5. TOT (Time Out Timer, Off / adjustable up to 600 seconds)
  6. TSR (High SWR Protection, On/Off)
  7. TDC (High Voltage Protection, On/Off)
  8. SCM (Scan Mode, SQ/Time)
  9. FIN (Fine Tune, RX only / TX only / Both). Adjustable with Clarifier, range ± 1.5 KHz.
  10. Color (LCD background color, for choices see above)
  11. Reset

The front panel of the radio is more or less self explaining. You have an on/off/volume knob and adjustable RF power, RF Gain, Clarifier and Squelch pots. At the back we find a micro USB connector, so there’s no need to open up the radio in order to program it.

On the air
The first thing I noticed is that the quality of the modulation improved. The AT-5555 / Superstar isn’t bad, but a bit on the tinny side. This radio sounds more like my Yaesu FT-900. I could work what I heard, and in the end that’s all that counts. Sensitivity is fine and on par with the previous models.

The verdict
For a beta version there are surprisingly few flaws to be found. Almost all of my gripes were addressed; the AT-6666 is what the AT-5555 should have been, or what I hoped it would be.

There are still a few things on my mind:

  • The price is unknown, hence price/performance is unknown,
  • The passive cooling is likely insufficient. The heat sink gets really hot, and does so in a short amount of time,
  • Still 5 KHz steps at default on 10 meters. Smaller steps can be set by pressing the channel selector momentarily, but the radio will default to 5KHz as soon as you let go. Oh well, it’s a CB radio, right?
  • I didn’t look into all the details of the programming software, but it appeared to work as advertised.

Bottom line: I like this radio. I like it a lot.

Sun waking up (at least today)

sunspots10 meters is crowded today, Japanese stations are stronger than most local ones. I’ll try to spend some time there today, but by the time I will be back home most Asian hams might be asleep.

Let’s see if I can find some unused frequency. Not only hams are occupying the band, but taxi companies from Russia too. They don’t care and spit their FM signals into the air anywhere they want…

Maybe I can have a QSO with Brick who’s playing with the Wouxun KG-UV950P, you never know!

Also on the agenda today is finishing up the review of the Polmar DB-50M aka Powerwerx DB-750X. There still a few things to sort out, but so far things are looking good.

Then there are a few repairs waiting. Next in line is a Kenwood TS-790. Aging components took their toll, and display lighting needs to be fixed too.

I won’t be able to do all of the above of course, but it’s good to set goals.

AM, the forgotten mode

As we all know by now, it has been great on 10 meters lately. Memories dating back to the seventies / early eighties started to bubble up like methane gas from a swamp. I can still draw my Sharp 6-channel CB transceiver out of my head, without missing even one detail. It only produced about 3.5 Watts output, which was sent into a 1/4 wave ground plane. In AM, of course, as that was all we got at the time. I remember the soft, pleasant background noise. No squelch required. QSO’s around the world could be made 24/7.

Yesterday and today I decided to keep an eye on AM signals and tuned my FT-7B to the lower part of 29MHz. Without much trouble I worked three stations. UR5QGC (Ukraine) was added to the log yesterday, who was working with a home made transmitter and an old military receiver. Today I picked up N1EU and W9UD, both in the USA. 20 Watts and a vertical proved to be enough for a reasonable signal report. This solar cycle is not as good as the one I mentioned earlier (the band closes about 1 hour after sunset), but great nonetheless.