Will repeatedly reprogramming HTs wear them out?

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by AC0GT, Apr 27, 2019.

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  1. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm looking to replace my aging and beaten Amateur HT, as well as have something I can loan out to unlicensed family and friends to use. I'd reprogram them as necessary to keep it all legal. I'm concerned though that repeated reprogramming could cause premature wear.

    Another idea is to pick up some inexpensive programmable handheld radios to demonstrate for my business acquaintances as an improvement on what they are using now. What concerns me is that in these demonstrations, and in my personal re-purposing as needed, I will be programming the radios repeatedly. I'd get two or three radios that would be mine for my personal use and for demonstration. I would use them on the Amateur bands, and/or as receive only for weather band and such, as I travel. When not on Amateur frequencies I'd reprogram them as unlicensed MURS, GMRS (and get a GMRS license for myself), or business band (again with the proper license).

    Some radios I have in mind are these:
    Part 95 certified: https://powerwerx.com/tera-tr505-gmrs-recreational-handheld-radio
    Part 90 equivalent: https://powerwerx.com/tera-tr500-handheld-commercial-radio

    I also see these radios as an upgrade from, and/or addition to, the bubble pack FRS radios I have now. I can operate them on the unlicensed MURS band, or get the GMRS license and they'd operate on the shared FRS/GMRS frequencies at higher power with the FRS radios I have now. When working with my business acquaintances I could bring my own radio and operate under their license, or simply program to their transmit frequency to listen in.

    Is my concern on wear from reprogramming unfounded?

    I suspect people will want to comment on the legal aspects as well. I do intend to keep everything on the level by not programming transmit frequencies at the same time for different services. I also will keep the Part 95 certified radio for Part 95 only or Part 97 only at any given time. Same for the Part 90 certified radio should I get one of those, it would be programmed Part 90 only or Part 97 only at any given time. If the legal aspects get to be too much I'll simply drop the whole idea.
  2. ND5Y

    ND5Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    Memory chips are rated for a certain number of read-write cycles.
    Normally they are rated for millions (or more) of cycles.
    It's not unheard of for them to fail.
    Cheap Chinese radios have cheap or counterfiet Chinese components that may be more likely to fail.
    Commercial radios are usually not programmed very often.
    Wouxun had a memory loss problem several years ago:

    Call the manufacturer's technical support and ask them what kind of memory they use, what the read-write cycle is on the particular chips they use in your particular models, and if the memory is read from/written to continuously (when changing channels or using different functions) or only when the radio is programmed. Better yet tell them to send you the schematics and BOM.

    Oh I forgot... You mentioned it was Tera. Good luck on getting any information from a Chinese manufacturer or the people here who import and sell them.
    N0TZU likes this.
  3. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Those are just examples I found from a place I bought products from before, I'm open to other ideas. Price is a consideration, some of the potential users may not handle them gently.
  4. KX4QP

    KX4QP Ham Member QRZ Page

    While there is a limit to how many times you can write an EEPROM or Flash RAM module, relative costs and operating speed have almost certainly pushed HT builders to use modern Flash RAM. This is the same general class of memory that makes up the Solid State Drive that holds the OS on my desktop computer -- and for which, when I bought it several years ago (they've gotten better since then), I calculated an approximate lifetime of 80 years at my average write rate.

    I wouldn't expect the small capacity Flash drive in an HT to have quite that kind of working life, but even so, it ought to be in the tens of millions of write cycles. You'll lose those radios, have them stolen, give them away, or drop and break them before the internal Flash RAM fails due to write lifetime.
  5. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Very interesting question, I never thot of that.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
    K5VZD likes this.
  6. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some radios write to memory during use, Like when scanning, And they may fail sooner.

    Programming should not normally be a problem.
  7. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been thinking about finding a replacement for my Icom IC-T81A. With it's battery no longer holding a charge, the speaker knocked out of whack by being dropped one too many times (I get audio still, just muffled), etc. It's a handy that's not so "handy". As feature rich as it is I don't use half of them. Mostly I will tune into the local repeater, listen to NOAA weather radio, and listen to broadcast FM with it. I'm looking for new a radio but I don't need one as complicated as what I have now.

    The Tera TR-505 is attractive because I can use it as an unlicensed MURS radio or an Amateur radio, and still listen in to things like NOAA, FRS/GMRS, etc. No FM or AM broadcast listening though. From what I've read so far these look like quality radios. At about $250 for two radios and a programming cable this doesn't sound like too bad of a deal.

    The reasons I have not bought a pair of them already is my concern of premature wear if I was to reprogram them repeatedly, which seems unfounded from the feedback so far. Another concern is that there is no display, so I'd have to keep track of what channel was what with a "cheat sheet" or something. Certainly I could just buy a new ham radio *AND* a pair of these MURS/GMRS radios but if I can make these Tera radios work double duty for me then it's a far easier decision to make.

    I'll keep looking but these Tera radios are looking pretty nice so far.
  8. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I would think the buttons and/or programming cable jack would wear out long before the memory chips

    KX4QP, W5PFG and KV6O like this.
  9. ND5Y

    ND5Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    Many Wouxun customers thought that about 9 years ago.
    It's only true if the manufacturer uses quality components.
  10. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good links, thanks.

    You usually get what you pay for. No one should be surprised when a bargain offshore radio malfunctions. Personally, I wouldn’t consider relying on one for business or other critical use. Warranty? Of course - just take it back to the factory and knock on the door.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019

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