Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I am becoming a Yaesu fan 

When I first got involved with VHF FM operations in amateur radio most of those who were on the band were using converted land mobile radios. I started out life on 2-meters with a General Electric set that had tubes and was confined to a single channel. The model designation for the set was “Progress Line” affectionately know in the commercial market and amateur radio community as “PROGS”.

There were radios being made by companies like Icom, Kenwood and R. L. Drake specifically for the amateur market but they had very low power transmitters compared to their land mobile counterparts. Their chief advantage was that they were physically small and contained entirely in one box. The land mobile radios of the day like my “PROG” were generally a large unit that was typically mounted in the trunk of your vehicle and connected to a smaller “control head” in the passenger compartment. It contained the on off, volume, channel selection and squelch controls as well as a place to connect a microphone and speaker. All of this connected with a large diameter cable that had to be routed somehow from under your dashboard to the trunk. In addition you needed a heavy power cable from the main unit in the trunk to the car battery. Tube radios needed lots of current! Remind me sometime and I’ll tell you about dynamotors.

Times have changed and very few hams use land mobile transceivers these days. Yet in a sense they do because in today’s market place there are three main players in the amateur VHF / UHF arena. They are Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu. All three also compete for a share of the commercial land mobile business. In the case of Icom and Kenwood it is under the same nameplate while Yaesu markets their radios under the brand name Vertex. As far as I can tell with the exception of the FCC type acceptance sicker on the back of the radio and a few minor differences in the firmware they are identical.

I recently came into possession of two Yaesu radios, a model VX-7R handheld and a model FT-2800M VHF mobile unit. I have been using the VX-7R for about a week now and last night took the FT-2800M out of the box and looked at the manual. Still haven’t applied power to it yet though.

When I entered the amateur FM arena Icom, Kenwood and Yeasu were the General Motors, Ford and Chrysler of radio land. Of those whose opinions I respected on equipment selection Yaesu was considered an “also ran” in the amateur market place. Let me tell you if these two radios that I have here are any example of Yaesu products they are top of the line these days. I haven’t had time to really wring them out performance wise but I am very impressed with the hand held and while I haven’t powered up the mobile yet the physical construction is top notch. The thing is built like a tank. I hope the electrical performance matches what I am seeing in my hand. I will report back when I have had a chance to work more with both radio but as I said at the start I am fast becoming a big Yaesu fan.

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