WouXun KG-818 66-88MHz (4M) Review Part 1

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WouXun KG-818 66-88 MHz at Amazon.co.uk

The WouXun KG-818 is a very sleek compact unit
The WouXun KG-818 is a very sleek compact unit

The WouXun KG-818 is something of an enigma. There isn’t much info about this radio on the internet but having recently purchased the 4M/2M KG-UV6D I felt safe in the knowledge that this single band radio would live up to expectations.

This model was on my original short list, back when I was weighing up numerous WouXun’s. At that time I really needed a dual band but the KG-818 kept calling!

The KG-818 is basically an updated KG-816 in terms of casing more than internal infrastructure. It shares the same programming software and like its brother, available in numerous VHF (66-88/136-174/245-250/216-280/225-226MHz) or UHF (400-470/350-390/400-480/420-520/403-469.9875MHz) band plans according to the country of use and operational needs. I really wanted to add another radio to the underused Low VHF commercial band (66-88MHz) as its a good choice for built up areas and woodland whereas UHF comms are significantly reduced in range in this environment. Of course it is also perfect for 4M in Europe, operates at 5W (high) and has 199 channel memories so plenty of storage.

So that’s what I did. I placed an order with SainStore on Amazon and impatiently waited for delivery.

Unboxing the WouXun KG-818
Unboxing the WouXun KG-818
Box contents
Box contents
Straight out of the box
Straight out of the box

I was pretty excited about this one as I’d only seen a few promo pics of the radio and you can never really work out the actual size until its in the hand. I opened the box and was greeted by a very compact radio plus all the usual accessories: a 7.4v 1700maH Li-ion battery, a reverse SMA antenna (helical version for Low VHF), drop-in charger (EU plug and UK 3-pin adaptor), a belt clip, wrist lanyard, earpiece/mic and comprehensive user manual/registration card. All nicely presented in a full colour glossy box (almost a shame to bin it after opening).

Size comparison: KG-818 vs. KG-UV6D
Size comparison: KG-818 vs. KG-UV6D

In comparison to the WouXun KG-UV6D the KG-818 is much smaller, particularly in girth, if you are familiar with the BaoFeng UV-5R its more akin to that, just a fraction taller, but very sleek and business like. The unit measures up at 100mm in length (not including the top situated knobs) and 50mm in width. The depth is 30mm at the widest part (measured between the LCD and speaker).

The dedicated 180mm 66-88MHz helical antenna is thicker than most regular whips and obviously adds weight and length to the set-up. It still fits on the belt and isn’t to unwieldy.

66-88MHz helical antenna
66-88MHz helical antenna
66-88MHz helical antenna reverse SMA
66-88MHz helical antenna reverse SMA
Female SMA on KG-818 chassis
Female SMA on KG-818 chassis
Size comparison: KG-818 vs. BaoFeng UV-5R
Size comparison: KG-818 vs. BaoFeng UV-5R
Fit and finish is exceptional
Fit and finish is exceptional
SP/Mic jack cover
SP/Mic jack cover

As with all WouXun’s the KG-818 is IP55 rated for dust and water ingression and this is most obvious on close inspection of the keypad and side buttons – professional fit and finish with no gaping cracks and crevices to attract particulates.

The speaker grill
The speaker grill

Beneath the seven hole speaker grill is a very fine metal mesh which also helps in that respect. This is a very well put together radio and belies the modest price tag (around the £60 mark here in the UK).

Illuminated keypad
Illuminated keypad

Side by side with the UV6D you may be mistaken for thinking this is a basic unit lacking in features because the keypad and general look gives that impression. Wrong! This little transceiver is packed with call type features including Inspect, Monitor, Stun and Kill functionality, which is useful when operating a large user group for example in a business/factory environment. The KG-818 is ideally suited to multi radio operation as caller groups can be set-up with relative ease. This unit even has caller ID, plus 105 DCS and 50 CTCSS tones with full scan/priority channel functionalty. Channel step sizes are: 5/6.25/10/12.5/25/50/100kHz (no 2.5kHz narrow spacing I’m afraid).

Belt clip
Belt clip

I clipped the battery onto the unit and decided to install the belt clip. I was undecided about doing so as I thought it may be a little unstable when laid down, but nope the WouXun designers ingeniously angled the clip and made it wide enough to sit at a convenient off horizontal viewing position as opposed completely flat so to speak. A dedicated lanyard attachment area sits behind the rotary encoding (tuning) knob. The use of both are optional though highly recommended, not that the radio couldn’t take a drop but why risk it?

Lanyard attachment point
Lanyard attachment point
LED flashlight
LED flashlight

As with all Chinese HT’s there is a bright LED flashlight which also flashes in Alarm mode and next to that is the RX/TX indicator – a single indicator that illuminates green for RX and red during TX. Behind these are the two operating knobs the shorter one is the rotary on/off/volume and the taller one for tuning/searching/scrolling through menus.

The LCD display - note the slanting V in the name LOVHF4
The LCD display – note the slanting V in the name LOVHF4

The LCD is crisp and sharp and illuminates in a pleasing white shade (with a slight bluish hue). The display is not busy like dual banders as its just a single band radio. In other words during operation just the frequency/channel number/name is visible plus of course the obligatory battery indicator, CTCSS/DCS (if set) and power setting symbology (L or H). When switched on a series of morse like tones confirm intialization.

The KG-818 has an FM broadcast radio with presets too!
The KG-818 has an FM broadcast radio with presets too!

The LCD digits are similar to those you’d find on a digital watch or calculator and a departure from other WouXun radios that have a dot-matrix look to them. This makes some “names” look a bit weird especially when using certain letters. For example, the letter V, slants dramatically purely because of the limitation of the 12 segment characters formation.

The internals - full metal for durability and RF shielding
The internals – full metal for durability and RF shielding
Battery connector terminals
Battery connector terminals

In Part 2 I’ll look at some of the operating characteristics and explain the PC programming features using WouXun’s dedicated software in more detail.

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