Anytone Tech models, additional notes

Overall, reviewing these Anytones was a pleasant experience. After the reviews I looked into a few other things.

  • The batteries of the ANILE-8R (1300 mAh) and the NSTIG-8R (1800 mAh) are exchangeable.
  • The belt clips used on the ANILE-8R and NSTIG-8R are never a perfect fit. With the 1300 mAh battery there’s a gap (easy to lose a radio that way), with the 1800 mAh battery it’s too tight.
  • The antenna on the NSTIG-8R heats up fast at maximum RF output; the behavior resembles that of a Baofeng UV-5R stock antenna. The antenna appears to be reasonably efficient though. More tests are in order.
  • No such problems with the antennas of the ANILE-8R, the TERMN-8R or OBLTR-8R.
  • The NSTIG-8R, TERMN-8R and OBLTR-8R can display the remaining battery voltage. Measurements show that the radios are surprisingly accurate. If the radios say “8.1 Volts”, it really is 8.1 Volts. The ANILE-8R will round it down/up to the closest integer.
  • The TERMN-8R is difficult to use on SW because it defaults to 10 KHz steps. SW stations are 5 KHz apart, not 10 KHz. You can use the keypad to enter the correct frequency though. I had the bug confirmed by John; it’s now on the ‘to do’ list and will be fixed.
  • The more I had the TX audio compared by other hams, the more impressed I (and they) became.
  • There’s an odd problem concerning spectral purity with all x-band capable hand helds I reviewed. It only occurs when both VFOs are active; we (me and a few more knowledgeable RF lab gurus) are looking into that right now.

 

Review Anytone NSTIG-8R

NSTIG-8RThe NSTIG-8R was the first radio I tried out, mainly because it came with a fully charged battery. I punched in some frequencies and took off on a 5-mile walk. The radio performed quite well.

In the box:

  • Radio
  • 1800 mAh battery
  • Antenna (SMA female)
  • Simple headset
  • Charger
  • AC adapter (110-240 Volts)
  • Belt clip
  • Wrist strap
  • Manual
Factory specifications

Frequency range: [TX/RX] 136 – 174MHz, 400 – 520MHz
RX only: 68-108MHz (FM Broadcast)
Channel Capacity: 200 Channels
Channel Spacing: 25KHz (wide band)12.5KHz (narrow band)
Sensitivity: ≤0.25μV (wide band)  ≤0.35μV (narrow band)
Operation Voltage: 7.4V DC ±20%
Battery: 1800mAh
Frequency steps (KHz): 2.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5, 20, 25, 30 and 50
Antenna: SMA-Female
Accessory Connector: Kenwood 2-Pin standard
Stability: ±2.5 ppm
Output power: 5W / 1W
Size: 113×62×40mm (with battery)
Weight: 220g (with battery, antenna, belt clip)
Audio Power Output: 1000mW

Build quality
The first thing I noticed is the weight of the NSTIG-8R. While the dimensions of the radio are nearly identical to those of a UV-5R, this radio is quite a bit heavier: 129 grams vs 91 grams (without battery and antenna). With all the bells & whistles attached the scale shows 240 grams vs 209 grams. All in all the radio has a solid feel to it.

Side keys
The NSTIG-8R has three side keys also, and these can be programmed by the user. At default the upper key will switch on the flashlight, the middle one will show you the remaining battery voltage, and the last one will bypass the squelch (monitor).

Dual PTT
If you like you can reprogram one of the side keys to function as PTT for VFO B. The main PTT key is reserved for VFO A and can’t be re-assigned.

Display
3-color DisplayAt default the three-color display (amber, blue or purple) shows two frequencies at the same time and will be in dual watch mode. There’s no ‘TDR’ option in the menu; if you want to switch off dual watch you press Function+Main to toggle between dual watch and single band mode.

In single band mode you can switch between VFO A en B by just pressing the Main key. The system takes a little bit time to get used to.

2-color RX LEDNice touch: even when attached to your belt you can see which VFO is active. When the RX LED turns green the upper VFO is active, when turning blue the lower VFO is active. Contrary to a Baofeng you can select VFO mode or memory mode for each individual VFO.

The S-meter is one that actually works. Meters on hand helds are never accurate enough to give a meaningful signal report, but at least you get a basic idea of the field strength.

Programming
Most of the programming can be done from the keypad, including alpha tags. The software is necessary to change the welcome message, or give the radio its own ID and pre-programmed DTMF sequences — something you will need if you decide to use individual or group calling. You can do a lot manually, which will come in handy in the field, but using the software will work faster and give you access to a lot of other options.

I think it’s really a shame that there’s no Help section in the software. With basic channel-editing software I couldn’t care less, but this program offers quite a few exotic options. I guess that figuring it all out will be left to us, after which we can document it on Miklor.com.

Memories
You can program 200 VHF/UHF frequencies and 99 FM broadcast frequencies. I won’t be able to fill that up easily, but I’m sure there will be others who won’t have any problems filling these up to the max.

Scanning
Most Chinese radios are poor, painfully slow scanners. For the first time in years I can report that scan speed is actually acceptable: about 4-5 channels/second. Not brilliant, but usable. The top models in the 8R series have a Fast Scan mode which clocks at 10 channels/second.

The NSTIG-8R can scan for CTCSS/DCS codes, and you can set VFO scanning limits.

Bugs
Haven’t been able to find one.

Various measurements

TX audio: loud and clear, just like the ANILE-8R. No complaints.

RX audio: Same story: loud and clear, with no noticeable distortion.

Sensitivity VHF (@ 145 MHz): -127 dBm (@ 50Ω, 12 dB SINAD).
Sensitivity UHF (@ 435 MHz): -125 dBm (@ 50Ω, 12 dB SINAD).

Frequency accuracy of this sample: VHF: 0 Hz, UHF -13 Hz.

Power output VHF (@145 MHz): 1.3 Watts / 4.9 Watts.
Power output UHF
(@435 MHz): 1.1 Watts / 4.3 Watts.

Front-end: good, but not as good as the Wouxun KG-UV6D or QuanSheng TG-UV2.

Harmonic suppression: three measurable harmonics on VHF, varying between -53.05 dBm and -60.20 dBm, on UHF there’s only one at -57.33 dBm.

NSTIG-8R_VHF

NSTIG-8R_UHFConclusion
I really like the NSTIG-8R. The design is refreshing, the radio offers more functionality than the average low cost radio, and it’s built like a tank.

The price of the radio is twice that of a Baofeng and half that of a basic(*) Yaesu FT-60. I understand people muttering about prices (it’s the first thing we hams do, it must be in our DNA), but the relation between price and quality is right on target here.

There’s always a choice: you go for the cheapest, for the best, or for something in between. Seen from that perspective the NSTIG-8R nicely fills the gap between Baofengs and Yaesu’s entry level radio.

(*) Here in NL the Yaesu FT-60 does not come with a desktop charger, 1800 mAh battery or headset – we need to add about $120 for these accessories)

Price: $68.89 (Amazon)

More information: Anytone Tech

Review Anytone ANILE-8R

ANILE-8RThe ANILE-8R was not the first Anytone Tech model I unpacked, but it will be the first to be reviewed thanks to its simplicity.

Baofeng vs Anytone
In terms of design this radio resembles the Baofeng BF-666S/BF-777S/BF-888S series: 16 channels, no thrills no frills, no display – just on/off/volume, a flashlight and a 16-channel selector. Both radios tell you which channel is active by using a speech processor. Based on this the two radios could be regarded as competitors.

I kept my Baofeng BF-666S in spite of its generous amount of flaws: the receiver can be trashed by about any out-of-band signal or mixer product, the oscillator isn’t stable (phase noise, which causes reciprocal mixing), and RX audio sounds raw, unfinished even. TX audio however is fine, battery life is great, and the price (below $20) is hard to beat.

The consequence of Baofeng’s cheap design is that I only can use the radio when I’m far enough away from any RF pollution. As you can imagine I was very curious if the ANILE-8R would outperform the Baofeng or not.

In the box
The radio, antenna, 7.4 Volts 1300 mAh battery, charger, power adapter, headset, small strap, manual.

ANILE-8R-boxBuild quality
These radios are ideal for outdoor activities, because there’s not much you can break. The Baofeng already did well, but the Anytone feels much sturdier. It’s well built.

Side keys
There are three side keys and you can program them yourself. At default the upper key will switch on the flashlight, the middle one will tell you the remaining battery voltage, and the last one will bypass the squelch (monitor).

Programming options
Scanning, priority channel selection, CTCSS, DCS, and DTMF calling methods (individual or group calls).

Phase noise
The first thing I looked at was phase noise. During instruction evenings I use the Baofeng as the prime example of poor design; all I could hope for was that Anytone did a better job. They did.

The first image shows the Baofeng (notice the wide ‘shoulders’ which shouldn’t be there), the second image is the Anytone. I slightly zoomed in on the Anytone carrier to get a better view.

Baofeng BF-666S
ANILE-8R-phase
Harmonics
The Baofeng has no detectable harmonics, the ANILE-8R has one at -57.62 dBm. It’s just short of the -60 dBm I like to see, but nothing to worry about.

ANILE-8R-Harmonics
TX audio: loud and clear, just excellent. The most memorable quote from a listener was “I can’t tell the difference between this one and your gear at home.”

RX audio: Same story: loud and clear, with no noticeable distortion.

Sensitivity (@ 435 MHz): -125 dBm (@ 50Ω, 12 dB SINAD).

Frequency accuracy of this sample: -26 Hz.

Power output (@435 MHz): 1.2 Watts / 4.2 Watts.

Front-end: good. Unlike the Baofeng, the receiver doesn’t collapse quickly.

Bugs:
I noticed that RX audio muted when I switched on the flashlight. Audio stayed muted while a signal was present. Audio came back after:

  • the carrier dropped and returned
  • pressing PTT or one of the side keys.

Toggling the flashlight on/off had no influence.

I forwarded the bug to John K3NXU (Miklor) and Todd, the owner of Anytone Tech. It didn’t take long before my findings were confirmed. However, a few days later I found an option in the software which caught my eye: “Eliminate Squelch Tail When No CTCSS/DCS Signaling”. The default value was 55.2 Hz. When set to ‘Off’, the strange influence of the flashlight on reception is gone. Problem solved.

Bug and Fix

Conclusion:
Anytone Tech’s ANILE-8R is a very good radio and can make you forget the Baofeng BF series. Only when I start nitpicking I could make a remark about the belt clip. It didn’t seem to be designed for this radio, as there was quite a gap between the clip and the battery. I solved the problem by bending it a little bit.

Price: $46.99 (Amazon)
More information: Anytone Tech.

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

Anytone Tech’s new models: User Manuals

As Brick also mentioned in in his last post about Anytone Tech: the reactions on the new models vary wildly. I think Brick said all there is to say, but I’ll add this thought:

– If a radio is cheap but crap, we complain, but buy it anyway.
– If a radio is good but costs more, we complain, but suddenly the price is all that matters.

Let’s see how these radios perform and at what price point before judging them. I know John of Miklor.com gets (or already has) review samples, and I’m on the list too. To give you some more insight in what these radios can and cannot do, here are some preliminary user manuals (PDF).

Display

ANILE-8R User Manual (Preliminary)

NSTIG-8R User Manual (Preliminary)

OBLTR-8R + TERMN-8R User Manual (Preliminary)