Radios: The iRadio CP-168
This radio is approximately the size of a speaker microphone from other radios but still boasts a 2 W transmitter power. One feature that sets this apart from the usual entries in the Baofeng 666/777/888 or other small radios is the 128 channel memory capacity.
One thing about this radio that catches the eye and tingles my geek nerve is the hidden display.
Similar to the MotoTRBO SL300 radios, the iradio CP 168 uses LEDs that shine through the front of the case. Unless the display is in use, you would not even know that it is there.
The charger also reflects some good design and sensible features. This radio uses a Mini-USB for charging, so you’ll be able to plug in the included drop in charging cup to many of the USB ports or chargers that you already have. The radio also has a mini-USB charging socket on the bottom for times when you don’t have the charge cup with you.
Programming the radio is done with the standard Baofeng / Kenwood F-connector two-prong cable. I initially had some trouble programming it with the first cable I tried (which works for most of my Chinese radios but is somehow non-standard) but the second, more standard, straight from Baofeng cable did the trick.
The antenna is a removable SMA style, so you’ll be able to swap these out as you like.
On the top between the antenna and the power button, is a paddle switch to move the channels up-and-down. Holding “channel down” will lock the radio.
The two buttons on the bottom below the PTT Control the volume up down. I found that volume 01 was still a bit loud while volume 00 is silent.
Holding “volume up” opens the squelch while holding “volume down” starts and stops the scan.
The scan list members appear to only be programmable in software, so you will have to know what you intend to scan before you leave your computer. Like most radios in this class, the scan speed is not particularly fast.
When I first got this radio it felt as if the speaker was a bit loose. I squeezed the case a couple of times and that seems to solve the problem but look out for other very minor manufacturing slack. This isn’t uncommon for Chinese radios, but I did find it to be the case here.
In my excitement, I had trouble charging this radio for the first time. One thing with this radio that I did not expect is that the battery came packed inside the radio, but with tape over the contacts. I tried charging it a few different ways until I opened it up and figured this out. A little embarrassing for me, but don’t let it happen to you.
If you want a tiny 2-watt radio while still needing a capacity greater than 16 channels, at $40 or so this could be the radio for you.
The software will run in English, although not perfect English.
With the antenna on top, this looks just like a thin, public safety style speaker mike …except without any cable or even any radio attached!
With the hidden display, it’s a pretty cool little radio.