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2/2/2009: I got it! A wonderful Yaesu VX-8 triple-band submersible handheld transceiver.

Below, a few comments while waiting for the first battery charge completion.

After a very few days, SPLASH! it fell into the water while it was raining. It was receiving APRS. A few seconds almost completely submersed in water, with the display in the deepest waters. I took it, while the rain continued falling on it and... IT WAS STILL WORKING! Yay! That's actually "submersible". I'm glad it continued receiving and transmitting APRS packets, as if nothing happened.

Why did I buy it?

First, I wanted a complete APRS system without hassles and cables: you can even go jogging while doing APRS... (this was not easily achievable using my Good Old Kenwood TH-D7).

But the Yaesu VX-8 also got my attention because:

Currently I am not particularly interested in other features (CTCSS/DCS/EPCS, WIRES, ARTS, EAI, etc). I wanted a good handheld transceiver fully APRS capable, and I got it.

First impressions

Maybe I will change my mind... but now, after the very first day of usage, I am not quite happy with its menu system and some engineering flaws. Let's start with the bad news.

Add-ons are somewhat pricey

Hardware limitations and flaws

Firmware issues

Menus and function keys are quite hard to navigate and even learn:

The Most Annoying VX8 Firmware Bug: "Dial" and "Vol" functions inverted...!

News, news! It is not a firmware bug. It is only a weird feature, documented in small characters in the rightmost column of manual page 5...
If you hit the F button, release it, then hit the Vol button on the left side of the radio, the "Dial" and "Vol" functions are exchanged (top dial becomes direct volume control). To get back to default operation, just hit again F and then Vol. In this page I previously (and mistakenly) stated that a "full microprocessor reset" (manual page 134) was required.
Thanks to Tim KI6BSF for pointing out it.

Other small firmware glitches:

I strongly miss:

I do not know the Science of Marketing, but I guess that with some little extra cost, a number of features was easy to add (SSB on 50MHz band and below, AM transmit, a 3-pin serial port to use it as TNC or GPS or morse key).

Now, the good news!

Problems always require many words to be correctly explained.

Good things, instead, only require a few words - this page section is smaller than the one above.

First, let me say that I am happy because the VX-8 is worth every penny.

Great band coverage, 5W output, complete APRS system (with a GPS antenna that seems to receive better than my Garmin GPS), small, thin (0.9"), light (less than 300g including GPS and antenna), submersible, shockproof.

It has even "triple" band operation: in the photo below, the APRS is working on the two-meter band, while listening broadcast AM on 660 kHz (!), which will be automatically silenced if signal incoming on the 70cm band.

Lots of configuration options: you can even tell the VX-8 to save the energy by turning off the "Busy" LEDs.

Lots of gadgets: a simple flash light, a barometer, mini spectrum scope, and other things... and even a CW rx training utility.

As far as I know, there are two versions of the Yaesu VX-8: the "US version" (Yaesu VX-8R) and the "export version" (Yaesu VX-8E). Main differences are:

More comments coming in next weeks...

Alfonso KJ4HDR

Yay! My VX-8 between a P900 and a LEGO NXT!

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