Wouxun UVD1P Radio

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Wouxun UVD1P Radio

Postby StuartL » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:47 pm

As some of you know I've purchased one of the above radios for my own use. I use it for both SAR and for personal radio needs and have owned and used it for several months.

Legalities
Legalities
There are a few legal grey-areas over having a radio of your own programmed to frequencies which you, personally, aren't licenced to transmit on. These grey areas aren't limited to your own radio being used for ALSAR purposes, they also apply to ALSAR radios being used on business radio channels or coastguard channels. Ofcom's attitude when I've spoken to them on the phone is that it's the individual that's licenced (either directly or through an affiliated organisation) not the equipment. It's definitely and provably illegal to transmit on these channels for any purpose other than which a licence has been purchased for so having your own radio really doesn't entitle you to transmit. The consequences of doing so are massive, ranging from your SAR team being reprimanded by ALSAR, ruining a relationship between ALSAR and the coastguard, getting a nasty letter from Ofcom or even fines and jail time. Don't take this lightly.

Please note that your SAR team may or may not have a radio policy regarding use of own radios. This policy may be more restrictive or less restrictive than the summary I've put above and it is your responsibility alone to determine whether it is legal, ethical and proper for you to own a radio for SAR purposes.

The Review
First impressions
The radio is surprisingly good quality for such a cheap piece of kit. It does go to show how much you're paying for brand versus radio quality. For the money (£75 shipped to the UK from Hong Kong) I got a dual-band (VHF/UHF) Ham/PMR radio, a desktop charger with both mains and car cables and a programming cable. There are other bundles which give you different things but I specifically wanted the programming cable so I could do the programming from the PC rather than from the handset.

Basic use{/b]
The menus can be a little confusing to begin with and some other reviewers have criticised the menu system. However once you get your head around it and have decoded the English translation manual it's actually pretty logical. It's not exactly trivial to use but it's not difficult. Unlike most of the mid-range higher-priced radios you can programme pretty much every feature from the handset on-the-fly and the number of buttons and menu complexity reflect that.

Transmission and receipt of signals is very good and in my testing seems virtually identical to the Icom F15 which Berkshire SAR Dogs use. Sometimes the F15 seems to have a slight reception edge but the only times this is noticeable is when the signal is really poor anyway. This could be attributed to the F15's better choice of antenna and I have been in a number of situations where my UVD1P has out-performed an F15 so it could also be a factor of battery power remaining etc.

Channel changing is trivial using a rotary dial like the Icom. Because this dial is multi-function (it doesn't just change the channel, depending on what mode you have the radio in) it continuously rotates meaning that you can't rotate it to one end to find channel 1 or channel 16 and then count clicks to get your chosen channel. However this isn't as much of a problem as you think it might be because the radio can be set to speak the channel numbers to you as you change them. This is a teeny bit grating when you first turn it on but after a while I've got used to it and now really don't think I could go back to the Icom way of doing it.

The radio has 128 channels available. Channels you haven't programmed are skipped in the channel change, so for example I have channels 1-16 programmed on the ALSAR plan and channels 100+ for my own use on various frequencies. If go up one channel from channel 16 the radio happily tells me I am now on "channel one zero zero".

Although you can name the channels the radio won't speak those names to you and they only appear on the display of the radio. I have named my ALSAR channels according to their "real" names so I can use their channel names for marine/coastguard users not using a plan compatible with the ALSAR plan. I have named the channels above 100 with names meaningful to me.

[b]Dual channel[b]
The radio has two receivers built into it and one transmitter. That means that you can programme the radio to listen on two channels simultaneously and an icon (the world's SMALLEST icon) on the display tells you which receiver a transmission is being received on. You can disable the second receiver with a single button press if it irritates you.

[b]Headset

The headset connector is the same as the Kenwood headset connector. This means the headset for the Wouxun won't work with an Icom radio (which uses the Cobra-style connector).

The headset connector is pretty flawless, to be honest. It's as high quality as the remainder of the radio.

Weather proofing
The Wouxun radios don't claim to be waterproof and I suspect that they're a long way from waterproof. There are gaps in the casing for the speakers and microphone. I suspect that they'd be splash resistant and I wouldn't hesitate to use mine in the rain but I would put it back in the jacket when I wasn't actively using it. Like all sensitive electronics I suspect a proper dunking in a puddle would require immediate battery removal and a very thorough drying before I'd risk turning it on again.

Charging
The desktop charging station is very solid and needs 12v to operate. The car adapter plugs straight in, the mains charger is just a 12v adapter. The radio is very secure in the charger and with just some Velcro on the bottom of the charger to hold it in place in my car the radio has stayed in there exactly as desired and yet come out easily when I want to use it. I've never flattened the battery so I don't know how long it lasts or how long it takes to charge. I've never ever had a battery problem but I leave it permanently plugged in to the cigarette lighter socket in my car so it's charged all the time the engine is running.

Programming from the keypad
Programming the radio from the keypad is straightforward but you do have to go through many menu options to set channel parameters. This isn't really a surprise, there are many parameters relating to a given channel and the radio does have to allow you to set them somehow. Once you have set all the channel parameters you then can save the settings as a given channel number. This is a little counter-intuitive for radio users used to selecting a channel number first and then programming the various details but it does work well enough.

The keypad is very functional and it is possible to set all of these parameters without crying too much. However programming using the keypad is vastly inferior to...

Programming from a PC
Programming the radio from a PC requires a PC with a serial port (you know, those 9-pin male D-connectors you used to see in the 90s) and the programming cable itself. The cable plugs into the headset connector and needs battery power on the radio to operate. I haven't tried using it in the charging station but I see no reason why that wouldn't work.

Programming from a PC requires the Wouxun software. I'm quite used to translated software so the few issues I had were very easily dealt with. Even though there's a fair bit of "Engrish" translation it's all pretty easy to understand. Otherwise the software is a doddle to use. You click "read from radio" and it does. You are presented with a channel table with all 128 channels which you fill in as desired. You the click "write to radio" and you're done. It really is that easy and the use of the mouse and keyboard mean it is very very fast to enter channel data this way.

There are a few other minor settings you can set from the programming cable which you can't from the keypad, for example you can lock the radio programming or lock the radio in a certain mode. This means that you can programme the radio to something appropriate and give it to someone who is used to an Icom-style radio and, to them, it behaves the same. If you have a user who wishes for more complexity or flexibility you can unlock it again.

Suitability
SAR work
In two words "It's great." I like not having to worry about getting a radio off someone else, I like that i know how it's programmed and I like having a headset that I'm familiar with. The performance is on a par with the Icom F15 and while the weather proofing isn't as good it's practical enough to be usable and being half the cost you'd have to be pretty careless for it not to be cost effective.

I also like the dual-band functionality. When mispering I use the second receiver to listen to FM radio on the headset which is a pretty cool way to pass the time. When running control I can use my handset as a backup for the mobile station and listen to extra channels or relay messages between channels. The biggest irritation with the dual-listen is the size of the icon which tells you which channel you're receiving the transmission on. This icon is ridiculously small and unless you known which channel the transmission is on by context (e.g. by knowing the voice or from the content) you're basically screwed.

Personal use
When using the radio for PMR you're obliged to cut down the power output. For PMR you're only allowed to transmit at 0.5W. The radio can transmit at high power (5W, for SAR) or low power (1W). It doesn't have a 0.5W setting. Obviously for legal reasons I don't use my radio for PMR, that would be illegal even on the lower power setting. If I did, though...

If I were to use the radio as a PMR radio I could use it for SAR training. It means that I'd be using the same transceiver and hence be used to channel changing, the headset etc in SAR context. I could have several PMR channels pre-programmed into the high channel numbers. A complaint I have here is that you would have to know the PMR frequencies and CTCSS codes to programme the PMR channels. This isn't a problem on a PC, google is your friend, but if you were to arrive in a training group who insist on using a channel/sub-channel you haven't got programmed you might have to try to sweet-talk them into changing all their handsets.

With a business radio licence called the "UK Simple" (which you can get if you register as a sole trader and pay £75 every five years) you can use the radio legally at 5W on fifteen different frequencies and effectively unlimited CTCSS codes. These frequencies include the ALSAR channels 10, 11 and 16 and would mean you can legally use those frequencies for any purpose that you see fit. Because of the massive number of people using these frequencies legally this channel space is effectively unenforced by Ofcom, although I wouldn't recommend using it without seriously considering the consequences of getting caught without a licence.

The one feature I would like on this radio which is missing is CB capability. UK law no longer requires a CB licence to transmit on the 27MHz Citizen's Band and with a good antenna you can get several miles licence free. I haven't investigated if there's a hack to enable 27MHz transmission, it'd be a nice trick and would make this a really nice all round package suitable for all radio needs!
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Re: Wouxun UVD1P Radio

Postby g4hlf » Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:08 am

Hi Stuart,

A couple of comments from myself on the review....

With regard to licencing the "offence" is committed when the user transmits on a frequency they are not licenced to use.

Within LSDogs teams typically program their radios to the ALSAR16 2010 plan. LSDogs are not authorised to use ALSAR inland marine channels therefore as an LSDog unit we can only use channels 10, 11 and 16. These three channels can only be used if the team has purchased a business radio lite licence from OFCOM. As a charity teams should be able to purchase a licence for a cost of £35 for 5 years. The other 13 programmed channels should only be used when working alongside and requested to do so by an ALSAR unit.

To add further clarity to the business radio licence if a group (let’s say Bucks & Chilterns) purchases a licence for SAR work/training/events then that one licence will cover all members using their radios for the purpose for which the licence was purchased. This means you could have as an example 10 groups of 10 people scattered around the country at different locations all using their radios on channel 10, 11 or 16 covered by the one licence. As you suggested teams might decide to implement their own policy but in terms of what the licence covers the above applies.

Most Wouxun products are waterproof to IP55

With regard to purchasing if you purchase from HK it is important to ensure that the supplied radio has the appropriate CE and RTTE marking and certificate on conformity. The RTTE is indicated by an exclamation mark within a circle next to the marking CE.

The UVD1P will not cover 27 MHz; 27 MHz is not suitable for short range communications and is subject to interference from the other side of the Atlantic. There is a new Wouxun Dualband radio which covers 66-88 MHz and 130-174 MHz, using the Business radio lowband channels might give some useful benefits in range, this would be an interesting exercise in the future. There are also lowband channels available with the ALSAR allocation, MR often make use of these.

On PMR446, licenced radios not only have to comply with the 0.5W TX power but must have fixed antenna, I suspect they will also be a specific type certificate of conformity that applies only to PMR446 but I don't know for sure.

Hope this helps,

Regards,

Paul Westwell

paul.westwell@lsdogs.org.uk
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Re: Wouxun UVD1P Radio

Postby StuartL » Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:39 am

g4hlf wrote:With regard to licencing the "offence" is committed when the user transmits on a frequency they are not licenced to use.

Within LSDogs teams typically program their radios to the ALSAR16 2010 plan. LSDogs are not authorised to use ALSAR inland marine channels therefore as an LSDog unit we can only use channels 10, 11 and 16. These three channels can only be used if the team has purchased a business radio lite licence from OFCOM. As a charity teams should be able to purchase a licence for a cost of £35 for 5 years. The other 13 programmed channels should only be used when working alongside and requested to do so by an ALSAR unit.

To add further clarity to the business radio licence if a group (let’s say Bucks & Chilterns) purchases a licence for SAR work/training/events then that one licence will cover all members using their radios for the purpose for which the licence was purchased. This means you could have as an example 10 groups of 10 people scattered around the country at different locations all using their radios on channel 10, 11 or 16 covered by the one licence. As you suggested teams might decide to implement their own policy but in terms of what the licence covers the above applies.


This is exactly my understanding from reading the regulations and speaking to Ofcom. However there seems to be some misunderstanding from other SAR members about what is and isn't illegal. For example I've been told by two independent sources that it's illegal for me to own my radio because it's capable of transmitting on the Ham radio bands.

Most Wouxun products are waterproof to IP55


Ah, useful information! Thanks :)

The UVD1P will not cover 27 MHz; 27 MHz is not suitable for short range communications and is subject to interference from the other side of the Atlantic.


Indeed, my investigations into hacking it have revealed that some PCB revisions can be brought down as far as 66MHz but noone has successfull gone as low as 27MHz.

There is a new Wouxun Dualband radio which covers 66-88 MHz and 130-174 MHz


I think that's the radio I have.

Using the Business radio lowband channels might give some useful benefits in range, this would be an interesting exercise in the future. There are also lowband channels available with the ALSAR allocation, MR often make use of these.


As far as I know the bands of interest to me (personally) are:

27MHz (CB, licence free at relatively high outputs although saturated with users)
140-174MHz (Marine/ALSAR/business radio, licence required but easily obtained)
446MHz (PMR, power limited and must have fixed antenna, handheld only)

I've never found a handset which can do all three :(

Thanks for your comments :)
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Re: Wouxun UVD1P Radio

Postby g4hlf » Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:28 pm


This is exactly my understanding from reading the regulations and speaking to Ofcom. However there seems to be some misunderstanding from other SAR members about what is and isn't illegal. For example I've been told by two independent sources that it's illegal for me to own my radio because it's capable of transmitting on the Ham radio bands.


Would be interested to see where that is documented, maybe you can ask them to provide document, link? I suspect all commercial VHF radios "could" TX in the 144-146 Amateur band but that does not make them illegal!

I think that's the radio I have


Seem to recall you have had yours for a while so it will be the VHF/UHF version? The 4M/VHF was only launched in the last month?

You will see triband radios covering 60-400MHZ with a few gaps in-between, I would not be surprised to see one of these from Wouxun in the near future.

Regards,

Paul
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Re: Wouxun UVD1P Radio

Postby mark_n » Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:14 pm

g4hlf wrote:Would be interested to see where that is documented, maybe you can ask them to provide document, link? I suspect all commercial VHF radios "could" TX in the 144-146 Amateur band but that does not make them illegal



Unless the rules have changed .... as I remember it, you can own it, but not transmit on it nor act on any information that you receive on it.

so owning a 2m or 4m or any Ham radio kit is not the issue..... using it is [laugh]

M
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Re: Wouxun UVD1P Radio

Postby PollyPocket » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:08 pm

Hi Stuart,

Just out of interest, does it come in pink?

Pol x
Pol :D

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Re: Wouxun UVD1P Radio

Postby mark_n » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:18 pm

PollyPocket wrote:Hi Stuart,

Just out of interest, does it come in pink?

Pol x


[rolleyes] [rolleyes] [rolleyes] [rolleyes] [rolleyes] [rolleyes] [rolleyes] [huh]
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Re: Wouxun UVD1P Radio

Postby StuartL » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:41 am

PollyPocket wrote:Just out of interest, does it come in pink?


No. but it's sealed so can be carefully painted.
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