This is my mini review of the BFDX – TD 505 DMR UHF radio. The unit is manufactured by Fuijan Beifeng Technology CO Ltd in China, in the box is a drop in charger, power supply (with UK Plug), battery, belt clip, rubber duck antenna and Instruction manual. As with all DMR radios the radio needs to be programmed with a cable and I also purchased this, as radios and their software can be rather picky, so for £9 it can save a fair amount of time and headache.
The first thing I did was put bits together from the box, battery, antenna (note this is an SMA-Female) and switched on the radio, it played a small musical tune then displayed the BFDX logo and then the main screen. I have used quite a few DMR radios over the past 12 months and this screen although the font lettering is smaller the Black text on a white Background is very clear to read compared to some of the other radios that have Blue background with Black Bold like my older radio. The radio is backlit and in low light a press on any key or activity means that the radio will light up to see the keys.
I loaded the BFDX software onto a windows 7 PC and attached the programming cable the drivers were self-loaded and updated, it is best practice is to download the current radio configuration and save this in a safe place which I did. Then I opened the current code plug from the factory and then saved it under Test 1 code plug and got to work creating a new code plug for my area repeaters.
When writing the Code Plug, the software used seemed to be fairly straightforward with the layout being similar to that of the TYT/Retrevis brand of radios. Sadly the file is different so you will need to create a code plug and upload it to the radio. With three of the local DMR repeaters close to me added, I uploaded the code plug to radio and all worked well. So they say the proof of any pudding is in the eating and so I had a number of conversations on DMR on different repeaters and talk groups and the reports were that the audio was clear and reception seemed slightly improved compared to my TYT-MD380 I was measuring it against.
The TYT 380/Retevis RT-3/ Chierda is the entry point that most of the budget DMR radios are measured against, and as an owner of Retrevis I used this as my benchmark for performance. The Specs are on paper are very similar:
TYT etc BFDX
Freq 400-480MHz 400-470 MHz
Power* 5 Watts 4.5 Watts
Weight 286 grams 266 grams
Size 60x35x130mm 60x 30x120mm
So how does it work, in a word very well! Running both radios side by side I found that both performed equally well, in areas of marginal reception the BFDX seemed to be able to keep going where the Retevis stopped getting reception. Although the BFDX is 0.5 watt lower output (based on manufactures stated outputs) I did not notice this having any impact in areas of marginal coverage with error rates being equal when reception was on the limit.
The TD-505 is physically smaller and less bulky that the Retevis so does fit into pockets where the Retevis is little too bulky. The radio does have a better feel in the hand, but is not so small that it feels like it will be dropped easily. The battery life has been good with a few QSO’s for around 25 minutes and having it listening to a local DMR repeater the battery display was reduced by around 50% over 11 hours. The menu of the radio is fairly simple tree menu, this is accessed by Window shaped left icon and then using the square button to move between the different features as required.
Observations In Use:
The missed caller feature when responding to QSO’s via a repeater as these can seem to mount up and I am not aware how to turn this feature off, but I will investigate this over time. The microphone connector in the radio is a Motorola type connector as opposed to the Kenwood/Baofeng microphone that are seen on some of the other radios at this price point. The SMA Connector is Female so you may require an adaptor if you have the "other type of SMA"
Overall I am happy with the TD-505, it does feel a little less like a PMR radio and more of professional radio but this is a non-tangible feature as the radios main purpose is a DMR Radio and it meets this object well.
If you have any questions do let me know, and I will try and answer them.