I wrote a quick review on this radio for another site a couple weeks ago. Today I had some free time to copy and paste it here along with a few more photos and details but, before we get to that, I want to share a few thoughts on these newer low-cost Chinese transceivers.
My first and main thought is: This transceiver is much too awkward to program and use and is not to be relied on for disaster communications!
This radio requires programming from a laptop with glitchy external software …. or ….using a complicated, often unintelligible, set of instructions to partially program it by hand.
Murphy’s Law usually applies when an emergency strikes and “Murphy” is poised to pounce on this radio.
As preppers, we need to know that our gear will be ready when we need it and easy to use in the field. The only folks that really appreciate this new breed of low-cost radios are the ones willing to spend many hours working around the glitches and bugs. At best, the only real-life use for these radios, that I would be comfortable with, is scanning the local analog weather and police/fire frequencies which can be done with far less hassle by a $25.00 used scanner radio.
I believe the main draw to these radios is the attractive low price and the internet hype from other preppers excited to be able to buy a radio for very little money.
Your disaster comms plan should include a radio that is easy to use, easy to program, ruggedly built and have an array of commercial quality accessories available for it. Leave these cheap radios for the hobbyist.
Here’s the review:
QYT KT8900 20 Watt Micro Mobile Dual Band Transceiver. Covers 2m and 70cm ham bands with extended RX/TX. The cost varies between $98.00 and $109.00 including shipping at the time this review was written. This transceiver is also known as the Juentai JT-6188.
This radio was ordered on June 16th and it arrived from Hong Kong on June 26th. Not a bad shipping time. I’ve had to wait on Chinese packages longer before.
The box was wrapped in bubble-wrap and arrived undamaged.
The radio was provided with a fused power cord that had a cigarette lighter plug already installed. Mounting brackets for the radio and mic were also included
The instructions are nicely printed but they suffer from a sloppy translation.
I put a dollar bill behind the transceiver to show it’s size.
The keypad mic is smaller than most but still larger than most regular mics.
For the first use, the radio was connected to a 2 Element Beam antenna from Centerfire Antenna with 25′ of RG8X coax.
After a couple readings of the operator’s manual, I found that using the keypad mic to access the menu functions was fairly simple. I had no issues with manually programming freqs and settings for most of our local 2m repeaters. The problem that I ran into after programming was saving the settings to memory and that is a major deal..
The radio transmitted and received perfectly. Receive audio was clear and the operators I managed to contact on one of the repeaters all had positive comments about the signal that our radio was putting out.
Other reviews on this radio have a common list of negative issues. One of the complaints is a “buzz” when receiving VHF signals. This radio did not have that problem, the incoming signals from the repeaters were crystal clear.
Another common problem is the radio not saving squelch settings after switching frequencies. I did experience this squelch issue but it only happened once. I tried several times to repeat it but it didn’t happen again.
The final common problem is a serious one: Repeater settings are not able to be saved to memory without externally programming them into the memory. I can confirm that our radio did not save the repeater settings when I manually saved them to memory from the keypad mic. I have read that there is a way to do this from the keypad mic but I can definitely say that the procedure described in the operator’s manual does not save the settings to memory. I had to reset the offset and tone every time that the frequency was changed.
Right now, I would say that this radio should not be relied on for 2-way emergency comms. So, if anyone is planning to have this model as their one and only amateur radio, I’d say that there are much better options available. This radio would be a suitable scanner and it also has the ability to receive the FM broadcast band.
I bought this mobile specifically for a low power UHF simplex project that I have been wanting to pursue so I will be moving on to that next as time permits.