This review has been a long time coming, I wish I had posted it before now, but better late than never, I guess. When I first started this review, there was only 1 version of the Wouxun KG-UV8D radio out, but now there are two. All radios with firmware 1.02 (1.01 was the old number) include the 2.5KHz step when tuning/scanning. As far as I know, that is the only difference between the 2 firmwares. There is no way to upgrade the 1.01 to 1.02, as far as I know. This is how they come from the factory.
Of course I bought one of these radios for myself and have been tinkering with it for the last couple of month. This is a really neat little radio. It has several features that other Chinese radios have yet to implement, but to me the best one is the 999 memory channels. This is unheard-of for an HT, especially a Chinese HT, most of which only support 128 memory channels. But this ultra-huge memory capacity enables me to enter all of my Ham Radio repeaters and simplex frequencies, along with all the FRS/GMRS frequencies, plus some locally used Red Cross frequencies. Even with all of those programmed in, I still have plenty of memory channels left to use. My plan is to create a bank of frequencies for the Galveston, TX area, to which we travel 1-2 times per year. Perhaps I will add some other repeaters also, in other areas.
Yes, this radio also does cross-band repeat. Honestly, I’ve not used it – I don’t really have a situation in which I would need a cross-band repeating HT. I have cross-band repeat setup on my Kenwood TM-741a in my shack at home, so that I can hit the Hurst repeater from an HT inside of my house (I key up a 440 simplex frequency, which keys my TM-741a, and it cross-band repeats to the Hurst repeater). This way I can talk on the repeater from inside my house without always having to walk out to the shack. I suppose cross-band repeating would be useful if you would out in the field somewhere. Maybe assisting on a bike/foot race, or perhaps on a camping trip. Setup the KG-UV8D with an external antenna and use it as a portable repeater. I have not had the need to do this yet, so I haven’t played with that feature.
The backlit LCD screen is certainly a plus. The screen goes off while you are monitoring, but comes back on again when a signal is received. This is to save the battery, I suspect, because the larger screens on today’s smartphones are usually the largest battery draw.
This radio, just like the Anytone AT-3318UV HT, will allow you to move each band independently between VFO and Memory modes. If the top band in is VFO, you can move the bottom band to a memory channel, without changing the top band, and vice-versa. There is a VFO/MR key on the front of this radio, so switching between the 2 options is very easy, unlike some other Chinese HTs. In reality, the VFO/MR button has 4 settings: VFO frequency, Memory channel number, Memory channel name, and Memory Channel Frequency. So when you are programming your repeater settings, it allows you to set a name for each repeater, then page through with the VFO/MR button so the repeater name can be displayed on the LCD instead of the frequency. This is useful if you are looking for a repeater in a certain area or city. And with 999 memory channels, you will probably want to know which repeater is where!
The radio comes with a great extended range antenna, just like the Anytone AT-3318UV.
There is also an extended battery available for this radio. The standard battery that comes with the radio is 1700mAh, and the extended battery is 2600mAh. The extended battery is a bit thicker than the stock battery, so expect the radio to be a bit heavier and bulkier than the stock configuration. However, rest assured that the stock belt clip and stock desktop battery charger are both build in such a way that they will accommodate either battery. No separate charger or belt clip is needed for the 2600mAh battery.
From the factory, the radio only does 400-470 TX range, but with the Frequency Expansion software you can extend the range up to 519MHz. I have not loaded this software yet myself, but I plan to do so next week. This software came from Wouxun, and isn’t a “hack”, it just extends the range of the radio to its maximum capacity.
I love this little HT and have carried it almost exclusively since it arrived. It is a fantastic addition to anyone’s radio collection.