Saturday, March 16, 2013

V689U Chinese Digital Radio

I noticed the teaser for this radio on 409shop's website when I was looking up the current prices for the UV-3R radios. I've actually seen a different radio on Alibaba recently too but my inquiries are ignored or responded to by telling me that radio isn't ready yet.
According to these links:
It's similar to, or it is actually this radio made by Kirisun:
I'm not sure though because the Frequency list here doesn't seem very useful for Amateur Radio needs. Another link that I've been to lists it as 400-470Mhz which would be useful and fairly standard actually for Chinese radios. It can do analog FM and digital modulation. All the details I can find on the digital is that it is 4FSK and it can create two 6.25Khz channels in a 12.5Khz frequency space which kinda sounds like TDMA?
It'd be cute if these were firmware reprogrammable and you could do codec2 on whatever chip is inside. I have a feeling it's the same old awful IMBE/AMBE type chips that you can only get through DVSI, like on D-Star. Of course this is coming from China, I guess it's possible they've reverse engineered those codecs and put them on a chip that can be reprogrammed to codec2 one day. That would make this radio more valuable. I just read on the hamgear link that they will be software updateable. So you can add more features, but no idea if that would include the codec or not. I'm guessing not, but we can always hope so.

Word is the pricing is going to be $200. A lot more expensive than other Chinese radios but you have the digital price premium to pay. (And the DVSI tax if it does use the DVSI chips)

Baofeng UV-3R flashed

Lior is at it again, this time he's working on the Baofeng UV-3R radios. The MCU that runs the radio is flash programmable. Unfortunately the security bits are set so you can't read out the existing firmware first, but you can erase it and insert your own. A group is forming on the Yahoo Groups board to work on making a 100% community made firmware for these radios. This is the thread talking about the initial experiment. See this Youtube video: This is a thread where people are talking about what features they want to have in a community made firmware.
One thing to note, during the tests the PA circuits are turned off so it's outputting very low power. Too bad the radios are FM only, because that would be a good thing for transverters.. Hey, maybe it wouldn't be bad for the SHF stuff?
Could be good for fox hunts too.. Just flash it with a firmware to send the MCW occasionally and then hide it, no extra circuitry required.
These radios are pretty inexpensive at $41 each. I can well imagine quite a few things they could be used for if they are reprogrammed with a new firmware. Of course I have no illusions that the chip is powerful enough to do very complicated things. I am hoping this opens the door to a community who buys these radios for this purpose and then the companies respond to that by making more radios which can be flashed. Especially if they put more powerful chips in them and a few years down the road it's possible to flash codec2 onto one and have a very inexpensive digital radio.
I doubt that's possible with these. Maybe a 1200 baud packet firmware will come out though. Then you'd have a very inexpensive APRS tracker just by adding a GPS.