Tag Archives: Yaesu VX-3R

Everyday Carry: My EDC packs and radio kit

SWLing Post contributor, Matt, writes:

Thomas: I know you’re a self-proclaimed pack geek and so am I! You published a photo of your EDC pouch in a post last year. Just a teaser really! What is that pouch and I assume you have a larger carry bag as well? Can you provide more details? I’m ever revising and honing my own EDC pack. Any details would be appreciated.

Thanks for your question Matt!  Besides radio, you’re bringing up on one of my favorite topics: packs! You may regret having asked me!

Yesterday evening, I snapped a few photos of my EDC (Everyday Carry) bag and the pouch you’re referring to. Your inquiry is prompting me to consider publishing a more detailed look at my EDC gear–especially since radio is such an important part of it.

I do carry a larger EDC bag at all times. Typically, this is the Tom Bihn Pilot:

For years, I carried a Timbuk2 messenger bag, but it didn’t have the type of organization I prefer in an EDC bag. My EDC bag must be rugged, water resistant and accommodate my 13″ MacBook Air while still having enough depth to comfortably fit the rest of my gear.

I’ve been using the Tom Bihn Pilot for almost a year and have been very pleased. The Pilot is an investment to be sure, but (like Red Oxx) Tom Bihn construction quality is superb and comes with a lifetime warranty.

It’s amazing how much gear will comfortably fit inside without making the bag bulge. The Pilot also has a dedicated water bottle pocket in the middle of the front panel. While I do carry water, it primarily houses my never-leave-home-without-it Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug (affiliate link) which is filled with piping hot dark roasted coffee!

I also use the water bottle pocket to hold full-sized handled VHF/UHF radios. It accommodates either my Kenwood TH-F6, Yaesu FT2D, or Anytone AT-D868UV perfectly. Indeed, all of the front pockets will accommodate an HT since the zippers terminate at the top of the bag. Long antennas can easily poke out while the zipper still seals 99% of the opening.

The Pilot has one main compartment that houses my 13″ MacBook Air laptop.

The Pilot laptop compartment is spacious and has two built-in pockets opposite the laptop sleeve: one of these pockets (the one on the right in the photo above) holds my EDC pouch, the other holds first aid supplies, an Olight SR1 flashlight and Nitecore LA10 latern (affiliate link). My laptop is in a TSA-friendly Tom Bihn Cache.

While the Tom Bihn Pilot is the bag I use most days, also use a Red Oxx Micro Manager and–when I need 25 liters of capacity–the Tom Bihn Synapse 25.

I pack most of my EDC gear in pouches, so moving from one bag to another takes me all of one minute.

My EDC pouch is the Maxpedition Fatty Pocket Organizer (affiliate link). I love this pouch because it’s incredibly durable, affordable and opens like a clam shell to lay flat.

Everything has its place. Not only does it hold my Yaesu VX-3R handheld, but also a multi-function knife, a Leatherman Style PS tool, clippers, earphones, multi-bit screwdriver, USB stick, notepad, spare VX-3R battery, a mini first aid kit, titanium spork, and much more! Someday I’ll pull the whole thing apart and note each item.

Why do I choose the Yaesu VX-3R? First of all, it’s compact. This HT is so small it’ll tuck away anywhere. Not only is it dual band, but it’ll also receive the AM broadcast band (even has a little ferrite bar inside), the shortwave bands, and the FM broadcast band.

The mini rubber duck antenna will work in a pinch, but I also carry a flexible Diamond SRH77CA in the floor of the Tom Bihn Pilot’s main compartment.

When I attach the Diamond antenna, it significantly increases the VX-3R’s capabilities.

While the VX-3R does cover the HF bands, don’t expect amazing performance. Selectivity is poor, but sensitivity is adequate. For a shortwave antenna, I carry a short length of coax: one end is terminated with an SMA connector, the other has the center conductor exposed.

I also carry a short alligator clip cable which I clip to the exposed center conductor and then to a length of wire. The end result is a very cheap, flexible and effective portable HF antenna!

Someday, I’ll take everything out of my EDC pack, inventory the contents and publish a post about it. Somehow, that’ll please my inner pack geek! I’m overdue a review of the Tom Bihn PIlot and Synapse 25.

Post readers: Do you have an EDC pack built around a radio? Please comment and include links to your favorite gear!

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Listen to an upcoming ARISS contact with your scanner or HT

On April 18, consider setting your scanner or handheld VHF radio to 145.80 MHz around 15:57 UTC; you may be able to hear the downlink from the International Space Station. The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact will be between between NA1SS (on the ISS) and KD2IFR at a school in Central Islip, NY.

As long as you’re within the ISS’ signal footprint (which is rather large) you should be able to easily hear NA1SS’ side of the conversation. I’ve listened to the downlink in the past using an Icom ID-51a and the super compact Yaesu VX-3R:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to view on YouTube.

The frequency of the downlink will be 145.80 MHz. As the ISS climbs above your horizon, because of doppler-shift, listen on 145.805, then move to 145.80 as the ISS approaches zenith and finally move to 145.795 MHz as the ISS drops toward the other horizon. As we’ve mentioned in past posts, you’ll know when to switch frequency when the audio gets bad.

ARISS contacts happen quite frequently–I’m posting this notice because I’ve noted it in my own calendar. Check out the ARISS “Upcoming Contacts” page where future ARISS QSOs are listed. This is a great opportunity to show kids of all ages what you can hear with a modest radio!

Check out a news article about this event via the Southgate ARC:

Upcoming ARISS contact with Central Islip Union Free School District, Central Islip, NY

An International Space Station school contact has been planned with participants at Central Islip Union Free School District, Central Islip, NY on 18 April.

The event is scheduled to begin at approximately 15:57 UTC. The duration of the contact is approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds.

The contact will be direct between NA1SS and KD2IFR. The contact should be audible over the state of New York and adjacent areas. Interested parties are invited to listen in on the 145.80 MHz downlink. The contact is expected to be conducted in English.

Welcome to the Central Islip Union Free School District – Home of the Musketeers and a proud Suffolk County, New York school system, where approximately 8,000 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 receive their formal education. Our School District’s motto is Children Our Future ~ Diversity Our Strength. The Central Islip Union Free School District is comprised of eight schools: one district-wide early childhood center, four elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school.

The Hamlet of Central Islip is a vibrant, culturally-diverse community. A suburban community with urban demographics. We are a positive and progressive school district whose teachers are dedicated to helping students achieve their maximum potential and to develop academically and socially. Our district offers an array of afterschool activities including sports, music, theatre arts and much more.

Participants will ask as many of the following questions as time allows:

1. What are the challenges of spending so many months constantly around the same people?
2. What is the best way to describe the feeling of zero gravity?
3. Have you experienced anything unexpected while in space that could not be explained?
4. Have you experienced any significant changes, either physically or emotionally, since being in space?
5. What type of robots do you use on the ISS and how are they helpful?

6. What is your advice for young people who want to become involved in programs at NASA?
7. What is the biggest challenge about being on a long duration space mission?
8. How does digestion in microgravity compare to digestion on Earth?
9. Have you experienced anything in space that has made you change your perspective on life?
10. Are there any plants aboard the ISS and if so, what’s different about how they meet their daily requirements?

11. What are the long term effects of reduced leg muscle use in long duration space travel?
12. Is your circadian rhythm affected by multiple sunrises and sunsets each 24 hour period, perhaps making it difficult to sleep for long periods of time?
13. Can you describe the types of training that prepared you for this mission?
14. Can you catch a cold on the Space Station?

15. Do the properties of light appear to be different in space?
16. Are there differences in how your body responds to physical exertion while in microgravity?
17. Would it be possible to transmit a mechanical wave on a rope onboard the space station or outside the station?
18. What are the hardest tasks to perform in space that are routine on Earth?
19. Could you blow a bigger than normal gum bubble in space?
20. Are there precautions that you take BEFORE going into space that can help to prevent bone weakness when you return?

PLEASE CHECK THE FOLLOWING FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ARISS UPDATES:

Visit ARISS on Facebook. We can be found at Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS).
To receive our Twitter updates, follow @ARISS_status

Next planned event(s):
1. King’s High School, Warwick, UK, direct via GB4KHS
The ISS callsign is presently scheduled to be OR4ISS
The scheduled astronaut is Ricky Arnold KE5DAU
Contact is a go for: Thu 2018-04-19 12:05 UTC

2. Russian school TBD
The ISS callsign is presently scheduled to be RS?ISS
The scheduled astronaut is Alexander Skvortsov
Contact is a go for Tue 2018-04-24 11:05 UTC

3. Russian school TBD
The ISS callsign is presently scheduled to be RS?ISS
The scheduled astronaut is Alexander Skvortsov
Contact is a go for 2018-04-25 08:35 UTC

About ARISS:

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the International Space Station (ISS). In the United States, sponsors are the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The primary goal of ARISS is to promote exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics by organizing scheduled contacts via amateur radio between crew members aboard the ISS and students in classrooms or informal education venues. With the help of experienced amateur radio volunteers, ISS crews speak directly with large audiences in a variety of public forums. Before and during these radio contacts, students, teachers, parents, and communities learn about space, space technologies, and amateur radio.

For more information, see www.ariss.orgwww.amsat.org, and www.arrl.org.

Thank you & 73,

David – AA4KN

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The versatile Kenwood TH-F6A

In reply to my recent post about the Yaesu VX-3R, SWLing Post reader Tha Dood comments:

[The Yaesu VX-3R] 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?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the TH-F6A!

A couple more things I like about the TH-F6A:

  • it meets MIL-STD 810 C/D/E standards for resistance to vibration, shock, humidity and light rain
  • It has a dedicated number keypad for direct frequency entry (something, sadly, the VX-3R lacks)

I’ll put the TH-F6A on my “wish list” this year and perhaps give it a thorough review. (Perhaps Santa Claus is listening!?)

Here’s a snapshot of TH-F6 pricing at time of posting:

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Dave’s Yaesu VX-3R notes

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow, who shares the following in reply to my recent post about the Yaesu VX-3R:

The VX-3R has a tiny internal ferrite bar for AM/mediumwave broadcast listening.

Yes, it’s indeed true the VX-3R is discontinued and is already pretty much sold out.

Rumors of a VX-4R has been around for years and let’s hope that happens–?? Have a sneaky feeling that IF it come to pass it will include C4FM digital (Yaesu Fusion) ?? I actually preferred the older VX-2R over the 3, but that was me (have reviews on both models on my web page). But my two VX-3R test samples were very early production (lots of QC bugs).

http://webpages.charter.net/n9ewo2/vx2r.html
http://webpages.charter.net/n9ewo2/vx3r.html

As I cover on my news page Yaesu is coming out with a number of new HT’s soon.

Sorry no word of a tiny VX-3R replacement yet. Will of course cover that IF and when it happens on the web page.

http://webpages.charter.net/n9ewo2/news.html

Thank you, Dave!  I’ll certainly consider purchasing the VX-4R (if it comes to fruition) if for no other reason than to compare it with the VX-3R.

Again, I love this little all-in-one micro-sized HT as an Everyday Carry radio. 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, as I’ve mentioned before, you might also follow a VX-3R search on eBay where I recently purchased an open box unit for $119 shipped.

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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:

AVAILABILITY UPDATE:
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?

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