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#264506 - 10/19/13 10:46 PM CountyComm GP-5 Radio Review
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3190
Loc: USA
First, I have no affiliation with CountyComm other than as a customer. I paid my own money for the radios I mention in this review and I never told them that I would write a review.

I'm a sucker for a radio. I've been in Amateur Radio for over twenty years and I have a collection of ham transceivers and broadcast radio receivers. I have weather radios, ham HTs and general purpose receivers scattered throughout my house and kits.

As far as being equipped to survive is concerned, I view the ability to receive broadcast radio in an emergency as potentially very helpful, both for gathering information and for entertainment if you're in a survival situation where you need to stave off boredom.

The primary receiver for those purposes in my primary emergency kit has been the CountyComm GP-4L, also known as their ETFR (Emergency Task Force Radio). Depending on who you ask it's made by Kaito (that's how mine is marked) or by Marathon. I paid $28 for mine in 2011, before shipping.

CountyComm specs:

Radio: 150 hrs at 40% Volume
Light: 70 Hrs

Frequency Range:

FM 76-109 MHz
MW 520-1740Khz
SW 5.20-18.30 MHz
SW1= 49 Meter Bands 5.20 - 6.20 Mhz
41 Meter Bands 7.10 - 7.30 Mhz
31 Meter Bands 9.45 - 10.45 Mhz
SW2= 25 Meter Bands 11.01 - 12.05 Mhz
21 Meter Bands 13.60 - 13.80 Mhz
19 Meter Bands 15.10 - 15.60 Mhz
16 Meter Bands 17.55 - 18.30 Mhz

Sensitivity:

FM < 10 microV
MW-AM < 1 microV/Meter
SW-AM < 30 micro V

Power Requirements:

3-4.5 Volts DC via side jack (no adapter included)
2 each "AA" batteries
Dimensions: 3.4" X 2.55" X .83"
Weight: 85 Grams not including batteries
Speaker: 40 mm in diameter, 4 Ohms, .25 watt
Earphone Jack: 3.5 MM, Earphones Included
(Instructions come in both French and English)
(Blister Packed)
Clock: 12 Hour Format with Wake Up to Radio Alarm Feature

chaosmagnet's features:

  • Really small for FM/AM/SW capabilities, especially at this price point
  • Strong sound from tiny speaker
  • Low-power flashlight built in, can't be used while radio is on
  • Built-in clock kept good time (off by about a minute over almost two years)
  • Alarm function
  • Brings in distant stations reasonably well
  • Digital display easier to read for old eyes when tuning stations in
  • Round 5V input plug to operate without batteries (never tested)


I've never been dissatisfied with it, but I don't use it a heck of a lot either -- it sits in my car's emergency kit. I have a roll-up clip-on antenna that I keep with it (I seem to recall it cost $9, which would bring the price difference to 32%).

When CountyComm came out with their replacement, the GP-5, I bought it, with the intention of demoting the old unit to a different kit that doesn't have a broadcast radio receiver. I don't know who the manufacturer is. Mine cost $44.95, exclusive of shipping, last week.

CountyComm's specs:

Radio: 225 hrs at 40% Volume ( 50% Increased Runtime )
FM Stereo via stereo earphones / MW / LW / SW
FM Stereo via stereo earphones / MW / LW / SW
FM Frequency range adjustable (76 / 87 / 87.5 ~ 108 MHz)
Antenna Length 18 Inches
450 Station Memories
Multi Tuning Methods: ATS, ETM, Auto scan tuning with 5 seconds pre-listening for both frequency & memory (VF / VM), Manual tuning 9K/10K AM tuning step selectable
Silicon Labs Si4734 DSP chipset
LCD Backlight
Key lock function
External AM antenna Jack
Built-in rechargeable function (USB jack, 5V) ( can use rechargeable batteries )
Size: 53 (W) x 159 (H) x 26 (D) mm
FM: 87 108 or 76 108 MHz
MW/ AM: 522 - 1620 (9K tuning step) or 520 1710 kHz (10K tuning step )
SW: 2300 21950 kHz
LW frequency: 150 522 kHz (available for 9K tuning step only)


Accessories include:

Power Requirements:

Stereo earphones
External AM antenna
Soft antenna
Carrying pouch
User manual

Power Requirements:

4.5 Volts DC via side jack (no adapter included)
3 each "AA" batteries ( Batteries not included )
Dimensions: 6.20" X 2.05" X .80"
Weight: 85 Grams not including batteries
Speaker: 40 mm in diameter, 4 Ohms, .5 watt ( 2 times the ouput of the GP-4L )
Earphone Jack: 3.5 MM, Earphones Included

chaosmagnet's features:

  • Not a bad size
  • Very strong sound from tiny speaker
  • No flashlight built-in
  • Built-in clock and alarm
  • Brings in distant stations reasonably well
  • Larger, backlit digital display much easier to read, especially in the dark
  • Temperature and signal/noise display
  • Battery power remaining display
  • Comes with clip-on FM wire antenna and external AM ferrite bar antenna for bringing in remote stations
  • Mini-USB power input for operating radio or charging NiMh batteries (comes from factory expecting primary batteries and won't attempt to recharge them unless you change that setting)


Comparing the two, I found the new one easier to operate. It has several scan functions, including "Easy Tuning Mode" that scans the local area for stations and stores them in temporary memory, making it super-easy to find radio stations in your area. This function worked well for me. The larger, backlit display was much easier to see. The tuning knob has detents built-in for each tuning step, so you spend less time fiddling to get the exact frequency of the station you're trying to tune in. And it has memories, which make it much easier to use if you take a few minutes to set it up.

I was surprised to find that there didn't seem to be any difference in sensitivity between the two for remote stations. It's easier to tune them in on the new one; the included external ferrite bar (it supplements the internal ferrite bar) makes tuning AM stations directionally much easier. It goes to and stays on the desired frequency without drifting.

Selectivity is noticeably better on the new one, for both close and distant stations. I imagine this is a function of the DSP, which the old one does not appear to have.

Bulk for the new one is a bit more; while the external FM antenna came with it and takes up less space than the one I bought for the old one, the external AM antenna makes up for it. Both came with serviceable earbuds; the new one's earbuds work in stereo and seem to be a bit better made.

Neither unit receives weather radio, which is a disappointment.

If they made the GP-5 in the same form-factor as the older GP-4L, this would be a slam dunk and I might buy another. As it is, for an emergency kit radio the new one is a bit spendy and bigger, but pays for it with significantly easier use. I'll keep 'em both.

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#264507 - 10/19/13 11:21 PM Re: CountyComm GP-5 Radio Review [Re: chaosmagnet]
LesSnyder Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1562
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
chaos and Martin Focazio... how about a review of weather alert (SAME) radios if possible... I know that Martin had a problem with his Midland 300, which is the one I have...with the beginning of the southward cold front movement, we will be getting some pretty good squall lines through here with a few smaller tornadoes spinning off the trailing edge...I test my Midland daily with the coastal weather, and so far have been very pleased... did your replacement offer any advantage, or does it have the same imported circuit?....at one time I read some good reviews of the Ambient Weather line, then not so much... I don't mind paying for a quality piece of equipment...
thanks...


Edited by LesSnyder (10/19/13 11:22 PM)

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#264509 - 10/20/13 02:19 AM Re: CountyComm GP-5 Radio Review [Re: LesSnyder]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3190
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: LesSnyder
how about a review of weather alert (SAME) radios if possible.


I own three weather radios -- one in our designated storm room, one with our camping gear, and one in one of the emergency kit bins. None of them have SAME capability; we can hear the tornado sirens here, so it never seemed important to get one.

If you want me to whomp up a review of the ones I have, I can do that.

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#264510 - 10/20/13 02:57 AM Re: CountyComm GP-5 Radio Review [Re: chaosmagnet]
LesSnyder Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1562
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
yes, thank you, any evaluation would be helpful...I do not have a city wide warning system for severe weather, so the SAME localized county warning will most likely be my primary warning....the weather warning app (text message) I have on my cell is also keyed to my home location...we typically get multiple funnel clouds spun off the same cold front...they are typically not very large, but on occasion we get something out of a wall cloud... we have excellent Doppler radar coverage, and coupled with GPS, the TV stations are able to tell you which street the waterspout/tornado is approaching...

my local NOAA transmitter is on 162.45mHz and is located about 25miles away...I get very good reception on the Midland 300 and it is AA powered if need be...

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#264532 - 10/20/13 08:01 PM Re: CountyComm GP-5 Radio Review [Re: chaosmagnet]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078

Quote:
If they made the GP-5 in the same form-factor as the older GP-4L, this would be a slam dunk and I might buy another


Tecsun PL 380

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#264537 - 10/20/13 11:51 PM Re: CountyComm GP-5 Radio Review [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3190
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor

Quote:
If they made the GP-5 in the same form-factor as the older GP-4L, this would be a slam dunk and I might buy another


Tecsun PL 380



I found out after my original post that the CountyComm GP-5 is made by Kaito, as the Tecsun PL-360.

The GP-4 that had such a great form-factor has dimensions of 3.4" X 2.55" X .83". The PL-380's dimensions are 5.3 x 1 x 3.4" -- substantially bigger. The PL-360/GP-5 is 6.20" X 2.05" X .80", smaller in every dimension other than height and noticeably smaller overall.

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#264541 - 10/21/13 01:15 AM Re: CountyComm GP-5 Radio Review [Re: chaosmagnet]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078

Looks like the Tecson PL-505 is their smallest but still larger than the older GP-4L (uses 2 AAs rather than 3 AAs in the other Tecsun models)

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#264547 - 10/21/13 12:57 PM Re: CountyComm GP-5 Radio Review [Re: chaosmagnet]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3190
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
I found out after my original post that the CountyComm GP-5 is made by Kaito, as the Tecsun PL-360.


I was wrong about this. Kaito distributes Tecsun radios in North America. I can't find the page now, but a previous Google search led me to believe that Marathon might have been the manufacturer of the GP-4L, again with Kaito distributing it. However, I can't find any information to confirm that.

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