This Chinese military portable radio’s full name is “Type 884 VHF FM Battalion-Company level transceiver” designed for communication between battalion HQ and its companies. Its predecessor is 883 (Type 62) “Battalion-Company level VHF FM transceiver”, developed in early 60’s. The 883 radio has a mixture design of transistors and vacuum tubes. In late 60’s, a requirement is given to industry to develop a full solid state Battalion-Company level VHF FM transceiver. This newly development radio was the 884 radio, and it is the first full solid state radio China developed in its class. It got its certificate from military in early 1972. 884 radios were supplied to Vietcom in large quantity in early 70’s even before that of Chinese army. They were widely used by both sides of 1979 border conflict between Vietnam and China, and retired in mid 80’s.
The 884 radio operates within 45-50 MHz in a single continues band. It could have 51 channels if the spacing between channels is 100 KHz. It has two modes of operation: FM and CW. The radio itself measures 260 x 220 x 90mm, weight 5.5Kg with batteries. It uses 1.5 meter whip-antenna, operates with 11.5 – 18 V DC and output power is 0.75W. With 1.5 meter antenna, operation distance is 2.5 Km for voice and 5 Km for telegraph under normal battle field condition.
This 884 portable radio is my first military transceiver. It comes in a factory sealed plastic bag. It also comes with 2 pieces of 1.5 meter whip antennas, one wire antenna of 10.5 meters, 2 sets of head sets, radio backpack and accessories carrying bag and some accessories. It was built in 1972 with serial number of 721880, which indicates it is an early production item.
All of the controls, connectors and display are on the top of the radio. It is analogue tuning and display with a tuner lock. The main switch on the left has four positions: Calibration, Voice with AFC and Voice without AFC and Telegraphy. There is also a simple telegraph key on the right. There is no power switch on the radio body itself. There is also no volume control on this radio.
The 1.5 meter whip antenna is called fish-bone antenna. It could be folded for easy carrying. It also has three-section extender on the tip.
Headset and hand-hold microphone is built into one set and the radio power switch is built into the microphone hand hold. This enable operator to turn on and off the radio without reach back to the radio body.
Normally, the radio is powered by a single 13V battery plus 4 D dry cell batteries. It also could be power by 13 D batteries. Battery holders for D batteries are included in the accessories. 884 uses one 13V battery plus one D battery to operate normally. Another one D battery is for the dial light. Two more D batteries are for emergency usage. On top of the radio, there is a power switch between normal and emergency. When battery voltage drops beyond normal operation requirement, power switch could be tuned to emergency which adds the two backup D cells into the circuit. This could put the radio in operation again for a short time.
884 radio comes with a range of accessories. Other than an extra antenna and an extra headset, it come with one 10.5 meter wire antenna, 1 screw driver, 1 brush, a extra dial lamp, 1 rubber cover for the telegraph key, a replacement PPT relay, two pieces of ground wire and user manual.
Operation of this radio is straight forward. The sound level is comfortable although lacking a volume control. AFC function works very well. I don’t even need to fine tune the dial. Selection and sensitivity is good to me.