Blame Anytone. (Sunday Rant Time.)

Yup, Blame Anytone.  What have they done now?

They are responsible for flooding the market with cheap boring CB/10m Export radios that do nothing to enhance our hobby in anyway other than make it easy to buy their cheap junk. Nowadays it seems all the majors have had to buy from Qixiang in order to get a product to market at a reasonable price so they can try to make some money from the short lived CB boom this sunspot cycle. The cycle wasn’t very good and has not lasted very long so SSB CB/export radio sales will be heading downhill for the next 8 or 9 years while the sun turns its active sunspot regions away from the earth.  Anytone have made a mark. They came out of nowhere really, with the AT-5555 in all its derivatives, multi coloured display, backlighting, menu features nobody needs or wants, so so performance, 30w PEP, a built in menu system and the ability to program the frequencies with the aid of a computer. No where in the world is this radio legal on a CB band. So tell me please, why did they insist on having banks of 40 channels ala CB with all the missing CB frequencies still missing?. What a waste of space. Why could they not have just programmed it with 1 mhz bands and selectable steps. One would think that would have been a lot easier to achieve than messing about with 40ch bands. But no, they all displayed a lovely big number to indicate the channel you were on as well as frequency. Fat lot of good the channel display does you outside the conventional 40ch CB bands on which these radios are not legal for. So why include it? The user PC  programmable frequencies are only useful for the UK FM frequencies. And that is not all, …yes there is more yet..move the clarifier around then change channel and voila! the original channel now is set with the clarified offset. Ch 38 is now something else! How messed up was that? And we still kept buying them!

Every radio they produced has had receive problems reportedly due to some incorrect component values in the AGC section. All of them have a noisy receiver. Most of them have pretty good transmit audio with the standard mic and the Stryker 995 and lincoln 2’s especially so. Why couldn’t they have spent a few more dollars and cleaned up the receiver and simplified the menu system.

We had the AT5555 in half a dozen versions (version 6 last I heard) and variants, followed by the cree 8900, then stryker got into the act with the 955 that was a step in the right direction but once again flawed by the receiver, a stupid menu system, and insufficient cooling.  The AT-6666’s will all die a natural death due to the fancy but totally useless heatsink they built into the radio to go with the other problems mentioned above. The much heralded Lincoln 2 arrived on the scene but did nothing to enhance presidents reputation. The AGC problem was finally fixed but it was a difficult job involving smd soldering or a trip back to President. Qixiang remained mute on the subject. Version one was followed quickly by version 2 and finally version 3 but once bitten twice shy; I stayed away after the lincoln 1 experience. It still had 40ch and no other enhancements other than 6 memories that one couldn’t scroll off without changing the memory to the frequency you left so in my mind it wasn’t really a memory. Even the magnum 257 memory system worked better than that. The last rattle out of the box from Anytone was the AT5555N. Nice looking radio, but after president getting the AGC sorted in their radios Anytone couldn’t see fit to do the same to their radios so despite the lovely big display it did not do enough as a radio to entice too many buyers once the glamour died down. So now we have a lot of companies offering what is essentially a rebadged AT-5555. Sometimes I wonder if they really have made them or just fishing for a big order so they can get them made. I have had my Anytone experience. I am over it.

Lets hope the new radios from some of the other companies still producing 10m SSB radios can bring out something that works well. I have said it before and I will say it again…If Icom or Yaesu or Kenwood were motivated and brought out a small 10-12m SSB 50w pep radio that didn’t get too hot, had a removable head, all the IF DSP, memories and other features they have to include then there would be no further need for anyone to have to buy another anytone SSB 10 meter radio. Even if it hit the market place at around the 400 USD mark we would still buy it. I saw a Yaesu 857D for sale NIB from a dealer on the net the other day for US$450. They must be making them in China too now! Prices are coming down! Blame Anytone!

Disclaimer: I bear no resentment to Qixiang (Anytone parent company), Anytone or any of their employees. This is purely a rant about the products and is strictly a personal view which may or may not be shared by the reader. The opinions expressed within are personal and not necessarily those of the management.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

A Cute New SSB Radio

Small size SSB Rig

Small size SSB Rig

Another tiny SSB rig is soon to be released.  A standard 12w 40ch Sideband rig but has a lot of programming hidden away. Can be configured for all European bands, yet still hides a full export rig if you know what jumpers to jump and buttons to push. Has the ability to fit another final and a heatsink for 30w PEP in future runs. We all know how small that jopix hand mic is so you can imagine the size of this rig by comparison. It looks real interesting to us and we would like to get our hands on one to try.

In this world of Discotec lighting programmable CB radios it is refreshing to see someone has gone back to basics. No silly echoes, beeps and confusing menus. Don’t see -5khz for the zeros or -10khz for the alphas either.  For those that pine for a compact Cobra 148 this may be the one radio these days that pushes your buttons.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Maxlog producing M8900 again. (Ver. 9)

It seems now in mid 2016 that version 10 has surfaced.

 

Miracles will never cease!! After a long wait of 7 months the M8900 may once more be available. The early ones were great performers but were let down by software and board problems. Not a lot of space to dissipate the 40watts these things were putting out out of the box. Most twin finals we get are 22w PEP or so from the factory.

These new ones show a bigger heatsink and reportedly better TX and RX audio and improved AGC. All the things we want to hear after suffering through the last few batches of Anytone inspired radios. I must say the last 8900’s had some of the best receive of any radio on 11m so wonder how they have improved that. Did read about the noise from a mobile installation but did not notice anything amiss with any I tried.

The photos below show they are being made but we have yet to see a finished article or any specifications or software. Hopefully the horribly complex and messy programming has been cleaned up and we will have one band with all the frequency steps from 24.5 thru 30mhz. But I doubt it. Too much to wish for!!

More as it comes to hand…

Ready for the lids

Ready for the lids

8900 production1

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 35 Comments

BLA1000 Amplifier from RM Italy

BLA1000

BLA1000

The BLA1000 has been around for a while now so thought it was about time we took one for a ride. It arrived at the door on a wooden pallet…A bit of overkill I thought for a 1kw solid state amplifier, but I was wrong: this is a big heavy self contained amplifier. I was surprised at both the weight and the size. I don’t know what is inside the case but it is heavy. It is not as heavy as the Acom 2000A it is sitting on but it is slightly wider as the photos show. It seems a lot of amplifier for a solid State 1kw! One thing sets it out from the rest and that is it is also rated at 1kw on 6m. It has a built in PSU and a full suite of filters that can be set by a knob or left in Auto mode. I presume this amp will work Marine and MARS frequencies with no problem!

BLA1000 on top of Acom 2000A

BLA1000 on top of Acom 2000A

BLA1000 front side1 on Acom 2000a

Gripes. Its RM! Biggest gripe so far is the size and weight, but when we are talking amplifiers big weight and size are usually a good point. Don’t think of taking this one on an expedition unless you have carts and barrows! The finish is OK, but it is no Alpha or Acom. It is also not priced like an Acom or Alpha. For the weight the outer casings and front panel seem too thin. The front panel is larger than the sides so you have a lip waiting to cut or graze you if you bump into it. Front panel could do with some more screws and the perspex cover over the gauges had bowed out a little which looked odd. More screws would prevent this. Knobs and switches seem solid and secure.  Have not read the manual yet but the meter seems to read average and not in PEP so was not seeing much movement on the output meter despite the 100w input.  Most of us like to see 1kw on the meter if we have bought a 1kw amplifier! Maybe something in the manual about this. Manual states meter reads the RMS output.

I fired up on 40m on 7130 and was getting good reports from VK and ZL. The Amp did not flinch with the 100w input and 1.5 SWR. The fan comes on strong when the amp first fires up and then drops off. It is about a meter away but the fans did not get intrusive. Temperature rose to 42. from the 33 ambient. All good. It seems stable and solid. Just need to see what the actual output really is!

!BLA1000 front on Acom 2000a

LCD screen gives you the date and time when in power off mode and Antenna, SWR, band and temperature when the power is on. This is a no tune, instant start amp. rms power meter lcd screen

Although it is suggested that PTT be used to control the amplifier it does appear that there are several other options to key the amp…and if my understanding of “VOX” is correct it seems RF keying may also be included in the menu. That makes me smile….That should help sales. No need to buy that expensive PTT cable after all !

In conclusion: It is getting out well. Seems clean. no complaints so far. Did I mention it was big and heavy! Will update if anything else to add but I think it is solid.

Been using it for a couple of weeks now and it has not given any problems. Use the wrong filter bank and it will shut off as it should, over drive it and it will shut off. It runs very cool with the 40w I drive it with. If I could change anything I would reduce the input to 75w for full output and have the meter work like a PEP instead of RMS. I think this will just work and work for years to come. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

2015 The year of the Huracan MK2?

Huracan MK11

Huracan MK11

prototype

Huracan Mk11

Huracan Mk11

Three prototypes of the Huracan Mk2. Will it finally make it’s debut in 2015?

If it does it may resemble one of the formats above.  Not much room for many more controls unless the VFO is hiding some functions.

But: where are the memories? Where is the split? How much power will it have?

It will probably sell as there is nothing else like it new on the market with an Analog meter!

Maybe we will have some answers after Chinese New Year !!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Some new Aluminium up the Tower

The Tower with Sirio Verticals on the Side

The Tower with Sirio Verticals on the Side

We obtained a shipment of Sirio Vertical antennas the other month so it was time to mount them on the tower and see how they go. Still early days but the seem to be working well. In the next few days we will get them both on the same coax with the main tower switch to make it easier to switch between them. Just above them is the Acom 10-20 12 el Log Periodic and above that is the short boom 6el OWA Yagi for 10-11m. Looking for improved ground wave coverage for local contacts with the Gainmaster and Tornado. All the antennas will be switched by the remote switch in the tower once we complete the instalation.

The verticals  mounted on side stays.

The verticals mounted on side stays.

The Sirio Tornado

The Sirio Tornado

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ANYTONE on 10 Meters

The three SSB faces of Anytone on 10m (and 11M)

The 3 SSB Anytone 10m radios

The 3 SSB Anytone 10m radios

AT5555N, Grant 2 in middle and AT6666 on bottom

AT5555N, Grant 2 in middle and AT6666 on bottom

3 radios side on

3 radios side

At5555 adjustments

AT5555 grant 2 at6666

at5555 inside

The AT-5555N arrived today and just a few first comments while we play with it for a while. Seems like Anytone looked at the Grant 2 and decided that they could do it better…and it many ways they have!!

Larger display, simplified layout, big buttons, big knobs, big display lettering, more power and removable channel display. Fractionally bigger than the AT-5555. Meter reads power and SWR simultaneously. Same up/down mic as AT-6666 so don’t forget to speak into the middle of the mic not across the top like we usually do. It also seems light in the audio dept like the 6666 but there is sufficient volume; you just have to wrap the volume control a lot further to the right than we are used to. Push Buttons are not back lit but certainly of a sufficient size and number. Dual acting a quick push, or a push and hold, separate the dual functions in each button. The AT5555N seems to share a bit of common architecture with the AT-6666…Push the channel selector to change the tuning steps but if you hold it in there is no menu behind it. In fact only 10 functions in the menu and half of them you could do without. Mic Gain control, Clarifier setting functions and setting the offset frequency are the only ones you will tend to use. Reset is Number 10. Having 9 dual acting buttons means less to put in menus I guess. I do have to say I like it compared to the old AT-5555 and the At-6666. I like the size and the layout. Wish it had the 60W PEP plus of the AT-6666. The 5555N does close to 30 out of the box. Mic gain is set up at 30/36 so not much more to go there. Finals are a pair of 13N01 driven by another 13N01 mounted on the rear heatsink. Radio has not got hot at all but we have yet to really pound it for an hour or two on SSB. No complaints about the tx audio but the radio “seems” to have more receive noise than some of the others we have had across the bench recently. Plenty sensitive but the same anytone /ranger 2950 white noise. The tuning steps are 100hz, 1khz, 10khz, 100khz and 1mhz. Anytone doesn’t believ in 5khz steps for the freebanders. Klick away in 1khz steps like the rest of them. It has a band button which jumps up 40ch but you can navigate over the range of the radio using the steps and ch selector.

No 12m coverage. No CW. They should piss the PA function off as well. (Does anybody use PA?) Starts at 25.615 and finishes just of 30mhz. All the normal Anytone menu functions are there. Got a choice of beeps. 6 of them. From the front panel.

Split works well..set the split in the function menu and turn it off and on from the FRQ button. In the manual when it says push it means push; not push and hold!

The memories allow you to scroll from them but the radio will not revert back to the saved memory frequency, like the at6666 the memory acts more like an independent vfo than a memory. Stays where you leave it and if it is not the same as the stored memory it overwrites it. More like a last ch used function. Band switch is irrelevant now with the steps in the selector, as is the +10k switch as the selector steps up in 100khz, 10khz, 1khz and 100hz steps missing nothing. If you want to view a channelized radio you still can, but at least we have the choice of getting rid of the channel readout completely from the display. On the lincoln 2 and grant 2 you will be looking at a ch readout on the display somewhere.

Would I buy this instead of the AT-5555.? I sure would. Bigger display, better layout, tuning from the ch selector and it looks way smarter. Now they just need to quieten down the receive, add 5khz steps, make the memories work right and double the power!

A tasteful blend of functionality and design. Beautiful to look at, but possibly a pain to listen to for long without a BHI DSP unit in line!

I tried the BHI NEIM1031 on it and you can hear it here:
http://youtu.be/aV583sr_T6k

It is a big step in the right direction.

Putting the AT5555N into export mode is a solder job. No jumpers to jump. Tiny little iddy biddy pads to bridge with solder.

AT-5555N export mod

AT-5555N export mod

Read the box “10 Meter Radio”

Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments