Saturday, November 10, 2018

Midland Syntech I, XTR, and II Radios

I have a few old Midland Syntech radios. These are truly nice radios. Tough, dependable, and difficult to kill. There are, admittedly, some downsides - programming the Syntech I line requires a special programmer, and the XTRs and IIs require DOS (or a pre-XP version of Windows) a special programming cable and a serial port. They're also rather short on features compared to most modern radios, may require physical tuning in order to operate in ham bands, and have all the convenience and ergonomics of a pile of bricks, although they're not as bad as the GE Delta/Rangrs are. But they WORK, and what few parts aren't available from an electronics hobby store can fairly easily be acquired from a very inexpensive parts radio. In fact, if you acquire two or three parts radios, you can use them to make one or two (depending on how many, and which parts have gone bad) fully functional radios. I have, in fact done this twice (note: XTR control heads are fully interchangeable).
For an entry level Ham, these are the perfect radio: They can be acquired cheap or free. Getting them programmed, modded, and repaired for ham use is valuable experience (and can be fun, if you like tinkering). And finally, these 25-35 year old radios are tough enough that it won't be hard to make them last another 25-35 years - something that certainly can't be said about many of the newer amateur and commercial radios available.