First impressions of the VX-8R

by Edward Z. Yang

The VX-8R is the first Ham radio I've ever owned; I have used the VX-7R before, but the extent of my usage of it was someone handing me the radio is "Here is the radio preconfigured to the frequencies you'll need; here's how squelch works; here's how to debug common problems; don't fuck it up." Here are my impressions of the VX-8R

  • Despite the sturdy construction, I am sending it back for warranty replacement. The battery indicator is defective; it is stuck at 100% battery while discharging, and 0% battery when charging. According to a HRO representative, this was highly unusual. Having to send the radio back for replacement is kind of obnoxious, but eh, what can you do.
  • The Yaesu tries hard to be non-modal, but when it is it's slightly difficult to tell what keys do what. For example, when scanning, pressing the PTT terminates the scan, but so does BAND and the arrow keys. PTT is actually a fairly reliable method for getting out of FOO mode
  • I love the scanning interface. Hold UP/DOWN to initiate scanning, use the dial to nudge it if it gets stock on the wrong thing, whack PTT when you hear something interesting.
  • The stereo headphone jack is by far one of the best things about the VX-8R, and partially offsets the suckage of needing two adapters in order to get a split speaker and PTT microphone set. I've, uh, been listening to a lot of FM radio with my Yaesu (perhaps not the most interesting use, but a use nonetheless!) The stereo plug is contained inside a somewhat appreciable well, so you may have some difficulty getting shorter jacks to plug in soundly.
  • On the subject of mods, it appears that despite having been released about a year ago, the VX-8R still has no software mod software available. The current hardware mod only opens up MARS/CAP transmission frequencies.

Still no word about the microphone dilemma; I might just pony up some cash for a Pryme headset (they're a smidge more expensive than I'd like them to be).