Monday, May 14, 2012

UV-X4 unboxing and mini review

  Well I picked up a UV-X4 when looking for a 2m radio for my XYL for when she passes her Technician test.  The UV-X4 looked small and was inexpensive enough that if it did not work as expected I was not out much.

  I found the UV-X4 at it is Chinese made and similar ones can be found under a number of names such as Baofeng, VGC, Vero.  I found the UV-X4 while looking into the UV-3R as a possible radio and found that a Texas company is importing them with their branding. Since I ordered another version the the Baofeng label has come out UV-3R+ that is similar yet has some important differences that may tempt some. I'll go into that later.

  The UV-4X is a 2m/70cm radio with a frequency range of 136 - 174 and 400 - 470 MHz and while labeled as Dual Band it is more of a Dual Watch as the second frequency that is displayed cannot be monitored at the same time as the primary band. The radio is FCC part 90 type accepted. It has a built in LED flashlight, is field programmable and weighs only 4.3 oz. It is available in 5 colors, Black, Red, Yellow, Blue and Camouflage (green plastic with dark green and black paint).  At first look how can one say no for the price of $65.  So I ordered one to test and see.

 Please see my album for unboxing photos

  When a friend ordered his UV-3R+ from china he enjoyed 2 weeks of anticipation joy. My radio arrived in 2 days in a nice small box from Texas.  It included some Chinese writing but most of it was in English.  The manual was quite readable with little "engrish".  The primary differences between the 3R+ and the X4 is size, headphone/programing and battery.  The radio is slightly smaller both in width and depth. 

The belt clip on the X4 is held on with one screw while the 3R+ is held on with two.

 The headphone jack of the X4 is similar to the Yaesu single jack and same port provides programing as well as speaker/mike/ptt, while the 3R+ has a Kenwood style double plug (it's reported Kennwood plugs work) which may provide more strain relief on the port over the Yaesu style.  

  The major difference is the battery and charging.  The 3R+ has a battery that is built in to the back cover and comes with a drop in charger while the X4 you must remove the battery or charge it via USB through the radio (a plus for those of us who are on computers all day or do not want to carry a drop in charger base everywhere).   While I love the idea of a drop in charger I like the smaller size of the X4 for shirt pocket carrying.  

  Results tryout:  I have been using this for just over 2 weeks and so far I have been quite happy with it.   I replaced the stock antenna with a  MALDOL MH-209SMA with very good results. I have been able to hit all the same repeaters even from in buildings and signal reports have not changed from the stock antenna.  It allow for less worry about strain on the radio when dropping it into pockets of jackets.  For the money I recommend this as a small beater radio or a inexpensive way to start your HT radio collection but not as a primary radio.  I will be keeping one in my pocket or glovebox for a while.


  After having it 3 weeks I have found the battery lasts about 3 days being on most of the time and broadcasting from time to time.

Update 1:
  The radio for the XYL arrived and I found that the case does not close as easily as the first. The tolerances for the case were not as high and there were minor pieces of plastic I had to remove by hand.

Update 2:
  I have found that if you carry your UV-X4 in your poket with other things it can get powered off and occasionaly back on.. some times with the Power + U/V button which does a factory reset.  While it does not happen often. The two times I has I was not near a computer to reload the programed chanels.

Update 3:
  From one of the members of my club who purchased a UV-3R+.
Fellow Baofeng owners:

I've just made a rather important discovery about my Baofeng UV-3R+ radio.

The + and - terminals on the back of the battery pack seem to be live and unprotected!

Probing + and - with a DVM, I read 3.90 V.  That in itself wouldn't necessarily be bad... there might conceivably be a bit of internal leakage which would allow a meter reading, yet still prevent significant current flow.  However, I thought that this did warrant further investigation.

I next connected a 75 ohm resistor, in series with a DMM, across the battery terminals.  I got a reading of ~ 50 mA current flow through the + and - battery terminals.  That's very close to the expected theoretical value of 52 mA (3.9v / 75ohm).  I also got nearly identical readings with my spare battery pack.  So I conclude that there is NOTHING internal to the battery pack which protects the terminals against current drain or short circuit!

That's rather unsettling because I have been carrying the radio in my pants pocket, along with a ring of keys.  Luckily I didn't feel anything warm down there!

Be advised, this is a potential safety concern!  Don't let anything short out the + and - terminals on your Baofeng battery pack.  It's a Li-ion chemistry, and worst case it could fail in a very unpleasant way!

Greg ~ K3GEM

Update 4:
    A friend and I modified the volume to give a better range of volume over the range of the knob. As it was it was to loud on the lowest setting with limited range.   We basically did what is show in the following video UV-3R volume modification     or on this page
Though we used a 36K resistor.  The mod went well with no catches.  A worth while fix.