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
I’ve been using mine for about a month and was quite surprised what they packed in the little box. I don’t have a lot of extra room in the vehicle, so this worked out nicely.
It’s a nice crossover radio. Larger than a handheld but smaller that a standard transceiver.
Their website is a little thin, so I added software and programming examples to Miklor.
Good stuff John, as usual!
Personally I don’t think its worth the price? 80 Euro or £60 Sterling, then I might be tempted just!
Well Steve, I wouldn’t buy it for sure, as I’m living in Intermod alley.
Seen on a hamfest in the Netherlands for 90 Euro
What was the name of the shop on that hamfest? (At the Lichtmis I think) I only found it in Drachten for 129 euro’s.
Dat was ASTEX uit Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel, tel. 0180-399375.
Sounds like the filter is as wide as a bus, Hans? We could always box up a Baofeng in a Mobile style case instead.
What filter, Steve? 😉
The one that ain’t there!
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Interesting little radio, fills the gap between a portable and a full sized mobile. I notice a CR2023 battery in the photos. I wonder what happens when that dies? Would hope that the radio doesn’t loose it’s whole operating system!
The firmware is static. The radio might lose memory contents though.
That battery is just for the clock, I believe.
73 /paul W3FIS
A question I ask myself
Is it possible to have two VHF or UHF displays the model vv-898
Sort of. What I found out is that VFO mode is only available on VFO B. You could program a frequency in VFO A and set the same frequency in VFO B.
I was thinking more in memory fashion
If I put in the memory 1 144 700
If I put in the memory 2 144 725
I can display memory 1 up and 2 down mimoire?
This is an example of course …
again thank you
Yes, you can do that.
I’ve had one of these for about two weeks (and also the HYS copy TC-898UV), and have even used it as a mobile. It doesn’t handle intermod well, but that’s not as big of a problem in most areas that I drive or live in.
Both of mine have RX-only for the 220 MHz band, though it’s very poor. There must be a European version without this ‘feature’.
I guess that I like it more than you do, Hans, but not by a lot. I got 9W on both VHF and UHF (Bird metre into a dummy load), so there’s some variation in production. Nine watts on UHF is pretty good for a metropolitan situation with repeaters, and tone squelch helps a lot with the intermod.
I think that the battery is for the built-in clock, though I can’t figure out how to set it with the software.
Also, just wanted to tell you that the word is “elusive”. I know that English isn’t your first language. No big deal.
Thanks Todd for checking on my spelling, fixed.
Here the radio is completely unusable. But, as I said, it all depends on where you live.
About the battery: you could very well be right. There’s no documentation available, so it all comes down to educated guesses.
I just goto one of these VV-898 radios for use in a battery-operated to-go box and so far I’m’ quite impressed for the price. I’m curious about the 220MHz receive, though–is it possible that this radio was designed to transmit in the 220MHz band, but is disabled with a jumper or a diode to cut? (Presumably so they can sell it in non-US markets.)
I’m very curious if this radio may actually be usable on 220MHz. Maybe nobody has yet discovered the built-in mod to allow transmitting on this band? Anybody looked for that yet? I haven’t, but may open it up to look.
I set up to receive our local 220 MHz repeater. When I hit the PTT, it give “TX ERROR.” Thus, I would say it is disabled for xmit on 220?
73 /paul W3FIS
Radio needs better software ..
Reps on Alibaba Lied telling me freq range was programmable . ( Its not with fact supplied software ) ..
This radio desperately needs better programming software , got my fingers crossed for Chirp to the rescue … Or its money down the drain .
I have the Jetstream. Provided software (most recent version) sets up xmit/rec on 2 meters, 70 cm ham bands. Can set for receive only on local fire/police/Coast Guard, and NOAA weather. Check you have new software. Chirp (daily release) now supports radio.
Chirp recognises the Tx but only programs channels so far ..
I tried the latest build ..
Any chance od sharing Jetstream provided software ?
jetstreadm an Leaxen software are the same.
Leaxen software has no freq adjustment …
At least not mine …
There are two screens — one sets up options, other sets channels.
Check the Miklor web site and/or Yahoo groups for help/details/examples.
73 /paul W3FIS
Also, see February “K9YA Telegraph” for my take on the radio.
73 /paul W3FIS
Sorry , You have mis understood …
Channels is not a problem , I want to set frequency range for VFO
My fault for being to vague …
Some countries have band plans … ( 144-148 / 430-450 )
Limiting or expanding the frequency range requires special software. In general such software is not distributed by manufacturers in order to prevent abuse. In this case I assume you want to limit the frequency range. If you’re lucky, Chirp will be able to do that one day. Chirp is already capable of limiting/expanding the frequency range of certain Baofeng models.
Also I have discovered an issue with mine :
Tx audio is almost non existent when Tx is set to Narrow Band …
Not sure what’s going on there ,
Initially I had the Tx set to Narrow and was wondering why no one could hear me even though I was activating Repeaters …
At this time , I would call this Tx not overly flash , and seriously wonder if any QC procedures have been implemented .. People seem to be having all sorts of issues with this Tx and I think calling this Tx good is a little optimistic .
Anyhow , waiting for Chirp to come to the rescue …
As is , I would not recommend this Tx to anyone unless they are fully aware of the QC issues that may come with the Tx .
Yes some buyers remorse on this purchase !
A TYT quad band might have been a better choice .. Yes double the cost but twice as many channels … -_-
When set to narrow band, TX audio is indeed almost non existent when communicating with ham radio equipment. That’s not a bug. It’s a feature, designed to make your radio work within the bandwidth limits of FCC’s narrow band specifications. FM deviation will be limited to 1.5-2.5 KHz in order to prevent signals leaking into the next channel.
Narrow should only be used when you’re using the radio for commercial land mobile purposes. When used as a ham radio, only ‘wide’ will give you sufficient TX audio (but only if you’re lucky, many Chinese radios still won’t impress).
The same applies to all other radios, such as Baofengs. Always set the radio to Wide.
Hmmm , I run all my Baofengs Narrow Band with no issue .. Audio is good on all of them ..
All set to Narrow Band
Weird. As soon as I do that, regardless of the brand/model, people start to complain about low audio immediately.
Yeah , Ive been running N/B and nothing but N/B so was a little surprised when the VV898 did not work in N/B … I even went to the trouble of listening to all my radios and they sound fine in N/B .
The VV898 is in W/B now , just waiting on the latest release of Chirp
Vernon, I would try setting one of your radios to W/B and doing a side by side comparison. I believe your audio reports would be much improved.
I think you’ll be pleased at the result.
Also, CHIRP now includes basic VV898 support.
My Jetstream JT270M will not scan VHF and UHF frequencies at the same time. Is that a common design flaw to all these radios? I can use VFO B to enter a VHF frequency, and then A will scan all VHF memories, then program in a UHF frequency in VFO B and A will scan all UHF frequencies, but never V-Uhf together. Is it just my radio that behaves this way? or do all of them share this flaw?
Interesting. You should be able to scan channels regardless of UHF / VHF ..
But you cant scan VFO , UHF VHF at the same time as you only have VFO B
Not sure ? Do any radios allow dual scan ? ( Dual VFO mode + Dual Scan )
A is channel mode all the time , B is either VFO or channel mode ..
So what ever VFO is set to ( UHF or VHF ) That is what you will scan .
But if you have programmed in channels , then regardless of what they are , you should be able to scan them ! I don’t think you have 2 channel banks with this radio .
You have dual display and dual watch ..
Unless : You have discovered another flaw ?
The B key on the hand mike will allow you to change between VFO and Channel mode ( Lower Display (B) ) Once in channel mode you should be scanning all programmed channels …
Unless: You have discovered another flaw ?
When in the VFO mode, you can only scan the selected band in the steps you have set. In Channel Mode, It scans whatever you have pre-programmed.
The radio tends to have limited frequency response on transmit.
Adding a .1 uF (104P) across the microphone element does help.
FAQ #82 shows diagram at http://www.miklor.com/VV898/VV-FAQ.php
The most recent Leixen software is available at
Has anyone run into a problem where the receiver just seems to go deaf, at times? The radio is operated in the program mode, not VFO or menu.
Yes, I have a Leixen vv-898 too. Its just headache. VHF mode is very very deaf (sql=1). If sql=0 only noise, however communication go on in frequency. And at each of two modes, it is transmit and not transmit at times. If you press PTT successive, first, transmit ok but second, no transmit. If channel or band change (press up and down) again transmit. Due to, it is not possible healthy communication with other stations. and I have to listen on another device together.
Leixen VV-898 and Jetstream JT270M – Audio Modification
Audio can be mellowed out a bit by adding a 104P (.1) capacitor across the microphone element.
This is described at http://www.miklor.com/VV898/VV-FAQ.php
under Section 8