May 2012 Archives

Mon May 28 09:25:15 MDT 2012

Review: Wouxun KG-UV6X

This is my initial review of the Wouxun {http://www.powerwerx.com/wouxun-radios/kg-uv6x-dual-band-vhf-uhf-commercial.html KG-UV6X} HT (probably identical in most ways to the KG-UV6D). First, a warning: you need the USB cable. Do not even think of getting just the radio and expecting to use it. You can't. First, the radio arrives menu-locked: you cannot do *anything* without first unlocking the menu key, and you can only do that from a computer. (Note to other Linux users: as of 2012-05-27 the open-source {http://chirp.danplanet.com/projects/chirp/wiki/Home Chirp} program is able to do this). And second, programming memories from the keypad is possible but painful. Now a couple of scenarios demonstrating what I mean by low usability. I am comparing to my 20-year-old Yaesu FT-530 because that is all I have. [yaesu-vs-wouxun.jpg] Scenario 1: monitoring two frequencies. You hear a transmission. Which frequency was it on? On my Yaesu-FT530: look at display. Look for signal meter (there are two, one under each frequency). Active frequency is the one above the active meter. On Wouxun KG-UV6X: look at display. Look for small arrow next to one of the frequencies. Now look at top right for a small "S" (letter ess). If you see it, active frequency is the one WITHOUT the arrow. If you DO NOT see an "S", active frequency is the one WITH the arrow. Clear? Scenario 2: you'd like to change a memory, e.g. because you got the PL wrong. Yaesu: make the change, store in same memory. Wouxun: forget it. Just do it on the computer. (If in the field: delete that memory, go into VFO mode, hope you remember the frequency and all corresponding settings, re-enter them all, then save. Good luck). There truly doesn't seem to be a way to edit a memory! Scenario 3: you want to monitor a memory frequency while at the same time punching in a new one. Yaesu: tune one side to memory, switch to other side, use VFO to tune. Wouxun: you can't. No way (that I've found) to mix memories and VFO. Either both tuners are doing memories, or both VFO. Bottom line: this may turn out to be a good radio for field work under strict and predefined conditions. But throw some variables in the mix (communicate on state SAR frequency but monitor XYZ repeater), and this radio becomes much less useful. I feel disappointed. I bought this radio because of the upcoming narrowband fiasco. I have confidence that it will serve me in that capacity, but I don't see it replacing my Yaesu for ham work. The Yaesu is so well designed! So usable. Even the display is well thought out: in "146.88", Yaesu downsizes the 14 and gives priority to the "6.88", which is the important part. And the display is much more readable in all kinds of light: less glare, no shadows. Other pluses: sound quality; good battery life; named channels are convenient (but see note below); very lightweight (9 oz vs my Yaesu's 18); sturdy feel (but time will tell). Other minuses: no dial lock (you can lock the keypad against accidental presses, but there's no way to lock the dial against accidental frequency change); when using Channel Name mode (eg displaying "SAR1", "SAR2") there's no easy way to quick-view the actual frequency; when viewing repeaters in memory, no easy way to quick-view PL or offset. Four stars because it _is_ a good unit for its price and I'm still giving it the benefit of the doubt; but my temptation was to give it three.

Posted by Ed | Permanent link