I just took the time and got my amateur radio license a couple of weeks ago. Here in Portugal the class 3 amateurs are not allowed to transmit alone, we have to wait 2 years listening and then take the class 2 exam… Even not being allowed to transmit I am allowed to use amateur radio equipment to receive, so I decided to take the risk and order this unit (TYT TH-2R) from Asia (radiogearpro). It cost me around USD$50, shipping included, so it was pretty cheap and it took less than two weeks to arrive.

The box included:

  • the transceiver
  • a small SMA antenna
  • battery (copy of Nokia’s BL-5C)
  • USB charger-desktop battery charger
  • belt clip
  • one of those little nylon ropes to hold the radio in the wrist
  • “chenglish” manual, but easy to understand

It didn’t came with a programming cable and I wasn’t able to find one online, not even the pinout. The software can be easily found online.

The interface is easy to use, it has plenty of functionality, the front keys are properly illuminated, there are compatible batteries (BL-5C size and shape) everywhere and it has an extra: it receives broadcast FM radio🙂

In the negative side, it doesn’t have “roger beep” (I usually don’t use roger beeps, but still, it’s missing), the “text to speech” function is a nice accessibility feature, but is very irritating, had to turn it off, and the frequency scanning is ridiculously slow, almost useless.

I find the audio pretty good, loud and clear taking in account the speaker size. It has one of those 4-pin 2,5mm jacks with speaker and microphone in the same jack.If connected to an external audio amplifier, I find the FM radio quite entertaining, and it still watches the UHF frequency set by the user and mutes the FM radio if something gets received.

Regarding the TX performance, I can’t give you a proper review, given my TX limitations…

My largest problem was the lack of cable or cable schematics, so I tried a couple of variations of schematics from other manufacturers, without success. Next step? Disassemble it to see “how it ticks”!

This is the unit, tuned to 99.2MHz broadcast radio:

 
Starting to take it apart, only need to unscrew the two screws under the battery:

 
We can see that everything is held together by a nice aluminium chassis, to keep disassembling we need to unsolder the LCD LED in the right side:

 
This is the front side of the board without the LCD. To keep disassembling we need to unscrew the 4 screws and unsolder the RF connector from the board:

 
The under side of the board:

 
As a side note, we can see that most chips are from Chinese manufacturers, but well known ones. At this price, I was surprised by the overall quality of the unit.

After taking some time trying to understand the thing, I’ve discovered that the data interface wasn’t in the speaker plug, but in the charging interface.Those cheap bastards wired the serial RX and TX to the D- and D+ of the USB connector😛

I proceeded to assemble everything again and began working in the cable. Since I have a handfull of FT232R, I etched a PCB and soldered the USB cable to my board:

  • Red to 5V
  • Black to Ground
  • White to FT232 TX
  • Green to FT232 RX

Connected everything and voilá! I have a USB charging cable that also works as a data cable:

If there is any problem with the embedded images, the whole set can be found here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cocasdaneve/sets/72157626187684634/