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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | Yaesu VX-8GR Help


Reviews Summary for Yaesu VX-8GR
Yaesu VX-8GR Reviews: 26 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $540.00
Description: The VX-8GR dual-bander only covers 2m & 70cm and receive coverage is 108-999 MHz (less cellular frequencies). This version has a built-in GPS unit right out of the box! It is not Bluetooth capable. It is however APRS capable (B band only) with Smart Beaconingô. DCS/CTCSS encode/decode is included. Supplied with 7.4V 1100 mAh Lithium ion battery. 2.4 x 3.7 x 1.1 inches (without knobs or antenna).
Product is not in production.
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AF2DX Rating: 5/5 May 22, 2012 13:09 Send this review to a friend
Confused about the battery  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I paid a lot for the HT and one thing I find is that when not in use for a week or more the fully charged battery pack takes 9 hours for that bar on the screen to show full.
I was told that the HT draws just to monitor the power button.
Below is what was sent to me.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Even if the radio is off the radio still requires some juice to monitor
the power button. This is common for radios that use a button instead of a
switch. Your best bet is to take the battery off when you're not using the
radio for a long period of time
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I still give the HT a solid 5 because it is rugged and it takes 15 seconds or less to have the GPS lock on and show my position.
BOB
AF2Q
 
KR0L Rating: 3/5 Apr 30, 2012 18:20 Send this review to a friend
Good budget APRS HT, but no match for TH-D72A on APRS  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I wrote about three HTs on my blog today at http://changelog.complete.org/archives/7501-review-amateur-radio-handhelds-hts-aprs-and-battery-tuning-tips - but since this is already large enough, I'll focus on my comments about the VX-8GR.

Here's what I wrote about it....

One could probably call this Yaesuís closest competitor to the D72A. At about $100 cheaper, it doesnít have a featureset that matches Kenwoodís, but it does have a few innovations that the D72A lacks.

Starting with the basics, it lacks the VX-7Rís broadband receive, with the receive roughly matching the TH-D72Aís. The 8GR is a dual-transceiver HT, and it works this effectively (moreso than the VX-7R). Yaesu has a bad habit of changing connectors on radios with regularity, and charging an arm and a leg for accessories to boot. Even within the VX-8 line, the 8GR uses different accessories than the 8DR, and of course has different plugs than the 7R (though it appears that the DC power plug is the same, and with some luck you might be able to use a VX-7R speaker/mic on the 8GR, though not the reverse).

The menu system on the 8GR is still similar to the 7R, though Yaesu has done several things to improve it. For one, scrolling through the menu now shows several lines of context on the screen at once, making it faster to scan. Also, there are more ways to jump into the menu at a certain location than before Ė and even a small bit of clumsily-implemented hierarchy (there are several settings on the SmartBeaconing page, for instance).

The menu key now toggles between various displays: the default frequency/status display, a GPS display, an APRS staion list, and an APRS message list. Just about everything operationally takes more keypresses than the D72A. On the D72A, itís one or two keys (a physical button or F+button) to do almost everything: toggle GPS state, change TNC/APRS state (turn on or off), etc. All of that is in the scrolling menus on the 8GR. The quickest way there, which is documented in the manual, is to press MENU until a certain screen comes up, then press and hold MENU to bring up the settings (defaulting to a certain APRS-related category), then scroll and change settings. Itís a pain to turn APRS on and off, because you have to do this process for both the GPS and the APRS modem. Inexplicably, there is a hotkey to change the APRS beacon method (manual, auto, or SmartBeaconing) but not to turn APRS itself on or off. (The D72A has a hotkey to toggle the beaconing, though not to change its method; though in truth, if you do it frequently, the menu shortcuts will get you there rapidly.)

Physically, the VX-8GR is closer to the size of the 7R than the size of the D72A, and notably is significantly smaller than the D72A (at least with the standard battery). As noted in my D72A review, the VX-8GR feels more rugged than the D72A, though whether that is actually true or not is hard to pin down. It is definitely less rugged than the VX-7R. The keys require more pressure than the D72A, and in this they are similar to the 7R, but feel satisfyingly solid.

Unlike the other radios here, the 8GR does not have a dedicated volume knob, having only one dial on the top. To adjust volume, you hold the volume button on the left while twisting the knob. In practice, this is probably not usually very annoying, but if the radio is on your belt or otherwise not in your hand, this would be a frustration. (I think it would be particularly annoying if using it with a speaker/mic). Setting 99 will let you change the key so you donít have to hold it in, which could probably go a long way to making the situation more tolerable.

One unique feature of the VX-8GR, as far as I know completely unique to it, is a vibrating alert. This would most frequently be used with APRS to provide a nearly-silent alert of incoming messages and the like.

The screen of the 8G, while similar in size to both the D72A and the 7R, appears to be higher-resolution (or if not, they make better use of it). More information is packed onto the screen at once, and although the D72A does have a small font, it uses it so rarely that lots of scrolling is needed. The 8GR uses a smaller font than the D72A to show content of messages and the like, which makes a much faster experience since there is a lot less scrolling. Neither radio has a setting to change this behavior, so if your eyesight isnít good, you may prefer the D72A anyhow.

The VX-8GR supports a heading-up or a north-up view of the received GPS data, but strangely it does not support this when navigating to a received beacon (north-up is the only option). Unlike the TH-D72A, you can engage keylock on the 8GR while someoneís beacon is on the display. Also unlike the TH-D72A, you can lock out the PTT key on the 8GR. However, the keylock feature is just a quick press of the power button, which makes me a bit nervous.

There are a lot of things the D72A supports in the APRS area that the 8GR doesnít. Hereís a summary of features missing in the 8GR compared to the D72A: voice alert (canít even do it manually since tone/CTCSS are locked out in APRS mode), quick replying to messages, TNC mode, full AX.25 packet mode, full PC linking, weather station inputs, built-in digipeater mode, heading-up display, GPS track logs, QSY in beacons, quick tuning to othersí QSY info, responding to position queries, proportional pathing, automatic decay, beaconing on PTT release, sorting of beacon list, hotkey access to many features, and Iím sure the list goes on. On the flipside, the only thing feature-wise that you get on the 8GRís APRS implementation that the D72A lacks is ability to inspect raw APRS packets.

The VX-8GR has the lowest-capacity battery of the three radios covered in this post, [the other two were the VX-7R and TH-D72A] and this is an oft-cited problem for users of the unit. Yeasu does seem to do a much better job of power management than Kenwood, though, so in full APRS and GPS mode, the battery life is roughly the same, amazingly enough. It is unlikely that the talk time on the 8GR would match either the 7R or the D72A, however.

Kenwood and Yaesu both have a battery saver feature which cuts power to the RX circuit except for brief checks for signals. Yaesu completely disables this while the APRS modem is on (and STILL matches Kenwoodís battery life, despite the smaller battery!) Kenwood doesnít, though recommends changing the signal-check interval from 0.2s to 0.03s in order to avoid truncating APRS packets. Yaesu offers an 1800 mAh extended-life battery which should significantly exceed Kenwoodís battery life. Aftermarket vendors have 2000 mAh batteries as well.

Either way, expect APRS to be a drain on batteries. [More on that on the full review on the blog.]

Although Yaesu includes 168 pages of documentation with the 8GR, donít expect it to match the quality and detail of Kenwoodís 218 pages. There are a lot of gimmicky/useless features on the 8GR (WIRES, for one) that get extensive treatment, and there is a fair bit of repetition. I particularly single out the SmartBeaconing documentation on the 8GR as being, at best, woefully incomplete ó and probably also inaccurate to boot. Read the D72A manuals to figure out how that feature works on your 8GR.

I bought the VX-8GR intending it to be something akin to a more versatile TinyTrak. On that score, it mostly succeeds. It may be my go-to rig for use at bicycle rides, marathons, emergencies, etc., while the D72A will probably be the one that goes with me on trips.
 
KF7TJI Rating: 4/5 Jan 22, 2012 17:22 Send this review to a friend
APRS Works Great  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After reading some reviews, I feel like I'm beating a dead horse...But... The GR is fantastic except the audio volume and audio quality. The audio quality is slightly better and louder than my cell phone set to speaker phone.

However the rest of the features are great and the radio works: GPS, Beacon, and the rest of the APRS features.

Battery life is quite short, but its to be expected with so many features running at once.

I have also discovered that the Garmin Forerunner 201's serial cable will work as a programming cable for the GR.

I'm brand new with Amateur Radio, so take my comments lightly.

I would buy another GR if destroyed this one.

Have a great day,
Mike
 
KA5IQX Rating: 4/5 Jan 8, 2012 15:43 Send this review to a friend
Good radio thus far  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have been interested in APRS for some time, and had talked to some of the "hams" here locally who have been using APRS on a regular basis. It can be said that, to some degree, it's simply another "ham" gadget to have fun with. But APRS can also be quite useful in Emergency Communication situations and for community events where "hams" provide important information in both voice radio transmissions and APRS screen displays. When a safety issue or an injury occurs, it can make a big difference in having not only a radio report, but also a screen visual of the location, so that responders might possibly get there more quickly. And of course APRS tracking is very important for all of those "ham" balloon launches taking place these days. It's amazing to be able to track a balloon and to know it's location, altitude, speed and a host of other data as it makes it's way into the heavens.

Anyway....all of the expensive mobile APRS radios were very nice...but to me, one advantage of the Yaesu VX-8GR was the ability to easily move the radio from one vehicle to another, or to even use the APRS feature while holding the handheld out in the field, using a rubber duckie antenna if necessary. The VX-8GR is perfect for that. The GPS is built in, so there are no other boxes or wires to hook up to the radio, and it seems to have no problem locking onto satellites pretty quickly. If you want to see the tracking as it takes place, and you have a smartphone, you can access the APRS website and you'll have a great visual map of what's going on.

For mobile useage, you can use a non-permanent, weighted mount on the dash....and a quick connect to a roof mounted antenna...and there ya are. The little rascal does just fine with respect to hitting the local digipeaters. It's only a 5 watt handheld, but I'm quite pleased with it so far, and it seems to do the job nicely. It's a compromise radio, but the portability of it is a big plus. Of course it is also a regular dual band handheld, and performs that duty quite well too.

Another nice thing I noticed, the bottom of the radio and battery are quite flat, so the radio when placed on a table will stand firmly, with no wobble-effect. That might sound like no big deal, but it seems that most handhelds these days don't stand firmly, and can tip over more easily than they should. Perhaps I'm a bit weird, and perhaps this information most likely won't mean that much to most "hams", but in my view, it's another plus.

One thing I was not impressed with was the flimsy belt clip. I don't understand why many of the handhelds on the market these days don't have a simple belt clip that is strong enough to withstand normal, daily wear and useage without becoming loose or breaking off.

The instruction manual is a bit difficult and complicated, especially to an APRS novice, but after several readings and some experimentations and some "oh gosh, what did I do to it this time?" moments....I stumbled through it and got it to work. ( only 4 aspirins required )

My actual rating would have been 4.5, but that was not an option. I've only had the radio for a couple of months, and there are a few other quirks and dislikes, but overall it seems to be a really good radio, and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to have a good dual band handheld and APRS too. It's a great combination.
 
KB8ZXE Rating: 4/5 Jan 4, 2012 10:50 Send this review to a friend
Good radio so far  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
If you are into aprs or want to get into aprs this radio is a great choice. It really makes aprs fun, and useful. The VX8GR really makes a tracker and a standard radio outdated.

APRS is a two way communications mode and should be used as such. Being able to see how close your friends are, receive weather date, verify your beacons are being digipeated is very nice.

In the month or so that I have owned it I've used it a lot. One time I was on the roof of my friends 3 story apartment building looking at his antenna install and I was digipeated directly by a digi more than 90 miles away (with factory rubber duck antenna). Receive also seems to be great, it decodes beacons that are only S3 or so. This is also a great tool for people who maintain aprs infrastructure. You can verify a digi is working or whatever simply by looking at raw-data..etc..

Using aprs at the same time as a voice conversation works okay, it just sends the beacon when the other person unkeys if it has been the time designated by your beacon interval. You might miss a little voice. It works better if you are on simplex only talking to one person.

It would be cool if the radio was upgradable but that is a different issue. That is why I gave it a 4 not 5.

 
KB0VXN Rating: 4/5 Aug 1, 2011 14:28 Send this review to a friend
Nice little radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Had this radio for over six months now and its been a good little unit. What keeps me from giving it a five is a couple little issues. Mainly, the erratic amount of time that it takes to get a gps lock....anywhere from almost instant to close to ten minutes...and this is standing outside. It will always lock eventually, but you never know how long it will take. There are a few little quirks as far as menus and operating functions that aren't covered in the manual, but I figured them out eventually. Lack of a squelch knob is an annoyance, but I'm getting used to it. The audio output is a little low, but I find it adequate most of the time. I use this radio mostly for fm satellites and as aprs unit in my pickup. Overall, I am happy with it and would buy another. It packs a lot of features in a small package.
 
KB1PGH Rating: 5/5 Mar 27, 2011 18:50 Send this review to a friend
Works as advertised!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Actually I will give this radio a 4.5 rating and I`ll get to that in a second.So far,so good with the Yaesu VX-8GR.It`s smaller and lighter than my FT 60.It`s those Lithium Ion batteries that the VX-8GR has.The build quality is good and the buttons feel solid.The audio is fine and sensitivity is fine as well.Works good as a scanner as well.I love the dual band but too bad the alpha name tags only show up on mono-band but oh well.I finally got a chance to try the GPS and APRS and lo and behold it all works!Of course it takes a couple of minutes to get the satellite lock but I got 5 GPS satellites outisde.Of course in the house I have to keep it by a window but it still works.The APRS works great! It`s not too hard to set up,just read the manual a few time before you get deep into this HT.The APRS on band B received and sent beacons like a champ thru the local digipeater.It was fun to see my beacon on APRS.FI. I Haven`t had the chance to send a text message yet though.I`ll take a half point off the rating for the menu driven system.It is sort of a pain in the behind but then agin it`s a HT.It would be so much easier if Yaesu just added a On/Off button for GPS and APRS-You just have to go a few steps into the menu and then twist the top knob to shut it them on and off.I also can see how a newbie to ham radio who buys the VX-8GR as their first HT will lose their mind with the menu tree.By the way-If you do only just one thing-BUY THE BIGGER BATTERY WHEN YOU BUY THIS HT !!! The GPS sucks the life out the smaller battery-and if you not using the GPS remember to shut it off.So far I say it`s worth the money and a good job by Yaesu. I also purchsed the Diamond SRH 77CA HT antenna and am getting better reception,especially for the scanner side of things.
 
HP1COO Rating: 5/5 Feb 5, 2011 20:10 Send this review to a friend
Goodenough for APRS!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
If you enjoy APRS, this radio is for you. I use it on the beach or more recently on an air show (by the way, during the show I received the tower frequency on one band while tx my position on the other band). The menus are clear, the configuration of the APRS is straightforward. Smart beaconing works ok, I had to read the manual twice to clarify some concepts.
Probably on the future I will get the long capacity battery. Power consumption increases with dual receive and GPS on. Regarding the GPS, it tooks longer than my Garmin to lock the position, but once locked, I could wear the radio on one of the open pockets of my cargo pants without loosing satellite reception.

Overall, I recommend this radio. Good job Yaesu!
 
VE3FYN Rating: 4/5 Dec 29, 2010 20:18 Send this review to a friend
Good APRS, poor interface  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought my VX8GR after my Kenwood D7 suffered its fourth major faitlure. It is my first Yaesu radio, which may explain some of my concerns.

On the plus side, the unit is small and very rugged. Contrary to some reports, I find the GPS locks in faster than my Garmin eTrex, and does so even inside buildings. The APRS functions on the radio are solid and easy to setup. Multiple digi paath settings is good. Smart beaconing works well, and has default settings for walking, biking and driving. The smart beaconing can go a little awry when you are not moving (random direction changes reported by the GPS will generate frequent beacons). And it has a clock, something all radios should have. The serial interface works well and doesn't require a level-changing cable. The stock antenna works better than most. There is a lot of information on the screen, and it is easy to read, even for my old eyes. Programming odd splits is easy, even cross-band splits.

On the minus side, I find the interface very challenging compared to my Kenwood radios. There is no function to have it beep at ones own beacon but not at others. The red text is hard to read. The Kenwood D7 would store and continue to beacon your position when the GPS was turned off. The Yaesu doesn't; switching from GPS to manual mode takes several steps.

When in dual band mode (which you will always be in) you cannot display the memory names -- what's up with that? Even in single band mode, it's hard to read memory names. You can't name a DTMF shortcut, and it takes more button presses to access a DTMF shortcut than to dial it longhand. Yaesu focuses its main buttons too much on its own toys (ARTS, etc.) and not enough on the common functions we want.

In short, it's a good radio once you get around the pathetic interface.
 
KV4AN Rating: 5/5 Dec 27, 2010 17:00 Send this review to a friend
CONVENIENT HANDHELD APRS  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
If you are looking for a convenient handheld APRS transceiver, this one's for you. This is a nice small and rugged dual-bander with a built-in GPS and APRS TNC. Same kind of bells-and-whistles as the VX-6 and VX-8 and other high end dual-band HT's. Has an "A" and "B" band and it receives on both simultaneously (you can automatically mute the "B" side when there is a signal on "A"). You have to select which one to use for transmit. If you bought this radio, you wanted to do ARPS, so you use the "B" band for APRS and "A" for FM voice/repeaters on either 2 meters or 440 MHz There are many menu setup options in two different menus, one for the regular HT and the other for APRS/GPS. The GPS acquires a signal slowly inside a building, but much quicker outside with a clear view. The only things I don't like is that the audio output is not very high and battery life with standard battery is low. I also can't seem to set the internal clock, but I'm still fiddling with it. The APRS works flawlessly and there was not much of a learning curve from my Kenwood D700. I've sent/received position packets and Winklink messages. APRS is a lot of fun and the VX-8GR, with its all-in-one convenience is going to add a new man-portable dimension to the fun.
 
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