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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | Yaesu VX-7R Help


Reviews Summary for Yaesu VX-7R
Yaesu VX-7R Reviews: 314 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $369.00
Description: Quad band Hand held Xcvr
Product is in production.
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You can write your own review of the Yaesu VX-7R.

<— Page 2 of 32 —>

KA3RCS Rating: 5/5 Nov 17, 2012 23:22 Send this review to a friend
Best. HT. Ever.  Time owned: more than 12 months
The VX-7 is the single most refined, rugged, versatile, and reliable handheld radio which I have ever encountered. It is a marvel of precision engineering and manufacturing, with a feel of quality which is difficult to describe. I have a lot of other radios, and have used many more yet, and there just isn't anything else out there which can touch this model. The VX-7 is the gold standard (OK, the magnesium standard ;) by which I judge all other HTs. I have a total of three of them now; two of which I bought new about 10 years ago, and the other which I picked up used but in mint condition at a hamfest a few years ago. I have never had a single failure of any sort with any of them; they are absolutely rock-solid reliable. The VX-7 is the one radio which accompanies me on every single trip, including low-profile international travel. I always have one along when hiking or geocaching in the woods, bicycling, off-roading in the desert, you name it. The knowledge that I have such reliable and versatile communications capability at my fingertips provides a great sense of preparedness.

I should mention that all of mine are the black versions; I don't really care for the look of the silver model, particularly as so many of the accessories (such as batteries) are only available in black.

The performance of such a small radio with such wide frequency coverage in any given area cannot reasonably be expected to equal that of a large, single-band radio with massive helical filters and so on. Just the helicals in something like a Clegg FM-28 are about as large as the entire VX-7! However, the versatility of having the equivalent of literally six* separate radios back in the day, smaller and far more rugged than any one of them, and with significantly more features than all of them combined, is beyond compare. The attenuator also helps a lot in a high RF environment.

(* Six radios: 6 meter HT, 2 meter HT, 220 MHz HT, 440 MHz HT, AM/FM/SW portable receiver, and VHF low/VHF high/UHF scanner receiver)

And did I mention that it is WATERPROOF?!?

Speaking of which, there exists a very unfortunate tendency among some VX-7 owners to compromise the structural integrity of these artful masterpieces of industrial design in the name of alleged improvement in transmit audio. The radio incorporates a waterproof membrane over the condenser microphone element to keep water out. Sadly, some barbarians feel the need to mutilate the radio by puncturing said membrane, as they are led to believe that doing so is necessary to make the radio provide good transmit audio. I cringe whenever this topic comes up, as the waterproofing was one of the most important innovations introduced by this radio! The TX audio is actually not bad at all to start with, and if one really feels the need for better audio, it is trivial (and not damaging!) to use a non-waterproof speaker/mic.

Some people evaluate an HT based on its performance with the included stock rubber duck antenna. This is nearly always a recipe for disappointment, as stock HT antennas typically offer rather poor performance (the only real exceptions which come to mind at the moment are those included with the Standard C558A and, oddly enough, the Baofeng UV-3R Mark II). They are typically less flexible than superior aftermarket antennas, and are obviously especially poor on very low frequencies (such as 6 meters and AM/SW reception). They should be viewed as starter antennas, much like the reduced capacity ink or toner cartridges often supplied with printers. The likes of Diamond, Maldol, and Comet offer an array of antennas which augment the performance of the overall system very nicely. It is trivial to carry a small assortment of antennas optimized for specific band combinations and usage scenarios, along with the other necessary accessories such as spare batteries and ligher socket power cables, and still much more convenient than carrying multiple radios. I also carry a small coil of Teflon insulated wire (about 6 feet or so) attached to an SMA connector, which serves as an AM/SW wire antenna. I have even wrapped a few turns of it around the line cord of a table lamp to enhance SW reception by using the AC wiring as a makeshift SW antenna, which often works surprisingly well.

The display on the VX-7 is a masterpiece. It shows a wide array of very useful information, and puts the radio in a totally different league than most HTs. Seeing the frequency, memory channel number, alpha tag, battery voltage, signal strength, TX power level, preferential scan tag, receive mode, squelch mode, and more, all at once, is superb. I cannot comprehend the mindset of those who actually prefer the display on the VX-6, which is an evolutionary throwback to the era of the FT-50 (not that the '50 is a bad radio, but I am quite glad for the advancements made since the '90s and don't want to go backwards).

The menu system on the VX-7 may have a few quirks, but overall I like it better than that of any other HT as well. Here again, I am mystified by the VX-6 proponents who prefer having fewer capabilities, and having features tied to buttons rather than being located logically in a menu.

Computer programming is essential to really take advantage of the memory capabilities of this radio, and thankfully, there exist multiple free options as well as the official commercial software. My favorite has been VX-7 Commander, with OpenOffice or LibreOffice Calc used to do the actual editing, then exported to CSV, though I've recently begun using Chirp as well for other radios. The programming interface is compatible electrically with that of many other radios (including the VX-5, VR-500, FT-50, Icom IC-2720H, and Alinco DJ-G29T as far as my collection), requiring at most a connector adapter. The most versatile has been the old RT Systems cable which I originally got for the VR-500, with a small Dremel tool modification to the 3-pin to 4-pin adapter so that it plugs into the waterproof connector on the VX-7. That cable and adapter will program all of the above radios (and more). I should also mention that I use those cables with FTDI US232R USB to serial adapters, which work flawlessly on any computer and OS combination which I have tried. Also, cloning from one radio to another works very well and is quite handy when one has more than one of the same model. I just turn the receive volume all the way down on both radios and use a 3-pin male to male cable with two of the appropriate adapters.

I'm not sure why I've seen comments about the key legends wearing off, as all three of mine look nearly perfect, and two of them have been around for a decade. Then again, I suppose that some people don't keep them in cases...each of mine lives in a CSC-88, and I naturally try to take good care of them.

In summary, if I could only have one piece of radio equipment, I think this would have to be it. A rating of 5 doesn't do it justice.
 
KC2SYK Rating: 3/5 Oct 16, 2012 10:08 Send this review to a friend
Has issues  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had my VX-7R since 2008. It is my first and only HT. In using it I have some observations. YMMV.

The transceiver works pretty well for 2m and 440. 6m is near-useless. 6m requires a loading coil on the included rubber duck, or aftermarket antenna. Even with the loading coil, the 6m range is limited due to the inefficient antenna. 220 is QRP, but functional.

The microphone is very insensitive due to waterproofing. I got bad reports on the air and I've had to switch to an external mic.

Frequency coverage on the VX-7R is pretty good, but the receiver in AM mode is terrible. It seems to be lack of AGC or something, since I have to crank the volume. The 900 MHz (USA) ham band is partially blocked although you are able to tune to frequencies above it.

Regarding the physical controls, I dislike the knobs. The volume control is in big steps. The frequency control knob is very easy to hit accidentally while walking or in a bag, and it does not lock.

The 2x AA battery adapter has a circuit to boost the output voltage to 4.5V. This drains the AAs if left in the adapter.

Otherwise, features work and it is pretty solidly built. My toddler even dropped it in the water, so the waterproofing has worked for me.

In hindsight, I think I might have preferred the Kenwood TH-F6A instead.
 
M0TWA Rating: 1/5 Oct 14, 2012 21:31 Send this review to a friend
worst radio I have ever owned  Time owned: more than 12 months
Poor to navigate, menus are not intuitive at all, rx is wide open to all manner local rf..probably the reason why the supplied antenna is like a dummy load by design, to desensitize the front end..then you put a good antenna on it and behold..you can hear everything! and I mean everything!!.. battery life is terrible even on low power..in the u.k the cost of a spare battery is rediculous..wont even sell this on to another ham...would feel too guilty! AVOID!!
 
KD1S Rating: 4/5 Oct 9, 2012 19:05 Send this review to a friend
Great little radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I got mine about two years ago. I love the fact that it's submersible and MIL-STD. I've beat mine up a bit, the legends on the front bezel are almost gone now.

But I like that it has wideband receive on it. Plus the fact that I got the cable and VX-7 Commander and was able to freeband the radio easily.

For the price I defy you to find a quad band radio that costs less than this little beauty.
 
MW1FJK Rating: 4/5 Jun 16, 2012 13:07 Send this review to a friend
As god a I need  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Does eveything I need without many if any of the described problems on here. So good I've got two, one for general out and about and dog walking. The other is i n the works van with a tiny mag mount on the roof, as we are not allowed radios. Both were bought secondhand and I'm happy enough. Thats the only reason for a 4 and not 5 as I did not buy brand new, so cannot comment on out the box performance.
 
KR0L Rating: 4/5 Apr 30, 2012 18:25 Send this review to a friend
Incredibly durable, but dated feature set for the price  Time owned: more than 12 months
I blogged about three HTs today at http://changelog.complete.org/archives/7501-review-amateur-radio-handhelds-hts-aprs-and-battery-tuning-tips - since this is very long already, I'm including only the VX-7R bits and skipping the comparisons.

Here's what I wrote...

This was the first HT I got as a ham, at the suggestion of Mike AE0MW. It truly does make a great first handheld for a ham. Radio-wise, one unique feature is a receive that’s wideband enough to cover both broadcast FM and broadcast AM, the various ham bands, and plenty of others besides. The battery life quoted in the manual is 6 hours on 2m and 5.5 hours on 440 (using standard 6s TX / 6s RX / 48s squelched metric), and in my experience it seems it must be even better in some cases.

The real piece of news about this unit, though, is just how rugged it is. It says “submersible” across the front and I absolutely believe it. I have personal experience with its ruggedness. I once was at an event and put the radio on my car roof while helping one of my children into the car. I then started driving home and forgot it there. When we got home, I realized what had happened, and also realized what that mysterious CLUNK along the busy county road was. So I drove 45 minutes back to where I heard the clunk, and found the VX-7R still lying in the roadway, where it had been for 1.5 hours on the 55 MPH road. The thing was really beat up. It had obviously been hit by numerous vehicles. The antenna was ripped off, taking the SMA mount with it. But wouldn’t you know it, the darn thing still powered up. I took it to a local amateur radio shop, and about $80 later it was repaired. Incredible. The only real problem was the antenna connector.

I took this radio with me on my bicycle many days, mounted on my handlebars. It got bounced around, but still worked great. Some days I listened to FM radio from it while riding my bike, monitoring a local repeater while I rode. Other days, I spent most of my ride (about an hour each way) chatting with people on the repeaters – I have a mobile antenna mounted on the bike, fed to the VX-7R, and a headset. It all worked fine – never a problem at all.

The ruggedness has its downside. All of the connectors on the radio, except for DC in, are screw-down — even the speaker/mic connector. This obviously helps keep water out, but means that it can take a lot longer than normal to do a simple thing like plug in a speaker/mic. It doesn’t need any tools, but can get a little annoying.

The radio physically is small (unless you install the belt clip, which has an odd peg-based mechanism that protrudes unnecessarily far and is surprisingly non-rugged). It can easily fit into a pocket.

The other downsides of the VX-7R mostly surround its interface. I’m not one of the Yaesu haters that seem to be so common. I find the interface usable if you read the manual; it seems a lot of people that complain about it don’t. But it is quirky.

The SET mode is one long menu in sort of a ring. You scroll with the knob, and when you get to the end, it repeats to the beginning. There are one or two shortcut keys to a specific setting, but overall either you use the thing so much you know exactly where you’re going, or you’re twisting the knob for awhile until the option you want rolls around. (I know of nobody that uses it so much they know exactly where they’re going.) They do have options grouped into categories, but it doesn’t help much because there’s no quick way to skip between categories.

The dual transceivers work less elegantly than on the TH-D72A or VX-8GR. Instead of being two equal transceivers A and B, they are “main” and “sub”. The sub transceiver is not broadband receive like the main receiver is. But there are also other limitations that have no apparent logic. For instance, you can program memory groups into the device – putting, say, all the local repeaters into a certain group, or all the public safety frequencies (to use as a scanner). You can go to the “special” set menu, select group, then activate SCAN, and it will scan only the memories in that group. But you can’t select the special group mode on the sub transceiver – for no apparent reason.

One other complaint is that the AC charger introduces so much noise to a transmission that you cannot really use the VX-7R to transmit while the charger is connected.

Yaesu sells a programming cable that plugs into the speaker/mic port on one end, and a DB-9 serial port on the other, and includes programming software. For an incredibly high price. For far less, I found a similar cable on eBay that has a USB port on the other end (with a built-in USB/serial converter), and used VX-7R Commander — though now that Chirp is available for Linux, I’ll probably switch to it.

I would probably continue to recommend this transceiver for a new ham. The ruggedness, plus the broadband RX, are features that should make it appealing. It is an excellent emergency preparedness/response radio due to those properties; having TX and RX on ham bands, plus RX on broadcast and public safety could be quite the asset.

However, for someone that has any interest in APRS, one of the other two radios I mention is probably a better choice. At only $10 more, the VX-8GR sacrifices ruggedness and broadband receive for APRS functionality and could make a compelling alternative to the VX-7R at the same price point. The very low-power transmit at 50MHz and 220MHz on the VX-7R strikes me as a gimmick feature at best that has very little actual use.
 
IZ2PTX Rating: 5/5 Mar 3, 2012 10:17 Send this review to a friend
Very good for ham and emergencies  Time owned: more than 12 months
i bought my first VX7 5 years ago in 2007

A very good radio on may aspects
1- Wide RX
2- good power output
3- very rugged and waterproof IP-X7
4- metal case is really protective
5- very small
6- very good batteries with good capacity even really really small in size

This is a good radio for an ham to go outdoor and in "wild" as someone says... but it's really a must for emergency workers! i use it for EMS purposes also in SAR mission where i can be pulled in water (even salt water) and i'm always capable to communicate with other EMS rescue stations when i need.
tested in severe weather:
- lake water
- salt water (washed with normal water after)
- blood and then disinfection
- high temperatures
- snow and very low temperature
- rubled down houses
- hits, vibrations...
a normal radio should turn off and reject to work again after one of these tests...
mine survived after all of them repeating them often!
i bought another 6 mothts ago and i'll buy a third soon.
the best radio i have.
not excellent as RF radio itself (very good anyway, i can give 8/10 as RF itself) but the best combinig all the requirements i have to ask to a radio!!!
 
KD0NRC Rating: 4/5 Feb 15, 2012 07:36 Send this review to a friend
A great first radio for the beginner  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my VX-7R used from a friend right before I got my ticket. He supplied a homebrew programming cable and I downloaded VX-7 Commander, which helps get things up and running quickly. The menu system seemed daunting at first, but after a few weeks, I was quite comfortable doing all the things I need to know how to do in the field without referencing the manual.

I have put the radio's IPX7 water ingress protection to the test in several storms while fishing, camping or operating bicycle mobile. While this radio lacks a few whistles and bells found on the VX-8 series, The VX-7's wide receive ability and quad-band transmit functionality are excellent features for a beginner as they start to look beyond 2m and 440 FM Voice. With a good external antenna, the scant 300mW transmit on the 220MHz band still works well enough to surprise me and make contacts on local repeaters.

Although its electronics are complex, this radio is easy to take apart and re-assemble if you need to replace hardware parts. If you find an authorized Yaesu dealer locally, replacement parts such as the dust caps, power jack, rubber feet, gaskets, knobs, belt clips and buttons are easy to come by. I have only needed to replace the dust cap for the speaker/mic port so far, as it was slightly torn when I got the radio from the previous owner.
 
KJ6EPE Rating: 3/5 Dec 7, 2011 10:42 Send this review to a friend
Cannot transmit when in dual receive mode  Time owned: more than 12 months
When using DCS(DPL) in dual band receive mode, audio drops in and out when transmitting. The DCS or PL tone from the inactive band appears to interfere with proper operation of the active band. This is demonstrated by video at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FO3Ohmf1vU
 
KJ6EPE Rating: 3/5 Dec 6, 2011 09:41 Send this review to a friend
Correcting previous post  Time owned: more than 12 months
Further testing indicates the dual recieve transmit bug only applies to DCS (DPL). CTCSS functions as it should when transmitting from the dual band receive mode.
 
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