Alinco DJ-V57 & Take Charge Powersavers

F
IRST LOOK
MT Takes a Look at the Latest Tech
Alinco DJ-V57 Hand-Held,
Dual-Band Transceiver
Review by Bob Grove W8JHD
I
am always amazed when a new piece
of radio equipment is released which
has an impressive list of features at an
astonishingly low price. Such is the case with
the release of a new hand-held, two-way radio
from Alinco – the DJ-V57 hand held.
❖ Advantages and
disadvantages of
portability
If you can put an entire two-way radio in
a pocket, why would anyone want to pay extra
for a base/mobile transceiver? Because such
compact portability comes with compromises.
Handy-talkie programming can be a
challenge for large fingers on teensy keys.
Displays are smaller and often harder to read
than those of their base/mobile counterparts.
Speakers are small, limiting fidelity. Battery
power means restricted operating time
before recharge. Transmit power is lower.
Frequency bands may be fewer than on
bigger multiband radios. Range of operation is smaller because of the shorter
antennas and lower power.
With such well-acknowledged compromises, how does this new HT from
Alinco measure up?
❖ The new player in
the compact HT
marketplace
The Alinco DJ-V57 transceiver is a dualband (144-147.995, 420-449.995 MHz transmit,
136-173.995, 400-511.995 MHz receive) radio
with selectable outputs of 0.5 low power, userselectable 1-3 watts mid power, and 5 watts high
power.
The seven-inch rubberized whip may be
unscrewed, revealing an SMA connector to accommodate the user’s choice of another portable,
mobile, or base antenna if desired.
Ergonomically, the fist-size DJ-V57 cradles
nicely in an adult hand. The 16 rubberized keys
are easy to press with a fingertip without bumping into an adjacent key. A selectable backlight
enables night viewing of the display and keypad.
The dual-function keypad allows direct
frequency entry and up to seven characters for
alphanumeric identification as well. The decimal is entered automatically as you press your
frequency setting, and a beep informs you that
your frequency has been accepted when the last
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April 2012
numeral is pressed.
Clear voice reproduction is available from
the internal 1-1/2 inch speaker at full volume.
The actual rating is 10 percent total harmonic
distortion (THD) at 500 mW of audio power.
A top-mounted mini phone jack allows
attachment of an earphone and doubles as
an access port for cloning another identical
scanner. The port is secured by a thumb-screw
cap with a rubber hermetic seal for protection
against water intrusion.
This feels like a “real radio,” compact
(2-1/4 inches wide by 4-1/3 inches high by
1-1/3 inches deep) and husky (10 ounces).
The rugged polycarbonate body resists dirt
and dust accumulation and water-resistant
materials make the HT stormy-weather repellant. A sturdy belt clip is included, as are a
wrist strap, battery charger, 70 page
manual, and schematic diagram.
Although a 120 VAC/12
VDC wall charger/adapter is
included, an optional drop-in
charger may be ordered. For
higher power and longer charge
life, the slip-off, 700 mAh,
NiMH battery may also be
optionally changed by ordering
rechargeable 1100, 1600, or
2000 mAh NiMH and Li-ion
battery options. It takes an overnight charge to fully recharge
the battery. The supplied charger
is intended only for charging
the battery, and cannot be used to
power the radio during transmit operation.
A quick-write memory procedure allows
entry of a current VFO frequency into one of
200 memory channels by pressing a single key.
Frequencies and channels may be manually
slewed with the top tuning knob or scanned
automatically. A search feature is also provided.
The DJ-57V has three operational modes:
VFO (operates on any displayed frequency),
memory (operates on any of the 200 memorized
channels), and call (operates on one primarilyselected VHF and one UHF channel). A handy
BAND key allows instant toggling between the
VHF and UHF bands. Alternatively, the user
may enter any valid frequency in the transceiver’s dual range while currently in either
band.
Two levels of receiver sensitivity attenuation are accessible for interference reduction
in strong-signal environments.
A VOX (voice-activated transmit) function
is also provided if desired; speaking into the HT
automatically keys the transmit function, and the
radio reverts back to receiving when the voice
stops.
For emergency messages or signaling, a
five-second bell-tone alert signal can be activated. Tone bursts of 1000, 1450, 1750, and
2100 Hz can be selected to activate repeaters
requiring that function. CTCSS tone and DCS
codes are available for tone-encoded repeaters
so extant in the VHF/UHF ranges. The tones
may be used for transmitting only, or for both
transmitting and receiving. DTMF auto dialing/redialing is also provided for telephoning
through suitably equipped repeaters.
Transmit/receive offset frequencies for
repeater use may be custom-selected in kilohertz
intervals up to 99.995 MHz separation. The
input/output frequencies may be reversed by a
simple key press. Band splitting is also easily
key-entered, allowing transmitting in one band
and receiving in another.
❖ So, can I use it as a
scanner?
The DJ-V57 incorporates a very flexible
scanning receiver. Any frequency between 136174 and 406-512 MHz may be entered in up to
200 memory channels which can be sequentially
scanned for activity.
In addition, any segment of a band, or the
total band, may be auto-searched for signal
activity in the program scan mode.
Does the 5 kHz step intervals for tuning
skip some of the new narrow band channels?
Not at all. It might be a couple of kilohertz off
frequency, but the filters are wide enough to hear
all the action.
The scanning routine includes a skip function to avoid hanging up on memory channels
likely to be active but not desirable to be heard
during the scan sequence.
As in virtually all receivers, there are some
frequencies that detect the oscillator’s own
signal products. If this CPU clock noise should
occur on the DV-V57, simply tap the shift key
and rotate the tuning dial to change the frequency
of that interference.
❖ DJ-V57 Design
Specifications
Frequency modulation (FM) is the only
mode used for transmitting and receiving. For
transmitting, a variable-reactance modulator is
used for both wide and narrow deviation (+/-5
kHz standard FM, +/-2.5 kHz narrow band FM).
Spurious emissions are suppressed at least 60
dB.
Frequency steps of 5, 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 25,
and 30 kHz are selectable for standard channelization band plans. Frequency stability is +/-2.5
parts per million (ppm).
The radio can be powered and the battery
may be charged from any external 7-16 VDC
source. Current drain during reception is 250 mA
and 80 mA on standby (squelched). A batterysave function reduces the receive power drain
even further (27 mA).
The receiver is a double-conversion super-
heterodyne with first and second intermediate
frequencies (IFs) of 38.85 MHz and 450 kHz
respectively.
Sensitivity for standard 12 dB SINAD
(signal-to-noise and distortion ratio) is specified
as 0.2 microvolts (uV) on VHF, and 0.25 uV on
UHF. An LCD bargraph shows relative received
signal strengths.
Selectivity is stated as -6/-60 dB for 12
kHz (or more)/35 kHz (or more). This seems to
fudge a bit on real numbers, much like saying
your car gets 25 miles (or less) per gallon. In
our actual on-air operational test, selectivity was
barely adequate for the frequency spacing of
most channelization plans, especially in this current era of narrow-banding. More specifically,
the filters should be satisfactory for separating
signals of its primary intent, ham radio, where
adjacent-channel operation is rare and channels
are more widely separated.
But, in crowded metropolitan listening
to public safety channels, adjacent-channel
interference may be encountered. In such cases
the attenuator function can be invoked, or the
squelch may be adjusted to reduce the adjacentchannel bleed-over, or the tuning dial may need
to be set another step higher or lower to get away
from the interference.
❖ Finally, how to hit the
reset button!
One of the most desirable features of any
multifunction radio is the “Boy, have I ever
screwed this radio up!” reset. By simply pressing two keys as the radio turned on, the original
baseline factory-presets are returned and you
can start all over again!
Even better, an option allows all the factory
presets to be restored, but retains your customentered memory channels.
❖ The bottom line
Alinco’s new DJ-V57 hand-held, dualband, VHF/UHF transceivers is a winner. Its low
cost (list price $149.95), wide frequency coverage (the two most popular VHF/UHF bands),
and multiple functions combine to make this a
bargain radio, both for the beginner who needs
easy operation, and the experienced ham who is
looking for advanced functions.
The Take Charge Powersavers
Review by Bob Grove W8JHD
O
ne of the most overlooked power wasters in our homes and offices is the AC
adapter which remains on permanently even after its accessory equipment
is turned off. Many pieces of electronic
equipment continue to draw current
after their power switches are turned
off as well.
Take a look around your
home at the number of AC cords
plugged into the wall, not only in
your hobby area, but even your
home entertainment center.
IPhones and tablets, cell phone
and digital camera chargers,
DVRs, printers, laptop computers
– the list is considerable.
The wasted electric power when measured
over time is consequential. According to the
International Energy Association (IEA), these
types of accessories cost on the average $50 a
year, about twice the cost of some new accessories from Take Charge called the Power Savers.
Take Charge developed a unique method of
switching off multiple accessories automatically
when not in use. Looking like a conventional
multiple-outlet extension, it has eight AC outlets
with specific capabilities.
Two of the outlets are permanently on in
the usual extension mode, but five of the outlets
switch on and off automatically as the equipment
or appliance plugged into the eighth (control)
outlet is turned on or off by the operator.
For example, suppose you have your radio
base station plugged into the control outlet. You
could plug the AC adaptors or AC cords from an
antenna rotator, computer, printer, scanner, and
auxiliary radio into the five switched
outlets, and still have two hot outlets that remain on for an electric
clock and any other item you’d
like to remain on.
When you switch on the
main equipment – in this example your base station – all of
the accessories plugged into the
five controlled outlets switch on
automatically. And when you’re
done, simply switch off the main rig
and all five accessories switch off (except for the “always on” accessories).
A circuit breaker is also mounted on
the unit to reset any surge-protected shutdown.
❖ Let’s check it out
Plugging a lamp into one of the five
switched outlets, I attempted to switch it
on by activating several different appliances, from a few watts up to 1600
watts, plugged into the control
outlet. It activated immediately
when I turned on any equipment that’s plugged into
the control receptacle
which provided at least
a 40 watt load. Switching
off the main equipment,
and all the accessories switched off, just as
they’re supposed to do!
❖ There’s more
TakeCharge has also released two timed
docking bays designed to shut off those chargers
after they’ve finished refreshing rechargeable
batteries. Each has three switched receptacles
and one “always-on” receptacle for a total of 10
amps of current.
Both models include two indicator lights,
one to reveal an ungrounded third wire which
would invalidate the surge protection, and the
other to show timed charging is on. A pushbutton initiates the charge time for three hours. A
circuit breaker reset button is also present.
The UTC4W is a wall-plug-mount unit that
attaches directly to a conventional duplex wall
outlet, while the UTC4S is a traditional power
strip with the same outlets and a two-foot cord
w i t h a right-angle, three-wire plug.
All three devices are warranted
against equipment damages by the
following deposition:
“Will replace any connected equipment, up to $50,000, damaged by
power disturbances, while connected
to a functioning Take Charge PowerSaver.”
The UTC8MS ($29.95), UTC4W ($24.95),
and UTC4S ($27.95) are all available from
Grove Enterprises (1-800-438-8155) or online
at www.grove-ent.com.
April 2012
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