Alinco DR-135TMKIII Review

Alinco may not be as well known as other Japanese radio manufacturers, but they put out some great products and the DR-135TMKIII is a great example of this. This 2-meter radio is great for FM transmission and can receive AM airband signals, and it’s also suitable for digital voice and APRS with a few optional cards. Let’s get into the details and discuss whether or not this radio is right for you.

Good

  • Up to 50 watts of power output – The DR-135TMKIII by Alinco provides 50w of power at high, 20w at medium, and 5w at the low power setting. You can go for max distance, or conserve power by using a lower setting when appropriate.
  • 100 memory channels – You can save up to 100 channels with the DR-135TMKIII, and it also includes 10 autodial memories.
  • Saves your mode selection – Unlike some other radios, this mobile transceiver saves your voice/packet mode between power cycles, making it easier to use the unit in your preferred mode.
  • Expandable for GPS, digital voice, and more – You can add GPS functionality, digital voice features, and even a car alarm feature to your DR-135TMKIII with the right accessories.
  • Excellent hand mic – The included mic fits well into your palm, and includes backlit buttons that allow you to access your most frequently-used controls without reaching for the control head of the radio.

Bad

  • Takes some setup to unlock its full potential – While it can support GPS and digital voice/data, separate boards are required to use these features. That’s understandable, given its low price, but if you’re looking to play with digital radio right out of the box, the DR-135TMKIII may not be the best choice.
  • Sensitive mic – The included mic is quite sensitive, and even with the gain turned down, it may pick up some background sounds from your shack or your vehicle. You can always swap the mic with your preferred model, so this is not a huge deal, but is still something to keep in mind.

Bottom line

The Alinco DR-135TMKIII is a great overall monoband radio for 2-meter use, but where it really shines is when it’s used for packet radio and APRS. It’s inexpensive, easy to program, and a great starting point for any ham who wants to experiment with digital voice and data. You can also switch between digital and FM voice with the push of a single button. Whether you want backup monoband 2-meter radio or you’re interested in digital radio, this is a great buy.

Product Specs

Frequency rangeTX(T):
144-147.995MHz (FM)
RX(T):
118-135.995 MHz (AM)
136-173.995MHz (FM)
TX&RX(E): 144-145.995MHz
Operating mode16K0F3E (FM)/8K50F3E (Narrow-FM)
F1(9600bps)/F2(1200bps)/10F3 * 1
/A3E (RX only DR135TMkII)
Channel steps5, 8.33, 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 25, 30, 50 KHz
Memory channel100 channels + 1 quick recall (CALL)
Antenna impedance50ohm unbalanced
Frequency stability+/- 2.5ppm TCXO
Power supply requirement13.8V DC +/- 15% negative ground
Current drainApprox. 11.0A TX High
Approx. 0.4A squelched
Usable temperature range-10digC to +60digC (+14digF to 140digF)
Dimensions (w/o projection)142(W) x 40(H) x 174(D) mm
5.59″(W) x 1.57″(H) x 6.85″(D)
WeightApprox. 1.0Kg (35.3oz)
Power OutputApprox. 50W(HI)
Approx. 20W(MID)
Approx. 5W(LOW)
Modulation systemVariable reactance frequency modulation
Spurious emissionLess than -60dB
Maximum frequency deviation+/- 5 KHz (FM) / +/- 2.5 KHz (NFM)
Receive systemDouble-conversion superheterodyne
Sensitivity (-12dB SINAD): *2Less than -16.0dBu
Intermediate frequency1st IF 21.7MHz, 2nd IF 450 KHz
Selectivity: *2-6dB: 12KHz or more
-60dB: 28KHz or less (FM)
-6dB: 6KHz or more
-60dB: 16KHz or less (NFM)
Audio output powerMore than 2.0W(8ohm 10%THD)
Note* 1 Optional units required
* 2 Typical within the amateur radio band(s).
MicrophonesEMS-53 Plain microphone
EMS-57 DTMF/Remote microphone
Separation Cable
Digital voice unitEJ-47U
TNC unitEJ-41U
DC Power supplyDM330MVT (120VAC) 30A switching
DM330MVE (240VAC) 25A switching

Expert reviews

  • Curtis from Everything Ham Radio took a look at this mobile transceiver in an overview that also included the DR-235 and DR-435. Overall, he liked the Alinco DR-135, thanks to its low price and the ability to transmit and receive on the 2-meter band and receive AM signals. He also liked the simple yet flexible alphanumeric display, as well as the ability to connect a GPS via the front data port for GPS functionality with the optional EJ-41U TNC board.

User reviews

  • On DXEngineering, users have given the Alinco DR-135TMKIII a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars across 13 total reviews. They said it’s “simple to program,” noted that the “screen is easy to read and the knobs are solid,” and said it has “very clean sounding receive audio.” Users also reported that this Alinco radio delivered great performance whether used for analog radio, or for packet-based digital transmission.
  • eHam.net reviewers have given this mobile HT a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars across 3 total reviews. They noted that the unit is “fairly easy to use, “easy to set up,” that it “works great with Mac or PC Terminal programs” and the “audio quality is good.” However, they did note that the unit heats up significantly during use, and the digital squelch feature is not quite as good as some other comparable radios.

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