TDXONE TD-Q8 HT review

TDXONE TD-Q8 HT review

 

Overall impression: this radio has usability and user interface bugs which you need to be aware of, but this radio is better than a Baofeng. As usual with Chinese radios, its bugs make it inferior to radios from the Big Three (Yaesu, I-com, Kenwood).

TDXOne TD-Q8A is an "upgraded" model, but I cannot figure out what exactly was "upgraded".

 

Problems with this radio I have discovered so far:


Keypad button labels are wrong, and undocumented. That's right - the manual, a tiny brochure, does not even go over key functions. For example I could not figure out how to enable scan mode. Would that be the button labelled */SCAN? No, that's actually the REV (reverse) button. Is scan initiated by pressing the UP/DOWN keys for a few seconds? No, it isn't. The orange 2nd function of the key is actually a MENU item (but there are more MENU items than there key labels). You can either navigate thru the menu with UP/DOWN, or press the keypad key to go to the menu item directly. Therefore, to start scan, press MENU, and then */SCAN. The way I did it for myself turn on scan was to re-assign the button labelled FM, (which is actually PF1 according to the manual), to the scan function. That makes it impossible to start FM radio mode, but I don't care about FM radio at all.

And now, a first deal-breaker. When in Channel mode (memory recall mode), offset frequency is always displayed as "+", no matter what the saved setting was. It does operate properly, and you can find out the real setting by going thru the menu items for that frequency, but you cannot rely on the radio when referencing the display of the offset setting.

When inputting a memory number in CH mode, you must type in the leading zero(es). For example, to go to menu item 6 you must type in 006, and to go to 16 you must type in 016, because there is no Enter/Accept key (unlike what the manual alludes to as # key being Enter).

The manual states the following for transmitter output power: "<5W". Does that mean 0W, 1W, 2W? 4.99W? I do not have the proper test equipment to measure this, but Chinese radios of this class usually have lower power on the 440 band compared to 144.

Alarm function is illegal (no identification) and stupid (no location is transmitted)

 

Limitations of this radio I have discovered so far:

A feature which I use very often on a real HT is the squelch open button (also called monitor, etc). I usually do a brief press of the button, which does not work on this radio. A brief press of the button labelled Moni will activate the "flashlight" instead. You will need to keep pressing the button for two seconds to open up the squelch. In addition, I have found on occasion the flashlight LED remaining ON after I thought I used the button properly for opening up the squelch.

The radio will deep-discharge the battery if you leave it on, because there is no inactivity timeout setting. There is no brownout reset circuit - the radio will never turn off at a low battery level. This will drastically reduce the life of your battery.

Like with all Chinese radios of this class, there is no DC input jack, and I need to jump thru hoops to have the radio operate from my vehicle 12V or have my vehicle recharge the battery.

The scanner is rather slow.

Second deal-breaker: the squelch cannot be set high enough to prevent noise from breaking the scan progress each time. This will irritate the user, because the scan would stop over noise, while you are missing a real conversation.

The receive strength meter, perhaps one of the most informative (to me) indicators of the receiver, is useless on this radio. I cannot rely on the strength meter to gauge whether I should bother to respond. A good S-meter like on a Yaesu would instantly tell me if my response transmission will be too weak to bother.

The dual-watch function is poorly implemented, and is more of a bug than a feature. The radio will switch to the other frequency at the most inconvenient time, like when you are trying to transmit on the original frequency. Disable the dual-watch by setting Menu item 29, "TDR" to "OFF". Note that menu item 37 applies to FM radio receiver only.

 

Good things about this radio:

The receiver is wide enough to also cover non-ham frequencies of MURS, GMRS, FRS, WX, etc.

I had never heard complaints about its transmitted audio quality.

I had never had an issue with output power. I can talk to a repeater in the other state with a 1/4 mag mount.

 

Steps to follow to save a repeater frequency to memory:

1. Press FR/CH until you enter Frequency Mode.

2. Input the frequency by using the keypad or UP/DOWN keys.

3. To set the PL tone, press MENU, navigate to menu item 13 T-CTC[SS], press MENU again to input the setting, then use UP/DOWN keys to select a PL tone.

4. To set offset, press MENU, navigate to menu item 21 SFT-D, and input the offset needed.

5. To set shift frequency (600kHz standard on 2m, 5MHz standard on 70cm), press MENU, navigate to menu item 22 OFFSET, and type in the frequency offset or use the UP/DOWN buttons.

5. To save to memory, press MENU, navigate to menu item 25 MEM-CH, and specify channel location.

Note 1: Steps above can be consolidated in one Menu navigation operation.

Note 2: You cannot enter an alphanumeric name at this stage, in the Frequency Mode. You must first switch to Channel Mode, navigate to the specific channel you would like to specify a name for, and then use MENU item 24 CHNAME to enter it. When entering, the UP button cycles thru available characters, and DOWN key moves cursor to the left. If you make a mistake, keep entering the remainder, and then go to the CHNAME menu item again (there is no backspace / cursor left button).

Note 3: You may be unable to enter a *.005 frequency with the default settings. If you encounter this, specify the Step Frequency setting at MENU item 23 STEP to be 5.00K

 

 

The two features you did not know you don't need are the flashlight and the FM radio. Like I said before, the flashlight turns on every time I try to open up the squelch. And I carry three real flashlights with me at all times. The FM radio has poor sensitivity, sounds very poor on a mono speaker, starts at a frequency of 78MHz and you need to input the US start frequency of 88MHz. I would appreciate Weather Radio instead.

 

I still have not found out whether this radio can be programmed by Chirp, or Wouxun/Baofeng cables.

 

If you wish to purchase this radio, or any Chinese radio, buy the following accessories as well: SMA male to BNC female adapter, speaker set, battery eliminator with vehicle DC input, vehicle DC input to charger DC-DC converter, and the programming cable. You may be able to find an accessories package deal with or without the radio included.

 

Product page from a US re-seller, with downloadable manual, programming cable, programming software* and drivers, and accessories information:

http://www.radioinc.com/oscmax/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=3310

http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/ht/1008.html

*Note: I have heard that the driver / programming software does not work with Windows 7 64-bit edition.



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Page last modified 26-Mar-14 22:54:49 EDT
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