Monday, November 24, 2014

Heaton Park BT Tower

I've always had a bit of a fascination for radio towers, masts and transmitter sites and some have an interesting history. Some of my favourite types are the old British Telecom Chilterns type towers that were built around the 1960's. They are telecommunication towers built of reinforced concrete with around four platforms at the top that are used to attach point to point microwave transmission drums and a whole array of other antennas.

Heaton Park BT Tower is a Chilterns type concrete tower close to the banks of Heaton Park Reservoir, at Heaton Park, Manchester. Heaton Park tower is one of the few British towers built of reinforced concrete, and one of seven BT towers of this particular design which are all significant local landmarks and cultural icons. Heaton Park is notable because it provided a large portion of the trunk comms capacity into Manchester.

There is little information on the internet about this particular tower but it is likely to have been constructed as part of the British Cold War "Backbone" radio communications network designed to provide the UK and NATO with survivable communications in the event of nuclear war. It would have relayed signals from Sutton Common tower in Macclesfield to the south and Tinshill tower in Leeds to the north.

BT owns at least 200 radio masts and towers in Britain. Of these, twelve are reinforced concrete towers. The rest are of steel lattice construction. Seven of the twelve are all Chiltern type towers named after the first one which was built at Stokenchurch on the Chiltern Hills. They are identical except for their heights, which vary considerably. 

The others are located at Stokenchurch in Buckinghamshire, Charwelton in Northamptonshire, Pye Green at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, Sutton Common near Macclesfield in Cheshire, Tinshill, in the Cookridge area of Leeds and Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire.

In common with most of these sites, BT have removed the original horn antennas and replaced them with more compact dishes. The ones on the Heaton Park tower look quite new and I noticed some old dishes dumped in a pile at the base.

There was another antenna tower close by with 3 small and 3 larger vertical omni directional antennas on it, I have no idea what it is for but I'd guess the larger, white antennas are possibly Police Airwave antennas. Correct me if I'm wrong.

The BT tower is bare compared to how it used to look due to most of the microwave backbone network now using fiber. It still stands as a relic of a Britain where radio communication was in its heyday.

If you haven't been to Heaton Park, it is definitely worth a visit and there is plenty to do there. It made for a nice walk this afternoon for a couple of hours with plenty of wildlife around and of course this awesome BT tower.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

2.4gHz Wireless Video Scanning.

So I've been looking at a lot of videos on Youtube about wireless video scanning or 'Wi-Vi' scanning. There's not a great deal of videos on there but there's enough to get me interested. There are a couple of methods that I've started to look at and hope to get some good results from them.

The first device is a 2.4GHz wireless security/baby palm monitor LCD receiver which covers the 4 channels that all wireless cameras operate on. Pretty simple to use by the looks of things. It has a composite AV output so the receiver can be connected directly to a DVR to enable recording as well as volume, on/off switch and power adapter port.

There are 2 holes on the top and one on the front which I plan to modify to enable me to connect an external antenna to it as opposed to the internal one which I'm guessing is a wire soldered to the antenna pad on the circuit board inside. There are larger 2.4ghz WiFi aerials on eBay for a couple of pounds which should work well. One Youtuber has made a pretty cool biquad antenna attached to his which seems to deliver good results when walking down the street scanning.

It has a handy little stand on the back which I'll use to somehow attach to the dash of my car so I can scan for wireless video while driving around. There is a video of this exact unit in operation Youtube and the quality seems pretty good so as soon as the seller has them back in stock I'll snap one up and give it a try. Of course I'll post my results as and when.


This handheld device will act as a great portable wireless video scanner for all 4 channels. All for about £35 shipped. Photos courtesy of No copyright intended.

The second device is a 2.4gHz USB 2.0 wireless dongle which plugs into a USB port and allows you to view CCTV footage. I bought one last week off eBay for about £8 shipped so not expensive however the software supplied is completely useless and just does not work. Or at leas not on Windows 7 64bit which is on my PC and laptop. I managed to scout the internet and get a driver so the computer actually recognizes the dongle, some other drivers to make it run on Windows 7 64bit and another peice of software called Yawcam to actually view the singals that the dongle draws in.

The antenna on the side unscrews from an SMA female connector on the board inside so this will allow me to attach a larger, better quality antenna. There is a video out port on the side too and the dongle comes with an audio video cable to allow connection to a TV, monitor or DVR for recording.

So all in all a bit of a disappointing start and of course it is a more fixed way of viewing wireless video unless you fancy walking or driving around with a laptop. I do plan to get a Windows tablet after Christmas so I'll connect it up with a USB cable and look to put the software on the tablet somehow and use it portable. That is unless I manage to locate the palm device first.

From what I've already seen online I'd recommend the palm device to anyone wanting to snoop in on wireless video transmissions but the dongle is a bit too much trouble and I'd probably not recommend buying one. Stay tuned for updates!
Do you have either of these? Or have you tried your hand at wireless video scanning? Drop me a comment in the box further down the page and let me know!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.

Wouxun KG-699E 66-88mhz Transceiver.

So I was browsing eBay as you do and I came across a 66-88mhz handheld transceiver by Wouxun. The KG-699E is something I haven't heard of so far and it looks quite good and would be great for local 4m 70mhz use without the hefty price tag of the likes of the Icom 7100 and the Yaesu FT-847. It has 200 channels and 12.5khz and 25khz steps as well as CTCSS/DCS, 1w and 5w power settings and all the usual features that come with the chinese handhelds.

They are available on eBay for as little as £65 and go up to around £80 depending on the band. The 4m version is more expensive than the regular VHF and UHF models. I found one for £70 with a COM port programming cable which is always handy and allows the user to name the channel programmed into the radio. The package looks like it contains the usual wrist strap, belt clip, drop in charger and ear piece etc but with the naturally longer helical antenna suitable for that band although I'd be tempted to use an external antenna for obvious reasons.

One problem that crops up in reviews is that scanning of memory channels in groups is not supported, so the scan button scans all active channels however this is not the end of the world and is to be expected from such a cheap radio.

All in all it looks like a nice little radio and definitely something I'll think about getting as I've not really seen a newly released radio that covers this band and I'm confident is it the only 4m handheld on the market at the moment. Correct me if I'm wrong. It is definitely a big leap forward from the Philips and Pye radios I've owned and reviewed on the radio finds page that are at least 1ft in length without the 2ft helical attached to it! Build quality looks very good as with all Wouxun radios and it is nice to see the absence of the flash light which in my opinion cheapens the look of the radio.

Do you own one of these radios? Let me know what you think by dropping me a comment in the box on the right. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.

Comparing Baofeng Radios.

There are lots of different models and styles of Baofeng radios on the market these days and it is a hell of a task deciding which one is right for you, which one does what and finding out what the differences are between the various radios. That is all before you throw the numerous counterfeit and unlicensed models into the mix.

Baofeng supply great radios for the price, I've had a few now and have never been disappointed. Sure, you pay for what you get but I personally think you get a whole lot more and these radios are crammed with loads of useful features. Choosing a radio from Bafoeng is complicated as I say but I've put a chart below which I've  borrowed from the Baofeng website (no copyright intended) to help you try and decide.,0,935x529/
Click to enlarge

Certain models are not included as they are either reproductions or clones by other manufacturers under license such as the UV-82L or UV-89. Hope it helps you when choosing your new Baofeng radio.

Note, some other radios are not mentioned because vendors have paid to reproduce them but not include any extra features except misleading labels and badges as a marketing ploy. Some examples are the UV-89 and UV-82L which have no difference except labeling when compared to the UV-82. It is best to avoid these vendors as they are misleading and may not sell radios at the same quality as official Baofeng dealers.

Of course there is the BF-888s. I have a pair of these and they're about £12 new on eBay and I can't fault them either! They are 16 channel programmable radios which fit the regular Baofeng programming lead, microphones, ear pieces and antennas etc. They feature 50 CTCSS / 105 CDCSS codes, VOX function, emergency alarm (useless as it is not transmitted), intelligent charging, battery save, low voltage alert and time out timer. Frequency range is 400-470MHz, power 1 watt on low, 5 watts on high and a 3.7v 1500mAh battery.

These radios are pretty fool proof, easily programmable and quite rugged for a small, cheap handheld. They are ideal to throw in your pocket in a rush and perform well on the air. I've used these on my local repeater with good reports but like with any radio, you get what you pay for.

Lastly there is the Baofeng UV-3R and UV-3R+ model which is a slightly revamped version of the UV-3R. Some people have commented that the RX and TX quality is better than the UV-5R but the lack of a keypad makes it harder to programme. I have a UV-3R first but sold it to buy a UV-5R solely due to the keypad however I'd highly recommend the 3R too!

So Which Is The Best?

It seems even Baofeng can't decide! They have chosen the 3 radios listed below but it depends on what you're looking for. I bought a GT-3 and it has noticeably better RX and TX quality than my UV-5R. I think everybody has their own views and opinions on which radio they prefer.
  • According to Baofeng, the best overall is the UV-82 series because it features the highest quality PCB board, heavy duty casing, most ergonomic case and keypad, a louder 1 watt speaker, and overall better RX and TX than other models. The series includes the only current 220mhz Baofeng; the UV-82X and the only commercial use approved Baofeng UV-82C.
  • The best radio in UV-5R family (third generation) is the BF-F8HP because it is the only tri power radio with 1, 5 and 8 watts of power. It also features the high gain V-85 antenna, the second generation PCB board from the UV-5R, it is compatible with all UV-5R accessories, and expanded frequency range.
  • The most economical radio according to Baofeng is the BF-F8+ because it is the cheapest variant from the chart above (does not include the BF-888S or the UV-3R. It also features the second generation PCB board from the UV-5R andis compatible with all UV-5R accessories.
Hope this all helps when choosing what to buy.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Switching to the Baofeng GT-3.

So I decided to make the switch from the Baofeng UV-5R to the Baofeng GT-3 as my main dual band transceiver. I got an old marine handheld transceiver on eBay for about £6 as spares and repairs. Low and behold it just needed AA batteries and it works a treat. So I've just sold it for £40, which is the price of a Baofeng GT-3 with secondary antenna, speaker mic and car charger so I used the money to purchase one.

It should be here this week so I'll put up a review. Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been back at work after a couple of weeks holiday. I'll do my best to get a review up of the GT-3, a showing of the marine handheld and some other Motorola bits and peices.

Stay tuned!

As always, thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.

RSGB 144mhz UKAC | Tuesday 7th October 2014.

I met with a friend of mine Roydan (M0LEX) to watch him take part in the RSGB 144mhz UKAC. This is a 2m USB DX contest in which radio amateurs up and down the United Kingdom and beyond attmept to work as much of the country as possible in two and a half hours.

These contests are timed to co-incide with the last two hours of a number of European activity contests, with an extra half hour at the end to encourage intra UK activity. They take place on Tuesdays from 2000-2230 local time with 144 MHz on the 1st Tuesday of the month. The country is divided up into IO squares with area codes in each square. We were in IO83.

I've never taken part in anything like this before hence coming along with Roydan to see what it was all about. We drove to a hill between Bury and Rochdale in Greater Manchester that overlooks most of Manchester and beyond. Winter Hill Arquiva transmitter site was clearly visible to the west and Croker Hill BT tower outside Macclesfield was visible to the south east. Beetham Tower in Manchester city centre sat directly to the south of our position. The weather was damp and freezing cold now Autumn is here but at least the rain that had hung around all day had now completely disappeared which made setting up Roydan's mast and antenna much easier.

When the antenna was set up on a drive on mast, we turned on and tuned in to the 2m band and had a listen round. It didn't take long for the band to come alive with operators up and down the country. It was nice to see so much activity on there and we both agreed that it restored our faith that the hobby is very much alive.

Throughout the two and a half hours Roydan managed to work exactly 100 stations. Lift conditions weren't great tonight and we struggled to make the grid squares in the far south east coast of England and the north of Scotland but we managed one Irish station. I heard a few familiar call signs from the Manchester area and many more from all over the UK but nothing from Europe tonight. I think Roydan managed 13 squares tonight.

I managed to take a few pictures of the view from the top of the hill. The panoramic photo above shows one third of the view and you can see Winter Hill mast on the right. Taken with a 15 second exposure on my tripod. All in all a great night with plenty of activity. I look forward to the next time and also giving it a go myself! Thanks Roydan!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.

Nagoya NA-771, Diamond SRH-771 | Identifying The Fakes

I have a couple of weeks off work so I might as well update as much as possible. I thought I'd discuss the Nagoya NA-771 and Diamond SRH-771 antennas, along with the fakes that are knocking about.

Nagoya NA-771 - Legitimate Versions.

This aerial is pretty good. The real ones range from around £5-£10 depending on the seller on eBay. I'm assuming the £1.99 ones with Nagoya written on are the cheap counterfeits. I'm unsure of the quality and specs of these antennas including SWR but I've been using a Nagoya model that I paid £7 for for some time now and it has not affected my Baofeng UV-5R and receives and carries transmission slightly better than the stock rubber duck antenna. These are quite solid and have a glossy black plastic outer.

Genuine Nagoya antennas are manufacured by REUEX Industrial Co., Ltd. in Taiwan. REUEX packages their antennas in a yellow slip case (similar to that used by genuine Diamond antennas) with a rectangular holographic trademark label (or labels) affixed. Product information lettering on the slip case shows the frequency etc white on red (e.g., "144/430 dual band hand held antenna). Gain, power capability, and dimensions are in black directly on the clear side of the slip case.

Diamond RH-771 - Fake Version.

These fake antennas come branded as RH-771. Genuine Diamond antennas use SRH-771 for an SMA connector so if you're buying one for the Chinese radios then any antenna with an SMA connector that has RH-771 on is a counterfeit Diamond product. A Diamond antenna with a BNC connector is the RH-771. The higher price of these and authorised sellers is an idication of their authenticity. I bought a couple of the SMA versions to try them out and they cost me about £1.20 each. The transmit and receive on these antennas is noticeably lesser than the Nagoya version and I dread to think what the SWR is on them.

The counterfeit antenna was packaged in a flimsy orange slip case of material about 1/2 the thickness of the genuine article and had a poor quality round holographic label stuck on it. Lettering on the slip case is blue with white outline. The antenna description is on a white background with white Chinese characters and English saying "Flexiable Spring Whip" (notice the spelling). Additional particulars are white characters on the clear portion of the slip case.

Diamond RH-771 / SRH-771 - Legitimate Versions.

As I said above, the higher price (£19 upwards) and authorised sellers is an indication of the authenticity of Diamond antennas. The signal and transmission quality of the genuine antennas is noticeably better than the counterfeit versions. The real RH-771 antenna with a BNC connector is pictured to the right.

The SMA version pictured below is the genuine Diamond antenna and as you can see it is completely different from the counterfeit SMA version. It has a longer spring section and is printed in orange lettering:


I've mentioned packaging briefly above and in my experience most of the genuine antennas come in a yellow sleeve and the counterfeits usually come in orange however this may not be the case 100% of the time. The various forms of packaging that these antennas come in is a give away of their authenticity. Some feature crudely made labels, spelling mistakes and incorrect specifications given for the antenna inside.

Another big giveaway is the Diamond Antenna logo. If you look below you'll see on the left the genuine logo and on the right the fake one. Can you see the difference? It is quite subtle but the genuine logo has a little diamond inside the 'E' on the word antenna. The counterfeit logo has a triangle instead:


I hope this helps you when trying to identify genuine antennas. I have bought some off of eBay advertised as Nagoya but when they arrive they have been Diamond counterfeits. With so many floating around it could be the case that the seller may not even know themselves that they are selling fake antennas. I contacted the seller and got a full refund back off them.

The info above is based purely on my own experiences with these antennas. Some info and detail has been sourced from other peoples reviews on the internet. As always, it is up to you to form your own conclusion on these antennas. Let me know your feedback by dropping me a comment or contacting me on the contact page.

As always, thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.

TYT Electronics Co. TYT-800 | Analogue 'Dual Band' Handheld

The TYT-800 'Dual Band' (note the inverted commas) is a cheap, compact Chinese transceiver that joins the many variants on the market. Not a bad little radio really considering I paid £15 delivered off eBay and now they don't appear on there for under £37. I say dual band as that is what is advertised but they are not dual band. You either get VHF or UHF. This was a little disappointing but hey ho.


  • TX/RX 400-470MHz 
  • 199 memory channels.
  • CTCSS/DCS tones and codes.
  • VOX
  • Time out timer.
  • Voltage and power display.
  • Emergency alarm.
  • Channel display.
  • Scan function.
  • High and low power select.
  • Key pad lock.
  • Channel spacings: 5,10,12.5,20,25,35,50Hz.
  • Emergency alarm.
  • Computer programmable.

There's not much on Youtube or the net in terms of reviews and info for this radio. Google just throws up sellers which are Chinese and the info on their websites isn't that great. As I said, I ordered mine for £15 delivered which was a bargain. The box contained the usual belt clip, wrist strap, antenna and of course battery and radio. I assembled the pieces and switched on. It features a bright, pale blue backlight which is great in low light and the screen is very clear despite its size. It was set on a frequency used in Manchester by a Mosque. I knew this Mosque was at least 6 or 7 miles away from my home QTH meaning the radio actually worked in RX. RX audio is pretty clear and just as good as the Baofeng radios.

The antenna is very flimsy with a concealed coil at the base and a shrouded center core of coax acting as the rubber duck. This is an advantage if the radio is in your pocket as it flexes easily but a harsh bend on it would probably snap it in two.
Like the other Chinese radios, the antenna is the SMA femal type so Baofeng antennas are compatible which would probably better suit this model. The radio seems pretty well built and solid with a good strong belt clip and rubber keypad. PTT switch quality is also very good. There is no novely flashlight LED on the top which is nice and it has been replaced by an orange panic button. It doesn't sound an alarm when pressed but just keeps TX open like some of the better quality radios (Icom and Motorola to name a couple) making it handy for use on doors, in pubs or in shops.

I had a flick through the manual and decided that it was useless unless you're fluent in Chinglish. The manual says the radio is dual band but there is no where in there that tells you how to switch between bands and the radio does not have the function to do so. I concluded that it was just UHF. The manual says this radio supports repeater operation. Now you can set the CTCSS codes no problem but the repeater shift function is useless. I set my RX frequency to 433.3500 for my local repeater and put in a + shift but this set the TX frequency to  443.350 so looks like I won't be using this for repeaters. It is ok for simplex though or just receiving. There is no 6.25k step option so programming to the UK analogue PMR frequencies isn't possible.

I'm happy with this radio for the price I paid. I'd be disappointed if I'd spent £37 on this when the Baofeng GT-3 is a similar price and the UV-5R is available for even cheaper. Range is ok and just what you'd expect for UHF 5w. Handy for UHF receiving, 70cm simplex or just another addition to the kit. I'll see if I can programme this radio via PC and post an update as and when.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.

Kirisun S780 | dPMR/Analogue 2 Way Radio (400-470MHz Version)

The Kirisun S780 is a low cost UHF band digital transceiver following the dPMR protocol. There are numerous pro's and cons to this radio but they are good for the price contain many features which I'll run through in this short review. I'll touch briefly on programming but I'll do a full walkthrough when I get my head round it 100% as digital is relatively new to me.


  • 1.8" LCD display.
  • Both digital and analogue support.
  • Digital voice encryption.
  • All call, group call, single call feature.
  • SMS message capability.
  • Stun and activate.
  • Working status query.
  • Power saving mode.
  • Call history.
  • Power and signal display.
  • Address book function.
  • Manual dialing.
  • Supports firmware programming/updates.
  • High and low power select.
  • Channel lock function.
  • Keypad lock function.
  • Whisper function.
  • CTCSS DCS tone capability.
  • Scan function.
  • Time out timer.
  • Repeater shift function.
  • Calculator.
  • Voice enhance.
  • Full function keypad.
  • Alert tone.
  • Emergency alarm.


  • Frequcency: 400-470MHz.
  • Channels: 16.
  • Channel Spacing: 12.5KHz.
  • Battery: Lithium DC 7.5v 1500 mAh.
  • Weight: 240g (With battery and antenna).
  • Volume: 116mm x 54mm x 30mm.
  • RF Power: 1w low / 4w high.

The Kirisun 780 sells on eBay new from around £75 to £95. I'd heard mixed reviews on the radio and was hesitant to spend that much on a pair. I came across someone on eBay selling a pair in almost new condition with little wear for £130. I messaged him and managed to haggle him down to £100 for the pair delivered so at £50 per radio with a programming cable I took his hand off and bit the bullet.

The radios came in their original boxes, without manuals but with charging dock, antennas, belt clips, UK 3 pin plug converters and in very good condition with minor light scuffs on the plastic screen. The seller threw in the programming cable with them which was obviously welcome as these radios have to be programmed by computer. There is no other way around this.
I charged the radios and turned them on to have a flick through. The menu and keypad are very simple to use and rather like older mobile phones. The radios themselves seem extremely robust and well made. They are a good weight and seem pretty solid. The PTT switch is large and again quite solid which is always helpful when it is the most used part of the radio. The screen is bright and clear and the keys are also backlit.

The antenna is the standard rubber duck type with an SMA female connector so it is compatible with other antennas that go with most of the popular Chinese handhelds currently available. The charging dock is also well built with an LED indicator showing charge progress. These radios support the 2 pin Kenwood style microphones.


My radios came programmed to 6 analog frequencies so I plugged the radio in and had a go at programming them to my own frequencies. The software is called CPSc V1.27 which is available through Google search.

Once the radio is plugged in and the software is loaded, you can read the data in the radio. This will then download all the information stored in the radio. I will do a programming walkthrough when I get chance but I'll show you now in brief how simple it is to set these radios up.

As you can see from the screen grab above, the software isn't too complicated to use. In the column on the left you can review the radio settings such as squelch, time out timer, back light display, alerts and sounds.

I have yet to get my head fully around the dPMR side of the programming but I have managed to figure out the basic set up and do use the radios for digital transmissions. Please be aware that these radios are not compatible with other digital standards such as DMR, Tetra and MOTOTRBO unfortunately!

In the channel info section you can well, set the channel info! You can select the zone alias for the group of radios that are being used together. Below is the option to choose between digital and analogue mode.

You can name the channel anything you like and obviously set the frequency. I programmed mine to the digital PMR frequencies in accordance with my business license.  As said above, these radios only have 12.5KHz steps so programming of the regular analogue PMR frequencies is not possible.

The radios will support repeater operation which is handy for my local 70cm repeaters in analogue mode with the option to set CTCSS/CDCSS tones and TX/RX shifts. Finally group lists and contacts can be selected for communication between certain radios.

Once everything was set and I was happy with the frequencies I had chosen I selected write data. When doing this, the correct com port needs to be selected in order for the computer to see the radio. The data is written to the radio in seconds and once complete can be disconnected. I just programmed the same data to both radios until I get my head round the entire programming process. The radios talk to eachother and repeater operation works so it'll do for now. Despite what the screen grab shows, I did programme 16 channels.

dPMR service is for programming the digital settings such as contacts, groups, quick texts and manual dial etc but as I said, I am not educated enough yet to review this properly. Programming overall is a very simple task to do and does not take long.


I have not managed to test these radios properly yet but I'll share my experience so far using them. In all honesty, the digital mode is very appealing and for the price of these radios, seems too good to be true. And it is. The digital mode is handy for communications within a building or building site but the range is terrible. 
I struggled to get 1/2 a mile in a moderately built up area when testing with a friend before I lost him completely. In the same area I achieved over a mile on a Baofeng UV-5R. The test area is free from any tall buildings over 30ft and is a mix of countryside and housing.

The audio in digital mode is quite good and is much better than analogue. The range on analogue is quite good and similar to my Baofeng UV-5R's. I did a range test yesterday and managed over a mile in a heavily built up area before I returned home. I do not doubt this radio would do 2 miles in a built up area in analogue mode. I can reach a local 70cm repeater in analogue mode in a build up area from around 12 miles away.

In Conclusion:

Overall these radios are very good and pack a lot of features in one small handheld. For someone wanting to get into digital modes and have a play with digital then they are a great starting point in my opinion. They look great and are very easy to use. I'm happy with what I got for £50 each but however I'm not sure I'd pay £75 upwards each for one. 
With dPMR not being popular in my area yet, it is likely that my pair of radios will only ever really talk to each other in digital mode especially when the range is awful. In analogue mode as a 70cm radio and for monitoring UHF frequencies of interest then they are a really nice addition to anyones kit.

Of course it is down to you to make your mind up on these radios, the review above is my opinion and others may have different results. If you own an S780 and would like to share your feedback then please contact me.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.

Motorola Genesis Series | HT600E & HT800 UHF Handhelds

I have developed a bit of a soft spot for the Motorola HT600E and HT800 radios lately and have managed to collect a few over recent months. They are a great quality, heavy duty radio and there are plenty of accessories out there to collect. Some are rare, some less rare. I'll show you what I have below.

The Motorola Genesis line of hand-held radios includes the HT600, HT600E, HT800, the MT1000, the MTX, the MTX "Classic", the MTX800 (800 MHz), the MTX810, the MTX900 (900 MHz) and the P200 radios plus the matching accessories. The HT600E radio is the European version of the MT1000.  The HT600 was the first radio in the Genesis series and was sold only in the USA. It did not come in a low band model and are not to be confused with the UK / European HT600E radios which I'll feature in this post.

As said above the HT600E radio is basically a re-labeled MT1000 with some variations in the RSS. It features a total internal upgrade and is different than the USA HT600 radio. The control board is different but some of the RF boards are the same. The HT600 and MT1000 accessories, including batteries are the same.

The HT600E was in use for a number of years with a number of United Kingdom Police forces and Home Office departments. The HT600E is a 25KHz specification variant of the Motorola MT1000.

Around mid 2006 a large number of HT600E UHF radios were surplused by the UK national police forces. These were a special version built by Motorola GMBH for the UK Home Office and were 2 watt UHF 99 channel radios. Some of them had an encryption board designed by Marconi Secure Communications division installed inside the radio (MSC was pronounced "mask" and the option board became known as "the MASC board").

The first radio in my collection was a HT600E which I bought off eBay for about £18. It came with a fully functioning battery, battery charger and antenna. It is programmed to most UHF UK 70cm repeaters over its 99 channels which is handy. The radio is in great condition and is an ex UK Home Office variant as it has a Home Office label on the back. It works great and I can access a couple of my local repeaters on 2 watts.

The next batch of radios I acquired was again from eBay. They were part of a lot which included an old Realistic scanner, an XM2000 marine handheld and the Tait 3000 handhelds I spoke about previously. There was 4 HT800's and 3 HT600E's in the lot and 4 battery packs. I didn't expect the battereis to work but when I put them into my charger I was pleasantly surprised to see that all 4 charged and held their charge too! All the radios were in fair condition and cleaned up nicely, more importantly they all function as they should. This lot were ex North East Ambulance Service which I assume were acquired from the Police after the Tetra switch over as they were last electrically tested in 2007/2008.

The only frequencies I can find for the North East Ambulance Service is RX 166.750 TX 171.550 listed as North East Ambulance Trust Emergency in County Durham. It has been heard at least up until June 2005. The radios are all UHF though so I'll keep searching for the frequencies my radios used with the service.

The HT800 is an 8 channel variant of the Genesis family. It was available over 146-174 MHz, 403-433 MHz and 438-470 MHz but not all 3. No matter what any manual says, these radios were only available for one band. The accessories for the HT600E and HT800 are all compatible and are interchangeable between the two.

Audio quality on all of my Genesis radios is excellent and very clear despite the age of the radios. I do have 3 of the radios without batteries, two are working and one is faulty. The faulty one just won't power on at all so I need to try and figure out what is wrong with it. I opened it up and it all looks pretty clean inside and the battery contacts are clean and connected but I'll get to the bottom of it. New batteries range from about £15-£25 on eBay so I'll have to invest in a pair to get the two working radios going. That'll enable me to run the 4 HT800's back to back and two HT600E's back to back. A friend of mine has all the programming hardware and software and has offered to give programming of my radios a try. I hope to programme them to 70cm amateur band and PMR frequencies.

Last week I managed to get hold of four brand new factory sealed microphones for the radios. They are the type that feature a stubby antenna on the top. They were an absolute bargain at £10 on eBay so as soon as I got them I put them on two HT800's and two HT600E's and they work an absolute treat. The microphones are the same great quality you'd expect with any Motorola product and they sound great too.

The fitting that screws onto the radio is die cast so won't break easily and there is an ear piece jack, clip, PTT and hi/lo audio switch on the top. I'm keeping an eye out for the version without the aerial on top to give that a go.

All in all I'm really pleased with these radios and at around £45 spent on all eight, 4 mics and a charger that all work apart from one they're a bargain. Not to mention a nice addition to my collection! Do you have any of these radios? Let me know what you think of them.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.

PMR Radio Finds | Tait 3000, Philips PRP73 & Philips PRP76

I received another four radios yesterday in the post. All eBay bargains at less than £30 for the lot. There was two Tait 3000 PMR handheld transceivers, one Philips PRP73 VHF/UHF handheld and one Philips PRP76 VHF/UHF handheld. Some really nice handhelds from the 1990's some keepers for my collection so I'll quickly go through them. 

Philips PRP73 & PRP76:

These radios were sold by a collector on eBay and came programmed to PMR and Simple UK frequencies by the seller. They are good solid radios in great condition. The only problem is they came without a charger but fully charged. I'm bidding on a charger on eBay at the moment which I'll likely win. If not, the seller has offered to source me a charger from a friend of his.

The two radios are both VHF/UHF and were released around 1992 and marketed by Philips as "advanced portable transceivers designed for use in handheld and bodyworn applications". They feature CTCSS, DTMF and Selcall signalling, channel scanning and voting, dual watch and password protection. They run 1w on low power and 4w on high power.

They are powered by attached 7.2v Ni-Cd rechargeable battery packs which are in full working order and hold charge without issue. Audio is clean and clear and I have yet to do a range test on them. 

All in all a great buy and even better when I manage to get a charger.

Tait 3000:

These radios cost me about £5 as part of a big job lot which I'll show at a later date. The whole job lot that I purchased was sold on eBay as parts and not working but 10 out of 11 radios worked perfectly. They just needed charging.

The T3000 was developed by Tait Communications, New Zealand in 1996. A typical competitor of the Motorola Saber Series, they were popular with the authorities in New-Zealand but also with many law enforcement agencies worldwide. In the Netherlands the T3000 was used by the police for observations and by the Mobiele Eenheid (Riot Police).

The radio offers limited security by providing a simple voice scrambling technique known as frequency domain scrambling (inversion) which was often mistakenly identified as 'crypto'. 
The radio can be programmed with a variety of Trunking settings, Conventional (analogue) channels and optional functions, by means of the special programming software. As the radios are several years old now, the programming software is no longer available from the manufactuer (Tait), but appears to be present on the internet. 

My radios are flat and came with no charger but were last electrically tested around 2007 so I'm holding up hope for these. I've ordered a charger pretty cheap to test them out. They are in great quality with no cracks and the battery contacts are pristine. When my charger comes I'll test them out and if they're no good I've not lost much and I'll sell them on.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.

Business Radio Finds | Philips, Tait & Pye Vintage Sets

So I've developed a bit of an obsession for vintage two way radio sets from the 1970's - 1990's and keep bagging bargains off of eBay. I've bought a few sets recently pretty cheap and they've been listed as not working and in most cases this has been true. I've bought them and had a play around with them when they've been delivered and had a good look at them. I keep the keepers and then I resell the sets
that are useless. I sell them as they were bought; as spares and repairs. I've sold them mainly to radio collectors and rig doctors who can get them working again. I've managed to make my money back every time so I can comfortably keep on buying sets purely out of interest. As I said, they have all been bargains and have not cost much at all.

Pye Pocketfone:

I bought two sets of these as part of a job lot of agricultural business radios. One set operated on 72mhz low band and the other set were high band. They came with everything listed in this entry. Each pair came with a mains powered charger unit which seemed to work. Each radio had a leather case and the whole lot had seen better days but if it wasn't for the fact the batteries were long dead I think they would have worked fine.

I put them on eBay soon after and after the auction ended I asked the buyer (a licensed amateur) to give me an update of how he got on with the radios when he received them.

A few days later he emailed me and confirmed that two radios were indeed low band and the other two high band, and all basically worked, when powered up directly to the battery studs on the base of the radios. The batteries were dead, but can be recelled fairly easily, with modern 
high capacity AAA cells. The chargers did light up as they did for me, but  he had not yet checked what actually comes out of the charging studs, as they all have a lot of verdigris on them and were in need of new contacts. He also said he had a few spare modules from this series of radios, so there was a reasonable chance of getting them going. 

In service, they were the end of an era for Pye, and were not as reliable as the earlier Pocketfone series but it was great to own these for a while as they are a nice vintage piece of kit but it is even better to see them given a new lease of life by someone with a lot more technical ability than me.

Philips PR710:

In the same batch of radio gear was a set of these Philips PR710 handhelds both complete with charging bases. The PR710 was a synthesised multi-channel hand-held transceiver, originally intended at the specification and planning stage to be the replacement for the PFX.  The product design evolved to use a large rugged case and was marketed for tough commercial applications, rather than Police use. Like the above Pocketfone's, these were programmed to 72mhz and with no way of programming and the fact that the batteries were dead and only one radio powered on, I decided to sell these on eBay as spares and repairs. The contacts in one radio were ruined but had they been working, I have since found all the information online to programme these. These came with massive aerials due to being low band VHF. Another nice peice of kit from 1989!

Philips P1002:

I got these FM UHF transceivers most recently as part of a house clearance. There is very little info online about these radios but I assume they are from the early 1990's. They came in two pairs each with its own mains charging unit. The chargers worked but the same old story with the batteries... dead. They no longer hold more than a few minutes charge and the low power triggers an error message making the radio useless. They are programmed to one channel; 169.1625mhz with a CTCSS tone of 118.8.

The radios consist of a plastic and metal body and are quite weighty. Each has a screw on BNC sized connector that I haven't seen before and a pin port on the top for a microphone. The keypad is useless presumably due to the fact that they have been programmed to one channel so the keypad is not needed. The display had a nice orange backlight for the LCD display. Another fine example of vintage radios but again no real use to me and I don't have the space to house all these radios so I sold them on eBay as spares and repairs. I should just learn to recell batteries to save the heartache of letting radios like this go!

Tait Orca 5000:

I picked these up in the same lot as the Pye Pocketfones from an ex agricultural radio system. These radios are 66-88mhz handheld transceivers programmed to 72mhz like the others. I'm guessing these were released by Tait in the late 1990's to early 2000's. There were 3 in the lot, of which 2 worked fine and the other had a low audio problem. Each radio came with its own charging dock and one or two spare batteries. As they were programmed to 72mhz, they too had extra long rubber duck antennas suitable for that band. There is no display on these and they feature a 16 channel dial and volume knob on the top. They're extremely heavy sets and are excellent quality.

I gave these radios a quick charge and was pleased to see they held their charge however I cannot legally use the frequency they're programmed to and do not have the means to programme them so again, they were sold on eBay to a gentleman who had use for them. As with all the other radios above they were sold as spares and repairs but I made well more than my money back on these and used the profit to buy a working Motorola HT600E programmed to all UK UHF repeaters complete with charging base which I'll review another time.

There's something charming about the older two way radios and even though I end up selling most of my purchases on that are of no use to me, the few that I have kept so far are really nice additions to my collection. The good thing about the faulty radios is that eBay allows people with more expertise than me to give them a good home and a new lease of life whether it be on PMR, amateur bands or elswhere.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.
Manchester, UK.