The radio chassis is one large block of heat sink that when testing takes forever to heat up. When it does, the 70 x 70 x 15mm cooling fan turns on. It’s very quiet and because of it’s size it’s very effective.
One of my main interests was the included 220MHz US ham band, as I have several Ham repeaters within 35 miles from my house. The power on 220MHz is rated at 5W, which I found was more than enough to reliably get into my local repeaters. The signal and audio reports have been excellent.
I used my 13.8VDC power supply to emulate a standard auto battery. Running the radio at high power (50W) into a Bird Watt meter for 3 minutes showed no decrease in power or excess heat.
The 220 ham band transmit range is limited to 222-225MHz. The receiver is capable of being programmed above and below those frequencies, but may be outside of the performance range due to the ham band specific filtering.
The radio comes with a full function keypad style microphone. On the right side are two slide switches that control the Lock and Lamp feature, and on top of the microphone are two frequency Up and Down buttons. Along with a 16 button DTMF style keypad are 4 programmable function keys. Choices are Squelch Off, TX Power, Rptr Shift, Reverse, and Tone Call.
There are two microphone input jacks. One on the control head, the other on the main unit. There is also a built in microphone element inside the control head. Although the audio quality is excellent, the sensitivity is that of a standard microphone. The OTA reports were excellent with plenty of audio, so there’s no reason to shout.
A nice feature in the audio section is an adjustable microphone gain control. There are 5 settings available. Min, Low, Normal, High, and Max. Normal is great for speaking in a normal volume an inch from the microphone. Running a net with VOX and a headset, you can bring it up a bit. Driving in an off road vehicle, you just might need to set it back.
The UV-50X3 has two Double Conversion Super Heterodyne receivers, each with 500 channels, for a total of 1000 memories.
Along with the standard VHF / 220 / UHF frequencies, the receiver covers:
0.5-1.7 MHz (AM Radio)
76-108 MHz (FM Radio)
108-136 MHz (AM Air Band)
137-250 MHz (Ham & TV Band)
300-520 MHz (Ham & General)
with a scan rate of 4 channels per second.
The control head has built in speakers, as well as one in the main module. An external speaker jack in the rear also allows for a larger speaker if desired. The jack provides for either mono or stereo output. (each receiver can have it’s own speaker). I found a menu setting to adjust the tone of the speaker as well. Although there is more than ample audio output, when the volume control is all the way down, the radio is silent, as it should be.
Cross Band Repeat
The radio takes full advantage of the independent receiver by including a Cross Band Repeat function. I entered the VHF and UHF frequencies, power level and tones, selected the Cross Band mode, and was ready to go. The audio levels are preset and the audio quality reports were excellent.
Cross band repeating using a 220MHz frequency was not possible. This is more than likely a precaution due to the minimal frequency separation.
The control head has a large 5″ LCD with your choice of background colors. Options include White-Blue, Sky-Blue, Marine-Blue, Green, Yellow-Green, Orange, Amber, and White. The brightness and contrast are also menu selectable.
When you first attempt to program the radio manually, it may take a few tries to understand the flow of the menus. After that, everything falls right into place. I’ve put together a programming flow to help assist with understanding the process. All functions including the entry of 6 character Alpha labels can all be entered manually.
Unless you are only entering a few channels, I would recommend the optional PC05 programming cable. The UV-50X3 uses the CHIRP programming software.
Up to six Alpha Numeric characters (upper and lower case) can be displayed to identify each channel.
Scanning in the VFO mode allowed me to scan either the VHF, 220MHz, or UHF band. In the Channel mode, the scan would select any channel in the list regardless of band.
The power cable supplied with the 50X3 is properly fused and will easily handle the current draw of the radio. This cable was meant to be connected directly to the battery or fuse panel.
There are radios that draw less power whose power cables use thinner wire, lower value fuses, and can be plugged into accessory plugs. Do NOT use these cables, even though they may be plug compatible. The 50X3 draws twice the current, and will blow the fuses and possibly overheat the wire.
The cable on the 50X3 appears to match that of the hi-power Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood series. ONLY use the proper cable for the radio.
Base Station Operation
The 50X3 draws upwards of 11-12A on high power transmit. A power supply capable of 15-20A continuous (not just surge) is recommended. Here are a few power supply Examples.
For mobile drive testing, I teamed this radio with a Nagoya Tri-Band TB320A and SB-35 NMO mag mount and the results were excellent.
The 50X3 has the power, functions and quality you would expect in an upper end tri-band transceiver. It is based on a proven design, and I have found no issues with the radio over the past month. A bit more power on 220 would have been a plus, but it still gets me into the local repeaters fine.
Some of the added advantages to the US market are the FCC Part 90 certification, local US support, and exclusive program support using CHIRP software. The radio can also be shipped worldwide by contacting BTech directly.
This is definitely one of the nicest mobile transceivers I’ve used; and yes, I’ve owned the “big 3”.