Marconi RC501 and RC801 handportables

Marconi RC501 (VHF)/ RC801 (UHF)

This MPT1327 trunked handheld radio was bought by most electricity networks and remains firmly in the stores in most. Although not bad as a handheld trunked set it was crippled by the fact that the JRC networks were scaled for 12.5 or 25 Watt mobiles and not little 5W handhelds with relatively inefficient compact helical antennas.
In fact, these radios are not exactly little. They measure 12 inches from the tip of the helical to the base of the battery. The antenna takes up 4 inches of this and the body and battery take up the last 8 inches.

The result is that coverage with the Mid-Band RC501 and its UHF1 sibling the RC801 wasn't exactly stunning - being restricted mainly to the immediate area around a base station.

Because the system constant of the ESI network is the effective radiated power (ERP) of the mobiles (either 12.5 or 25 Watts, 1/4 wave antenna at 1.5m), having a base station nearby was not a guarantee of service as sites running low power to cater for localised coverage often had attenuators fitted to the receivers to avoid cell dragging by the relatively high powered mobiles. This meant that the handhelds didn't often get a look in. Some of these sets were later modified for simplex operation, but it was a very small subset of the total. Don't expect to find a simplex one "in the wild".

Assume that a set found in a boot sale is not simplex-capable unless proven otherwise by demonstration. Even if you DO find one, the possibility of modifying for 2m simplex is small, although I have heard rumours of sets being converted. It seems to require a firmware change and I believe that the number of simplex channels is limited (I've heard 4).

Below is a picture of a couple of RC501s with their battery charger. These ones are simplex capable - but there's no way of knowing just by looking at them! Another complaint was that the batteries only lasted a short while. In my experience the batteries need some exercise before they perform at their best. I now get a good twelve hours monitoring out of a single battery, so don't need to change them much. I have about 40 of them in stock that need regular cycling... Now, THAT's a pain

Marconi RC501s with a battery charger - essential as the batteries don't last long...

This radio is essentially a rebadged OTE HT9000 handheld, but to the best of my knowledge, there is no information on modifying this equipment (either the OTE or Marconi brands) for the Amateur bands. I've never found anything about them at all. Doesn't look good, does it?