Review: Wouxun KGUVD1P dual band radio – the age of disposable amateur radios?
Are we entering the age of throw away hand-held Amateur Radio’s?
At a price of about $100 the dual band Wouxun radios look like throw-away’s. There is a place for a these cheap radios just like there is a place and a market for cheap (inexpensive) cameras, cell-phones, and any other consumer electronics device that one might want to use in high risk situations.
For example, you might want to take an inexpensive camera on a camping or fishing trip. You might make a decision to put a $100 camera at risk but not a $1500 digital SLR. You might want to listen to music when you workout at a health club or running. But perhaps you leave your $400 Apple iPod Touch at home and take the $30 generic MP3 player instead – just in case it gets dropped, smashed, or otherwise destroyed.
The same idea can be applied to the Wouxun family of dual-band hand-held radios. At about $100 these are nearly disposable radios that can provide some good functionality at low-cost. These are radios that you can take on camping trips, fishing trips, base jumping or any other activity where the outcome and risk to consumer electronics devices might be uncertain – at best.
Note: This posting is primarily directed to an amateur radio audience. No technical background information is given.
I purchased a Wouxun radio a few weeks ago and been using it almost daily. Rather than writing a comprehensive review of this radio a link is provided below which is better than I could write. So, read this review and come back for some of my additional comments.
Read a review here by n9ewo- https://frrl.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/wouxun-kg-uvd1p-n9ewo-review.pdf
OK, so you are back. Here are some of my comments
- Good value for the price. For the price of about $100 it’s a good value. I bought mine at http://maintradingcompany.com/. I got all the pieces shown above – including a hat. http://maintradingcompany.com/ also has a page of resource links that include the service manual, programming software, reviews, and other related links of interest for Wouxun owners. The radio was sent by priority mail (free shipping; no tax to me in Illinois) and arrived two days after I ordered it. The radio arrived with a partial charge on the battery pack and was usable right out of the box.
- Voice announcements and feedback. A big deal with this radio is that it talks in a female Chinese voice. There is no other radio on the market, at the time of this writing, that has such a comprehensive integration of voice with radio setup, configuration, and use. You get English voice prompts when setting up the radio, choosing features, or providing feedback when some event happens on the radio. For those who are visually impaired, the voice navigation of this radio will make it easy to use. Voice confirmation is announced as you choose a programmed channel, enter any frequency on the key pad, set up the menu options, or when it stops on a channel in scan mode.
- Built-in FM radio and presets. The Wouxon has a decent built-in FM radio that is better than most inexpensive consumer FM radios. There are memory presets for FM radio stations. The FM radio feature is useful if you are out camping and want to catch up on the events of the world or listen to music without taking packing a separate broadcast receiver. An interesting feature of the FM radio is that if you are listening to FM and there is activity on the current VHF/UHF frequency in the VFO or in memory then the FM radio is muted so you can hear the VHF/UHF transmission. When the transmission stops, the FM radio us un-muted and you are back to listening to broadcast FM.
- Flashlight. Do you really need a flashlight in your radio? Well, if you are camping or fishing then this might come in handy. There is one of those ultra-bright LED’s on the top of the radio. A button on the side of the radio, when pressed, locks the flashlight on – no need to hold the button in to get the light to stay on.
- Roger beep. On/Off. Beginning of transmission; end of transmission; or both. Need I say more? Feature or bug?
- Very inexpensive accessories. If you’ve noticed, amateur radio accessories are traditionally very expensive for ICOM, Yaesu, Kenwood, and others. Not so for Wouxun. A new 1700ma battery pack is less than $25. An empty shell for AA batteries is $10. A 12V DC adapter that replaces the battery pack is $6. The quick charger, speaker mic, and programming cable came with the radio. So how many more accessories do you really need? You have the whole package for $100 or so.
- Free programming software. The USB programming cable was included with my purchase. You can use the free Wouxun provided software or use other open source software to program the radio (link below). I found the open source software more capable than the software provided by Wouxun.
- Programmable band limits. This is a significant feature – see below.
Programmable RX/TX Band Limits
Software programmable band limits a big deal. If you look at the inside of the box (image below) you will get an idea of the range band limits options you can program into this radio. The same radio is essentially a multi-band radio – 2 meters, 220 MHz, and 440 MHz bands. Open source software allows you to program band limits for the VHF and UHF sides of the radio.
What is suggested here the box is that you can make this radio into a 2m/220 MHz radio or a 2m/440MHz radio. I did the experiment and found that I could get my 2m/440 MHz radio to receive on 220MHz but found that it would not transmit. I did not have a 220MHz antenna on the radio at the time so it may be the case the the high SWR from the 2m/440 antenna was too high. When I experiment further with this I will post an update to this posting.
The take on this one is that for $100 the Wouxun family of dual band radios are a good value for a disposal hand-held amateur radio. For information purposes I will mention that this radio RX/TX goes outside the Amateur Radio band allocation into MURS, FRS, GMRS, and all sorts of public safely (Police, Fire, Local Government,etc) band and business band allocations. ( Radio Reference )
What you will not get is true dual band operation (Wouxun gives you dual-bands one band at a time), no band limit scan, no DC-power source operation, no cross-band repeat, and many other features that radio’s costing 2x or 3x the price of the Wouxun.
But that’s the point. This radio is inexpensive. It’s sort of “fit for purpose” for basic radio operation. So much so that it can be called “disposable”. Take it with you camping, hiking, base jumping and any other high risk activity. Leave the more expensive radio’s at home; take the Wouxun, and forget the worry of any significant financial risk if the Wouxon breaks your fall off the cliff or if it falls out of the boat and ends up in Davy Jones’ locker.
The Wouxun Service Manual – https://frrl.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/kguvd1p-service-manual.pdf
The Wouxun Users Manual – https://frrl.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/wouxun_usersmanual.pdf
Open Source Programming Software. This software is better than what is supplied by Wouxun and can be used to change RX/TX band limits