Anytone Tech OBLTR-8R

11 April 2015

Initial impressions and info

Today I received the Anytone Tech OBLTR-8R and figured I would give a few initial early impressions. As most of my previous HT use has been Baofengs, and borrowing a Yaesu or Kenwood on occasion, I definitely have to say this OBLTR-8R is a great radio. Like any radio, there is a slightly learning curve until you get the hang of how this specific model and manufacturer does things. One note that some people may notice is the word "Tech" on this line of radios. The company "Anytone Tech" (which is the same group that owns/runs "Baofeng Tech") worked very closely with Anytone, based on what it learned from their customers, and what the radio manufacturers were willing to do with their models. I do not know for sure, but I would venture a guess that Anytone was a little more cooperative than Baofeng when it came to manufacturing this new line of radios.
One of the first things I noticed after assembling it out of the box was its weight. Most of the single/dual band Yaesus and the dual band Baofengs I have used have always been light weight, but this OBLTR-8R matches very closely to my Baofeng BF-F8HP with its larger 3800mah battery. Unfortunately I do not have a scale to give any exact numbers, but typically heavier weight tends to mean thicker and better quality components.
Opening the box, you should find the usual complement of included items: owner manual, radio (with belt clip already installed), battery, charger, antenna, earpiece/mic and wrist strap. Installing the battery is slightly different compared to Baofengs that others may be used to, with the OBLTR-8R, you slide the upper end first, and then push the bottom in since the locking mechanism is at the very bottom of the radio. From box opening to first use is a few minutes, and that is if you're taking your time.
Where this radio breaks from the norm is the inclusion of GMRS and MURS frequencies (GMRS use still requires a license). Being the step down from the flagship TERMN-8R, this radio does not have any AM, shortwave or aircraft band frequency reception, nor the full-duplex dual receivers. The OBLTR-8R does have semi-duplex (also known as dual watch), which is set to sample the 2 displayed frequencies/channels several times per second and starts receiving when a signal is received, regardless of which is currently "selected". In smaller towns, away from airports, or you just do not have any use for the AM sections, then this radio is perfect. I personally have a shortwave radio already that I rarely use, and the small local airport sees mostly military planes so I personally have no need for the extra modes.
With the inclusion of MURS, it opens the door to being able to communicate with other unlicensed people, although at 2W, distance will be limited, as expected. Checking Amazon, there are a few MURS radios, both HTs and base stations, which can be had by themselves for $65-100 each. So for the cost, the OBLTR-8R at $99 plus free shipping (at makes this radio a much better value for the price.
The GMRS capability opens the door for the GMRS and commercial licensees to have a very capable radio, which also includes the commercial, GMRS and ham radio analog tone methods. It supports CTCSS, DCS, DTMF, 2 TONE, and 5 TONE calling methods. It allows you to set up your calling methods to call by individual or by group. You can even send custom text messages (saved through software) using the 5TONE calling methods. Tone calling (private line) is required by most commercial applications and the OBLTR-8R supports the latest standards, even allowing custom CTCSS Tones.

Looking past the extra options, for ham radio use, those familiar with the Baofeng and other Anytone radios, this model combines the best of both. Programming these Anytone Tech models from the radio itself is easier than the Baofengs, and from what I hear similar to other Anytone radio (have not done so myself so I cannot validate this claim, yet). The 1W/5W power output means distance will still be limited like most other HTs (most Baofengs are max 4 or 5W), but the included antenna is definitely better than the stock antenna that is included with most Baofeng models. From my short term testing today, the transmit range and receive ability of the stock antenna matches that of the Nagoya NA-701 antenna I am using on my Baofeng BF-F8HP. One big bonus over the Baofeng line is the speaker sound and clarity. With a 1W speaker, the sound is much cleaner and more powerful, especially when compared to most Baofengs that have the 700mW speaker (to be fair, certain commercial Baofeng models like the UV-82 series does have a 1W speaker and 1W/5W transmit as well).
When it comes to programming this new line, Anytone Tech does have software available (provided you have a proper USB programming cable), which allows you to program in your own frequencies, names and options for these radios. Their software does have a lot of options and capabilities, but the down side is the channel related items need to be dealt with one by one. The "batch" option is very picky, so one wrong click and your entire list is gone.
Also quite recently the crew from also released a "daily build" of CHIRP that includes limited support for the OBLTR-8R and TERMN-8R (support for the other 2 models is expected in the future). As I was most familiar with Chirp already, I installed the latest release and programmed 28 of the most used local frequencies and repeaters. Since different firmware versions and models cannot have a direct "conversion", I made use of the most common method I had used before: open the list, select the 28 I need, copy, then read from the OBLTR-8R and paste the frequencies, then write to radio. Apparently this is not quite as straight forward as I had believed since the "limited support" means certain functions do not always work as expected. Issue #1 I noticed was that all of my channels had their squelch level set to 00. After speaking with Jim Unroe from the Chirp development team, he had this to say: "If I import a channel and the source channel number and the destination channel number are the same, squelch is set to 3. But if I import a channel and bring it in to a different channel number, it appears that squelch is set to 0. So this is definitely worth looking into to see if there isn't a better way to deal with this. It won't be long and you will be able to set the squelch in CHIRP anyway so that will make it a lot easier."
Then of course are the nice little extra options available with this model that take it a step above most other radios. The Baofeng "orange" button, typically named the "call" has been moved to the top next to the channel selector knob. Since the OBLTR-8R does not have the LED light at the top center, it is now simply the "emergency call" button; hold it down and the radio will start letting out an emergency "wail" that can also be transmitted over the air in case of emergencies (like lost in the woods). The lower two buttons below the PTT, which is called PF1 (with 2 squares) and PF2 (with 1 square) can be programmed to alternate options:

  • Volt - Display the current voltage in the battery
  • Call - Transmit the prestores DTMF/5TONE/2TONE encode signal
  • Alarm - Hold it down and acts the same as the orange emergency call button on top of the radio
  • SUBPTT - Secondary PTT, transmits on the bottom displayed frequency
  • MONI (monitor) - Same monitor function found on almost all radios, momentary button you must hold down to hear, and returns to normal once released. There is another option, if programmed, you can press it and will keep the squelch open until you press it again.
  • Tone pulse - Hold PTT, then press PF1 (if enabled) to transmit the selected tone pulse frequency.
  • Clone mode (PF1 only) - Press and hold as radio is turned on to activate Cloning mode (radio to radio). This is helpful in cases where there is a lot of RF interference in your area and you need to clone or program the radio.
  • Setup (PF2 only) - Press and hold down as radio is turned on to access the general function menus (typically only used in this method for commercial purposes)

Overall I am very impressed with this model. It has options and capabilities that most radios twice its price doesn't have, and despite being a new line of radios, the weight and feeling of the radios gives me the feeling that these radios should last a long time. The quality is definitely on par with most other Yaesu and Kenwood HTs, but at half to a quarter of the price. Personally I will be torn between this OBLTR-8R and my BF-F8HP, as the 8W and larger battery has its definite advantages, but the build quality and capabilities of the OBLTR-8R has a definite advantage. Looks like I will be carrying 2 HTs with me for the foreseeable future until I can make a decision. With the MURS capability, I may have to buy another for my unlicensed XYL or daughters to use.

Thank you and God Bless!
Mike de K4ISR

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