Which Hand Held...Advice Please

I`m looking at hand helds and in particular the Yaesu VX-7R.

For my part the only hand held Ive owned is the Wouxun Dual Bander, so Im not too clued up on the big brands.

Reading the spec and being sealed against water, it looks like a good choice for SOTA, although there seems to be an awful lot of bells and whistles.

Any thoughts or other contenders?

Mike 2E0YYY

In reply to 2E0YYY:

I have the previous model the vx6 & it is as deaf as a post. Strangely enough the front end is far too wide, for example on Shining Tor it used to receive emergency services transmissions presumably from the mast near the cat & fiddle. Changing frequency or even bands made no difference whatsoever. If you can live with only 1 band, I find the 2m vx170 very capable, I think that has been superceded so Yaesu can bump up the price of the new one.
p.s. the vx170 has survived being left on the car roof whilst I drive off on more than one occasion (so has my gps)

In reply to 2E0YYY:

I have collected many handhelds over the years Mike. Currently I have 3 for SOTA. A Yaesu VX170, Icom IC80AD and Alinco DJ-G7. All are waterproof to some degree, the VX170 and DJ-G7 more than the IC80. The VX170 is no longer made but there is an almost identical replacement from Yaesu, FT-250?

VX170 2m only (quick mod and it will RX/TX 136-170MHz) cost me £82 new. Indestructible. Waterproof. Bullet proof. Massive chassis. NiMH battery lasts for ages. Very loud audio, 5W RF. Very good RF performance in presence of strong RF. You can use this on summits where there’s a lot of commercial transmitters without much issue.

IC80AD 2m/70cm & D-STAR (wideband RX dc-daylight) cost me £261 inc dollar exchange rate. Excellent performance on its own but pants when in presence of other RF on VHF. Terrible cross-mod and overloading. LiIon battery lasts well but will only TX at 0.5W when rig below 0C. Not the best for SOTA.

DJ-G7. 2m/70cm/23cm. (wideband RX dc-daylight) cost me £80 new :wink: Seems to work OK and has advantage of 23cms but I’ve not yet tested it with other nearby transmitters. Couldn’t resist it at the price!

Out of the three, the VX170 is the clear winner but it’s 2m only. Also the cheapest list price! Everyone I know who has a VX170 rates them very highly. It’s a no-nonsense handheld that does exactly what a handheld should do for people operating outside in all weathers.


In reply to 2E0YYY:
Hi Mike

Depends on what you want really! I would say that for 2m you cant beat the Yaesu VX-170 (Or whatever number it is now). My Father has this radio as well as its 70cm sister (VX-177) he gets on fine with them and is pleased by their brick outhouse strength!

I myself have got a Yaesu FT-60R for 2m/70cm which is preety good, It seems to cope O.K. on G/WB-004 with the 24cm transmitters up there, It is di-cast metal and it gives you an easy option of 70cms.

My Main handheld is the Alinco DJ-G7 due to its 23cm Capability, however it is as wide open as a barn door, last year on Cryn Y Brain it really struggled on 2m. However 23cm was a doddle, I think antenna choice makes all the difference when it comes to interferance!

The VX-7 should be a good choice and it would be great to hear more activity on 6m FM!! In 2010 I used 4m loads, in 2011 I have and still plan to use 23cm loads so in 2012 I am going to use 6m FM on as many summits as possible!

Ultimately it is your choice and it can be said to be Horses for Courses really


Matt G8XYJ

In reply to 2E0YYY:
Hi Mike

I have an FT-60, which seems to do the trick for me. Plenty of options on it and solidly built. Only niggle I have had with it is the optional handheld mic, which is quite small and the jack plug tends pull itself out of the socket the moment you move wire a bit. I recently picked up one of the vox headsets new on Ebay for a tenner, which works quite well, even if it feels a bit flimsy. I have also had some good audio reports with it, which is always pleasing. I dont tend to use 70cm on it that much, so cant comment on it, but 2m seems to work well.


In reply to 2E0YYY:

Haven’t a great deal of experience with other hand helds so can’t really compare it but I’m more than happy with my Kenwood dual-band 2/70 TH-79E. It seems to be well made, has good battery life, good sensitivity, an excellent front end. Maximum output is 5W running it off an external 12V supply. The ability to run off an external 12V supply is to my mind an important consideration for a backup rig.


In reply to 2E0YYY:
In my early SOTA days, after my FT290 went temporarily haywire, I used a Kenwood K2 handie, with the matching headset/boom mike and run off an external battery. Feeding a wire J-Pole hung from a lightweight telescopic fishing rod, the 5W would reach the VHF horizon, it was easy to use and I had good reports about the audio. I still have it, although the internal battery is a bit suspect, but it is gathering dust on the shelf having been superceded by an FT817 and an FT857.

Regards, Dave, M0DFA/G6DTN

Many thanks to everyone for taking the time to reply. I’ve now got a few ideas to work with.

Mike 2E0YYY

Best one I’ve encountered is the Yaesu VX-110. I’ve long been jealous of Jimmy’s. You can pick them up second hand easily enough.


In reply to M1EYP:

The 110 and 170 are the same apart from the number of buttons. Same RF deck so the same bullet proof performance. In a world of super shiny do everything handhelds these straightforward sets are real gems. The replacement for the 170 is the FT-270R which is about £110.


In reply to 2E0YYY:
Hi Mike,
Best hand held by far is the FT-817. You need a fairly big hand, but you get a very versatile beast in return.
73, Frank

In reply to MM0FMF:
I have the VX 150, which I think is the same as the VX110, except with more buttons to play with!

I seem to recall lots of SOTA people getting Handhelds in the Yaesu (Vertex) VX range at around the same time. (2004/5?)

The VX 150 grew up into the VX-170.

Highly recommended, with lots of cheap accessories available.


In reply to M0CGH:
I tried to reply yesterday but it didn’t work for some reason.

I have both the yaesu vx170 and the vx7r. More often then not I take the vx170, as others have said it’s bomb proof. I does suffer from breakthrough near some high power commercial radio towers, but otherwise it’s a fantastic radio. I picked mine up for a out £50 on eBay. I bought the vx7r to play about using the satelites, ao51 etc etc, currently in the process of modifying the sotabeam to fit on a camera tripod.


In reply to 2E0YYY:
From my little experience of activating I started with a Yaesu VX1 and it was a bit deaf but still was able to work a north pennine S2S on the .5W output on the rubber duck. I was able to borrow this from my tutor G4WUA and had a load of fun with it. Bought myself a VX-7 and the 5W with the SOTA beam I think is superb. Had loads of good audio comments on the activations and is my preferred radio of choice if I don’t want to drag that 20Ah bad boy slab you sold me around to the bigger summits. (it is superb for the HF work tho)

VX-7 is a great bomb proof radio and totally waterproof as I have found out leaving it around overnight and you get 6m and the bells and whistles of APRS and you can enter the co-ordinates of your summit manually if you don’t want to buy the quite expensive gps unit and mount. The only drama I had was with QRM on the great orme activation from the repeater site that was close by. May be a one off I don’t think I have the expertise to give the deffinative on that.

You would be welcome to try mine out if you wanted to make room for me on the Gunn or the Torr one day.

In reply to M6MGB:

In reply to 2E0YYY:

You would be welcome to try mine out if you wanted to make room for me
on the Gunn or the Torr one day.

Thanks for the offer Rufus. No problem, I know you’re on holiday for a couple of weeks, so perhaps we can set up a day/time?


In reply to 2E0YYY:

Hi Mike,

I have a VX-7R and I’m very happy with it.
Last friday I bought the Diamond RH-770 antenna and I could open a repeater 90km’s away with only 50mW (!). I managed to do this on 2m and on 70cm.

I was standing 130m ASL and the repeater (Botrange, 70cm) is about 700m ASL.

This is about 1800km/Watt.

I’m hoping to activate ON/ON-010 in the next few weeks on 2m FM with this vertical antenna.

73 de ON3RMB

In reply to 2E0YYY:

Mike, I have found the Wouxun to be at least as good as most of the others. There really isn’t a lot in it from what I have seen.

What works fine on one hill can be hammered by interference on another hill. That is one advantage of activating in a group with a number of different radios, there is a chance one of them is immune. Single band radios tend to be less sensitive to out of band interference, but modern ones may actually be as bad as the multiband types due to them actually using the same components and being capable of being of covering a wideband outside the amateur bands.

Going for the older and more immune rigs has the disadvantage they tend to be much heavier and the batteries may be difficult to find.

Personally I have been happy with my Kenwood G71E, which is a nice simple chunky rig, but it weighs more than twice what my Woxoun does and no dual watch. It is no longer made.

I would only be inclined to up grade to get something extra such as APRS or another band, although keeping it simple is a good plan for the hills.

Personally I would spend a few quid buying a spare Wouxun and a pocket full of batteries or buy the Alinco DJ-G7 so I could dump my 27cm Icom brick.

Think wisely what you want and weigh it against what you need.

73 Steve GW7AAV

In reply to GW7AAV:

I am very pleased with both my Wouxuns - the 4m version and the dual band (2m/70cm) version.

However, has anyone else noticed that with both the Wouxuns, there is a significant battery drain even when they are switched off? If you leave a battery in a Wouxun for a couple of weeks, without using the radio at all, you will find the battery is almost exhausted. Spare batteries, stored separately, do not lose their charge.

For immunity to breakthrough from QRO commercial transmitters, I find my FT-817ND is easily the best performer, the Wouxuns come second, and my old Alinco DJS-1 is by far the worst. The Alinco front end is as wide as a barn door!

Walt (G3NYY)

In reply to G3NYY:

I’m thinking we should have a special HOTA event: handbags on the air. That’s where everyone takes their late 70’s/early 80’s electric handbag onto a hill to show what proper front end filtering can do.

Qualifying summits: Great Orme, Billinge Hill, Grayrigg Forest

Qualifying sets to be: TR-7010,TR-2200,TR-2300,IC-202,IC-212,IC-215,FT-290 MK1.

I’m not sure whether to include the Liner 2 due to the fact they’re a bit (lot) dirty on transmit. Taking one to a decent vantage point may be considered an act of deliberate interference!


In reply to MM0FMF:

I still have a nice Yaesu FT-290 MkI but have never had out on the hills yet, been waiting for a nice 23cms transverter to fall in to my lap. Scratching my head to remember if it was the TR-2200 or 2300 I had for a short while before swapping it for something when I obtained a Yaesu FT208R brick, now that was near bullet proof to out of band interference.

I still mourn the 208, it went in to have the battery replaced and the engineer zapped the thing. I still have it and it is quite amusing to watch the frequency display making up its own numerals and whizzing off on to frequencies it should not go to. I think you might say it has a Phase Unlocked Loop now.

Steve GW7AAV