Yaesu: Initial impressions of the Yaesu VX-6R

KB2GOM

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Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
254
Location
upstate New York
The repeater (146.94) on which I run the Capital District Commuter Assistance Net -- Commuter Assistance Net -- has a 440 twin (448.425), and the two repeaters are linked. My inexpensive Chinese dual-bander produces muffled audio on 440, so I went on the hunt for a “better” dual bander.

Several people on RR have praised the Yaesu FT-60R. When I went looking for one three weeks ago, I couldn’t find one immediately available, so I went for the Yaesu VX-6R. It’s small, dual-band (but not dual receive), has 900 memories with 6-digit alpha tags and 24 memory banks, and wideband receive. Even more important to me, it is extremely ruggedly built (made in Japan with a magnesium case, no less, and gaskets on all openings) and weather resistant (it meets some Japanese standard that means it can survive being submerged for 30 minutes, which is longer than I can survive submerged.) Recently recertified as a Skywarn Spotter, I thought weather resistance might someday come in handy.

I called the Ham Radio Outlet store in Salem, NH; a fellow named Jim answered, and he had my package on the way that very day. Along with the VX-6R, I purchased the AA battery pack, N6FN’s Nifty Mini Manual for the VX-6R, and the RT Systems software and cable for programming the VX-6R.

The VX-6R is a highly capable radio that has more built-in tricks than a magician’s convention. The operating manual runs to 108 pages, and it is actually pretty well written. One of the most useful things for the outright newbie is the keypad chart on pages 6 and 7.

The Nifty Mini Manual is the thing to throw in your pack when you are out and about. It is 16 pages and laminated. I found the list of Set Mode functions on pages 15 and 16 particularly helpful. It’s worth the money, in my view.

The absolute best “accessory” I purchased with the VX-6R is the RT system programming software and cable. It makes programming the 6R quick and easy, adding alpha tags to channels and banks. With only 6 digits for alpha tagging, you sometimes have to get creative with naming, but the software worked perfectly on the first try, and when I asked an email question of RT Systems technical support on a Saturday, I got a very informative reply that day. Well done, RT systems!

Testing the 6R initially on the air on two meters, I got reports that my transmit audio was a little soft. Fortunately, there is a microphone gain adjustment, and the audio was soon pronounced to be excellent, although not quite as sharp as my Icom V80.

A couple of days after purchasing the 6R, I ordered a Diamond SRH320A antenna, in part because it had been recommended for the 6R and also because someone on RR said it was a superior antenna for military air monitoring. In comparison testing against a Diamond SRH77CA, the 77 did a better job of bringing up the 440 repeater, so the 77 stays on the VX-6R and the SRH320A now lives on my Uniden 396T scanner.

One thing that surprised me about the VX-6R is how fast it scans. I programmed 28 ham frequencies into one bank, and when I enable the scan function, the alpha tags go by in a blur. The 6R has several scan functions, including one for scanning a single bank, another for scanning all the memories on the radio, and another for linking a couple of banks together for scanning.

Are there any negatives? Yes, a couple of small ones. I am not desperately thrilled with the plug-into-the-side-of-the-radio charger that comes with the 6R. Eventually, I think I will spring for the drop-in charger, which is not included with the radio and is, apparently, faster. Second, accessing different memory banks require pressing two buttons and rotating a knob. It can get a little fiddly if you don’t get the timing right.

I haven’t begun to explore all the things the Yaesu VX-6R can do. So far, I find it to be capable, well-built, and useful. I would recommend it to a friend.
 

vagrant

ker-muhj-uhn
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Messages
2,097
Location
California
While that handheld is an older model, it offers 220 MHz as well, which is why I think it is still produced. I use the Kenwood tri-band versions, the THF6A and D74A as we have 220 repeaters in the area. A friend also uses the VX6R and likes it.

What you found out about the SRH320A vs the SRH77CA is my experience as well. The 77CA is the best for 70cm, but the 320A is a very close second on 70cm and definitely beats the 77CA on 2m and 1.25m. I encourage you to compare the two antennas on VHF. Still, I have spares of the 320A and use them on scanners too, due to the improved resonance on the other bands. At double the cost, the SRH320A is worth it to me and an antenna on a handheld and even a scanner is definitely not the place to be stingy. They need all the help they can get.

One more thing you might try is the use of a counterpoise wire on your handheld and your scanner. They are sometimes called tiger tails or rat tails as well. I have found it does improve TX and RX. I don’t need to use it often, but it is nice to have handy when I do. A thin bit of very flexible 18ga silicone covered wire is what I use with a ring connector. Experiment with other connection points on the chassis as well. It need not always be right at the antenna shield.

My favorite time to use the counterpoise is when camping with other amateurs. When they are having trouble whether simplex or through a repeater, I have them try the counterpoise. After they realize it works I tell them to keep it, as I have spares. I have even tried a counterpoise with a 6m handheld and it helped, but that is too much wire hanging about to be practical.
 

AK9R

Lead Wiki Manager
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Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
6,995
Location
Central Indiana
Congrats on the new radio!

Even more important to me, it is extremely ruggedly built (made in Japan with a magnesium case, no less, and gaskets on all openings)...
According to the brochure (downloadable from Yaesu's website), the outer case is polycarbonate resin and the inner case is die-cast aluminum.

Are there any negatives?
A few things about this radio that I would consider a negative:
1. The zero key is in the wrong place. It should be below the 8 like on a telephone keypad not to the right of the 6. This is a common issue with many handheld radios and is the first thing I look for when a new radio comes out.
2. The speaker-mic connection is a little non-standard. I know they've done this for weather sealing, but there are other ways to do this if submersion resistance was their goal.

While that handheld is an older model, it offers 220 MHz as well...
With only 1.5 watts output unlike the Kenwoods which are 5 watts output on the 222 MHz band.
 

trentbob

W3BUX- Bucks County, PA
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
3,269
The repeater (146.94) on which I run the Capital District Commuter Assistance Net -- Commuter Assistance Net -- has a 440 twin (448.425), and the two repeaters are linked. My inexpensive Chinese dual-bander produces muffled audio on 440, so I went on the hunt for a “better” dual bander.

Several people on RR have praised the Yaesu FT-60R. When I went looking for one three weeks ago, I couldn’t find one immediately available, so I went for the Yaesu VX-6R. It’s small, dual-band (but not dual receive), has 900 memories with 6-digit alpha tags and 24 memory banks, and wideband receive. Even more important to me, it is extremely ruggedly built (made in Japan with a magnesium case, no less, and gaskets on all openings) and weather resistant (it meets some Japanese standard that means it can survive being submerged for 30 minutes, which is longer than I can survive submerged.) Recently recertified as a Skywarn Spotter, I thought weather resistance might someday come in handy.

I called the Ham Radio Outlet store in Salem, NH; a fellow named Jim answered, and he had my package on the way that very day. Along with the VX-6R, I purchased the AA battery pack, N6FN’s Nifty Mini Manual for the VX-6R, and the RT Systems software and cable for programming the VX-6R.

The VX-6R is a highly capable radio that has more built-in tricks than a magician’s convention. The operating manual runs to 108 pages, and it is actually pretty well written. One of the most useful things for the outright newbie is the keypad chart on pages 6 and 7.

The Nifty Mini Manual is the thing to throw in your pack when you are out and about. It is 16 pages and laminated. I found the list of Set Mode functions on pages 15 and 16 particularly helpful. It’s worth the money, in my view.

The absolute best “accessory” I purchased with the VX-6R is the RT system programming software and cable. It makes programming the 6R quick and easy, adding alpha tags to channels and banks. With only 6 digits for alpha tagging, you sometimes have to get creative with naming, but the software worked perfectly on the first try, and when I asked an email question of RT Systems technical support on a Saturday, I got a very informative reply that day. Well done, RT systems!

Testing the 6R initially on the air on two meters, I got reports that my transmit audio was a little soft. Fortunately, there is a microphone gain adjustment, and the audio was soon pronounced to be excellent, although not quite as sharp as my Icom V80.

A couple of days after purchasing the 6R, I ordered a Diamond SRH320A antenna, in part because it had been recommended for the 6R and also because someone on RR said it was a superior antenna for military air monitoring. In comparison testing against a Diamond SRH77CA, the 77 did a better job of bringing up the 440 repeater, so the 77 stays on the VX-6R and the SRH320A now lives on my Uniden 396T scanner.

One thing that surprised me about the VX-6R is how fast it scans. I programmed 28 ham frequencies into one bank, and when I enable the scan function, the alpha tags go by in a blur. The 6R has several scan functions, including one for scanning a single bank, another for scanning all the memories on the radio, and another for linking a couple of banks together for scanning.

Are there any negatives? Yes, a couple of small ones. I am not desperately thrilled with the plug-into-the-side-of-the-radio charger that comes with the 6R. Eventually, I think I will spring for the drop-in charger, which is not included with the radio and is, apparently, faster. Second, accessing different memory banks require pressing two buttons and rotating a knob. It can get a little fiddly if you don’t get the timing right.

I haven’t begun to explore all the things the Yaesu VX-6R can do. So far, I find it to be capable, well-built, and useful. I would recommend it to a friend.
While that handheld is an older model, it offers 220 MHz as well, which is why I think it is still produced. I use the Kenwood tri-band versions, the THF6A and D74A as we have 220 repeaters in the area. A friend also uses the VX6R and likes it.

What you found out about the SRH320A vs the SRH77CA is my experience as well. The 77CA is the best for 70cm, but the 320A is a very close second on 70cm and definitely beats the 77CA on 2m and 1.25m. I encourage you to compare the two antennas on VHF. Still, I have spares of the 320A and use them on scanners too, due to the improved resonance on the other bands. At double the cost, the SRH320A is worth it to me and an antenna on a handheld and even a scanner is definitely not the place to be stingy. They need all the help they can get.

One more thing you might try is the use of a counterpoise wire on your handheld and your scanner. They are sometimes called tiger tails or rat tails as well. I have found it does improve TX and RX. I don’t need to use it often, but it is nice to have handy when I do. A thin bit of very flexible 18ga silicone covered wire is what I use with a ring connector. Experiment with other connection points on the chassis as well. It need not always be right at the antenna shield.

My favorite time to use the counterpoise is when camping with other amateurs. When they are having trouble whether simplex or through a repeater, I have them try the counterpoise. After they realize it works I tell them to keep it, as I have spares. I have even tried a counterpoise with a 6m handheld and it helped, but that is too much wire hanging about to be practical.
I recently got a ft-65r, not such a new radio anymore but I'm really enjoying it. I settled on a comet SMA 24 that I think has an edge over the 77, same findings however, better on UHF than VHF.

Jock, congratulations on your new radio!
 

KB2GOM

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
254
Location
upstate New York
I got the case info from Universal Radio: " Other features include: black magnesium case, 900 memories, severe weather alert and multicolor transmit/receive LED. " But if you got polycarbonate/aluminum direct from Yaesu, that must be correct

And, yes, the speaker mike connection is weird (it screws in), but it shows me that they are serious about water intrusion.

Congrats on the new radio!


According to the brochure (downloadable from Yaesu's website), the outer case is polycarbonate resin and the inner case is die-cast aluminum.


A few things about this radio that I would consider a negative:
1. The zero key is in the wrong place. It should be below the 8 like on a telephone keypad not to the right of the 6. This is a common issue with many handheld radios and is the first thing I look for when a new radio comes out.
2. The speaker-mic connection is a little non-standard. I know they've done this for weather sealing, but there are other ways to do this if submersion resistance was their goal.


With only 1.5 watts output unlike the Kenwoods which are 5 watts output on the 222 MHz band.
 

KB2GOM

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
254
Location
upstate New York
While that handheld is an older model, it offers 220 MHz as well, which is why I think it is still produced. I use the Kenwood tri-band versions, the THF6A and D74A as we have 220 repeaters in the area. A friend also uses the VX6R and likes it.

What you found out about the SRH320A vs the SRH77CA is my experience as well. The 77CA is the best for 70cm, but the 320A is a very close second on 70cm and definitely beats the 77CA on 2m and 1.25m. I encourage you to compare the two antennas on VHF. Still, I have spares of the 320A and use them on scanners too, due to the improved resonance on the other bands. At double the cost, the SRH320A is worth it to me and an antenna on a handheld and even a scanner is definitely not the place to be stingy. They need all the help they can get.

One more thing you might try is the use of a counterpoise wire on your handheld and your scanner. They are sometimes called tiger tails or rat tails as well. I have found it does improve TX and RX. I don’t need to use it often, but it is nice to have handy when I do. A thin bit of very flexible 18ga silicone covered wire is what I use with a ring connector. Experiment with other connection points on the chassis as well. It need not always be right at the antenna shield.

My favorite time to use the counterpoise is when camping with other amateurs. When they are having trouble whether simplex or through a repeater, I have them try the counterpoise. After they realize it works I tell them to keep it, as I have spares. I have even tried a counterpoise with a 6m handheld and it helped, but that is too much wire hanging about to be practical.
Time to display my ignorance: how do I home brew a counterpoise? What does the length need to be?
 

vagrant

ker-muhj-uhn
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Messages
2,097
Location
California
I make them for VHF, as I don't need the help as much on UHF. Here are some links.

Video of a guy making one, but the wire he uses is crazy big in diameter. No need for that. Still, take note on how he uses a screw that connects to the chassis and leaves the antenna connector alone. One could even use a connector on that screw to easily add/remove the counterpoise when needed.


 
Last edited:

ko6jw_2

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
May 18, 2008
Messages
1,199
Location
Santa Ynez, CA
A brief comment about the mic level on the VX-6R. The radio is submersible and the mic has a waterproof membrane covering it. This makes
the audio muffled unless you work the mic closely. One solution as mentioned is turning up the mic gain. I had the same issue with the FT-270 and FT-277's. The other solution is to use the speaker mic designed for these radios. This is the MH-73A. It is also submersible, but seems to have higher audio output.
 
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