Yaesu VX-8R - an ongoing review

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by WH7EVR, Sep 18, 2009.

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  1. WH7EVR

    WH7EVR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Howdy folks!

    I just picked up a VX-8R yesterday, and will be doing an ongoing review as I become acquainted with it. First impressions:

    • Solid build, lightweight
    • Antenna system is obnoxious: 2m/440 with easily-lost extender for 6m (replaced it with an MFJ 1720s)
    • Battery capacity leaves a little to be desired
    • Very complex to operate, expected to do a lot of factory resets and read the manual front-to-back many times.

    I've been using 440 most of the night, fairly good speaker though volume leaves a bit to be desired.

    More to come :)
     
  2. KD4MOJ

    KD4MOJ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Don't know if you do APRS but I'd be interested on hearing how that works out.

    ...DOUG
    KD4MOJ
     
  3. G4ILO

    G4ILO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been doing APRS with mine. It's great fun and my XYL likes being able to see where I am on an internet map, but living in a hilly area with few other hams I'm not in range of any APRS gateways or digipeaters I've had to set up my own, which has been both a headache to get working and a hassle to keep running.

    The thing I've noticed on my VX8-E (that's the EU version) is that if I'm listening to a QSO on the A receiver and the B receiver is on the APRS frequency (144.800MHz here) both on 2 metres there's kind of a ticking sound about 4 times a second on the QSO, more noticeable if the signal I'm listening to is weak. I'm guessing it's the VX8 receiver checking the other channel 4 times a second but isn't it supposed to have two independent receivers?
     
  4. K2FR

    K2FR Guest

    I have had mine for a bit now.

    Aprs is awesome, especially when I go hiking/mountain biking the Girlfriend loves being able to track me and make sure im "OK" =)

    I did a quick video for how easy it was to program the APRS and get it setup

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C12b_ompYq0

    Also, I did another video on using the Programing software to program the radio and get things setup much much faster.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49WrceAbAxY


    All in all, Im enjoying the radio so far. My speaker is showing signs of the "Crackly" Sound. Ill eventually take it apart and fix the springs which are not maintaining good contact with the speaker.

    It was expensive with all the accessories, Mic/gps/cases/biggerbattery/chargers but If i use the radio and enjoy it.. does the price really matter?
     
  5. K0RGR

    K0RGR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Have either of you used it to send APRS text messages? I'm interested in how well that works.
     
  6. G4ILO

    G4ILO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yep. It would be a lot easier if Yaesu had implemented predictive text. :)

    Sending text messages isn't a problem. The trouble is getting acks and replies sent back to you. I had to set up my own gateway, as I mentioned earlier. As I understand it, the software is supposed to relay to RF any messages for stations it has heard recently on RF. But I couldn't get that to work until I entered in the call+SSID of the VX-8 into a list of calls to always send to RF, which obviously being my own gateway I could do. If you are relying on someone else's gateway to connect you to the station you're texting I don't know how that would work.

    If you check here http://www.g4ilo.com/current-location.html and see G4ILO-7 is active you're welcome to send me a message and see what happens.
     
  7. KW7RF

    KW7RF Ham Member QRZ Page


    That works very very good. I set it up in about 2 minutes. No GPS here.
     
  8. K2FR

    K2FR Guest

    I have not done the messaging, I only use it for Tracking right now, seems like it might take a bit of work to get messages in with the way it is now.

    I did manage to fix up the audio issue I was having by following a quick guide on youtube and took my radio apart and made the adjustment, now the audio is clear and crisp and not giving me issues with the keypad anymore.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMlGwBK_ttE


    I am considering the out of band mod, just because .. pretty simple with just 1 little bit of solder to remove and its wide open. well see how brave I get with this radio, id rather not screw something up hehe.
     
  9. WH7EVR

    WH7EVR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Update 1:

    70cm on this radio rocks. Clear, great range, especially with the 3rd-party antenna. I haven't been able to successfully hit any 6m repeaters, but I have a feeling this is user-error and I'll figure it out eventually.

    For the most part, the barometer is useless. Using the radio for any real length of time totally throws off the readings, as the increasing heat inside the sealed case increases the pressure on the barometric sensor. The more you transmit, the higher the pressure reading you get.

    The barometer issue directly affects the altimeter as well, since this is based on the pressure reading. This may not be an issue if you have the GPS unit, I haven't had a chance to test this.

    I did the MARS mod. Dead simple, took less than 5 minutes. All you really need is a sharply-pointed knife to help remove the seal/adhesive, and ease the resistor off the PCB. The hardest part was getting the seal/adhesive off so I could properly apply the new one. I recommend it for anyone looking to use the VX-8R for emergencies, or anyone who needs to chat on FRS with friends/family.

    No APRS work yet, but I'll be giving it a shot soon. Probably going to buy the GPS unit in early october, going to give it a shot too.

    I wouldn't worry too much about messing things up. Don't bother with a soldering iron, use a knife. Much safer IMO as you don't run the risk of overheating any other component, or melting something. Dead simple too.
     
  10. WH7EVR

    WH7EVR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Update 2:

    Finally got around to doing some APRS with the VX-8R. No GPS yet, since I don't have the unit, but I can say the VX-8R was very easy to set up and use. My only real complaint is that typing messages is a huge pain -- this of course coming from someone who uses an iPhone for email/sms constantly. Very useful for emergencies or if you're in the middle of nowhere with 0 reception!

    Still no luck with 6m, but I'm in the middle of nowhere with no 6m repeaters nearby. Guess that'll have to wait until I'm back in Seattle.
     
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