Monday, November 26, 2007

Yaesu VX-7R Review


Introduction

I've owned my VX-7R for about 3 years. I am not kind to my equipment, especially not my HTs. I have used it in tactical situations, and I have worked with others who use it in tactical situation.

Features

The best thing about this radio is the mechanical construction. The magnesium housing is extremely rugged. You could probably hammer nails with it. The paint is starting to flake off the edges which is ugly but doesn't really affect functionality. I love the fact that it's waterproof. I have no qualms about using this radio in any conditions on land or sea.

A lot of the "features" seem silly to me. I guess you might use the barometer. Icon editors, font
editors, who cares? You can't even really use them without buying the computer programming cable and software. Editing a font pixel by pixel on the radio would take you a year. It has a dedicated WIRES button. Does anybody even use WIRES? Does anybody operate 6m on an HT?

The belt clip is the flimsiest part of the radio. Mine broke. It still works but the top part snapped off. Not the part that screws on to the radio but the clip part. It's like one of those cell phone clips that you rotate the phone over to take it off. It's fine when you are standing up but impossible if you are sitting. I get in the habit of always taking the radio off my belt before entering a vehicle.

On the air

I get OK audio reports, good communications grade audio.
The lithium ion battery lasts a very long time. For all day operations you should still have a spare. The batteries are expensive and like all lithium cells need to be replaced every few years.

I was disappointed when I discovered that, while the VX-7R has dual receive, it is NOT full duplex. I was hoping to use it for satellite work, but it is not well suited for this. Being able to hear yourself on the bird is important for aiming your antenna and correcting for doppler shift. You can do it without full duplex, but it's more difficult and less reliable.

My biggest complaint about this radio, and I don't think I'm alone here, is that it is dang near impossible to program it. Punching in a frequency in the VFO is easy enough. Setting repeater shift and tone frequencies is not intuitive; it doesn't actually require that many button pushes but it's pretty different from other radios and nobody will figure it out without reading the manual first. I usually take a few tries to save a memory. If you use this radio for any tactical comms, I urge you to keep the manual in your go-kit. Also get a quick reference card, print one out online or make your own. People in tactical nets who can't program their radios are a serious problem, and I've been in nets with more than one VX-7R owner who didn't know how to program his radio and didn't have his manual. This seems to be indicative of Yaesu's current crop of radios.

Summary

Likes

  • Rugged, waterproof construction
  • Long battery life
  • Rugged, waterproof construction
  • Dual receive
  • Did I mention the rugged, waterproof construction?

Dislikes

  • Paint wearing off
  • Goofy, weak belt clip
  • Typical of dual (tri) band radios, the wide front end is susceptible to interference
  • Expensive batteries
  • Not full duplex
  • Incredibly difficult to program

HTs take a lot of abuse and this is the first HT I've owned that I haven't been afraid to abuse. I guess thats the most important thing about an HT to me. The warts are easy enough to overlook, as long as you are competent enough to remember how to program the basic stuff.

6 comments:

Ben said...

Have you had any successful satellite contacts with this radio? I just ordered mine, partly for this reason, but I didn't know about it not being dull duplex. I am going to be using an Icom 2720 that is full duplex most for most of my work, but I was hoping to do some occasional stuff with the HT when camping.

What do you think about the 1W of AM on 6 meters? I am living in Japan where I think 6 meters might be a little more active than stateside, but not sure.

N1YWB said...

It won't work better for satellite than any other dual bander, the "dual receive" feature does not help if you can't transmit on one band while receiving on the other.

You can still use it for satellite work but you won't be able to hear yourself so you never really know if you're making it into the satellite or not unless somebody responds to your call.

If there are hams on 6m in Japan, cool. You'll get way better results if you use an external antenna. A roll-up j-pole works pretty well and can be made quite cheaply. I don't know why you would use AM instead of FM though.

N1YWB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
9z3as said...

hey great review, am serving in the military and i own one myself

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

Regarding the expensive batteries - mine finally gave out after about 5 years. I found an EXCELLENT replacement for $35.95 from BatteryDepot.com. Here's the direct link: http://is.gd/g0QxF.

Thanks for the great review - I would have to say I agree with most of what you have to say!

73,
N5SFA