Sorry you couldn’t hear me from GW/NW-001 Snowdon for an S2S on 11-04-17. VHF was an afterthought but one that unexpectedly turned out to be valuable as far as the QSO count was concerned. Alternatively you could have got me on 80m CW or SSB (or 40m maybe) or on 145.400 with my FT817ND during the final 13 QSO’s. 160m & 80m were the main focuses.
When I set the UV-5R-2 up, the squelch was set to ‘1’ with no receive tone set. I was pressing the de-squelch button often, especially when trying (and failing) to get M6AIF into the log but there were strong local stations calling me two or three at a time. Some of these were in valleys below me, some as close as 6 miles and you would probably not hear the majority of them. If you hear only dead air, you wouldn’t truly know the best time to call and many of their signals would overwhelm yours without you knowing. I remember that unlike SSB, FM captures the strongest signals. Only the stronger of two signals at or near the same frequency will be demodulated.
Having used a lot of battery on HF with 50 Watts, I started VHF with the UV-5R-2 and it’s own battery, which is a capable 1.8 Ah unit. A little later, a change was made back to the FT817 with the reserve 2.2 Ah, which had already been partly depleted on HF after the main battery. By the time I was finished on NW1, the 5Ah and the UV-5R-2 were both flat with the 2.2Ah 95% down. (VHF 2m-FM 5W QSO’s: 24 with the UV-5R-2 and 13 with the FT817ND).
The UV-5R is just intended as a last ditch 4-QSO reserve rig that I don’t normally expect to need. Only under exceptional circumstances (for example GM summits in very remote areas or maybe abroad) would I risk doing SOTA with just an HF rig. The UV-5R-2 weighs just 200gm (8oz) - much less than the IC-E90’s (290gm), that I took out of the rucksack along with some other stuff immediately before leaving Pen-y-Pass.
If you think I’m weight obsessed, you’d be dead right! If I didn’t apply strict rules to every item I have to carry (including myself), then using the handheld weight difference, a 25-pound load would become 36-pounds, which would put some of the stuff I do beyond my capabilities. Also, if I hadn’t used the UV-5R-2 to take the load off my batteries on this occasion, up to 24 stations would not be in the NW1-VHF log.
All that said - fair enough; having had it only 8 months, I don’t have ultimate confidence in the UV-5R-2 yet and acknowledge that they are generally regarded as junk. On the plus side, as well as being ‘throwaway cheap’ (you can’t repair them anyway), they’re light and run 5 Watts. The price of 22 GBP doesn’t help the psychology. If they had come onto the market at say £100, then fewer people would buy one but generally the ops that did would be prouder of their purchase and less likely to run it down.
I respect the point of view of others but to me it’s weight that comes first. I bought the rig with eyes open, already knowing its anecdotal shortcomings but weight matters a great deal when you are routinely doing high-power HF work and I have no regrets about either taking or using the rig in these circumstances. I will continue to use it as a second-line rig when the need arises but unlike the UV-3R’s which I use every day, I may not buy several of them. Neither would I like to sell the one I’ve got but thanks for the offer
I am not short of alternative handhelds as follows: IC-E90 (4-bander); VX150 (2m mono-band); an old IC-2E and an ICT-7E. (I had a VX170 and a ICT-8E - now both sold). Even the more expensive rigs in this list have their shortcomings and I’m pretty sure all of these handhelds have been ‘wiped out’ at some time or another near VHF TX’s, for example GW/NW-070 Great Orme.
As you will know, in each situation activators have to make difficult choices. Each of us will make different decisions on the same issue. With HF QRO on Snowdon, I just didn’t want to carry any more weight on a 10-pointer. With the proviso that a rig actually works reasonably well, weight comes first and it’s my first call when I look at the spec. of any radio or other bit of gear that I might end up carrying.
Deafness can be diagnosed with a controlled bench check and despite the fact that I didn’t think my UV-5R-2 was deaf, I arranged for it to be tested and compared with other rigs.
Below are the results of tests carried out by a licenced amateur who is also a retired radio engineer. He acts as the SARS technical manager. The Baofeng UV-5R-2 was compared with a UV-5R, my VX150, an FT817, an IC92D and two examples of FT290’s. Since Excel doesn’t always reproduce particularly well, results are re-typed for the reflector.
VHF RECEIVER SENSITIVITY COMPARISONS
Test Eqpt: Marconi 2955 Test Set. Marconi Sig. Gen.
Unsquelched and squelched values are compared with the handbook spec.
Squelched tests: Rigs set to ‘1’ (lowest) or rotated just beyond onset point as appropriate.
Units: Microvolts for 12dB SINAD
- UV-5R: 0.14 (desquelched); 0.10 (min squelch); 0.2 (handbook). Tester’s Baofeng
- UV-5R-2: 0.13 (desquelched); 0.10 (min squelch); 0.2 (handbook). Rig used on GW/NW1.
- VX150: 0.15 (desquelched); 0.10 (min squelch); 0.16 (handbook). G4YSS Vertex (Yaesu)
- FT817: 0.17 (desquelched); 0.17 (min squelch); 0.2 (handbook). Tester’s Yaesu
- IC92D: No test desquelched; 0.09 (min squelch); 0.14 (handbook). Tester’s Icom
- FT290: 0.23 (desquelched); no test (min squelch); 0.25 (handbook). Yaesu
- FT290: 0.20 (desquelched); no test (min squelch). Mutek front end.
VHF RECEIVER ADJACENT CHANNEL (Front end blocking) COMPARISONS
This test was devised due to the non-availability of RF Hybrid eqpt.
Test Eqpt: Marconi 2955 Test Set.
Marconi and Farnell Sig. Gens fed into ‘T’ piece via two Hewlett Packard 3dB attenuators
Sig Gen connected to ‘T’ piece - Port 1. Sig gen was set to 145.625
Test set connected to ‘T’ piece - Port 2. Rig was set to receive on 145.600
Sig. gen. o/p on 145.625 was increased until onset of blocking (of ‘wanted’ signal).
Recorded values below take attenuators into account.
Units: Microvolts for 12dB SINAD
- UV-5R: 360 microvolts on 145.625 for onset of blocking on 145.600
- UV-5R-2: 250 microvolts on 145.625 for onset of blocking on 145.600. GW/NW1 rig.
- VX150: 75 microvolts on 145.625 for onset of blocking on 145.600
- FT817: 350 microvolts on 145.625 for onset of blocking on 145.600
- IC92D: 360 microvolts on 145.625 for onset of blocking on 145.600
- FT290: Not tested (Testers rig)
- FT290: Not tested (Club member’s rig after Mutek repair)
For comparison the standardised signal for an ‘S’ meter response of S9 is 50 microvolts
Tests were not intended to be exhaustive and results are for guidance only.
All tests were carried out on all rigs within a two hour period using an identical setup.
No other variations of receive overload tests were carried out.
No TX testing was done but that is not the issue here.
I hope people will draw their own conclusions but in these limited tests, the UV-5R-2 compares acceptably well with the other radios tested. If not the rig, maybe it’s the operator who’s deaf? Last hearing test was 1956.
Hope we have better luck for an S2S next time.
Yes, I am complaining! The £10 Pen-y-Pass parking fee is the highest I’ve ever come across and 2% of my car value. At the 2% rate some might be paying £150 or more for parking? Also £10 is half a new UV-5R-2
Above: UV-5R-2 and FT817ND on Snowdon 11-April-17