WouXun KG-818 66-88MHz (4M) Review Part 2

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

Time to grab the manual and start programming!
Time to grab the manual and start programming!

Programming the KG-818, can be accomplished with either CHIRP or WouXun KG-816 software. CHIRP will definitely get the job done with little fuss and I cannot recommend this universal radio program highly enough – its freeware and continually developed – supporting just about every transceiver currently available on the market.

Connected and ready to program
Connected and ready to program

That said, I thought I’d give WouXun’s software a go so headed over to WouXun.com. I couldn’t see the KG-818 listed in the downloads section so emailed customer service. Shortly I received an email suggesting I try the KG-816 version which is 100% compatible with the KG-818. I duly followed the link, downloaded and clicked the .exe file (no installation needed). Unfortunately, this particular version is geared around 136-470MHz so a follow up email was sent. Again, not long later, a courteous email arrived from Yoleen with the correct program (66-88MHz version) attached. Of course, I should have told Yoleen in my previous email what model I had saving some confusion, but needless to say I was very happy to finally get the program up and running. Customer service at WouXun is truly excellent so if you have a problem just ask and they are very willing to help. Thanks again Yoleen!

The opening "splash" screen
The opening “splash” screen

The software is intuitive and laid out in a familiar file tree hierarchy starting with the radio designate: KG816 (this cannot be changed) which in turn expands to five windows:

Channel Message is the RX/TX frequency input and operating parameters screen (such as offsets, tones, step size, modulation etc). Batch Channel Edit is where the user can quickly load up a series of frequencies in ascending or descending order, plus additional user defined options.

Data entry is a familiar spreadsheet format - simply work your way across left to right
Data entry is a familiar spreadsheet format – simply work your way across left to right
Batch Channel Edit really speeds up bulk frequency input
Batch Channel Edit really speeds up bulk frequency input

A particular step size can be used, DTMF, CTCSS/DCS and a range of channels allocated (e.g. 1-50 or all 199 channels). This system is ideal for quickly adding the 4M amateur band frequencies without having to type out every single one by hand. I can see this being even more useful for other bands such as 136-174MHz where certain frequency ranges have concentrated comms traffic over a relative small frequency range such as 164-165MHz in the UK.

The radio menu system
The radio menu system

Optional Functions is where all the additional radio features are set – essentially it is the radio Menu system.

GUI shows the PF1/PF2 multifunction button settings
GUI shows the PF1/PF2 multifunction button settings

Key Set is a graphical illustration of the two multifunction PF keys (the middle side key between the PTT and Monitor buttons) and front green button (marked A/L).

  • PF1 (side key) can be set to Undefined (off), Scan, Lamp, FM Radio or Battery Review (current operating voltage)
  • PF2 (green button) can be set to Undefined (off), Alarm or SOS Alarm. Personally I have PF1 set to Scan and PF2 to Alarm

These functions can also be set via the radio itself (MENU 10). A handy stopwatch function is built into the KG-818, however unlike the UV6D this cannot be assigned a dedicated PF multifunction key and has to be manually selected from MENU 16 (on/off). To start or stop the stopwatch use the #/keypad lock key.

Serial Info screen
Serial Info screen

Serial Info show the radio info including model, version and manufacturing date (obviously only when the radio is connected does this info show up).

Menu bar
Menu bar

The rest is self explanatory – the menu bar above the programming windows provide open/save/print file and radio read/write functionality.

Com port setting
Com port setting

20 COM port allocations are available, however COM1 seems to be set as the primary communication source initially (maybe its just my set-up? Nothing else was available!). I managed to override this by reassigning my internal COM allocations (via Control Panel/Hardware/Device Manager) and freed up another port (COM3) and all was well after that. Incidentally I used the BaoFeng USB cable that came with the UV-5R and it works fine.

Programming the radio is easy using the WouXun software. There is no bulk copy/paste/delete functionality, however individual frequencies can be copied/pasted and deleted if need be by right clicking on an active cell. Comprehensive frequency management isn’t totally necessary for business/radio amateur users as once programmed not many amendments are needed – just a few tweaks from time to time.

Unfortunately, no special characters can be used to name channels and only 6 characters (letters and or numerics) can be used which limits versatility. The display can be configured to show a name, frequency channel or channel/frequency  – accessible directly via MENU 17 or by PC programming.

Having used the BaoFeng UV-5R for a few months the rotary encoding knob on the WouXun is pure luxury (the UV-5R doesn’t have one). This makes tuning and moving through menus a pleasure (no need to keep pressing up/down buttons). Also while scanning or searching the rotary knob can be used to change the frequency direction (ascending/descending). Even the KG-UV6D cannot do that (it stops scanning/searching if the encoder is touched).

Kill, Inspect, Stun and Monitor gives full control over a multi-radio group
Kill, Inspect, Stun and Monitor gives full control over a multi-radio group

For business users Inspection (DB), Monitor (DA), Stun (CB) and Kill (AB) functionality is provided. This can only be activated via the WouXun software suite and individual ANI ID’s need to be set up on each radio to be controlled. By pressing the key combinations (e.g inspect: DB) in association with the correct ANI code, full control over other users in a group is possible. Menu/Up Arrow/Down Arrow/EXIT represent the letters A-D respectively. Before using this feature it is advised to read and fully understand the documentation (user manual) that is provided.

Another interesting feature is caller groups and selective calling, whereby all, individual (selective 1-to-1) or group calls can be made to other KG-818 (or KG-816’s) in a multi radio situation. I’m not entirely sure this works with mixed models – I experimented with my KG-UV6D and the caller ID works on the KG-818 in as much as the UV6D’s ANI code is sent and displayed on the KG-818, but I’ve failed to figure out if caller group/selective functionality is possible with both radio types… drat!

CTCSS scan mode
CTCSS scan mode

The KG-818 can scan for active tones by selecting MENU 05, CTCSS or DCS. An active carrier needs to be present and this only works in frequency mode not channel mode.

DCS scan mode
DCS scan mode

Audio quality is very good and the volume is more that sufficient in noisy environments. The squelch is very  effective knocking out local interference. This can be adjusted between 0 (open) and 9. Setting 5 is a good place to start and rejects all but the strongest signals.

The KG-818 operates to a maximum of 5W so range is indicative of that. Upwards of 5 miles is common (in my experience) and up to 10 miles in ideal circumstances on low VHF frequencies (this will vary considerably with different frequency ranges such as the 400MHz UHF version). The 1W low power setting is perfect for local use where range is not a factor and it also saves battery power too.

All in all an amazing radio for a low price point. As mentioned in Part 1, build quality is exceptional and the compact dimensions noteworthy when size matters. The 66-88MHz version has a slight size disadvantage over the UHF model because of the increased antenna size, but it is still a pocket sized unit and sturdy enough to take a few knocks and drops along the way.

Scanning and searching speeds are fairly good, better that the BaoFeng UV-R5 anyway!

As a business user I would highly recommend the KG-818 to anyone looking for a cheap reliable radio packed with features normally seen on transceivers costing 10 times as much. Because the frequency range encompasses the 4M radio amateur band it is also one of the most cost effective ways to experiment around 70MHz.

Downloads

Please note the first link is for the dedicated 66-88 MHz version for all other frequency ranges use the second link.

WouXun KG-818 Specification/Features (model reviewed)

  • Frequency Range: 66-88 MHz TX/RX *
  • FM Radio (76.0MHz-108.0MHz)
  • High/Low RF Power (5W/1W)
  • Wide/Narrow Band (25KHz/12.5KHz)
  • 1750Hz Tone Burst
  • Channel Step: 5/6.25/10/12.5/25/50/100KHz
  • ANI (Caller ID)
  • All calls, group calls and selective calls
  • 199 memory channels
  • 50 CTCSS and 105 DCS
  • Tone Scan
  • VFO & Memory channels scan/search
  • Shortcut menu
  • LED Flashlight/Emergency SOS Mode
  • Inspection, monitor, stun and kill function
  • 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
  • Voice confirmation
  • PTT DTMF & ANI ID
  • IP55 rating dust/water
  • PC programmable

* Available frequency ranges for different countries or areas:
VHF: 136-174MHz/245-250MHz/216-280MHz/225-226MHz
UHF: 400-470MHz/350-390MHz/400-480MHz/420-520MHz/403-469.9875MHz

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