Yaesu VX-3R: Monitoring ATC over a cup of coffee

While I have a number of amateur radio handheld radios, one of my favorites is the recently-discontinued Yaesu VX-3R.

Saturday morning, I took my father to the his local regional airport’s café (KHKY). It’s a frequent stop when I’m in town visiting.

While sipping coffee, talking with friends and watching GA aircraft land and take off, I tuned to the airport’s tower. It was a pretty busy morning air traffic-wise and it was fun to monitor communications from our table with a view of the runway.

While the little VX-3R lacks the power output of larger HTs, and doesn’t include digital modes like D-Star or DMR, it is dual-band (2M/70cm) and its wideband receiver covers the shortwave, FM and MW broadcast bands in a pinch. Best of all, the VX-3R is amazingly portable.

I take the VX-3R everywhere in my compact EDC (Everyday Carry) pack:

My Everyday Carry (EDC) pack, loaded with all of the essentials.

I’ve used this little radio while traveling (hitting local repeaters and even simplex), I’ve monitored live air support during a local forest fire, and, on a moment’s notice, even caught an ARISS contact.

This week, I decided it might make sense to purchase another VX-3R to carry in the glove compartment of my truck. Since I already know my way around this radio, and since I already have the software and programming cable through RT Systems--it seems to make sense.

I checked the price at Universal Radio only to find the following notice:

This model is being discontinued. We expect one more shipment in late February which will fill our back-orders.  We are not accepting additional orders at this time.

DX Engineering, Ham Radio Outlet and GigaParts also show no stock.

I feel like $139 was a bargain for this versatile amateur HT.

Late last night, a “New Open Box” unit appeared on eBay for $119 shipped. The seller had 100% positive feedback, so I snagged it.

If you’re interested in the VX-3R, your best bet will be to check with radio retailers like Universal Radio and Ham Radio Outlet for used/demo units.

Of course, you might also follow a VX-3R search on eBay.

Post readers: Any other VX-3R owners in our community? Any other fans of monitoring ATC/aviation traffic?

Spread the radio love

15 thoughts on “Yaesu VX-3R: Monitoring ATC over a cup of coffee

  1. Joe

    I have one. It is a GREAT little radio. I’m surprised Yaesu discontinued it, perhaps there is a replacement in the works?

    1. Thomas Post author

      Yes, I’ve heard they do have a replacement in the works, but no clue when it’ll be released. To me, the VX-3R is hard to beat for the price.

  2. 13dka

    “Any other fans of monitoring ATC/aviation traffic?”

    You bet! I used to spend entire nights following airliners on the NAT shortwave frequencies many moons ago, and the days monitoring local ATC. Nowadays I’m in a flying club and our little airstrip’s tower frequency is permanently on the sub-band of my scanner, and on many mornings I’m being woken up by a pal flying for a little local airline, shouting at me through the radio to get my butt out of the bed, which is quite unnecessary given the hell of a racket that twin is making. Now ain’t that a geeky alarm clock? 🙂

    Occasionally I still check on the NAT, CAR and whatnot nets and I receive HFDL, VDL2 and ACARS including the variety coming in via the AOR Inmarsat aero transponders, and of course ADS-B. If you’re a radio head AND an aviation nut, airband monitoring can easily consume all of the available free time you have, being one of the most complex sub-genres in the radio hobby.

    1. Thomas Post author

      I’m all about geeky alarm clocks! Funny, but I’ve often thought aviation monitoring could be quite a rabbit hole. Need to get into ADS-B and ACARS next!

  3. Tha Dood

    That is a neat little HT, but the Kenwood TH-F6A is way more versatile. How? Full 5W on 2m, 222MHz, and 440MHz, and will RX 150KHz to 1.3GHz in AM, FM, FM wide, NBFM, USB, LSB, and CW. All that in a size of a pack of cigs. Yes, it will overload easily, but something that wide banded and this small, I kind of expected that. However, want to hear what your wireless FM innercom sounds like on 175KHz? You can do that. Want to hear what your 222.1MHz transverter sounds like on SSB? You can do that. Need to tune-in to local AM / FM radio when power goes out? You can do that. Want to listen to CB CH19 truckers gripe about traffic conditions? You can do that. Want to listen to aircraft traffic at an air show? You can do that. You want to monitor 6M 50.125MHz USB to hear when that band opens? You can do that. No, it doesn’t have D-Star, DMR, Fusion, or even SW’s DRM, but analog-wise this HT is so versatile, what else is out there like it?

    1. Johnny Leonardelli

      It’s a great radio and I now have to delete Radio Australia off it. I am here sitting on the beach in Huatulco listening to marine, hotel staff and what I think is the taxi radio. Small and light it’s a discreet little performer and it’s better value than the similar Standard version that is scanner only in Japan. Take 12 feet of #26 super silky wire on a small connector and u have a compact roll up swl antenna. Grab a camera bag at the dollar store and a extra battery and your packing some great radio stuff. Oh yeah I can listen in on the HUX tower when I get to the airport. Very . Highly recomended. Toss a kenwoody Th-f6a into the mix and we may have a battle of the handhelds. I have both so I suggest you do the same. Wait is there room for a Tecsun Pl-380?

      1. Thomas Post author

        I’ve heard many good things about the Kenwood TH-F6A–the price of that HT is getting more competitive, too. I may very well grab one in the future, too.

        My wife has started studying for the ham radio exam. Very likely, this spare VX-3R will become the radio she carries in her purse. Since I already own the RT Systems software, setting this VX-3R will be very easy.


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