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The Wouxun KG-UV9P and APRS with the Mobilink TNC2

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I’ve been enjoying my KG-UV9P and, since it had the same 2 pin connector as my Baofengs, I’d try it with my Mobilinkd TNC2, a device I’d used with great success with other radios. Simply put, the TNC2 provides a wired connection to the radio via the 2 pin speaker and microphone jack, and a bluetooth connection to an android device. Inside is a modem that takes bits from the phone and converts them to audio – just like the modem you used to connect to AOL back in the day.

I’d not been having any luck with it. Occasionally I could get a packet out to a digipeater and out to the internet, and I was only able to decide one or two. When I listened to the audio on the 144.390 APRS frequency I could hear some ax.25 transmissions (a modem sound) but the TNC2 wasnt decoding. I was sure there was something wrong with the settings or the radio. I made sure that…

  • The squelch was set low and even tried with the squelch off altogether
  • The battery save mode was set to off (SAVE)
  • The audio levels were set correctly via the mobilinkd app

But nothing helped. Well, I took the rig out to my in laws farm in Clifton Virginia, about 45 minutes west of DC, and the difference was night and day. Packets flooded into the radio and were decoded by the TNC2 and appeared on the APRSDroid map.

Radio

Wouxun KG-UV9P

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I recently purchased a Wouxun KG-UV9P handheld radio. I’d been looking for a new radio for a while to replace a series of dead Chinese radios and my Yaesu VX-3R. My non-negotiable, minimum criteria for the radio were as follows:

  • Dual band 144/440 mhz bands
  • At least 5 watts on 2 meters
  • High quality build
  • Capable of transmission on FRS/GMRS
  • Reasonably priced – somewhere between the Baofeng and the Japanese Yaesu/Icom/Kenwood flagship HTs.

In fact I’d been keeping an eye on the latest Japanese radios. The HT I’ve owned that pleased me the most was a Yaesu VX-3R… while it lasted. I loved its shortwave and airband receive capabilities, its tiny profile, and FM radio. Then it started shorting on transmit, triggering the batteries’ internal protection circuit. The dismal response from Yaesu made me understand that they don’t stand by their products any more than the Chinese do… despite the roughly 10x price difference.

Also, I’d not been excited by the Japanese offerings. APRS is a great feature I’ve always wanted integrated into my HT. I’d waited for the FT-3 but reviews are not great. I love the TH-D74 but wouldn’t dare take such a delicate and expensive device around all day, it would last a week. I’ve thought about purchasing an FT-1D but based on my experience with Yaesu not being at all interested in servicing their old radios, that was out. The icom HTs haven’t seem to have changed in years. Also I have zero interest in talking into a hotspot across the room over the internet using System Fusion or D-Star. So I started looking elsewhere.

I spent some time watching the buzz around the Anytone D878UV DMR radio with GPS and APRS send. But I’m just not interested in DMR, and the lack of APRS receive was a problem for me. Also, people in the Facebook group seem to have quality problems with their radios. No thanks.

The Wouxun KG-UV9P

KG-UV9P Features:

  • 9 watts VHF / 7 watts UHF (this is the claim on BuyTwoWayRadios.com. The Wouxun site rates it lower: UHF , H:6W , M:4W , L:1W; VHF , H:7W , M:5W , L:1W) – See note below under Transmit Power
  • “dual band reception” – you can receive and hear two signals simultaneously on the same or different bands.
  • You can even transmit on one band while you listen on the other – this is important for satellite work. I am looking forward to trying this out.
  • Cross-band repeater (I have not used this function)
  • AM Airband receive (108-136MHz)
  • TX on 144-148MHz VHF (FM TX), 420-450MHz UHF (FM TX)
    • When unlocked, TX on -36-174MHz VHF (FM TX), 400-512MHz UHF (FM TX).
  • RX on 76-108MHz (FM broadcast), 136-180MHz (FM RX), 230-250MHz (FM RX), 350-400MHz (FM RX), 400-512MHz (FM RX), 700-985MHz (FM RX)

I bought the KH-UV9P from Buy TwoWayRadios.com. It arrived quickly. The price was $139.99 and included a Nagoya NA-701 rubber whip antenna. Shipment was prompt and free – ordered on a Saturday, radio arrived Wednesday.

First Impressions

  • Great build quality. Radio is heavy and substantial.
  • Screen is large and bright, I can read without my reading glasses.
  • Battery life on the 3200mAh lithium ion battery is excellent. I left radio on all night on 146.52 (with occasional receive) and was still going strong this morning.
  • Radio has sensitive signal strength meter for both receivers.

Programming the Radio

I was quickly able to “unlock” the frequency range to allow tx on the FRS/GMRS frequencies using the Wouxun software available for Windows on this site.

I was able to confirm that Chirp is able to program the radio using the KG-UV9D Plus profile.

For both, I used a Baofeng USB serial cable with the Prolific driver that I had lying around to program my Baofeng UV-5Rs, the last of which finally died.

Transmit Power

Mark Lindsey from BetterSafeRadio.com tested the power out on the KG-UV9P and had this to say:

Actually, I’m starting to test all of my radios because so many of the Chinese manufacturers inflate their numbers, especially their battery mAh numbers, but all the power. I believe my meter runs a little low (need to have it calibrated again), but here’s what I got on my first pass, into a 50W dummy load:
446MHz L 2.16 M 4.46 H 6.24
146MHz L 1.25 M 4.29 H 6.71

I was also surprised to see the 9W on the B2W site – thought maybe they had secured a different version, but I’m pretty tight with Wouxun, so I don’t think that radio exists. I know that many dealers will inflate their numbers also, just for more sales, and because most people don’t really test their gear. 🙁 I’ve seen this on many other radios also, unfortunately.

In any event, assuming my numbers are a worst case (or what the radio will be doing after the battery pack has run down a little), nearly 7W on VHF is pretty nice (don’t want much more than that next to your head anyway), and having a radio that does over 5W (over 6W actually) on UHF is great.

Using the Radio

I will post more after a few days of using this radio.

Cross-Band Repeater, Satellite and MURS Information

Hey Pat,

I can verify that the KG-UV9 does work as a cross-band repeater.  It was flown on a high altitude balloon and got to about 20 miles high.  At that altitude it had a 400 mile footprint.  It was listening on VHF and sending on UHF at a half watt.  

VHF out desenses the UHF input on full duplex and repeater.  That means it’ll work U/v operation for AO-85, AO-91, AO-92, and Fox-1Cliff but not V/u satellites.

I addition to FRS/GMRS it can do MURS.  I am the radio lead for my friendly local CERT.  I have been recommending dual band radios so that we can use MURS in peace.  

73 de W6MRR 

Photos

Radio

Frog Sounds QRP HAM Kit

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I just completed building the “Frog Sounds HAM Radio QRP Kit Telegraph CW Transceiver Receiver Radio Station V3” available on Ebay for $15 shipped from China.

Frogsounds QRP rig, with 9 volt AA battery pack, PicoKeyer Plus and Chiinese paddles.
Frog Sounds QRP rig, with 9 volt AA battery pack, PicoKeyer Plus and Uni-Ham Chinese paddles.

Some notes on this kit:

  • The instructions are terrible.  Some are in Chinese.
  • You will definitely need some kind of magnifying glass or goggles to differentiate the values of the various components.  I taped them to a sheet of paper and wrote the part numbers next to them, e.g., CP1,CP3,CP5, R1, etc.  This was very helpful.
  • There are extra parts included, which was confusing, but ended up being a good thing after I soldered the wrong capacitor in – I was glad there happened to be included an extra of that value.
  • The rig has a red/green led that shows green for rx and red on tx. When installing, the short lead is the green, middle lead is the red, and the longest (middle) lead is the common anode.
  • I got a different board from the one in the photos and in the included photocopied instructions.
  • The included crystals are 7.023, which is a portion of the 40 meter band reserved for Extra class ops in the US.  I am a general so I have some 7.030 crystals on order.
  • Its important not to transmit without an antenna as it will destroy the transmit circuit.

The receive band is very wide.  The first time I turned it the CQ WPX CW had just started and the band was going crazy.  It is very difficult to pick out a CW signal when you can hear 4 or 5 at the same time.  I imagine it will be easier once the contest is over. Here is a sample of the contest in full swing:

And, using my 40m dipole, with only 9 volts this little rig really got out – calling CQ, K1TTT of the Reverse Beacon Network picked me up as far away as Massachusetts – 323 miles away.

Reverse Beacon Network map showing stations receiving my CW CQ
Reverse Beacon Network map showing stations receiving my CW CQ

Radio

Ultimate3 WSPR transmitter kit

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I have built the WSPR kit that I purchased from the Net – it is working and my signal is being picked up by WSPR trackers in a 500 mile radius on 40m. I expect that to improve tonight. The kit was fairly advanced for me but I am (was) a beginner before this kit – I think my next kit will be a lot cleaner. In any case it works.

It has a great LED display, many modes (WSPR, CW, QRSS, FSK, Hellschreiber), and even an optional GPS module for WSPR. I built it in 3 sessions of about 1.5 hours each. It is fun, including winding some toroids.

http://www.hanssummers.com/ultimate3/u3.html

He is shipping a new kit since I bought mine (of course) with some more features:

http://www.hanssummers.com/ultimate3/u3s.html

At $29 it is a steal, and the build documentation is very good.

It would be nice to design a case for it (and build on the 3d printer?) as it does not have one now.

Radio

Operating from Hains Point

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Brought my radio, 20m ham stick and a bottle of wine (shh) down to the DC waterfront and operated mobile for an hour or so just around sunset.  Beautiful night. Tried to break through the Desecheo Island dxpedition pileup with no success. Still a beautiful night. That is the ‘pirate ship’ steaming by, it is very popular for kids’ birthday parties.