• Best Handheld for Receiving

  • Discussion related to railroad radio frequencies, railroad communication practices, equipment, and more.
Discussion related to railroad radio frequencies, railroad communication practices, equipment, and more.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by railohio
This is a longshot, but here goes nothing ... crossposted from http://www.qrz.com forums.


Best Handheld for Receiving
VX-1R a Contender?

I'm an admittedly novice ham. I got my ticket two years ago to aid in my main passion, which is the pursuit and photography of trains. I currently have a Yaesu VX-5RS and an assortment of HT and magmount antennas to go with it. One dilemma I'm running into as I'm becoming more active on the ham bands is choosing between using my transceiver to monitor the railroad frequencies or talk to other hams. I have found that the amateur transceivers provide much better reception than a normal scanner would so I'm loathe to go down that road again.

What I'm looking for is an inexpensive handheld I can use mostly for scanning of the railroad band but also as a back up for my main HT. Most of my ham radio contact is on local repeaters and with other hams railfans while out chasing trains so high power output isn't a main concern. I've been eyeing the Yaesu VX-1R because it's compact, inexpensive, and will utilize many accessories I already have for my VX-5. I'm hoping some of you in ham radio land can offer input on its receive functionality. How well does it receive outside the main ham frequencies? (The railroads operate on 160-161MHz.) How's the battery life compare to the VX-5 when not transmitting? For those that have used both, how does it compare to the VX-5?

If you guys don't think the VX-1R is a suitable radio for this task what would you each recommend? Since I'm very pleased with the performance of my VX-5 I would be inclined to get a second one if nothing else is suitable at a lower price. So what's the verdict?

  by kr4bd
:-) :wink: :-D


I have been a ham for almost 30 years and would personally NEVER buy any Yaesu products...but that's purely for "political reasons" (for lack of a better term). They are generally good radios, however. I just remember back in the late 1970's how a bunch of non-FCC approved "grey market" 100+ watt Yaesu Ham radios (FT-101's with the CB band built in) were being sold by the semi-trailer truckfuls at all the CB shops around the country. If that wasn't bad enough, these shops also sold matching high powered (1 KW) ampliers to go with them! The interference was horrible everywhere.....so bad that the FCC promptly banned all "out-of-the-box" HF amplifiers with 10 meter (also works on CB, 11 meters) capabilities. A few of us still remember this. As I recall, Yaesu said they had "no idea how these radios got into the U.S."... Recently, however, the FCC repealled that regulation now allowing Amp manufacturers to sell 10 meter capable amps again.

Anyway, to your question. I have the Kenwood TH-F6 handheld which also covers everything from DC-daylight in receive. I can tell you that for the railroad frequencies, it is NOT too great. You have a couple of things working against you with these multi-band radios. Generally, they are set up for peak operation on the ham bands. The antennas that come with them are also tuned for maximum performance on the ham bands, NOT the RR frequencies at 160 mHz. I have an old Bearcat BC-200 scanner that I use for RR scanning. It totally outperforms the Kenwood HT on the Railroad band. I also have other scanners made by Radio Shack that seem to work OK for train monitoring, too. Here in my shack, I have a Radio Shack desktop (Pro 2052) connected to a scanner antenna about 35 feet up my ham tower. This setup seems to work very well.