November 19, 2016

Question From a Reader - Yaesu VX-6R

I had a question that arises from the the fact that my old 2m handheld died. (Radio Shack HTX-202) I have to get a new one and was wondering what, if any, opinion you may have about the Yaesu tri-bander, VX-6R I am asking because I thought that your posts on the Optoelectronics products (August 9, 2016) and the Motorola DTR 650s (August 9, 2016) were very worthwhile. I have been thinking about the VX-6R as a monitoring device as well as as a communication device and therefore any related considerations about its use in an "Optoelectronic environment". (Understanding that transmitting is distinctly different from receiving.) Thank you.

It has been my observation that Yaesu makes good products, and I've owned my fair share of them over the years.  The VX-6R's eham reviews are about normal, with some people swearing by the radio, and other's swearing at it. With that said, at 4.4/5 with 127 reviews I'd say the radio probably doesn't suck from a technical, reliability, or performance standpoint.  Now, from a down-grid standpoint, here's the scoop:
  • Radio has a AA battery pack available and can also be run directly off 6-16V DC. It has very flexible power requirements.  A good thing.
  • Radio has wide-band .5-999 MHz. AM/FM/WFM receive capability.  Despite no SSB, P25, or trunking reception capability, still a good thing.
  • Standard SMA female antenna connector.  Easy to add external antennas. A good thing.
  • Standard 2m/440 FM ham-band transceiver capability, with the addition of 222 MHz. band. Easy freeband/outband modification with decent post-mod TX coverage (not that you should use it).  Many police scanners, including low-end Close Call/Signal Stalker models, do not include the 220 ham band.  (Optoelectronics gear does.)  With 2 meters and 440 being the two most popular VHF/UHF FM bands,  222 MHz. is a nice, less-crowded, band for a small group of hams to operate on.  Neither a good, nor a bad, thing, and that depends on your level of interception paranoia.
  • The optional barometric pressure sensor is a nice addition, especially if you want to keep track of trending weather.  A good thing.
It has already been determined that the way to go if you don't want anyone listening to you is to set your group up with Motorola DTRs.  That's the single easiest solution unless you find some surplus LMR gear with encryption capability, and with those you'll still be vulnerable to certain types of traffic analysis SIGINT techniques.  However, the DTRs are a single-purpose piece of equipment, and lack common interoperability capability (which may be something you want).

Bottom Line: The wide monitoring range, easy freeband mod, barometer, flexible power requirements, and somewhat obscure band (222 MHz.) capability make the Yaesu VX-6 a very attractive handheld amateur radio transceiver for down-grid use.

If you liked this post, you can get even more detailed down-grid communications and other technological survival information every month by subscribing to Signal-3.  Signal-3 is written by Thomas "Sparks31" Icom (Ticom),  the creator of Cybertek: The Cyberpunk Technical Journal, and one of the original technological survival authors whose writings have appeared in various publications over the past 30 years.

Signal-3 is an electronic technical newsletter focusing on resilient "down-grid" communications and other technological aspects of self-reliance and preparedness.  It is delivered every month via an email link in PDF format.

Click here to subscribe.


    1. The Kenwood TH-F6A will transmit on 2M/220/440 but will also receive ssb on all frequencies from 0.1 MHz - 1300 MHz.

    2. That would be a good choice too. Thanks for the heads up.

    3. I've picked up some Motorola DTR550s and DTR650s to start working with, but it looks like they're gen 1 with non-removable antennas. Are these worth keeping/using with the factory stubby or should I sell them and find some gen 2s? How much benefit is an upgraded antenna going to get me using these as squad radios? Thanks!

      1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      2. Keep them. Use them. They are good radios with an average 2-mile simplex range. When you find some of the newer versions with the removable antennas, upgrade and keep the older ones as spares. Everyone should have a spare back-up radio anyway.

        Eventually, you will want to get radios and communications gear that you can fix with a modest workshop, and put together said workshop. The details will be in future issues of Signal-3.

    4. I am relying on radio communication for working. Baofeng UV5R really helps in most case of work, much better than Yaesu VX6R. Yaesu, seems, does not worth with its expensive radio and the prominent brand.