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Home Retevis RA89 10 Watt Waterproof VHF/UHF Handheld Review

Moleculo

Ham Radio Nerd
Apr 14, 2002
9,191
1,660
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For the last couple of months, I have been extensively using a pre-release model of the Retevis RA89 10 watt VHF/UHF handheld radio. Now that the radio is fully released to market, I figured it was time to write a review.

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The RA89 is marketed as an IP68 rated rugged radio. The IP68 rating means that it will survive being submerged in fresh water up to 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutes and is also dustproof. After the first few weeks of basic, everyday use, I decided to put the IP68 rating to an extreme torture test and put it in the Pacific Ocean surf, allowing it to tumble around in the sand and saltwater to see what happened. This type of test is well beyond what is expected by an IP68 rating and the radio survived just fine, even if it did take me a few days to get rid of all the salt and sand in every crevice. The video of this test is at the end of this post. This is a tough little radio; I have dropped it more than a few times on accident and it has survived the concrete, so far.

This radio follows the trend of other recent radios by incorporating a USB-C charging port, which I really like. Unlike another brand I recently reviewed, the RA89 will charge when connected to a PD port, even if it doesn't charge at max speed. In my opinion, this is well thought out because it allows you to use any typical USB-C charger or battery. The included 2500 mAh battery lasts a long time and is absolutely needed if you plan to transmit at full power for long periods of time.

Interesting Features

The Retevis RA89 covers all of the basic feature you find in similar radios, including frequency scanning, CTCSS and DCS scanning, PC programming, and FM radio functions. The radio has "dual watch", meaning it can monitor both A and B VFOs but it is not true dual receive; whichever VFO detects a signal first is the one that wins. It can also monitor for traffic while listening to the FM radio, which is nice. A recent firmware update added Mic Gain functionality which is very helpful. Interestingly, there is a RX DSP Noise Reduction feature which greatly reduces background noise on the incoming signal much like the type of functionality typically seen in HF rigs or DSP speakers. The NR feature is called "RX ENC" in the menu. Personally, I find it a bit too aggressive, but it is helpful under certain circumstances, especially longer range simplex operations. If you are going to use the noise reduction feature, you should probably turn off the Receive Saver (RX. SAV) because you tend to miss the first word or two of an incoming transmission. Unlike a lot of other radios in this price point, the antenna connects via a female SMA, similar to what is found in the Kenwood, Yaesu, or Icom radios. I prefer this because I can use other antennas that I already own, if desired. Lastly, the audio is LOUD, which is always a plus.

Transmit Power and Spectrum Analyzer Tests

As always, I tested the radio to see if it provides the advertised power output. The test setup is a fully charged battery fed into a Bird 43P with appropriate VHF and UHF 50 watt elements transmitting into a dummy load.

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Both the VHF and UHF tests produced the same power output results: 9 watts on high, 5 watts on medium, and 2 watts on low power settings. Keep in mind that the Bird 43 has a full scale accuracy rating of +- 5%, so these test results indicate the radio delivers power output pretty close to as advertised.

Spec Analyzer tests are done using a TinySA Ultra by feeding the radio directly into the spec analyzer through an appropriate amount of attenuation to ensure the TinySA is not damaged. This is not exactly how the labs perform the tests for the FCC (they test using the supplied antenna in a fully RF quiet room), but it's still a decent way for us to test spectral purity.

Here's the 2m test; the transmit frequency is on the far left to easily show harmonics:

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The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th harmonics are all significant, well above what would be considered acceptable by the FCC.

Here is the 440Mhz spec analyzer test:

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These results look a little better but are still outside the FCC parameters. Retevis tells me that they are trying to obtain FCC certification for amateur radio service, so they're probably going to be forced to clean this up a bit if they're serious.

Overall, I'm happy with the performance of this radio. I've received no transmit audio complaints and other locals even think the goofy roger beep which can be turned on is "cute" :) It is certainly rugged and at a price point that is hard to beat. The programming cable and software provided worked flawlessly on my Windows 11 machine and CHIRP programming should be supported soon. The starting price of this 10 watt radio is currently $63 on Amazon; affiliate links are provided below if you're interested in purchasing.



Single Radio:
Amazon product ASIN B0CCNQT27K
Single Radio with Mic:
Amazon product ASIN B0CCNVRDBX
2 Pack:
Amazon product ASIN B0CCNX8JPT
4 Pack:
Amazon product ASIN B0CCNJ24JN
 

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