Saturday, January 13, 2018

BaoFeng BF-T3

I saw this post about the BF-T3 on the BaoFeng UV-5R Yahoo Group. I recently looked the BF-T3 up on Amazon and it looks like it is being sold under a bunch of different names. That's not uncommon for these Chinese radios to be rebranded.
"BaoFeng has a new HT. 
Over the past several months I had been exchanging occasional emails with a “Robert Frost” who had been asking me questions about the features needed or desired in a new Amateur Radio. Recently he informed me that BaoFeng has a new radio about to be released and he asked me to review it. I agreed, and they sent me a pair of their newest radio. This is NOT an amateur radio, and it does not even resemble anything we had talked about in the previous emails. This is a traditional FRS radio – complete with blister pack packaging. (See pictures 1-3) 

The radio is the BF-T3 “Walkie Talkie Set” sold in two-pack. The package contains two HTs and a User’s Manual printed on both sides of a single large sheet of paper. (Pictures 8-11)
Interestingly enough, there is a barcode sticker on the package that I received but not a UPC code (perhaps an Amazon item number code, these radios are now available on Amazon at $17-18 a pair). The barcode sticker shows the product as “Kids Walkie Talkies BaoFen.” (Picture 2)
The package includes the FCC logo that is supposed to mean Part 15 compliance, but nothing on or with these radios indicates that they are actually approved for FRS use (although they do appear to meet all the requirements for the new 22 channel FRS radios that go into effect with the revision of Part 95.)  
...
The radios themselves are black with silver trim and look pretty much the same as most other FRS radios other than that these have no knobs and 9 buttons to control the radio. The size is appropriate for average tween to adult hands but might be a bit large for smaller children. The PTT button is labeled TALK and is located at the center front of the radio not on the side. The speaker grill appears larger than it actually is. (Picture 3)

The User Manual (pictures 8-11) contains a few minor errors but is far better than the manuals provided with the vast majority of Chinese radios. The manual is what I would call an Almost-Final-Draft and seems to have been written as the radio was being designed rather than after the radio itself was fully completed. For example, at one point the User Manual says “There are two kinds of sub-channels:” and then goes on to describe CTCSS, but it never does mention the other kind (presumably DCS, which this radio doesn’t have). 
Each radio uses three AAA size batteries. The area where the batteries go is sized to hold four AAA batteries but there are only contacts for three. (Pictures 6-7)

In true BaoFeng style, these FRS radios also include the LED light on the top (on/off only, no flashing setting). (Picture 4). The Push-to-talk (PPT) button is the large button on the front center of the radio, and is labeled TALK. Other buttons are labeled LAMP (turns the flashlight on and off); a Z shaped arrow (activates scanning); a musical note (sends the call tone); Up and Down pointing triangles (increase and decrease the volume, also change the settings in each of the menus); MON (the monitor button); MENU with a picture of a padlock (press the button one to four times to bring up different menus, press and hold to lock the keypad); and the power button with the common power on/off icon. (Pictures 3 & 11)
Hand a pair of these radios to a couple of six year olds and they will quickly figure out how to use them, although they probably won't be able to change the channel, the CTCSS tones, or the call tones. 
Speaking of the call tones, the package (picture 2) says five of the call tones are animal sounds -- fortunately this is not true. All the call tones are typical computer style ring tones and musical riffs.
Other than the unusual position of the TALK button, these radios work pretty much just as you would expect of any 500mW FRS radio. Audio is reasonably clear. Range is nowhere close to the claimed "3KM Call Range Distance" but in my suburban location they worked reliably for about 1/2 mile (about 0.8 KM) which would be typical for this sort of radio. I'm sure the call tones would be audible at longer distances than ordinary voice. These radios might manage 3KM from one mountain top to another or between a pair of boats on a large lake, but not on the ground in a normal urban or suburban area. The range claim on the package is no worse than those on any other FRS radio that I have seen. All FRS radios claim much more range than the radios actually accomplish. 
One feature that really does not work is the belt clip on the back of the radio (pictures 5 & 6). These are molded rigid plastic. You might be able to thread a belt through the clip, but unless the belt is VERY thin, you won't be able to slip the radio on and off the belt using it as a belt clip should function. Also, the catch that is supposed to hold the clip on the radio isn't very secure. The clip comes off the radio easier than it would go on or off a belt. 
One thing not visible in the photos is the earphone/mic jack on the top of the radio (picture 4) between the LED light and the fixed antenna. The User Manual says that this jack is for an earphone/microphone and that you need to use the one provided or it could damage the radio. There was no earphone included in the package (and no place for any earphone). Based on the warning I didn't try experimenting by plugging anything into the jack, but I would hope that it takes the same earphone/mic as most cell phones.

Overall, the BF-T3 radios are perhaps a little better than the typical 500mW FRS radio of a few years ago. They certainly work well enough for my grand-daughter and her husband to use back and forth around the stable and field while taking care of the horses. I don't know what price BaoFeng has in mind for these radios. Anywhere under $20 for the pair, I'd consider them a reasonable. If the price were above that, most people would be better served stepping up to a better radio."

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete