Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Latest addition to the shack 

Right before my aforementioned road trip my faithful Yaesu VX-7R died on me. Well it didn't exactly die its more like it went comatose. I have a habit of carrying my VX7 to work with me and when I get home dropping it into the desk charger for use the next day. Now sometimes I manage to drain the battery completely before I get home, which is why I carry a spare, but often I won't notice that it has died until I'm ready to stuff it back in the charger. Once the battery level falls below a preset voltage the radio shuts off and will not turn back on until that minimum level has been met or exceeded.

Of course as soon as you put the radio in the charger that is what happens and the radio comes back to life. At that point I just press the off button and go on my way. As the battery approaches full charge the LED goes from steady red to flashing red and finally to steady green at completion of the charge cycle. When I removed my VX-7 from the charger the next morning the light was still flashing red. I noticed that but didn't give it much thought as I removed the radio and cliped it on my belt to head off to work. After getting in the car I noticed that the radio was on 147.090 with a "P" in front of the 1. I started trying to change to a different frequency only to find the radio locked up so I ignored it until I got to work. Once there I discovered that the only thing working on the VX-7 was the receiver. It would hear the 09 repeater but none of the keys on the keypad functioned and it would not transmit. After tinkering with it for some time I decided that a "hard reset" was in order and I would have to reprogram the radio.

A hard reset on the VX-7 involves holding down three keys while powering the radio on then pressing the function key. This I proceeded to do only to find that after powering the rig up and getting the message on the display to "Press F to reset" that at this point the keypad is locked up and you are unable to press any keys. Now, I told you that story so I could tell you this one.

I decided after trying a few other tricks that I was not going resolve the problem whatever it was and am now contemplating returning it to Yaesu for repairs. In the interium I looked at buying a replacement for it and started looking at Icom, Kenwood and Yeasu models that were in a reasonable price range. I considered a high end Icom with the DStar protocol installed but decided that I would wait on that one. I see myself buying a DStar radio somewhere down the line but not just yet. Despite the fact that my VX-7 has died I still prefer hand held units from Yaesu/Vertex for a number of reasons. I preferred a dual band unit but could live with a high band only radio if need be. This brought me to the FT-60R.

It was dual band, well constructed, had all the features I was looking for and was under $200. A combination that is hard to beat. Just as I was about to call my friendly ham radio dealer I overheard a friend on the air saying that he had won a dual band hand held at the last area ham fest. He said that he already had two so he would have rather won another prize but he wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I asked what it was and he replied a Yaesu FT-60R. Well it didn't take long for a deal to be struck and as you can see from the picture above I now have it in my possession.

So far I'm very impressed with the little unit and have purchased the desk top rapid charger, spare battery and programming software for it. I made my first contact with it while in Virginia Beach on the local 22/82 machine there and got reports of excellent audio. Matter of fact the machine had a DVR incorporated in the controller and one of the locals keyed it up and let me record a few seconds of my voice and play it back. It does indeed sound good. I have found one or two little nits to pick about it and I will write an additional review after I have used the rig for a while. So if you happen to be in the market for a dual band hand held I suggest that you give the FT-60R consideration. I think you will be as impressed with it as I was.

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