Baofeng GT-3TP

My first radio was a Baofeng GT-3TP. This is a low cost, Chinese radio, which I know operators have mixed opinions about. Again, this blog is about sharing my experience with equipment or techniques. I am obviously going to have some bias as equipment and techniques need to fit my use case. Below is my evaluation of the radio.

Unboxing

I do not have the box anymore, but it is what you expect. The box is a cardboard box with average construction. It arrived from Amazon in good condition. The print on the box was light, but the art work was eye catching. I would say the print quality was below average, but the art was above average. Inside of the box was the radio and antenna, a manual, a cradle, the charging cable, and a car charger. Everything was packed away in a manner where nothing was shaking around in the box. The box had just enough room to fit everything, which is nice since you aren’t overloaded with extra plastic and cardboard. I don’t like excess packaging since I wish to be environmentally friendly. By using less packaging material, it save time and cost. I know for some, the unboxing is a part of the product experience, but for me, it isn’t a point that I’m concerned with. The point of a box is to store the item during transport and to provide a display when on the shelf. Overall, I would say the packaging was slightly above average. If it was on a shelf, it would catch your eye but not anything too spectacular.

Build Quality

The radio is made from black and orange plastic. The construction is fairly average. The pieces fit together okay. Because of the plastic build, the radio is lightweight and feels cheap. The keypad is made from rubber with solid print to the function of each button. None of the print rubbed off with use. The front features an LCD display that is below average. It does wash out when the backlight is active making the display difficult to read. The LCD does feature different colors that can be changed to indicate different functions. You can set up a separate color for Tx/Rx. The antenna is a typical rubber duck antenna. After a month of consistent use, there was a rattling from the inside of the radio. One of the screws in the radio came loose. I opened the radio and tightened it, but it came loose after a few days. The threads where the screw attaches were stripped out. Directions were found online about what screw was the problem. This indicates that it is a common problem with the GT-3TP. I guess this is expected from an entry level radio but disappointing none the less.

Performance

The performance was up and down. The battery is one of the best batteries I’ve seen. I ordered this radio in 2012 and charged it fully. I didn’t charge it anymore after that. To my surprise, the radio powered up the next time I turned it on in 2019. This is impressive. I did replace the battery later with a larger battery that lasts for days without needing a charge.

As for use, the radio has a terrible front end and received interference like crazy. I had the local NOAA station as Channel 0 and the local Skywarn repeater (146.880) set as Channel 1. It wasn’t uncommon for me to receive on both Channel 0 and 1 at the same time, even though only one was selected and the second VFO was set to Channel 3. This would be a terrible radio for fox hunting or radio direction finding. If this is your main use, I would pass.

Contacting was hit or miss. One week after I received my license, I made my first contact. I talked to him for a little under ten minutes, and then he couldn’t hear me anymore. I have no idea what happened. Since then, I have been unable to contact the local repeater 600 ft/182 m high on an 800 ft/244 m high tower that is less than three miles from my house. All other radios can reach the repeater. It still receives signals just fine. I am disappointed, but I guess I got what I paid for.

*Note* I did change out the antenna a few times for the Baofeng, since most stock antennas are poor quality. The antenna connector may have been damaged with the number of times the antenna has been swapped. If I had to put a number on it, I probably changed between antennas around 30 times. It may have also been part of the screw that was rattling around as when I did open the radio, the screw fell out and wasn’t replaced. It did work, even after removing the screw, but it could be something that compounded. Either way, it does still work for short range communication (less than a mile). This was tested using simplex.

Accessories

Accessories for the radios exist, and compared to other companies, many of the accessories can be shared between the products. There is one programming cable. There is one type of handheld microphone. There is one type of APRS cable. This makes it so much more convenient. Problem do exist, but not with the product. There are counterfeit products that exist and are on Amazon. I ordered a programming cable, but it was a counterfeit. Be advised that you should read the product reviews before ordering products, although many counterfeit companies will bot reviews by paying companies to leave false five-star reviews. This is common with antennas. Nagoya antennas are very popular for Baofeng radios. There is a large amount of counterfeit Nagoya antennas. Make sure you are ordering from a reputable source. If you are in doubt, walk away.

The Nagoya antenna that I ordered (NA-771) didn’t fit the radio. There is a lip around the antenna port on the radio that prevented the Nagoya from screwing in. I used a Dremel to file it down and used the rubber rings provided with the antenna to create a better fit. I also ordered an ExpertPower antenna, and it had no compatibility issues. I prefer the ExpertPower over the Nagoya, because it fits.

The best accessory I ordered was the larger battery. It does add some weight to the radio, but it made the radio last two days just receiving. I would suggest everyone pick this up. I wish more companies included larger batteries for their radios. I understand that buying additional batteries is an option, but this forces the user to purchase, charge, and carry an additional battery. If a cell phone can hold a 3000+ mAh battery, there is no reason that radio manufacturers can’t do the same.

Overall Thoughts

I always judge a product by if I would buy it again to replace one that was broken. My computer mouse is comfortable and amazing. If anything happens to it, I would replace it with the same model. Would I do that with this radio? No, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t replace it since there are a lot of high quality radios that don’t cost much more than the Baofeng. Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu all make quality radios for around $100. While this is more expensive than most Baofeng radios, they are far more capable and reliable. For myself, reliability is key. I want to know that a radio will perform consistently over a long life. I don’t have this confidence in the GT-3TP. It may have been the model I have and may try another Baofeng radio. I’m going to give this radio a pass.

Wrap-Up

Thank you for reading my review. If you have any questions, leave them below. Remember to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to stay up-to-date on reviews and happenings.

Follow-up

I’ve been sitting on this review since December, when I wrote it. My plan was to take pictures of everything I had talked about. Since the radio stopped working, I threw it in the electronics recycling pile without thinking. It is now being scrapped. I apologize that I don’t have any pictures of it. A quick Google search will let you know what it looks like. Again, I apologize.

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