N9EWO Review :

Yaesu's Discontinued  VX-3R "micro" dual band handheld transceiver. Was made in Japan.

  Suffered from many issues over it's 10 year lifetime on the market to the end of production (quality control lacking).
Good news is that the CTCSS "Delay Bug" was fixed (vs. the VX-2R).
Two last production run 2017 samples tested (made in February 2017) were both found defective.
(N9EWO Photo)

N9EWO's Review on the Yaesu VX-3R "Micro" Handheld Transceiver

(NOTE : Was sold in Japan and other parts of the world under the "Standard" label).

Approx. Serial Numbers Tested :
1st "Defective" Sample (2007) : 7G02003x (No internal microphone audio)
2nd "Properly Working" Sample (2007) : 7H0311xx
3rd "Defective" Sample (2017) : 7D520204x (Dead internal charging circuit, This dud sample had an extra digit on it's serial #...this is not a typo)
4th "Defective" Sample : (2017) : 7D5202xx (Bad LCD,  see photo below. 3rd and 4th samples from the last production run made in Feb 2017)
(IMPORTANT NOTE : UPDATED Review Text below with the 4th February 2017 Sample will be in this ORANGE BOLD color)

Country of Manufacture :
VX-3R Transceiver: Japan, FNB-82LI Lithium-Ion Battery: Japan, NC-85 wall charger: Taiwan , CSC-92 Case: Japan, FBA-37 3 AA Battery Case: Japan. (SAD-19B wall charger : China, MH-34 Hand Microphone : China)

This model is the follow up to the Yaesu VX-2R, and for those who you have not been on my review page for this model it would be a good idea that you read that page first. My review on this page too for the Icom IC-P7A (huffda !!).

These of course are MY views and yours may not be the same. The test samples  1 and 2 were early versions from the first and third lots imported into the USA (July 2007). Last 2 were from the last lot made in February 2017 (just before it was discontinued). Even with the 4th sample having a bad LCD, we were able to make these updated observations.  It was tested in a area of about 80,000 total population, so I may not experience intermodulation or other issues that may happen in a larger city.

The 4th (and final) test sample arrived with a bad LCD screen (strange dark looking).
Box / packing showed no shipping damage , so assumed this was another factory inflicted defect.
UPDATE : This LCD issue appeared to be a common bug with the VX-3R.  (N9EWO Photo)

Discontinued Product

First 2007 Sample Was Defective / Test of two 2017 Samples were "Dud's"

With the first sample we received, the internal microphone was totally dead. If we slightly squeezed the cabinet it would crackle in a bit, but that was it. When any external microphone was plugged in, it worked fine. Serial number approx : 7G02003x (from the second lot). This was a sad state of affairs for Yaesu. This shows that quality control does not exist at all. Simply no excuse for this and it shows that it was not tested before it left the factory. With all of the quality control and hardware / firmware bug issues that the VX-2R had, you would think that they would have learned something ?

My second sample was OK (thank goodness), but appears that quality control is just lacking big time ?

[ UPDATES : I have received a report of ANOTHER VX-3R with this same "Dead Internal Mic" issue. Approx serial number : 7H0309xx. This is from the 3rd lot and was not a very early one. Another out of the box dud VX-3R had his CTCSS not holding stored frequencies. Approx serial number here was : 7G0100xx. As I was saying, where is your quality control Yaesu ?? ]

The speaker connections are made in the VX-1R, VX-2 R and VX-3R with pressure contacts to the PC Board  (no wires). The internal microphone in the VX-3R is another pressure type contact , but uses a capacitance circuit here (but it too can be affected by bad contacts) .

With sample number 3 (manufactured in February 2017, last production run number 52), the battery internal charging circuit refused to work (was dead).  The last # 4 test sample (from the same lot) arrived with a defective LCD. This (and other reviews on the internet) show the VX-3R's track record for downright unacceptable quality control over it's 10 year life on the market. Being as tiny as it is could have had a play in difficult manufacturing of this handheld transceiver ??

Feel, Looks and Construction. CSC-92 Soft Case and FBA-37 AA Battery Case.

The size and solid feeling are pretty much a dead ringer to the elder VX-2 model, but the corners are less rounded. However, once I had both in my hands the VX-3R seems to be just a tad larger ? We still have the weird lock switch on the bottom, but I still like this system over the plastic "snap" bar that is used with the Yaesu VX-5, Icom IC-T90A, IC-Q7A and others.

All buttons on the front are of a hard plastic type, the VX-2R used soft plastic-rubber ones. These take a much more "push" to make happen over the VX-1R or VX-2R. These have a spongy "click" feeling when pushed. You need to push a good ways in to make them work. To make it worse are more recessed over the older VX2R. This does get a bit painful if you are programming "mucho" channels. Here is the first MAJOR strike for me with the VX-3R. Out of the case it's not so bad, however when trying to poke these over the plastic when in the case .....forget it !!!

The side mounted PTT, squelch and power buttons continue to be of a soft rubber type. With the PTT being a slight slight step backward over the VX-2R , as it's a more mushy. The VX-2R's PTT is a more solid feeling. But it is not curved and does has a slightly larger surface to poke at. The orange on-off button takes the same (if not worse) "finger breaker" pressure to make happen however. The squelch "break" button is even much mushy on the VX-3R to me over the 2. Overall I do not care for the PTT button on the VX-3R.

(Side buttons still have a mushy feel, but not as bad. The Orange ON-OFF button was MUCH improved and requires much less force to make work)..

The locking top knob is the strangest part of the VX-3R. It pulls out for use and to do this operation is a bit stiff (takes 2 hands). When pushed in it becomes locked and cannot be rotated. This knob has a rubber feeling for better grab. It OK even if it's a bit on the ugly side to me. Actual knob operation has a fair amount of "giggle" play to it (when pulled out), also has a fair amount of "rotational play" when turned (going from click to click). It feels cheap to me in any event. This is still is better over the Icom IC-P7A's sloppy feeling encoder, but the VX-2R wins on this again (excellent feel).

LCD looks great with the proper contrast (it is not adjustable). It is slightly larger over the VX-2's display but this is for the added volume icon on the far left. Display backlighting being a yellow color (VX-2R is red). I do like the VX-3R's backlight color a bit better.

In a pinch the old VX-2R's CSC-90 soft case will work with the VX-3R OK. However, it fits a bit more tight and also not all of the windows will match up (like the rx/tx LED), but it can work unless you are using the FBA-37 AA battery case.

The proper CSC-92 case has a back on it that allows for the rear of it to move around slightly between the 2 battery sources using Velcro. There is a belt loop on the case, but I did not care for this. In fact I don't use belt clips with a small POCKET radio like the VX-2 and 3 are (why bother). Also there are 2 hard snaps that need to be used, that need to be pressed up against the body of the radio every time it's attached to the belt. This was not for me, so I removed the loop part of the case. I cut the 4 snaps very CAREFULLY with a larger pair of side cutters (marked with pink dots, see photo below). Otherwise it's good and provides protection of the transceivers buttons. Here is another one that Icom totally blew with the open front IC-P7A "LC-161 case".

I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here

I hated the "Belt Loop" on the VX-3R's CSC-92 case.
So I CAREFULLY removed the 4 rivets holding it (marked with the pink dots)
using a larger pair of side cutters. Much better this way to ME. 
(N9EWO Photo)

Uses the same FNB-82LI battery pack, and the RF power is a dead ringer to the VX-2R. The standard battery cover is still a pretty thin piece of plastic and tends to fish (slide) around slightly even when locked. A bit more in fact over the old VX-2R. But this I did not find to be a drawback.

A new FBA-37 case option allows one to use 3 AA batteries instead of the FNB-82LI battery. It replaces the rear cover entirely. So you have to keep track of the standard cover as not to loose it. It fits and works well. There is a disclaimer in the owners manual that states that rechargeable batteries should not be used. This is because if it ever did short (on or off the radio), could indeed give you a hot pocket and very nasty burns , let alone killing the radio. I did this anyway and but has a "tight fit" issue (see note below). Again, I can see this could be a disaster if it ever shorted out with no protection in this case. So you have been warned.

Don't get any idea's of using this FBA-37 with your old VX-2R. It will not fit....sorry.

[ UPDATE: The MAJOR bug with the FBA-37 battery case I have found is that some brands of batteries fit VERY tight if not impossible to make work. MOST rechargeable batteries (if not all) will not even fit at all. Is not as great as I was thinking at first, more of a pain in the rump in fact. There are some aftermarket FBA-37 clone cases as seen on ebay that are advertised to take slightly larger batteries (not tested).  With the 2017 sample we were able to insert white eneloop AA's cells (HR-3UTGB , 2000 mah ] in the FBA-37 and worked here with no problem).

Also watch out for the small plastic pin inside the VX-3R's battery cavity. This is used for switching the charger circuit off if one accidentally plugs in the charger when the FBA-37 is in use. It looks very fragile (be careful).

Has the "No Power" Bug Been Cleared Up ??

As of me typing this text, the "no power bug" that hit many mid-later VX-2R's , this did not happen with my VX-3R sample.

With some later samples of the VX-2R, after a random number of power on's and off's, it would fail to come on. When this happened you were forced to remove and replace the battery. Then it was OK for awhile until it does it all over again. A royal pain in the rump it is, not to worry with the VX-3R here.

LCD Display, and Bugs Here / Dark Screen Under Lower Lighting Conditions

Again as of me typing this text , the LCD bleed issue at power up with many later VX-2R's was not present on the properly working sample of the VX-3R.

Defective display on test sample # 4 (see text at the top of this report).

Electronic Volume Control, Set Menu, Can Now Adjust The Mic Level

A feature that was on the VX-1R but not on the 2R that has been restored with the 3R , is a "electronic volume" control. But unlike the VX-1R, there is no up down buttons and one is forced to push in and HOLD a "Vol" button and THEN use the knob on top to make volume adjustments. This is good in some ways, bad in others. No wear not using a old style volume control, but is a chore to adjust the volume now being forced to use the tuning encoder to turn it up or down. The "volume control" set up on the VX-2R is MUCH better in my view. I like the VX-2R's volume control set up MUCH better.

Plus side (as minor as it is) to this is that you can change the way the VOL button works in the set menu. This allows just one poke of the VOL button and then for a couple of seconds the encoder on top becomes the volume control , and just like the function button it reverts back to tuning mode automatically. This is a much better way to use this and for me it was the FIRST item I changed in the set menu.

Or if one wishes, you can switch the top encoder to become the "volume control" all the time.

(UPDATE : Not so fast ! We have had a change of heart on this. More times than not we were having the VX-2R's volume control getting turned down, sometimes to zero as being put in and out of a shirt pocket, without even knowing it. With the "electronic" volume control scheme this cures the issue completely. One just has to get used it it (adjustment period).

Speaking of the "Set" menu, there are now a 94 selections (compare to only 46 on the VX-2R). You can now adjust the microphone level (more below on this) and even turn off the blasted "Beep" every time the squelch breaks when scanning the memory channels , but still keep the keyboard beep on, this now has a separate toggle.

Audio Quality Receive and Transmit, Not as Good As the VX-2R's Receive Audio, Squelch Settings Improved.

After additional testing in various outdoor situations, the VX-2R is the clear winner for receive / speaker quality. There is a hint of bass response and is more hissy with the VX-3R (you simply cannot push bass out of a micro sized speaker at all from a micro sized handheld transceiver). Mind you it's still MUCH better over the Icom IC-P7A lousy receive audio. But I have a harder time hearing what's said in a outdoor situation with the VX-3R. The older VX-2R rules here with the more crisp and cleaner audio from the speaker.

(Audio now near the VX-2R. So a noticeable improvement here. Actually the speaker audio is pretty good now considering the size of it.)

Transmit quality is very good, loud and crisp (excellent). And again you able to adjust the mic level as well. NOTE : Keep at the default 5 as much as you can. Even the internal can over deviate with too loud of a voice. With the optional Yaesu MH-34 hand mic we found "4" on the mic level control to be more desirable (a tad lower) with our voice.

The squelch settings are separate for the AM mode, FM mode, Wide FM mode and AM broadcast. The VX-2R has only 2, one for FM Wide and the other one for the everything else. Much better idea here with the "Three" VX-3R's squelch settings and works great.

MW Broadcast now features a internal bar antenna (But Disappointing) /  Dual Receive With MW or FM Stations.

Here we have a slight improvement over the VX-2R. Yaesu has added a internal loop-bar antenna for the MW band. Now don't get too excited for any DX here. It does help with VERY LOCAL signals as compared to just using the short rubber antenna. For any distant stations (even at only 50 miles away), it's going to disappoint big time. For the most part MW reception without any real external antenna is still almost near useless (with the working test samples) !!

There is a way to listen to a MW or FM broadcast station while also monitoring a local repeater (it can cut in).

FM Broadcast Performance Bad News, Stereo via a separate headphone jack, also a FM Broadcast cord antenna.

The FM Broadcast (88 to 108 MHz) performance on the VX-3R was just about totally useless at my location. Very deaf if almost unacceptable, no sensitivity at all to speak of. Why did Yaesu go to all of this trouble to add FM stereo and have such a lousy receiver here ?? In a large city it may be more usable, but if you are out in the boonies (like me) at all "forget it". Here the VX-2R's FM performance blew the it into the next universe.

If one compares CURRENT printed specifications on the 2 radios , you can easily see that the listed VX-3R specs show much worse sensitivity. The VX-2R at 1.5 uv , the VX-3R is marked 3.0 uv in the FM Broadcast Band. Important note on this : Info via the owners manual marked as 0706W-BE on rear cover. It WAS marked as 1.5 uv in earlier manuals and ads. This shows the real story, Yaesu is well aware of the less sensitive FMBC section.  (The 1506d-EM "2015" manual lists FM sensitivity as 1.5 uv as with the VX-2R and shows that improvement in testing as well , see below)

The AM, FM broadcast sections are marked as only "Single Conversion".

Yes, one can toggle to use the side mounted 1/8 inch headphone jack as the FM antenna in the set menu (but this did not help sensitivity for me). Good news is it was not all for nothing, as the rest of the radio's audio also comes out of this jack too. So you don't have to use the speaker/ mic's earphone jack (if your speaker / mic has a earphone jack) to use common lightweight headphones anymore. The speaker / mic jack on top uses the same weird 4 conductor ones that the VX-1, VX-2 and the Icom IC-Q7A use, so no change here. I still feel that speaker / mic jacks belong on the top of a handheld transceiver, and the VX-3R provides this.

(With the 2017 sample FM Broadcast sensitivity was noticeably improved. Not going to say it's stellar either, but is MUCH more useful. Of course reception quality will vary depending on the antenna used)

Overall Sensitivity , 800 MHz and SW / HF Bands Reception Any More Useful ?

Other than with the AM and FM broadcast bands , overall analog VHF/UHF sensitivity is pretty much a dead ringer to my ears when comparing to the VX-2R. But with one very important exception. The 800 Mhz band sensitivity has been MUCH improved. I can use this handheld for analog 800 MHz public service monitoring now , whereas with the VX-2R it was pretty much a washout.

SW broadcast sensitivity is another dead ringer, in other words it's not too useful
(see my VX-2R page for more information on this).

Included Antenna is the Same One That Came With the VX-2R.

Once again we have the same YHA-66 "junk" gem that came with the VX-2R. It's actually a very nice size antenna, but it does not do well outside the 2 meter and 70 cm amateur bands. But as it usually is, for many only a after market antenna will satisfy, including me. We used a Diamond SRH-519 (8 inch thin whip) and worked very well, but is not made for rough handling / use. I still use a couple of the old VX-1R short antenna's that work a bit better over the YHA-66.

I was told that the latest versions of the Diamond SRH-519 provides a slightly longer "center stinger" for proper contact for the VX-2R and VX-3R's. Not sure how true this really is, however my later Diamond sample has a nice long center pin and easily makes proper connection to either radio. Have a good look before you buy any after market antenna if you are able to.

CTCSS Delay Bug Is Gone, Finally !!

For those of you where the CTCSS delay bug (this is noticed more when scanning CTCSS memory channels) bothered you to no end as it did me with the VX-1R, VX-2R and even with the VX-5R, here it is very good news.

If you entered a channel with a CTCSS decode, when scanning and stopped on this memory entry, it would take a good second for the audio to come through, missing the first part of a message. Well with the VX-3R, Yaesu "finally" cleared this issue up with the VX-3R. So tone decode is now useful for use with public service frequencies.

As I type this text, there was a report of the CTCSS values not taking (that is not storing). We never experienced this with any of the test samples.

No Schematics or Block Diagrams Included

This may sound like a broken record, but once again the VX-3R does not include any schematics or even a lousy block diagram.

The VX-3R Is Still a Worthy "Micro" Handheld Transceiver Overall / Be Aware of it's Sour QC Record.

Even with the bugs and quality control issues, the Yaesu VX-3R is still a good micro transceiver with great extended receive (FM broadcast band is a bust however). It still beats out the Icom IC-P7A to my ears with it's nasty poor receive audio. However watch out for what appears to be an above average dud rate (and was to the end of production) ?

The VX-3R is a discontinued product as is the VX-2R (so one will have to hunt on the used market for either).

Dave N9EWO
N9EWO all rights reserved
Ver. 4.0

Discontinued Product

Yaesu : Serial Numbers
Yaesu uses the same serial number scheme for all of their ham gear.

The serial number has the form YMLLNNNN where Y = the last digit of the year of manufacture, M is a letter representing the month of manufacture with "C" = January, "D" = February, and so on, the lot number is represented by the two digit LL (00 - 99), and NNNN (0001-9999) is the unit number within lot LL.

For example: 0N070145 means December 2000, lot 7, unit 0145. The lot number is not linked to the year & month, i.e., LL does not reset to 00 each year. Service bulletins refer to lot numbers.

Another Example: Serial number 1e110089 means :

Manufactured: March 2001
Lot: 11
Unit: 0089

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