The Yaesu Vertex Motorola VX-8R – Engineering vs Marketing?

After much long awaited arrival of the much anticipated Yaesu VX-8R, it turns out (in our opinion) to be the biggest blunder of any radio yet that contains the Yaesu label. We used to have a saying about MFJ. “The quality goes out before that name goes on”. I am beginning to wonder if that applies to Yaesu-Vertex-Motorola or whoever is producing this gear these days. After we purchased the radio (it’s already been returned to our Ham store) we found some rather serious issues with it.

After charging the radio for several hours, programming was next. We spent about 30 minutes doing some basic programming of local frequencies. While  attYaesu VX-8R empting to transmit to a local repeater with low power for the very first time, we received our first surprise. The charge indicator showed that the battery was 100% but the radio shut off immediately when the PTT talk key was pressed. Nice… Apparently the battery was stone dead!

While setting up 2 memory banks with standard vhf and uhf Ham frequencies, we assigned the A band to bank 1 and the B band to bank 2. Once the radio was shut off and powered back on, the A band could not be retrieved with bank 1 loaded as previously configured.

This apparently is only a taste of problems. Others in the Yahoo groups are rather steamed about the issues with the VX-8R and accessories. There were comments about the BU1 unit being recalled, messages about the APRS not working properly and how Yaesu sold a very expensive radio with a low powered 1100MAH battery. I guess they are trying to clear their warehouse of  stale battery inventory simultaneously.

Obviously, in our opinion this is one radio you should stay FAR away from. Unless you have some strange desire to use Bluetooth and/or have the need for  a GPS to hang from your HT, our recommendation is to stick with the VX-7R or the Kenwood TH-F6A.

After doing my share of work in the IT field for over 20 years, and experiencing similar “get it out the door” circumstances, my personal feeling with this product release is that it is a case of “classic marketing” tactics. That is, the radio was pushed hard by marketing to make year end sales quotas while engineering works around the clock to “make it so”. As a result, you end up with a half baked product and Yaesu ends up with a rather tarnished reputation.

  • Yaesu = The Label We Recognize
  • Vertex =  The VX Designator in the Model Number
  • Motorola = Elimination of  Quality Control

Got one already? What’s your opinion of the radio?
How do you feel about Yaesu (or whoever the man behind the curtain is these days)?
Get comments from other sources here.

30 comments on “The Yaesu Vertex Motorola VX-8R – Engineering vs Marketing?

  1. Just a note: *YOU MUST UNPLUG THE WALL PLUG POWER BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO TRANSMIT*. This is documented in the manual. The HT behaves as described (shuts off when you hit the PTT) if the wall power plug is plugged in (as in, you’ve been charging it). To transmit you must either a) be unplugged, or b) be plugged into a heftier 12v power supply than the one provided to charge the battery with, such as a standard ham shack power supply for powering mobile transceivers. I realize you were excited to get your new toy home and on the air, but RTFM!

    It’s all about watts and amps. The wall wart provided is for charging the battery, not for operating the radio, it provides enough current to charge the battery and to operate the radio on *receive* but no more. A power supply capable of supporting transmit is considerably larger — you need to be able to provide approximately 1.5 amps at 12 volts (see the manual). The supplied wall-wart provides 0.5 amps at 12v. Hit the PTT while plugged into the wall wart and the HT shuts off exactly as you described because the wall wart’s overcurrent protection kicks in and turns it off. The good news is that it’s 12v and a standard power connector you can buy at Radio Shack, so you can use any standard 12v power supply in your shack, no problem.

    Regarding the APRS: Has worked flawlessly for me. I’ve sent messages, received messages, reported my position, put various status messages in the status field, received position reports from other stations, it all works.

    Regarding multi-band/multi-bank operation: I suspect the problem was external to the HT. I’ve had no problem with that. It’s rather cumbersome to program the thing, but my banks have stuck around and happily scan just fine.

    Regarding the shipped battery: Yeah, it sucks. Useful only as a spare in case you run down your real battery. Definitely *not* what I expect to be shipped with such an expensive radio :-(.

    Regarding the stock rubber duckie: How *dare* you not mention how much the stock rubber duckie sucks! To be fair, pretty much all HT’s ship with a lousy duckie, but this one really sucks because it’s optimized to operate on four bands, which means it is mediocre on all four (note, don’t try to do 6m without putting on the extension either). I just need 2m/440 so I’m going to swap the stock duckie for a decent dual-band antenna ASAP.

    All in all, I like the radio, and am keeping it. It sucks having to throw money at it in order to deal with the battery and duckie, but every problem I’ve found so far has not been a fundamental flaw with the radio but, rather, with accessories such as the battery and Bluetooth (which will be nice to have once it’s available and working, because opening the side port to stick in a stereo headphone means the radio is no longer waterproof), But then, I have a use for the APRS (for some tactical coordination use that I won’t go into because it’s not applicable to 99.999% of the world). If you don’t have a use for the APRS, I suggest sticking with a 2m/440 HT like the VX6. Let’s face it, you got the standard mobile local repeater band and you got the standard mobile interlinked repeater band, what more could you want? And you can’t really get a good HT antenna that’ll do other than 2m/440 anyhow, so why get all those other bands that really aren’t useful because the antenna is no good on them? And you save a lot of money doing that too. The VX8 is *not* cheap…

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  2. I have a VX-8r and I like this radio a lot. In fact it is so jam packed with features that I often need to re-read the manual. The PTT issue is as the first comment states, unplug the adapter before transmitting, it doesn’t have the power to drive the radio, It’s only meant to charge the battery.

    Everyone wants a bigger (power) battery, so what? It’s pretty much standard to change out the provided antenna on a HT, none of the supplied “rubber ducks” are all that good anyway. There are just convenient.

    I also own a Kenwood TH-6a, and frankly I like this one better. Every radio has some deficiency, but Yaesu has gone a long way toward packing just about everything I could want in an HT into this model. I don’t use the bluetooth, nor am I all that interested in ARPS, but I may be someday and with this rig, I can have it all.

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  3. The battery indicator on the radio is different than the actual voltage readout. Sometimes I have full battery power on the battery icon and there is no voltage. It took me a bit to figure this out, but once I did it worked perfectly. The charge time from fully dead is 4 hours or more. I didn’t realize this either.

    The only problem I have had with this radio is the battery life. It transmits fine, listens fine, audio is decent, etc. It is a little difficult to program. I’m waiting on the programming software. I think it is just a case of RTFM because I haven’t read it either.

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  4. I have a recently produced vx8r, and this is my FIRST ham radio. Ive no experience in programing anything more than a scanner, let alone a complex HT like this one. I READ THE MANUAL and a lot of reviews and tips online and this thing has been nothing but good for me (just a little overly complex to program) battery isnt so bad, i even transmit with the AA battery backup pack. I hit 80% repeaters 8-10 miles away from my bedroom on L2 power with stock antenna. Rubber duck sucks, so i built a 2m/222mhz copper cactus j-pole and im hitting everything i need to reach. The battery life is mediocre but not too bad. Theres also a little resistor mod by the blue to hookup for MARS guys. So its a very capable well put together radio, albeit very expensive.

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  5. Seriously, you need to update this review. Most everything you say is incorrect or user error. None of this has anything to do with the radio. My VX-8R is great and works flawlessly. You are the reason there are slander laws.

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    • Thanks for the controversial comment! It’s interesting to hear different points of view. I find it hard to believe that you feel so strong about an HT that you would mention the word slander. Since when is a review conducted by “hands on” experience a candidate for slander? We had the radio for about a week and sent it back to our dealer after finding several flaws. Those of us who care enough to work with early releases of equipment, help companies such as “yaesu/vertex/motorola” identify flaws. We have worked with the same radio dealer for over 20 years and as a result we exchange units like the VX-8R for other gear to review. Congratulations on the purchase of your new HT!

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      • It’s slander because you’re saying the radio was flawed, when it is almost 100% operator error on your part, such as when you pushed the PTT and the radio cut off. If you’d simply READ THE FRIGGIN’ MANUAL you would have noticed that the wall wart won’t power the radio for transmitting, instead you simply said “the radio is defective”. It’s not. The problem was between the operator’s ears, not with the radio. Given that I’ve seen none of the other problems you say the VX-8 has on my own VX-8, I have to think that this was the problem with the other “defects” you noted with the VX-8 too — i.e., the problem was between the operator’s ears, not with the radio itself.

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      • It’s most amusing to continue to use the term “Slander”. I was not the ham operator who tested this particular “slanderous” piece of amateur radio gear. The individual who ran the tests is a personal friend with radio and scanner experience of over 30 years.

        Out of the box, the radio we tested had a defective battery which could not be charged. There were many other ham operators who reported similar problems regarding the VX-8R on a Yahoo forum specific to the VX-8R radio.

        Realize that the release of the firmware in your copy of the radio has most likely been updated. However, I do find your comments entertaining.

        As I sad before, congratulations on your purchase and I am sure it will serve you well. By the way, had you purchased the radio for any special purpose such as GPS or the use of the Bluetooth headset?

        Do you listen to the low bands with it? If so how do you find its low band reception? We are now in the process of testing the Kenwood TH-F6A for it low band reception capabilities. So far our observation of the TH-F6A’s overall radio performance and functionality is nothing less than excellent.
        73
        Gary (ke2yk)

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      • When are you going to admit that your review is flawed? You state that you were not the person who tested this particular radio, but you are the person who reported the results. You made several mistakes and wrote a review telling everyone to stay as far away from this radio as possible. You have been proved wrong. The VX8 has become a very popular radio, acclaimed in several legitimate and respected sources. Man up, and either do the review again or correct the original.

        After “20 years in the IT business” you would think you would know better than to guess about firmware revisions, or use the specious phrase “many other ham radio operators.” How many Gary? I haven’t heard of one and I belong to several user groups for this radio. Possibly, a reliable reviewer, would get a new battery if the one he got was defective, and go on to test the radio. That is, if your friend with 30 years of ham radio experience just didn’t read the part of the manual that says not to transmit with the battery charger plugged in.

        It’s your reputation, protect it.

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      • What “flames” did you see in my comment? And what questions?
        “Man Up ! LOL – My sides are splitting!”
        Glad you enjoyed my comment.

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      • Gary, you should point out that since your review was in “print” he should be accusing you of libel, not slander.
        I just bought a VX-8R and though I like all the neat features, I find it to be practically deaf as compared to my Icom IC-T90.

        Lonnie, N9IUI

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  6. Note that I am a member of the VX8 Yahoo forum. I did not see the plague of problems that you claim regarding VX8 batteries and my own VX8 battery works fine. But then, the majority of us actually read the manual before firing it up and trying to operate it, and if any of us were stupid enough to try to operate it off the battery charger despite the manual telling us it wouldn’t work, we figured out out immediately by checking the index of the manual and finding the “battery charger” section. It’s a complex radio that shoves a lot of functionality into a tiny package, and operating it without reading the manual is guaranteed failure. (Whether that *should* be true or not is irrelevant, since it’s true of pretty much every amateur radio I’ve ever encountered other than simple single-band 2M radios).

    Regarding low band reception, no, the VX8 doesn’t do well there, even with a proper antenna the VX8 won’t decode SSB or CW. On the other hand, the TH-F6A does not do APRS in a native easy-to-carry package or operate on the 6M band. The Kenwood is undeniably a good radio, but it does not duplicate the VX8’s functionality (and the VX8 doesn’t duplicate the TH-F6A’s functionality either). They are different radios that address different needs for different markets. If you don’t need the VX8’s capabilities but need the TH-F6A’s capabilities, buy the TH-F6A. And the other way around. Duh. That doesn’t make either radio better than the other one — just different.

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    • Here’s a review from eham:

      KA1YBS Rating: 3/5 Jul 18, 2009 07:24 Send this review to a friend
      Almost the future of HTs Time owned: 3 to 6 months
      OK, I am going to be critical. This is about wilderness usage, and not local repeater use.

      This HT is undoubtedly the most fun HT I have owned in the past 19 years… but this is also 2009, and simple firmware enhancements could have made this rig even more superb.

      I’ll start with the good:

      It’s got APRS!

      It does TX/RX on FOUR BANDS, AM/FM!

      Superb amount of memories, great management schemes and thorough alpha-tagging.

      FM Stereo, Woo Hoo!!!

      Submersible

      Altitude is pretty darn accurate!

      It has SOME GPS info like compass and clock, when you buy the option

      Now the Bad:
      The supplied battery is a joke

      The GPS is an add on, and it’s small enough to have been built inside the rig. Why buy this rig without a GPS? (Get something else if you don’t want APRS)

      You can spend almost $700 US on a fully loaded HT that has MARGINAL 2009 features (read Annoying below)

      AM broadcast reception is worse than a $7 Radio Shack transistor radio

      With all the “Features”, SSB/CW reception is absent (on all but one HT from Kenwood!) speaking of reception, it’s mediocre, but that is almost expected for such a small rig.

      The Volume/Squelch control is workable, would have been nice to at least have a separate volume control, but the way it is is ‘acceptable’.

      Now the Annoying (My real review, and more of a “YAESU/ICOM/KENWOOD, I Love you guys, PLEASE make a VX-9 with this stuff in it!”) (Alinco? here’s your op!):

      EMAIL via APRS. Yes, you can do this. However, you’ll need to key in the details after the 40 TX memories are overwritten, very annoying. Yaesu gives you 5 whopping canned memories to permanatly store, these memories do not have enough characters to even store the recipient’s email address. They are good for 5 canned 16-character notices. WT#? BTW, same thing for ham to ham texting…

      Poor GPS usage. I mean, c’mon… Look at the Rino GPS from Garmin, imagine having that kind of a screen (even gray-scale) on the VX-8. You can see all the digis, and hams! Again guys and gals… it’s TWO THOUSAND FREAKIN NINE… what do all the YOUNG hams think? (bah!)

      Speaking of GPS, even if we have no nice map screen… No waypoints, no geocaching help, no altitude or barometer trend chart, No sun/moon data, and on and on and on. A $98 dollar greyscale Garmin does all this and more.

      How about a built-in grid square calculator/display with that GPS? 🙂

      When in dual-band mode, the alpha tags are gone. Would have been nice to add another line or two to the already nice display. Could use those two extra lines for a rudimentary station plotting screen!

      The temperature sensor is placed in a terrible spot, it’s flat-out inaccurate unless you just turn the rig on and read immediately.

      No card slots, if Yaesu included a Micro SD… users would not have to spend $65 on a programming cable, they could load maps onto that nice screen, they could store more memories, messages and the like. Heck, even a MP3 function could be implemented for casual listening while hiking/canoeing etc. When a friend TXs, the music pauses… OPEN THE FIRMWARE!

      No Data transfer via Bluetooth? C’Mon!

      I’m not even going to ask for a camera, or a QWERTY keyboard, even though my cell phone has it. The ability to txt using dtmf pad is acceptable but not perfect. Imagine 1MP TX/RX geotagged pix over 440, finally, a use for the band before the FCC takes it away!

      The DTMF is backlit, but not the actual function descriptions above the numbers. Sure you’ll remember some, but in darkness, this stinks.

      No SAME WX alert. Would have been a killer feature for outdoors types. Especially with the GPS

      Conclusion:

      So, a lot of hams are thinking “What’s wrong with this guy?”, I’ll tell you… Ham Radio has always been at the forefront of communication technology… now in 2009, unlicencsed individuals are updating Facebook status, reading Gmail, grabbing WX radar images, finding where their friends are on sat maps and plotting hikes with moving topo maps… all through their cell/iPhone. None of this can be done on an HT (yet) and that scares me. Of course, cell is useless often in wilderness, and HT’s are not (as) useless.

      OK, facebook status IS somewhat acheivable with a plugin, and it’s cool! search ‘Facebook APRS’

      I hike a lot. I want to drag as little as possible. I bring a cell, HT, QRP HF rig and soon, a GPS. I’d like to see much better GPS integration and some enhancements to VHF/UHF digi systems in an open-source HT with a color touch-screen.

      I think about this stuff while trying to send tiny APRS packets in wilderness.

      OK Hams… It’s AN HT… but with HUGE possibilities.

      Waiting for Dayton 2010!

      I give the HT a 3, because it is very expensive, and has the shortcomings I mentioned, and half could have been avoided in a more robust firmware and perhaps two additional LCD lines.

      73
      Tim
      KA1YBS

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  7. I have seen a lot of interesting info here. There is a lot of room for improvement with any electronic device. Thats why apple opened the iphone for developers to get on the band wagon.

    Is there a good second choice which is still waterproof? Thats my primary concern.

    The GPS capability is great as a standby but needs applications to be really useful. lots of good comments already on this thread.

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    • I found an intermittent problem: on power up when tuned to the AM broadcast band, it would loudly oscillate at about 1KHz. The squealing would stop when the band was changed. Because the radio is complicated, with many features, I first thought it was a “feature” that I did not understand. When I finally, after about 2 weeks, had gone through the manual, I concluded that it was a problem, and returned it to HRO. However, HRO has a 10 day return policy (way too short for a complicated system), and sent it into Yaesu for repair, and told me it would be fixed in just a few days. That was 3 weeks ago, and still no radio, and no joy.

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  8. I’ve had a VX-8 for a few weeks now (it’s my first rig since passing the Foundation Licence here in the UK) and I’m REALLY pleased with it. Have gradually bought ALL the extras (Diamond SRH-940 antenna,1800mAh battery, speaker/mic, GPS unit, soft case) and it works brilliantly! On 70 cm’s I’ve spoke to someone nearly 40 miles away on simplex and have had great qso’s on 6 meters and 2 meters simplex and worked a repeater on 2 meters. APRS works just fine and the GPS functions and read-outs are GREAT!!

    To sum up: a FABULOUS HT!!!

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  9. To your comment on a “Friend” with over 30 years of radio and scanner experience, that in itself means nothing to me and therefore should be disregarded as a erroneous boast of personal achievement by the so called tester of this unit. I have seen many a so called “expert” in my current occupation as well as others who are not worth even the fraction of the *BS* they trowel. Slander, while a strong and (to you it seems) inappropriate term for the accusations you make seem (in my opinion) to be very fitting. My point is, that no numbers, hard data, test results and or comparisons have supported anything you said above and that is the exact reason you are being met with such resistance. I have owned both the units you speak of, the TH-F6A and the VX-8R, they both do exactly what is expected and what the manual states they will do. I do not understand your argument or complaints. Maybe I need to think a little lower, perhaps as a child with a new video game?

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  10. Jimbow London 5 Nov 2009

    So you were given the radio to test that’s nice not every body gets that chance or your friend did not to sure witch of you did the test and it had a dead battery so you got it changed at no cost. Not a problem

    As all radios where was it tested under what conditions weather wise are you near other fields of RF do you test at the same time with other radios for comparison? Locations on top of a hill or block of flats or inner city every thing changes with location &conditions.

    Yes it’s expensive but so is every thing else in radio but you want more gadgets’ put on to it yes some things can be improve but at what cost.

    If you’re out in the middle of nowhere get your self a sat phone then you have got no problems

    You have made your comments on the radio every time some one casts out you jump on the hook
    Give it a rest, talk about some thing else

    Been in radio for 35 years

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  11. Update to how I’m getting on with my VX-8….whilst in a built-up retail park in Glasgow, Scotland I had some great qso’s through a repeater 25 miles away. Not bad for an HT, eh?

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  12. I love everything about the Yaesu VX-8R or VX-8DR except the antenna and stock belt clip. I’m leaning towards a Comet SMA-3 for the antenna part of things. I sell replacement belt clips for the Yaesu VX-8R for $14.97 shipped. These are nice swiveling, locking, quick release belt clips that are small and fit the Yaesu VX-8R with out modification to the radio itself. You and see detailed photos and video and order at: http://www.HamClips.com.

    Great radio enjoy it!
    Jason
    W1WOW@AOL.COM

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  13. I just bought this handy, gave it a 12 hour charge, and discovered that the radio did not turn on. It only works when its plugged in the DC current.
    Sent it back, the worst handy I have bought.

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  14. A clarification: you’re behavior Gary is what’s referred to as flaming, simple disagreement based on facts is not. I grow increasingly annoyed that people with completely illogical ways of arguing continue to gain the upper hand in these sorts of debates simply because they’re louder.

    It’s called logic. Logic, logic, logic. Stay away from personal insults and childish remarks. Keep emotions out of it, don’t get defensive. If you want to defend your position, provide facts for God sake, don’t attack the poster themself.

    I have to say Gary, regardless of how one feels on the topic, your behavior here is very childish. The way you behave as someone presses the topic, using facts as their foundation, makes it clear you take it personally.

    Drawing attention away from the topic simply so you can debate the relevancy of the term slanderous, describing peoples’ comments as “amusing” or “entertaining”, and outright laughing and them simply because they disagree with you are all classic examples of attacking the poster instead of debating the topic, it’s so cliche that it actually has a name, it’s called Ad Hominem, “attacking the man”, and it’s always a big red flag that the person arguing has lost control of the topic and cannot defend their point of view.

    Also, saying congratulations to the people for buying the radio you just slammed immediately after slamming the people themselves doesn’t make you look polite and civilized, it makes you look disengenuous. You can’t attack someone’s person and then make a nice comment to prove you’re a civilized debater.

    If I had read the review alone I may have taken your comments seriously, but now based on your behavior solely it lends credibility to the other people here that disagree with you, and makes me want to go out and buy one of these units, not steer clear of it.

    Acting this way completely defeats the whole purpose in reviewing the radio, which is to provide an objective viewpoint. Not only do you make yourself look stupid, you take the wind completely out of the sails of your review.

    MFJ also should be aware that the opinions of its employess reflect on them, and based on the behavior here I’m put off by MFJ as well. If this is typical of other MFJ employees, I certainly won’t be purchasing any MFJ products because I don’t want to reward people that act this way.

    I’ve always loved Cushcraft, but if I see more of this they’re tarnished now as well.

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    • In my opinion, your reply makes no sense whatsoever sir. However as all who post here, you are entitled to your opinion. Obviously, opinions are one of the primary reasons behind this collection of bits in cyberspace.

      Why not use the space provided to comment on the topic at hand, that is your experience with the equipment.

      Why concern yourself with my opinion or the opinions of others?

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  15. Having had a VX-5 for some time I thought I would try the VX-8 radio. I have been licensed as a Ham since 1963, have had a First Class FCC license and generally been messing around with radio’s for a long time. I do not claim to be a “know it all” on the subject, but I will be darned if I can understand the operating manual that came with the radio. I have found it to be a most difficult radio to operate even when reading the manual. It has many features which is why I bought it in the first place. I suspect the problem is because the manuals are written by the engineers who designed the radio. These guys know all about the in’s and out’s of the radio and must have assumed that the purchaser of the radio must have a comprable knowledge and so many instruction short cuts appear to have been taken while composing the manual.

    I used to write maintenance manuals for all types of equipment at one of the National laboratories so I know a little about the subject. I never had a maintenance person come into my office and ask me “Who wrote this garbage?” where someone elses name was signed at the top as the author

    The FX-8R may be a very good radio, but there is no way I can believe that if I can not make the functions perform as designed. Yeasu needs to pay more attention to the quality and usability of their manuals .Either that, or include a qualified translator person to come along with the radio’s they sell.

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  16. i bought VX-8DR 2 weeks ago but when i press to talk nobody can heard me all other functions works perfectly. what happes?
    The tranceiver transmmits led A or B lights red ,

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  17. I’d like to thank everyone for the review efforts. I had been considering the purchase of the VX-8DR
    and after reading through the posts have come to realise that this little unit tries to be everything for everyone and is probably failing at it.

    As for me I am a ham on the road or more accurately on a plane overseas and wanted something very compact to HF SWL and code practice with and have 4 UHF and VHF bands just incase.

    I guess the SWL and code practice is out and as far as the rest I can’t really see the need to spend $600.00 to buy this rig with the necessary upgrades and accessories to make it functionally usefull; ie new duckies, better batteries etc. Shame on Yaesu.

    So maybe I should go back with my original idea of the 817ND as low band reception is really the deal breaker. And I get the additional plus of operating on HF where I can and if not then I’ll have a good HF receiver.

    So again thanks for all of the controversy.

    Oh yeah. One can not be slanderous or libelous if they speak the truth. And if an opinion is negative based on negative facts or observations then we also have a 1st amendment that protects the right to have one.

    Like

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