Sunday, January 03, 2010

New VX-8DR

Rinse, PD2RPS, dropped me a note to alert me to the fact that Yaesu has introduced an updated version of the VX-8R (US version of the VX-8E) called the VX-8DR. The new version has several improvements in the APRS functionality, but they are pretty minor and I won't be losing any sleep over not having them.
  • Smart Beaconing Function. When using APRS for position tracking, the beacon timing is automatically adjusted to your travelling speed and location instead of using a fixed interval. This is the most useful enhancement in my opinion.
  • Heads up compass display to the GPS Screen. Your traveling direction is always toward the top of the display. This might be useful if you are using the VX-8 as a navigation device, but as it can't display maps that isn't very likely.
  • The number of DIGI-PATH route settings is increased from 1 to 7. Handy I suppose, but not too hard to work around.
  • The number of Station List memories has increased from 40 to 50. Yawn.
  • The number of APRS Message memories has increased from 20 to 30. Yawn.
  • DIGI-PATH route indication function. The APRS Packet data includes Digipeater routing info. Yawn.
  • The Message received LED flashing rate is selectable. Zzzzzz.
If you are not as underwhelmed as me by these new features then you'll be interested to know that the old model can be upgraded - but disappointed to discover that this can only be done by returning the radio to Yaesu. It is not, apparently, field upgradeable using your cloning cable. I'm guessing that this may be because Yaesu licensed the Smart Beaconing code from HamHUD Nichetronix and by making it a DIY upgrade there would be no way to ensure that everyone who applied it paid for it.

I think Yaesu missed some real opportunities here. Predictive text, as used in any mobile phone, would make APRS text messaging much less tiresome. And, even without maps, the ability to display your position graphically relative to other received APRS objects - and the ability to enter objects manually - would turn the radio into a half-useful navigation device.

This upgrade is currently only available in the USA. The European VX-8E will presumably need a different upgrade.


Steve GW7AAV said...

I contacted Yaesu UK over a possible upgrade here in the UK for a piece on my blog, and I would like to say that they said they were in discussion with Japan over whether or not there would be an upgrade offered, but I can't tell you because of the disclaimer on the email reply. Seriously they said I couldn't tell anybody the contents of the reply, which is handy.

Unknown said...

At least they didn't say that now they've told you they'd have to kill you.