I just could not resist the new Wouxun KG-UVD1P/L 2m/4m dual band handheld amateur radio, even though I have far too many portable rigs already. The fact that it was the only radio to ever be produced that was dual band and dual watch on these two bands might have swayed me, but I have become a bit of a fan of this companies products and I really wanted to see if my predictions on how their quality and range improves over time prove true.
Straight out of the box I saw the first improvement, a much better quality charger with a thirteen amp UK plug. Gone is the wall wart charger but so is the ability to use the charger from a cigar socket, it is no big loss to me as I have several of the old type already which I can use on long Raynet incidents or between SOTA activations. The look and feel of the new charger is a good improvement on the old ones, which seemed cheap, tacky and somewhat flimsy.
The antenna was taped to the outside of the box which seemed a bit strange but comparing the size of the rubber duck to that of the ones on the KG-UVD1P 2m/70cm rig and the Wouxun KG-699E it was somewhat longer. Surprisingly it is probably responsible for the improved receive that was the next advancement I found.
I was sat at my PC with the rig just out of the box and just called “GW7AAV testing” while listening back on my MyDEL ML-5189. Much to my surprise my pal Graham GW0HUS called me back. Graham is only 5 miles away but from the same position I could not hear him on the KG-699E. Several test calls later I am convinced that the KG-UVD1P/L is better on both receive and transmit on 4m that the KG-699E and on 2m than the KG-UVD1P. I believe this is only due to a more efficient antenna on both bands, but I have yet to test the theory by trying the supplied antenna on the other rigs. All the rigs have the now familiar reversed SMA antenna connection that had us scratching our heads when we first saw them.
Tests side by side using a Kenwood TH-G71E and a Yaesu VX-7 showed the new Wouxun to be better on receive than both the other rigs, using the supplied antennas. On TX very little difference was noticed but one station reported a little white noise on the Yaesu, and apart from that all stations reported the audio quality very similar. The Yaesu was the quietest, the Kenwood was reported as “just right” and the Wouxun a little louder, but not too loud. The Yaesu had me almost shouting, the Kenwood talking normally and I found I could double my normal distance from the mic with the Wouxun and still be easy to read.
Do not think that I am basing my tests on the S-meter readings either because like its predecessors it reads S9+ or nothing, whatever the signal. In fact the only time I ever saw the S-meter read somewhere in between was when I had some desensing from a nearby commercial transmitter on a SOTA activation.
The build quality of the Wouxun rigs is better than most of those emerging from China but as these are new rigs in the same case as the 2m/70cms version there has been no opportunity to improve the look. To be really picky the plastic of the case feels good but looks a little too shiny. It might not look as tacky if it had a matt finish.
For those familiar with the Wouxun range the controls should be no problem, but the same old issues remain with this rig as the others in the stable, it is a pig to program memories from the keypad. It is however an absolute doddle to do if you have the computer programming cable, which is very cheap to buy and works with Kenwood handies too. It was easy to import my settings in to the software from the 2m/70cm rig delete the 70cm settings and add the channels for 70MHz in their place. I saved the result with a new file name and I imported it in to a use with the new rig. It all took five minute start to finish. Using the keypad would have taken days.
Over all I am impressed, I was not expecting any improvements over the other Wouxuns, I just wanted to be able to carry one rig less up the hills. Previously Helen and I both carried a 2m/70cm KG-UVD1P rig on the hills and I also carried the KG-699E for 4m. This way I can replace my two rigs with one, Helen and I can still communicate on 2m and we can still cover the three bands. I still have the Icom 23cm rig and the Yaesu FT-857 in the rucksack though.
I wonder who will be the first to come up with a good 2 and 4m antenna for SOTA and portable or mobile or even home base?
* No one else makes a rig that does these two bands
* Excellent RX audio quality.
* Great RX sensitivity.
* Better immunity to out of band desensing than some more expensive rigs.
* TX audio reported by several people as very good.
* Solid feel and high quality construction almost as good as Japanese rigs.
* Desktop charger supplied with 13amp plug rather than the wall wart
* Very cheap batteries and accessories.
* Clear LCD display.
* Enough memories to never have to use the VFO.
* You can name the memory channels easily with programming cable.
* Cheap programming lead and free software.
* Lighter than my other (Japanese) handhelds.
* CTCSS decode/counter function.
* Voice announcement of functions (if they don’t drive you nuts).
* Narrow TX & RX FM mode available.
* Good battery life.
* Good belt clip.
* Supplied rubber duck works surprisingly well.
* LED torch (Great for finding the fuse box when the lights go out).
* FM radio for when no one is talking to you.
* Stop watch. I almost forgot this one because I only used it once.
* Cheap and easily available accessories from dealers or direct import (eBay).
* Build quality is not quite what we get from the Japanese manufacturers.
* The out of the box wideband nature could lead to problems for those who don’t know their band plan. Tip: use memories for the ham bands and the VFO for out of band listening or use programming software to lock down to just the ham bands.
* Turning repeater shift on for the first time can be ‘tricky’, but once learnt, it’s not difficult. Tip: Read the manual or use memories.
* The S-meter reads full scale even on weak signals.
* Hard to understand manual.
Note: One or two people complained on the net previously that they could not get the USB driver that comes with the Wouxun software working with Windows 7. That would be because you don’t need it with Windows 7 due to USB support being built in. It is no wonder folk screw up their computers; they just don’t know what they are doing. If all else fails read the manual!
For the rig specs see this post: http://www.cqhq.co.uk/2011/06/wouxun-kg-uvd1pl-2m4m-full-dual-band.html