Beginner rig TS480SAT or FT897D?

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by KA8KBU, Nov 18, 2009.

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  1. KA8KBU

    KA8KBU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Debating which rig to start out with. This essentially would be my first venture into HF (using a handi talkie for 2m now). Understand that the FT897 is perfect for portable, but the audio may be better on the TS480. Pros and cons for either?
    Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. KD8LWX

    KD8LWX Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can drive to Alexandria VA HRO store and put your hand on a FT897D.
  3. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I had a TS-480SAT and currently have an FT-897D.

    At the gross level the main differences are:

    - The FT-897D has 2 meters and 70 cm while the TS-480 does not.

    - The operating controls and menus systems are different. Some people don't like the way Yaesu menus work on the FT-897D and the TS-480 controls and menu may be more intuitive. Personally I'd say unless you're a complete dingbat, you can easily and quickly get used to the menu system on the FT-897D then it doesn't matter.

    - Both rigs have two antenna jacks, but on the FT-897 one of them is VHF only and on the TS-480 you can use both for HF.

    - If it's matters to you, the TS480 has a tuner built in. The FT897D doesn't. But if you were going to use an external tuner anyway, or antennas that are tuned, then it shouldn't matter.

    - Neither rig is really suitable for serious CW work out of the box. You'll need to add optional 500Hz or 300 Hz filters for any serious CW operation.

    - With a CW filter, the DSP in the TS-480 is much more versatile, easier to operate, and just sounds better for CW operation, than the FT-897. In particular, in the TS-480SAT you can easily vary the bandpass width. In the FT-897D it's more complicated and involves menu settings.

    - The FT-897 is more versatile in that you can add an antenna tuner and internal batteries or even an internal power supply.

    - The TS-480 is not a traditional single-box base station type radio, but has a permanently detached control head and a separate main frame. That can be handy for conserving desk space, or for mobile use, since the main frame can be tucked out of the way and the control head doesn't take up much space. But, it may seem strange to some people in a traditional base station situation.

    - I said I had a TS-480. The keying circuits in the main CPU were fried by static electricity last winter and it would have cost more than the radio was worth to me repair it. Apparently there's nothing to protect the CPU. I don't know if the FT-897 is any better protected for static or not, but personally I would not be comfortable again with another TS-480 in a dry climate where static might be a problem.

    - The noise-blankers on both are horrid, useless tripe.

    - For phone or digital operation I don't think there's any difference between the two. For CW operation, the TS-480SAT is superior in my experience.
  4. W0GI

    W0GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Like most rigs, both these have strong points, and weak points.

    The weak point of both these radios, is operating convenience. Unless you are going to operate portable, you may find starting on HF is easier with a full sized radio. Both have the features, but you will be using the menus alot more then with a full sized rig.

    Until you start operating for a while, you really wont know what is important to "you", and may end up going through a lot of radios.

    My suggestion would be to keep it simple with something like an IC-718. It's a fine basic rig, and you wont lose a pile of money when you want to upgrade.

    HRO has a coupon on the IC-718, so it is $585. You can use it for a year, and sell it for at least $450. After that point, you will know what are the important features you desire.

    At the same time, HRO has a $320 coupon on the TS-480, so if you really want a new one, now is the time. :) $910 for a TS-480SAT is a pretty good price.
  5. KM3F

    KM3F Ham Member QRZ Page

    The 480 has a much larger display with all functions on the front.
    Head and main unit can be mounted togather if you want both on the desk but the fan will be heard when it comes on.
    You can put it all out of sight and software operate it from your computer as well as from Ham Radio Deluxe software.
    Transmitt audio is first class right out of the box.
    Speech processor is the best on the market.
    Overall a heck of a radio for the price.
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree. If I didn't care about 2m and 70cm, for "HF," I'd pick the 480 of the two.

    However, if I didn't mind buying "used," for the price of a 480, you can pick up a used TS-850SAT which will blow them both away by a country mile.
  7. W0GI

    W0GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Reality, what a concept. :)
  8. K5BDH

    K5BDH XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have the ts480sat and highly recommend it. Very nice radio, easy to use and a face panel you can see pretty well. Doesnt take up half a desk and the panel fits nicely right next to my computer/signalink usb. It gets the job done without a whole lot of digging around in a menu system. Goodluck on your search...btw gigaparts has the ts480sat for $899.
  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    That is an excellent deal, thanks for the info.

    I don't need another HF rig, but for that price I'll get one and stick it in the car. Killer deal for a pretty good rig.
  10. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Aint that the truth!
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