Vertex VX-1210 HF Manpack

This radio is a new favorite. It's pretty much optimal for pedestrian mobile HFPack type operation. Simple to operate and very rugged, it's fun to grab for campouts and hikes.

 

Technology:

The combination of lightweight Li-Ion batteries and frugal RX current drain make make the VX-1210 ideal for portable operations.

The antenna tuner is wide range, and will tune short whips to long wires with ease. The radio has 500 memory slots, which save frequency, mode, power level, selcal, and a display label for easy access. Any memory can be dumped into the vfo and the rig then tunes in .1 or 5 khz steps.

The squelch is better than most on HF, and works very well.

The construction is very rugged, and key areas are gasketed making the rig "splash-proof" if not submersable. There is a balance between mechanical integrity and heavy weight, and the VX-1210 has found a very usable "sweet spot" in this regard. (It is half the weight of many military manpacks).

Information:

Currently, the VX-1210 may the best option for commercially available "No assembly required" manpack operation. It is difficult sometimes to find a dealer who is knowledgeable. Most will sell to you at 20% of list, and some can beat that price on the radio by selling you their demo unit.

The VX12 Yahoo Group is the best source of information on this radio. 

Antennas:

The VX-1210 has a ruggedized SO-239 jack on the front panel:

Vertex YA-61 whip

This whip is the best method of attaching manpack style short whips. It's purpose made for this radio, and protects the SO-239 from abuse. While the factory YA-61 whip is usable on higher bands, you will need a coil for lower bands to radiate well. There are at least two methods in use to adapt this base to 3/8-24 loaded whips. Bonnie KQ6XA documented how to machine the tip of the YA-61 base to accept 3/8-24 antennas. As many do not have access to machine shops, I developed the approach at the left using "Off the shelf" parts to achieve the same goal.

With the mod at left, you can use hamsticks, MP-1, and other light whips with no problem. Though the 1/8" stainless whip looks small, the spring bends before the short whip segment does, especially if just a few inches long.

 

Wire Field Antennas

I use the normal suite of HFPack field antennas as discussed on my HF Portable page.

When not using a whip, I leave a silver plated UG-2737/U BNC adapter on the SO-239 to save wear & tear. Most importantly, the center pin is loose and will not damage the SO-239 on the VX-1210. BNC's are lighter for portable antenna usage, and it saves the threads on the SO-239 with repeated attach/detach cycles.

Watch cheap adapters to make sure the pin is not too long, and forces the center pin to rotate when you attach the adapter!

Carrying Case:

The VX-1210 is quite small, and will easily fit in a daypack. It will need some padding, as the case is not quite as heavy-duty as the military manpacks:

Targus TPM002US Courier Electronics case

This Targus case is perfectly sized for the VX-1210. It's usable as is, no mods required unless you want to use a whip with the cover closed. The case has 5mm closed cell foam to protect the radio in addition to the Cordura exterior.

This case is also ideal to provide a bit of protection inside a daypack or hardshell case.

There are interior pockets which can be used for pens, cables, etc. I sized the YA-61 whip adapter length to fit in the pocket diagonally, as shown to the left.

I am working on a mod to allow the radio to be used with the whip attached and the cover closed. This mod should be able to be done at a luggage or shoe repair shop inexpensively.

 

This case is widely available at the following stores:

You should be able to find it for $25-37, which makes it an attractive option compared to the Vertex option.

Operating Experience:

When sitting side by side with a full feature base station the VX-1210 is a little underwhelming. No DSP, no big VFO, etc. Even compared to rigs like the FT-857, the VX-1210 just does not have the bells & whistles.

But once you slip it in a pack, and take it for a walk, you realize what the radios is made for. For portable ops in the real world, it's very fun to use, and there are just enough controls to do what you need to do. The speaker mic is ideal for cliping on a backpack strap, and with the built in jack it's easy to add headphones.

Unlike rigs & kit where you have to strap on & jack in, you can simply use the VX-1210 with with an over the shoulder carry strap. It's that light. Going farther? Use a quality daypack. 

Mods:

Bonnie has documented several good mods on the VX12 Yahoo Group. I have a couple in progress which will be posted both on this page and their when complete.


Up VX-1210 Manpack PRC-104 HF Manpack