So it has been over a year since my last post, to be honest, Amateur Radio has taken a back seat in all that time. The last couple of months my interest has been reawakened and I’ve made a couple of return visits to Bardon Hill, discovered Merryton Low which is halfway between Buxton and Leek. This hill is on the edge of the Peak District and gives good coverage of Cheshire into North Wales, I’ve managed 57.1 miles into GB3MP repeater!
Being only able to work repeaters on my Alinco, added to the fact I’m lucky to get just over an hour out of the battery is becoming a problem. There is a bigger capacity Li-ion battery available but at £30 for the battery and £30 for the battery, in my mind, it isn’t exactly an economical choice when that money could go towards a dual band mobile. I’ve been taking a particular interest in activity on 2m and 70cm bands listening via WebSDR and I have to say there is a lot of activity going on, even on 70cm!
Last week I visited the National Hamfest at Newark, more about that later, and I had a chat with Gary Spiers M0TIG about the MyDEL AnyTone AT-778V/U 2/70 Dual Band Transceiver. In an ideal world, I would be after something like a Yaesu 857D but that’s pretty much something for next year. A dual band mobile set up would give me a little time to use both 2m and 70cm FM before getting something a little bigger.
What happened next was an impulse buy, I saw a Baofeng UV-6R and thought well it is less than £30 (plus £5 for programming lead), it will get me on 70cm as well as 2m for time being, I can always use it with a dual band antenna when hill topping.
I then spent a frustrating weekend trying to get it programmed, it seemed to receive but when transmitting it would not open up any repeaters. I took it back to the vendor on Tuesday and they agreed something was wrong, exchanged the radio and made sure it worked on a local 70cm repeater. Now on my Alinco, I have a dual band whip which gives me much better range than the standard rubber duck type antenna it came with. So I bought one to go with the UV-6R.
I again loaded the software from the CHIRP website and used the RepeaterBook website to download the repeaters I wanted. Everything seemed to work. I have tried it out at two hilltop sites and accessing repeaters on both bands is now no problem. I then tried simplex (something I can’t-do with the Alinco) however I can listen to simplex frequencies on the Alinco. The UV-6R was quiet, didn’t seem to hear anything, I checked on the Alinco and found a couple of mobiles on a simplex frequency. The UV-6R wasn’t hearing them. I was convinced it was a programming issue.
Since then I have used several 70cm repeaters with no problems, then one evening I actually found a small net running with one station very local to me. In fact, I could hear everyone even those some 10 miles away. I checked the following day from the same hilltop site, I had my Alinco listening on the 2m calling frequency, and put a call out on the UV-6R, a mobile came back to me about 12 miles away, he reported that my signal and audio was good, and then suggested I tried 70cm, I called a couple of times and heard nothing then went back to 2m, he said he could hear me just as well on 70cm as 2m, it was just I couldn’t hear him. We finished our QSO and another station some 31 miles away
We finished our QSO and another station some 31 miles away called me and said that I had a good signal and audio, just a shame I couldn’t hear him on the UV-6R! From digging around I have discovered this. A lot of different Baofeng models seem to deaf, more so if you connect an external antenna. This answered a question that occurred a couple of weeks ago when I was listening to a SOTA activation in North Wales via WebSDR. The SOTA station had excellent audio and signal, there were plenty of people calling him but he couldn’t hear anyone! I heard a station in Wrexham remark, “it is a common occurrence with SOTA stations at that site!” Whats the betting they are all using Baofengs?
So in conclusion, the UV-6R is ok if you want an HT to work local repeaters, it will work on repeaters if you use a non-standard whip, but you will probably be overloading the radio making it even deafer. So if you are looking for an HT for SOTA then, in my opinion, it is one to avoid.
Maybe I should have just stuck to getting that MyDEL AnyTone AT-778V!
As a footnote to this story, I went to charge the UV-6R this evening and found the charger doesn’t work, took it to bits expecting it to be a loose wire, I actually discovered the circuit board inside had broken! Luckily the vendor has some new chargers in and these are selling for around £9