The little cheap Leixen radios made the headlines more than once. Brick had his hands full with posting about Leixen, and quite a few reviews can be found on the WWW. The radio is also known under other names, such as Jetstream JT270M.
When I was walking the dogs a few weeks ago Teun PA0TBS joined me and took something out of his bag. It was a Leixen VV-898, which he bought for just over 100 Euros. I was surprised that this dual-band radio was even smaller than I thought; it’s actually not much bigger than a UV-5R. I’ve spent a while with the Leixen now, so it’s time for a review.
Look & Feel
If the Leixen would be a bit bigger, it would have the looks of a professional land mobile radio. Keys work well, layout is good, and the microphone is full featured and fits nicely in anyones hand.
The menu takes a while to get used to, mainly because the manual isn’t very helpful. Yet I managed to figure it out in a matter of minutes, probably because by now I’m a proficient interpreter of cryptic ChinEnglish manuals.
The inside of the radio doesn’t reveal much. I could have disassembled the radio even further, but didn’t want to risk damaging my friend’s radio.
RX sound quality
Surprisingly good, especially with the small case and tiny speaker in mind. Yet the radio will do much better with an external speaker, especially when you intend to use the radio in a car. I couldn’t hear any LF distortion, nor excessive noise. So far so good.
Slightly deprived of highs as well as lows. It won’t win any HiFi award, but all stations agreed that there were no other issues which would prevent one from understanding what you’re saying. Replacing the stock electret element inside the microphone for a better one might be something to consider if you want improve the TX audio.
Because I noticed a lot of intermod (see receiver section) I suspected the oscillator of being unstable, aka suffering from phase noise. That was not the case; carrier looks reasonably clean, even with reduced frequency span.
With 10 Watts output on VHF and 8 Watts on UHF (confirmed) the Leixen VV-898 isn’t trying to compete with the bigger radios. It is more than enough power for daily use, especially when using repeaters.
I wasn’t really impressed. On VHF the 2nd harmonic is just short of 50dBm down, the 3rd harmonic is only 43 dBm down. on UHF it’s slightly better because there’s no third harmonic to worry about.
The receiver is sensitive, very sensitive. With an average sensitivity of -127dBm the Leixen is amongst the most sensitive radios around. Sensitivity isn’t everything though; the capability to separate wanted signals from unwanted signals is much more important.
That proved to be something the Leixen VV-898 can’t do at all. Even on a relatively deaf antenna, a Diamond discone, I heard mixer products and out-of-band signals all over VHF and UHF.
The weirdest interference, clearly an SSB signal, came from a ham radio operator nearby who was having some fun on 10 meters. He worked barefoot, and his yagi was not even directed to my QTH. It took a while before I found the source; I obviously scanned the lower part of the 2 meter band first to find the elusive signal.
The Leixen VV-898 is a fun radio, let me be clear about that. Quality-wise you get what you pay for. The transmitter section could use some extra filtering; the receiver is a Halloween nightmare when you live in an urban environment. When you live far enough away from RF pollution, you might get away with this Leixen. If not, look elsewhere.
Note: the blog of VK3XRA is worth a look if you want to see another review of this radio.
* PTT ID (Voice broadcast PTT ID）
* All calls, group calls and selective calls
* Monitor, RX Inhibit, RXTX Inhibit and Emergency Alarm
* FM Radio (87.5MHz-108MHz）
* Scan/Scan add
* Channel name edit available
* 199 memory channels
* High/Low power (10W/4W)
* APO (Auto Power Off)
* TOT (Time-out timer)
* Font Set (Big/Small)
* VOX (Level adjustable)
* Busy channel lockout
* Keyboard lock (Auto/Manual)
* Multi scan mode (TO/CO)
* Channel steps (2.5K/5K/6.25K/10K/12.5K/25K)
* Wide/Narrow band selection (25KHz/12.5KHz)
* TX Stop
* Talk Around
* Beat frequency
* Reverse frequency function
* 1750Hz burst tone
* Four key programmable
* Lease Function (can program lease time termination)
* Input frequency by using Keypad
* Wireless changing frequency
* Time Display
* PC software disable frequency input
* Passwords for menu functions Set
* PTT Times per Minutes Set
* All / Function reset
* 13.8V DC Power Supply
* Size: 120*85*40mmGeneral
* Frequency Range: 400-470MHz, 136-174MHz
* Channel Capacity: 199
* Output Power: 4W/10W
* Operation Mode: Simplex
* Dimension: 120x90x40mm (4.7”x3.5”x1.6”).
* Weight: 315g
* Modulation Limitation: ≤±5KHz
* Spurious Radiation: 60dB
* TX Current: 1A/1.8A
* Frequency Stability: ±2.5PPm
* Rx Sensitivity: ＜0.18μV
* Modulation Type: F3E
* Audio Power: ≥ 400mW
* Standby Current: 78mA (Power Saving mode is 30mA）Package Contents
1x Mobile transceiver
1x DC Power Cable
1x Bracket Screw
1x User Manual