The best Picture of this radio is the one on the box!
Our board was Ver 06, blue.
We had been waiting a while for our initial order of 6 radios to arrive. The manufacturer had a lot of excuses and then went quiet for a few weeks and then he found them in Hong Kong and they arrived by DHL shortly afterwards. Last time we had experienced that sort of thing with a Chinese suplier the radios were utter crap. Read the post on the LT-158 from a while back. Un-usable, un-sellable, un-returnable and un-refundable!
Fortunately the M8800 did not suffer from all of that. It is actually quite a good radio but it does have a few potential problems due to build quality. The Anytones have better build quality. The M8800 is also a slightly different board layout. Noticeably so.
Under the lids it is just another anytone AT-5555 derivative minus the changing colours but it kept the blue back lighting and got another display along the lines of the new Cobra 29 and it also received a few user quirks of its own. Did not hear too many people complaining about the similar looking screen in the Cobra 29 but the split screen on the M8800 sure did seem to wind the poms up a bit. The Channel selector is in the middle and the clarifier is hard right so it should be intuitive enough to use for most. Functionally it does almost everything the same way as the AT-5555 and cre 8900. It has a mini USB plug at the back but if you don’t have the right plug and serial adapter your Anytone adapter fits into the internal plug very nicely. We could not get the usb plug to fit in the receptacle properly due to the plug not matching the hole in the rear chassis and when it did the plug was set back too far for the pins to make contact. So we (the royal we ala Mike) ended up using the internal socket. and installed a copy of the BR9200 software and off it went. Looked the same as the AT-5555 3.1 software. No mic gain. But the maker did add a mic gain pot for us to the outer of the echo pot. Meant we could turn it down. The internal additional soldering to the board was very poor. The additional wire under the board from the bottom of the software plug to the USB connector was messy. A real after thought for sure. More about that later.
Who said Mike can’t take a good photo!
Look at all the stuff you can see on the display!
The good thing about this radio is that it does work well on air. On SSB the transmit audio was clear and punchy and we liked the receive audio but the set did need the RX aligning as it was rather deaf out of the box. The AGC seems to handle strong signals better than some of the “others”. Have no idea how it handles signals from strong stations transmitting nearby. If you can get over the look you have a very nice performing radio and at the end of the day and that is what counts. I know of two other people with this radio and they both like it and the way it performs.
Now for the quirks..well what we have found so far. First one is the OOB (Out Of Box experience) It says it is a 10m rig and by George it is!. It comes in the 10m mode and covers from 28.9 to 29.495 in 5khz steps. That’s it. That is your OOB you 27mhz junkies. Aha.. but we know the fix..hold down func and EMG and turn the radio on..then choose Ful then hit EMG. That gives you full 10m. 28.000 to 29 whatever….Bottom line here is no cable, no program, no 27mhz. And to add insult to injury, the cable is not included in the box!! Alamaaah!! I think the cre 8900 and the anytone cables will fit OK. Mike used the anytone. You will have to get the program and the cable and upload the frequencies you want into the full mode with your computer. Mike has a few sets for sale and he says he will do that for you if you buy from him. Specify how you want it and he will do it.
It remembers the clarifier offset like the early Anytones up to ver 3.1. Not sure if the new Anytones still do that but the cre didn’t so I assume they have moved on. This was just bearable on the anytone because you could not get more than 10khz away from where you started. On the M8800 the clarifier keeps running..it does not spin on the 10khz range. You could end up miles away on the clarifier.
They say on the box it has a TXCO. Really?. That means temperature compensated which implies an oven. Has it? Who knows? Mike says the extra stability comes from the DDS circuitry. It is certainly stays on frequency well. No sign of drift.
Microphone. I have seen photos on the net showing a label that it uses an electret type mic insert. Ours came with large dynamic looking insert in the mic and as we found no phantom voltage on the 4 pin socket at the radio we are assuming it is indeed a dynamic insert. Bear mind that the later production could be quite different from the radio I am describing. It could be the mic gain will be on the rigs going to Europe. The gain is on the outer ring. And this is how Mike should be taking photos in future….
But it is a cheap radio and it shows up in the finish. The knobs are a bit flimsy, the dual controls are weak and plasticky, and the case does not fit as well as it could. The internal speaker has a very small magnet so may not sound good at high volumes. doesn’t sound any worse than the std CB speaker but will it last? The USB plug did not line up so we had to program off the internal plug.
Another thing that may come back and bite them in the butt is the lack of a serial number on the radio or the box. No way anyone can offer guarantees if it can not be proved the radio was bought from them. That is not a good sign..they can’t have a quality management system in place yet or it would have picked up on this. There may be something embeded in the dealer software like the anytones but we have not been given a copy of it so we could record and identify radios with that.
The general build is rather tinny. The chassis material is much thinner than other radios so expect a lot more flexing which may lead to cracks in the board eventually. It also means there is not a lot of material to dissipate the heat from the audio and regulator chips fixed to the side. There have been frequent reports of the heat in that side from the anytones so expect the same if not more heat here. Then again, I can’t say I have heard of any of the anytones failing there either. It is just that heat is our enemy so be nice if the material was beefed up so it could absorb the heat better. Mike is going to add an aluminium strip there. The heat sink is a standard 25 w heatsink and luckily the radio put out 25w out of the box. Mike took it up to 50w and then decided it was better left at 25W pep. He figured the rest of the radio wasn’t up to it.
Small magnet on the speaker
Bottom line is that it is quite a good radio. In fact as far as the radio goes it is very good. And that is this radio’s saving grace. It works very well. It may have the Midland style channel selector in the middle of the radio but it certainly does not have the Midland quality construction. On the other hand it is probably a better performing radio than the last midland we looked at. It receives and transmits well so if you can get over the looks you will have a smile on your face..sort of like the girlfriend you used to have..maybe she didn’t dress too good, wear the right make up, but she was great in bed and a good cook so you would always want to keep her around! I think it will grow on you so hope the build quality holds up. Remember also that this is the first production so it should continue to get better and tidier and maybe one day even look like the picture on the box. The Cobra 200 GTL looked great but sounded like shit and rife with problems from the get go. It died a quick death. The M8800 may not look the best but it does the job very well and I think it is here to stay. The list of anytone derivatives continues to get bigger. They just keep getting better….
AT-5555, KPO, MAAS, Hanover, Cre 8900, uniden beacat 980, stryker 955, and now the M8800 and I heard there will shortly be a maxlog 8900…smaller than the M8800.
In Summation: get one..no hang on.. get 2 just in case! Who needs a Stryker 955 when you can have two of these for the same price as a Stryker?
Pretty Blue Board full of little bits and pieces
The infamous dynamic Electret mic on the M-8800. Sounds great so who gives a shit what it is!!
The internal PC cable connectors . (well at least one of them is)
The more I look at this radio the more I see an Emporer TS 5010. If they had used that as a template with the ch selector in the middle and a similar button layout it would have been something…I really think they need to dump the clarifier stuff and just have a step function controlling what the selector does and leave the clarifier with an inner for rx and outer for tx….make it all a bit simpler…