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Wouxun KG-UV8D Review: VHF/UHF HT with Crossband Repeat

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Moleculo, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator
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    When the Wouxun KG-UV8D VHF/UHF handheld radio was launched earlier this year featuring a large color screen, dual VFOs with crossband repeat, I knew I wanted to try one out. I recently ordered the radio from Powerwerx.com for $150, who becaue I'm local, had it delivered to me within a day.

    The radio comes with the basic necessities that all Wouxun radios come with: radio, battery, antenna, belt clip, drop-in charger, wrist strap and manual. Here's a pic of the radio assembled next to the charger:
    [​IMG]

    Although this radio isn't much smaller than the other Wouxun radios, the shape and size makes it feel really good in the hand. I think the ergonomics are excellent.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see in the following picture, the radio is fairly small, similar in size to the Icom ID-51:

    [​IMG]

    The KG-UV8D is slightly thicker than other radios on the market, but the rounded edges on the battery and main body still result in a comfortable fit in your hand. Here's a shot that shows how the thickness of the radio looks in my hand:
    [​IMG]



    In addition to the large color screen, the radio boasts some really nice features. The dual VFOs can receive any supported band on either VFO simultaneously. This means that you can do VHF/VHF, VHF/UHF, or UHF/UHF...a feature few handheld radios support. The menuing system and key functions are similar to previous Wouxun radios, so the learning curve is light for experienced users. While the manual is sufficient, it is still written in rough English, so new users of Chinese radios still need to go through the learning curve to understand the operation. While there are significant improvements at "Westernizing" the manual and radio menus, there is still room to grow.

    The frequency range of the radio that I received from Powerwerx was just the 2 meter and 440 bands. However, after using the frequency unlock software, I'm now able to TX/RX the following range: 136-173.9975 Mhz & 400-511.9875 Mhz. The software needed to alter the radio's TX/RX range can be found here.
     
    #1 Moleculo, Nov 20, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014

  2. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator
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    The basic operation of this radio is really pretty easy to learn. The A/B button switches between VFOs. A short press on the RPT button switches between dual VFO and single VFO mode. Select a frequency by rotating the left-most dial or by simply punching it in using they keypad.

    While many of these basic features are similar to previous Wouxun models, there are a few new features that are worth pointing out. One nice feature is the ability to change the function of two of the buttons on the left side of the radio to suit your needs. The programmable buttons are the top button above PTT and the bottom button shown here:

    [​IMG]

    By default, the top button acts as PTT on the sub band. For example, if you're using dual VFO's and have the bottom VFO set as primary, pressing the top button causes the radio to TX on the top VFO. You can change this button's function to use Selective Calling, which is more applicable to commercial users.

    The bottom button can be set to perform any of the following functions: Scan, turn on/off the flashlight, TX SOS Alarm (this works just like other Chinese radios), TX remote alarm (this is a commercial radio feature), or turning on/off the FM broadcast radio, which was the default selection on my radio.

    The right side of the radio is where the standard Wouxun Mic / Speaker jacks are located, protected by a plastic cover.

    [​IMG]

    These are the same connections used by other Wouxun or Kenwood radios.

    Another thing to note is that it appears that the Wouxun radio have completely moved away from the reverse SMA antenna connectors that were prevalent on early models. As you can see from this picture, the SMA connection is the standard female connector in use by all other manufacturers:

    [​IMG]

    In this picture, you can also see from left to right: the location of the flashlight to the bottom right of the antenna, the dial selector, then the on/off/volume knob. The LED lights below the volume indicate the TX/RX VFO.

    Here is one last pic of the keypad, which is similar to other Wouxun radios:

    [​IMG]

    On the keypad, you use the numbers to enter the frequency, or hit MENU followed by a number to jump straight to the menu indicated on the keypad. If you can remember the double-digit menu numbers, you can hit MENU followed by both digits to jump straight to that menu, as well.
     
    #2 Moleculo, Nov 20, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014
    jwilkers likes this.
  3. FatHam

    FatHam Well-Known Member
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    So if you're done with the review, when can I expect to have that radio in my hands for further evaluation? :D Must have...

    You had to unlock it? I did on my "1", but my "6" was opened up right out of the box.
     
  4. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator
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    This is a dealer option. Powerwerx is setting these to have limited range before they deliver them. They are also engraving their name on the back aluminum cover / heat sink under the battery.
     
    jwilkers likes this.
  5. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator
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    Other Notable Features

    In addition to the VHF/VHF, UHF/UHF, and VHF/UHF capabilities of the dual VFO's, the other unique feature of interest is crossband repeat. I've tested the crossband repeat functionality of this radio, and it works very well.

    Before enabling crossband repeat, you need to determine which type of crossband repeat you want to use. The radio supports two modes: two-way crossband repeat and one-way crossband repeat. Two-way cross band repeat means that the radio repeats anything it hears on either band to the opposite band. This is the standard method on most radios that provide crossband repeat. One-way crossband repeat means that it will only repeat transmissions heard on the main band over to the sub-band.

    To set up your preferred crossband repeat mode, go to the RPT-SET menu:

    [​IMG]

    To use Two-way crossband repeat mode, choose the X-TWRPT option:

    [​IMG]

    If you want to use one-way crossband repeat, select the X-DIRPT option:

    [​IMG]

    Once you've selected your crossband repeat mode, you turn it on by first enabling dual VFOs: tap the RPT button until you see both VFO's active. Next, set your frequencies of choice on each band and then hold down the RPT button until you see the circular arrow icon on the top left of the screen.

    Lastly, there are two additional crossband repeat options you can control: whether or not the speaker is enabled while repeating, and whether or not the PTT is enabled while repeating.

    All of these features work very well on this radio.
     
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  6. Robb

    Robb Yup

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    The million dollar question:
    What is the receive like?
     
    2RT307 likes this.
  7. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator
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    I've purposely played around with the radio a bit more before answering this question. Here are the published specs from Wouxun on the receiver:

    MeasurementSpec
    Adjacent Channel Selectivity<70dB
    Inter Mod<65dB
    Spurious Response<70dB
    SNR>45dB
    SensitivityUHF/VHF:0.25uV(12db SINAD)
    These specs compare favorably to other, more expensive radios on the market like the Icom ID-51. One of the issues that Wouxun users in my area experience while on the local 440 repeater is that they often hear intermod products of a near-by tow company radios. I tried to replicate this issue by hooking up a base antenna to this KG-UV8D and couldn't replicate the problem.

    There is one problem that potential buyers of this radio should be aware of. While using both VFO's, if you set the 440 side to a 3rd harmonic of the 2m side, the oscillators interfere with each other, causing loud squealing through the speaker. You can easily replicate the issue by setting the 2m side to 145mhz and 440 side to 435mhz.
     
    jwilkers and Robb like this.
  8. jwilkers

    jwilkers Member

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    Excellent review! Thanks for the work you put into the detailed report! It is too bad the radio doesn't have an identifier so it can be used in full crossband mode. Nonetheless, it looks to be an overall good radio. Thanks again!
     
  9. Robb

    Robb Yup

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    Sounds like the receive is far more acceptable than the cheaper Baofeng, TYT's, and what have you, that don't have the same adjactent channel selectivity specs that the Wouxon has. Which has been an real issue for those other cheaper radios.

    For that price point, it sounds like a much better radio than those aforementioned radios on the deciding factor of recieve - IMO. Good deal.
     
    #9 Robb, Nov 26, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  10. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator
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    Programming

    Programming the KG-UV8D using the radio keypad & menu works the same as any other Wouxun radio, which means it's really easy. I did run into some issues programming this radio using the software, however.

    Powerwerx has the software for this radio, named TOOL 15, for download from their website. They also sell a new red colored programming cable that is for the newer Wouxun radios. They don't say what the difference is between this cable and the older black cables, but it's probably just a slightly different chipset on the USB/Serial board. I already had an older black programming cable, so I opted to try that first. If you're using this black cable on Windows 8, it probably will try to initially use a driver that is not compatible. The fix for that is easy, you just need to go to the device manager driver settings and tell it to use the 3.2.0 Prolific driver which is already present in Windows.

    I never could get the Powerwerx version of the TOOL 15 software to read the radio, though - it would crash every time. After fooling around with it for a while, I decided to try downloading the software directly from Wouxun.com's site. Sure enough, their version of the software was able to read and write to the radio just fine. The developers of CHIRP are also working on a version that supports this radio, so that should be an option soon, as well.

    Once the software programming issues were solved, I really couldn't find any other major issues with this radio (other than the oscillator issue). I'm pretty happy with this little radio, and the fact that its pretty rugged. For the commercial users, it has all of the same commercial features as the other Chinese radios, if that is interesting to you.

    Bottom line: I like this radio and wouldn't have a problem recommending it.
     
  11. CaptHook

    CaptHook Member

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    Thank you I'm looking into getting one of these..KC2lnb
     
  12. LDG

    LDG Member

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    Thanks for the reviews. My questions. Can you listen on both channels at the same time? Next, if you are talking on channel A, can you still hear channel B?
    Thank you.
     
  13. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator
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    Yes and Yes. The radio is full duplex, which is pretty cool in an HT!
     
  14. LDG

    LDG Member

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    Thank you.
     
  15. Om_Audio

    Om_Audio New Member

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    Thanks for the review and for the posts inquiring about the front end/intermod performance. Exactly what I was looking for.

    I have loved my UV-5R/A radios but the front end on them has become a BIG frustration now that I am doing SOTA activations. The intermod has rendered them useless on several occasions on 70cm and 146.520. I also really want full duplex in a single handheld. I ordered the KG-UV8D package deal from MTC: http://www.mtcradio.com/version-5-wouxun-kg-uv8d-cross-band-repeat-ht-package-deal/

    Will be nice to have the AA, battery eliminator, etc. from the get go.

    I am also looking at getting an old commercial mono band Motorola radio to test and compare.

    Thanks. I will try and report back here with my comparisons and results. I will be taking it straight to a peak near a repeater site and run it side by side with a UV-5R.

    C
     
    2RT307 likes this.

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