Retevis Ailunce HD1 GPS First impression

Last week, the Retevis Ailunce HD1 GPS arrived. I had some trouble getting them to connect to my computers for building a code plug and adding contact lists, so I decided to do some environmental testing first, while sorting out the connection problem.

Retevis Ailunce HD1 DMR Ham Radio

The HD1 DMR radio with built-in GPS is fully DMR Tier I and Tier II compliant, has built-in APRS, Cross-band operation, 3000 channels 256 zones and up to 200000 contacts; support signal call group call and all call; IP67 waterproof allows us to use it in rain, snow or other harsh weather. The HD1 also supports charging over USB-C. This can be done from the radio, or via the charging dock.

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Ingress Protection

The Retevis Ailunce HD1 GPS has an ingress protection level rated at IP67. IP67 is a rating system used to classify the level of protection an electronic device has against intrusion from foreign bodies and moisture. The “IP” stands for Ingress Protection, followed by two numbers.

The first number indicates the level of protection against solid objects, and for IP67, the “6” means the device is dust-tight with complete protection against particle ingress. The second number represents the level of protection against liquids. With a “7” in IP67, it indicates that the device can be immersed in water up to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes without being damaged. So, if a the HD1 claims an IP67 rating, it should be protected against dust and water ingress. What about snow and ice?

Everything breaks in the arctic!

Extreme cold and ice present significant challenges for electronic devices. Most electronic components are designed to operate within a specific temperature range, and exposure to very cold temperatures can lead to a variety of malfunctions.

For instance, a common failure in HT radios is the batteries. The battery can suffer from reduced performance as the chemical reactions within them slow down in the cold. This leads to a shorter battery life and even a failure to power the device. Another area is the display. LCDs may respond sluggishly, or not at all; in some cases, the liquid crystals can freeze, permanently damaging the display.

Finally, condensation is another risk when electronics are exposed to cold and then brought back into warm environments. Moisture can form on internal components, potentially causing short circuits and corrosion.

Field test

We’ve had some brutal winter weather at 65° North for the past few weeks. This weather provided an excellent opportunity to test the IP67 rating of the Ailunce HD1 GPS, and its ability to “weather the storm”. This may be considered an unfair test, but necessary for the extreme conditions found at this latitude.

Extreme low temperatures

The HD1 operating range is specified at -30℃~+60℃ ( -22F ~ 140F). This means the radio should survive comfortably from the Sahara to Svalbard, or Death Valley to the Barents sea.

The idea was to leave the radio out in the elements unprotected for 3 complete days. I just put it out on a patio chair, itself covered with snow and ice. I left it in the snow, under the stars simply to see if it would survive.

Results

To be honest, most gear at this latitude doesn’t last very long. Radio equipment is no exception. One must be incredibly careful deploying gear not specifically designed for the harsh winter conditions. With this in mind, I wasn’t certain what the outcome would be. Naturally, my expectation was the radio would fail. To my surprise, it didn’t!

The good news is the HD1 didn’t show any signs or symptoms of battery failure, LCD failure, condensation or moisture ingress. The display functioned properly, the battery still have more than half of its charge, and the rotary encoders although a little stiff, functioned perfectly.

The HD1 was was left with the power on, volume down, GPS on, and tuned to a local 2M DMR repeater. When I picked up the snow-covered radio, it functioned as if I had just dropped it in the snow. There was no signs of damage from the more than -30c/-22F overnight temperatures the radio endured.

Whats next?

  • Building a DMR go kit
  • Building contacts lists and codeplugs for the HD1
  • More field tests
  • Recommending to Retevis that they open up HD1/HD2 API for third-party software packages such as RT Systems programming software. This would make sharing code plugs and contacts lists across brands, much easier.

Final thoughts

From the readers perspective, it may seem like I have some Sort of rugged radio fetish. Perhaps I do, but then again, I rely on my radio to keep comms open between myself and my loved ones. DMR radios are fun, but also have practical value in a variety of unpopular scenarios. The cheapest model might be right for you, or it may end up being the breaking point. You’ll need to decide for yourself.

So, the extreme cold test was surprisingly awesome! We often read claims from manufacturers which typically fall short. Retevis seems to take rugged radio seriously! That’s why you’re seeing this radio on the blog, and soon the channel.
The radio is surprisingly robust. We talk about survival radio or preparedness, but often settle on the least rugged radio we can find. I’m not sure why, but it might not be the best strategy for any of us.
My advice; Take this radio seriously!

Programming software update

The day after this blog was published, Retevis support made an email diagnosis. They said that perhaps the programming cable was damaged.

They were spot on! I got myself another programming cable, and the Ailunce software connected perfectly. The entire support interaction took less than 6 hours start to finish. That’s pretty good support. I hate asking for help, but the team as kind.

Other than the problem connecting to the HD1 with Ailunce software, it seems like a winner.

73
Julian oh8stn
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@oh8stn
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Blog: https://www.oh8stn.org

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5 Comments

  1. Great review. As I’m generally running AnyTone 878s as my “carry” radio, and they are barely water resistant, cost more than the Retevis, and don’t do anything the Retevis doesn’t, I think I’m going to switch over. While I don’t have to deal with the cold like you (rarely drops below -9 Celsius where I live), the water and particle resistance are nice!

  2. Interesting test and a surprise result! I have an AnyTone DMR HT radio that I bought a few years ago. I learned (finally) how to put together a code plug for it and use it to listen to the talkgroups that my local club follows.
    I have not carried it in the field much and won’t now because the knob for the channel encoder broke and my repair did not hold. So, this HT is now a shack queen.
    I didn’t bring an APRS capable HT with me this trip. (That was my mistake.) I might have a look at the Retevis.
    Thanks!

  3. I have owned about every dmr ht made and this is by far the most reliable and rugged both anytone radios I have had failed several times and had to be repaired
    I have owned this one for 4 years now no issues
    For anyone looking for a excellent dmr analog ht this is it

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