Retevis RT73 Radio in palm of hand

Retevis RT73

A Dual-band Analog and DMR Mobile that has many names.

It’s one of the smallest DMR Mobile radios I’ve ever seen, its even smaller than the Retevis RT84 HT that I’ve been using as my DMR “daily driver”

In the box

  • Radio
  • Microphone with keypad
  • Fused power cables (+ve and -ve)
  • User manual
  • Programming cable
  • GPS Antenna (SMA)
  • Mounting Bracket and Screws

First Impressions

It is tiny. Fitting in the palm of my hand I couldn’t believe this little thing was capable of doing everything they claim it can. And at 20W it seems like a lot of punch crammed into a tiny package.

The positioning of the GPS SMA-F port combined with the tiny GPS antenna is questionable. I’m not sure how fast this is going to get a decent position lock if its installed in a dashboard with the provided antenna.

The SO-293 on the rear of the case is for the main antenna.

The fan on the back takes up 1/3rd of the rear of the unit, with heatsink fins on either side. This should be more than sufficient to keep it cool during long contacts at 20W.

The case is made from 2 halves. The front half being plastic, housing all the buttons, the volume knob and the screen. The back half is cast from a metal (possibly aluminium?) and is very sturdy. The mounting ears are part of the rear casting and offer indents that match the mounting bracket to keep it angled where you set it.

The Mic/Spk port is on the side of the unit. This doubles up as a programming port. It comes with a dust cover that screws in place. This is a little strange, since once mounted in a vehicle it might be tricky to get the cover off if you need to use a screwdriver. I would expect a rubbery or at least flexible cover, but this is hard plastic. I’ve just removed it entirely to be able to program it without hassle.

The Microphone has a keypad on it, and a rather heavy duty cable. I get a feeling this cable is a new modification as none of the photos or other reviews I’ve seen online seem to match.

One oversight on the microphone keypad is that it doesn’t seem to have any menu button, which means you have to use the radio to navigate the menu. It does have the P1-4 shortcuts, which you can assign to favourites.

The Microphone also has a speaker. There’s a speaker on the Right side of the Radio too. You have an option to switch between them or use both.

Taking up the left side of the front is the 2″ Colour display that is bright enough to be usable in direct sunlight.

The programming cable is the type with a UART inside the cable. Mine came with a CH430 chipset, but most others mention that theirs had a Prolific chipset.

Lets get started

I connected the Radio up on my test bench and powered it on. As expected, the screen sprun to life and I started poking around in the menu options.

I found a status display to show the current firmware version. After looking up the release notes for this version and the newer versions, I noticed that the version it shipped with didn’t have APRS support (and was limited to 200000 DMR contacts)

I decided everything looked good, so I proceeded to install the unit in my car, replacing my QYT KT-8900R.

This lead me to a blog post from Ailunce which stepped through the upgrade procedure

And this is where everything went south.

Using the IAP software and following the guide to the letter, let me to an IAP Checksum Error, and a radio that won’t boot. I tried this multiple times, using multiple laptops. Each attempt fails at a different block.

Retevis RT73 installed in dashboard with blank white screen
White screen of death?

I’ve sent an email to retevis asking for assistance.

UPDATE: I’ve been having a super helpful and responsive email chain with the guys at Ailunce (the other brand for this radio), unfortunately none of their ideas has resulted in a functioning radio.

UPDATE: Retevis have asked me to ship the faulty unit back for replacement.

UPDATE: I shipped the replacement off to Shenzen on the 9th. I have no idea when it’ll arrive as the auspost tracking says its been sitting waiting for departure for over a week now.

UPDATE: Finally, its on a plane! only 9 days later.

UPDATE: its now a month later. China Post has notified me that the delivery attempt to Retevis has failed.

UPDATE: 5 January, I have received the replacement! Thanks Retevis.
Now to mount it back in the car and do some testing.

When I get the replacement, I’m also thinking of mounting the unit somewhere else. It’s so small I think I can fit it in the sunglasses holder on the roof of the car.