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TidRadio TD-H8 - A true 10 watt handheld


WSAK691

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I'm a budget minded radio hobbyist, which means that I'm an avid consumer of the "cheap Chinese junk". I've possessed all variety of Baofeng, Quansheng, QYT, Talkpod, Radioddity, Retivis, etc. My experiences have been mostly positive. Some QC issues occur at a higher rate than higher priced "known quality brands", but they all DO essentially work. When factoring in the price/value ratio, there's simply no debating whether or not they're worthwhile purchases. Furthermore, when you move away from the $30 category into the $50-80 tier of such radios, It's been my experience that they're mostly excellent, especially when accounting for the value relative to the $200+ options. (Secret time,.. Those radios are made in China too). And say what you want about the Chinese makers of radio equipment, they seem to be very active in being a driving force in innovation and care about what people in the space ask for, and then they do their best to bring it to market. Quickly. If you choose to not be a consumer of such products, that's ok, but you should at least appreciate that they're there applying pressure in the market. Anyone who follows the radio YouTube space is familiar with how often these guys are being sent radios for testing, get pretty honest feedback about the shortcomings, and then revisions are made to solve the problems. That's a pretty remarkable thing for a market sector in the US that if left to the mainline brands, we'd be pretty niche and neglected.

A prime case example is the TidRadio brand and the TD-H8 model. A relatively new entrant in the market. The early versions of the H8 had problems, honest feedback was given, and revisions were made.

I've waited until I've reached a bit over 30 days of ownership to write this review.

Initial impression: Very good build quality. feels "weighty" and stout in the hand. Powers on to a standard logo screen and defaults to a dual VFO display screen. One pet-peeve I have with some of these Chinese made radios is the font choice of the characters. Please stop using seriffed fonts. It's an odd look for a display that should only emphasize utility and readability. Another thing that I found to be a bit of a detraction was the mushy feel of the PTT button. This is less of an issue for my use case because I have my example of the radio mounted down statically and operate it with an external speaker mic. But if I used this radio daily in HT only form, I'd probably really have an issue with this. On day one, when trying to use the bluetooth programming function, I found it to be broken because it wasn't properly saving my repeater shift information. I later found that it was my mistake because I wasn't doing so with the "repeater designated channel" but the simplex one. I now know that the bluetooth programing of this radio does work perfectly fine, but I'll stick to the Chirp method just because of the ergonomics and familiarity that I have with the format. 

After prolonged use: The handful of cons listed above seem to be the extent of anything wrong with this radio. It probably should be mentioned HOW I deploy this radio. I've made it my primary home "base" radio. It's mounted statically on my desk, with a hand speaker/mic, and via  LMR-400 coax to a 9db gain GMRS yagi outdoors about 17ft high and rotatable. I have my reasons for wanting to operate this way. A low power draw radio that operates from a self contained battery. I don't require a high amp power supply that requires mains power to operate. I could even get it charged with solar if need be.  Maybe you're getting the idea of why that might matter to me and why I'm of the mind of wanting that. So with that being said, I've been in search of an HT style radio, but, one that has a bit more balls than the standard 3-4 watt options. Anyone whose done the same thing might be familiar with how frustrating that search is, with all of the gaudy and fake Aliexpress (false) advertisements of 8-10 watt HTs. The TidRadio TD-H8 is genuinely a 10 watt radio (picture below). Which means that it straddles the line perfectly between a more powerful mobile and a less powerful handheld. With a 9db gain antenna and 1.4db loss across a 50ft run, it provides for an ERP of 57.8 watts. Which has been good enough to simplex my mobiles solidly in a 12 mile radius, and reach repeaters full quieting at least 50 miles away. The way that I have things configured, for my needs, I give this radio two very big thumbs up and recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone trying to accomplish a similar thing.

 

::Edit:: I neglected to mention one important thing. There are two variants for sale of the H8. The GMRS and Ham versions. The GMRS version of this radio will be software locked to transmit at 5 watts. Fortunately it doesn't matter which model that you buy, because there is an unlock method that simply involves a button press combination at startup to toggle the radio into operating unlocked. You'll need to do this with either model to get it to both operate on GMRS frequencies, and also at the higher power. Ham mode will be the higher power but wont allow operation on GMRS, GMRS version grants the GMRS frequencies but at low power. Unlocked mode is the third mode that allows both and both variants of the radio can be toggled into it..

IMG_8202.PNG

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One last thing to add. There's one thing that was encountered and I dont know if this was only in my radio or if this happens on all of them. The lower tuner/VFO is "hotter" on VHF. Uppper and lower will do about the same on UHF, but I do MURS too on this radio also. It'll do about 10 on VHF on the upper as well, but on the lower it does 12. Just a little quirk I discovered..

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34 minutes ago, WRYZ926 said:

UHF will generally be at a lower power compared to VHF. This is totally normal. We can look at most 50 watt mobile radios as an example. They will put out 50 watts on VHF but only put out between 35-45 watts on UHF.

Yes I'm aware. That's not what I was point out though. The lower of the dual tuners is hotter than the top one. Specifically on VHF though.

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56 minutes ago, WSAG543 said:

Thanks for posting. I was just thinking about programming some MURS channels on my H8 GMRS running in unlocked mode. I mostly want to listen but it would be nice to know I could transmit if needed.

 

It gets 12 watts on MURS. I actually have a little circle of MURS guys out in my area so it's actually something that I'm on a fair bit. Even went as far as to get an actual 6db MURS purpose made antenna mounted outdoors. So I can definitely vouch for the H8 being suitable for MURS.

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I guess it makes sense that it can transmit that high on MURS. The limit is 2 watts with NFM on CH 1-3 and wide on Blue and Green dot so I will set that in Chirp when I configure everything. Apparently some of the old business users could transmit above 2 watts on the dot channels but this isn't allowed without a grandfathered license. Do the other MURS users receive you properly at such high power?

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  • 2 weeks later...

After your review I seriously considered grabbing one of the GMRS TD-H8 models, or even the 10 watt model and use it in unlock mode… but then read a bunch of reviews about firmware issues, overheating, and programming issues.  Just curious if you’ve noticed any issues with yours since the review.  Where did you purchase yours from?  Is is the V2 model, and have you tried the firmware update?  Any issues since to report?  Thanks!

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11 hours ago, MikeyZo said:

After your review I seriously considered grabbing one of the GMRS TD-H8 models, or even the 10 watt model and use it in unlock mode… but then read a bunch of reviews about firmware issues, overheating, and programming issues.  Just curious if you’ve noticed any issues with yours since the review.  Where did you purchase yours from?  Is is the V2 model, and have you tried the firmware update?  Any issues since to report?  Thanks!

Ditto on firmware issues. The firmware that shipped with the radio was out of date and had issues with programing the PF1 and PF2 keys along with a number of other problems. I tried to do the update and ended up bricking the radio. Same thing happened with one of the H3's I had so I sent all 4 of them back. Tidradio HTs have been having a lot of issues and until they get fixed it's best to look else where.

 

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2 hours ago, WRPG818 said:

The Firmware can be a bit tricking. I like it but I won't be updating it again with any newer firmware. You can brick it if not done right. 

The issue was that in factory installed firmware didn't allow proper side button programing. The upgrade was suppose to fix that but it wouldn't finish properly so it ended up bricking the radio.

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