Radioddity GA-5S Test and Review


Radioddity GA-5S Test and Review

©CGG August 2018

 

A well-presented, small and powerful pocketable dual-band radio with many useful settings.

Badged Radioddity, it appears to be from the same stable as the Baofeng series of radios.

The radio arrived in a well packed double layer box, with radio, antenna and battery on the top tray layer; charger and base plus the User Manual, ear piece/mic lead and wrist-strap below. The charger is a CE approved 10v unit with a UK plug, and the charger base a 3 pole variant of the Baofeng CH-5 base for the battery to drop into. Without a battery inserted the LED flashes red/green, then red whilst charging and green when the battery is fully charged. 5 hours for first charge, then 4 hours for routine re-charging. 1800mAh gives a useful battery life between charges, and is a good balance of size, weight and capacity. Accessories for the Baofeng UV-5R appear to be compatible with this radio. Data cables, Speaker/Mic’s etc., but not the battery, different, but still 1800mAh capacity.

The User Manual supplied is of variable usefulness. It appears to be for a UV-5 series radio, with images of that radio being shown and much of the information applying also to the UV-5. However, it explains the basics for new users of the Baofeng / Radioddity series of radios. Note that the VFO/Memory button on this radio is a plain round button plus a white circle, not a named button as described in the manual. The Band button shown in the manual does not exist at all. The A/B Channel button is very clearly labelled.

The tri-power settings make for better communications in rural forest or city locations with the extra lift given at high power. Low power for local use helps to save battery life. The User Manual tells me these powers are 8w/4w/1w which is slightly misleading. The advertising listings tell me it is 7W/5W/1W; the printed information on the box tells me it is 7W/4W/1W.

The multi-colour LED changes colour between standby, transmit and receive. These colours can be changed. Useful, perhaps, in poor light.

 

The radio is similar in size to the UV-5 series of radios, very pocketable and easy to carry. Build quality is good and solid, clear keypad and display. All quick settings and menu settings are easily changed on the well laid out familiar keypad ,  with bigger buttons on this radio, that make operation easier

The menu system will be familiar to any users of other Baofeng range of radios - like the GT-5 and UV-5R. The menu buttons and up/down buttons are used to scroll through the many settings, or use the keypad printed shortcut keys for the most popular settings or to lock the keypad.

 

The Call button accesses the broadcast FM radio, (or long-press for the alarm function), scanning through this band quickly locks to good local signals. Audio is good, and reverts to the monitored band when a signal that opens the squelch is received. Sensitivity to weaker signals was also fine.

I found it rather easy to press the Call button while intending to press the PTT, as these buttons are part of the same moulding, rather than fully separate. With gloves in colder weather, this may happen more often. I found that using the third finger, instead of the index finger for PTT helps to reduce the times this happens.

 

The Moni button opens the squelch, or long-press activates the flash-light.

Audio is clear and sharp from the large speaker grille, and transmit audio reports are also good. The tri-colour screen backlight is interesting, but not especially useful in daylight.

Several tests of output power were made with a fully charged battery into a 50ohm < 1:1.1 VHF, and 1:1.2 UHF SWR meter and dummy load. Results are as follows, with readings taken mid-band:-

VHF High at 5.5W, VHF Med at 4.5W, VHF Low at 1.5W

UHF High at 6W, UHF Med at 4.5W, UHF Low at 1.9W

A fair result, although the high power on VHF was a degree less than specified. The UHF high power is closer to specification.  Due to these readings, I cross checked with another meter. Remembering that overall antenna gain, efficiency and a low SWR make a lot of difference to the final radiated power. In field use, performance was very satisfactory.

No excessive deviation on narrow band was detected. RF noise rejection and adjacent channel rejection are very good. No spurious emissions of concern were noted

The standard antenna is fine for most general local use, but highly recommended is the Diamond SRJ77CA antenna or at least the Nagoya NA-771 at a lower price.

These high gain antennae do make a useful difference in the field – as against measurement test-bench results. They do make the most of the radio’s abilities in fluctuating mobile situations.  Naturally,   the larger base-station antenna or mobile car antennae all return better results as expected.

The 127 active memories are very easy to program with Chirp, (free download, donation if useful) and the settings are straightforward to adjust and re-send to radio if an error is made in initial setup. The usual Prolific v3.2 driver and cable are required. More detail on this interface is on Miklor’s excellent radio website www.miklor.com. Cables are available both on eBay and Amazon. Look for UV-5R compatibility on the data cable.

Chirp… When selecting the radio name to download for programming, set the radio choice in Chirp, August 2018 release, as a Radioddity GA-5S. Many choices are available, in both the work and basic settings of the radio in Chirp. Callsign or other startup display info can be set as well as voice, (on or off), and beep settings. Repeater standard splits and odd splits are easily set up. These are much more difficult if programming the radio by the keypad.

Note that squelch range settings can also be set in Chirp. A very useful facility for very noisy or very quiet locations… All as standard for most of the current Baofeng dual band range.

Reversing channels for listening to repeater inputs is achieved by pressing Scan briefly and again to return to normal. Long-press on the Scan button to start scanning, press again to stop.

It is usually recommended that Menu Settings of 35, 36, 37 and 39 should be set to OFF for repeater operation in the UK and also to prevent a lot of excessive tones being generated on both send and receive.. This applies to this radio also, and is easy to set.

As usual TDR is the dual watch setup, and this is also a feature that is easy to turn on and off as required.

 

Overall, this is a good all round hand held transceiver that is a real pleasure to use. Intended for both Amateur Radio and professional users at a good price, it feels well- built and solid. The radio performs very well in all the tested environments, and operation quickly becomes easy and familiar. This radio is very good value; albeit at a moderately higher price than some Baofeng dual-power models.

Pros:

Compact and pocketable

Easy to use

Many useful features

Good value

Good power for easy communications in ‘real-world’ use.

Very good battery charge life

Baofeng accessories compatibility (excluding battery and charger base)

Easy to program by computer

Clear buttons and menu system

 

Cons:

High Power measured a little low on test bench. (Not a problem in practice, though)

Easy to press Call instead of PTT. (This gets better with familiarity)


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