TBR-115 Compact VHF transceiver

TBR-115 Compact VHF transceiver is a result of Sino-American technology transfer taken place in early 80s during so-called “Honeymoon” period. It is modeled after American AN/PRC-139 and is designed to equip battalion-company- platoon level commanding personal in infantry, artillery, airborne and marine units, replacing 861(A), 862(A), 823, 7011 transceivers and other similar radios. It also could communicate with 861, 823, 884, 7011 and other transceiver working within its frequency range. With the technology transfer, design work was started in mid 80s and the machine was certified in early 90s, likely in 1992. It is still current PLA equipment as of 2008. However, TBR-115 is starting to phase out of PLA front line units.

This radio transceiver is designed to be carried by infantry battalion-company- platoons level commanding personals without need of a radio operator. It is light weighted, only about 1.9 kg with antenna, battery and headset. It is measured 240x78x32 mm. It works within 40.000 to 59.975 MHz with 800 possible channels (25KHz between channels). It is controlled by a microprocessor with frequency syntheses and 10 programmed channels. It is the first Chinese field infantry transceiver with a microprocessor. The microprocessor and other IC chips are imported from Motorola and Phillips. An all domestic components version was introduced later as TBR-116. TBR 115 and 116 have exactly the same externals but with redesigned circuit based on domestic produced microprocessor and other IC chips.

The radio’s power output has two levels. High output level is no less than 1W, and low output level is about 0.2W. It uses a 1.3 meter rod type antenna. The earphone and microphone are built into one unit and connect to a small PPT control box and then connect to the radio body. The 115 has a five-level volume control. The lowest level is a whisper level, at this voice level, the sensitivity of microphone is also increased. The highest voice level also turns the squelch off. There are two control knobs on the top of the radio and a LCD screen on its side. Using these two knobs together with the PPT switch, you can program the ten stored channels from 800 possible channels; switch between high and low output power. There is also a scanning feature that scanning within the ten programmed channels. The LCD screen could be lighted for night time operation.

The radio is powered by a 12V NiCad or NiMH rechargeable battery pack. An automatic battery charger is supplied with radio. When the battery power is dropped beyond operational voltage, there is an audio beep and LCD flashes to remind operator to change the battery pack. The radio operation temperature range is from -25 C to +55 C. It could be submerged into water (1 meter deep) for 2 hours; withstand 20 g impact and it MTBF is 1000 hours. I have two samples of 115, both were made in 1998.

The feedback from troop about this radio is very positive. The added squelch feature makes long time operation not a tiring business anymore. The only issue is that the 1.3 meter long antenna is too long comparing to that of 861. You could usually see 115 is carried with the antenna folded in half.