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A closer look at the Leixen VV-898

Leixen-VV-898.jpgOne look at the Leixen VV-898 and you can tell it isn't just another mobile radio. It's less than half the size of a conventional mobile two way radio and at just over 11 ounces, it's also lightweight, but don't let its tiny footprint fool you. This little radio packs a punch on both UHF and VHF bands with only 10W of operation. It's a solid solution for densely packed dashes. You can even install the VV-898 without drilling any holes. All things considered, the VV-898 is a great choice for those who want a small and discreet radio on the road or in vehicles in which installation of a full size mobile is difficult or out of the question.

Sure, it's easy to put in your vehicle, but what can you do with it, and what can it do? Is it difficult to program? is it easy to operate? Let's take a closer look.

The Leixen VV-898 - what is it good for?
For starters, this little radio is handy for hams who cruise around town while on the local nets or a ragchew in the 2 meter (144-148MHz) or 70cm (420-450MHz) amateur radio bands. But that's not all it does. The Leixen VV-898 is also Part 90 type accepted as a full fledged business radio, which means businesses can also it as mobile transceiver or even a base station radio when connected to an AC power source and mounted to a wall or desk. The typical mobile business radio can cost hundreds each. Investing in the VV-898 for an entire mobile fleet can save a company a lot of money on two way communications. Type accepted for business use? Really? If you don't believe me, look it up. FCC ID: 2AC2Z-898UV.

Key features - what can it do?
Okay, so it's somewhat versatile and can be used in more than one radio service. But what can it do? Plenty. Although it may be light in weight, it is not light on features.

  • Dual Band UHF/VHF transmit and receive
  • 200-260MHz/87.5-108MHz (Receive Only)
  • 4W/10W Transmit Power
  • 199 Channels
  • Voice Scramble - Configurable per channel
  • Emergency Alarm
  • Channel Scan
  • Skip Channel
  • Dual Watch
  • Companding - Configurable per channel
  • Busy Channel Lockout
  • CTCSS/DCS Codes
  • Backlit LCD Display
  • Backlit Keypad
  • User Customizable Power-On Display Message
  • Power Save Feature (Auto Power Off)
  • Timeout Timer
  • VOX
  • Keypad Lock
  • English Voice Prompts
  • Wireless Frequency Change (Wireless Cloning Capable)
  • PC Programmable
  • Built-in Speaker
  • DTMF Code
  • Supports 2.5k Step
  • Reset
  • Individual Call
  • Group Call
  • Remote TX/TX Inhibition
  • Adjustable Squelch
  • Adjustable Display Font Size (No kidding!)
  • PTT ID - Send a code that IDs your transceiver
  • Roger Beep Enable/Disable
  • Reverse - Swaps out the offset frequency for simplex operation
  • Tail Elimination
  • Talk around
  • Wideband/Narrowband operation

Programming the VV-898 - how difficult is it?
As with many mobile two way radios, the VV-898 can be programmed in one of two ways, either direct from the console and/or keypad, or through a computer via programming software. Let's take a quick look at both.

Direct from the radio
At first glance, programming the radio directly through the console seems complicated and foreboding, but not because there are a lot of buttons, knobs and dials, but because there aren't. In fact, there are no knobs or dials on this radio at all. There are only 9 buttons on the face of the radio itself, four of which are function keys, and a rather plain looking keypad on the hand microphone consisting of sixteen keys, four of which are labeled with the letters A, B, C, and D, respectively. Although the keys are marked, there is nothing intuitive at all about them in regards to actually programming the radio. In addition, the user manual, at only 55 pages, seems rather basic, providing the essentials of operation without much detail. In other words, the simplicity in design of the radio itself and within the pages of its user guide may give the user a sense it is a complicated device to program.

However, it isn't complicated at all. You just need to read the manual before you start, and not necessarily in page order. That is the key. You will also need to use the buttons on the console and the keypad on the hand microphone combined to do it efficiently. It takes longer at first, but once you understand the sequence needed to enter a frequency, assign it to a channel and save it to the radio, the entire procedure makes sense. I personally think setting up frequencies and channels on the VV-898 is easier than programming a Baofeng UV-5R, but then, so are many other radios.

The menu consists of 51 items. Default settings are bold.

Menu # Menu Item Description Option
01 Auto Power Off (APO) Turns off radio after set time 10 mins to 16 hours/OFF
02 APRO Sets compander and voice scrambler
on per channel basis
03 Busy Channel Lockout Disables TX on active channel ON/OFF
04 Key Beep Beep when key is pressed ON/OFF
05 Channel Save Save frequency as memory channel default channel is 001
06 DTMF Function Dual Tone Multi-Frequency settings
Individual Call
Group Call
Code Transmission Mode
Remote RX/TX Inhibition
ID Code 1000


07 Dual Watch monitor dual frequencies ON/OFF
09 Decode Code Choose CTCSS/DCS Code NONE/Code #
11 Encode Code Choose CTCSS/DCS Code NONE/Code #
12 FM Radio built-in broadcast receiver ON/OFF
13 FM Scan Scan FM radio channels ON/OFF
14 FM SQL Sets squelch for FM radio scan 0-9/5
15 FM Dual Watch Listen to FM radio and RX simultaneously ON/OFF
16 Font Size Adjust display font SMAL/BIG
17 Key Lock Function Lock transceiver controls ON/K/K+S/ALL/OFF
18 Keypad Function Sets DTMF Keypad ON/OFF
19 Backlight (Lamp) Sets display backlight OFF/KEY/CONT
20 Set Channel Name Display Display channel name ON/OFF
21 Channel Name Display Choose name or number ON/OFF
22 Edit Channel Name Create name for channel Name***
23 Set Opening Display Set power on display text ALL/SYS/User/Time
24-29 Custom Keys Set Define Programmable keys
P1, P3, P3, M
30 High/Low Power Set Sets transmit power LOW/HIGH
31 PTT ID Sends code to identify
your transceiver
32 PTT SET Sets PTT A and B A=B/A!=B
33 Roger Sends a "Roger Beep" ON/OFF
34 Reverse Swaps RX/TX frequencies for
to toggle simplex
and repeater operation
35-36 Offset Frequency Sets offset frequency
37 Save Battery Sets sleep mode option ON/OFF
38-40 Scan Menus Sets scan modes TO/CO
41 Squelch Level Sets Squelch Level 0-9/2
42 Step Adjusts frequency step 2.5/5/6.25/10/12.5
43 Tail Elimination noise burst at end of transmit ON/OFF
44 Talk Around Enables Talk Around ON/OFF
45 Timeout Timer sets TX timeout 10-120 seconds/30
46 TX Stop Enables/disables transmitter OFF/ON
47-50 VOX Sets Voice Operated Transmit features ON/OFF
51 Wide/Narrow Bandwidth Set Sets channel bandwidth WIDE/NARROW

Programming with software
The VV-898 programming software is a lot more intuitive, of course, and generally easier than manually programming through the physical interface of the radio itself. Although the VV-898 does have a nice feature set, its full capabilities become more noticeable once you run the software. It's not complicated, but the software is more comprehensive and offers more programming options than you may expect from such tiny, simple looking radio. Considering its size and price, the VV-898 can do quite a lot more than just transmit and receive.

The USB programming cable is proprietary to this radio, so it isn't like you can mix and match them like you can with, say, Baofeng and Wouxun handheld transceivers. The programming software is also specific to the radio. However, the software is available as a free download, and for the most part it is self-explanatory, so unless you have never programmed a two way radio before, it should not be difficult to master. The USB cable driver needs to be installed, the programming software is available for Windows PCs only, and you do need a username and password to run the program, but once it's all set up, you are ready to program the radio. Oh, yes, in case you need it, the username is ham (all lower case) and the password is 89812345.

Operation - is it easy?
Once programmed, the VV-898 is fairly simple to operate. To turn it on, simply hold the power button down for a second or two, and release. Use the CHA+ and CHA- buttons on the console (or the * and # buttons on the hand mic) to change channels, adjust volume with the VOX+ and VOL- buttons on the console (or the UP and DN buttons on the side and top of the hand mic), and of course, the PTT on the mic to transmit, and your pretty much good to go. There are three buttons on the console that are user programmable to your needs. The A, B, C, and D buttons on the hand mic are preset for functions according the the chart below:

Button Operation
A Call
B VFO/MR Switch
C A/B Mode Switch
D VFO Band Switch

The Leixen VV-898 seems like a plain, low power, unimpressive little radio, but it really does have a lot to offer. Is it a 125W PEP powerhouse Icom mobile or a feature rich Wouxun KG-UV920P-A? Of course not! Considering its small size, weight and unassuming looks, when you take a closer look at the Leixen VV-898, in some ways it seems even better.

14 thoughts on “A closer look at the Leixen VV-898”

  • Michael Martin

    Does anyone know if the up down buttons on the microphone can be programed to change channels and not the volume??

  • Bob Hutcherson
    Bob Hutcherson April 24, 2019 at 8:32 am

    What Driver should be installed for the vv-898
    where can you find it?

    • Rick

      Hi Bob, what driver are you referring to? Do you need a driver for the USB programming cable? If so, the driver and programming software should be located on the mini-CD included with the radio.

  • Will Windham

    According to the table above, the offset settings are menu numbers 34 and 35, not 35 and 36. Which is correct?

    • Rick

      Hi Will, when the article was written, the menu numbers in the table were indeed correct. Due to firmware updates over time, the menu changed and the numbers are now different. For instance, in the earlier versions, Menu item 13 was FM DualWatch, 14 was FM Scan and 15 was FM Squelch. This was switched around in later versions of the firmware. Menu item 13 is now FM Scan, 14 is FM Squelch and 15 is FM DualWatch. A new menu number was also added. Originally Menu numbers 34 and 35 were the offset settings. Now they are 35 and 36. In the original table, there were 50 menu items. Now there are 51. The table is updated and current as of April, 2019. Thanks for letting us know about the discrepancy. We do appreciate it!

  • Tom

    Clive,you may have to open up the hole in the microphone she'll to allow more sound into the mic element. This is a common problem with Chinese radios. I have seen this issue on hts and other Chinese mobiles.
    I have a qty 8900d and it had the sanme problem. Made the hole larger and it fixed the issue.
    One other note, i found a review of my 8900d that said it was unsuitable for packet due to awful turn around time. I suspect most cccrs are the same..

    I prefer older icom Kenwood Alincos,. Check hamfest and tailgates. They go for $20-50.
    Proven, good for local comms, not many bells and whistles or memories but they Just Work

  • DH8GV

    VV898S. No TX. PTT gives only a short peep. Thats all. All other seems to be ok. Brandnew radio. Looks like a PTT lock. How to fix?

  • Dave

    I also have the DTMF repeater operation issue. No tones when I push the keys.

    To the question above. Vhf is + or - 600. Depends on the repeater. The radio will not automatically select that like a Yarsue, Icom , or Kenwood.

    • John

      You have to enable dtmf on the channel, I also just found it out after 6 months. What I remember is after enabling it you have to press the call button and punch in the dtmf.

  • Rick

    Clive, the gain is fixed on the VV-898 at the factory. There is no option to tweak the gain by the end user, either externally or internally, without factory software. Generally speaking, modulation on the VV-898 is usually good. However, one possible factor for unusually low modulation could be the hand microphone. If the hand mic is defective, it can cause such an issue.

  • Clive Grant

    How does one increase audio gain for increased modulation. It is unacceptably low at present! With thanks.

  • Dave Youtz

    I have a Leixen VV-898. Nice little radio BUT: 1) I can not get the mike keypad to send a DTMF tone. Exp: To control the repeater over the air, such as to reset the clock on our CAT-1000 controller. The manual only talks about sending a sequence of DTMF tones to control/signal other -898 radios. 2) Using the CHIRP software some settings change when sent to the radio. Exp: Power setting was set to low in chirp but ends up as high in the radio; or Tone type is set for CT but uploads as a DCN; or just about any other setting at random functions and channels. 3) The Revere function seems to work only for Chl 1 regardless of what is selected from the Menu, or what was set in the CHIRP software selection. What Gives?? Please help as this radio is driving me crazy and wasting a lot of my time! Dave WB8UCD .

  • Arthur J Schragel
    Arthur J Schragel September 19, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Hi the radio will not take offset at all for 2 meters it wo; nt manually it sucks. I know offset for 2 meters is -600 .

    • Daniel Lee Edwards
      Daniel Lee Edwards September 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      it does take an offset. You use menu numbers 35 and 36. The menu function 35 is called RPT SET and function 36 is called RPT TYPE. SET 35 TO 600. it should the default to that if you have entered a VHF Frequency. Next set 36 to -RPT for a negative offsett. Hope this helps


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