Review: Dual-band Analogue FM Mobile

2f1ee32b-3800-442a-b294-e765f2e661df

Tony Jones G7ETW takes a look at a new dual-band, analogue, FM mobile.

Introduction

This is a review of the new Anytone AT-779UV, kindly loaned to us by Chris Taylor at Moonraker. Just for the sake of clarity, this is Anytone’s latest dual-band VHF and UHF Analogue FM mobile. 

The AT-779UV is compact (124 x 101 x 36mm), but it is wide enough not to feel cramped (Fig. 1). It has the usual 'screen-surrounded-by-six-buttons' design, with many functions accessed via the microphone.

The overall feel is of a ‘grown-up’, quality product. The radio has a 1.44in colour TFT screen, not a touch-type. Though small, this is pin-sharp and does not look crowded. The colours do not assault the eyeballs. 

There is also a manual. This is a 10-page instruction sheet, better translated than most I have seen. I could pick holes in it, but I won’t. It’s easy to read, and it does the job. This radio has 500 memories.

Chris Taylor persuaded Anytone to make this modification, he told me. Moonraker ships these pre-loaded with 32 VHF simplex frequencies, 15 UHF ones, 227 amateur radio repeaters in alphabetic sequence, 16 PMR 466 and 92 Marine VHF channels. Non-amateur memories are listen-only. 

These ‘inbuilt’ memories make the AT-779UV easy to get going. I switched on, pressed ‘V/M’ and stepped through the memories, quickly finding GB3AL (which is local to me) just as someone was calling through it. I replied and was able to have a QSO within seconds of powering up. I could have had the radio do the scan for me, so I tried that later, and was astonished to find that I could hear and work GB3XP in Sutton, South London. 

There were a few errors in the channel-load as delivered; most notably the squelch type for repeaters was set to ‘CARRIER’. I discovered this when traffic from the ex-Olympics repeater GB3OY was heard with GB3OM (Omagh, Northern Ireland) on the screen. Both are on RU76, of course, but they have different CTCSS and these were set correctly (Tx and Rx). I notified Chris of these errors so I expect they will be fixed by the time you read this.

Twin-Receive Functionality

This radio comes, as standard, in dual-receive mode, and the screen shows ‘A’ and ‘B’. These are Anytone ‘Bands’, each of which can be driven from memories or its own dual-band ‘VFO’. This is very flexible but initially seemed complicated. I’ll explain, but I will have to tread carefully so as not to contradict Anytone’s instructions. Terms in italics are as Anytone uses them.

Bands, VFOs, and Memories

Fig. 1 shows S22 (in old money) Band A at the top. This is shown as a VFO frequency (top left). ‘NC’ means ‘no code’, ’N’ means 'narrow deviation' and ‘L’ is 'low power'. The orange panel (bottom right) says MAIN A, indicating that this the main or active band. The radio will transmit here and this is what’s altered by using Up and Down or keying in a frequency (VHF or UHF) from the microphone.

At the bottom, we have the Sub-band (Band B) although 'B' is not displayed. It is the same (2m) band, but not the same band. Each band has its own 10-blip S-meter. The blips do not correspond to S-values, but they do indicate relative signal strength. Now see Fig. 2a. To make this change, I pressed MAIN once. This has the same two frequencies, with the bands swapped. S18 is still Band B; see the MAIN panel – but this is now active, on High power (as was shown in Fig. 1).

This is straightforward enough. By choosing VFO frequencies from 2m and 70cm, and using MAIN, I can select any combination of twin VHF, VHF and UHF, and twin UHF. I can monitor both, hear one at a time and transmit on whichever I want. Now take a look at Fig. 2b. The top frequency is a local 2m repeater, identified as ‘021S’ where ‘S’ means ‘Stored’.

This is a Channel, and to make this change I pressed 'V/M' and entered '021' on the microphone. If I were to press 'Up' now, I would go to memory 023 (because Channel 22 is empty). The sign ‘-‘ indicates a negative offset, ‘CT’ means CTCSS and ‘N’ and ‘L’ are as before.

The sub-band display can be disabled in 'Settings', which simplifies things. Only the display, mind – the bottom frequency is still there and can be selected if desired.

A Second Opinion

I lent the radio to my friend Peter G3YXZ to get his impressions of it. He rang me up. “How do you change the power?”, he asked. “The instructions say it’s FUNC plus O-POW, but that doesn’t work”

The instructions say it’s A-fun (not too long, or it locks the radio) then O-pow to do this. Many radios would present an option to choose ‘H’, ‘M’ or ‘L’ (or similar), but that is not the case here. Anytone implemented a cyclical control – successive A-fun plus O-pow iterations take you from High to Medium, Medium to Low, or Low to High.

Content continues after advertisements

Odd, yes. But it does work, and I have had no trouble. With the Covid-19 pandemic not allowing visits, Pete said he had put the radio aside, then play some more. A few hours later, the phone rang again. “It’s A-fun on the microphone”, Peter said. “I was doing FUNC on the front panel”.  An understandable confusion, since there are two lots of function settings.

'FUNC' on the front panel takes you into the ‘function’ options for fundamental, likely-to-be-permanent band settings, such as VFO steps. Whereas 'A-Fun' on the microphone opens up ‘shortcuts’ − operational settings that might change by the minute such as reducing the squelch for a weak signal. 

Peter performed a technical evaluation, using his own equipment, and that of the Radio Society of Harrow. The results are shown in Table 1. Power readings were taken on a Bird 43. Deviation, receiver sensitivity and frequency accuracy were measured on a Marconi 2955 Radio test set. I looked for spurii with my Takeda Riden TR4132 spectrum analyser (Please note that none of this equipment has been kept in calibration). 

On the Net

Peter used the AT-779UV as net controller on one of RSOH’s tri-weekly 2m nets. From my home five miles distant, he was the usual 59+20dB (on 10W) and sounded very nice, unmistakably himself. Other stations received him, as well as they usually would, on his 50W Big-Three base station and complimented him on his audio.

Programming

The AT-779UV comes with a programming lead. Chirp works, but Anytone has a dedicated program called AT779UV, which is available on their Downloads website. This arrives as a .rar file so I used 7-Zip (which is free) to unpack it; expect to see AT779UV_Setup_2.00.exe to install this.

AT779UV has a ‘batch edit’ facility. This works well, but this has no ‘undo’ option. My advice is to take a copy first! Fig. 3 shows part of the Moonraker-supplied channel matrix as seen in AT779UV. My example repeater GB3AL (see above) started out as Channel 53.

Pros and Cons

There is much to like about this radio:

•    combined on-off and volume; a potentiometer
•    no fan
•    nice audio quality on transmit and receive
•    no need to program it if you can remember channel numbers
•    no gimmicks such as broadcast receive or 220MHz coverage
•    5W setting
•    clean transmit spectrum.
 

But it is Not Perfect:

•    the power lead is thin, short, does not unplug from the radio, and the only fuse accessible (5A, 30mm) is in the cigar-lighter plug tip
•    the radio gets hot even on medium power 
•    the speaker is bottom-firing
•    lack of variable microphone gain.

Conclusion

I bought the review set, and it is now my day-to-day FM radio. The price does this radio no favours by giving the impression that it is another, cheap, Chinese product that works but fails to delight. That simply is not the case.

The Anytone AT-779UV is, by any standards, a good amateur radio. It offers 20W, three power levels, dual-band, over 200 2m and 70cm repeaters memories preloaded, and it looks and sounds nice! What’s not to like?