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Home TIDRADIO TD-H8: FCC Approved 10 Watt Handheld Radio

Moleculo

Ham Radio Nerd
Apr 14, 2002
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Sometime in 2022, TIDRADIO contacted me about testing a beta version of a new 10 Watt VHF/UHF handheld they called the TD-H8. Of course, I can't turn down an offer like that, so I jumped on the opportunity and provided them with a variety of things to consider for the production model. Fast forward to June 2023, and I received an email from the manufacturer that the radio had been approved by the FCC for both GMRS and Amateur services and was now available if I would like to try out the new release. I've now owned the radio for about a week, and here my initial review.

The first thing the manufacturer told me is that the new model now has a USB-C charging port instead of the traditional drop-in charger. The USB-C port is actually on the battery and can be charged without being attached to the radio. The radio also comes with two batteries!

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Because the USB-C port is part of the battery, it cannot be used for data transfer / programming the radio. But the upside is that you can keep the extra charging while using the radio. As expected, the LED indicator on the battery changes from red to green color once fully charged.

This radio is remarkably easy to use. I don't think I really even looked in the manual for any of the menu functions, although I messed with one or two to figure out what they did. The color screen is large and easy to read; the buttons and menu are well laid out. One very nice feature is that this radio comes with Bluetooth, although it currently is only for use with the ODMaster programming software. The BL button is used to turn bluetooth on/off.

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Programming
ODMaster is the proprietary app for programming with bluetooth via your phone. The web version can be used to create & save radio profiles from your PC, but you must use the phone app to load them. A convenient feature of ODMaster is that it can use your location to list repeaters in your current area which can quickly be assigned to radio channels. You can also save the programming files and upload them so others can use or you can keep them private to your account. For a more feature rich programming experience such as import/export from CSV files, Chirp can be used with a typical Baofeng cable. Note that as of this writing, Chirp is a little buggy with the radio - the latest version changed the language to Chinese and I had to use ODMaster to correct it. One easter egg in the programming software is the Mic Gain function, which can be adjusted from 1-32. My locals said it sounded good at setting 20. There is currently no menu function on the radio for this feature.

Accessories
The radio ships with a hand speaker/mic shaped like a miniature Motorola mic, two batteries, a standard antenna and longer high gain antenna, belt clip, lanyard and USB charger. The USB-C charging port works with any standard, 5V USB charger. The manual has a warning about trying to use a charger with higher voltage. I tried it on a PD USB-C port and it did nothing, but didn't damage the battery.

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Power Output
Now comes the question that everyone is probably asking: "Does this handheld radio really put out 10 watts?" To find out, I used a Bird 43 Meter into a dummy load with a Bird 50C element for 100-250Mhz and a Coaxial Dynamics 82048 50 watt element rated for 400-1000 Mhz. Here are my test results:

For each Ham band, I tested at the band edges and the center for the frequencies the radio is rated for. There is a small amount variance across the band, but this is normal for most radios. In the middle of 2 meters, the Low setting yielded 2 watts; Medium resulted in 4 watts, and High produced 11 watts. In the middle of the 440 band, Low produced 3 watts, Medium was 6 watts, and High produced 10 watts. The radio certainly puts out the power advertised! Note, when the radio is GMRS mode, power is restricted to 2 watts and 4 watts for Low and High respectively.

GMRS vs. Ham vs. Unlocked Modes
The TD-H8 is FCC licensed for GMRS and Amateur use. To change the band and power restrictions for the appropriate service, you can either use the programming software on the company's website or use some special button combinations. The radio can also be completely unlocked, as well. To toggle the radio for each service from they keypad, first turn the radio off. For GMRS hold PTT + 0 while turning the radio on. For HAM, hold PTT + * while powering on. For completely unlocked, hold PTT + # while powering on. In each case, press the MENU button when prompted for the mode you want. Be advised that changing the service will wipe out all of your settings and programmed memories.

Splash Tests
I created a codeplug with the VHF Marine frequencies, as well as a few local repeaters that I knew I could hit while ocean fishing Los Angeles / Long Beach inshore. My friend has a 20' center console, so I took it with me to see if would hold up knowing it was going to get sprayed with salt water. First, the volume on this radio is LOUD and I had no problem hearing it over the motor while running 20-30 knots (although to be fair, new outboards are pretty quiet). I had the radio on my belt with the hand mic attached by my collar. The radio and mic got soaked because their was considerable wind chop, which caused a lot of spray while we were running between spots. But the radio never cared. I rinsed it with fresh water when I got home to clear any salt residue.

Last Thoughts
The IP65 rated radio comes with a few other nice to have features, including NOAA Weather channels, FM Broadcast capabilities, and built-in flashlight. The programmable soft buttons can be set for different functions for long press or short press. For $89.99, you're getting a heck of a powerful FCC approved handheld radio. This is now my favorite inexpensive VHF/UHF handheld.


Amazon product ASIN B0C27VBC5J

P.S. If you're interested in seeing how this radio measures up on the Spec Analyzer, I've posted it here.

*edited with price correction
*edited to add Splash Test section
*edit to correct Amateur certification as of 7/10/23. Added link to Spec Analyzer results
 
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Great review! Do you know if the GMRS model would operate at 10W on high power when unlocked? Or will it still only produce 5w compared to the radio you tested?
 
So far everyone I know who purchased one sent them back? Not one of them liked the radio & each one said it's just a Baofeng in hiding & JUNK. I think I'm going to PASS & save myself the money & time of returning it.
 
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Great review! Do you know if the GMRS model would operate at 10W on high power when unlocked? Or will it still only produce 5w compared to the radio you tested?

When you put it in GMRS ONLY mode, it channelizes the radio and limits the power output to the max allowed. However, if you use the completely unlocked mode, you can do whatever you want.
 
So far everyone I know who purchased one sent them back? Not one of them liked the radio & each one said it's just a Baofeng in hiding & JUNK. I think I'm going to PASS & save myself the money & time of returning it.

Did they order the first version that was never FCC approved or the new version? Did they say specifically what they didn't like? I find that this radio is by far easier to use than any Baofeng I've tried. The audio reports I get are also "that's pretty good audio for an inexpensive radio"...and "better than a Baofeng".
 
I just added a new section to the original post about trying it out on the saltwater while fishing.
 
Did they order the first version that was never FCC approved or the new version? Did they say specifically what they didn't like? I find that this radio is by far easier to use than any Baofeng I've tried. The audio reports I get are also "that's pretty good audio for an inexpensive radio"...and "better than a Baofeng".

I don't know what version they had but they said they did not like them so they returned them. They both said they were Over prices & a bunch of Hype but they did not say in what ways? I respect their opinions so I decided I would not buy one myself. I don't need another HT anyway since I only use my ICOM ID-51a Plus 2 since 99% of the time when I do pick up an HT I'm on D-STAR.
 
$89.00 is not a bad price for a dual band/dual use approved radio, with two batteries and accessories. Considering you can spend over twice that on a less capable rig.
Might have to get one of these just to play with....

73
Jeff
 
Thanks for the review.
I do not have this HT, but I do own the first generation that some, it is said, "sent back". I did not send mine back. It works well, easy to program, l get good reports on the audio, it has respectable volume, seems of good weight in my hand, and has given me no reason whatsoever to return it.
I only write this response in order to add an offsetting balanced reply to the one above about the 1st gen Tidradio.
I own 7 HT radios, and should I be in the market for another l would quickly purchase this 2nd gen Tidradio based on Moleculo's excellent initial review and my personal experience with the 1st gen model. The price is good, too.
Homer
K5HBB
 

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