Thursday, 24 July 2014

Wouxun 2m/70cm Radio - Initial Review


Wouxun KG-UV-6D

I have recently purchased a new KG-UV6D Wouxun radio, for 2m & 70cm in addition to the 4m KG-699E I already own and like. Martin Lynch ( had a special-offer ‘Pro-Pack’ package that was too good to resist and as my Yaesu VX-5R is getting a bit long in the tooth I decided to invest. I have not yet had the chance to do a major field trial with the new radio so this is a first-look review.

The package came with the KG-UV6D radio and lots of accessories that are compatible with my KG-699E. See photo:

Wouxun KG-UV6D and Accessories

The package included:

·         The KG-UV6D radio

·         Two Li-Ion batteries, one 1300mAh and one 1700mAh capacity

·         A dry-cell battery case

·         A battery-replacer with a cigar lighter plug.

·         A mains charger, which has 12V dc input and an adapter.

·         Hand microphone

·         Earpiece/microphone

·         Two antennas – a stubby and a short whip.

·         A protective case and lanyard

·         Handbook, radio programming software and a computer lead with its driver.

The KG-UV6D radio appears to be well made and robust. It is IP55 rated so it should be OK to operate in the rain but this may not apply to accessories. It looks like it will survive fairly hard knocks, but do not try this at home! The antenna connector is an SMA male (same as KG-699E) and I had to buy an adaptor to BNC (which I use on all my equipment).

The KG-UV6D has a couple of extra buttons, that are not present on the KG-699E and this makes operating a bit more flexible. It includes a lamp, activated with one of the side keys – useful if you get lost in the dark, and a stopwatch. (I have no idea why you would want a stopwatch on a radio). The handbook is intelligible and the radio is easy to operate as most of its 32 menu functions are self-explanatory and most work the same way. I have had a few QSOs and audio reports are good.

The charger will charge both a radio and one battery together (or separately) and works with the both the KG-UV6D and KG-699E. Unlike the KG-699E charger, which is mains only, the KG-UV6D uses 12V DC so can be used with mains or in the field from a car battery, for example, if you have a lead for this.   

It offers two scan modes, frequency or channel. Unfortunately, Wouxun got this part of the design badly wrong and neither are much use for amateur radio operations.  In frequency mode, enter the start frequency and press the ‘Scan’ button. So far, so good but the problem is there is no programmable stop limit so the radio just keeps scanning on up and up and up! It is possible to reverse the scan direction, manually, with the tune knob but there does not appear to be any way to limit scanning to a range of frequencies (eg. 145.000 to 146.000). I can see no reason why a radio would work this way and scan limits need to be added.

In channel mode, the channels can be programmed either manually which, like most radios is tedious, or with the software. However, selecting whether a channel is scanned or not is “strictly via KG-UV6D programming software”. So before going out into the field one has to decide which channels will be scanned and use a computer to set these. So if you change location and want to add extra repeaters to be scanned, or remove those that are out of range, you can’t unless you have a computer and the Wouxun software with you. If you programme a new channel manually then you cannot designate it as a channel to be scanned.

 I can see why radios for commercial applications would work this way but for amateur use it is ridiculous. An additional feature, to allow selection of channel scan or not scan, without software, is required.
The radio connects to computers by a USB adaptor. The adaptor driver and programming software loaded OK and runs on both Vista and Windows 8.1 but do run it as 'administrator'. The programme allows you to download the current radio configuration and save it to a configuration file. It can then be edited and uploaded back to the radio. There are a couple of problems - the programme uses virtual COM ports, with a maximum port number of COM 20. Sometimes Windows 8.1 assigns a higher port number so the programme cannot talk to the radio. Sometimes uploading produces a 'Write Error'.  For both these, the answer is to disconnect and reconnect the adaptor and radio and restart the programme. The software should really work better than this - virtual COM ports are so last season.
Wouxun KG-UV6D Software 

The KG-UV6D includes an FM radio, which works well with the whip antenna and gives reasonable audio quality. When in FM mode, the radio still continues to monitor the ‘normal’ channels. If a signal appears on these then the radio switches to the active channel and there appears to be no way prevent this. So, if you don’t want to miss ‘who dun it’ when listening to a radio play on FM then set the squelch to maximum before switching to FM to minimise the chances of the play being interrupted at a critical moment.  

Overall, I am pleased with my new radio; it is robust and easy to use. The scan function is the only bad feature I have found so far and the software could work better. The only extra I needed to buy was the SMA-BNC adaptor. I will comment again after I have used the radio a bit more.
My Wouxun KG-699E has been reviewed previously, see: