2009/12/10 - Initial impressions of the radio are somewhat 'blah'. Overall, it seems to work well enough. But the bug list below is telling.
Complaints / Bugs:
- When in VFO mode, entering numbers on the microphone allows going directly to a frequency. Supposedly in memory recall (MR) mode, entering one or two digits should take you to that memory number. This does not work.
- Using UP/DOWN to step through memories is brain-dead. It should not move to an un-programmed memory.
- Using UP/DOWN to start a scan requires pressing the UP/DOWN key for 2 seconds, but no longer. If pressed longer, just goes into "fast forward" mode.
- The display is pretty bright, even on 'dim'. Brighter than I like at night when driving.
- The PDF copy of the operator's manual is a scan of a paper copy, and a poor copy would that. I would prefer a PDF copy derived from the original sources.
- Although unimportant to me, AM mode is not supported (available on the DR-235T)
- There is a cut-out in the back of the casting for a DB-9 for packet use, but unlike the DT-235T, the connector isn't actually *there*.
- Microphone is somewhat clunky and heavy. I still prefer the Icom HM-133.
- The PC programming software is weak. Entries can't be copied and pasted to rearrange them, and it's not possible to sort.
I used to own an Alinco DR-235T a few years ago. Unfortunately, it was long enough ago and used so little that I can't say if the overall operational experience was significantly different or not. The main selling point of the JT220M is the 50 watts output. Maybe not important in Texas, but in the hilly terrain of Atlanta, it helps.
The JT220M lacks the DB-9 connector on the back that the DR-235T has. For mobile talking use, it doesn't really matter. If you want to use an external TNC for packet, or have discriminator output for IRLP or EchoLink, you'd run into problems. Perhaps internally the connector for the DB-9 cable is present, and they just didn't bring it out through the case. The heatsink has a cutout ready for it.
Size-wise, the DR-235T is definitely slimmer: 5.58"(W) x 1.57"(H) x 6.83"(D) vs. the 5.7"(W) x 1.85"(H) x 7.5"(D) of the JT220M (taken from the manual, and I don't believe these can possibly be correct).
The most recent PC programming software for the DR-235T is from sometime in mid-2000. I haven't loaded it, but it may work. All the accessories are interchangeable, perhaps the software is also. I did hang a protocol analyzer on the serial port, and the radio uses the Alinco command structure. Commands to the radio start with 'AL~', so I suspect the radio's microprocessor is either the same (so does the DR-235T have the direct to memory bug also?) or it's a good clone.
The Jetstream v2.281 programming software is usable, but fairly weak. My big complaint is that I can't copy and paste memory entries to rearrange them to my liking. You can, however, edit the saved .QX file in Notepad and rearrange things to your liking there. It's a kludge, but it beats re-typing everything. The overall feel of the software is that it was written by someone who never had to use the radio. Pointless dialogs exist when reading or writing the radio. The software tells you that you've made changes when you exit, even if you haven't. Hopefully a little update will be in order soon.
I was really waffling on which radio to go with. I had missed a fantastic deal on eBay, a DR-235T MkIII for $195, shipped. It had been relisted from $225, because of no buyers. The guy had a starting price of $175, and I was trying to get it for that, when someone (smarter than me) snapped it up. I found that GigaParts had the DR-235T for $252, and the JT220M for $259. I was leaning in favor of the DR-235T when I came across a deal on a new JT220M. I was able to pick it up the next day and start playing with it. Buyer's remorse? Maybe, but it's still a little too early to tell.
The speaker jack on the back is a 3.5mm mono jack. The speaker is driven by a Sanyo LA4600 4W amplifier that can drive a 2 to 8 ohm load (4 ohms is recommended). For some bizarre reason, Jetstream used a 2 channel amplifier, of which only 1 channel is used. Alinco and Icom often use the LA4425A 5W single channel amplifier. Go figure.