Friday, 2 September 2016

Review - Yaesu VR500

Day 1: Well I have had the Yaesu VR500 for a day now so these are some of my thoughts on it from what I have done with it so far.

Starting with the purchase, I asked for a quote from a local supplier for this and was a little surprised when the price I got back was about $90 cheaper than the prices I had found online and was $40 cheaper then what I paid for the one I purchased early last year from the same place, I jumped at this and ordered it on the spot, the next day I got a phone call to say it arrived and I went and collected it later that day.  While I was collecting it I was speaking to the sales man and I found the reason it was so cheap is that he had forgotten to quote me the new price but the old price before all the price raises so I really did get a bargain with it.

Out of the box you only get a very basic kit, the VR500 unit, aerial, belt clip, wrist strap and manuals / paper work. As the VR500 uses 2 AA batteries you don’t get a charger or any batteries with it but looking in the manual you can purchase these if you wish.  As AA batteries now come in anything up to 2700mAh ratings I much prefer using these.

Looking at the VR500 unit is it quite small (5.9cm Wx9.5cm Hx2.4cm D) and weighing about 220g you can easily fit it in your pocket (except for the large aerial which we will come to soon) overall the word I would use to describe the build is solid, everything feels like it is made to last and when you first pick it up it feels much stronger then what you would expect looking at it.
As this radio has a proper keypad (unlike something like the Icom R5) this takes up the bottom part of the front case, from what I have done with it the keys feel good but are a little small so if you have big fingers like me you need to make sure you hit the right ones. Next above these are two more buttons (Clear and Bands scope) and then the orange power button sits just above these, beside these three buttons is the speaker grill, the speaker seems to put out a good level or audio and listening to NFM, WFM and AM shows they are sound natural. The top area of the front panel has the large 4 row LCD screen which shows attenuator, battery savers, keypad lock along the top, frequency and alpha tags are the next two rows and the bottom row is where things like the current mode and band scope is shown.
The top panel of the radio features the BNC aerial connection, volume, squelch and rotary controls.
The right hand side of the VR500 has two covers, one over the headphone / pc jack and the other over the DC input. Looking at the left side reveals a large rubber key located near the top. The upper two thirds of it act as the FUNC key while the lower third acts as the squelch monitor and the keypad lock (when used in conjunction with the FUNC key).
This leaves the back which is bear except for the single mounting hold for the belt clip; this is plastic but seems fairly strong.
My only feedback so far on the physical side of the VR500 is that getting in / out batteries is a real struggle; the battery space is only just big enough so getting them in and out is a real pain.

Programming: I sat down last night and programmed about 110 channels in to the VR500 in less than 1 hour; these cover TFS/Ambo, amateurs, air band and general business users, this is a very easy process if you do some planning and have all your frequencies arranged before you start. I have started to add alpha tags to some and while this takes a bit of time it is not really that hard to do.

Scanning: From my testing last night I would say the scan rate is around 15 – 20 channels per second which for me is fine, I have noticed that you sometimes get a slight tick as the squelch closes but you get used to this after a while. The only thing to be aware of is that as the VR500 does not have a “lock out” feature you have to use PS mode which is sort of like lock out in reverse, you flag those channels you do what to hear rather than locking out those you don’t.

Searching: speed around 20 steps / second and so far it seems to be performing well, I have had a few issues in the 70-80MHz band with FM broadcast stations some places they should not be but overall nothing too major.

Band scope: This is nice and running it over the 865MHz EDACS band you can see the control channels and voices channel as they are in use.

VHF / UHF: Overall so far I have not found any major issues with the general performance on the VHF / UHF bands, I am going to do some more testing over the weekend and report back on my findings.

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