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Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR Transceiver (Read 14628 times)
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Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR Transceiver
May 27th, 2022, 12:45pm
 
I am creating this thread for discussion of a family of radios known by various names, including:
 
Ailunce HS2,  Radioddity QR20, or simply unbranded "Q900".  It is probably sold (or will be sold) under other names as well.
 
The radio seems to be sold with a blue or black enclosure, and green or red LEDs for the keyboard back light.
 

SDR Transceiver.  Photo from Aliexpress Vendor Advertisement.
 
In addition to what seems to be the same radio sold under different names (and perhaps with slightly different firmwares), there does seem to be different versions of the radio itself.
 
There appears to have been an older version with separate connectors for the HF and VHF/UHF antennas.  Other rear-panel connections are re-arranged accordingly.  The older version also seems to lack the Ethernet (RJ45) connector.
 

It is my impression that versions with 2 SO-259 connectors represent an older iteration of this radio.
 
In this thread, I will provide the following:
  • A review of this radio
  • Information on using this radio with a Linux Host PC/Linux Ham Radio Software.
  • Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

 
To join in the discussion, please email John at this domain.  I am happy to create accounts for legitimate users (not bots).
 
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« Last Edit: Aug 10th, 2022, 9:24pm by Administrator »  

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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR
Reply #1 - May 27th, 2022, 1:17pm
 
First Impressions and Mini Review -- SDR Transceivers known as:
Ailunce HS2,  Radioddity QR20, or Hamgeek Q900.

 
Note:  The Q900 (Sometimes including the name "HamGeek") is actually being marketed by Chongqing Guohe Electronics.  See firmware posts below for a link.
 
Background:
Many years ago, when I took my Ham Radio License Test, I vowed to not buy a shack full of HF equipment.  I'd stick with handhelds only.  Never the less, I've caught myself slowing down and checking prices when I would walk by one of those big, fancy Yeasu, Icom, or Kenwood HF rigs at hamfests -- Maybe someday...  I thought.
 
I was pretty good at sticking to my vow.  I only bought HT's such as the HamGeek FB-8 reviewed here.  I also bought lots of SW receivers;  Including a Grundig RF 250 I recently repaired.  Lots of information is Here about the Malachite SDR Receiver.
 
But when the true "Do everything" SDR came along, I couldn't help myself.  I am now the owner of a "Q900" SDR Transceiver.  
 
Unboxing and First Impressions:
The radio arrived from China in about 2 weeks.  Inside a simple cardboard box was the included carry case, and in that was the Radio,  what I would call a partial Power Cord, a Microphone, a good quality USB-C cable, and a USB Drive.
 
They might as well have just left out the so-called carry case.  While it does provide foam protection for shipping, it is useless otherwise -- at least for this radio.  It is too small for a "Go Box" or field day set-up.  Even the above included items don't really fit right, let alone other things one would want in a "Go Box", such as cables, connectors, and other accessories.  I plan to use a small backpack or shoulder pack, and set up a proper Man Pack or Go Pack.
 
The included microphone appears small and cheap, but it is actually fully adequate.  It is *not* like those tiny ones they sell to plug into an HT.  It's about half way between one of those and a proper CB or Mobile Mic.
 
Other reviewers complained about the very minimal coaxial power plug and un-fused lead that is included.  I agree that a proper power cord would be better, but when one considers that cigarette lighter plugs generally contain a fuse, I don't think that the lack of a fuse in the cable is a big deal.  If actually wiring the radio into a mobile installation, the fuse should be installed at the beginning of the run (which should start at or very near the vehicle's battery.)  The short cable included is not intended to fulfill that purpose.  What they should have done is simply include the (fused) cigarette lighter plug.  An inline fuse is absolutely essential if one is going to use the included wire to make a harness for use with a Lithium Polymer battery.  I would advise using an XT60 connector on the other end, so that the radio can be powered from standard hobby Lithium-Ion (LiPo) batteries.  In this manner the radio retains portability while transmitting at closer to it's full power.
 
The radio arrived with the internal battery charged to about 70%, which is the condition the battery should be in for shipping.
 
I also got the GPS module with mine.  It was offered for free, so this was the perk that closed the deal for me.  The GPS module came pre-installed, but it does not include a GPS antenna.  It turns out that I have an GPS antenna from the Android Automotive Head Unit Reviewed Here, so at least for the time-being, I can use that antenna for testing.
 
When the unit arrived and I took it out of the so-called "carry case" a small screw and a nut fell into the case.  It turns out that all of the screws that attach the So-239 antenna socket to the chassis were loose, and one was missing.  Using a pair of forceps, I was able to re-install the screw and nut in it's place, and tighten the other 3.  Yes, a drop of Loctite blue was probably called for, so I may end up doing this job again.
 
The fact that the screw fell out is unremarkable, but the fact that the nut escaped from the inside illustrates that this radio is not at all sealed from the outside environment.  Despite advertising showing the radio covered in drops of water, it is not at all environmentally sealed.  No Environmental rating (IP) is stated in the specifications.  The circuit boards are not conformal coated. In this reviewers' opinion, the pictures showing the radio being used in unprotected environments are false and misleading.  If the radio is used for field operations, it should be protected in a water proof bag or "dry bag".  As mentioned, the included box is too small to actually enclose the Q900 and need accessories, and it is also not waterproof against submersion, but I will give it credit for at least some environmental protection against minor splashing, and better than nothing against a humid environment.
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« Last Edit: Aug 15th, 2023, 8:53am by Administrator »  

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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR
Reply #2 - Jun 4th, 2022, 1:49pm
 
What Works and What Doesn't -- SDR Transceivers known as:
Ailunce HS2,  Radioddity QR20, or simply unbranded "Q900".

 
What Doesn't Work
Call me pessimistic if you want, but I feel it is appropriate to warn potential consumers of the limitations of this device.  What works will be listed last so that we leave on a good note.  These lists are in random order for now, but I'll clean them up as I continue to work with the radio.  Check back as this review is currently a live document.
 
  • The GPS module installed in mine works, but only displays basic GPS info in extremely small text on a dedicated screen.  I thought that at the very least, there would be a way to set the radios internal time from the GPS time, but there does not seem to be any way to do that.  It also displays GPS speed, but it is so small as to be completely impractical while driving.
  • The radio copies the communications protocol from a Yaesu FT-817, but it does not work if connected to CHIRP, and Yaesu FT-817 is selected.  The Radios memories cannot be read or written.  The provided BT app does not include any way to select/edit/read/or write the radios channel memories.  In other words, I have no user friendly way to program/edit/name channel memories at this time.
  • Only channels (frequencies) you can transmit on can be stored.  There is a hidden menu setting that would seem to allow storage of out-of-band frequencies, but it seems to simply allow out of band transmit.  If out of band transmit is then turned off, the stored frequencies are lost.
  • The Android/IOS QRadioBLE app does not help with writing frequencies to the memories.  It was written before such functionality was included in the radio firmware.
  • While a previous Ailunce Firmware mentions support for USB peripherals, no keyboard or mouse I have tried works on my radio.
  • With the current firmware, Squelch does not work in AM mode. --  It seems to only work for  FM.  If you plan to listen to Shortwave, Air, or CB, plan on tolerating some noise.



 
 
What Does Work
There is some good news.  In fact, quite a bit of it.  This radio has great potential if they continue to provide firmware updates, and information for the developer community.
 
  • It is solidly constructed, and with the exception of the mentioned lack of environmental protection, it should withstand even those bad things that happen to nice radios.
  • It has good receive and is very usable out of the box at least for casual Shortwave listening without messing with dozens of SDR parameters.  It include features such as live CW decoding.



 
What works with Linux?
  • JTDX on Linux works with the same settings as shown in the manual for the Windows version.
  • Newly purchased Radios, or Radios with newer Bootloaders can be upgraded from a .BIN image on a USB drive, so installing future Firware updates should be easily performed using a Linux PC.  If your Boot Loader is not yet updated, you can reference the Thread on the Malachite SDR for dealing with .DFU files using Linux.  Note:  I have not tried what is mentioned in the Malachite Thread with the radio described in this thread.


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« Last Edit: Aug 12th, 2022, 9:12pm by Administrator »  

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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR
Reply #3 - Jul 4th, 2022, 7:08pm
 
This is a quick post to provide links to the brand names for this radio:
 
Links:
 
Chongqing Guohe Electronics Q900
Ailunce HS2
Radioddity QR20
 
Note: Ailunce is not a misspelling for Alliance.
 
A Few Notes:
 
  • The Guohe Electronics website has improved greatly in just the last few weeks.  Looks like they are getting serious about supporting this radio.
  • While I am making the assumption that these radios are all the same or very similar, I do not know the results of using one brand firmware on a different brand radio. It is possible that different radios do in fact have component changes or boot loader changes.  Using a different firmware may permanently render the radio unusable (brick). See below.
  • I am listing the vendor brands together like this only as a reference.

 
Firmware Installation Methods:
 
Q900 Radios that show HW: 2.0 (or later, presumably) can be updated using a USB Flash Drive. Installing a separate Bootloader file is unnecessary at this time.  The DeFuseDemo Software, and instructions that reference it are not applicable to currently shipping versions of this radio (Summer 2022). HW version can be found in the Info App in the Menu (The screen with the Icons).  This also means that upgrading the radio using Linux (or any operating system) is not an issue.  Just copy the Firmware file to the root of provided USB drive (or any USB drive).  Be sure to rename the file on the USB drive to FW-NEW.bin (no matter the version). With the radio OFF, insert the drive into the full size USB connector on the back of the radio (you cannot use the USB-C jack even if you have a USB-C compatible Flash Drive), and turn the radio on.  The firmware update will happen automatically.  Follow on-screen prompts.
 
Note:  Bin Files and DFU files are different.  Renaming a file with a .dfu suffix to .bin will not work, and could brick the radio.  All new FW files should be provided in the .BIN format.
 
More Firmware Information:
 
As mentioned the Chongqing Guohe Electronics website has gone from just a shell to a very nice looking website, including a manual (very similar to the others, but with some additional information) and 2 firmware versions.  The latest software on the Guohe Electronics website is called FW-NEW_2.1.5.bin inside the zip.  My radio said it had FW 3.0.0, so I knew that installing it could result in a downgrade, but I tried it anyway.  Even though the file inside the zip had a date of 24 Jun 2022 (much later than when I received my radio),  I ended up with a downgraded radio.  While I did not test functionality, several of the applications in the Menu (Icon) screen were missing.
 
While I still chanced bricking, or at least rebrading the radio, the above situation prompted me to try the Radioddity QR20 firmware.  The Raddiodity FW page had a newer firmware still marked 3.0.0, but dated "20220607" -- again -- later than the date I received my radio, so I gave it a shot.
 
My radio now reports HW: V3.0 and SW: V3.1.1.  (HW: 3.0 is not a typo.  That is what it says.  I assume that refers to a Bootloader version). The radio also retains the Chongqing Guohe Electronics logo and my Callsign at startup, It also retained my programmed frequencies.  I will continue to report FW issues and fixes in the previous post.
 
Apparently, the only difference between 3.0.0 and 3.1.1 (AKA 3.0.0 20220607) is a fix for a Bluetooth Headset issue.  I am not expecting any other differences/fixes.
 
UPDATE:  I can now report with some confidence that the Radioddity QR20 firmwares and the Chongqing Guohe Electronics Q900 firmwares seem to be the same.  The Version 2.1.5 FW-NEW.bin from the Raddiodity site and the Chongqing Guohe Electronics page have the same md5sum result.  The Ailunce Firmwares seem to follow a different numbering scheme, and are distributed in .dfu format.
 
I still suspect that the Ailunce firmwares are for the same hardware. According to some information, the Ailunce firmwares may even be ahead of the QR20/Q900 firmwares.   For one, this site has partially reverse engineered the HS2 firmware, and found several PIN's.  These PIN's are the same as the PIN's in the QR20 and Q900 Firmwares.  Note also that the linked github apparently mentions a V1.4.0 Ailunce
 FW.
 
If anyone would like try loading a Ailunce .dfu firmware on their QR20 or Q900, please use the information at the top of this page to create an account, and post your result. Again, please note the cautionary statement above.
 
Check this thread often, as I will post information about new firmwares as I find them.
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« Last Edit: Aug 10th, 2022, 11:29pm by Administrator »  

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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR
Reply #4 - Jul 18th, 2022, 4:52pm
 
New Firmware Information as of 17 July 2022:
 
The Guohe Electronics website now has a V3.0 firmware in FW-NEW.bin format.  It is not a zip'ed directory -- no instructions or change log, just the raw bin file, so it may get lost with other files in your downloads directory, which IMHO, is a bit unprofessional.  Note also Clicking on the small "books" icon will get you the 2.1.5 link.  You have to click on the text to get the V3.0 FW.  MD5sums verify that this file is identical to the latest Radioddity 3.0.0 file (AKA 3.1.1 or  20220607)  This means that the Q900 and the QR20 both have identical firmwares as of this writing.
 
MD5 results for reference or just for the skeptical:
 
File downloaded from the Radioddity site:
Code:
md5sum Downloads/Radioddity_QR20_Firmware_Update_V3.0.0_20220607(1)/Firmware/FW-NEW_V3.0.0_20220607/FW-NEW.bin' 
0cd3623f56249ca1e147d11660fefde9  Downloads/Radioddity_QR20_Firmware_Update_V3.0.0_20220607(1)/Firmware/FW-NEW_V3.0.0_20220607/FW-NEW.bin 


File downloaded from the Guohe Electronics site:
Code:
md5sum Downloads/FW-NEW.bin' 
0cd3623f56249ca1e147d11660fefde9  Downloads/FW-NEW.bin 


 
I find the timing of this more than just a bit interesting.  I'm sure Guohe Electronics properly developed, tested, and approved this FW for their radios.  The thought that they just read my post saying it worked on my radio, grabbed it from the Radioddity site, and copied it to their website never even crossed my mind.   Roll Eyes
 
UPDATE:

Downloading the latest firmware on the Ailunce site [2022Version HS2 FW] results in a zip with a change log and a Firmware in .bin format.  The date is that same 2022 06 07 date, and it mentions a version 3.1.1.  I bet you will never guess what the md5 value for this file is...
 
Code:
CW-Hi12:/storage/emulated/0/Download $ md5 Ailunce\ HS2\ FW-2022.6.7.bin
0cd3623f56249ca1e147d11660fefde9  Ailunce HS2 FW-2022.6.7.bin 


 
Note:  The md5 command looks a little different here because I did this one on an Android tablet.  How did I get a Linux command line on an Android tablet?  Android is  Linux, and you can easily get to a shell by installing an app like ConnectBot.
 
So as of this post, all 3 market names of this radio use the exact same firmware.  The cautions above still apply in general, but md5 does not lie -- The firmwares are identical, and apparently  will not rebrand your radio.
 
This brings up an obvious question -- Who is really doing the development for this radio?  Is there some other company (or person, or "entity") leading development of this radio?  Is there a development site out there someplace with even newer firmwares or test firmwares -- Maybe even source code?
 
If anyone would like to come forward with answers to the above questions, or contribute anything else to the discussion of this radio, please request registration by emailing "john" at this domain.
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« Last Edit: Aug 10th, 2022, 9:43pm by Administrator »  

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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR Transceiv
Reply #5 - Aug 11th, 2022, 2:49pm
 
Passwords:
 
The internet isn't a very good place to keep secrets.  In this spirit, it's easy to find a few passcodes that allow access to various menus in current firmwares for the HS2/QR20/Q900
 
Here are some that we know so far:
 
Factory Pin: 200510  Lots of Factory Settings  -- NOTE:This passcode has been changed in FW 3.1.4 (22 Aug 2022)
Agent Pin: 685911  Set ITU Region  
User Pin:  000000  Normal Menus Only
 
From GitHub:
Turn on, long press MENU, scroll to SET and press MENU, put the cursor on the top line option on the screen.
Long press PA, it should say "input a password" at the top. Enter 685911 and it will say "agent setup."
Then long press MENU key to save and exit.
Long press MENU, scroll to and press SET again. Scroll to the bottom, there will now be an additional menu item: HAM_AERA [sic]
Select this item, and use right and left arrows to set your ITU zone.  (e.g. US is ITU Region 2)
Long press MENU to exit, long press MENU again to return to radio operation.
 
The method is the same to enter the Factory menu.  This is a whole other hierarchy of menus that allow much more customization of the radio.  I'll provide some specific settings in future posts.
 
I will also note that not all of the items in the Factory menus work properly, or do what is expected.  Some seem not to be saved, or are not persistent across a power cycle.
 
I was able to change the color of the spectrum display (trace) from the default salmon pink to green, and this setting has (so far) been retained, however a setting for "scope light" -- which means whether the area under the spectrum trace is filled in or not -- was not maintained after a power cycle.
 
 
When I found a setting for Allow out-of-band frequency save, I thought it would fix one of the complaints in the What Works and What Doesn't section (post 2 of this thread); however, it seems to simply turn on out of band transmitting.  If out of band transmitting is turned back off in the regular menu, all stored out of band frequencies are lost.  This item is also redundantly located in the General Menu, and the Additional Menu.  Transmit out of band is also in the regular menu, where it probably shouldn't be.
 
Another interesting menu is the boot logo menu.  This explains why trying firmwares from different sites did not re-brand the radio.  You can have whichever brand radio you would like.  There are 5 logos to choose from, not just the 3 brands I have mentioned here.
 
Overall, the so-called Factory settings are poorly coded, and need a lot of work.
 
The code 000000 simply sets the Menus back to the standard set (user).
 
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« Last Edit: Sep 8th, 2022, 4:50pm by Administrator »  

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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR Transceiv
Reply #6 - Aug 26th, 2022, 8:15am
 
BREAKING NEWS
 
There Seems to be a V3.1.4 firmware on the Guohe Electronics Download page.  The .bin file inside the .rar is dated 22 August 2022.
 
There is no change log, release notes, instructions, etc.  The only thing in the download is the .bin firmware file.
 
Previous 3.x.x firmware files have been removed from the page.
 
They also fixed the problem with the links on the download page.  Clicking either the text link, or the icon next to it will get you this latest file.
 
http://www.guohedz.com/DOWNLOAD
 
As long as your radio is up to date with any fairly recent firmware file, this .bin firmware image can be installed by simply putting the .bin file at the root of a USB thumb drive, plugging the drive into the full size USB port on the radio, and turning the radio on.  Be sure previous versions of the firmware file are removed from the USB drive (or overwritten). That's why is best to keep the USB drive provided with the radio for only this purpose.  
 
As mentioned, up to this point, recent firmwares seem to be compatible with the various brands of this radio.  Installing this firmware in an Ailunce HS2 or Radioddity QR20 should be OK, and should not re-brand the radio;  However, as stated previously, mixing and matching firmwares is generally very risky, and not recommended.
If you try this firmware on an Ailunce HS2 or Radioddity QR20, etc., you do so at your own risk.

 
I will load this firmware on my radio, and report any noticed changes as an update to this post or in a following post.

UPDATE:
 The MD5 hash of the .bin FW file (not the archive) is:  749da3bc653536e70fa25eb8615016ec
It is best practice to check the MD5 hash of the file after it has been copied to the USB drive since the filename the radio checks for is always "FW-NEW.bin" regardless of version.
 
A few more notes on installing FW files:
  • The radio does not check FW versions.  It will happily downgrade itself if you put an older FW on the USB drive
  • Be sure the radio has sufficient battery charge prior to attempting a FW update.  The radio does not check for this.  A loss of power during a FW update could brick the radio.

If you try loading this firmware (on any brand of these radios), please request registration by emailing "john" at this domain, and share your results and changes you notice.
 
WARNING:  My first note on FW 3.1.4 is a warning:  They have changed the Factory Setting Menu passcode.  If you have made any changes in these "hidden" menus you will be stuck with them unless (1) You downgrade, make the changes, and re-upgrade or (2) the new Factory Menu password is found.
UPDATE:  At this time, I have to recommend against installing the FW 3.1.4.  There are no release notes, and I do not see anything that is fixed or improved.  The only difference seems to be the change to the "Factory" menu password.  Squelch on AM is not fixed, nor is the issue with the radio not correctly storing receive-only frequencies (as far as I can tell.)  Yes, I may be being very naive, but I am beginning to wonder if it is purely coincidence that on 11 August, I posted a message containing the "Factory" menu password, and stating that "Overall, the so-called Factory settings are poorly coded, and need a lot of work.", and on 22 August, a FW update comes out that lock users out of this menu, and has no release notes stating any other changes.  Also, neither Ailunce or Radiodity have this firmware on their sites.
 
You tell me: Coincidence or is Guohe Electronics reading this page?   Have you seen any other changes in 3.1.4?  Please request registration by emailing "john" at this domain.
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« Last Edit: Sep 10th, 2022, 7:56pm by Administrator »  

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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR
Reply #7 - Oct 25th, 2022, 10:03am
 
Thank you to this poster for the information.  It is hard to find much info about this radio.  I've had mine for about two months now and really enjoy it.  I have the Radioddity QR20 with V 2.0 HW.  I tried to load the firmware update onto a flash drive but it did not load.  It looks like on the QR20 vesrision the bootloader must be updated the hard way.  I am very nervous to perform this surgery on the machine.  Those jumper wires are very very tiny and it is a very tight space.  I guess Ill wait until i can find someone who can help me.  
 
Thank you again for all this info!
 
-Stephen
 
Quote from Administrator on Jul 4th, 2022, 7:08pm:
This is a quick post to provide links to the brand names for this radio:

Links:

Chongqing Guohe Electronics Q900
Ailunce HS2
Radioddity QR20

Note: Ailunce is not a misspelling for Alliance.

A Few Notes:

  • The Guohe Electronics website has improved greatly in just the last few weeks.  Looks like they are getting serious about supporting this radio.
  • While I am making the assumption that these radios are all the same or very similar, I do not know the results of using one brand firmware on a different brand radio. It is possible that different radios do in fact have component changes or boot loader changes.  Using a different firmware may permanently render the radio unusable (brick). See below.
  • I am listing the vendor brands together like this only as a reference.


Firmware Installation Methods:

Q900 Radios that show HW: 2.0 (or later, presumably) can be updated using a USB Flash Drive. Installing a separate Bootloader file is unnecessary at this time.  The DeFuseDemo Software, and instructions that reference it are not applicable to currently shipping versions of this radio (Summer 2022). HW version can be found in the Info App in the Menu (The screen with the Icons).  This also means that upgrading the radio using Linux (or any operating system) is not an issue.  Just copy the Firmware file to the root of provided USB drive (or any USB drive).  Be sure to rename the file on the USB drive to FW-NEW.bin (no matter the version). With the radio OFF, insert the drive into the full size USB connector on the back of the radio (you cannot use the USB-C jack even if you have a USB-C compatible Flash Drive), and turn the radio on.  The firmware update will happen automatically.  Follow on-screen prompts.

Note:  Bin Files and DFU files are different.  Renaming a file with a .dfu suffix to .bin will not work, and could brick the radio.  All new FW files should be provided in the .BIN format.

More Firmware Information:

As mentioned the Chongqing Guohe Electronics website has gone from just a shell to a very nice looking website, including a manual (very similar to the others, but with some additional information) and 2 firmware versions.  The latest software on the Guohe Electronics website is called FW-NEW_2.1.5.bin inside the zip.  My radio said it had FW 3.0.0, so I knew that installing it could result in a downgrade, but I tried it anyway.  Even though the file inside the zip had a date of 24 Jun 2022 (much later than when I received my radio),  I ended up with a downgraded radio.  While I did not test functionality, several of the applications in the Menu (Icon) screen were missing.

While I still chanced bricking, or at least rebrading the radio, the above situation prompted me to try the Radioddity QR20 firmware.  The Raddiodity FW page had a newer firmware still marked 3.0.0, but dated "20220607" -- again -- later than the date I received my radio, so I gave it a shot.

My radio now reports HW: V3.0 and SW: V3.1.1.  (HW: 3.0 is not a typo.  That is what it says.  I assume that refers to a Bootloader version). The radio also retains the Chongqing Guohe Electronics logo and my Callsign at startup, It also retained my programmed frequencies.  I will continue to report FW issues and fixes in the previous post.

Apparently, the only difference between 3.0.0 and 3.1.1 (AKA 3.0.0 20220607) is a fix for a Bluetooth Headset issue.  I am not expecting any other differences/fixes.

UPDATE:  I can now report with some confidence that the Radioddity QR20 firmwares and the Chongqing Guohe Electronics Q900 firmwares seem to be the same.  The Version 2.1.5 FW-NEW.bin from the Raddiodity site and the Chongqing Guohe Electronics page have the same md5sum result.  The Ailunce Firmwares seem to follow a different numbering scheme, and are distributed in .dfu format.

I still suspect that the Ailunce firmwares are for the same hardware. According to some information, the Ailunce firmwares may even be ahead of the QR20/Q900 firmwares.   For one, this site has partially reverse engineered the HS2 firmware, and found several PIN's.  These PIN's are the same as the PIN's in the QR20 and Q900 Firmwares.  Note also that the linked github apparently mentions a V1.4.0 Ailunce
FW.

If anyone would like try loading a Ailunce .dfu firmware on their QR20 or Q900, please use the information at the top of this page to create an account, and post your result. Again, please note the cautionary statement above.

Check this thread often, as I will post information about new firmwares as I find them.

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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR Transceiv
Reply #8 - Apr 19th, 2023, 7:45pm
 
NEW Firmwares
 
Again, there seem to be new firmwares on the Guohe Electronics Download page.
 
Version 3.1.4 dated 22 August 2022 seems to have been removed.  I have reported the fact that some (but not all) of the previous FW versions seem to disappear.
 
Although the link you click to get the FW files Says e.g. "HW3.0 SW 3.3.2.rar", the resulting file is actually a .zip file.  Again, the zip contains only the raw binary FW-NEW.bin file -- No release notes, instructions, etc.
 
There is also a Q900-FW-V3 log.rar, which in this case does result in a .rar file being downloaded.  This archive contains only a .txt file.  The contents of this log file is listed here:
 
Code:
Date: 2023.4.16
FW-V3.4.0
1. Fix the issue of insufficient frequency offset in NFM mode.
Date: 2023.3.20
FW-V3.3.2
1. Fix incorrect DMR call boot mode.
2. Add MPU6050 drive.
3. Fix the problem that the channel cannot be saved.
4. Add write channel function.
5. Add DMR setup menu shortcut keys
6. Support direct frequency operation and relay operation in DMR mode.
6. Increase compatibility with Hytera and Motorola interphones.
Date: February 22, 2022
FW-V3.1.8
1. Solve the problem of insufficient NFM mode downward adjustment system.
2. Add mouse drive, mouse can be used as encoder.
3. Increase GPS data output through serial port.
4. Resolve channel storage data errors.
Date: February 22, 2022
FW-V3.1.4
1. Solve the problem of insufficient NFM mode downward adjustment system.
2. Add an AFO interface to output different audio in different modes for easy access to external speakers.
Date: 2022.6.7
1. Switch Bluetooth input to headset audio, and when Bluetooth FT8 is enabled, the speaker can be turned off to play FT8 without affecting each other.
Date: 2022.5.4
FW-V3.1.1
1. Solve the transmission frequency offset problem.
2. Open the user calibration interface to provide frequency, voltage, and S-meter calibration.
3. Solve the problem of no sub tone in NFM mode transmission.
4. Add new local oscillator driver support. 


 
Note that the links refer to a HW3.0&4.0 SW 3.4.0.rar.  [Emphasis added].  As of this writing, I do not understand the reference to a HW 4.0.
 
Note that a previous Firmware incremented my HW version from 2.0 to 3.0, so I am assuming that one or both of the latest FW's will change the HW version to 4.0.
However, some advertising does mention different actual hardware versions.  At this time, I have no indication that HW 4.0 refers to an actual hardware change.  UPDATE: See next post.
 
I will try the available Firmwares, and report any significant findings.
 
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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR Transceiv
Reply #9 - Apr 19th, 2023, 8:37pm
 
Quick Firmware Test Results.
 
Note:  Check back on this page for updates as I use the FW.  I just wanted to post something quickly.
 
I installed the latest Firmware on the Guohe Electronics Download page as of this writing.
Link:  HW3.0&4.0 SW 3.4.0.rar.
Resulting Archive: SW3_4_0.zip
Date (as listed in the log file mentioned in the previous post): 2023.4.16

Observations
:
  • The Startup Screen Logo has changed.  Note that this could possibly mean that it will re-brand a radio if it is installed on a different radio, although they could still have separate startup screen files, and Guohe only changed their own (hopefully).  The new logo is professional, and not as intimidating as the old one.
  • The Factory Settings menu password is still unknown.  (Did not revert to the known one.)
  • USB KEYBOARDS WORK !! Grin.  This makes entering your Call Sign and Channel Memory names MUCH nicer.  It's worth buying a small USB keyboard just for this radio.
  • USB Mice seem to be at least partially supported. But in a quick test, I could not get the scroll wheel to tune the radio.  Perhaps I was just not in the right mode.
  • There does not seem to be any improvement in AM squelch. (Still non-functional)
  • As the 3.3.2 release notes say, Saving channels now seems to work.  Again, more use is required.
  • My listed HW Version is still 3.0.  This, along with some advertising I have seen, would seem to imply that there are now different actual Hardware versions of this radio.  It is unclear if future FW updates will continue to support older radios, and if so, for how long.

More Observation after Trying FW 3.4.0:
  • There are still problems saving and recalling Memory (Stored Channels)
    The Log for FW-V3.1.8 States: "4. Resolve channel storage data errors."
    The Log for FW-V3.3.2 States: "3. Fix the problem that the channel cannot be saved."
    Obviously they are aware issues here and they did not actually fix it in 3.1.8.
    Also, technically, they may both be true, but Channels can still not be saved and recalled properly.
    Example:
    I attempt to store the local Tower Frequency (AM aircraft) in Memory (Channel) 10.
    I go to Channel 11, and then press Down to return to Channel 10.  The incorrect frequency is displayed.
    I press Down again, and go to channel 09.  I press Up to return to Channel 10.  The correct frequency is displayed.
    So obviously the frequency is stored, because by approaching Channel 10 from a lower Channel results in the proper frequency.  It is just not recalled properly when I approach Channel 10 from higher Channels
  • Even given the above, There seem to be numerous issues saving and correctly recalling Channels.
    In my numerous attempts to discover the previous note, the contents of other Saved Channels was corrupted.
    It also seems that the state of "OUT-BAND-EN" may have an effect on Channel storage.  It will not allow storage of Out of Band Channels?
    UPDATE:  After struggling with this for an hour, It does seem that I cannot store an aircraft frequency (for example) at all if OUT-BAND-EN is OFF.  In fact, Setting it to off after out of band frequencies are stored in a Channel(s), seems to result in all out-of-band stored channels being lost/overwritten.  
    Channel Storage may be better, but it is still far from fixed.
     Guohe needs to systematically examine their code, and carefully check operation.
  • When I installed the FW-V3.4.0, it erased my Call Sign, and all Stored Channels.  Especially without a way to save channels via a PC or Android App, this is unacceptable.  The full potential of this radio is only realized with the storage of many channels.  Having to program them back in again one at a time is not a reasonable request of the user.
  • I mentioned previously that USB Keyboards work.  Here are a few more notes on this:
    USB Keyboards that also contain a USB hub do not work.  In fact, I currently believe that a hub cannot be used at all.  The device plugged into the radio must directly identify itself as an USB Keyboard (or Mouse).  If follows from this that a USB Keyboard and Mouse cannot be used at the same time.
  • Most Wireless Keyboards with a dedicated receiver ("Dongle") do work.  As with a wired Keyboard, the dongle cannot be left in the radio, as the radio will not power on with it inserted.  Bluetooth wireless keyboards do not seem to work.  Even though the radio does have Bluetooth, there is no provision for pairing a device like a keyboard.
  • (UPDATE From Previous Post) If a keyboard is attached, the Power Button may have to be held for a longer time to get the radio to Power On.  
  • I am not sure if this is an update to the Radio, or to Linux, but the radio now seems to be properly detected as a USB sound source and sound sink to Linux.

 
NOTE:  This is a website devoted to Open Source Software.  If Guohe Electronics would release the source code for this radio under and appropriate Open Source License, the developer community could probably fix most of these issues in a day.
 
We would also likely have dozens of additional apps for this radio -- for example aircraft ADS-B Tracking.  Note that open source code for decoding is already available for decoding ADS-B signals.
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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR Transceiv
Reply #10 - Jul 11th, 2023, 2:31pm
 
1st business, hello to ALL! Great thread, very useful info! I was REALLY on the fence with ordering one of these radios as 700+$US is quite a bit of loot for my budget. Especially after reading all of the negative reviews posted everywhere. Reluctantly, I took the plunge and ordered one. I received the Q900 v4 with the DMR add-on. After receiving the radio I took 2 whole days just reviewing all of the menu items/settings/and functions until I was VERY COMFORTABLE with what all of them were, AND how they all worked, BEFORE CHANGING ANYTHING!!!
 
Read my last line again as I now truly believe 2/3's of all negative post are operator error!
 
I say this because of the nature of the firmware in the radio. (If) you tell the radio to do something (change a setting) IT WILL! This being said, if you make a settings change on one band/mode it very likely will STAY IN MEMORY until "unchanged". If someone goes in and "plays around a bit" it's VERY LIKELY they sabotage themselves. Also the radio has no "revert/reset" function. Not real sure, but perhaps a firmware overwrite would reset the initial settings, but I don't know.
 
Point being -->>> LEARN THE RADIO <<<-- !!!!!
 
Now, on to my observations after running the radio for several weeks:
 
The most TX crucial setting will be in getting the audio set correctly. this will be independent on every band and mode. Meaning, if the audio is correct on 14m USB, don't expect it to be ok ANYWHERE else without re-adjusting. Power output is also a factor. The radio works great on 12v supply, however it "starves" on SSB type transmissions using just the built in battery. You will be somewhat distorted no matter what you do. I would guess FM would not suffer from this effect. Getting the mic audio correct is a must. No matter how I adjusted mine it just didn't have a good quality sound on TX. It was low tone, muffled, and a tad hollow sounding. This I had to try to correct. After seeing several "fix your baofang mic" videos I decided to open the mic and have a look. GLAD I DID! The mic is almost the same as in the videos. NO hole for the tiny condenser mic element. All of the sound entering was being brought in through the speaker holes that are off to the side of the element. So, I dug around, found a good mic element, 2/3's larger in size but it fit the molded hole in the mic's clamshell perfectly. I drilled an 1/8" center hole for the mic in the clamshell, pushed the new larger element into the clamshell hole. It fit tight enough no glue, etc needed. Once in place I installed longer legs on the element, reinstalled the board, then soldered the new legs to it. WOW! What a HUGE DIFFERANCE! It cleaned the audio's quality by 2/3's! I you don't have a better element you can at least extend the legs and remount the element to the front plate of the mic cover, and DRILL THE HOLE!
 
MAJOR CHANGE, JUST DO IT!!!
 
All of the other functions of the radio work great and I personally would buy this again.
 
Looking forward to newer firmwares in the future. Hopefully someone with more grey matter than I can open more of the radios functions and limitations. Would love to see opened TX or MARS mods. The OUT OF BAND enable on mine is in the menu, however it will not TX out of bands, enabled or not. -Odd. Perhaps this could be set "ON" with the admin password on an older firmware, then flash back up and keep setting, but I don't know. Radio works too well to be flashing without good cause for now. I'll wait until it gains more popularity and gets better, modded firmware.
Thanks to the thread starter (administrator, john, ???, whomever) thx.
BTW... I'm  on Brandmeister talkgroup 93 (North America) very often and can have a qso there. 73 to ALL
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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR Transceiv
Reply #11 - Jul 18th, 2023, 10:03am
 
Thanks @KC8SBS for the hint about the microphone.  I'm definitely opening my mic this evening -- with drill in hand.
 
This post has been updated.
 
I would also like to point out that it is very easy to wire almost any microphone for this radio.  The connection diagrams for the key, headphones, and mic are in the User Manual.
 
For the Mic, the connections are as follows:
 
Code:
Tip                       ---  Audio (Mic Element)
Ring 1                  ---  Key 
Ring 2 (Sleeve)  ---  GND  


 
The connector is a standard 1/8" (3.5mm) "Stereo" plug.

 
The above may or may not be correct, but I should point out that the included microphone is actually an SMU (Speaker/Mic Unit), and has a 4 contact plug for Speaker, Mic, PTT and Ground.
 
Modifying the included mic is certainly an option, but wiring up any Ham/communications mic, Headset, or Speaker/Mic unit may give better results especially for Field or Base use.
 
I have opened my Speaker Mic Unit, and drilled a small hole in the center of the Mic holder area.  I should also mention that the Condenser Mic Element installed in my SMU was much smaller than the molded area intended for it.  This meant that the element was loose inside the Mic, suspended only by it's wires.  It was free to move around.  This would cause significant and unpleasant sounds if the Mic were shaken or moved while transmitting.  I applied some non-hardening glue to hold the mic element in place.
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Re: Ailunce HS2/Radioddity QR20/Q900 SDR Transceiv
Reply #12 - Aug 30th, 2023, 2:40pm
 
Guohetec has updated their website. It now has additional info in the "Products" section. E.G. -The boards that add in to the Q900. Hopefully they keep developing their site to include additional support info, firmwares, and accessories.
Check it out:
https://www.guohedz.com/?_l=en
 
BTW... They've added a VFO knob available for the Q900. But didn't see where to order it yet. Wink
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