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Railfan Technology > My "post surgery" review of the Wouxun KG-UV6X portable radio


Date: 06/19/23 15:01
My "post surgery" review of the Wouxun KG-UV6X portable radio
Author: WW

I should begin this review with the Clint Eastwood line from "Dirty Harry"--"Well, do you feel lucky today?"  I say this because, a few weeks ago, I took my perfectly good 9-year-old Wouxun KG-UV6X portable radio, put it on my "operating table" and amputated the three side buttons on the circuit board of the radio--the push-to-talk, and two dual function side buttons.  Now, anytime one opens up a radio and physically removes things off of the circuit board, one risks "bricking" the radio.  I was "lucky"--the surgery was successful.  So, why would I turn a functioning two-way radio into a non-transmitting scanner?  For one simple reason, no matter how one programs the radio, or attempts to "lock" the keypad functions, the keypad and side buttons can not be locked when the radio is in scan mode, and the slightest physical "bump" of the side buttons would knock the radio out of scan, often without the knowledge of the user.  I have posted some of this before, but I decided to expand a bit on it here.  With those buttons removed, the radio still can not be keypad locked while scanning, but the odds of knocking it out of scan at the keypad or the channel selector knob are relatively low, especially if the radio is in its nylon carrying case (which I strongly recommend getting to physically protect the radio, anyway).  

So, why would I do this rather than just using a different radio?  Well, that's why I'm writing this--because the Wouxun KG-UV6X is such a darned good radio for railfanning with that "scanning issue" mostly remedied.  The KG-UV6X costs about the same as the Uniden BC-125AT scanner at the time of this writing.  Like the BC-125AT, it is "old" technology, an analog radio whose design is over a decade old.  The KG-UV6X is a dual-band (VHF/UHF) radio.  With 199 memory channels, all of the AAR analog "regular" VHF and "splinter" channels can be programmed into memory, along with the 6 UHF train telemetry channels, with a few memory slots left over for other channels--I have the 7 NOAA weather channels programmed into mine, too.  Its scan speed is not blazing, but decent.  The various "menu" items for adding/deleting channels from the scan list, adjusting squelch, etc. are fairly intuitive.    All of this is good, but not the standout reason that I like this radio so well in its "modified" form for railfanning.

Now, the really good stuff.  This radio simply has outstanding sensitivity.  It will compete well against my best commercial portables, and it will do it with its STOCK 4" dual-band antenna.  Amazing.  Selectivity is also very, very good, near the same quality as those very expensive commercial portables.  The KG-UV6X has very good loud audio output, only losing a bit of audio quality at full volume.  About the only weak spot in the KG-UV6X's receive performance is that a VERY strong nearby signal on frequency (say, a 50-100 watt radio transmitting on the monitored channel from 20 feet away) can overwhelm the radio and "deafen" it momentarily.  Battery life between charges is also excellent--8-12 hours in normal use, nearly two to three times as long as battery life in the BC-125AT.  One can program the whole radio from the keypad, but I STRONGLY recommend  using one of the various software packages (most of them free) to program the radio. For many railfanning situations, the modified KG-UV6X is now my "go to" analog portable radio.  One other note, the KG-UV6X is the Part 90 commercial-certified model, the KG-UV6D is the amateur Part 97-certified model--for railfanning, I suspect, but can't confirm that the two models would perform similarly.  Unlike so many of the cheap Chinese radios, including some lower-end Wouxun radios, the KG-UV6X uses superheterodyne conversion technology, which is partly what makes the radio perform so well in sensitivity and selectivity.

Finally, about the radio and its optional nylon carrying case.  One of the KG-UV6X's big pluses is that it is a relatively compact radio about the size of the BC-125AT--big enough to be able to see the display and operate buttons easily, but small enough not to be obtrusive to carry, especially with that short 4" but excellently performing antenna.  The optional nylon carrying case--the TERA CSC-590--appears to be made by Caseguys.net, the same company that makes the very good case for the BC-125AT (the KG-UV6X case is nylon, the BC-125AT case is leather).  One of the nifty things about their cases is that the D-swivel on the back of the case fits the standard heavy-duty leather Kenwood belt holster that is pretty widely available on Ebay and elsewhere.  

So, there you have it.  Do I recommend buying and then physically altering the KG-UV6X?  Only if you are comfortable working with circuit boards a bit, and are willing to risk "bricking" a radio when modifying it.  If you do successfully take that risk, though, you will likely have one of the best performing railfanning portable radios that I've seen to date.  My advice would be to get the KG-UV6X and carefully evaluate its performance for you, then decide if you think the physical modification is necessary for your own needs.  For me, priot to me modifying it, the KG-UV6X spent most of its life sleeping in a drawer; now it is one of my most-carried radios.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/19/23 15:04 by WW.



Date: 06/20/23 06:10
Re: My "post surgery" review of the Wouxun KG-UV6X portable radio
Author: NormSchultze

Would not a drop or two of Gorrilla Glue "freeze" the buttons w/o the risk of bricking ? 



Date: 06/20/23 07:53
Re: My "post surgery" review of the Wouxun KG-UV6X portable radio
Author: WW

NormSchultze Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Would not a drop or two of Gorrilla Glue "freeze"
> the buttons w/o the risk of bricking ? 

It might, but I suspect removing the Gorilla Glue if one changed one's mind would probably have its own risks.  I didn't mind removing the buttons from the board because I was fairly confident that I would not "brick" the radio and I have other radios to use when I need to transmit.  I was out just this morning at one of my frequent railfanning spots.  With the KG-UV6X, I was picking up a remote base from 40 air miles away--this on flat ground.   I also checked on the NOAA channels.  It will regularly receive NOAA channels 40-60 air miles away, but I can sometimes receive a couple that are 100-150 air miles away, which I did this morning.  Again, on flat ground, no hilltop or mountaintop repeaters.



Date: 07/10/23 22:16
Re: My "post surgery" review of the Wouxun KG-UV6X portable radio
Author: hotrail

Thanks for a very informative post!

I don't spend as much time trackside as I once did, so I don't spend a lot of time monitoring.  But the railroads adoption of "narrowband" seems to have made a lot of our older scanners and ham HTs unsuitable for the task.  But if I read the specs on this KG-UV6X, it appears this radio is fully compatible with the narrowband mode that the railroads are adopting.  Is my understanding right?

I have always been a fan of Yaesu.  Are there any 2M HT's (I have general class ham license) that support the narrowband wiht their "extended receive" capabilities?

Thanks again.



Date: 07/11/23 09:13
Re: My "post surgery" review of the Wouxun KG-UV6X portable radio
Author: WW

hotrail Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks for a very informative post!
>
> I don't spend as much time trackside as I once
> did, so I don't spend a lot of time monitoring. 
> But the railroads adoption of "narrowband" seems
> to have made a lot of our older scanners and ham
> HTs unsuitable for the task.  But if I read the
> specs on this KG-UV6X, it appears this radio is
> fully compatible with the narrowband mode that the
> railroads are adopting.  Is my understanding
> right?
>
> I have always been a fan of Yaesu.  Are there any
> 2M HT's (I have general class ham license) that
> support the narrowband wiht their "extended
> receive" capabilities?
>
> Thanks again.

Yes, the Wouxun KG-UV6X is fully narrowband capable.  As to amateur portables, lots of them can be set to narrow-band, HOWEVER, almost none of them will tune the 2.5 kHz spread "splinter channels."  Right now, that is not a big deal, but it certainly could be in the future.  Japanese company amateur radios almost all have a minimum 5 kHz tuning step because amatuer radio channels are still at 5 kHz spacing.  The Chinese manufacturers will usually use the 2.5 kHz tuning step capability because most of their radio chasses can be configured to run as either an amateur or commercial radio by firmware or software setting.  For whatever reason, a lot of the Japanese radio manufacturers won't even publish their tuning step spec in their sales information.  I usually find it by downloading the operating manual to see what settings the radio will accept.

One other note about radios.  I always recommend avoiding radios (which includes many of the Chinese radios) that are "system-on-chip" (SOC) radios.  They almost always have poor or mediocre selectivity.  Look for radios that list that they are "heterodyne", preferably "superheterodyne."  Heterodyne radios have separate circuitry to filter out unwanted signals.  To Uniden's credit, the BC-125AT scanner is a heterodyne radio.  So, are most, but not all, of the Wouxun radios.  Wouxun has come out with a relatively new model radio, the KG-Q10H, that looks intrlguing, but it is a $220 radio.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/11/23 09:13 by WW.



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