FT-891: is it that bad?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by WB2WIK, May 22, 2017.

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  1. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The ARRL Lab report on the FT-891 in June QST came down pretty hard on the rig and basically doesn't recommend it for home station operation or use with a power amplifier -- so it's a "mobile/portable" rig.

    I've never used one.

    Anybody have one? The review wasn't complimentary. I was thinking about ditching my old FT-857D sometime soon (which was only used mobile, anyway) and replacing it with an 891 but after reading the review, that seems a poor idea.
    AF6LJ likes this.
  2. AF6LJ

    AF6LJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    W1DRB, KD2OKK and KY5U like this.
  3. W5INC

    W5INC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Kudos to the ARRL lab for an "unbiased" (?) review of the 891. Since Yaesu is a big advertiser in QST and supports the League in many other ways, good to know the Lab is independent of all advertising politics. I would believe the Lab's review myself, as it will be dissected by many without a doubt.
    W5ESE, W4JHU and KY5U like this.
  4. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    One nice thing about ARRL reviews is that they try to use reasonably uniform testing procedures and standards. Even though they have subtly changed over the years (and the appearance of their little bar graphs have changed quite a bit), it is still mostly possible to compare newer radios to old once using ARRL product reviews.

    If you look at the "bar graphs," you'll see that the receiver is definitely substandard. You can get less expensive radios that that have much better numbers. Most of the issue seems to be with close-in strong signals. That's unnecessary and unfortunate for a DSP receiver. The poor transmitter performance is just unacceptable. There's no reason for a transmitter in that class to be that dirty.

    This is a really unfortunate turn for Yaesu. Between all the 991 blown finals, and the receiver failures in the 857/897 due to missing crystal filter bypass caps, it's hard take them seriously as a vendor.
    N0KEW likes this.
  5. AD0AC

    AD0AC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah, I almost think the decline of Yaesu quality started with the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami. They lost a major plant then and had to relocate a lot of their production, almost about the same time that their "contractors" in China started cloning their mobile rigs and undercutting them in the market. I'm on my second FT-991 after the first one dropped the amp keying line three weeks after purchase. I may trade it for a TS-590 or IC-7300 next year. QST was not happy with the FT-991 transmit IMD when it first came out, and the FT-891 uses the same HF circuitry.
    W4NNF likes this.
  6. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've always been a Yaesu guy, but the BFO went intermittent on my FTDX3000 due to (I think) overheating. The ventilation system on the 3000 and the 1200 (same chassis) is inadequate using a small internal fan. I'm disappointed. On the other hand, my FT-450 is built like a tank and performs very well for a backup, despite it's limited features. I've been looking at the 891 as well, and I did not see the review in QST. I have decided that Yaesu isn't getting any more of my money based on personal experience. It's too bad.....let's hope they make a comeback.
  7. KF5VGK

    KF5VGK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I purchased a 891 a few months back. I have been pleased with the performance so far.
    KA2UVI, N2NH, W0MUD and 2 others like this.
  8. W8BYH

    W8BYH XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've been running the FT-891 for several months. It's a good radio, and the asking price is commensurate with the performance and features. For those griping about the lack of VHF/UHF capability keep in mind this radio sells at current retail for about $150 less than the still manufactured FT-857; it's not like Yaesu is stiffing you on the pricing just because it's new.

    The 891 does have some issues though. First - the lack of an integrated sound card for digital modes. In my mind this was a key oversight. Apparently Yaesu was considering it and actually put out early information on the 891 discussing an integrated sound card feature. When the radio hit the market a number of very early buyers were badly disappointed to find out there was no sound card mode. Yaesu rightly needs to be taken to the woodshed on this one.

    Next, the firmware still needs work. I've found the radio prone to 'locking up' when using some rig control software (like the otherwise outstanding N4PY rig control software) or when trying to configure it for digital modes using an external sound card interface. The lock up is so bad the only way to fix the issue is to do a firmware re-install.

    In real-world operation the radio performs quite well. I've paired mine with the matching FC-50 antenna tuner and the combo works well. I haven't found anything so far the FC-50 can't handle. The filtering is good, the DNR feature makes it easy to hear signals through the high noise floors we're dealing with and the multi-layered menu system is fairly easy to negotiate. I get good audio reports from the stations I work and with a simple end-fed wire antenna set up in NVIS configuration I can work from my QTH (near Atlanta) into Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and well into the Carolinas on 40 meters (about the only thing open these days). I've found that the current draw is much lower than that specified in Yaesu's literature. Yaesu really scared off a lot of potential buyers with their published numbers, but real-world numbers are coming in about 1.3 A on receive and 20 A on full power transmit. Not great, but not as bad as many feared.

    I run the FT-891 portable (not mobile). The transceiver, tuner, microphone, power cable, patch cables and a few other accessories fit nicely into a Pelican 1520 case with room to spare. I use a 33 Ah deep cycle battery for power and can operate for hours from a park bench. It helps that the 891, being a mobile rig, is tolerant of voltage variations.

    I think where the FT-891 will really hit its stride is if Yaesu releases a version 2 that incorporates a sound card interface, adds new functionality via firmware and new tricks like the ability to use the MH36 microphone for direct frequency entry. I'd really love to see Yaesu build out a version of this radio in a ruggedized water resistant case for true portable and emergency operations.

    W4RFT, NZ5F, K4QN and 3 others like this.
  9. KY5U

    KY5U Subscriber QRZ Page

    891 looks like neat little rig. I need one since my mobile is a TS140 the size of a bus.

    On the FTdx3000. I have had a daily user for a couple years now with only one issue. An inconsistency with the return to frequency display for the VFO-B solved by a reset. Has not re-occurred. Man I love this rig.
  10. N8DAH

    N8DAH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have one just bought it at Dayton. This is my 1st Yaesu and I'm sorry to say support for this rig is a joke. I am happy to say on the other hand I love this rig the front end is great, once I can get some software to work with it better digital will be great. I have had no lock ups and no firmware problems so far just updated it yesterday. I feel like the amount of settings is both good and bad but I can't complain so far.

    any tips on digital settings I'm all ears

    KA2UVI and W4KVW like this.

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