The Motorola SL-300 is a mono band (VHF or UHF) portable radio with FM analog and DMR capabilities. This radio is slim at under an inch thick, has a stubby antenna, and is charged and programmed with a micro USB cable. At first glance, the radio appears to not have a display screen, but it actually has a shatterproof "Active View" display with a matrix of LED lights behind the radio housing. It looks like a magic trick when the display lights up. The radio is super simple to operate with a power button, channel rocker, volume buttons, and a zone button. It can store 99 memory channels. Transmit power is 1, 2 or 3 watts.

These radios are really popular amongst schools and colleges with smaller campuses at meets military specs for ruggedness.

Motorola SL-300 Data Sheet

Not for Everyone

Before I get too far in to why this is a great radio for use with a mobile DMR hotspot, if you are not into buying Motorola radios and don't have access to their Customer Programming Software (CPS), then stop reading now. This radio is not for you. You will either need to obtain an account with Motorola and pay the enrollment fee to get access to the CPS or have a good friend who is willing to do the programming for you. The Motorola ecosystem is more geared towards the commercial and government markets, not the Ham community. Their price structures reflect that. I would not recommend tackling all of that for this one radio. If you are embarking or larger projects involving Motorola radios or are already prepared for Motorola, then please, continue on.

Could it Be Any Better?

I love this radio for use as a DMR hotspot radio because of its form factor and battery life. It's a compact radio with a battery that will run all day (11-15 hours on a single charge). It's low power, which is an advantage her for prolonging the battery life. There is no need to transmit at more than the lowest one-watt setting when the hotspots are transmitting only milliwatts. The Active View LED screen is off until you need it and gives you the minimum information you might need. For talking on my hot spot, I only care about the talk group I am on.

Maybe a Couple Things Would be Nice

Although this radio was designed to utilize DMR, it was not designed to operate with the Ham community in mind. If you really need the display to give you the call sign of the station talking, this radio will not give that to you. I don't need it. I'll take battery life and ease of programming over that feature.

CPS is a Breeze

This radio is programmed with the standard Motorola CPS. I own three of these radios. Two are older and I use version 16.0 on those. My newest one required CPS 2. No problem. When programming this radio, you can enter in all of the talk groups you would like to program, then associate the talk groups to a zone and channel.

I have two OpenSpots, the first and the third versions. One is always on at home and operates on one frequency while the OpenSpot 3 operates on another. The home OpenSpot is set up in zone two with all of its talkgroups. The OpenSpot 3 is on zone one. I can just switch zones to use the two different OpenSpots. I take the OpenSpot 3 with me mobile with the SL300. I pair the OpenSpot 3 to my iPhone's hotspot and it automatically connects to BrandMeister.

I program channel one as Talkgroup 9 so I can hear the announcements from the OpenSpot. I program channels two and three to switch profiles on the OpenSPot so I can switch to D-Star or C4FM modes and servers. I have also set up switching to a profile that connects to the PNW Digital group. I simply key up the channel with the corresponding talkgroup to change the profile and connect without having to log in to the OpenSpot's web interface. How slick is that?

Set each channel to only transmit if the channel is free. 

This radio has 99 available channels, so if you don't use them all up, you can program in some favorite repeaters that are either DMR or analog. If you only have one DMR hot spot, program one zone for the hot spot and zone two for local repeaters. You are not limited to two zones just 99 channels and switching zones on the SL300 is simple.

Tips and Tricks

I programmed the RepeaterBook talkgroup (31419 on BrandMeister only) along with some of my other favorite talkgroups into the radio. I then programmed talkgroup 9 and my other static talkgroups into the same scan list. If I am listening on one of those channels, I will hear the transmission from either of them. The SL300's display will light up with the active talkgroup name. The OpenSpots are only communicating on one timeslot, so if a talkgroup is busy that is not in your scan list, you will only know if you try to key up and get the channel deny tone.

Final Thoughts

I recently went on a week-long road trip and really gave my set up a test. I could charge my radio and OpenSpot3 while driving. Charging both while talking is not a problem and will not damage either one. At pitstops, the OpenSpot3 was small enough to slip into my pocket and the radio's skeleton-style belt clip attached to a belt or pocket inconspicuously. I never missed a call or a QSO. 

The sound quality coming from the tiny speaker was perfect. It had good tone and I found myself turning the volume down in the car, especially when the new-to-DMR guys came on swallowing the mic. Not much you can do about someone else over-modulating their mics. But you'll never get a complaint about your audio. 


At the lab, we tested the SWR of the PulseLarsen NMO 2/70 antenna using the RigExpert AA-1000. According to PulseLarsen, the antenna is a mag mount 1/2-wave on 2-meters and collinear on 70-centimeters. The gain is reported as 2.4 dBi on 2-meters and 4.0 dBi on 70-cm. It can handle 100 watts of power with an overall length of 34.5 inches. The equivalent Comet antenna is the SBB-5, which is significantly cheaper.

We tested the antenna on a cookie sheet to replicate a situation such as the use of a go-box at a park. We attempted to adjust the antenna length to the best possible SWR. Your results may vary. 


2-meter Band

Frequency SWR
144.000 1.42
145.000 1.28
146.000 1.23
147.000 1.29



70-centimeter Band  

Frequency SWR
430.000 1.9
435.000 1.48
440.000 1.11
445.000 1.20
449.000 1.7


1.25-meter Band 

SWR on this band was about 3.4. This antenna is not intended for use on 1.25-m frequencies.



SWR on the GMRS channels ranged from 2.1 to 2.9. This antenna is not intended for use on GRMS frequencies. 


33-centimeter Band

SWR on the repeater uplink frequencies ranged from 2.5 to 3.1. This antenna is not intended for use on 33-cm frequencies.


This is definitely a "you get what you pay for" product. The Larsen antenna performed very well on the frequencies most likely to be used by mobile users. It is an antenna that is specifically designed for Ham use on the 2-m/440 bands and it does it very well. This antenna is not suited for venturing outside of the Ham bands or other bands. This antenna is probably one of the most expensive antennas marketed for Hams in this category but performs very well. 

This antenna is priced just a bit cheaper than Comet antennas, but the Comet antennas seem to perform a little better for the money.

We will re-run these tests with the antenna mounted to a vehicle and report back on the results.

At the lab, we tested the SWR of the Diamond MR77 antenna using the RigExpert AA-1000. According to Diamond, the antenna is a mag mount 1/4-wave on 2-meters and a 5/8-wave on 70-centimeters. The gain is reported as 2.15 dBi on 2-meters and 3.4 dBi on 70-cm. It can handle 70 watts of power with an overall length of 20 inches. It comes in both UHF and SMA configurations. We tested the UHF version.

We tested the antenna on a cookie sheet and attempted to adjust the antenna length to the best possible SWR. Your results may vary.


2-meter Band

Frequency SWR
144.000 2.0
145.000 1.9
146.000 1.9
147.000 1.8


70-centimeter Band  

Frequency SWR
430.000 2.2
435.000 1.9
440.000 1.9
445.000 1.5
449.000 1.23



Frequency SWR
462.000 1.34
467.000 1.42


33-centimeter Band

This antenna is not specifically sold as a 33-cm band antenna, but it is well-tuned.

Frequency SWR
902.000 1.8



This antenna did not perform well enough to consider it for a radio station that will just be transmitting on the 2-meter and 70-centimeter bands. SWR should under 1.5 on the frequencies primarily be used. However, if you are looking for an antenna that will work on both the 2-meter and 70-cm bands along with GMRS, this antenna performed very well on the GMRS frequency range and could be an excellent middle-of-the-road antenna for that. The bonus is the performance in the 33-centimeter band.

This antenna is priced just a bit cheaper than Comet antennas, but the Comet antennas seem to perform a little better for the money.

We will re-run these tests with the antenna mounted to a vehicle and report back on the results.

At the lab, we tested the SWR of the Comet SBB224 antenna using the RigExpert AA-1000. According to Comet, the antenna is a mag mount 1/4-wave on 2-meters and 5/8-wave on 1.25-meters and 70-centimeters. They report a VSWR of 1.5:1 or less. The gain on 2-meters is 1.15 dBi, 3.5 dBi on 1.25 meters, and 6.0 dBi on 70-centimeters. It is capable of handling 100 watts of power with an overall length of 36 inches. It comes in both UHF and SMA configurations. We tested the SMA version with a mag mount.

We tested the antenna on a cookie sheet and attempted to adjust the antenna length to the best possible SWR. Your results may vary as the ground plane can affect SWR.


2-meter Band

Frequency SWR
144.000 1.37
145.000 1.36
146.000 1.36
147.000 1.35


1.25 -meter Band

Frequency SWR
220.000 1.7
221.000 1.5
222.000 1.32
223.000 1.19
224.000 1.21
225.000 1.37


70-centimeter Band  

Frequency SWR
430.000 2.1
435.000 2.1
440.000 1.8
445.000 1.05
449.000 1.5



This antenna is not marketed towards GMRS users. These are very high SWR readings and should not be used for transmitting on GMRS channels.

Frequency SWR
462.000 3.2
467.000 3.0


33-centimeter Band

This antenna is not specifically sold as a 33-cm band antenna, but it is well-tuned.

Frequency SWR
902.000 1.9
903.000 1.46



This antenna performed remarkably well in the bands specifically marketed for and is a must-buy. The bonus is the low SWR in the 33-cm range. GMRS-licensed users should not use this antenna for GMRS use.

We will re-run these tests with the antenna mounted to a vehicle and report back on the results.

Baofeng UV-82Baofeng radios are cheap/inexpensive radios manufactured in China. They definitely do not have the frills and feel of a quality radio specifically designed by one of the top amateur radio manufacturers, but they are an inexpensive way to get on the air. These radios have opened up amateur radio to a whole new income level of hams.

Back in 1992, I was just 17 years old and picked up my ticket through the Boy Scouts and a great local Elmer Dan Sherwood, W6DAS. I am terrible with names, but I remember Dan and appreciated his ability to teach me amateur radio. My dad got his ticket at the same time.

Getting your ticket was one thing, but getting a radio and getting on the air was a completely different story! The place to go was Ham Radio Outlet, so my dad and I made the 2-your trek down to Burbank, CA, and picked up an Alinco DJ-F1T. The price tag on that radio was $325 and it was a 2-meter only radio! Adjusted for inflation today, that would make it about $550, much more than my pizza delivery job provided in a week. My dad had to form the money over and we only got the one radio. It would be 5 years before I could afford my first mobile, a Kenwood TM-733a.

These little Baofeng radios can be picked up for just a fraction of the cost. I believe it should be the goal of every radio operator to buy quality equipment. The quality equipment will sound better, get out better, receive better, and last longer. This is not that radio, but it does have it's use. If you need a temporary entry band radio, a knock-around radio, or a spare somewhere, this can do it. I would not rely on it the only radio I ever owned, though!

Baofeng Radios are Part 90 certified (150-174 MHz and 450-515 MHz). There is no such thing as a Part 97 certification, just Part 15. When a radio gets a Part 90 certification, it is also getting Part 15, which makes them legal in the amateur bands. This is why it is legal to buy the Motorola, Kenwood, etc radios that are coming to the second-hand ham market after years in government or commercial service. You can use these as amateur radios.

That being said, you cannot use them for FRS, GRMS, or MURS as their actual design make them not eligible to be certified for use there. What you end up having is a radio like your amateur gear after performing the wideband transmit modification. You must be very careful with a radio that has the ability to transmit outside of the area that you are licensed or otherwise permitted to transmit. The radio will not save you from transmitting illegally. This is up to the individual user.

I write this review after having owned a Baofeng UV-5R for a couple of years (it sits on my desk at work). I also own, by way of HTs, an Alinco DJ-29T, a Yaesu VX-6, and a Yaesu VX-7. I recently bought 6 of these UV-82 radios. Purchasing 6 was even cheaper than buying that original HT (adjusted for CPI)! They sit on a shelf here and are ready to go for the rest of my family. My wife is a ham and my four kids all know they need to get licensed before they can drive. I also have a cache available for that big event that is always predicted to occur someday soon. The UV-82 is an upgrade from the UV-5R boasting a larger speaker form factor, and PCB board.

These radios can be field programmed and they do have a VFO. Hams are no stranger to the VFO, but this is a peculiarity for the commercial/public service world. I believe the best and most efficient way to program these radios is to use CHIRP. Don't even try to use the software that comes with it. This will also mean that you will need to purchase a programming cable.


Once I got one radio code plug created, I could clone it to each of the other radios. I actually have several code plugs for several different scenarios and uses so reprogramming is also a snap.

What I love about this particular radio is the dual monitor and dual transmit switch. I enjoy listening to two different channels at once Then, to transmit, I simply rock the PTT up for the "A" band or rock down for the "B" band. I like to add the tone at end of transmission to all incoming transmissions on the "B" band so I can tell which band is active without having to look. That way you reply on the right channel.

There are only 128 channels available here, so you must be conservative on the channels you program in. You can program in the frequency and a channel name, but you cannot display both at the same time, a feature only becoming available on my high-end HTs now.

The UV-82 is dual-band, available at 2m/70 cm or the 'X' model as 2m/1.25 m. I actually bought two of these by mistake, so be careful which model you purchase.

For a quick knock around radio or when you need a gang of radios, this is a recommended choice.

If you are considering purchasing one of these radios, please consider using Amazon from the link below and help support


  • Very inexpensive and readily available.
  • Easy to program with CHIRP software.
  • Transmit and receive audio quality is adequate.


  • Can be tough to field program.
  • Many users report quality issues with humming on transmit. Depends on the radio received.
  • Knock off programming cables can cause havoc with Windows. Get the real cable, not the counterfeit.
  • Only 128 memory channels.

FCC Approvals

Approved for use on 150-174 MHz and 450-512 Mhz.

As an interesting factoid reading the FCC material above, you may see a slow down in the number of these new Chinese radios coming to market. The FCC is requiring all Part 90 radios to be 6.25 Khz (or equivalent) capable. This means the radio must have a digital component, like P-25, which will drive the cost up. Unless the industry obtains another waiver from the FCC, this may be the end of the line for more models for a little while.


But it from Amazon (#CommissionsEarned).



  • Frequency Range: 65-108MHz (FM Receive only)
  • 136-174MHZ
  • 400-520MHZ


  • Frequency Range: 65-108MHz (FM Receive only)
  • 136-174MHZ
  • 220-260MHZ

UV 82 and UV-82X

  • Channel No: 128
  • Stability: ±2.5ppm
  • Antenna: SMA-Female
  • Output power: 5W / 1W (Max 5W)