Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Techy Tuesday - Cheap Chinese HF Transceivers Arrive

I've been expecting this. 

A couple of years ago, the amateur radio world was shaken by the introduction of cheap VHF/UHF handheld transceivers like the Baofeng HTs.   With a low price like $30 or $40, notoriously cheapskate hams bought a lot of these.  There are several manufacturers with varying degrees of quality in their reputation, but the point is the market is open and if you want an HT, it's low dollar risk.  The more established brand HTs, Yaesu and Icom, come in at over $100 to start, and over $200 is more common. 

Today, while looking at some old clutter, I stumbled across this link to a Chinese HF transceiver, the Xeigu ("zia goo") X108G.  I'm not sure how long these have been on the market in the US, but they're apparently on the market in Europe.  I see a few videos dated in July of '15, I found a forum dedicated to them that appears to be in German (I speak about as much German as Obama speaks free market). 

It's considered a low-power (QRP) transmitter at "greater than 15 W", but it appears pretty full-featured.  The manual (pdf)  says it receives continuously from 500 kHz to 30 MHz (a common range) and transmits on all amateur bands.  It only operates in Single Sideband voice and "CW", as hams refer to Morse code modes.  Its rear panel has an external audio pin (in a 6 pin mic. connector), so I assume it will do the audio modes hams like, such as PSK31 and RTTY, although those require use of software running on something and probably wiring up some connectors yourself.  Given its small size and the amount of features you activate through that small front panel, it's probably a bit tedious to operate, but that's the way these small rigs tend to be. 

Here's the drawback: they are not duplicating the price shock that Baofeng has done in their market.  It's $599.  For the same price I can get this Yaesu FT-817ND.  I've had one of these (well, the earlier, non-ND version) and it's a fine little radio.  A little lower transmit power, but Yaesu is a rock-solid manufacturer, and I'd trust their radio implicitly over the X108G.  It will do everything this will do, although it is slightly lower power, and the Yaesu has a bunch of aftermarket accessories and support.
For scale, that connector on the lower left is an RJ-45 network connector.  The front panel is about 4 3/4" by 1 3/4 and it's 7.1" front to back.  It doesn't say if that includes the handles, so I'm guessing it doesn't. 

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, $600 is no bargain for an unknown Chinese radio with ZERO history.

    I'd be skeptical at $300, which is what some of the unknown dual-band FM transceivers go for.

    And most of those were duds.....