Arcshell AR-6 70cm Budget Handheld Radio

Arcshell AR-6

The Arcshell AR-6 is an upgraded version of their AR-5, itself a close of the Baofeng BF-888s. It is also my favorite ultra-cheap two-way radio. Read below to find out why!

Before we discuss the pros and cons of the Arcshell AR-6 we first have to understand that this is a radio that costs $16 or less per radio. This is an important point as we can’t compare this radio to others that cost substantially more and expect it to be the same, but you might be surprised to see how close it comes.

What you get for your $16 in this Arcshell AR-6 is a 16 channel, lightweight, detachable antenna, detachable battery, radio that feels good in the hand. The Arcshell AR-6 range is also remarkably good.

The Arcshell AR-6 is basically a Baofeng BF-888S with different plastic bit and pieces. This is great because while I think a lot of the 888S for what it is, I think the plastics could be a little less boring and a little more streamlined.

Feeling a little lighter (even though it isn’t), and being a little thinner means the Arcshell AR-6 fits in pockets easier, including a breast pocket which is really nice. I often carry the radio in my breast pocket with the clip facing out. This also has the effect of letting me feel the audio more than hearing it since the speaker is pointed back at my chest.

The Arcshell AR-6 charger is a perfectly serviceable drop-in charger. I need to find a way to add weight to it because trying to lift the radio out with one hand results in walking away with both the radio and the charger. Yeah, I am being picky here, if I used the radios all the time I would just glue or velcro them to a shelf and not worry about it.

One thing I do not like is that the Arcshell AR-6 seems to have a problem I suspect is a clearance issue on the power/volume knob which causes it to be a little tight in spots. It does not seem to be a defect in a single unit as I have seen it on every one of these radios I have played with to differing degrees.

The other big difference between the 888S and this Arcshell AR-6 is that this radio comes in two colors; red and blue. This may seem insignificant but it helps me differentiate this radio from my others, helps me get my wife to carry it, and seems to raise fewer eyebrows for whatever reason.

Since the Arcshell AR-6 is a screenless channel based radio means you can not program it without a computer and cable. The frequencies that come in it are the same as those that come pre-programmed into the Baofeng BF-888S and contain a mix of frequencies. So is the Arcshell AR-6 legal?  Virtually all of the channels are illegal for everyone including licensed amateur radio operators. Since Arcshell AR-6 programming uses the same cable and free CHIRP programming software to program as the 888S it should be easy enough for anyone to reprogram it and make it legal.

That’s right, the Arcshell AR-6 programming cable is the same cable I used for my Baofeng BF-888S and uses the same free ham radio programming software.

Just like most radios in this class, the Arcshell AR-6 comes with a cheap little earphone which has a built-in microphone that I can honestly say is functional, that is about all the positive things I will say about it. It is not comfortable, sounds horrible and I constantly have people tell me they can’t hear me when I use the mic unless it is almost in my mouth. Not exactly great, but like I said, functional and no better or worse than most others.

 

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Photos

Arcshell AR-6 Test Results:

Screen readability N/A
In-hand feel Good
Included antenna Good
Construction quality Good
Belt clip Good
Programmability Good
Transmit audio CLICK TO LISTEN
Maximum power output (2m/70cm) N/A /1 watts
Size 240 * 57 * 42 mm
Actual weight 5.8 oz
Arcshell AR-6 manual NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE
Programming software CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Arcshell AR-6 Overall score
Arcshell AR-6 VNA Antenna Test
Arcshell AR-6 VNA Antenna Test
 SRD spectrum analysis
Arcshell AR-6 SRD spectrum analysis
If you are interested, click here for an article on how I test radios.

 

FEATURES:
  • 50 CTCSS/105 CDCSS
  • VOX Function
  • English and Chinese Voice Prompt
  • PC Programming
  • Emergency Alarm
  • Intelligent Charging
  • Battery Save
  • Battery Low Alert
  • Overcharge Protection
  • Built-in LED Flash Light
  • Noise Reduction
  • Channel Time-out Timer
  • Busy Channel Lock
  • Channel Monitor
  • Scanning Function
  • Broadband (Wide) 25khz / Narrowband (Narrow) 12.5khz Selectable
  • High or Low Power Selectable
PROS:
CONS:
  • Feels good
  • Works pretty well
  • Replaceable battery
  • Thin and light
  • Power/Volume button seems to be a smidge tight

Conclusions

The Arcshell AR-6 is an effective little radio which works exceptionally well for what it costs. When I need an easy, fast, and disposable radio this is what I reach for. It is hard to go wrong with the Arcshell AR-6, grab one, turn to a specific channel, start talking. If you lose it or drop it into a lake, who cares?
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I hope you enjoyed my Arcshell AR-6 review!

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