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,