N9EWO Reviews :
YAESU VX-3R
"Micro" DUAL BAND HANDHELD TRANSCEIVER

Baofeng / Vero UV-3R Review near bottom of page
(MTC / Comtex / Magiksun / Zastone etc.)
(MK I [1] and MK II [2] versions)


Yaesu's Discontinued  VX-3R "micro" dual band handheld transceiver. Was made in Japan.

  Suffered from many issues over it's 10 year lifetime on the market to the end of production (quality control lacking).
Good news is that the CTCSS "Delay Bug" was fixed (vs. the VX-2R).
Two last production run 2017 samples tested (made in February 2017) were both found defective.
(N9EWO Photo)

N9EWO's Review on the Yaesu VX-3R "Micro" Handheld Transceiver

(NOTE : Was sold in Japan and other parts of the world under the "Standard" label).

Approx. Serial Numbers Tested :
1st "Defective" Sample (2007) : 7G02003x (No internal microphone audio)
2nd "Properly Working" Sample (2007) : 7H0311xx
3rd "Defective" Sample (2017) : 7D520204x (Dead internal charging circuit, This dud sample had an extra digit on it's serial #...this is not a typo)
4th "Defective" Sample : (2017) : 7D5202xx (Bad LCD,  see photo below. 3rd and 4th samples from the last production run made in Feb 2017)
(IMPORTANT NOTE : UPDATED Review Text below with the 4th February 2017 Sample will be in this ORANGE BOLD color)

Country of Manufacture :
VX-3R Transceiver: Japan, FNB-82LI Lithium-Ion Battery: Japan, NC-85 wall charger: Taiwan , CSC-92 Case: Japan, FBA-37 3 AA Battery Case: Japan. (SAD-19B wall charger : China, MH-34 Hand Microphone : China)

This model is the follow up to the Yaesu VX-2R, and for those who you have not been on my review page for this model it would be a good idea that you read that page first. My review on this page too for the Icom IC-P7A (huffda !!).

These of course are MY views and yours may not be the same. The test samples  1 and 2 were early versions from the first and third lots imported into the USA (July 2007). Last 2 were from the last lot made in February 2017 (just before it was discontinued). Even with the 4th sample having a bad LCD, we were able to make these updated observations.  It was tested in a area of about 80,000 total population, so I may not experience intermodulation or other issues that may happen in a larger city.


The 4th (and final) test sample arrived with a bad LCD screen (strange dark looking).
Box / packing showed no shipping damage , so assumed this was another factory inflicted defect. (N9EWO Photo)

Discontinued Product


First 2007 Sample Was Defective / Test of two 2017 Samples were "Dud's"

With the first sample we received, the internal microphone was totally dead. If we slightly squeezed the cabinet it would crackle in a bit, but that was it. When any external microphone was plugged in, it worked fine. Serial number approx : 7G02003x (from the second lot). This was a sad state of affairs for Yaesu. This shows that quality control does not exist at all. Simply no excuse for this and it shows that it was not tested before it left the factory. With all of the quality control and hardware / firmware bug issues that the VX-2R had, you would think that they would have learned something ?

My second sample was OK (thank goodness), but appears that quality control is just lacking big time ?

[ UPDATES : I have received a report of ANOTHER VX-3R with this same "Dead Internal Mic" issue. Approx serial number : 7H0309xx. This is from the 3rd lot and was not a very early one. Another out of the box dud VX-3R had his CTCSS not holding stored frequencies. Approx serial number here was : 7G0100xx. As I was saying, where is your quality control Yaesu ?? ]

The speaker connections are made in the VX-1R, VX-2 R and VX-3R with pressure contacts to the PC Board  (no wires). The internal microphone in the VX-3R is another pressure type contact , but uses a capacitance circuit here (but it too can be affected by bad contacts) .

With sample number 3 (manufactured in February 2017, last production run number 52), the battery internal charging circuit refused to work (was dead).  The last # 4 test sample (from the same lot) arrived with a defective LCD. This (and other reviews on the internet) show the VX-3R's track record for downright unacceptable quality control over it's 10 year life on the market. Being as tiny as it is could have had a play in difficult manufacturing of this handheld transceiver ??

Feel, Looks and Construction. CSC-92 Soft Case and FBA-37 AA Battery Case.

The size and solid feeling are pretty much a dead ringer to the elder VX-2 model, but the corners are less rounded. However, once I had both in my hands the VX-3R seems to be just a tad larger ? We still have the weird lock switch on the bottom, but I still like this system over the plastic "snap" bar that is used with the Yaesu VX-5, Icom IC-T90A, IC-Q7A and others.

All buttons on the front are of a hard plastic type, the VX-2R used soft plastic-rubber ones. These take a much more "push" to make happen over the VX-1R or VX-2R. These have a spongy "click" feeling when pushed. You need to push a good ways in to make them work. To make it worse are more recessed over the older VX2R. This does get a bit painful if you are programming "mucho" channels. Here is the first MAJOR strike for me with the VX-3R. Out of the case it's not so bad, however when trying to poke these over the plastic when in the case .....forget it !!!

The side mounted PTT, squelch and power buttons continue to be of a soft rubber type. With the PTT being a slight slight step backward over the VX-2R , as it's a more mushy. The VX-2R's PTT is a more solid feeling. But it is not curved and does has a slightly larger surface to poke at. The orange on-off button takes the same (if not worse) "finger breaker" pressure to make happen however. The squelch "break" button is even much mushy on the VX-3R to me over the 2. Overall I do not care for the PTT button on the VX-3R.

(Side buttons still have a mushy feel, but not as bad. The Orange ON-OFF button was MUCH improved and requires much less force to make work)..

The locking top knob is the strangest part of the VX-3R. It pulls out for use and to do this operation is a bit stiff (takes 2 hands). When pushed in it becomes locked and cannot be rotated. This knob has a rubber feeling for better grab. It OK even if it's a bit on the ugly side to me. Actual knob operation has a fair amount of "giggle" play to it (when pulled out), also has a fair amount of "rotational play" when turned (going from click to click). It feels cheap to me in any event. This is still is better over the Icom IC-P7A's sloppy feeling encoder, but the VX-2R wins on this again (excellent feel).

LCD looks great with the proper contrast (it is not adjustable). It is slightly larger over the VX-2's display but this is for the added volume icon on the far left. Display backlighting being a yellow color (VX-2R is red). I do like the VX-3R's backlight color a bit better.

In a pinch the old VX-2R's CSC-90 soft case will work with the VX-3R OK. However, it fits a bit more tight and also not all of the windows will match up (like the rx/tx LED), but it can work unless you are using the FBA-37 AA battery case.

The proper CSC-92 case has a back on it that allows for the rear of it to move around slightly between the 2 battery sources using Velcro. There is a belt loop on the case, but I did not care for this. In fact I don't use belt clips with a small POCKET radio like the VX-2 and 3 are (why bother). Also there are 2 hard snaps that need to be used, that need to be pressed up against the body of the radio every time it's attached to the belt. This was not for me, so I removed the loop part of the case. I cut the 4 snaps very CAREFULLY with a larger pair of side cutters (marked with pink dots, see photo below). Otherwise it's good and provides protection of the transceivers buttons. Here is another one that Icom totally blew with the open front IC-P7A "LC-161 case".

I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !


I hated the "Belt Loop" on the VX-3R's CSC-92 case.
So I CAREFULLY removed the 4 rivets holding it (marked with the pink dots)
using a larger pair of side cutters. Much better this way to ME. 
(N9EWO Photo)

Uses the same FNB-82LI battery pack, and the RF power is a dead ringer to the VX-2R. The standard battery cover is still a pretty thin piece of plastic and tends to fish (slide) around slightly even when locked. A bit more in fact over the old VX-2R. But this I did not find to be a drawback.

A new FBA-37 case option allows one to use 3 AA batteries instead of the FNB-82LI battery. It replaces the rear cover entirely. So you have to keep track of the standard cover as not to loose it. It fits and works well. There is a disclaimer in the owners manual that states that rechargeable batteries should not be used. This is because if it ever did short (on or off the radio), could indeed give you a hot pocket and very nasty burns , let alone killing the radio. I did this anyway and but has a "tight fit" issue (see note below). Again, I can see this could be a disaster if it ever shorted out with no protection in this case. So you have been warned.

Don't get any idea's of using this FBA-37 with your old VX-2R. It will not fit....sorry.

[ UPDATE: The MAJOR bug with the FBA-37 battery case I have found is that some brands of batteries fit VERY tight if not impossible to make work. MOST rechargeable batteries (if not all) will not even fit at all. Is not as great as I was thinking at first, more of a pain in the rump in fact. There are some aftermarket FBA-37 clone cases as seen on ebay that are advertised to take slightly larger batteries (not tested).  With the 2017 sample we were able to insert white eneloop AA's cells (HR-3UTGB , 2000 mah ] in the FBA-37 and worked here with no problem).

Also watch out for the small plastic pin inside the VX-3R's battery cavity. This is used for switching the charger circuit off if one accidentally plugs in the charger when the FBA-37 is in use. It looks very fragile (be careful).

Has the "No Power" Bug Been Cleared Up ??

As of me typing this text, the "no power bug" that hit many mid-later VX-2R's , this did not happen with my VX-3R sample.

With some later samples of the VX-2R, after a random number of power on's and off's, it would fail to come on. When this happened you were forced to remove and replace the battery. Then it was OK for awhile until it does it all over again. A royal pain in the rump it is, not to worry with the VX-3R here.

LCD Display, and Bugs Here / Dark Screen Under Lower Lighting Conditions

Again as of me typing this text , the LCD bleed issue at power up with many later VX-2R's was not present on the properly working sample of the VX-3R.

Defective display on test sample # 4 (see text at the top of this report).

Electronic Volume Control, Set Menu, Can Now Adjust The Mic Level

A feature that was on the VX-1R but not on the 2R that has been restored with the 3R , is a "electronic volume" control. But unlike the VX-1R, there is no up down buttons and one is forced to push in and HOLD a "Vol" button and THEN use the knob on top to make volume adjustments. This is good in some ways, bad in others. No wear not using a old style volume control, but is a chore to adjust the volume now being forced to use the tuning encoder to turn it up or down. The "volume control" set up on the VX-2R is MUCH better in my view. I like the VX-2R's volume control set up MUCH better.

Plus side (as minor as it is) to this is that you can change the way the VOL button works in the set menu. This allows just one poke of the VOL button and then for a couple of seconds the encoder on top becomes the volume control , and just like the function button it reverts back to tuning mode automatically. This is a much better way to use this and for me it was the FIRST item I changed in the set menu.

Or if one wishes, you can switch the top encoder to become the "volume control" all the time.

(UPDATE : Not so fast ! We have had a change of heart on this. More times than not we were having the VX-2R's volume control getting turned down, sometimes to zero as being put in and out of a shirt pocket, without even knowing it. With the "electronic" volume control scheme this cures the issue completely. One just has to get used it it (adjustment period).

Speaking of the "Set" menu, there are now a 94 selections (compare to only 46 on the VX-2R). You can now adjust the microphone level (more below on this) and even turn off the blasted "Beep" every time the squelch breaks when scanning the memory channels , but still keep the keyboard beep on, this now has a separate toggle.

Audio Quality Receive and Transmit, Not as Good As the VX-2R's Receive Audio, Squelch Settings Improved.

After additional testing in various outdoor situations, the VX-2R is the clear winner for receive / speaker quality. There is a hint of bass response and is more hissy with the VX-3R (you simply cannot push bass out of a micro sized speaker at all from a micro sized handheld transceiver). Mind you it's still MUCH better over the Icom IC-P7A lousy receive audio. But I have a harder time hearing what's said in a outdoor situation with the VX-3R. The older VX-2R rules here with the more crisp and cleaner audio from the speaker.

(Audio now near the VX-2R. So a noticeable improvement here. Actually the speaker audio is pretty good now considering the size of it.)

Transmit quality is very good, loud and crisp (excellent). And again you able to adjust the mic level as well. NOTE : Keep at the default 5 as much as you can. Even the internal can over deviate with too loud of a voice. With the optional Yaesu MH-34 hand mic we found "4" on the mic level control to be more desirable (a tad lower) with our voice.

The squelch settings are separate for the AM mode, FM mode, Wide FM mode and AM broadcast. The VX-2R has only 2, one for FM Wide and the other one for the everything else. Much better idea here with the "Three" VX-3R's squelch settings and works great.

MW Broadcast now features a internal bar antenna (But Disappointing) /  Dual Receive With MW or FM Stations.

Here we have a slight improvement over the VX-2R. Yaesu has added a internal loop-bar antenna for the MW band. Now don't get too excited for any DX here. It does help with VERY LOCAL signals as compared to just using the short rubber antenna. For any distant stations (even at only 50 miles away), it's going to disappoint big time. For the most part MW reception without any real external antenna is still almost near useless (with the working test samples) !!

There is a way to listen to a MW or FM broadcast station while also monitoring a local repeater (it can cut in).

FM Broadcast Performance Bad News, Stereo via a separate headphone jack, also a FM Broadcast cord antenna.

The FM Broadcast (88 to 108 MHz) performance on the VX-3R was just about totally useless at my location. Very deaf if almost unacceptable, no sensitivity at all to speak of. Why did Yaesu go to all of this trouble to add FM stereo and have such a lousy receiver here ?? In a large city it may be more usable, but if you are out in the boonies (like me) at all "forget it". Here the VX-2R's FM performance blew the it into the next universe.

If one compares CURRENT printed specifications on the 2 radios , you can easily see that the listed VX-3R specs show much worse sensitivity. The VX-2R at 1.5 uv , the VX-3R is marked 3.0 uv in the FM Broadcast Band. Important note on this : Info via the owners manual marked as 0706W-BE on rear cover. It WAS marked as 1.5 uv in earlier manuals and ads. This shows the real story, Yaesu is well aware of the less sensitive FMBC section.  (The 1506d-EM "2015" manual lists FM sensitivity as 1.5 uv as with the VX-2R and shows that improvement in testing as well , see below)

The AM, FM broadcast sections are marked as only "Single Conversion".

Yes, one can toggle to use the side mounted 1/8 inch headphone jack as the FM antenna in the set menu (but this did not help sensitivity for me). Good news is it was not all for nothing, as the rest of the radio's audio also comes out of this jack too. So you don't have to use the speaker/ mic's earphone jack (if your speaker / mic has a earphone jack) to use common lightweight headphones anymore. The speaker / mic jack on top uses the same weird 4 conductor ones that the VX-1, VX-2 and the Icom IC-Q7A use, so no change here. I still feel that speaker / mic jacks belong on the top of a handheld transceiver, and the VX-3R provides this.

(With the 2017 sample FM Broadcast sensitivity was noticeably improved. Not going to say it's stellar either, but is MUCH more useful. Of course reception quality will vary depending on the antenna used)

Overall Sensitivity , 800 MHz and SW / HF Bands Reception Any More Useful ?

Other than with the AM and FM broadcast bands , overall analog VHF/UHF sensitivity is pretty much a dead ringer to my ears when comparing to the VX-2R. But with one very important exception. The 800 Mhz band sensitivity has been MUCH improved. I can use this handheld for analog 800 MHz public service monitoring now , whereas with the VX-2R it was pretty much a washout.

SW broadcast sensitivity is another dead ringer, in other words it's not too useful
(see my VX-2R page for more information on this).

Included Antenna is the Same One That Came With the VX-2R.

Once again we have the same YHA-66 "junk" gem that came with the VX-2R. It's actually a very nice size antenna, but it does not do well outside the 2 meter and 70 cm amateur bands. But as it usually is, for many only a after market antenna will satisfy, including me. We used a Diamond SRH-519 (8 inch thin whip) and worked very well, but is not made for rough handling / use. I still use a couple of the old VX-1R short antenna's that work a bit better over the YHA-66.

I was told that the latest versions of the Diamond SRH-519 provides a slightly longer "center stinger" for proper contact for the VX-2R and VX-3R's. Not sure how true this really is, however my later Diamond sample has a nice long center pin and easily makes proper connection to either radio. Have a good look before you buy any after market antenna if you are able to.

CTCSS Delay Bug Is Gone, Finally !!

For those of you where the CTCSS delay bug (this is noticed more when scanning CTCSS memory channels) bothered you to no end as it did me with the VX-1R, VX-2R and even with the VX-5R, here it is very good news.

If you entered a channel with a CTCSS decode, when scanning and stopped on this memory entry, it would take a good second for the audio to come through, missing the first part of a message. Well with the VX-3R, Yaesu "finally" cleared this issue up with the VX-3R. So tone decode is now useful for use with public service frequencies.

As I type this text, there was a report of the CTCSS values not taking (that is not storing). We never experienced this with any of the test samples.

No Schematics or Block Diagrams Included

This may sound like a broken record, but once again the VX-3R does not include any schematics or even a lousy block diagram.

The VX-3R Is Still a Worthy "Micro" Handheld Transceiver Overall / Be Aware of it's Sour QC Record.

Even with the bugs and quality control issues, the Yaesu VX-3R is still a good micro transceiver with great extended receive (FM broadcast band is a bust however). It still beats out the Icom IC-P7A to my ears with it's nasty poor receive audio. However watch out for what appears to be an above average dud rate (and was to the end of production) ?

The VX-3R is a discontinued product as is the VX-2R (so one will have to hunt on the used market for either).

Dave N9EWO
c N9EWO all rights reserved
Ver. 4.0

Discontinued Product


Yaesu : Serial Numbers
Yaesu uses the same serial number scheme for all of their ham gear.

The serial number has the form YMLLNNNN where Y = the last digit of the year of manufacture, M is a letter representing the month of manufacture with "C" = January, "D" = February, and so on, the lot number is represented by the two digit LL (00 - 99), and NNNN (0001-9999) is the unit number within lot LL.

For example: 0N070145 means December 2000, lot 7, unit 0145. The lot number is not linked to the year & month, i.e., LL does not reset to 00 each year. Service bulletins refer to lot numbers.

Another Example: Serial number 1e110089 means :

Manufactured: March 2001
Lot: 11
Unit: 0089

N9EWO Review:
  BAOFENG / MAGIKSUN / COMTEX / ZASTONE / MTC
UV-3R MK 1 "Micro" DUAL BAND HANDHELD TRANSCEIVER
(MK 2 version review "next" below)

  The UV-3R Mark 1 "DSP micro" is sold under a slew of names (Baofeng branded version shown above).
Great little micro dual band handheld for the money, but of course it has a number of bugs anyway .
In "High Power" transmit it actually puts out 2 WATTS on both bands . Real DSP too.
The later MK "2" version notes are included below as well.

(N9EWO Photo)

County or Manufacture : China
Approx Serial Number (Made in April 2011) : 31104332xx

Discontinued Product


Pocket "Dual Band" Transceiver On The Cheap , The Correct Way To Do a Microprocesor Reset , FCC OET OK

Well here we go again with yet ANOTHER "low cost" Chinese VHF-UHF transceiver. This time it’s the
BAOFENG UV-3R micro dual band handheld with DSP. It is (was) actually manufactured by VGC - Vero Global Communications but is (was) sold under other names not just Baofeng including the MTC , Magiksun , COMTEX KG-UV3 (in Germany) and Zastone ZT-UV3R . No real differences except that the backlight is green in the COMTEX version. Who knows how many other names and variants this Micro HT has been sold as (good question) ??

For anyone in the USA or Canada, these are usually ordered from China direct via ebay or other Chinese internet sellers
. The transceiver does has FCC OET clearance , so can be sold at US HAM dealers as well .

Yes, as one can plainly see, the shell and size looks very much like a Vertex-Standard-Yaesu VX-3R as reviewed above. Well not quite as this Chinese cheapie has a few less buttons and features. The plus side to the UV-3R is the price. One can purchase 4 to 5 of these Baofeng’s to just one of the VX-3R’s.

Even at this dirt cheap price, it uses and includes a somewhat common 1200 mah lithium ion battery, in fact NEAR the same size batteries that are
used with the VX-2R and VX-3R (and Icom IC-RX7), worldwide wall wart charger that plugs into a jack provided on the transceiver, screw attached belt clip, 2 flexible short antenna’s (strange), a useless charging base stand (more later), an earphone / microphone device and a blue neck strap.

Oh yes, we cannot forget the “Chinglish” owner’s manual. My sample has the 18 menus (early ones only had 12, the MK II's have 19) and the updated manual covers these new menu’s entries. IMPORTANT : However on how to do a microprocessor reset is “dead wrong”. Mark I versions of the manual (Mark II versions of the manual have this corrected but not all) indicated this as “press and hold” F / ALERT while powering up. Well this turned out to be Press and HOLD ONE of the 3 function buttons (or the U/V button) on FRONT panel while pressing the ON/OFF button. It's important to let up on the "on / off" power button while holding the other button while it continues to fully power up (timing is very important here, if buttons are not held for / in the right time frame...it will not reset !!!). The FM broadcast frequencies are not affected with a microprocessor reset.

Charging Base Pretty Much Useless - WARNING: Don’t Charge Batteries in it !! , WARNING : NEGATIVE Tip Polarity, Charge-Battery Indicator and "Low Beeper", Charger Cord only THREE FEET Long

Included is a plastic base that LOOKS like it can be used for charging a battery off the set. It has a female jack on the bottom. Appears that one would connect the included wall wart charger to this ?

This near empty base contains no required lithium ion charging circuit “smarts” and could very well lead to a nasty explosion ! WARNING : ONLY charge the battery in the transceiver with the included 5vdc 1000ma switching charger. There is NOTHING in the owner’s manual that indicates proper usage of the stand. No room for error when Lithium ion batteries are charged.

WARNING in regards to the polarity used with the transceiver’s power jack. It’s using the less standard NEGATIVE tip.

The manual indicates that the RX/TX LED is supposed to be RED when charging and GREEN when done (just like with Yaesu HT’s). But again the manual is wrong. Just as it is with many Chinese portable SW receivers, there is a small battery icon on the LCD that flashes and disappears when completed. By the way the 4 level battery indicator is more useful than with most HT's I have used, it's actually worthy for showing real life battery "charge" condition.

When the last battery level hits (empty indicator) , the set will emit a "Beep" every 10 seconds. Excellent indeed here and worked well.

It takes approx. 4 hours (up to 5.5) to charge a near dead battery pack in the transceiver.

You see the battery voltage when first powered up. There is no way to display this while in operation.

Not a deal breaker by any means , but the cable length on the included AC "switching" charger adapter is only a measly 3 FEET long . This is way too short .

More RF Power But Weird Low Power Curves, Excellent 2 Watts RF Output On Both Bands , Narrow / Wide Selection That Works on RECEIVE As Well, Battery Installation Difficult At First

Just as with the Wouxun, the UV-3R uses separate driver and PA output sections for EACH band. It’s not just a common driver and PA output as used with most HT’s these days.

Instead of having 1.5 VHF and 1 watt UHF with the VX-2R and VX-3R, here it is near 2 watts on both bands (actual testing). Low power is “supposed” to be 500 mw’s (more below). High-Low power selection is a royal pain to change on the fly as one must drop into the menus to do it. There is no quick way around this.

Also on “low power” the power curve is downright weird (see chart below).

There is a menu selection for Wide and Narrow bandwidths. Here it was a very pleasant surprise. It not only gives for narrow band transmit, but unlike most ham transceivers, it also narrows the RECEIVE bandwidth as well. But narrowband is one that most ham HT’s do not do properly…this transceiver does. Of course this is of little moment for Amateur use in the USA (at least for now). But for narrowband listening in the 150~160 Mhz area in the USA, it very much is. 12.5 kHz channel steps can be selected in this part of the radio’s coverage as well .

We found the lithium ion battery inserts into its cavity with great difficulty (a very TIGHT fit). It’s not smooth going like it is with the Yaesu VX-2R and VX-3R’s. This issue could make for a few “#$%@@&” out of your mouth ?? It does eventually pop into place with some effort and sweat (NOTE : This issue does improve a bit in time as one changes the batteries out a few times).

We tested the high power on our sample on VHF at 2.1 watts maximum and 1.8 watts maximum on UHF. LOW power varied greatly from about 1/4 of a watt to 3/4 of a watt on VHF, and a very strange 1.2 to 1.4 watts on UHF (yes on LOW power). We used a dummy load connected to a Yaesu YS-500 meter in our tests.

Frequency MHZ

LOW

HIGH

144.000

75 mw

2.1 watts

145.000

30 mw

2.0 watts

146.000

30 mw

2.0 watts

148.000

40 mw

1.9 watts

150.000

150 mw

1.7 watts

155.000

400 mw

1.7 watts

160.000

650 mw

1.7 watts

440.000

1.2 watts

1.8 watts

450.000

1.3 watts

1.8 watts

455.000

1.3 watts

1.8 watts

460.000

1.3 watts

1.8 watts

465.000

1.4 watts

1.8 watts

Actual RF Power Output with Test Sample (Dummy Load Connected to a Yaesu YS-500 Meter)
As you can see "Low Power" on VHF is downright weird (too low). On UHF "Low Power" is way too high.
But the transceiver does indeed put out 2 watts in high power, more than either the Yaesu VX-2R or VX-3R.

Frequency Coverage / Construction / Performance / No RX Battery Saver

Frequency coverage (transmit and receive): VHF is between 136 to 174 Mhz and UHF between 400 to 470 Mhz. Unlike the Yaesu VX-2R and VX-3R’s, there is no extended receive coverage elsewhere. So no SW or 800 Mhz. Well 800 Mhz is near useless on the Yaesu VX-2, so this was not much of a loss. One must keep in mind that this transceiver was never meant to be a primary Amateur radio device.

Also
just as it is with the Wouxun, we have FM Broadcast reception between 87.0 to 108.0 Mhz (in mono) as well. It uses it’s own receiver circuit (on one IC , RDA5802E), and has dual watch. So if you are listening to your favorite FM station, and a signal comes in on VHF it will automatically switch over and back to FM when done (after a fairly long delay). There is no priority checking (unlike the dual watch function between VHF and UHF), it works well.

The FM performance is night and day over the Wouxun’s . No strange buzzes and/or limited sensitivity. In fact it’s downright decent including very good selectivity (antenna dependent of course). I will have to say it is 100% better over the Yaesu VX-3R on FMBC which totally stinks.....stereo or not .

And speaking of receiver performance. It is also downright decent on the VHF and UHF bands as well. Very sensitive and selective. Being a REAL DSP transceiver, it does have that threshold point trait that can cut off very weak signals (just as it is with those low cost SW DSP receivers). Also the un-squelched audio will sound different over any analog set as well as reception of spurious signals (which it does have, but is not serious). Overall the DSP helped greatly to dig out weak signals.

This transceiver is based on a single RDA1846 DSP IC . The scheme is totally different over the Yaesu VX-3R which uses a standard "dual conversion" super het design .

Construction is OK, not in the same league as of Yaesu’s transceivers. Case plastic is of a lesser quality and the front 4 buttons felt “ruff” strange on our sample . The side and jack cover soft plastic had a better proper “smooth” feel.

Tactile response with all buttons is OK too. The encoder knob is noisy “clacky” as it’s rotated. LCD is nice with proper contrast and “orange” backlighting. However the dark display background makes it hard to see in dim lighting with out the backlight in use. Also some icons are just too small for over 50 eyes. Key’s are not backlit.

Oh yes, just as it is with the Wouxun, we have a neat LED flashlight on top. You can even switch it on with the radio being OFF. One never realizes how handy this can be until you are in a dark situation. Downside is this forces the speaker/mic jack to the right side of the set.

For the later versions that have 18 menus, there is a bar type S-Meter (same spot where the VOL level is shown). It’s a bit better over the Wouxun “feel good” meter with a real meter trait to it. But sometimes is missing altogether for periods or has a real slow response time.

I could not detect the use of any “receiver” battery save function. There is a SAVE function (Menu # 14), but this is for automatic RF power level adjustment when it sees a strong signal in transmit (repeater). Overall it was easy to figure out and use .

Transmit and Receive Audio, Electronic Volume Is a Bit Too LOUD For Indoor Use, Not Fine Enough Steps

Receive audio is LOUD, crisp and clear. Works very well even in outdoor environments. No undesirable bass response to mess it up. Transmit audio is good too, but to achieve a proper level one has to be right on top of the microphone hole just below the on/off switch.

Here is perhaps the biggest “bug-a-boo” (aside from the strange low power curves) with the UV-3R. The electronic volume control is lacking proper settings/levels. In other words it’s a bit too loud even at it's lowest setting. For outdoor use this is of little moment, but indoors is just a bit too loud (more so at night when one likes a radio more quiet) . One can find a modification around on the Internet to help correct this, but then it messes up the FM BC side (making it too low).

Oddly the audio for the FM broadcast side has a better "low" level, and if you are listening to FM, you almost have to keep it low other wise you almost blow yourself out of the room when a signal comes in on VHF or UHF. BUT even on FM it goes up too fast. It needs finer volume control steps and one or two lower.

We did notice slight speaker buzzing in receive (with the loud audio), but I’m thinking this is the battery cover resonating here and not the actual speaker element ?

99 Memories, Very S-L-O-W Scanning/Search Speeds, No Memory Channel Lock Outs

99 memories are provided for the mix on VHF and UHF and 15 separate memories for the FM Broadcast side.

There are no channel lockouts when memory scanning. So it scans everything you have entered with no way to lock out channels.

To make matters worse, it scans and searches painfully
S-L-O-W. If you plan to do any memory scanning at all better keep it down to around 8 to 10 channels or so, otherwise it’s going to be a long way around the loop. Even the slow poke Icom IC-Q7A is faster.

However unlike the Wouxun transceivers, there is a way to scan up and down the band (even on FMBC too). But again it’s very s-l-o-w going.

Includes Two Separate Antennas Instead of a Dual Band , Female SMA on Transceiver

Here is another strange irk. Instead of including a dual band antenna as with most dual band handheld radios do, the UV-3R has 2 separate aerials. Yes, one for VHF and one for UHF. The VHF stubby one works surprisingly well. In fact it has to be one of the best performing SHORT VHF duck’s I have ever used. The UHF one is about average to me.

But of course this is not handy, so I normally use an old “Dual Band” Yaesu VX-1R antenna
. As we have covered elsewhere, the included VX-2R / VX-3R ducks just plan stink to me on VHF.

Yes, it uses the more standard SMA connector on the radio, that is a female. So unlike most Chinese handhelds one can use aftermarket SMA "Male" antennas without having to use any heavy adapters that create stress on the connector .

Side Mounted 4 Conductor Microphone Connector (Not Yaesu Standard) , CTCSS and DCS

With the LED flashlight on top, the Speaker/Mic jack was forced to the side. It’s the single 4 conductor phone plug that Yaesu has used for years. But sadly it’s NOT the same wiring scheme.

Thankfully the set comes with an earpiece / microphone (not tested). We have seen reports where RF (in high power ??) gets into the cable creating problems.

There is a properly operating CTCSS and DCS "Encode and Decode". You set the encode and decode tones totally separate.

I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !

Optional Computer Connection Cable (Not Yaesu Wiring) , Free Software But Has Bugs (Version 1.01.01) , Do We have the Wrong PC Cable ??

As an optional item, one can purchase a USB computer cable. We see this sold in a few different styles. Do NOT try and use a Yaesu type computer cable, damage may result. In this case the data in and out are NOT using the same wires. So if you wish to connect to a computer for programming, buy the cable. It uses the same USB driver as with the Wouxun.

We tested
1.01.01 version of the “free” software. Computer with XP Pro was used. It’s extremely simple but also confusing as well, but gets the job done. Transmit and receive frequencies are entered separate just like with the Wouxun software.. Once in awhile (not always) we experienced channel 1 being corrupted in the uploads to the radio. More time than not the “channel steps” also getting messed up (including weird frequency display on some memory channels). This one was cured by going to Menu # 9 and just rotating through the loop once to wash out the weird step entries after every upload. This needs to be done for both VHF/UHF VFO's separate AND also for EVERY memory channel used to clear these out !!

UPDATE : When we do PC uploads to the UV-3R transceiver using the "409shop's" Universal USB cable (no longer sold) , the 5 Khz channel step appear like this on the LCD afterwards on some memory channels and/or each VFO . Again the software version used : 1.01.01. We cured this bug by going to Menu # 9 after and just rotating through the loop of "steps" once to wash out the weird step entries (done after every upload ).  Needs to be done for both VHF / UHF VFO AND also for EVERY memory channel used to clear these weird entries out and for the display to show properly (see the MK II review below for updated information with PC programming) .

NOTE : One should normally download FROM the transceiver FIRST BEFORE any data entry is done. Use this so called "template" to enter frequencies etc., and then upload back to the transceiver. As usual be sure and save the file. However, at time this report was being typed, we were unable to download from the transceiver without the program "blowing up" (and shutting down) after it was done. But the upload part is usable for the most part and without doing any downloads from the radio before.

IMPORTANT : Make sure the first memory location is populated. It will cause errors if it is left blank (will not open com port etc). Enter one or two frequencies MANUALLY into Memory 01 and 02 BEFORE you attempt to make the template.

IMPORTANT : Not all Menu entries are covered in the software and one needs to check the status of all menu’s after any upload as they normally get changed without any warning.

At the time this report was typed, we were uncertain if the universal USB interface cable we used may be the issue with our PC problems ??

Cheap, Fun and Useful

I like HT’s small and elusive as possible. Even with the bugs we cover above the UV-3R is a very useful low cost alternative to the more expensive Yaesu VX-3R. One can even
use the Yaesu CSC-90 case with it (but is about the only Yaesu accessory that can really can be used). Too bad that the electronic volume control had to be a bit on the sour side .

The usual warnings apply. If you get a dud , it’s usually not worth sending it back to China for any replacement (for ones ordered this way), so “Caveat Emptor” must be stressed.

Dave N9EWO
c N9EWO, all rights reserved
Ver 4.0

Discontinued Product


N9EWO Review :
BAOFENG / VERO  UV-3R "Mark 2" Version
"Micro" DUAL BAND HANDHELD TRANSCEIVER

The later also discontinued "MK II" UV-3R version includes dual display , and a "Dual Band" antenna .
If you were thinking it has dual "at the same time" receive, think again (it does not...see text below) !!
Sadly the "too loud" volume issue was not really fixed and also includes the same useless (and dangerous) separate charger base.
Overall the "MK II" version is somewhat improved but not by leaps and bounds. Was also sold as the Vero VGC UV-X4.
Important Note : It does use different programming software from the standard "single line" version (Ver 1.09 / 1.11 tested).
Reports indicate these actually have been out of production for years (2012~3 ?), new remaining samples being sold are from old production(s).
(Photo : N9EWO)

County of Manufacture (all pieces) : China
Sample ONE (made in July 2011) : Serial Number : 31107163xx
Sample TWO (made in April 2012 , defective LCD) : Serial Number : 31204988xx

PC Programming Software (2011 Test) : Ver 1.09 (did NOT use the Universal type cable as with the first version above)
PC Programming Software (2017 Test) : Ver 1.09. / 1.11 (last version)

Accessories :
AC Charger YC-2011A with hard wired output cable (included with July 2011 Sample)
AC Charger YC-2011A with USB connector and separate cable (included with April 2012 Sample)
USB PC Programming Cable
Baofeng Marked Speaker Microphone

Discontinued Product


Our 2nd tested (manufactured in 2012) "2nd" Mk II sample, suffered from LCD display issues out of the box as new (defective LCD).
Appears to be a very common trait with these via received reports (bad LCD's and or dirty LCD connection zebra strip and or dirty PC board pads ??)
This sample also suffered from a disconcerting 50% dark looking area on the LCD (left side) when the backlight was on (not shown in above photo).

We will not be going into any performance details here, as it’s identical to the standard version above. So read the review above for that information.

Dual Display / Dual Band Antenna / Battery Latch Continues To Be a Pain / SMA Antenna Connector Differences

2nd test sample was received defective. The LCD display was very weak to non existent in some spots. LCD issues appear to be a very common trait with these models via received reports (just bad LCD's and or dirty LCD connection zebra strip and or dirty PC board pads ??) This sample also suffered from a disconcerting 50% dark looking area on the LCD (left side) when the backlight was on (not shown in above photo). Aside form the LCD issues, we were able to test the rest of the sample for this updated report.

What hits the eyes immediately is the “Dual” display. One might think that it now receives VHF and UHF bands simultaneously. Well that just is not the case I’m afraid.

Top display can be toggled between the memory channels and the UHF VFO. Bottom display is always the VHF VFO. If the “Dual Watch” feature is selected in the menus and it will scan back and forth between the top and bottom displays (not to be confused with the priority feature). Some may find this confusing as it did me for a while. Manual gives no information at all.

With the additional line it does allow for a bit easier adjustment of the menus.

Also a huge plus is the inclusion of a dual band antenna. The standard version came with two antennas, one for VHF and one for UHF. This dual band antenna is slightly longer than the single VHF one included with the standard version. In any event we found its performance to be very good ON UHF. On VHF it was OK on RECEIVE, however transmit was not. Our trusty VX-1R stubby antenna worked better in the 2 meter band (but as it goes with ANY stubby antennas, a longer one will always work better).

Battery cavity continues to a bit of a pain that is hard to insert and remove the lithium ion pack. In fact latching the cover was a new issue with the Mark 2 test sample (was very hard to latch). The battery rating is now at 1500 mah. Now if it really gives this added current is another story (untested).

Sample ONE arrived with a slightly tilted (OK call it crooked) "mounted" SMA antenna connector. However the quality of the SECOND samples SMA connector was of a lesser standing (very thin center pin socket metal).

2 Different AC Chargers / VERY RF Noisy Adapters / PC Cable and Software

The 5 volt YC-2011A "switching" wall charger continues to have the too short cord (UPDATE NOTE : Later samples included a slightly longer and very "STIFF" cord / USB plug and a USB socket on the included YC-2011A same marked charger. Don't even think of plugging this into a computer USB socket !!).  But added was a LED to indicate when the charge is completed (red to green). Early versions of the Mark 2 give no indication on the LCD (transceiver) while charging (as with the Mark 1 model , that is a flashing battery indicator). You just have to look at the adapter LED in this case. This bug was cleared up in early production.

Also these switching type adapters are very RF noisy. That is they emit a excessive amount of RF interference to any MW / SW radio receiver to a few rooms away in a house !! So unplug it when not in use (for sure) or use a low cost "cube" on/off switch. IMPORTANT NOTE : The early included "Mark 2" version AC adapters that use a "straight wired" cable are slightly less RF noisy and was more tolerable in our hands on testing.

We used the proper PC connecting cable (not the universal type cable as with the standard version above) along
with version 1.09 / 1.10 / 1.11 of the software. 1.09 worked OK, but with a few strange TX entries (that is stored in the radio slightly off). Versions 1.10 and 1.11 worked .perfectly with no problems at all. Be sure and plug and unplug the computer cable from the radio with it OFF !! Again  also be sure and make a template (download into the program from the radio AFTER a total radio reset), before making any entries into the software. Uses the same weird PL-2303 Prolific USB driver as with the Wouxun's (be sure and ONLY use driver 3.2.0.0 with Windows 7-8-10 , and version 2.0.2.1 with XP).

Baofeng Speaker Microphone Bassy (even after modification) / High Quality Internal Speaker

Also tested the Baofeng speaker / microphone optional accessory. Again we must stress it does NOT use the same wiring scheme as Yaesu, so don't even try it !! Worked OK (nothing more) and has a good Tactile PTT feel. However just as it is with many other low cost Chinese Speaker / Mics there was not a hole in the case for the microphone (was totally blocked). So we had to open it up (it used torx type screws..nice guys) and drill a small hole. This ONLY gave for SLIGHTLY improved transmit audio quality after this was done.

Internal speaker is of course killer loud and is surprisingly does very well in a outdoor environment. No weird buzzes, bassy trait or other nastiness. Performs as good as it gets (yes better than the VX-3R's speaker audio). With the Mark I version, we experienced speaker rattle and buzzes, this issue has been fixed with the MK II (noted good on on both test samples) !!

Battery Saver Not As Indicated in Manual (undocumented)

The UV-3R  has a Battery "Save" toggle listed on # 14 of the menu's. It's touted to reduce the RF power (from High to Low) depending on the received signal. However it does indeed "pulse" the receiver to help increase battery life. With the SAVE on we found was need to hit a operation button once to wake it up, and hit the button again to make it happen. Indeed in testing this helped to extend the battery life and a worthy feature.   

"Yaesu FBA-37" 3-AA Battery Case Usable ? / GA-32B Clone Tested

This has not been tested, but it has been reported that the "Yaesu FBA-37" 3 AA alkaline battery case (for the VX-3R) will work with the Baofeng UV-3R's. One just needs to cut out the area around the belt clip screw ? There is also a lower cost Chinese clone of this 3 AA battery case called the GA-32B, sold on ebay and elsewhere. We tested this  version of the AA holder and the review can be found below (in the green block). The B version has the cut out already done (but in our case it needed SLIGHT trimming).  

Discontinued Model, But Still Available in Early 2017 / Dud's "Out Of The Box" Aplenty

Discontinued model (production ended years ago) but was still available new from the mighty "ebay" and elsewhere as this report was updated. However the availability was starting to really dwindle around late 2016. Again if you are (were) lucky and not receive a dud sample, it is a most worthy and fun micro size dual band transceiver for little investment. With the UV-3R's the old Chinese "low cost electronics" 50-50 dud rule is strongly valid !! 

Dave N9EWO
c N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver 4.0

Discontinued Product

SAMPLE ONE - Updated Test (mfg July 2011)

Frequency MHZ

LOW

HIGH

144.000

80 mw

2.1 watts

145.000

50 mw

2.0 watts

146.000

50 mw

2.0 watts

148.000

50 mw

1.9 watts

150.000

150 mw

1.9 watts

155.000

450 mw

1.9 watts

160.000

700 mw

1.8 watts

440.000

1.0 watts

1.5 watts

450.000

1.0 watts

1.5 watts

455.000

1.1 watts

1.5 watts

460.000

1.1 watts

1.5 watts

465.000

1.2 watts

1.6 watts


"MARK 2" actual RF Power Output with Test Samples (Dummy Load Connected to a Yaesu YS-500 Meter)

Just as it was with the first version, the "Low Power" on VHF still downright weird with the first sample (too low). On UHF "Low Power" is way too high.
But the transceiver does indeed put out 2 WATTS high power on 2 meters (70cm is 1.5 watts), more than either the Yaesu VX-2R or VX-3R.

SAMPLE TWO (mfg April 2012)

Frequency MHZ

LOW

HIGH

144.000

 700 mw

 1.7 watts

145.000

 550 mw

1.7 watts

146.000

550 mw

1.7 watts

148.000

650 mw

1.7 watts

150.000

750 mw

1.7 watts

155.000

1.1 watts

1.8 watts

160.000

1.5 watts

1.9 watts

440.000

600 mw

 1.3 watts

450.000

550 mw

 1.3 watts

455.000

550 mw

1.4 watts

460.000

450 mw

1.3 watts

465.000

400 mw

1.3 watts


N9EWO Review : GA-37B Baofeng UV-3R AA Battery Case

The GA-37B 3 AA battery holder for the micro Baofeng UV-3R HT.
Works with the Original or "Mark II" Versions.


This B version of the GA-37 AA holder has the cutout for the Baofeng UV-3R Belt clip screw (if you do not use the belt clip, you can leave the screw and plastic filler just as it is, the ebay pictures show different.....it’s wrong). We did have to do some “very careful” minor filing around the cutout as it was too tight fit with our sample (it did not take much and your situation may vary). One other thing we did was to carefully dig out the solder they added on the contacts (see photo). This also makes the radio contacts too tight to the holder if it was not done.

I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !


Even at that it is a tight fit and one has to "wrangle" it a bit to get it attached (bottom is hard to get seated) , but it does indeed work  The bottom battery latch can be a bit difficult to get engaged, but it can be with the stock lithium ion battery cover as well. Please be advised some batteries are going to be too large in diameter to fit (rechargeable or alkaline). We used eneloop “white” label Ni-Mh batteries (2000 mah) and were no problem (see picture). One will not see full 3 bars on the battery indicator with this holder and is normal (usually just 2 will appear with even fresh batteries).

WARNING : DO NOT use any Ni-Mh batteries that have a damaged outer skin. If a short occurs you could have a nasty melt down , possible fire and or severe burns !! There is NO short circuit protection !!


Dave N9EWO
c N9EWO, all rights reserved
ver 2.0


BAOFENG UV-3R " + PLUS " Version
"Micro" DUAL BAND HANDHELD TRANSCEIVER
(Not Tested)


The later (and also discontinued) slightly larger " UV-3R+ PLUS " variant uses "Kenwood Speaker Mics" ,
also appears to have improved case construction and buttons / knob (MODEL NOT TESTED) .
Other changes are a different battery and rear charger contacts , a REAL drop in charger
 (no more charger DC input jack on radio) , improved belt clip.

Unknown if any circuit improvements were done (does not appear to be any ?)?
It used the reverse SMA antenna connector (Female) as found on most Wouxun's .
Also unknown IF it uses the same programming software as does the " MARK II " version (Ver 1.09 and up).
Of course it will need the more standard Kenwood PC programming cable (same as the Wouxun's)

Discontinued Product

UV-3R Links / Other Information (All Subject to Change Without Notice)

Miklor UV-3R Web Page
PA0EBC General UV-3R Files

Will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !

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