2010-01-08 · in Tech Notes · 381 words

In August 2009, I bought a Yaesu VR-500 — a pocket-sized all-mode radio receiver with continuous coverage from 100 kHz up to 1.3 GHz. My previous travel radio was a Sony ICF-SW22, which only did AM on shortwave and didn't have digital tuning. Here are my impressions after a few months' use of the VR-500.

So, in general, the hardware is very nice — but I wish the firmware were open source!

The radio has a TTL serial interface on the ring of its speaker socket that can be used to dump and restore its memory. I built a MAX232-based adaptor to connect it to a PC's serial port.

Bob Parnass' tk500 provides a Tk-based interface for editing the VR-500's memories and communicating with the radio. I found that tk500 1.5 didn't save the invisible last digit of the frequency, and didn't clear the priority flag when importing a CSV file. I've written a patch to correct both of these problems. See the comments in the patch for details of how the last digit is actually stored in the radio's memory.