WouXun KG-UV6D-E-V3 66-88/136-174 MHz Part 2

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Size comparison with a BaoFeng UV-5R (right)
Size comparison with a BaoFeng UV-5R (right)

The WouXun KG-UV6D fits nicely in the hand though it is a bit bigger than say a BaoFeng UV-5R – not in height – more in girth. Its quite a chunky device weighing in at 253g and measuring up at 65x119x 39.5mm. It feels solid and well built – just like a commercial radio should.

Similarly sized the WouXun wins in the girth department!
Similarly sized the WouXun wins in the girth department!

Unlike a lot of Chinese handheld transceivers, virtually all operations can be entered/adjusted via the inbuilt menu system including naming channels which is useful in the field. Sidekey ANI functions have to be accomplished via a PC as do personal welcome messages (which include a battery voltage option or 6 character message), add to scan and priority channel monitoring. The user manual clearly states which functionality requires PC or menu entry which is useful.

When it comes to software there are quite a few options. WouXun’s official programming software, CHIRP and KGUV6 Commander written by radio amateur Jim Mitchell, KC8UNJ.

Personally I prefer the added functionality of the two independent releases CHIRP and KGUV6 Commander. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with WouXun’s it works fine, it just lacks copy/paste/delete and some other aspects I like to use. For basic set-up WouXun software is good and will get you up and running in no time. A word of warning: please do check your model version against the official WouXun software available as there are two different versions (KG-UV6D/KG-UV6D V2) the latter built especially to accommodate the US 2.5kHz spacing model. Using the wrong version vs. model has bricked radios so be careful.

For the record I used a standard BaoFeng USB cable for programming the WouXun (and it works fine just in case you were wondering?). The user guide explains manual frequency input quite admirably, but I prefer the lazy route and upload memories/settings via a computer – so much quicker.

If you read my BaoFeng review you’ll know I’m a huge fan of CHIRP. It works without fail and it is particularly easy and reliable way to establish a connection (unlike some!). For example, once the correct com port is enabled and the radio is connected (and switched on) open the dialog “Download From Radio” if not already there select Vendor: WouXun and Model: KGUV6. Perform a download and save. This provides a ready made template for you to add your own frequency plan. Of course you’ll need to delete any test frequencies that were programmed by the WouXun factory. The rest is fairly elementary and is along the same lines as the BaoFeng programming tips here.

CHIRP software didn't display the ANI Code until...
CHIRP software didn’t display the ANI Code until…

Switching to “All Settings” I noticed that ANI ID was not there and thus not editable (well, initially anyway). That means the user cannot change the ANI ID (a code unique to the radio) within CHIRP from the word go…

... I downloaded the radio content and changed the ANI Code using KG-UV6 Commander... it then appeared like magic!
… I downloaded the radio content and changed the ANI Code using KG-UV6 Commander… it then appeared like magic!

…unless its been pre-programmed with other software before and then it will be displayed under the Password code entries (see image above). Also like the UV-5R, Busy Channel Lockout (BCL) cannot be set from the “Memories” screen. Fortunately there is a solution. Either use WouXun’s software or give KG-UV6 Commander a go as both options are readily available. I went with the latter.

I was a bit apprehensive about switching from my trusted pal CHIRP, but hey ho, nothing ventured and all that. I opened up Commander and switched between menus. Impressive stuff. The interface is configured in a very user friendly way. The tab style layout covers all programming aspects in the following order (left to right):

Main Memories – enter amend frequencies, modes, naming plus notes.

Note the RX and TX columns - offset frequencies need to be manually entered as can be seen here in my 2M UK plan
Note the RX and TX columns – offset frequencies need to be manually entered as can be seen here in my 2M UK plan
I like the Groups/Notes area, useful for entering additional details
I like the Groups/Notes area, useful for entering additional details

Configuration Settings – set radio parameters including ANI ID.

Configuring the radio is easy with KG-UV6 Commander
Configuring the radio is easy with KG-UV6 Commander

VFO Settings – self explanatory and includes CTCSS/DCS encode/decode.

VFO settings screen
VFO settings screen

FM Broadcast Memories – cool feature to save 18 FM stations in two banks (teams).

18 FM broadcast staions can be saved for easy access
18 FM broadcast staions can be saved for easy access

I like this approach, and as can be seen from the pictures above, the user doesn’t feel overwhelmed by all the settings on a single page. It makes the whole programming experience more enjoyable.

I did a quick “write to radio” and it worked with no hitches first time. Result!

The only thing that requires a bit more user interaction is setting up repeater offsets. CHIRP uses a more standardised system, whereby the user selects the offset (example being 0.600kHz) and the radio works out the difference between the output/input. KG-UV6 Commander works differently using RX and TX frequency columns – in practice both output/input frequencies need to be entered. If however a TX frequency is left blank it will automatically become the RX frequency. For newcomers to the wonderful world of repeaters this is probably a bonus as its more obvious that the offsets are entered correctly. Also, if the repeater requires a CTCSS tone this should be entered in the “Encode” column as opposed “Decode”. Additional settings are straightforward. Use the RPT key (set to RPT in MENU 21) to view offset parameters during operation.

Dual watch feature (TDR). Upper most frequency VFO A is active (denoted by small arrow), VFO B is sub frequency. These can be reversed by pressing A/B to switch between active/sub RX
Dual watch feature (TDR). Upper most frequency VFO A is active (denoted by small arrow), VFO B is sub frequency. These can be reversed by pressing A/B to switch between active/sub RX

The KG-UV6D has the option to use dual watch or single watch monitoring. Dual watch is referred to as TDR and that is on by default. For example VFO A being the active frequency (denoted by the arrow) if a signal is picked up on VFO B (no arrow) a flashing “S” will be shown to indicate RX on the sub frequency (no “S” and the carrier is VFO A). This works like a dual priority – simultaneous dual RX is not possible. Obviously, TX is only ever possible on the active frequency either A/B.

Transmitting in single frequency mode - note the S-meter is showing full as the unit is set to high RF power (5W). If set to low power (1W) the S-meter is half the value
Transmitting in single frequency mode – note the S-meter is showing full as the unit is set to high RF power (5W). If set to low power (1W) the S-meter is half the value

TDR can be turned off via CHIRP/Commander, though I’m not sure why this would need to be switched off considering there is a single frequency mode option for RX/TX as well as monitoring/scanning/searching. Personally I’d leave it on unless you have a specific need not to. Incidentally, when in single frequency mode (press S/D button to switch over from TDR), by pressing A/B the active VFO changes accordingly. KGUV6D is the default single frequency message, however this can be changed with CHIRP/Commander. Mine spells out WouXun.

Upper/lower case and special characters can be used for start-up/single frequency message mode, however all channel names (alpha tags) are upper case only, no special characters barring “?” and “+” (which aren’t that useful to be honest, though I do use the plus symbol now and again). Funnily enough if a “-” is inserted into a name it is displayed as a space!

MENU 32 brings up the CTCSS/DCS tone scan function, great addition and useful when RX-ing local comms traffic
MENU 32 brings up the CTCSS/DCS tone scan function, great addition and useful when RX-ing local comms traffic

Tone scan is a really useful feature to have especially if you like to use the radio in receive mode for local monitoring. Its a simple menu selection (MENU 32, select either CTCSS or DCS press, then press MENU again to start scanning tones). A carrier needs to be present otherwise the menu will return to VFO mode (tone scanning is not available in memory/channel mode). When a carrier and tone match the squelch opens – take a note of the tone or add to a new memory channel allocation. If a tone isn’t found the tone scan feature remains active waiting for the carrier (press any button to cancel). While using this feature and after a tone had been resolved I pressed MENU again (accident on my part oops!). However in doing so I discovered that the VFO was now locked to CT (CTCSS). I tried various ways to get rid of it and in the process figured out I could also switch between DCS and CTCSS using this method. I can see benefits of having one VFO locked to either CTCSS or DCS, but still wanted to know how I could remove it just in case. As far as I can tell there is no way barring a VFO Reset (MENU 30) which does work as does resetting the VFO data via Commander.

There are two user programmable keys which are very useful. WouXun refers to these as PF1 and PF2 and I’m guessing here that “PF” stands for Program Function. PF1 is positioned on the side below the PTT and PF2 is the round green button marked RPT (Repeat which is frequency reverse for offset usage).

PF1 can be set in the following order to either via MENU 20: Off, Scan, Lamp, SOS or Radio. Whereas PF2 via MENU 21 to: Off, Radio, FR/CH, Repeat, Second, Lamp or SOS. Note the word “Second” there. That actually refers to the stopwatch function (yes the radio has a 1/100 sec, 1 hour stopwatch!). The Stopwatch needs to be separately configured “ON” (MENU 26) or the PF2 key will not work. Start/stop with keylock/#.

Personally I have mine set like this PF1/Scan, PF2 FR/CH (frequency/channel mode switch). Having the scan activated from this location is really good and works well in the hand rather than punching the keypad Scan/* button. FR/CH works for me better than pressing MENU>S/D to get the same result. Obviously set it up to suit your needs.

The LCD backlight stays on during scanning
The LCD backlight stays on during scanning

The WouXun KG-UV6D like most Chinese HT’s I know about scan frequencies with CTCSS/DCS tones assigned in exactly the same way. And it’s not good! In a nutshell the radio will stop scanning at the first carrier received with or without tone. That sounds right but it isn’t. When a tone is assigned, if the tone isn’t the right one the radio should continue scanning not stopping every time. For example say CTCSS 67.0Hz is stored with a channel, but the actual tone is 94.8Hz during scan it seems a bit weird that the radio will stop on the channel and not just keep scanning – in my book that is the whole point of assigning a tone for scan purposes. Like I say though this is commonplace in the wonderful world of Chinese radio so it’s not just this model its all of them. As mentioned in the BaoFeng review the only reasonable way around this is to have a single non tone assigned frequency in scan and skip (not add to scan) all tone frequencies.

A bonus for searching/scanning is the rotary encoder knob (the taller of the two) can be used to scroll through frequencies/channels as well as menu options – much easier than using up/down buttons.

For commercial users like myself this radio is perfect as the MENU can be disabled with software. That means the radio can be locked to just RX/TX on presets so that inquisitive staff cannot change any parameters without permission. A mode password system means the display can be locked to Channel Mode or Frequency Mode by the radio admin (you and me!). A full reset password allows the user to do just that, reset everything including deleting all channels. Both features can be programmed by computer only.

Of course the KG-UV6D will appeal to Radio Amateurs due to the 4M and 2M band coverage and I have no doubt that most units ship for this purpose.

Things I like. The fact that the LCD display backlight stays on during scan. I guess its a bit of battery drainer but I like it. Unfortunately the backlight cannot be activated to stay on in all circumstances.

Saving FM broadcast stations to banks (Team 1/Team2) is a great addition. A word of warning though. CHIRP will overwrite any saved locations which is another reason to use KGUV6 Commander which can add/save stations.

RX-ing
RX-ing

The audio quality is exceptional, very clean and the 9 segment busy/s-meter works (unlike the UV-5R which is either on or off) as does the squelch (higher the better, 6-9 in my experience to stop spurious signals especially when scanning frequencies). Volume is sufficiently high – so suitable for noisy environments.

TX-ing
TX-ing

Sending DTMF/ANI is simple (set parameters with software first such as ANI code/Sidekey). To activate press the PTT and the corresponding number keys or top four keypad buttons to enable ABCD. DTMF/ANI code can be sent automatically too with options EOT (End of TX) BOT (Beginning of TX) or Both. SOS signalling works like most systems do though you will need to allocate a PF1/PF2 button for this as there is no dedicated button. Once set-up, press (PF1 or 2) for longer than 2 seconds and the LED flashes, an audible alarm sounds and the display shows SOS-CH (selectable TX A or B). The SOS signal is sent to any radio on the same frequncy. If tone assigned it will only alert a matching tone radio.

WouXun KG-UV6D fitted with optional speaker/mic
WouXun KG-UV6D fitted with optional speaker/mic

5W output across both VHF bands means range is maximised – somewhere in the order 5-10 miles in good conditions, less so if low power is used (1W). Battery life is exceptional, mine goes days between charges. VOX operation means you can use the unit handsfree (set sensitivity off-10) or the radio can be used with the optional speaker/mic for more convenient belt worn operation.

2.5kHz step size is available, but only via PC not menu selectable, unlike the USA version which is
2.5kHz step size is available, but only via PC not menu selectable, unlike the USA version which is

The “International Version” step sizes are 5/6.5/10/12.5/25/50/100kHz and while there is no 2.5kHz step in the MENU (meaning you cannot perform a dedicated 2.5kHz search), 2.5kHz can be set via software for memory channels which is good for US users that require the newly established narrow channel spacing. For European usage this is not required and thus irrelevant! There is a dedicated 2.5kHz version designed solely for the US market which has that step size hard-coded in the menu (check with the vendor to make sure you get what you want/need).

All the latest models come with Wouxun’s new anti-counterfeiting labelling system (unit, battery and charger), whereby users can determine their authenticity by removing a scratch-off label to reveal a unique code and then entering it at www.cn12365.org.

The only thing I dislike is the way the unit scans and stops on carriers even without correct tones (as mentioned earlier).  Other than that its perfect for my use.

Overall this is a very solid radio – its even IP55 rated (“Ingress Protection” against dust and water jets conforming to the “55” standards). It has its quirks (don’t we all), but as a low cost alternative to one of the big three (Kenwood, Yaesu, Icom), you really can’t go wrong with a WouXun. Compared to say a BaoFeng UV-5R or UV-6B of similar functionality the cost is considerably higher, but I think its worth the additional outlay. That said there isn’t a lot of options if Low VHF (66-88 MHz) is required as only WouXun provide dual band radios with this frequency range and at a competitive price point.

Useful links

WouXun KG-UV6D-E-V3 Specification/Features (data for model reviewed)

  • Frequency Range: 66-88 MHz/136-174 MHz TX/RX
  • FM Broadcast Radio (76.000 MHz-108.000 MHz)
  • High/Low RF Power (5W/1W)
  • Wide/Narrow Band (25KHz/12.5KHz)
  • 1750Hz Tone Burst
  • Channel Step: 2.5 via software/5/6.25/10/12.5/25/50KHz
  • Dual-Band Display, Dual-Standby, Single Display
  • 199 memory channels
  • 50 CTCSS and 105 DCS
  • Tone Scan
  • VFO & Memory channels scan/search
  • A/B band independent operation
  • Shortcut menu
  • LED Flashlight/Emergency SOS Mode
  • Low Battery Alert
  • Battery Saver
  • Transmitter Time-out Timer
  • Keypad Lock Auto/Manual
  • Priority Channel (via software)
  • 1-10 grades VOX selectable
  • Busy channel lock-out (BCL)
  • Roger Set (Off/BOT/EOT/Both)
  • Voice confirmation
  • PTT DTMF & ANI ID
  • Stopwatch
  • IP55 rating dust/water
  • PC programmable
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