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Sunday, January 2, 2011

My new Wouxun KG-UV2D


Happy New Year! I hope that 2011 brings much happiness to everyone out there.

I started 2011 off on the right foot by attending the Morristown Hamfest, which was held on New Year's Day. It's been a long time since I attended this hamfest, probably 10 years since my last visit there, I can't remember.

The building was actually an arena/expo center, where monster truck rallies and an upcoming demolition derby are taking place. It had seating for approximately 3000 people and looked quite endearing to a possible arena football team (of course I looked at ways to put a slab of ice down and house a hockey team!). The concourse area above the seats was where the vendor tables were. There wasn't any tailgating due to thunderstorms running through the area all morning. Had the weather been perfect like the day before (calm winds, warmer temps, sunny skies) there would probably have been a larger crowd in attendance. As it was, there was still a pretty sizable turnout.

I had one primary purpose for going, and that was to pick up one of the new Wouxun (pronounced "O-shing", sorta like "ocean") 2m/220 radios if at all possible.

I met up with Tom (KE4WFJ) and we arrived just as the doors opened at 8AM.

The first vendor to the right of the entrance had a HUGE sign advertising $110 with a picture of the Wouxun radios. Music to my eyes!!!

A friend who had just arrived said that another vendor next to them had the radios as well so I ran to check their prices and they were $105! But, no 2/220 radios. I hurried back to the first vendor, and he had 1 220 radio left. "SOLD!" I yelled, and pulled out the wallet!

I also grabbed a programming cable and then cruised the hamfest for about 3 more hours (also attending a SKYWARN gathering) before calling it a day and coming home.

Well, the radio had to wait as I was exhausted from, shall we say..."over-celebration" of New Year's (don't worry, I was home, and my kids had friends over, so I didn't get sauced) and riding on 3 hours of sleep wasn't going to fly, so I crashed until late in the evening, then went to run an errand before getting home to really put the radio to the test.

The vendor who sold me the radio (DBJ Radio & Electronics) was extremely helpful in ensuring I knew what I was getting with this radio. They checked the antennas (this model KG-UV2D comes with 2 antennas, one tuned for the lower portion of the 23cm band [216-239 MHz] the other the higher portion [240-280]) to ensure the correct ones were labeled and also a card with their web site to download the software I would need for programming the radio. Then when I spoke with another tech who was at the same booth he ran and got me a coupler for the SMA antenna that the first tech forgot to include for use on an external or mobile antenna. Service, baby!!!

So, now that I have "quiet time" I got the radio out and played with it. I downloaded the software from the DBJ web site and installed it and found the programming relatively simple but tedious, still, better than trying to program the radio manually. Once I plugged all the frequencies in and saved the file I uploaded the file and it went through in less than 10 seconds.

The radio took a few seconds to reset to the new memory settings and then when I unplugged the cable the radio spoke to me (in English)!

I tested the radio out on 2 meters first by checking some of the local repeaters and keying up to see if I could hit them on 5 watts. Most of them worked, but being midnight, no one was on (or cared to come back to my call) but on one repeater (147.360) I was full-quiet into the machine, and I was some 30 miles from the repeater! The station said my audio was clean and no noise or distortion whatsoever. A great start!

So now I move over to 220 and there's no activity. I turn on my 220 base rig and key up a couple of repeaters, one of which has a slight delay, so when I keyed it with the Wouxun I had an echo that startled me for a moment, but I used it to judge my audio into the repeater, and it sounded just as good as on 2m.

So now, as I have only had about less than 3 hours of time to dedicate to my new toy, I have found the following out:

The good:
  • Lightweight - Compared to the Yaesu FT-50R I recently acquired from a friend of mine, it's much lighter. Almost half the weight. But the FT-50R's battery is bigger, 9.6V/11mAh compared to Wouxun's 7.4V 1300mAh.
  • Easy to use (so far) - it took about 10 minutes for me to figure out most of the functions on the radio on my initial go-over of it. Of course we *all* RTFM when we get a new radio, right??? It was definitely a lot simpler than some radios I've used to figure out what buttons do what.
  • 2m/2m, 2m/220, 220/220 monitoring -If you want to listen to 2 frequencies on 2 meters, 220, or one of each, you can listen to whatever frequencies no matter the band.
  • Easy to program (with cable) - getting the software installed took a minute in part because I almost downloaded the wrong version of the software (my bad, I momentarily forgot I was on Windows 7 and the software is different for Vista/7 than for XP) but once I did download the correct version, I simply moved it to my desktop (no installation of software needed, it runs off the executable) and started using the software. I plugged the USB cable in and it found the driver (which I installed just before I downloaded the software as a precaution) and all I needed to do was select the COM port (easy since it was the only one highlighted) and started working the frequencies in that I wanted to program in to the radio.
  • Illuminated keypad - the keypad below the LCD display lights up with the display on pressing of a button or tuning the VFO knob. Very nice to have when in low light.
  • Voice prompt - it comes out of the box in English, with the option to have Chinese or no voice prompt at all. I had fun with the Chinese part, and it might come in handy to learn when visiting my favorite Chinese restaurant...
The bad:
  • Power setting not switching between high/low - It's 5W on 2 meters and 4W on 220 for high power, and 1W on low for both. Even though there is an option for high and low power, if you are on high power and select low, it negates the change and returns the setting to high. I can only assume this is a future enhancement. However, when programming via the software, it does enable the low power.
  • "Rotary Encoder" knob sticks - this may be just on my radio, but the so-called "Rotary Encoder" knob (VFO knob) has some variable force needed to turn at certain areas. While twisting the knob it was easy to turn, then started to stick more and more, then eased up. I'm not sure how to remedy this (other than returning it, which is not a big issue for me at this time).
  • Memory display slow to change - if you spin the rotary encoder/VFO knob and it clicks 3-4 times the memory display will only move up one channel. A faster processor might be in order for a future enhancement.
  • A roger beep? - Seriously??? You can set it to beep before a transmission, after, or both. I wonder how popular that would be?
  • Computer program can be tricky - When I started to program the frequencies in, the Receive frequency and the Transmit frequency default to the same. You'll have to know the correct input and output frequency of the repeater you want to talk on. Leave them the same for simplex ops.
  • Muting of other channel can be tricky - I'm still working with this, but be careful about your encode and decode of CTCSS when programming a toned repeater, or one that's occasionally toned. I had one repeater set in there to send and receive CTCSS tone, and right now the repeater has no tone to use. While in QSO with the 2m station, the other channel keyed on and gave a dead carrier and muted the ham I was in QSO with.
Again, this is straight out-of-the-box tinkering, so I'm sure I'll be able to find out more about what works and what doesn't over the next few days. I'm trying to see if the radio will scan like it's supposed to, or if there is VFO mode to search, something I'm not finding yet.

I did find the FM radio for the broadcast band between 88-108MHz, so I listened to some music while hammering out this post.

Overall, it's a good start. I need more time, but wanted to give a quick evaluation of the radio.

1 comment:

  1. Take the knob off and sand or file the plastic under the knob. Some folks have reported there is some residue plastic that causes the sticking.

    ReplyDelete