FT-991A or FT-450D?

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by CHERNOBYL2, Jun 26, 2017.

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    CHERNOBYL2 QRZ Member QRZ Page


    I'm looking at either the FT-450D or the FT-991A radios, and wanted some feedback, particularly on the 991A.

    I'm currently researching what I need to do the Foundation and Intermediate licenses (I'm in the UK).

    The 450D seems to be a lot of radio for the money, but the 991A has some features that the 450D doesn't have (VHF/UHF is the major one, and a few differences in filters).

    I have read that early 991 (NOT 'A' units) had problems with the finals, but it would seem this has been resolved?

    I'm also interested in digital modes, and it would seem that the 991A is easier to handle than the 450D?

    Ignoring the VHF/UHF of the 991A for a moment, is there any reason I should look at the 450D instead?

    From what I can tell, the 991A is overall a solid radio with great features. I'm just put off (slightly) by this finals problem. I'm hoping it has been fixed (I can't find anything to suggest it is still a problem).

    The 450D seems to be great value for everything you get, but I'm concerned I will want more soon, and end up trading it for something else anyway.

    I am interested in the VHF/UHF capability of the 991A, which is why this is posing a problem! I'm also interested in at least exploring/messing around with data modes, and the 991A seems to make this a bit easier to do vs. the 450D.

    Thanks for your feedback.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
    N2SUB likes this.
  2. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    As far as I've heard, the 991 "A" does not have the finals issue. However, personally I prefer having separate radios for HF and VHF/UHF. Most "DC to daylight" rigs tend to have some compromises in either features or performance. I recently sold my Icom IC-7100 and replaced it with the FT-450D. I really like the 450, much more so than the 7100. The 7100 was a great VHF/UHF rig, as well as HF CW, but it's HF SSB performance was disappointing.

    The USB port on the 991 is convenient, but you can interface the 450 to a computer pretty easily. I used a US$15 cable I found on eBay. It plugs into the data port of the 450, and has 2 3.5mm female jacks that run to the mic and headphone ports of the computer. Works like a charm and was inexpensive. I run JT65/9 and PSK with this setup with no issues.

    The 991 and 450 both have on-board antenna tuners, but the range is limited to 3:1 or less, so your antennas need to be reasonably resonant on your bands of choice. Depending on your antenna choices you may need an outboard tuner. Also the tuner on the 991 does not work on 2m or 440, only 160-6. That's not a big deal, it's just something you should be aware of.

    If you're really curious about VHF/UHF weak signal (SSB/CW) work, the the 991A is the way to go. If your main VHF/UHF interest is FM, go with the 450 and a separate dual band FM rig. The choice is yours, and neither rig will be a disappointment.
    KU3X likes this.

    CHERNOBYL2 QRZ Member QRZ Page


    Thanks for info.

    Why's that?

    I'd say that HF is my main priority, and VHF/UHF is an added bonus.

    From what I can find, the FT-991A/FTDX-1200/FTDX-2000/ICOM 7200 have little really between them. Where one radio is stronger in one aspect, it is lacking somewhere else (e.g. ICOM 7200 has no FM capability, and various comments seem to suggest the 991A is a better HF receiver than the 1200 which also lacks VHF/UHF for nearly the same cost).

    I've already looked at the direct audio option for connecting to a PC, but I suspect my main computer might need to be switched off during radio ops (my portable HF receiver is trashed if I'm in the same room). My MacBook unfortunately has no dedicated ports for audio, so it would require an external sound card of some kind for it to be usable. At least it seems quiet when it is on battery (I haven't tested to see if it is OK when on the mains).

    The 450D seems to have a smaller selection of filters - is this a "minor" detail or something worth considering? I'm aware that things like this are highly subjective, and in the end don't matter if the basic radio can't receive a signal at all!
  4. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, the 450 has no 2m/440 capability, so if you want to work SSB or CW there you'll need the 991....

    The filtering in the 450 is DSP, and you get 3 bandwidths for each mode, which is plenty. If I recall correctly, the DSP filtering in the 991 is just about the same as the 450, except the skirts might be a little deeper. I've had no issues with my 450 in that respect.

    As far as direct audio for digital is concerned, I recommend you try it first. It's not expensive, and you may find it works just fine. The front ends of most portables are very prone to overload. You generally won't have as many issues with a communications-quality rig.

    If your budget allows, go for the 991. It's got plenty of capability, and will get you off to a good start. Once you're on the air you can better gauge what your main interests are, and update your rig(s) accordingly. However, don't forget to budget for a power supply, and more importantly, some decent antennas. A great rig connected to a marginal antenna will be a disappointing performer. A modest rig with a good antenna will be an exceptional performer.....
  5. AE1N

    AE1N Ham Member QRZ Page

    FT-450 most bang-for-the-buck
    K2MOB and WB0MPB like this.
  6. K3LI

    K3LI Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    FT450D best value and performance for the money. Amazing little radio. I never found a HF 2m/70 cm that did not have compromises.
    The 450 will do you one heck of a good job.
    K2MOB and WB0MPB like this.
  7. WD4IGX

    WD4IGX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I would totally agree with this - if you could still get all mode VHF/UHF only rigs. As far as I can see, there aren't any. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for an FT-736R but people who have them keep them and when someone does sell one the price is astronomical.

    I'm thinking of getting an 857D mainly for the 2/440 all mode functions. I have an FT-990 for HF and an FT-620B for 6. The latter doesn't do FM but I don't care about that.
  8. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    SO true!! When I sold my 7100, I was thinking about either an 857 or 897, simply for the all-mode VHF capability! I actually found an old Kenwood TR-9000 2m all mode at a local hamfest (for the paltry sum of $100....), so I grabbed it. No 70cm options, but that band is pretty dead here, so no big loss for me. As always, YMMV, but it's still very convenient to be able to have both HF and VHF/UHF active at the same time.
  9. WD4IGX

    WD4IGX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'd really love for one of the manufacturers to come out with a modern version of something like the FT-736R. Start with 2m and 440 all mode and able to add modules for 6m and 220 with 1.2 if they want and can do it for not much extra.

    I guess the reason they don't is that it just doesn't cost that much more to make it "DC to light" - but I'm old fashioned and I like tuned circuits. ;) So I guess I keep keeping my eyes open and maybe do what you did or try one of those Ukrainian 2m transverters. The problem with those is that the output power is, what, 10 watts? Add a needed amp and you're up in the money. Add another one for my FT-620B to bring it up to what modern HF+6 rigs put out and in combination with the 2m whatever I might as well have bought a "DC to light box." Of course the separate approach very likely will have better performance so...
  10. N4UP

    N4UP Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    A year or so ago I bought the FT-991 as a mobile rig. I found it cumbersome. I replaced it with the FT-450D which I like more. Less cumbersome than the FT-991. Now I use the FT-991 at home, and only for 2 meters.

    But even the FT-450D is cumbersome compared with the TS-590-SG so I now have the TS-590-SG which will replace the FT-450D in my truck. The FT-450D will sit on the shelf at home as a backup for the TS-590-SG.

    I had no trouble interfacing all three radios with my laptop for CAT, keying, and logging purposes.

    Notice I used the highly technical term "cumbersome" ... as I prefer knobs and switches to menus.

    I couldn't find much/significant-to-me differences between the performance of the three radios, except the TS-590-SG has some convenience features that I like. But mostly, for me, it is about how easy is it to operate, e.g., the simple things like quickly-easily changing bands, modes, and power levels. For that, for me, the TS-590-SG gets a B, the FT-450D gets a C, and the FT-991 gets a D. Your mileage may vary.
    VK7LDH, KU3X and KE0EYJ like this.

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