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FT-920 or FT-950

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by KF7NDH, Jan 11, 2011.

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  1. KF7NDH

    KF7NDH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I’m in a dilemma, which I should purchase a used Yaesu FT-920 priced in the neighborhood of $1,000 with no warranty or a new FT-950 price at $1,350 with a full warranty. The FT-920, though not the most advanced HF rig by today’s standards, seems to have had very good reviews.

    I’m an old man new to Ham radio who wants to work CW right now but later, once I get my General license, may want to go further such as Packet, RTTY etc.. I really don’t want to “save 35%” now only to purchase another rig when the time comes to advance beyond CW. (What’s the old saying, “Pay me now or pay me later”?)

    The obvious question is which rig do you, the hams who know the business, suggest? The next question is - do these things actually wear out? Hams seem to buy and sell rigs all the time but I would think most of it is due to the desire to have the latest technology available.

    Thanks for any advice you have.

  2. K5AZZ

    K5AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I really like the FT920. It is my first ham transceiver and I think it is really nice. It has a very good receiver and lots of different adjustments for microphone gain, receiving DSP, etc. I am not as knowledgeable on the FT950 but from what I read that is a great transceiver as well. The FT920 is a solid choice from my perspective. I don't think you can go wrong with either but I did pay about $200 less than what you are going to pay for mine without the FM modification for 6m.
  3. K4YAN

    K4YAN Ham Member QRZ Page

    920 great radio !
    950 Newer technology

    You will be happy either way!
  4. WD0MYM

    WD0MYM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yaesu has free wonderful software for the FT-950. Puts a real nice realistic picture of the FT-950 on your screen with all the controls the radio has, including a bit more to help you set your TX audio up.

  5. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    The FT-950 might be a better choice because of warranty and a better receiver by most standards with quite nice DSP filtering. One other reason Yeasu does keeps bringing out new firmware upgrades for that radio that keeps improving it with free downloads.

    The FT-920 was a very good radio but now it is over 10 yrs old and a little behind in technology plus you may have to have some repairs in the near future who knows. Even a new radio can have problems but you do have a warranty to fall back on and parts some older radios you can not get parts for. A friend found this out not long ago with his Ten Tec Omni VI and had to scrap it when they sent it back to him.
  6. W7KKK

    W7KKK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just a note~neither of those rigs will allow you much in the way of CW ops with the tech license.
    Get that upgrade to general as it will open a whole new world to you.
    10 and 6 meters I am afraid will disappoint you right now with propagation so low.
    I would hate to see you disappointed after spending a lot of money.
  7. KD8GKR

    KD8GKR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Tech's have CW privileges on HF other than 10 meters.
  8. N4KZ

    N4KZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I loved my FT-920 but sold it because it was getting long in the tooth. For the relatively small price difference between a used 920 and a new FT-950, I would go for the 950 without reservation. Better DSP, roofing filters, and a new radio warranty.

    73, N4KZ
  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'd go for the new FT-950, also.

    More features, newer rig, warranty.
  10. AC0FP

    AC0FP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have the FT-950, if your going to be working CW then I would go for the 950 for the IF DSP filters if nothing else. The nice thing about the FT-950 is there is nothing else to buy, its all built in. :) The 950 is a radio for the shack because at around 25 lbs, it is definitely not a mobile rig!


  11. N7WR

    N7WR Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have owned and used both and they are both excellent rigs. If you can get a clean 920 at the right price I'm sure you won't be disappointed. However, as others have pointed out, the 950 is a current production radio with newer technology and if you buy one new you have a warranty which you will not get with a 920. The receiver in the 950 is outstanding and compares very favorably to new rigs costing much more. While the 920 has a very good receiver it is not on a par with the 950. Last I checked the likely cost difference between a very clean used 920 and a new 950 is less than $500. If money is an issue find a clean 920. If not pay the extra for the 950.
  12. W3DBB

    W3DBB Ham Member QRZ Page

    IMO $1000 is a lot for a super-clean, non-smoker FT-920 without any of the options and with only the original hand mike, power harness, and box. Keep in mind these were closed-out for $989 in 2002. Also keep in mind that many, many, many (but not all) of the FT-920's sold new came with the optional FM board included at not extra charge. This was a promotion from Yaesu to stimulate sales. Nice if you someday might want to work 10m FM or use repeaters at 10 and 6 meters. That used rig should likely include the optional FM board since that's how many of them were sold initially when new from HRO, etc.

    The same condition rig with internal options such as the 6 kHz AM filter, CW filter, the FM board, and the high-stability temperature-controlled crystal oscillator is a good deal for $1000. You are probably not going to find a rig like this with the internal options included on Ebay.

    Buying locally through a ham club or SK estate means you have a better chance of acquiring your 920 with some desirable internal options. You may also have a better chance of picking up an external accessory or two such as the MD-100a8x desk microphone or maybe the SP-8 external speaker with filters. There was also a LL-7 "Landliner" phone patch that fit inside the SP-8 which would be interesting, but no one does phone patches these days.

    It all depends on just what you are getting for "in the neighborhood of $1000".

    For what you want to do, run CW initially, I recommend an internally-installed CW filter but keep in mind INRAD's was better than Yaesu's. Yaesu's suffered from blow-by, kinda like a 1972 Datsun 1200 sedan I used to own.

    You can listen on a narrow CW bandwidth on the 920 without a CW filter, using the built-in audio DSP, but it's kind of ringy like an oldschool Autek audio filter. Been there, done that. Get the CW filter, preferably INRAD's. Don't make the mistake I made and pay good money for Yaesu's CW filter which tends to fold under strong-signal QRM conditions and ring a bit in everyday use.

    From you initial post it is clear you recognize Technician Class operators have CW privileges similar, if not identical to, General Class operators on 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters since the last Restructuring nearly 4 years ago. It's the best deal going (and an unsung one) in ham radio today.

    If you think there is a FT-920 in your future, and you want to run digimodes later, or CW from a motorhome, the high-stability TCXO may also be worth considering. At room temperature, my 920's high-stability TCXO is accurate to 4 parts in 1 million, checked against WWV. Close enough for Government work.

    I've owned a 920 with all accessories except the phone patch since purchase new almost 10 years ago. I like it very much. The only thing I've never really been able to come to terms with is the SP-8 external speaker. Maybe it's my hearing. That thing is fatiguing to listen to. IMO the 920's internal speaker sounds much better than the SP-8. The rig sounds great on a $3 hamfest bookshelf speaker. Some ops like the SP-8 but mine sits NIB, barely used.

    I don't know much about the FT-950, except that if my 920 becomes unrepairable by me, I would seriously consider a FT-950. Narrow CW bandwidth & adjustable receive bandwidths for 'phone operation are advantages of newer rigs that have digital signal processing in the IF. Things like a hi-stab TCXO and FM operation are probably standard on the 950. For $1350 and a new rig warranty what's not to like?

    IIRC the 950 does not include provisions for use with an external transverter (which the 920 does have) and I seem to recall the 950 uses a mini-DIN or somesuch for connection to a linear amplifier. Hooking the 920 to just about any linear amplifier manufactured in the past 20 years is a piece of cake, not requiring any additional interface boxes, because the 920 has provisions for relay or transistor switching of an external amplifier.

    As my old man once told me, it all comes down to what you want to do.
  13. KF7NDH

    KF7NDH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for all the responses

    There’s been a lot of good advice given which I appreciate. It appears the general consensus is to spring for the Yaesu FT-950. Maybe that’s the way I was leaning when I started this thread, the responses sort of sealed the deal. The FT-920’s I had seen were all priced close to 1K whether there were upgrades or not. Though I didn’t mention it at first, for that 1K I would be able to buy a new Yaesu FT-450 and still have a few scheckles left over.

    I’ll bide my time right now, play around with my Yaesu FT-7900 and continue studying for my General license. Heck, with a little luck the FT-950 could go on sale.

    Thanks again for all the helpful responses.

  14. W3DBB

    W3DBB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Offer 'em 800 for the 920. The worst they can do is turn you down.

    The 450 is a blivet. I have large hands. Small controls are a challenge if the ergonomics aren't right. The 450 isn't in the same class as the 920, but it would look pretty cool under the dashboard of an automobile, or in a motorhome.

    I do like Yaesu.

    GL whatever you decide.
  15. W1ADE

    W1ADE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just sold a pristine 920 with dual element Heil hand mic for 850 and 50 of that was insured priority shipping.

    I miss that rig--and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone shopping in that price range. It was never top-of-the-line, but is way yon above the "entry level" stripped rigs. And I just don't like some of the new daylight-to-dark don't-touch-a-screw rigs offered today. (I know nothing of the 950.)

    But needed hay to feed the critters.

    Warranties mean nothing to me. They are mostly marketing bs. What means something to me is a company who listens and helps you make their rig the best that it can be for your purposes. So naturally my next rig will be a K2.

    I'd rather have two or three older rigs than any single outfit-ever.

    But this is about you.

    I suggest that you buy both radios and sell the one that you like less. You'll lose a few hundred bucks, but won't have that nagging ? hanging over your head.

  16. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think you have made a wise decision to wait and get the FT-950 you will be pleased and now I will you a few details. I have had 2 different FT-2000's one a std model and a D. During that time I had a friends FT-950 on my bench and ran it side by side with the 2000 I believe the receiver was better in the 950. Don't misunderstand me this is not on par with my FTDX-5000 but a very good radio it is only lacking a second receiver.

    One other thing remember any radio is only as good as it ANTENNA don't skimp there but you can start cheap with a wire but make high as you can.
  17. W1ADE

    W1ADE Ham Member QRZ Page

    absolutely. I'll take 20-year old rig with lots of antennas over _any_ shiny new thang on _any single_ antenna.

    nearly anything can be done with some variation of wires.
  18. W4TED

    W4TED Ham Member QRZ Page

    i would go for the 950 great radio i have one
  19. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is the main thing in radio Antennas, Antennas, Antennas!

    I have 3 towers with 6 beams 3 verticals and 3 wire antennas at this time. There is no such thing as to many antennas but maybe the wife mine said no more after 3 but this hobby keeps me home most of the time and she likes that :D Luckily I live in the country with plenty of room for antennas my next project is planned for spring 3 beverages can't run the 4th because of a road in that direction.
  20. VE3FMC

    VE3FMC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I had to make the same decision, although I did have to spend more than you will to upgrade from the FT-920 I could have bought to the FT-950 I did buy.

    IMO, no decision to make. But the FT-950. New rig, no one has touched it other than in the factory.

    New technology. Warranty, all for an extra $350.

    I really like my FT-950. :)
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