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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Scanners | Yaesu VR 500 Help


Reviews Summary for Yaesu VR 500
Yaesu VR 500 Reviews: 20 Average rating: 3.9/5 MSRP: $239
Description: All mode scanner 100khz to 1300 mhz
pocket sized. Band scope, 1000 memories
Product is in production.
More info: http://
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KA3RCS Rating: 5/5 Oct 10, 2014 04:17 Send this review to a friend
Nothing else quite like it  Time owned: more than 12 months
I got my first VR-500 new in 2001. I have since picked up several more at hamfests. There is just something really cool about a radio with such wide frequency coverage (including SSB) in such a small package, which can go anywhere and run for a long time on 2 AA cells. I also have an AR8000 and many other receivers, but this is the one which I always have with me in the field.

The sensitivity of this radio is very good, but that is not evident with the stock antenna (which is virtually useless). I have collected quite an array of rubber ducks and telescopic whips over the years, and choose the appropriate antenna for a given situation.

The selectivity is obviously not as good as that of a high-end desktop receiver, but that goes without saying. For what it is, it performs very well. I have never found any other receiver with this much capability in this small a package. It really is a shame that Yaesu discontinued this model; there is nothing comparable currently on the market at all (much like the VX-7).

The VR-500 makes a useful piece of test equipment, as it can be used to spot-check almost any two-way radio (and various other RF devices), as well as being an excellent tool to locate sources of RFI. I've even used one to verify the functionality and operating frequency of things like LVDS video drivers and clock oscillators in embedded systems.

The only real problems I have experienced are an issue with some lines on the LCD fading on some units (similar to the FT-857 and FT-897, and with the same cause), and a few small cracks in the cases of some of them where the AA cells have stressed the plastic. The cracking can be mitigated by removing the rubber pads under the battery contacts, resulting in less tension, and a bit of cyanoacrylate glue repairs the cracks nicely. I do wish I could find a good solution for the LCD issue with some Yaesu models though.

There is another small quirk, also shared by some other Yaesu models such as the VX-6: the EEPROM may become corrupted by allowing the batteries to run too low with the radio on. The problem is that the radio turns itself off when the voltage drops too low, then turns back on when the voltage recovers slightly, resulting in a repeating on-off-on-off cycle. As the radio writes its current status to EEPROM every time it turns off, this eventually causes corruption, as there is insufficient power for the write to complete properly. The solution is simple: remove the batteries when they run down. ;)

The VR-500 has an undocumented feature, which must be unlocked through software (such as tk500): a narrow AM filter selection in the menu. Actually, I first noticed this feature as a result of EEPROM corruption due to dead batteries early on.

In summary, while the VR-500 is not perfect, it is really good for what it is, and packs a whole lot of capability into a very compact package. I would probably give it a 4.5 if that were an option, but it is not, so a 5 it is.
 
W6KKO Rating: 5/5 Oct 30, 2013 18:28 Send this review to a friend
Pleasantly Surprised  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have owned a myriad of receivers over the decades. This handheld unit is great if you want to hear SSB. It handles other modes as well. This receiver beats the pants off of my TH-F6A, but the Kenwood can transmit on three bands and still keeps the small form factor. Apples/Oranges.

I like that I can use one hand to control the VR-500. It receives where other portables I own fail. Yes, you need to tune off of the frequency to listen to SSB, but it isn't that big of an issue. The same needs to be done for SSB on the TH-F6A. It's a tradeoff and I am fine with that. Others may want to think twice if that is a concern, but if you're a HAM, you understand about fine tuning to dial in a station.

After reading the suggestion, I will need to throw in my BCB filters inline and see how well they clean things up. At some point though, that may become unruly. For home use I have a Kenwood 480SAT transceiver, so the VR-500 fits my need for an easy to use handheld when out and about.

I use a Diamond RH77CA antenna over the stock one, but for HF stuff, a reasonable bit of wire with a BNC connector on the end works better. The next step is a WiNRADiO WR-LWA-0130 long wire adapter. It has a female BNC connector, so you'll need a bit of BNC patch cord. It will all fit in a pocket of a backpack. Throw the end over a branch, or on the ground and enjoy.

I use the RTSystems software and programming cable to save time with known frequencies. Still, it is easy to work with one hand.

*I really enjoy that I can use two rechargeable AA batteries in this, resulting in plenty of radio time.
 
W6GEE Rating: 5/5 Mar 21, 2011 12:29 Send this review to a friend
Versatile receiver  Time owned: more than 12 months
For its size and price, features are outstanding. I now use this as my base scanner in the shack, and it has also performed ruggedly in my truck for a number of years. The only problem I had was the EPROM chip needing replacement which didn't cost much to fix. This might've had something to do with having the unit in my truck in subfreezing temps for several winters.
 
G0IFI Rating: 5/5 Dec 21, 2010 04:44 Send this review to a friend
Great little radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I'm with N4QA. Try this little RX on HF with a simple ATU in front of it. You'll probably need to switch in the attenuator with the average base station antenna. It will surprise you. I use it daily to monitor nets on 80 and 160. It's more than adequate.
Yaesu couldn't possibly fit efficient bandpass filters for its entire frequency range into a small package like that, well, not at the price anyway. It's ok with a small whip for general SWL and V/UHF, but if you want to take full advantage of the amateur bands, get (or build) yourself some way of tuning the input.

I love this little RX and wouldn't be without it.
 
N4QA Rating: 4/5 Jun 26, 2010 07:11 Send this review to a friend
BPFs are key!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have found that inexpensive external homebrew bandpass filters make a *world* of difference in the way the VR-500 receiver performs.

Give 'em a try you guys...you simply won't believe what a jewel it is that you hold in your hot little hands!

And, yes, the freq cal is off a little, but it's at least consistently off (very freq-stable) and is easily compensated.

My VR-500 sees regular use, mostly on hf & 6 meters, but, with adequate external bp filtering, it works ok over its entire freq span.

72,
Bill, N4QA
 
CT1DDW Rating: 1/5 Jun 26, 2010 02:49 Send this review to a friend
Lousy equipment, the worst scanner purchased!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I can only talk by myself and personal experience, aknowledge that most of us are only RADIOAMATEURS, regarding that issue i must say that these litlle fellow its a joke speaking intermodulations, spurious, parasites, birdys, etc. I never had such lousy scanner/receiver and i have a few beleave me, even the Realistics, Bearcats, Unidens, etc. Regarding design and display options nice, concerning the core, the quality of reception of radio signals very bad. I trade it by a old and scratched AOR 8000 and never look back, even loosing many!
- Sometime it happens that the equipment peace that we own its not in good shape, maybe its the case so i am open minded. Something goes wrong in quality control at Yaesu????
Even so do you like to risk your many to discover by yourself?
 
WB4JZY Rating: 2/5 Jun 25, 2010 14:31 Send this review to a friend
a little surprised and bummed  Time owned: months
all these reviews and no one mentions that the frequency displayed is not the actual carrier frequency you are listening to. If you want to hear something thats on 7.150000 mhz LSB, when you tune it in, the display doesn't read 7.150000. Unbelievable and unacceptable if you ask me.
 
STAYVERTICAL Rating: 5/5 Apr 2, 2010 00:15 Send this review to a friend
DC to Light marvel  Time owned: more than 12 months
Reading some of the reviews I wondered if I had bought the same radio.
Yes, with a big antenna it will overload, yes, if you drop it breakage is possible, and it can be drowned.

Why do I give it a 5 rating if it is not perfect?
Because it is perfect for my application.
I did not buy it for the main receiver, but as a tiny, versatile, DC to light receiver unfettered by power packs.

I have owned this radio over 5 years and I use it more than all my others combined.
This is because I take it wherever I go.
It is so small it fits easily into a pocket ( even a shirt pocket, although a bit nerdy).
It covers 100Khz to 1300Mhz all modes for goodness sake.

I have copied aircraft beacons on 300Khz and Ham beacons on 1296Mhz, all on the stock rubber ducky.
If you have overload when using a large antenna, engage the attenuator. It also has a variable width bandscope which can be set to display from a 3Khz to 6Mhz wide spectrum slice depending on the step size you select. I use this feature with a simple noise generator to align antennas and filters. In bandscope mode you can adjust the vfo knob to move a marker onto a signal on the bandscope and you will be put there when you leave bandscope mode.
It also has dual watch, memories and all the usual scanner type goodies.

It can receive CW,AM,FM-W,N-FM,USB,LSB all with pretty good stability.
I am still amazed by its low battery drain.
It takes about 50mA in normal use, as long as you don't have the audio full up.
Its two AA batteries last longer than I ever imagined, but it has a 12 volt DC input socket on the side if you want to use this.
A rechargeable battery pack can be bought which fits in the battery tray, and is charged when 12 volts is plugged into the side socket.

The manual is readily available for download on the web, so if considering a purchase, read the manual.

In summary, yes, it is so sensitive it overloads with a big antenna, selectivity is a compromise, and it will not survive attack by hammers, but once you have one of these little wonders I doubt you will be willing to let it go.





 
N4AEQ Rating: 5/5 Nov 30, 2009 10:17 Send this review to a friend
Must be magic  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I sill can't figure out how they got so much radio into something this size. It really works great for tracking down interference on hf & vhf
bands along with the ability to slip it into your
shirt pocket for the "just in case" times. The only negative is its so small its very easy to mis place. Yes you need a better antenna for HF
but what portable dosent? I made a pull up one
from rabbit ears and a bnc adapter, it works great for hf thru 6 meters.
 
N8IVH Rating: 4/5 May 24, 2009 09:43 Send this review to a friend
Good Price to Performance ratio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Purchased my radio at the Dayton convention this year. Ham Radio Outlet had the entire kit for under $200. If you notice the specs for sensitivity they are quite respectable. You cannot expect it to match the performance of a full sized $13,000 dollar Icom communications receiver. It is the only wideband receiver I can find for that price that will tune ssb on two meters. Many handhelds will not handle ssb at all. It should be obvious that the the small rubber duck antenna supplied with the radio will not match a larger shortwave antenna. That is true of any receiver. I knew that from past experience and bought an MFJ discone at the same time. The overloading problem never bothered me at all. If it bothers you, just use an attenuator in line with the BNC connector. This receiver requires practice to fully appreciate its capabilities. You should do a full reset as described in the manual out of the box. I copied two Nav Beacons below 500Khz, stations in between and all the way to 2 meter repeaters and beyond just using the rubber duckie. Nice radio. Glad I bought it.
 
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