QRZ Logbook

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

US-based BridgeCom producing sub-$100 220 MHz HT

These days there are a lot of handy-talkies (HTs) being produced from China that are selling like crazy because in part they are so inexpensive. It caters to the amateur radio operator on a budget. I myself own 4 and purchased 8 for some kids in my daughter's school radio club for when some of the students get their license.

I find it rather ironic that 20 years ago, a lot of the "old timers" in ham radio were saying that the expense of the hobby was going to kill ham radio, how $200 HT's and $300 mobiles and $500 HF rigs were going to suck the life out of the hobby and that it was going to deter new hams from coming in.

Now, those exact same hams are complaining that these "cheap Chinese radios" are going to be the downfall of the hobby, allowing any Tom, Dick, and Harry to get on the air and cause chaos and havoc. So which is it, "expensive and a deterrent", or "cheap and all-inclusive"?

It does seem like the VHF and UHF bands are growing with new hams getting the Baofengs/Pofungs, Wouxuns, Anytones, TYTs and Jetstreams...but to me, if it keeps the bands active and encourages new hams, and especially young hams, into getting on the air, then let them have at it. To me at least, there's not a difference in quality of the signal (although programming the radios can be a bear without the cable and software). Typically, as long as you're not talking about what kind of radio you are using, then it doesn't matter what kind of radio you're on, does it? Ignorance often is bliss.

The big reason I bought the Wouxun KG-UV2D was the fact that it had 220 MHz (1.25 meter) capability. Until then, getting a 220 MHz radio was an expensive endeavor. I had not seen a 220 MHz radio selling for less than $200. And it seemed that the older the radio, the more "valuable" it was to the seller. 

BridgeCom BCH-220
I have 2 of the Wouxuns and the biggest reason was that they offered 2m/220 dual band capability and at about $105 it was too good to pass up. Unfortunately 220 MHz is still a bit quiet. 

Chances are the reason for the animosity about the "cheap radios" from some is the fact that they are made in China. While that can be a point of contention for some, the fact is that these radios are out there, people are buying them - and using them - and it's not really affected the bottom line of the heavyweights such as ICOM, Yaesu, and Kenwood, at least not as far as I can tell.

However, if you're interested in getting on 1.25 meters, and don't have a lot of cash to spare, and are really trying to keep in tune with "Made in the USA", then BridgeCom out of Missouri may just have the radio for you.

Due to be released in September, the BCH-220 is a single-band portable radio that should hopefully satisfy the ham who wants to get on 220 MHz on a budget, yet not have to "lower themselves" to purchasing from outside of the US. Current selling price is $80.

Although it appears to be just a monoband radio, it has 199 memories, tactile buttons to press, 2/5W power output, is durable and easy to carry, weighing 230 grams, or just over a 1/2 lb.

Below is a video from BridgeCom VP Tim King describing the radio.

This may be my next 220 radio!