Tag Archives: Yaesu

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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Now in the shack: A Yaesu Musen FRG-7

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Photo sent by Shawn.

In late May, as I was packing for two months of travel in Canada, I received a message from long-time SWLing Post reader, Shawn Aiken.  Shawn was seeking the right home for his Yaesu FRG-7 and Hallicrafters S-38 receivers.

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I was very interested–especially in the FRG-7. Many SWL friends (Robert Gulley and Mike Hansgen, to name just a couple) love their FRG-7s. I’d been waiting for the right opportunity to snag one at a local hamfest. I’m also a Hallicrafters fan and love the front panel design of the S-38 series: so classy.

I asked Shawn how much he’d like for the receivers–I was very much interested.

Not only would he not accept payment, but he insisted on paying the shipping as well. I felt apprehensive about accepting such a generous gift. Shawn replied:

“Although I understand your reticence, Thomas, just count this as one of the perks of the job that you’ve undertaken and, from what I can tell from a distance, taken on and done well.”

That statement made my day. Thanks, Shawn!

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The FRG-7 now sits in my shack and I’m learning my way around its unique tuning mechanism. It’s a beauty, too: I love the utilitarian front panel and dials/controls.

Other than needing a little DeOxit on some of the pots and switches, it works beautifully!

I’ve been so busy since returning from Canada, I haven’t had the FRG-7 on the air much. That’ll all change, though, as my Fall/Winter listening season kicks in. I’m already looking forward to it.

Thanks again, Shawn! I’ll make sure both of these radios have a good home here in my shack!

Readers: Do you have a Yaesu FRG-7? Any tips/tricks? Please comment!

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Listening to the International Space Station (ARISS) with a Yaesu VX-3

ISS

Yesterday, my buddy Eric (WD8RIF) sent the following message:

“Take your girls outside with an HT and listen to the ARISS pass in just about 10 minutes. The downlink freq is 145.800.”

Though I was in the middle of another project, I took Eric’s advice: I grabbed my Yaesu VX-3, corralled my daughters and ran outside. Eric’s message was already eight minutes old when I read it, so I only had about two minutes to get ready.

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

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

Fortunately, I always have a Yaesu VX-3R loaded with fresh batteries in my EDC pack (above).

Official NASA portrait of British astronaut Timothy Peake. Photo Date: August 28, 2013. Location: Building 8, Room 183 - Photo Studio. Photographer: Robert Markowitz

Official NASA portrait of British astronaut Timothy Peake. Photographer: Robert Markowitz

With the VX-3 tuned to 145.8 MHz, we waited as the ISS made its way above the horizon. The downlink audio of astronaut Tim Peake (KG5BVI) communicating with Walter Jackson Elementary in Decatur, Alabama, started to punch through the static after a minute or two. We listened the entire time we had line-of-sight to the ISS–about five minutes or so.  We were pretty deep in a valley at that point, so I’m pleased we were able to catch even that much of a pass.

Of course, we could only hear one side of the conversation: the downlink from the International Space Station.

It was a memorable event for my girls who have seen ISS passes at night, but had never heard live audio from an astronaut before.

Here’s a short video of two of the exchanges we heard:

(Click here to view on YouTube.)

Eric pointed me to the ARISS “Upcoming Contacts” (http://www.ariss.org/upcoming-contacts.html) page where future ARISS QSOs are listed. Evidently, this particular ARISS QSO was the third Eric had monitored in two weeks.

Pretty much any receiver that can tune to 145.80 MHz FM–or a VHF scanner–can hear the ARISS downlink as long as the ISS is passing overhead during the transmission. Of course, if you have a high-gain antenna that can track the ISS as it moves across the sky, you’ll get even better results than I did with my basic rubber duck antenna.

My advice?  If you want to impress a child (or your inner child–!) find a little time to listen to a future ARISS QSO!

Indeed, the next step for me is to see if I can propose an ARISS QSO for our school group!

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