Radio review - Yaesu VX-150

www.hamradio.com

Scott Rutledge srutledge@oceanconnect.com writes:

Radios, love 'em when they work, hate 'em when they don't. Well, I've been operating on some hand-me-down 4 channel Maxons, with the crystals for the USHGA channels. Big thank you to Dan Uchytil, who couldn't stand to see me fly another season using a big brick sized CB walkie talkie, for those. Well itís probably been over 8 years since then, and the sturdy Maxons served their communication purpose admirably until a couple of weeks ago, when I had to cut a Chelan XC flight short due to a nagging intermittent problem with the batteries.

" Davis , got any recommendations for a replacement radio?", I emailed. Quickly the reply was the Yaesu VX-150, and a URL of www.hamradio.com. I found that there was a Memorial day, blue light special on that model, of $119.00. Wow! I'm sort of pinching myself in disbelief.

 

I did some further research, and found reviews from real users of this radio at www.eham.com, and most rated the radio 5 out of 5. I ordered 2 radios, which were in stock, and shipped with UPS tracking numbers the next day.

The only slightly negative review, 4 out of 5, was concerning the shorter than desired battery life from the standard 7.2 V, 700 mAh Nickel Cadmium, that come with the radio. The reviewer had ordered a 7.2v 1650mAh Nickel Metal Hydride (Nickel Metal Hydride is a newer technology) from BATTERIES AMERICA at www.mrnicd-ehyostco.com, for $39.95, and raved about this addition making all the difference.

After just experiencing some battery caused XC flight interruption, I ordered the extra battery, and just for good measure a model BC-601i rapid charger. Battery charging, and not overcharging, is a science unto itself. This particular unit will charge a battery in 1 - 2 hours, and automatically shuts down to trickle charge when the battery is fully charged. Cost for the charger was $69.00.

I have a Flight Connections finger switch and full face helmet speaker and mic installed, with two phono jacks, one for mic and the other for speaker. The radio, however, has a single phono jack for both mic and speaker. The solution is to order an adapter to convert the single jack into a dual, and the option for this is a CT-44 microphone adapter for $12.00.

I have a 1/4 wave mag mount roof antenna with a BNC connector that I use for the other hand held, in place of a truck mounted radio, so my wife doesn't have to be tied to the truck during retrieval. The problem here is that the radio comes with an SMA, screw-in type antenna jack. The RF adapter to connect a BNC type antenna to the SMA antenna jack from www.universal-radio.com is part #0531, and costs $5.89.

The VX-150 comes with lots of features, and is capable of transmission in 3 power levels, 0.5, 2, and 5 watts. Stock receive range is 140-174 MHz, and transmit range is 144-148 MHz. The standard verbiage for modifying a radio is: "All the modifications are not verified by myself, so if you try the mods on your own equipment, it is at your own risk. Performing modifications and then use of modified equipment may be a violation of laws. If you have any doubts, do not perform any modifications". www.mods.dk was the best site I found describing the radio modifications, complete with step by step instructions, and detailed pictures. After dismantling the radio, I used a magnifying glass to guide an Exacto knife to remove a speck-size resistor, and the deed was done, quickly and easily.

The VX-150 also has CTCSS (Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System) with 39 tone frequencies, and DCS (Digital Code Squelch) with 104 tone frequencies. Tone squelch is handy for filtering out other users of the same frequency, and only hearing those using the same squelch tone. A radio without tone squelch on a frequency can hear everyone's transmissions, which sometimes can become quite distracting, so much so, that for my old Maxon radios, I was used to powering off when not transmitting. Hopefully, those days are over.

For foreign pilots flying in the States this summer for the worlds, please be prepared to respect the airwaves, as the local ham radio club will be acting as communications volunteers on top of the Butte , during the meet.

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For more information, call 972-390-9090 or email to d.broyles@comcast.net Dave Broyles.