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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Scanners | Yaesu VR-120 Help

Reviews Summary for Yaesu VR-120
Yaesu VR-120 Reviews: 16 Average rating: 3.9/5 MSRP: $219.95
Description: Communications Receiver
Product is in production.
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KB6HRT Rating: 5/5 Aug 25, 2002 08:54 Send this review to a friend
Very Good Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had a VR-120 for a year now and it works Great I use it when i go on trips, The batterys last quite well and its a compact little radio and for the money it is hard to beat, and no it will now compare with my Kenwood TH6A except in size but cost 3 times more but for the price it does quite well and it is easy to use too!
KF6GOM Rating: 5/5 Aug 24, 2002 21:20 Send this review to a friend
Great Value For The Price  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
picked up a VR-120 for $109.99 at HRO.The case is very heafty and a nice feel to the hand. Opened the box and started using it without the manual.
i will be using it for local police,AM&FM.
hooked up a external antenna and the HF/Shortwave
bands came in like a much more expense radio.
good audio,you might want to add a Motorola Clip
(the original one is like the VX-1, very cheap)
grab one asap before they are gone..............
KE8YY Rating: 4/5 Jun 19, 2002 14:15 Send this review to a friend
Good value  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was looking for an ultra-lightweight radio for backpacking when I came across the VR-1. My priorities were BCB, FM and Weather, but I thought it might be nice to find somthing with a little wider coverage. I was not impressed with the low-end Sonys and Sangeansin particular they didn't look like they'd hold up well in the outdoors or banging around in a pack. The VR-120, with its rugged case, recessed buttons and DC-to-light coverage, seemed like a real buy at $120.

I haven't been disappointed with my choice. The ergonomics aren't the best, but I can reach any frequency in a few seconds using the function key and main tuning knob. Other features, like memory, take a lot of keystrokes, but they're not that important to me for the intended use of the radio. Receiver sensitivity is pretty good, although the supplied antenna is useless for anything other than strong signals at VHF and above. But attach 10' of wire and the HF performance is surprisingly good.

Audio output is low, and the 1" speaker isn't a great performer on music. Again, not a problem, as I intend to use it mainly with an earphone, both for the lowered battery life and to avoid annoying others in the tent.

The one other radio I'd considered was the Yaesu VX1-R, which is about three quarters the size and trades HF reception for duial band tranceive functionality. The VR-120 won out on the basis of the extended receive and the use of AA batteries, rather than a rechargeable cell. This is important given that I may be in the wilderness for a week or more. (I was impressed enough with the VX-1 that I may yet buy one just for the dual-band functionality)

In summary, I wouldn't choose the VR-120 as my main SWL-ing radio, but where size and light weight are important, it's a lot of value for the money.
HIFIANDREW Rating: 3/5 Jun 12, 2002 06:09 Send this review to a friend
Folloup to review  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After using the VR-120, I found the one that I had to be very sensative to getting wet. Yaesu advertises it as being "protected against water ingress per JIS II specifications" whatever that means. When I was using it, it got some water splashed on it. Not a stream or downpour, just enough to wet the case some. The channel/tuner knob freaked out and I couldn't change any stations and water permiated behind the display cover a little. The good news is that once it dried out, it started functioning again. But I wouldn't recommend using it the way they have it on Yaesu's web site with it cover with snow. When the snow melts you might be in for an unplesant surprise. Otherwise it's been working fine though. Just keep it dry.
HIFIANDREW Rating: 3/5 May 19, 2002 16:43 Send this review to a friend
Inexpensive and novel  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'd have to agree with the previous reviewer. But for the money you do get a decent amount of feaures. I paid a little over $100 for the unit. Really all I wanted was something for casual listening and price was the most important factor over features. Advantages: low cost, light weight, size, cute display, fairly solid feeling case, plenty of memories, acceptable performance given it's cost. Disadvantages: cumbersome to program and operate, low audio output. Overall it packs a ton of features for the money compared to what I paid for an old Realistic scanner 10 or 15 years ago. But it's just for casual listening. Hoenstly, my primary use for the thing was for a reliable AM/FM radio and some occasional casual scanning. It works just fine for light duty. Not recommended in noisy environments. For the money it's a fun toy and a nice improvement over my old Realistic. People serious about the hobby should probably spend more and look elsewhere.
N1FCJ Rating: 2/5 Sep 5, 2001 17:00 Send this review to a friend
Unimpressive but OK as a backup.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Well, I've had my VR-120 for a few days now and honestly, I am not that impressed. It has some nice features for a low cost receiver but there are some obvious flaws in the programming. Also there are features lacking that I feel are necessary in a scanning receiver. Here is my review:

When I first opened the box the first thing that impressed me was the VR-120s construction. While the radio is all plastic, it is the hard, rugged plastic similar to that used on the Motorola commercial HTs. It feels well made, unlike my Icom R3, which uses a cheap plastic for its outer case. The size is also impressive, being smaller than my Yaesu VX-5. I loaded it up with 2AA batteries, put the antenna on [which is not all that easy until you read the instructions on how to do it] and fired it up. The antenna requires a good firm pinch around its base when putting it on the radio, otherwise the BNC connector slips within the rubber antenna casing, preventing you from locking it in place. The VR-120 does not include a rechargeable battery pack standard or as an option. This will annoy some but I like it. You can of course use your own AA rechargeable batteries as the supply voltage is 2.2-3.5V DC.

When you first power the radio on, "VR-120" scrolls across the LCD. The bad thing is it stays there for about 2-3 seconds even if you turn the VFO or press a button. This is a minor annoyance. As you scroll through the memories, you will notice that Yaesu has pre-programmed several shortwave frequencies, like BBC, VOA, etc. This is nice for the first time shortwave listener because you will immediately have something interesting to listen to.

Next I manually tuned a few Ham and public service frequencies. The first thing I noticed is that the channel steps on the 150MHz PS band would not allow me to tune my local police frequency. This was easily fixed by going into setup and manually selecting 5KHz steps. Unfortunately, once you do this, you have a very slow tuning rate on the 450MHz band. I returned the step to “auto” to cure this. Sensitivity seems comparable to my other scanners although the VR-120 seems to pick up more stray noise than do my other receivers. Unfortunately the VR-120 does not have a tone decoder so you will have to deal with the noises. Using the built in attenuator may help. The audio output of the VR-120 is the lowest of my handheld receivers. This is to be expected, as the VR-120 has only an 80mW audio amplifier! Tone quality is good but expect lots of distortion when you turn the volume up.

Next I tried programming some of the memories. This was a fairly simple process. The VR-120 allows you to label each memory with a 6 character alpha tag. Once you do this, the alpha tag will display rather than the frequency. This is the default and you cannot change it. You can press the mode button when stopped on a memory to view the frequency but the minute you turn the VFO, the display reverts to alpha. If you make a mistake programming a frequency, you must reprogram it from scratch. You cannot modify a setting in the memory and save the changes. For example, I was using the receiver in AM mode, then accidentally forgot to set the mode back to auto. After programming about 30 frequencies (alpha tag and all), I realized I had left the mode in AM. To change them to FM I had to write each memory to VFO, select FM mode, re-program the alpha tag, re-select the memory channel and resave. This involved a lot of spinning of the VFO knob. Every other radio I have used allows you to modify a memory without all this work. To worsen matters, no programming software is currently available for the VR-120. A cloning cable (to clone 2 VR-120s) is available so hopefully someone will release cloning software.

Another issue I have with the programming is that you cannot lockout or skip memories. You can select [with some effort] the banks you wish to scan, but you cannot lockout or skip an individual memory. This is odd, since the VR-120 lets you set frequencies to skip during a band scan. On the plus side, you can set preferred memories and scan only those memories using a preferred scan.

Interestingly all the banks are deselected by default and the radio is also set by default to scan by bank, meaning I could not get the radio to scan at all when I first programmed it. I had to figure out how to select each bank to make it work. Selecting which banks to scan is done through the set menu, which is a major pain in the rear.

One neat feature of the radio is you can select to use the earphone cord as an antenna for FM reception if you choose. You can also select either the whip antenna or internal bar antenna for AM broadcast reception. The bar worked better but not by much.

Another interesting feature of the VR-120 is the channel counter. You can [supposedly] set the radio to measure the frequency of a nearby radio transmitter without knowing the frequency in advance. This is a quote from the manual. First, you must know what band the transmitter is on because the VR-120 will only search +/- 100MHz (default is 50MHz). At the 50MHz setting, it took over 30 sec. for the VR-120 to [incorrectly] determine the frequency of my FRS radio. This is not a very useful feature in my mind. I tried this feature two more times and got it to work once of the 3 times. It still took over 30 sec. though.

The VR-120 is an entry level wide-band receiver. The receiver is OK for casual listening. Sensitivity is good but the VR-120 does not do a very good job of rejecting unwanted signals. Audio output is low. Some features of the VR-120 are simple to use, while others are daunting. If you get stuck, there is no quick reference card and the manual is not much help. Scanning flexibility is extremely limited although the radio does have 10 banks of 64 channels each. Programming the radio is tedious and time consuming. I hope Yaesu is listening because we really need some cloning software for this radio. If this is going to be your primary receiver, spend a little more and buy something better. If you are looking for a small, low cost backup receiver or one to throw in the car as I was, the VR-120 will do the job.
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