There’s a lot of interest in the $76 Waccom WUV-6R, mostly because this radio is hard to tell apart from a Wouxun KG-UVD1P. It didn’t take long though to establish that these radios are non-identical twins, only sharing looks and accessories. Electronically they’re totally different beasts.
Things they share:
– Overall looks
– FM Radio
Things they do not share:
– Button layout
– Menu operation
– DSP (Waccom only)
– SDR-based (Waccom only)
– DTMF (Wouxun only)
– 1750Hz burst tone (Wouxun only)
– Manual quality
In the box
– the radio itself
– 1800 mAh battery
– Charger, 110V/60Hz – 230V / 50Hz
– Car charger
– Belt clip
– Hand strap
– Dual-band antenna, SMA-Female
If I would get this radio in my hand while blindfolded, I would shout ‘Wouxun!’ immediately. Looks, feel and weight are identical, only the antenna is slightly shorter.
After charging the battery, which is supposedly 1800 mAh, I fired up the radio and tried to get into the menu without reading the manual. That didn’t work. Menu operation is quite different from the Wouxun, so a bit of peeking into the manual was in order. For most functions you have to press Menu and Set, after which you can scroll through all the options. After pressing Menu again you can set the parameters. For some options there are shortcuts available, which can be accessed by pressing Menu and one of the keys on the keypad.
Programming the memories is easy, and you don’t need software to add meaningful alphanumeric descriptions to the channels. Some options are great, such as an easy to edit start-up message, the possibility to password protect the HT, and an option to (temporarily) disable the transmitter (TX inhibit).
The manual isn’t perfect, but not as bad as some other ChinEnglish manuals I’ve encountered. There are a few errors to report. One menu shortcut, ‘Switch change mode and scan addition’ (Menu + ‘0’) doesn’t exist. I have to clue what it’s supposed to do anyway. One page, showing the layout of the hand-held and all the buttons, is probably copied from the Wouxun KG-UVD1P. The picture shows an ‘Exit’ key, which is replaced by ‘V/M’ on the Waccom. No big deal, but sloppy.
Frequency ranges are 136-174MHz and 400-480Mhz. TX audio is excellent. There are three power levels to choose from: High, Medium and Low. Initial power measurements in the middle of our European bands are as follows:
Power output @ 145.000 MHz:
Low: 2.8 Watts
Medium: 4.8 Watts
High: 5.1 Watts
Power output @ 435.000 MHz:
Low: 3.9 Watts
Medium: 4.6 Watts
High: 4.8 Watts
As you can see, the difference between High and Medium is small. One other thing caught my eye: when set to low power on VHF, the power output jumps to 3.5 Watts momentarily before falling back to a stable 2.8 Watts. Weird.
Although RX audio is loud and free of distortion, the receiver is generally bad news. Sensitivity is fine, but selectivity is not – especially when it comes to handling strong out-of-band signals. In my neighborhood the receiver almost immediately collapsed under the ‘pressure’ of a digital TV transmitter located about 600 meters from my QTH. This is a big disappointment. Actually, in this area the much cheaper Baofeng UV-5R outperforms this Waccom by a wide margin – and that one is far from perfect either. When I get out of the city, the problem disappears.
The DSP works, but shouldn’t be overstated. All it does is killing off noise by muting the higher frequencies in the audio spectrum. The system kicks in when the signal strength drops below a certain level. The DSP reacts rather slow and can be best compared to the one we know from the Baofeng UV-3R.
The Waccom WUV-6R is a bit of a disappointment. In general I don’t care much about the transmitter part – if the power output is OK, the signal is clean and TX audio is fine, I’m happy. When it comes to receivers, I’m way more picky. Unfortunately this is the area where this Waccom fails miserably. Unless you live in an area where no other strong out-of-band signals are present, you will be very disappointed. The lack of DTMF makes the WUV-6R useless for Echolink purposes, and the lack of a 1750Hz burst tone means that Europeans can’t open a large number of repeaters.
In the end I can only conclude that the Waccom WUV-6R is not only outperformed by top-notch HT’s like the Wouxun KG-UVD1P and Quansheng TG-UV2, but also by the (much cheaper) Baofeng UV-5R. However, if you don’t live in the EU, nor in a RF-polluted area, and you want a cheap HT which shares Wouxun accessories, you’ll probably be a happy camper.