Tuesday, February 12, 2013

[Another review before another is finished]

This one is easy though, it's the SIRIO 11/10 meter mobile antenna which has a PL-259 mount and is sold separately from it's magnet. I know you've heard for years (especially if you only started out in the late 80's that "WILSON" was THE brand if you wanted to get your signal out. I used a Wilson 1000 from the mid-80's until around 1995 when I was writing some stuff for "Copper Electronics" and they were sending me stuff to checkout. One of these was the antenna that soon became my choice, although it's name "Big-Bubba" didn't.

My SWR settings were as good or better than Wilson's, as were many of my contacts (you'll find my review of it on the website - pre-blogging you know), anyways I switched and bought a second one from a vendor on the West Coast and then they just dried up. To my misfortune, the last one I had was no longer to be - but I knew I'd find a clone of it some where else as I'd seen on back around 2004.

This decades old clone is by Sirio (Sirio 4000) [ed. - and famous for cloning decades old antennas]. Like the other two before it, sold separate from the mount. If you're more for mag mounts I wouldn't buy the Sirio. I'll take a guess and say it was as bad as the "Big Bubba" mag mount, and tell ya to buy Diamond's, or Wilson's mag mount with an SO-239 connection and let it go at that.

As you can see, just like the others, the SIRIO can be set at an angle or completely horizontal to fit into the garage. They make a variety of other antennas, including an interesting mobile 6m/2m that looks like a little brother of this one.

You can find these sold at many places like Amazon.com and Newegg.com, as well as several other places on the web.

'Nuff Said,

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Case in point, and coincidentally a radio in the family of new Uniden/Bearcats that I'm reviewing, is the Uniden/Bearcat 880. I've seen 'em clocking in with prices between $115 and $200 usually, and you could just about pick any amount within that price range and you'd hit one of them but this one I ran across (besides the description) was a tad........strange. Perhaps it's me, but I'll let you judge:

After the price, you'll notice what the model number the radio is listed as, followed by the sellers reason for doing so under the description field -

"First, you are purchasing a Uniden Bearcat 880, not a Uniden Bearcat Pro PC78L, as you can tell by the pictures. This was the only way I could list this radio, EBay doesn't have the info on the 880.

I'm listed as or under gshope - God - status - Human - On - Planet - Earth on EBay. Many believe in a ' True God,' any Spirit Force helping you out would've to be ' God Himself.' In many eyes, making my personal items ' God Himself ' personal item being offered onto the Global Markets. You see how easy this is.

I'm not going to write a book here, laying it all out. Do you have any desire to try to get rich. Many after being allowed to witness all the dots, would come to see, in many eyes its worth alot more. Many on Planet Earth would love to have bragging rights to one of my personal items."

I've seen some strange auctions, and I'm not sure where this one fits in, but it has to be in the TOP TEN.

'Nuff Said

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


[PART 3]

One of the first things you notice when taking the radio out of the box is it's size (smaller than a Grant), in fact, it reminded me of another radio I've owned and reviewed in the past - Midland's 79-290 AM/SSB mobile rig. I didn't have the actual size of the Midland to compare with, but I think these two are fairly close in their respective "footprint".


While the 980 does not have a removable front panel, the layout is strikingly close as well. Both radios have the Volume/Squelch control at the top-left of the front panel and the microphone plug below it. A set of horizontal buttons run across the bottom where, in the bottom right corner, you'll find the coarse/fine clarifier control and above it the channel selector knob. I guess if you've never held the Midland the similarities in physical size and control layout wouldn't be so obvious.

I'm not inferring that these are the same radios on the inside - The 79-290 came out in the early/mid 1990's, had dual finals, and a removable faceplate; features completely different than the 980, as well as being fairly easy to modify for expanded frequencies, FM, and a open clarifier. Nonetheless it's something to wonder about....."Did the company that won the bid to make the 79-290 also win the bid to make the Uniden Bearcat 980?"

As others have commented before, this is a good looking radio - right out of the box, but doesn't have that "rugged" feel to it. Give it six months in your vehicle and it won't look like the girl you took to the dance, the black plastic will show dust, dirt, and scratches easily. Used at home with a power supply, unless you own a cat that always finds an itch to scratch, it should maintain the "newness" factor longer than if it were in your car or truck.

I've read about low SSB output straight out of the box on some models, and how to adjust it internally, as well as that infernal beep - which I'm pretty certain is fixable now. I don't mind that it's a straight 40 channel rig because I usually run a 40ch AM/SSB mobile in the truck along with my HAM gear - I just hope it's on frequency when I get it powered up [perhaps Sunday I'll have a chance to clear off some bench space and do some initial testing].

As far as microphones go, I may use the factory mike and call it a day, or use one of my dependable, yet older, microphones - but I'll have to test the factory mike first. Back in the 90's I owned a Uniden PC-122 am-ssb mobile. It was a little tiny thing compared to anything else available, and I did a audio test with a friend of mind using an Astatic D-104m, a Turner +3 hand mike, and of course the stock microphone which came with the PC-122.

The winner? The stock microphone on the PC-122. My friend said he had never heard me sound so natural on sideband in all of our years to communications and that I'd better not replace the stock mike. I took his advice and during the period I owned it, I received many questions like "What kinda mike are you using 'cause it's one of the best sounding microphones I've ever heard", and other similar comments. No one believed me when I told them it was just a stock mike on a Uniden PC-122, so here's to crossing my fingers that I'll get the same results with this one.

'Nuff Said,

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


We're on PART II of this review, and I expect it to have many parts [ed. - "many" = more than 3]. In my haste to get Part 1 off, I should have proof read it AND used my reading glasses because I never saw the tiny frequency readout under the large channel number, so I sit corrected.

I've yet to dive into any reading material, so I may have to correct myself another time - we'll have to see about that, or what time I will have to read. The radio has a channel 9/19 push button switch, which has been around forever (or maybe it just seems that way), and except for traffic from Mexico or further South, I've never heard anything useful on channel 9 for decades.

Some radios I've run across let you set another channel for channel 9, like the local hangout channel, and I do like being able to jump to 19 for a quick update on traffic from time-to-time. With this rig, being computer controlled, it would have been nice if you were (for example) on ch.38 LSB and switched to channel 19 that it would be smart enough/or programmed to change the mode from sideband to AM for you automatically and then back again when you return to 38 LSB.

Much like a Blogger, or anyone who writes regularly, they should have proof-read the box the radio comes in. For instance it has three modes: AM, USB, and LNB. I know I've been away from buying new rigs for awhile so maybe there is an "LNB" mode, but I doubt it. As far as the color schemes go, to be specific, you have 7 options, and I like the fact that it has a 9' cord on the hand microphone. While we're on things I like, I may as well mention the adjustable Backlit control. As for the physical outlay it is just "okay". Depending on how and where you mount it depends on whether or not it is more-or-less "okay" with you.

The ON/OFF, squelch/volume control is located on the top left side of the front panel with the microphone jack being just below which is convenient but I would have arranged the placement of the push buttons differently. Along the bottom of the panel you have push buttons for:
  • S/RF/SWR Calibration
  • CB/PA
  • Mem/Scan
  • 9/19/Normal
  • ANL/NB, and
Above the AM/USB/LSB button you'll find buttons for:
  • Weather
  • Mic Gain
  • RF Gain, and
  • Talkback
These are farthest away from your reach, in a typical under the dash mount so I would have preferred the bottom row to be (in this order):
  • ANL/NB
  • Mic Gain
  • RF Gain, and
  • 9/19/Normal
With the remaining buttons along the right side, farthest from your reach, but not necessarily often used, and I'm torn between leaving the on-off/squelch/volume to being on-off/clarifier/volume, and yeah, I'm being a bit picky now. On the box it mentions that the radio is "wireless microphone compatible" and directs you to learn more about it on their website. I learned that there's no picture of it, that it's not available yet, and costs $99.99.

A very nice surprise is the warranty - 2 years. It's not very often you'll see that, so I suspect they don't expect to get many sent back within that period, and I was also surprised to see that they furnished you with a 6-pin to 4-pin microphone adapter as well. There is some slight confusion regarding the clarifier. On the box it states that it's 1.0khz clarifier (+/-), but in the manual it says it's 1.5khz (+/-).

As far as the scan feature goes (usually not any farther than I could throw it), you do get the option to select certain channels for it to scan, thus making the feature worthwhile. Adjacent channel rejection as stated in the manual is 60dB which is better than many CB's made in the last 20 years or so.

And that my friends, ends Part 2 of the review. I'll have to make some room in the truck and figure out where to mount this before proceeding.

'Nuff Said,

Sunday, February 03, 2013



Uniden pulled out of the am/ssb market a long time ago leaving a large vacant hole. Evidently they have decided to return to the market with the Uniden Bearcat 980SSB mobile. Initial impressions (just looking at the pictures) are that it looks like the typical cheap looking Chinese stuff I've seen pushed on us for decades.

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer a analog s/rf meter vs. the digital ones. Like many CB's sold today, you can play around with color schemes to find one that suits you. It doesn't have any great mods and reminds me of Radio Shack CB's which were pretty darn hard to modify, if at all, keeping their nose clean with the Feds.


  • Weather - usually this feature is just "okay"
  • Talkback - use it on SSB and die
  • Memory Scan - useless
  • CB/PA - There must still be a function for this, although I've never known anyone that used it.

From reading about half the reviews and doing some digging around I came to three conclusions:

1. The BEEP is annoying, but apparently there is a fix for that out on the Internet

2. Most of these seems to arrive dead-on frequency which you'd really (REALLY) want if you couldn't mod the clarifier for SSB transmissions, otherwise you'd get a bunch of sidebanders kinda angry at ya.

3. Unless someone comes up with anything else, the "Beep" mod is it.

Okay, Review Part 1 is over, I've done a quick glance at it and once I get it in Moby, I'll see what results I get compared to the Cobra 138XLR already in the truck.   Expect updates to occur from time-to-time as I find things I like or don't care for, not to mention performance.   'Nuff Said, Woody