Wouxun KG-UVD1P notes

There exists some conflicting information on the Chinese-made Wouxun KG-UVD1P handheld transceiver. I guess there are many firmware versions out there, which are simply not labeled anywhere on the machine. (Wouxun does not provide firmware updates—I wonder if the firmware could be read directly from the microcontroller of a newer unit and manually programmed into an older one? — Apparently not, sources on the Net indicate that the MCU on this radio is one-time programmable only.)

Since there is no version number to provide, here is all that I do know about this individual unit: I bought it mid-2011 from eBay (new, unused, from Hong Kong). It is the 400–480 MHz model, and its serial number begins with "K07-" (a date of manufacture code, according to some sources). Page 57 of the manual says "English Version: KG-UVD1P-1105-V6". I don't know if that refers to version 6 of the radio, of the manual, or of the English language.

My observations

RX/TX ranges: According to the sales pitch, the radio was supposed to have RX/TX ranges of 136–174 and 400–480 MHz. However, the sticker on the radio unit itself said
   V: TX: 144-146 MHz, RX: 136-174 MHz
   U: TX: 430-440 MHz, RX: 400-480 MHz
Regardless, I can confirm that this unit did in fact transmit, unmodified, over the entire 136–174 and 400–480 MHz ranges (checked with my spectrum analyzer, not on-the-air, which would have been illegal). Another sticker on the inner metal chassis of the radio says "International Ver."—maybe there's a non-international (U.S.?) version that would actually be locked to the amateur bands.

Setting band limits: To avoid unintentionally transmitting outside the ham bands, I used the 1KG-xxx-unlock software to limit the TX (and RX) ranges of this radio. This software runs just fine under Wine in Linux, which also fully supports the Prolific chips used in the cheap USB programming cables you get from eBay (unlike that Microsoft piece of shit, which always causes problems with these cables). To get the 144–146 MHz VHF and 432–438 MHz UHF ham allocations in Finland, you need to tell the software to set 144–145 and 432–437 band limits (the upper limits then become 145.975 and 437.975). These ranges are not mentioned in the list of "allowed frequency range variations" on the web page, but they work just fine regardless (at least for me). Once the ranges are set, you can go back to using CHIRP to program the memories. (Oh look, the newest version of CHIRP also allows you to set the band limits on the KG-UVD1P! You no longer need that 1KG-xxx-unlock thing!) The programming cable appears as a standard USB serial port. See AA-1000 firmware update on how to make it visible to Wine.

Without limiting the TX range, this radio would also operate on the license-free PMR446 channels, and offers the appropriate CTCSS tones for sub-channel operation. With 4 W of power and an external antenna, this would make a killer PMR radio—but would be illegal to operate as one. PMR devices must be certified as such, whereas this is not. Removable antennas are nowadays allowed on PMRs, but the ERP still must not exceed 500 mW.

FM deviation: Some sources on the Internet provide instructions to modify the radio for higher modulation. Supposedly the modulation is intended for 12.5 kHz channel spacing, and sounds too quiet at the 25 kHz spacing used here. Some sources suggested that the radio sets the modulation according to the channel step setting. On my radio, there is an actual wide/narrow menu item, which affects both voice and the 1750 Hz burst tone, which I verified with my spectrum analyzer. The selected step size, on the other hand, has no effect on modulation.

Memory programming: Rumour has it, that alphanumeric names for memory channels can only be programmed via the PC interface. (That would not be a problem, since Linux software is available.) But my KG-UVD1P also lets you name channels through the menu item 26 (CHNAME). It is cumbersome: one arrow key moves to the next letter, the other one changes the letter in an up-only sequence. But it can be done.

Changing the working mode: In memory mode, the radio lets you display the channel information either as number only ("CH-08"), frequency + number ("145.775  08") or name + number ("TURKU1  08"). One online user's guide complained that whenever you switch between memory and frequency modes, the memory mode is reset to "CH-08" style. My radio does not do that, it remembers the setting.

Voice prompts: The annoying voice prompts can be disabled. Also the voice greeting when switching the radio on can be disabled. The latter was never explicitly mentioned anywhere, and had me worried.

My complaints

There's just no pleasing me. I'm never happy with anything. Here's some things I dislike about the KG-UVD1P (in no particular order), even though I do still think it's a fabulous radio for the price. I guess many of these undesirable features are because this is designed for a different purpose. It's a professional radio, meant to be used on a handful of allocated frequencies, and that's it. It does not claim to be an amateur radio, and it's obviously not designed with amateurs' usage styles in mind. So here I am, using a screwdriver as a hammer, and complaining about the poor design of the tool! ;)

Menu keys: There's 30 items in the menu, of which the first 9 are labeled on the keypad and can be accessed by pressing MENU-number. (You can access the rest by MENU-number-number, if you can remember their numbers—but I can't, since they're not labeled, and going through the menu items one by one is slow.) The 9 first menu items should have been chosen more wisely. They contain things like roger beep on/off, time-out timer and voice prompt—things that you will set once and then forget forever. More useful items like CTCSS and repeater shift are deeper in the menu and thus less accessible.

Editing channels: This sucks. There is no way to edit a channel, except by PC, or by deleting it and re-entering all information. (Actually, you can do it in the so-called dealer mode, but that's not especially practical either. I wish the radio would always just power-on into dealer mode!) And there's no way to copy a memory channel's settings into the frequency mode either. That would neatly enable changing the settings and re-saving without much hassle, and it should not be terribly difficult to implement in the firmware.

Another thing you cannot change in channel mode is the radio's TX power, since that is not a global setting, but one of the parameters stored with the memory channel! You can, however, change the power with the following shortcut: While transmitting (pressing PTT), press the TDR key to switch between HIGH/LOW power. When you switch to another memory channel, that change is of course forgotten.

Display information: If only one frequency or channel is being monitored (i.e. the "TDR" function is off), the other line on the display reads "UVD1". How useful is that? Why couldn't I have, say in channel mode, a display of channel number, frequency and alphanumeric name???

Auto keylock: The automatic keylock feature will lock the keys only if the radio is squelched. If you dial in an active frequency, the keys will never automatically lock!

Battery indicator: The battery indicator is useless, it shows full charge (three bars inside the battery symbol) for more than half the time, then goes through two bars and one bar to empty in rapid succession. In practice, the battery ought to be recharged as soon as the indicator shows anything less than full. You can configure the radio to display the battery voltage when switched on. Then you can check the battery status any time just by switching off and on. (Incidentally, the battery indicator on the Baofeng UV-3R is much better, and like the Wouxun, it also displays the battery voltage on power-up.)

Model number: As long as the KG-UVD1P was the only widespread Wouxun radio, it could just be called "a Wouxun". But once we need to get into model numbers, which one rolls more easily off the tongue: "Yaesu vee-ex-seven-arr" or "Wouxun kay-gee-yoo-vee-dee-one-pee"? ;)

Antti J. Niskanen <uuki@iki.fi>