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Mechanica

Yupiteru MVT-3300

It has been some time since I had my hands on a Yupiteru scanner, the last one was a model I owned which you may have heard of the MVT-7100. This was some years ago now and the popularity of this scanner has kept going right up until the present time, bearing good testimony to the merits of this fine receiver. Even in this modern age of computer controlling our scanners the yupiteru 7100 which does not have this capability manages to keep on soldiering on, many models of scanners have come and gone in the life time of this fine receiver.

So it was with some excitement to get another scanner with this fine pedigree and put it through it's paces. The model I am referring to is the Yupiteru-3300. In all fairness this is a budget priced scanner with budget type features but with a couple of extras thrown in for good measure.

Some adverts for this receiver come with the slogan "This scanner will hear what others don't" (Or something similar), So lets find out if this is true.

 

First impressions

Looking over the receiver first impression that struck me was it's size,(2.3"(W) x 6.0"(H) x 1.3"(D)) a couple of yrs ago this would not have been noticed but in this day of micro transceivers it does stand out ( Rather like those old Motorola Brick phones of the late eighties/Early nineties). This appeared to be well built, better than the 7100 which I always felt was a wimp when it came to taking knocks. Grey in colour. At the top of the unit are two knobs, one being an on off switch which is also used for volume control with a squelch knob at the base, next to this is a rotary dial for manually tuning frequencies or switching through the channels. In photographs I always thought these looked quite business like and sturdy looking, but in fact they are quite cheap looking and give the impression of being quite feeble. In all fairness they should be able to cope with day to day use with no problem and be more than adequate for their use. The main gripe I would have about the knobs are that they are poorly marked for the settings. Back over to the top left of the unit is the BNC connector for attaching a suitable aerial.

 

The LCD display is at the top portion of the unit as you look at it the top of the front panel being of adequate size. The display being made up of frequency in use, this takes the format of 7 digits for example 453.150 is displayed as 453.150.0 The channel number (000-200) the scan bank numbers and the current mode. Also if beep is enabled this is displayed (A bit pointless in my opinion). At the base of the LCD is a 6 segment signal strength bar meter. The contrast is about right giving the user a good view of what is being displayed from a number of different angles. Below the LCD are the buttons for the various programming and functions, these twenty in number, five rows of four counting horizontally or four rows of five counting vertically. These buttons are more than adequate in size and spaced apart well enough so should be fine for the fat fingered type of user. Also the various button functions are easily read in an luminous green colour.

At the bottom of the unit is the loudspeaker. Moving to the left of the unit (as you look at it) are two keys which can be depressed one being the lamp for lighting the display and the keypads. Below this a Monitor button for holding on to those week signals. Over to the other side and there is a mounting point for a hand strap, Ear jack for for private listening and a DC jack for mains operation.

The rear is quite different to anything I have seen before, there is a pull down stand so that the unit can be stood on a desktop (or anything else for that matter). This I found a good idea and a facility I used extensively, in fact you need to because trying to get the unit to stand on it's own ended up quite a few times with the sound of a "Thud" as it toppled over. The drawback of this feature is that it does not include a belt clip. A big NO! NO! on a handheld scanner in my opinion.

In use

Batteries: The 3300 requires 4AA type batteries to kick it into gear, the surprising thing I found here was that there is no in-built charging unit. Yes I know it's a budget scanner but come on I have owned some cheapo scanners over the years but they all had a charging circuit built in. There is a provision for mains charging and the unit does come supplied with a mains adapter (Still would have liked a charging circuit though). The battery life I found to be quite good, I charged some Ni-Mh batteries (Externally) two of which I suspect of being past their sell by date (Had them since I first got my 8200 and how long ago did that come onto the market?) but I got a full days use and then some. So a fresh set of batteries should be more than adequate.

 

To see how well I could drive the 3300 without using the manual is the best way to find out how user friendly a scanner is in my opinion, (or is this an excuse for being my normal impatient self?). In this case I am happy to say that I worked out most functions for myself, managing to search out and program active frequencies into memory, and then just a case of scanning through the programmed channels. This was quite a surprise as the 7100 I used to own was a lot more complicated.

VFO Mode:

VFO mode can be accessed in a number of ways that we wont go into here as we don't want to be covering bits that are covered in the user manual. From VFO you can adjust the step size (Sizes are:5/6.25/10/12.5/25KHz) which should be adequate for most types of listening, OK it hasn't got them all but hey this is a budget scanner. Also modes can be changed (AM/FM, again adequate for most types of listening.) Of course the frequency can also be changed. Most of these functions can be accomplished by using either pressing the appropriate buttons or via the rotary control. Also a search is available whilst in VFO mode.

Search.

There are two types of Search VFO Search and Band search. Whilst in VFO mode it is a simple case of pressing search button. Initially it will search in ascending order but a quick flick of the rotary knob and it will search in descending order. The manual quotes 50 Channels per second when in search mode and although I did not test this I found the search speed to be more than adequate and comparable to other receivers. To hold on a search when an active frequency has been found is a simple matter of pressing the search button again, pressing again resumes the search very nice neat and simple. To enter a frequency into memory requires a press of the Func then the MR/MW button, I worked this out for myself so once again this shows what an easy scanner this is to drive. Whilst searching I could not help but notice the sensitivity of this unit pulling in some very weak signals that other scanners struggle with. The only drawback with this is that it would lock up on frequencies with a load of mush blasting out of the loudspeaker, more of this later.

Band Search Mode:

As previously stated the 3300 comes with two search modes VFO search and Band search mode. With band search mode you get 10 user programmable search bands which should cover most monitoring needs again search speeds were more than adequate. User programmable includes step size and mode. Also there is the capability to "lock out" unwanted frequencies so that they are bypassed during subsequent searches. Not bad for a budget scanner. Also it has a S.P.READ function which allows search skipped frequencies to be viewed and edited. Once again entering a frequency into memory is a case of pressing func then /MR/MW buttons.

Auto store

Or Auto write as Yupiteru calls it is another feature that comes with the 3300 and came as a bit of a surprise to me for a budget scanner. Basically this means that you can put the 3300 into a search and it will automatically store into memory any found frequencies.

Scanning:

When you have some active frequencies you can now go into scan mode, once again very straightforward and scanning speed in my opinion is more than adequate, the stats I have below state 16 Ch's per second, I think it is a hell lot quicker than that. Up to 200 memories can be programmed, 10 banks of 20 Ch's about right for a budget scanner. ( I remember being amazed at ten!) To hold on to an active frequency in scan mode is a simple case of pressing "Scan" again and once again to resume. Again a quick flick with the rotary dial and scanning can go in any direction in numerical order or descending. Again channels can be selected to be skipped so that the 3300 does not stop on them until re selected for scanning, this is accomplished with just two key presses, Func and then C/AC buttons. For the purpose of this review I again fitted a Watson W-889 aerial, the supplied rubber one was more than adequate for UHF but for VHF it left a lot to be desired. VHF reception was vastly improved, in fact the 3300 is very good at pulling in weak signals that other scanners would not have pulled in. The drawback with this is that it also pulled in loads of crud on certain frequencies on both UHF and VHF it definitely does not like being in an area where there are computers, moving further away from any computer interference reduced the problem somewhat but not fully. The lock out function was welcomed here I could imagine great problems if it did not have this facility due to constantly locking on "Interfered frequencies".

The monitor button I found to be more than adequate for it's intended purpose and worked through this review faultlessly. Again a big bonus for a budget scanner.

VHF performance

As I have already stated it became apparent very early on that the 3300 was very capable on VHF. Once I had fitted the Watson W-889 the signals came in loud and clear and I must say that it is the best performing scanner I have found on VHF to date!! Signals that would maybe measure one or two bars on a signal strength meter on another scanner would give a full strength reading on the 3300 Yes I know that these are not 100% reliable but when you hear a nice clean signal to back it up then that will do me. I have always considered my Yaesu FT-51R ham transceiver to be the best performer on VHF but it has now met it's match! Just to back this up some frequencies that I would not program into my other scanners due to weak signals causing all sorts of horrible background noise, I programmed into the 3300 and listened with clarity. Well done Yupiteru. The test for this was done on both Civil air band on the Coventry control tower frequency of 119.250 Now just about every scanner I have ever had struggles to hear the tower side of the conversation and if it manages to break the squelch then I am more than happy, but the 3300 could quite easily hear both sides of the radio traffic. The other areas tested were 152-168MHz and even as low down as 70MHz both am and FM modes all areas performed exceptionally well.

UHF Performance

Again the unit proved itself no slouch on UHF either, testing out on some well known weak signals again the 3300 brought them in. I have found that most scanners do a decent job of receiving on UHF but a lot lack on VHF the Yupi 3300 excelled at both. To test this I used the search feature to search an area in the UHF band where I knew some weak signals lay and I am pleased to say the 3300 brought them in again with a fair reading on the signal strength bar graph. Is this really a budget scanner? £150 Is looking more and more like a bargain to me. Again the 3300 had some toll to pay for it's sensitivity, with two simultaneous local signals being heard at the same time on another frequency a few KHz in between the two frequencies being used.

Priority

The priority feature I found a real pain, I followed the instructions in the manual but it just was not having it, I don't know if this is because the unit I had was second hand and some channels had already been assigned, but either way I did not find this very user friendly at all and deviated from the ease of the other functions of this radio. This was also made that more frustrating as there are 200 chg's on the 3300 but the manual says that Ch's 200-209 are the priority Ch's???? (There are ten priority Ch's).

Clearly something was not being understood by myself here, whether that is a fault of mine not being able to grasp what could be a perfectly simple operation, if this is so then the manual does not do a good job of explaining this operation and if I an experienced scanner user has problems with it then you can guarantee that others especially beginners will do so also.

Descrambler

Another added bonus is the addition of a descrambler for deciphering scrambled radio transmissions of the inversion type encryption. This will not descramble more serious professional encryption techniques. Users of inversion scrambling include the increasing popular PMR 446 radios, some PMR users. As there are no users (Or any that I know of) that use this type of encryption in my area I could not try this feature out.

Audio quality

I found to be very good. Pumping up the volume to full power it remained very good with a slight distortion in the received audio. However there was a definite long squelch tail (You know the CCCrrkkk!!! heard after transmissions).

Lamp

This feature is accessed by clicking the Lamp button on the side of the unit glowing in a green colour. This not only lights up the LCD display but the keypads also. I would go as far to say that the lighting as adequate. But once again this is a budget scanner and to light up the keypads is considered by me as another bonus. Could I be so cheeky as to see if the 3300 had a function to leave the light on? Surely it would not be capable of this it is a budget scanner. Go on try it and see, and so I did, logic tells me that to perform this function that if just clicking the lamp button lights up for 5 seconds then if this did have infinite lamp facility I would press func button and then lamp. To my surprise it did indeed have this capability and it had a nice little touch to it also, you see if operating in daylight the light is hardly visible and could be quite easily left on draining the batteries. The 3300 actually shows on the LCD "Lamp" so you know instantly that you have left your lights on. Notice again how easy it was to perform this operation, again showing the ease of use of this receiver.

User Manual:

To be perfectly honest I did not bother with the manual that much as I found it such an easy scanner to use that I quite simply found I did not need it for most cases. Apart from the priority ch saga previously mentioned, the manual looked well laid out and looks like it is good at it's purpose giving graphical as well as text instructions (Remember the old saying, "a picture paints a thousand words").

Final Thoughts:

Throughout this review I have referred to this scanner as a budget scanner but it comes with some good features the only thin really budget about it is the price, at the time of writing they are selling for about £150.

In my opinion this is a fine scanner, some of the features for a receiver in this price bracket amazed me. I could not help comparing it to a Realistic Pro-26 scanner I owned a few years back which cost a hell lot more than £150 and if I had the choice between the two then I would take the Yupi with no hesitation. The ease of use will win this scanner over for many newcomers as well as the sensitivity (I have owned some top scanners that had all the features you could want but were deaf! What's the point if it can't hear the signals?) Yes it does suffer some drawbacks with being so sensitive by locking up on some unwanted signals. Yes it does lack a built in charger unit and a belt clip. But I suppose that yupiteru had to make some cutbacks on a unit at this price. But what do I really think of this scanner? I Love it!!

Serial umber of unit tested: 00800304

Model MVT-3300EU
Frequency Coverage 66-88MHz
108-180MHz
320-470MHz
808-1000MHz
Modes AM, NFM
Step Sizes 5kHz, 6.25kHz, 10kHz, 12.5kHz & 25kHz.
Sensitivity AM 0.7uV
NFM 0.5uV
Channels 200
Scan Speed 16 channels per second
Power Requirements 4 x AA Batteries
External Source 12 volts DC, 200mA
Size 59(w) x 32(d) x 152(h) mm
Weight 310g
Supplied Accessories BNC Flexible Antenna
Ear Piece
Carry Strap