Sunday, June 7, 2009

So many menus, so little time

Modern pieces of amateur radio equipment really are marvels aren’t they? I’ve just acquired a previously enjoyed Yaesu VX6R HT. While it’s a major upgrade from my 2 meter only FT-23R, it does take some serious time with the manual to start to understand some of the many features. The depth of complexity is similar to my FT-897, which was my first experience with menu driven radios. These transceivers have more menus than a Denny’s during a Shriners convention. There is no possible way you could memorize all the various settings, or the order of keystrokes to get some of the whiz-bang doo-dads operating. Sure, the functions you use day-to-day will soon come second nature, but suddenly have to change a CTCSS tone or create a new bank of memories and it’s back to the manual.

This isn’t a complaint (I know it sounds like one) as I realize in order to fit the amount of features into such a small package, menus are the only option. If these radios had a dedicated knob or button for every feature, your HT would be the size of a filing cabinet. Mind you it does annoy me a tad that the previously simple action of adjusting the squelch is no longer a simple twist of a dial, at least on the VX6R (I’d have to look up the process).

These are pretty darn cool radios, but I do kind of miss dials and switches. I still have my first HF rig, which isn’t quite a dinosaur as it is solid state, but it was manufactured back in 1982. Every function has either a dial or a switch, not a single menu to be found. Now, it’s a lot larger and heavier too but, frankly its size and array of knobs and switches, I think, makes it look more impressive.

I see one of the 73 menu options is to have the green/red Receive/TX LED glow a bright white to act as a small flashlight. Now THAT will be handy on those late-night walks with the dog when I need a light to find where the dog, errr….you know. Mind you it takes three key strokes and the twist of a dial to turn it on. Simplicity, thy name is not ham radio. Now…back to the manual.

What a modern HT would look like if someone hadn't figured out how to compact all those features into menus.

1 comment:

  1. That's Bob VA3ACE in the trailer with Al VE3FZ.