When I was first licensed back in 2006 one of things that helped pushed me out of the hobby was the high cost of radios. At the time there were only four manufacturers, Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, and Alinco. While the price of radios from these manufacturers remains high, there are now lower priced competitors on the market. One such manufacturer is Wouxun. Does lower price equal lower quality? Let’s take a look.
I specifically purchased the Wouxun KG-UV8D Plus to work FM satellites. The radio was recommended as a budget option of satellites because of its ability to operate full duplex. I wasn’t interested in using it as a cross band repeater or for accessing any local repeaters; as a result this review is only focused on satellite operations.
My initial Purchase of the Wouxun KG-UV8D Plus included a number of accessories from Abbree. I’m unsure what relationship Wouxun has with Abbree, but the accessories were included inside of the box. The accessories included a programming cable, speaker mic, telescoping antenna, 12 volt car charger and an ear piece headset. This wasn’t bad for $135.
The radio itself was build pretty solid. It didn’t have any flimsy buttons or knobs and it felt well made. It was also easy to program using CHIRP, which is nice considering progaming it through the radio is a chore. I’m glad that I was able to just plug it into my computer without the need for any extra drivers. The performance of the radio wasn’t all that great. All though the radio is reported as a full-duplex radio that’s only true if your are recieving on the 2 meter band and transmitting on the 70 centmeter band. The radio desenses the UHF receiver when the VHF transmitter is operating. Thus making the radio into a half-duplex radio. This only affect the SO-50 FM satellite. The other operational FM satellites use VHF downlinks and UFH uplinks. My radio on the other hand just would not transmit proberly on 70 centermeters. I had constant problems getting into the FM birds and when I was able to get through had reports of static. I’m still surprised I was able to complete one QSO with this radio. Needless to say I’m not happy with the performance of this radio. Most of the time I picked up aduio feedback on the VHF reciever even when I used the included ear piece headset. The only relibably functioning feature of this radio was the VHF transreciver. But for $135 I could have purchased a much better VHF hand-held with a decent 1/4 wave aftermarket antenna.
The extra accessories that came bundled with the radio were cheaply made and a lot lower quality than the rest of the radio. The only accessory I used without issue was the programming cable. It felt poorly made, but it did the job. The speaker mic’s PTT button didn’t work correctly. It was resistant to press down at the same time felt on the verge of snapping off. The telescoping antenna performed worst than the stock rubber duck antenna. I barely utilized it once, and after five minutes trying to listen in on the local repeater that was five miles away I gave up on it. The ear piece head set was interesting. It was one of those clear spiral cord ones that you recognize the Secret Service wear. Nothing special about the headset other than it caused me feel like an idiot. I suspect if you were into volunteering for emergency communications you would think it was cool or something. Looked pretty stupid on me. I never used the 12-volt car charger because my car doesn’t include a 12-volt charger. I guess someone at Honda didn’t think it was necessary any more. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and say it may have worked correctly in my car if it would had have a 12-volt outlet.
I’m disappointed in this radio. I wish it would have performed better, especially while working the FM satellites. I wouldn’t recommend anyone purchase this radio to operate with satellites. Even if the UHF transmitter worked correctly on my radio I still wouldn’t have been able to use the thing in full-duplex. You’re better off saving your money up for a radio of more superior quality. I’m convinced you’ll be satisfied you did.