QR20 radio from Radioddity

QR20: Is This Radio Ready?

Like most of you, I’ve been watching and waiting for the QR20 / Q900 / HS2 radio to come out.

The promise is a portable radio that will do HF, VHF and UHF at 20 watts, in all modes, with an on-board battery and a tuner. Some of the radios from China have been pulling of impressive feats of technology lately, so is it possible that this kind of promise is here?

Radioddity finally started selling and shipping the QR20 as part of their anniversary sale, so I jumped at the chance to try one of these and handed over $650, the sale price, with a free backpack included.

The unit shipped quickly and came from Las Vegas. I had it on the West Coast in three days.

The radio is smaller than it appears in the pictures. This is only 4.5 inches across the front. The keypads are tiny, but the whole unit is very compact.

It ships in a plastic carrying case, and is powered by a 12v barrel connector. So I crimped on some powerpoles and fired it up.

…Then the problems started.

The first screen you see is a warning that says something to the effect of “Transmitting is prohibited.” This is likely to keep them out of pre-marketing trouble while the FCC certification is in process. No problem, we’re hams. We know what we’re doing and will just enable it carefully later.

My trouble is that this revealed a defect in my unit right away. Most of the keys on the keypad just don’t work. They click mechanically, but they don’t do any commands. All of the keys on the left hand side are dead and on the right hand side, only the up arrow, down arrow, right arrow, and PA keys are working. Seems like a mis-manufactured keypad.

But the first problem was that, while I could navigate to the “Yes” button on the blocker screen with the working right-arrow, I couldn’t get it to accept the choice. The “menu” key doesn’t work. After messing around with it, I mashed the menu button and massaged it around enough to get it to take input and cleared that screen.

I reported this to Radioddity support on Friday and waited through the weekend for an answer.

Early Monday morning, I was asked to make a video of the problem. It’s not my best work, but this was early in the morning and I really want this $650 radio to start working.

Tuesday morning, they told me to fix it myself. The promised that this wouldn’t void any warranty and included a picture of the flex connector from the keypad to the main board that they say needs to be re-seated.

So I’ve been inside this unit now and I’ve seen its guts. It’s ugly and looks very poorly thrown together. Re-seating the flex connector doesn’t solve the problem, but there was plenty of tape covering it, so you can tell that they’ve had a problem here.

So, as I wait for the next 24-hour round with Radioddity support, the little radio sits on the bench. I can’t turn it off because the power key doesn’t work, I’ll have to unplug it. Until then I can hear it, stuck in CW mode, stuck at a certain volume and giving off random keypad beeps from time to time.

Wednesday morning. The email comes right at midnight my time. They’re agreeing to replace the radio, but they won’t send me the return instructions until I get the the serial number of the unit. There’s no serial number tag on the radio itself. The closest thing I can find is a very long number on a label attached to the cardboard box. I’m hoping that this is good enough, because if they tell me that I need to navigate the menus in the radio to get this, I’M GOING TO SCREAM! The keypad doesn’t work.

I answered right away, maybe I won’t have to wait 24 hours to hear what’s next.

Got an answer right back. I guess I’m in their time zone now that I should have been asleep. The number from the box was good enough. They’ve offered me a return form and shipping label. They say that when I ship it, they’ll start a replacement order for me which will take 2 days.

Here’s the problem. They sent me someone else’s RMA form and it’s for a different product! I guess someone named Ray is sending back a GSOC controller. I thought of buying one of those for my G90. Maybe not.

…another round. I guess I’ll stay up even later to catch the next email. It’s 12:49AM

1:00 AM – They admitted the error and I’ve now got the RMA form for my case, but it has an item listed that did not ship with the radio. They say I got a USB-C cable with it which I did not. I really don’t want anything to slow down the replacement. I want the form fixed to be accurate. It’s taken a long time to get this far. I don’t want anything to make it take longer. Staying up.

1:15 AM – They say that they’ll “notify the warehouse colleague” and it’s not a problem. Normally, this doesn’t give me any concern and I’m getting to the “splitting hairs” point. I’ve just gotten brittle over this whole aggravating process. Hopefully the return goes easy and I get a radio that works.

Then I’ll be able to finally find out if it’s a decent radio at all. Fingers crossed.

Update Thursday morning. They’ve accepted my proof of shipment and started a replacement order. Supposedly in two days, they’ll ship me a new one.