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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | Yaesu VX-6R Help

Reviews Summary for Yaesu VX-6R
Yaesu VX-6R Reviews: 123 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $$275 USD
Description: 144/220/440 Triband Handheld Transceiver
Product is in production.
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<— Page 7 of 13 —>

AB1HU Rating: 5/5 Nov 11, 2007 19:18 Send this review to a friend
Small solid radio, easy to use once you learn, full of features  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
You should know that I'm a freshman computer science major, so I'm willing to put up with awkward but powerful interfaces. With that in mind, I'm very happy with the Yaesu VX-6R. It's a small but solid and powerful radio that has served me well so far.

It's well-built, and I've dropped it a couple times with no visible damage. The display is readable and bold, although it has a "starburst" display for letters instead of a dot-matrix one like the VX-7R. The LCD and keypad are backlit with a nice adjustable red LED, and there is a multicolor "strobe" LED that indicates the status of the radio (RX, TX, charging, charged, or no battery). The green receive indicator is a little bright, but you can turn it off.

The interface is complicated, I will admit. Each key has three functions, and there's a 74-item menu for the functions not found on the keypad. But the keys are well-labeled, and the menu is alphabetized, so it's easy to find things. There's a key labeled "P" that you can assign to any item in the menu, and you can also assign Yaesu's "Internet" key to another item if you don't need the WIRES feature. If you know how to use your cell phone's phone book, you can probably deal with the menu.

The memory system is great, except for the usual caveat that you can't delete memories. There are 900 regular memories plus a bunch of extra ones, and 24 "memory banks" that you can use to easily group memories. Switching between the VFO, memory, memory bank, and special bank (pre-programmed shortwave stations, VHF marine channels, and weather channels) modes is a breeze, and notably easier than on the VX-7R.

Scanning is fairly fast -- by my measurements, 11 channels/sec in VFO mode, and around 9 or 10 channels/sec in memory mode -- and extremely flexible. You can scan pretty much any range you want, and you can scan all memories, one bank, or a "linked" set of banks in memory mode.

The transmitter works well, as far as I can tell. Microphone gain is adjustable, which is useful, and the transmit audio is clear. The receiver works well, but suffers from strong image reception, which can be mitigated with some success using the attenuator. The receiver is fairly sensitive for an HT, which is good for ham operation but causes problems on strong broadcast signals. Again, the attenuator helps.

The speaker is loud, and doesn't suffer from too much distortion at the high end. If you want to attach a headset or earphones, Yaesu included only a proprietary 4-pin connector with a set of threads to secure the plug.

The included antenna, like most, should be replaced. It's fine for hitting our local repeater, but not much else. Picking up a third-party dual- or tri-band antenna will improve your signal quite a bit. The antenna connector is SMA, which is less common, but more secure than BNC.

The battery is great so far. I've never even seen the low battery symbol, but I haven't done any "events" with the radio yet. One quirk is that sometimes the charge r displays "NO BAT" and the LED glows orange if you try to charge the battery after it's full.

Yaesu's crammed a lot of miscellaneous features into this rig, so I feel I should discuss them, and whether they're useful or not:

EPCS (Enhanced Paging and Coded Squelch): This turns the radio into a simple pager. It's nice, but unfortunately once a call is placed, the squelch is no longer "coded", and opens for anything, which makes it susceptible to interference.

Channel Counter: This is a poor man's frequency counter, which quickly scans a wide range for a nearby transmitter. It's somewhat useful, but too slow on wide frequency ranges, and often finds annoying "birdies" instead of the transmitter.

Smart Search: This scans above and below a specified frequency, storing the signals heard into 30 memory (15 above, 15 below). It's useful for finding things to listen to while you do something else and then checking out the results, but it's not very practical.

WIRES (Wide-Coverage Internet Radio Enhancement System): This is Yaesu's proprietary attempt to capture some of the Echolink/IRLP market. I've never seen a repeater with it, so as far as I know, it just wastes a button on the keypad. Luckily you can reprogram that button to do something else.

Direct Memory Recall (DMR): You can program 10 memories by simply holding down the number key (0 through 9) for them. Then, you can enter the DMR mode by holding the P key, and switch memories by just pressing the number. This seems like a great feature for working large public service events that use many repeaters, or just hopping between repeaters easily.

ARTS (Automatic Range Transpond System): Basically, this turns DCS on, and transmits every 15 or 25 seconds to notify a similar radio that it's still there. If it doesn't hear a transmission within the same time interval, it shows "OUT RNG" on the display and beeps. Unfortunately, it only works with one other person, and locks you out of many functions of the radio to prevent you from accidentally changing frequency or anything like that.

"Emergency" feature: When you hold a certain button down, the radio will shine or flash the white LED, produce a piercing beep, and/or transmit a beep and/or your callsign and "SOS" on the 70 cm home frequency.

EAI (Emergency Automatic Identification): This works with the paging feature. It listens on a special channel, and if it hears its own code for over five seconds, it begins transmitting on that frequency so you can use RDF to find the radio (and the person). It will transmit either continuous audio or periodic beeps for a settable interval.

As a gadget freak, I like things with lots of extra features, but I feel like some of Yaesu's emergency features are of questionable value. (Frankly, the only one that I think has real value is EAI.)

So far I've been very happy with this radio. It's solid, and now that I've learned the interface (which takes some time, but it's time well-spent), it's very efficient to operate, and can do quite a lot.
KI6BSC Rating: 4/5 Nov 3, 2007 16:10 Send this review to a friend
Excellent radio for hams with some experience.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The VX-6R is a small but powerful radio, best for those hams who have some experience operating other radios. I like the heft and apparent quality of this radio. Despite it's small size, it feels quite sturdy. My primary interest in ham radio is emcomm, so this radio will serve as a backup HT.

Unless you have experience with other radios, you will definitely need to work your way through the manual to learn the various features of the 6R. But that is generally true of all the new radios these days.

I have programmed by hand and using the ADMS-VX6 software. Both methods have their little quirks. As long as you are not easily frustrated and are willing to spend the time to learn, you can and will master both.

I was a tad disappointed in the scan options available on the 6R. The Kenwood TH-G71 and F6A offer Call Memory scan that allows you to choose a call channel and a second channel to scan simultaneously. It is simple to set up and initiate. The only thing like this on the 6R is Priority Scan, which is not so simple to figure out from the poor description in the manual.

The only other thing I worry about is that the battery can be quite difficult to remove and reattach after charging. If your fingers don't work so well, this may not be the radio for you.
KL0PE Rating: 5/5 Aug 15, 2007 18:15 Send this review to a friend
Small radio; BIG features  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
When you pick up the VX-6R for the first time, you know you're holding a real radio. While it's small and light, it doesn't feel cheap. The fit and finish of the rig is top-notch, and the controls have a sharp, positive feel to them; the knobs in particular are large enough that I imagine they could be operated even while wearing gloves. All this in an attractive, rugged, waterproof (within reason) housing.

Receive audio is surprisingly loud and clear from such a small speaker with minimal distortion. I've used the rig mobile and walking through noisy environments without having to strain to hear it, and the volume knob was only at 50%, so there's plenty of overhead in case things get even louder. Received good transmit audio and signal reports from the local repeater so I didn't have to fiddle with the mic gain, but the option is there if you need it so you won't have to worry about the waterproofing membrane attenuating your transmitted audio.

Newcomers might be intimidated by the ostensible complexity of the radio, but once you've read through the clear and well-written manual and are familiar with the basic features, you should have little trouble (while the manual does have a table of contents, an alphabetized index would have been nice). Programming the radio is very simple. While there are a lot of settings to be aware of, once you get the flow down things go pretty quickly. Being able to copy and paste the memory alpha-tag is extremely handy when you have a number of channels with the same or similar tag, though with a six-character limit, you have to get pretty creative with your tagging (as did the Yaesu engineers, which becomes evident when you scroll through the settings menu!). One handy feature is the ability to program up to two of your most frequently accessed menu items to the keypad, one assigned to the [P(DMR)] key and one to the internet key (activate this feature by holding down the internet key while powering the radio on; otherwise, pressing the button will simply activate the internet feature).

To help keep the 900+ memories organized, there are 24 banks to store memories in, so you can have one bank just for local frequencies, one for amateur radio frequencies, one for aviation frequencies, etc. You can also alpha-tag the banks to make it easy to identify what's stored in them. Accessing the bank feature is simplicity itself: just press the BAND key. Pressing F then the BAND key allows you to dial through the different memory banks to select one for operation. To return to normal memory operation, just press BAND again. Operating in the VFO mode is similarly uncomplicated. Frequency ranges are conveniently arranged into separate bands that can be cycled through by pressing the BAND key (there are, I believe, 10 different bands). Yaesu was also nice enough to pre-program the radio with a special bank for NOAA weather radio, one for 89 popular shortwave broadcast frequencies, and one for marine channels (pointless for me in my land-locked QTH).

On receive, the radio is very quiet and not as prone to intermod as I was expecting considering the "DC to daylight" receive range. I can leave it scanning next to my computer and I get minimal interference. It's obviously less sensitive on the low-bands as you would expect with the stock duck, but an external antenna can be used for shortwave listening if you prefer (I've not tried this personally, so I can't comment on how successful this solution might be). That said, I was surprised at the number of shortwave broadcasts I was able to receive at night using just the stock duck. Being able to receive broadcast radio in the AM and FM bands is nice as well, and listening to music through the small, mono speaker is unexpectedly pleasant. However, be warned that the VX-6's receiver can easily become overloaded if you're near a powerful transmitter like a commercial radio station (I've only experienced this once while driving within 50 feet of a tower; I've not done any kind of extensive testing, but keeping the radio set to narrow FM seems to attenuate particularly strong signals).

As far as scanning goes, there are a lot of options. In memory mode, you can scan all memories, just memories in the same band as the starting frequency, or memories that share the same 1 or 2 beginning characters in the alpha tag. In VFO mode, you can scan the current band only, the entire frequency range supported by the radio (though this would probably take a while), or within one of 50 user defined frequency ranges. These options allow for a lot of flexibility and are a very welcome feature. One nice touch is the ability to store up to 100 "nuisance frequencies" that will be skipped over during VFO scan which can help you avoid intermod, "birdies", and constant carrier transmissions.

Battery life is about average. The manual says you'll get 8-hours with transmission and 15-hours receive only. This should be more than sufficient for most folks, but if you're going to be away from the charger for an extended period of time then you'll want to pack a few extra batteries. While the VX-6 can be conveniently powered with 2 AA's using the FBA-23 battery pack, transmission is restricted to QRP levels.

There are also a number of "cute" features added on that may be of limited usefulness but are fun to have anyway. For instance, the T/X LED can be set to shine a bright, white light as an emergency source of illumination (though it's no match for my 2 AA LED Maglite), and there is a CW training feature that'll beep out a group of 5 letters for you to identify. Then there's the frequency counter, though Yaesu makes no guarantees that it's accurate, and a temperature sensor that displays the not particularly helpful internal temperature of the radio.

I do have a few niggles, but they are extremely minor:

- It would be nice if the volume knob had a few extra click-stops to allow for finer adjustment of the audio. As it is, you're sometimes stuck with either slightly too quiet or slightly too loud.

- I've also found no way to delete memories. Memories can only be masked, which is almost like deleting them except that the memory channel will be indicated as "full" during programming, which isn't particularly helpful. The only way I know of to actually delete the memories is to use programming software like Yaesu's ADMS or KC8UJN's freeware VX-6 Commander (which, incidentally, works flawlessly). On that note, programming software is definitely recommended because with 900 memory channels plus 50 pairs of scan edges, 24 banks, 10 "home" channels, 10 direct access memories, plus a couple of others that I've probably forgotten, things can very quickly get unwieldy, and the only practical way to keep them organized is to use a desktop program.

- I do wish Yaesu had included a dot matrix display like the VX-5 and the VX-7, but I guess there has to be something to account for the price difference between the VX-6 and VX-7. The included display, however, is by no means objectionable.

- Finally, the included belt clip looks all but useless, so I didn't even bother installing it. For such a rugged little radio, it's disappointing that Yaesu didn't spring for something more in keeping with the radio's design (such as the large spring clamp like is found on the VX-150). I highly recommend ditching the included clip and purchasing Yaesu's swivel clip which fits on the VX-6 perfectly (it comes standard with the VX-7 and VX-170). I know some don't like the swivel clip, but I've found it to be solid, secure, and well-designed.

Like I said, minor criticisms at worst.

Even with the length of this review, I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. If you're seriously considering this rig then head to Yeasu's website and download the manual and give it a read. This will by far be the best way to make an informed purchasing decision. But for what it's worth, I'm of the opinion that this is easily one of Yaesu's best radios, right up there with the FT-51. I recommend it without reservation.
KB1PHZ Rating: 5/5 Aug 3, 2007 12:10 Send this review to a friend
Terrific Small HT  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought two of these for myself and my wife a few weeks ago. Terrific HT! Just coming back into Ham Radio after a few years away, I’m floored by what you get for your money in a handheld these days. My last was an Icom in the early-mid nineties with a fraction of the features and three times the cost. The VX-6R delivers incredible performance for a small handheld. The feature set compares favorably to any newer HT. Size-related qualities, like the microphone and small speaker, compare very favorably to other similarly-sized units. Bottom line is handy size, tough build, and very usable. I’d buy it again in a heartbeat.

. Excellent build quality that speaks for itself the instant you pick it up … every time.
. Good ergonomics – particularly intelligent key layout.
. Very clear receive audio
. Getting good reports on transmit quality/audio
. Decent battery life, given the battery size. I use all battery saving features, including receive save, transmit save, transmitter time-out, auto shutoff, beep off, scan lamp off, busy lamp off, etc.
. Usable rubber duck
. Useful and easy locking functionality for motorsports use – can lock various combinations of the keyboard, dial, PTT, etc. to keep from changing something inadvertently.
. Waterproof – again, great for motorsports use
. Pre-programmed stuff – SW, Marine, WX channels etc. I wasn’t looking for them, but use them since I have them. In fact, I might not have used these bands at all without the pre-programming. Very nice to have.
. Excellent scanning capabilities – by band, channel (memories), entire spectrum, preferential memory scan, programmed freq. ranges scanning, etc.
. Excellent memory capabilities – 1000 basic memories, nameable banks, direct access memories, home frequency on every band, etc.
. Dual watch capability
. Easy to program. I don’t quite understand people’s complaints on this one. While there are tons of options, that doesn’t translate into hard to program. In fact, with a few exceptions, changing a setting follows a pretty standard pattern.
. The settings menu is sorted alpha.
. 220 band. Don’t quite know what I’ll do with it, but nice as an extra.
. The manual is OK with few translation oddities. See cons for a few negative comments on the manual, however.
. I can read the display without glasses. Your mileage may vary.
. Usable CW Training feature
. A bunch of advanced features, most not of interest to me or affecting my rating, however. These include emergency features, ARTS, Sensor mode (pressure & altimeter – requires an add-on board), etc. I won’t use most of the internet features, either.

. I detest the mic/speaker jack – it almost kept me from buying the radio. 4 conductor, threaded, etc. On the other hand, I bought this for (among other things) motorcycle use, and have been soaked repeatedly, so …
. Memory skip feature is ok, but would prefer a timeout
. Belt clip borders on completely unusable. You’re actually at increased risk of dropping the radio just to try to get it on your belt with the stock clip.
. I’d rather have a battery meter that’s on the display full-time in lieu of monitoring voltage. The VX-6 only shows the meter when you’re about to run out of power.
. I don’t particularly like having transmit power selection via a secondary key function.
. Lousy commercial AM band reception, but it’s strictly an extra anyway, and no effect on the rating. FM isn’t bad – not that you’d use the speaker in an HT for music or anything, but handy to have for news or whatever.
. The manual needs an index. It would also be more readable if Yaesu didn’t insist on both specifying full keystroke sequences along with the full list of key functions. So, instead of saying “press SQ TYP” (which is a secondary function), the manual says “Press FW, then Press MODE(SP S)SQ TYP” – put a string of those together and it looks more complicated than it is – which may be the source of some of the programming complaints. Not that it IS difficult to program (it’s not), but that the manual makes it look more difficult and non-intuitive than it is.
. The supplied wall wart trickle charger is a 5 hour charger. Buy the quick charger.
W5GIE Rating: 4/5 Jul 23, 2007 09:48 Send this review to a friend
Excellent...but  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a great radio. With my previous miserable experience with ADMS on a VX5, I never installed the ADMS software for the VX6 and went with Commander. All of the radio functions appear to work! (Not so with the quirky VX5).

The controls are more intuitive that with a VX5. The functions are well thought out, although I would like to have both "Home" and "reverse", instead of assigning the key to one or the other.

All in all, it is a very easy radio to learn and use.

Now the "but"
The biggest drawback to this radio is one of it's biggest selling points--waterproofing. The radio has a strange proprietary waterproof data/mic/speaker connector that first plugs into the radio, then screws down for a water tight seal. This connector is located under a screw down watertight cover. Connectors without this screw down feature are not long enough to seat. If you wanted to plug in an earphone or a remote speaker, you have to somehow convert from this strange VX6 connector to the earphone/speaker. It would have been easy for Yaesu to have a non-waterproof connector (instead of a waterproof connector) under the existing water tight connector protector.

While I am very happy with all other aspects of the radio, if I had known about the interface connector, I would have bought a different radio. Ease of speaker/mic interface is simply more important to me than complete waterproofing.

KI4SIQ Rating: 4/5 Jun 11, 2007 17:43 Send this review to a friend
Good little radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I like this radio and I find it easy to use without keeping the manual handy. I just wish this radio had a full 5 watts output on 220 MHz. If I was in the market for a HT again I would look strongly at the Kenwood tri-band that has the 5 watts output.

That said I have dropped the VX-6R many times and have switched antennas between the rubber-duckie and a mag-mount antenna for my car many times and everything still works well.
F4EPP Rating: 4/5 May 9, 2007 09:38 Send this review to a friend
nice intuitive menu  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I am a VX-7 owner and here are the differences with this HT transceiver:
-It's a bit smaller (fits better in my hand)
-The menu's definitly easier and well arranged.
-better intermod tolerence (especially in UHF)but it could be better. The best I ever seen against our crowded UHF area is the Icom IC-91A.
-Keypad is very clever with all the main features we need quickly (step, sq type, tone code, skip, repeater shift + or -, even the MODES !)
-there are 2 programmable keys (I set squelch volume instea of the Yaesu Wires and Attenuation on/off on the DMR key but you can choose others)
-Direct memory recall is very convenient for newcomers or occasionally users that are able to set the desired preprogrammed channel just touching 2 keys: DMR + 1 for example)
-the speaker is deeper, I don't find the sound quality better than the VX-7 but for long time uses our ears appreciates.
- the volume key is tougher with more "clicks" available for an accurate sound audio level of your choice.
-We can name the banks AND the PMS (VERY convenient)
- Mic Gain level adjustable (good for preamp mobile mic use)
- put out the busy green led to save the battery
-CW training feature
-we can set our prefered Scan modes (PMS, UHF only, VHF only, preferential, band...)just before it starts with the Scan key+ dial.
-The TX is ready immediatly after turn it on if you remove the open message (VERY convenient!)
-99 lock out frequencies ! convenient for a VFO scan with no stops on the data or birdie frequencies.

What I miss on it compared to the vx-7 are:
-no time clock I can't use it as an alarm o'clock.
the "on timer" menu works with remaining time so before to go to bed, you will have to do the math if you want it to wake up tomorrow !!
-no dual reception
-You cannot put out the TX red led.
-The emergency flash light is not as bright as the VX-7
-No 2 minutes Time out timer (1 or 3 like the VX-7)
-TX save seems to be less accurate than the VX-7.

I waited a long time before to buy this VX-6, I didn't want to be disapointed as a VX-7 owner but I'm definitly NOT. They're different and I need both ones. It depends on my uses. I hope my review will complete all the others you read ! Don't hesitae to write me for more infos. I will figure out more on it soon because I've got it soldered in my hand anywhere I go !!

Sendy F4EPP
SQ9MCS Rating: 5/5 Mar 30, 2007 02:35 Send this review to a friend
Great rig  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Little, strong, powerful. Everything you want you will have it in this TRX. Wideband coverage receiver is great. Changing frequency very simple. User manual too dificult.
In one word: Great
N3ATS Rating: 5/5 Feb 25, 2007 17:38 Send this review to a friend
Buy this radio!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought my VX-6R, mainly to have some mode of comms during power failures, and to be able to monitor public safety during those same conditions.

I have to say I love this radio. Not overly barren of bells and whistles, but not packed full of stuff most folks will never use.

The radio is very simple to program, which was a great concern of mine before I bought it. But even with my pudgy digits, I punched in over 80 memories in less than an hour!

The radio's transmit audio is good, clear, and strong. A fellow ham told me that he would have never known I was on a handheld, had I not told him.

The receive is excellent, and though some adjacent channel interference comes through, it's no worse than any other radio I have had experience with.

The antenna, while it is what it is, works fine. I have no trouble hitting UHF repeaters 40 miles away from my hilltop QTH.

I modified my radio to open up TX at 50 MHz. Yes, this radio will operate in the 6 meter band at about 2 watts out. I do not know if transmitting in this band will damage any band-pass filters, so if you do this, do it at your own risk. Oh, and buy the proper antenna for 6M too!

So for $75 less than the VX-7 you get 50, 220, 144, 440, after the TX mod.

The radio's battery is great. No issues with charge time, holding a charge, or time it takes to charge it. I left the radio on (no TX) with a fully charged battery and it lasted around 18 hours sitting there RXing.

The chassis is metal, and it is waterproof to an extent (see the manual). It is very rugged, and looks good too. Not to thin, not to thick.

Pros: Construction, ease of use, ease of programming, looks, size, and performance.

Cons: Yaesu needs to stop using these 4-conductor stereo type plugs for their speaker-mic jacks. It doesn't like to stand up by itself on the table. No dual-watch capability.

If you want a decent handheld, this is the one. For $250 shipped you can't beat it!


N9ZI Rating: 5/5 Jan 7, 2007 12:41 Send this review to a friend
Good Radio  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have been very pleased with this model - not to big - not to small - just right for me. I have had the VX-150 - very nice - bigger than I like - have had the VX-2R - nice small radio - after a while the audio through the small speaker bothered me. The VX-6R audio is much-much better, lots nicer to listen to ham bands + the fm & tv bands.
This one fits me perfect, am glad that I purchased this one.
Terry N9ZI
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