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Review
 
   BCH-220
 
220MHz Handheld
219-260 MHz Rx
222-225 MHz Tx

 
 
September 2016
 

 
 
 
BCH-220
BridgeCom, the developer of VHF, UHF, and 220 MHz repeaters, has taken a slightly different approach to the 1.25cm US ham band by developing a 199 channel transceiver specifically designed for the 222-225mnz range.
 
 
In the Box

Included with the radio are the:
-  BCH-220 handheld
-  7.4V 1600mAh Li-Ion Battery
-  25 page User Guide – English
-  Charger base & AC adapter 
-  Hand strap
-  Belt clip
-  Antenna - 200-260MHz   6" (15cm)
 
 
Case Design
The BCH-220 case (2 x  4 x 1.25") has a smooth design with curved corners that fits comfortably in my hand. The side jack is the traditional 2 pin K1 design found on many of today's handhelds. I immediately plugged in my QHM22 Spkr/Micr and found it fully compatible. The keypad has a positive feel and the backlit buttons are very easy to read.
 
 
Transmitter
The frequency range is 222-225MHz, which is the US 1.25cm ham band. My OTA audio reports have been very good, with clean and clear audio. 
 
The power levels are right on target with the specifications using a Bird VHF/UHF Termaline.
High = 5.2W
Low = 1.3W
Tone Burst
If you are in a area that requires tone burst for repeater or network access, a 1750Hz tone can be assigned to either of the programmable keys. (requires the software).
 

Receiver

The receiver sensitivity is excellent, and the audio quality is clear, loud, and undistorted, even at full volume. The radio also includes the traditional commercial FM radio band. (87MHz-108MHz)
 
The BCH-220 has 3/4 watt audio output to the speaker that provides plenty of speaker audio. I found a very slight popping noise that comes through the speaker when the volume is turned all the way down, but it's not that objectionable. 

An added little bonus is a software selection to choose one of five different PowerOn tones, turn the tone off completely.
 
  
Scan Add / Delete
This feature gives me the ability to add / delete channels from the scanning list using the keypad as well as the software.  The more I can do from the keypad, the better I like it.  The keypad procedure takes a little get used to, but not difficult after you've done it a few times.
 
 
Scanning
This can be activated by either pressing Function 6 on the keypad, or a preprogrammed side key. Scan works in all modes (VFO, memory, or FM), and pressing the will change the direction of the search.  The scan rate is approximately 6 channels per second.
 
 
Antenna
The radio comes with 6" (15cm) antenna specific to the 200-260 MHz range.  The base of the antenna has a standard SMA-F connector, making it easy to upgrade if desired.  It seems to perform fine, but easily upgraded.
 
 
Display

The radio incorporates a single line LCD (.5 x 1.0").  The LCD can be formatted in either of three formats. Your choices are Frequency, Channel number, or up to 6 large Characters.  The LCD readout is easy to read, but I did notice two things missing from the display. One is a signal strength indicator (which I can do without), and the other was an offset shift indicator. 
 

Low Battery Indication
The battery level indicator is a two bar display showing either full or half charge. I do miss a four bar indicator that lets me know when I'm getting close to the end of battery, but to offset this, one of the PowerOn messages can be set to display the battery voltage. Another is the radio announces when your battery is low as well as an orange led on top. 
 
 
Programming
As with most handhelds, the manual programming procedure is pretty straight forward once you enter a few channels. Pressing the FUNC key and SET will get to to the 19 menu options. A programming guide can be found at Manual Programming with a Menu Definition summary available at Menu Definitions.
 
 
Programmable Buttons
The BCH-220 has two programmable buttons. One on the side under the PTT, the other on top. There are over a dozen options available for quick access to the radio's functions.
Scan, VOX, Monitor, Power, Alarm, DTMFIN, FM Radio, Priority Channel, SQL off, VFO/CH, LED, Momentary Squelch, 1750Hz tone burst.

Software
The software support for the BCH-220 can be found in the Support Section of the BridgeCom website, along with the radio's specifications.
 
The Version 1.0 software, although relatively easy to navigate, appears to be adopted from a similar model commercial radio. The bottom of the screen shows a 5 tab menu that should be ignored. This will more than likely be corrected in Version 1.1.
 
 
Programming Cable
If you have a large number of channels to enter, I highly recommend the optional programming cable. The BridgeCom cable uses a K1 style plug and incorporates an FTDI chip.  This cable is Plug and Play, so when I plugged it in, the drivers loaded automatically.  I also tried a programming cable from Anytone, Wouxun, and Baofeng radios that worked fine as well.
Conclusion
The BridgeCom BCH-220 was designed specifically for the 1.25cm band. It's apparent by the software that the initial design was for a commercial radio, and that's a good thing.  If your looking for a solid, well built radio to get you started on the 1.25cm ham band, you may want to consider the BCH-220 as a possibility.
 
 
Available from:      BridgeCom     BridgeCom 


Specifications   
 
 
 

 
  BCH-220


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BCH-220

1.25cm 5W
 
 BridgeCom

VHF, UHF
1.25cm
Repeaters