N8CD’s Handheld Radio Review #5: Alinco DJ-G29 and DJ-G7

I’m reviewing two radios together for this segment, as they are nearly the same radio just designed to cover two sets of bands. Batteries, chargers and other accessories are interchangeable between the two radios, and if you have both of them you can cover 5 VHF/UHF bands between the two. 

  • Alinco DJ-G7: a Tri-Band radio on 2m (144MHz), 70cm (440MHz), and 23cm (1296MHz). In addition to being a good traditional dual band radio, the DJ-G7 is the only commercially available handheld still in production that covers the 23cm 1.2GHz band. If you’re interested in working the FM satellites, this is also one of the few handhelds available that can use AO-91 and AO-92’s 1.2GHz (L band) uplink mode.
  • Alinco DJ-G29: a dual band radio with 1.25m (220MHz) and 33cm (920MHz). The DJ-G29 is one of only a few radios that cover the 220MHz ham band out of the box, and also is the only commercially available, ham radio targeted radio that covers the 920MHz band. There are commercial, business targeted radios available for 920MHz, but most require modification and do not support front panel programming and other ham radio features.

Both radios have some unique features such as bands not covered by other radios that make them somewhat rare and in demand. Add to this that Alinco is a smaller manufacturer than Kenwood, Icom, or Yaesu and sells less units. The DJ-G29 is particularly rare and often sells for the original retail price on the used market. 

Pros:

  • Loud, great quality receive audio from the built-in speaker
  • All the standard modern features such as auto-repeater offset, CTCSS and DCS encode and decode, selectable power output from 5w on 2m to 300 milliwatts with slightly less on the higher bands.
  • 1000 memory channels that can be setup in banks and alpha-tagged.
  • Above average transmit audio, with configurable microphone gain that goes from background noise tolerant to very very hot.
  • True full duplex between the two bands means you can receive on one half of the radio while transmitting on the other. This is particularly useful on the DJ-G7 to listen to your own return signal when working one of the FM ham radio satellites such as AO-91 or AO-92. Normally working the FM satellites requires two handhelds to do it properly, but with this radio you can do it all in one. There are two identical tuning and volume knobs on top of the radio that make it easy to change one half of the radio without going into menus.
  • The radios are a nice size and feel good in the hand.
  • Both radios not only will access a repeater, but can also actually act as a cross-band repeater! 

Top showing controls per band

DJ-G29 Radio

DJ-G7

Cons:

  • While the 1000 memory channels make the radio incredibly flexible, day-to-day usage of the radio can be complicated. If you get one of these radios I highly recommend you also purchase the RT Systems programming software and cable for the radio.
  • The user manuals are available online in PDF form from alinco.com . However, the PDF files are scans of the paper manuals and are not searchable. This isn’t from some user or third party, this is how they are download FROM ALINCO. Ironically, the service manual for the radios is also available online from Alinco.com as full PDF’s that can be searched.
  • These radios do support CTCSS encode and decode, but ONLY on the top/main band. Only the top band can be used for transmitting and it is also the only band that decodes CTCSS. This isn’t a show stopper, but is annoying if scanning is used in an area where computers and other devices break the squelch on the receiver.

    Ridiculous included “belt-clip”

  • The radio does not support a standard headphone connector of any type. In order to connect an external headphone, microphone, or other audio accessory, you must purchase the EDS-14 adapter that converts from the proprietary threaded 4 conductor 3.5mm plug to standard microphone and headphone connectors. While the 3.5mm connector looks like headphones used on most smartphones, the pinout is different so a standard headphone cannot be used even if you find one that will fit deep enough into the connector.
  • The “belt-clip” that is included with both radios is an absolutely ridiculous accessory. It’s a nylon webbing with a clip on it to put around your belt. I suppose it might be useful to connect to a backpack or use when hiking, but I replaced mine with one I bought off eBay that was made to fit a Vertex commercial radio.

  

Replacement Belt clip

Alinco EDS-14 adapter

 

 

 

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