A FT-950 in my future

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by AC0FP, Aug 5, 2010.

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  1. AC0FP

    AC0FP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've decided that I want to upgrade (trade in) my IC-718 for a fancier rig. The choice that I can afford is the FT-950. I know the Yaesu's are notorious for the user hostility of their menu system but I figure I will eventually "hack" my way through it! Hopefully the addition of 6 meters and a better DSP system will be worth it.

    73,

    fp :)
     
  2. M0GVZ

    M0GVZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've had one for four months now. Its taken a bit of learning. I'd come from a Kenwood TS-480 (now serving mobile duties :D) which I'd had for nearly a year and knew intimately.

    Menu wise, once you've got your TX audio and data set up, there's only really two items you use - DNR and DNL - and even they're not used that often. I assigned TX power to the programmable key so I could drop it down for tuning. Talking of which, the onboard tuner is a bit better than my TS-480SAT but doesn't like much above 3.5-4:1. Everything else you use the most is on the multifunction knob to the left of the tuning dial. One thing that made me think it was a poor RX compared to my TS-480 is the hit you get when you kick in the roofing filters. The "auto" default for each band is 6kHz which gives a 6dB hit :eek:. Just leave them set to 15kHz until you need them. It now receives noticably better than my beloved TS-480 - not massively but appreciably enough to be worthwhile.

    All in all, I'm impressed. It took me 24hrs straight operating in the IOTA contest to get to the point I think I'm now wringing as much as I can out of it but I think that's the same with any new TRx. I use it on data modes as well as phone - no CW here. Its handy that it uses the same CAT and data cables as my TS-480 so that was money saved.
     
  3. AC0FP

    AC0FP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't know about "Roofing filters causing a sensitivity "hit". Electronic theory says that as the bandwidth is narrowed the sensitivity (signal to noise ratio) improves! If I heard the sensitivity deteriorate when I switched in a narrower filter I would suspect something is wrong with the filter, particularly if operating on frequencies below 17 meters.

    My current IC-718 "roofing filter" is set a 6 kHz, which is a little wide but usable for SSB & data modes.

    73,

    fp
     
  4. M0GVZ

    M0GVZ Ham Member QRZ Page


    Signal on S-9 with 15kHz roofing filter. Kick in 6kHz roofing filter and it drops up to 2 S-points. And that's not abnormal - I've asked a lot of people.
     
  5. AC0FP

    AC0FP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I guess you should define "signal" AM, FM, CW, SSB etc. That is a quite a drop but how about the the signal to noise ratio of said signal? I almost think it might have something to due with the reduction of noise do to the tighter bandwidth. Maybe someone else will comment.

    fp
     
  6. VE3PP

    VE3PP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I owned an Icom 718. Nice radio for the money. Then I upgraded to an Icom 7000. Great radio for the money.

    Then I bought a FT-950, main reason being I wanted a "Bigger" HF rig sitting on my desk.

    However the FT-950 is packed with great features for the money you pay for it.

    As for the menus, they are easy enough to master. Just take some time to read the manual.

    I have my FT-950 hooked up to a computer with a ZLP Electronics CAT cable and use Ham Radio Deluxe to control most of the menus I want to change.

    This allows very easy operation. I also run the FT-950 on the digital modes and it works very well in those modes.

    Comparing it to the Icom 7000, there really is not much difference in performance as far as I am concerned. I can switch back and forth from one radio to the other quickly so I can compare signals on each rig. At this moment I am listening to a weak signal on 75 meters and I can copy the station well on each rig.

    So overall I think you will be quite happy with your FT-950. Or take a look at the Icom 7000 if you want the VHF/UHF Bands in your HF rig. I do find the VHF/UHF side of the 7000 a bit weak when you compare it to a dual band mobile. But you can't have everything in one rig! The Icom tends to run a little hot if you want to operate digital modes. I solved that with a simple 12 VDC CPU fan mounted behind the rig.

    BTW I use a Heil GM 5 desk mic with the FT-950. It contains the 4 and 5 cartridges.

    On the 7000 I use a Heil iCM desk mic, which was designed to work with the newer Icom rigs.

    Both mics offer great audio once you set up the TX audio settings in both rigs. I talk to people in person and on the air and they say I sound the same on the air as I do in person. You can't ask for much more than that when it comes to your TX Audio.

    Either rig would be a big step up in transmit and receive performance from the Icom 718.

    Let us know how you make out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2010
  7. AC0FP

    AC0FP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I read the ARRL review for the FT-950 and they indicate the radio changes the Pre-amp (s) setting depending on which roofing filter is turned on! If I understand correctly if you have the 15 kHz filter on and the Pre-Amp on then when you switch to a different roofing filter, the radio automatically turns the Pre-Amp off! This shouldn't bother me since I never run with a Pre-Amp on. The Pre-Amp only effects the S-Meter reading on whatever radio your running anyway.

    fp
     
  8. AC0FP

    AC0FP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well I got the FT-950. It seems to basically work and I've already made QSO's with it on 10 and 40 meters. I just put the receiver in IPO mode to let the radio automatically choose the best filter/gain setup. Likewise in transmit, I'm using the handset microphone with no audio processing or compression (that I know of) and I am still getting great TX audio reports. :) I've still got weeks of reading the manual ahead to figure out how to really use everything! :eek:

    73,

    fp :)
     
  9. VE3PP

    VE3PP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Enjoy that FT-950 and join the Yahoo Group for that radio. Lots of good info from that group.
     
  10. M0GVZ

    M0GVZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    DON'T. It puts in the 6kHz roofing filter which also inserts a 6dB loss. Manually set it to 15kHz and watch the receive performance improve by at least two S points. When I had it set to auto, I thought the radio was rubbish as it was more deaf than my Kenwood TS-480 (no pre-amp) even with IPO set to AMP1. Changed the roofing filter to 15kHz and bingo - all the missing stations were there. You only need to put the roofing filters in in crowded band conditions.

    The radio receives well with the roofing filters set to 15kHz and the IPO set to AMP1. AMP2 is basically pointless but AMP1 does actually do something to a noticable effect other than the S meter reading being higher.
     
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