Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review - Wouxun KG-UV3D Dual Band Ham Radio

Hello folks,

I got my grubby Western hands on this piece of Occidental communications gear recently.

I'll give you my thoughts by starting with my one word summary - VALUE.

It is an absolute value of function, features, and fit. Maybe we all have been "programmed" for far too long that a good dual band handheld has to be $300 plus and come with a big three badge - Kenwood, Icom, or Yaesu.

Well, I learned a long time ago that there are disruptive product offerings out there. Because of my longtime association with 220 MHz, I became aware of Alinco. They too provide exceptional value in both handheld and mobile form factors.

It was just a matter of time before these Chinese manufacturers attacked the job-site and LMR market with their offerings. With a little h/w programming tweak by their designers - BINGO - Amateur Radio handhelds are born, benefiting from established models and extensive offerings of accessories.

Does it compare favorably with my tri-band Kenwood TH-F6A - yes. Is it meant to be a 100% match, absolutely not. But when you compare with a standard run-of-the-mill dual bander, the Wouxun KG-UV3D is a stand-out. This specific model is offered by the California distributor, Powerwerx, and it lists for $119.99.

People focus on price for these radios and one can understand that - it is the kind of positive sticker shock that we don't get to experience very often. But that focus on price alone is not really fair. The Wouxun has all the features you need in a handheld - VFO mode, Memory mode, dual receivers, both CTCSS and DPL/DCS, DTMF, 128 memories, voice prompting, battery voltage indicator, progammability (keypad, computer, and clone cable), and lots more.

Here is the full list:

  • Dual band monitor (VHF/UHF, VHF/VHF, UHF/UHF)
  • Dual alpha numeric, backlit display with channel name edit
  • Selectable high/low power settings (VHF: 5W high/1W low) (UHF: 4W high/1W low)
  • Includes extended life 1700 mAh high capacity li-ion battery as standard
  • Includes intelligent desktop 3-4 hour rapid charger
  • Loud speaker audio output (500 mW)
  • Bright flashlight illumination function
  • Meets IP55 waterproof rating
  • English female voice prompts enable non-sighted operation (can be turned off)
  • 128 memory channels (shared)
  • VOX Function
  • Digital FM radio (76-108MHz) with automatic tuning and storing, radio frequency display, 18 FM memories in 2 banks
  • Wide/narrow bandwidth selection (25 or 12.5 kHz)
  • Power on display: show battery voltage, 6-character customizable welcome message, or display test
  • Windows PC programmable, free software available for download. Optional low cost cable (SKU: WXUSB or WXSER) required.
  • Radio to radio cloning with optional cable (SKU: WXCLN)
  • Same channel: VHF TX & UHF RX or UHF TX & VHF RX available
  • 105 groups DCS/50 groups CTCSS
  • DTMF encoding (includes ABCD tones, continuous with button press duration)
  • CTCSS encode/Decode (no decode delay)
  • Stopwatch function
  • SOS function
  • Low-voltage voice prompt
  • Busy channel lockout
  • Selectable transmit over timer (from 15 to 600 seconds)
  • Selectable step sizes of 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5, 25, 50 or 100 kHz
  • Multiple scan modes including priority scan
  • Keypad lock (auto or manual)
  • Programmable by computer or keypad
  • High contrast white backlit keypad. All keys are backlit (except A/B & TDR)

Here's the list of what you get:

  • Dual band radio
  • Dual band antenna
  • Extended life 1700 mAh high capacity li-ion battery pack (about 13 hours operating time)
  • Intelligent desktop 3-4 hour rapid charger
  • Desktop charger AC power cord
  • Belt clip
  • Wrist strap
  • English user manual (Also downloadable)
  • Powerwerx quick start reference sheet (Free Download)
  • Programming software (Free Download)

It has a built-in LED flashlight that, at first, I thought was kind of a novelty. Then I thought back on my 25-30 years of radio activities....hmmm...that little feature could make a difference under the right conditions. I felt the same about the built-in FM radio coverage - useful.

Audio output on receive is outstanding - just the right amount of level and very good tone and frequency response. Transmitted audio is very good - as good or better than any of the big three and on par with Alinco handhelds which are well known to provide exceptionally good transmitted audio.

My limited experimentation can't speak to selectivity and deeper characteristics but that was not my intent. I really wanted to operate this device as an appliance and from a new-to-ham radio perspective. Â The manual is an easy read! Shocking, isn't it, from China? I think the Powerwerx, or some other stateside folks, have something to do with that.

I think anyone would who understands the features to begin with, reads the manual, and then practices with the radio, would not have any trouble at all in becoming proficient within a day or so.

I got the radio with several basic frequencies loaded. I will be putting in a bunch of local 2 Meter and 440 frequencies for the next testers to try out for some real radio checks.

I don't have to remind anyone that this review is my opinion, do I? Who else's opinion would it be?

It's not expert testimony and it is not biased by some bad - or good - Chinese food I ate in Detroit in in 1978.


Joe, N2QOJ