FT480r and FT790r Replace with what?

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by G0KDT, Jan 16, 2020.

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  1. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I came back to amateur radio after a long break called 'pressured employment', that need to pay your way and support. When I retired and had finally got through the long list of jobs that 'She who must be obeyed' had set in train. I thought it would be a good idea.

    I had sold my old FT101ZD MK3 but kept an FT480r, FT790r Mk1 and an FT470r handie. Lured as I was by the hope of getting back in, I picked up a Kenwood TS590SG for HF and 6m rig, which took some getting attuned to, hoping perhaps too hard, that the old FT480 and 790 kit would be ok.

    Both the FT480 and 790 work which is good, but the FT480 is off frequency a bit, perhaps not a surprise for its age and the 790 needs me to change the memory CR2016 cell to get it to fire up properly without defaulting 433.400 and forgetting everything each time its switched off. Neither radio copes with CTCSS for use in FM needed these days.

    With the above, I contacted the Amateur Radio suppliers (Major UK Dealer) who I bought the TS590SG from new to see about getting the VHF/UHF gear checked out and tweaked back into alignment as necessary. They say “We don’t touch old gear…” or words to that effect. Although I have some test kit (Freq Counter, 20Mhz Scope, Audio Sig gen etc.), I don’t have an FM Modulation meter or RF sig gen that works at these frequencies and certainly not one that is recently calibrated.

    So the real reason for this post is to seek views from my fellow radio people about what is best to do. There is a real gap in the VHF/UHF multimode transceiver range. The two primary base rigs appear to be the Icom IC-9700 (Way over priced over here in the UK) or the combined with HF Yaesu FT991A which was for a bit, a contender when I bought the TS590 but it couldn’t do duplex and was really fiddly, and unintuitive to operate.

    I’ve looked around and feel lost and stumped. I'm nervous of buying second hand, as I have experience of helping a friend who has spent countess pounds on gear from dealers that has ultimately been found to be duff that way. Is it worth trying more places to get the old rigs serviced (parts permitting) or what would you buy. Happy to hear your thoughts.

  2. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    37 views in two days and still the tumble weed is blowing across the desert that has formed sucking VHF/UHF transceivers into the quick sands....

    Well there is an ebay advert from Italy selling IC-9700's for C. $2030 (US) which I suppose is offering an inkling of hope that the price over here will fall. I simply can't warrant spending that sort of over what would be $1500 (US) for VHF/UHF here in the UK. Our local repeater is C4FM on 70cms ( so Icom not compatible), and it seems there are a number of shortcomings with the IC-9700. Combine that with the bands pretty darn quiet most of the time here then unless I spend even more on Az/El rotators and more antennas and went big time for satellites to get anything from 23cms I can't validate that sort of spend (sadly). At my age I'm beyond the game of 'he who dies with the most gear wins' or GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) as is often the term given in my other pastime (Guitars).
  3. W4EAE

    W4EAE Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    As far as new radios go, the IC-9700 is really the only 'base station' VHF/UHF radio. I own one and love it, but I think it would be a terrible buy if you didn't use a good number of its features.

    I also own an FT991A. I use really only use it for HF. It is quite fiddly when you are trying to setup repeater offsets and tones.

    Around a similar price point to the 991 is the Icom IC-7100. It is another HF/VHF/UHF 'all-mode' radio that is similar in price point.

    If you can live with only FM, the 'top of the line' mobile radios from all of the major brands are quite excellent; and are often used as base stations. The Icom ID-5100, Yaesu FTM-400, and Kenwood TM-D710GA are all great; but with slightly different features. It would just come down to which one would suit your projected use.

    Going down even further in price is the Yaesu FTM-7250DR. It is a good FM radio, it would get you into that local C4FM repeater, and its US price is ~$200.
  4. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you for your reply Ryan.

    I am looking for VHF/UHF multimode operation. I have looked hard at the IC-9700 but the price over here in the UK is about 25% more than for you guys in the US which is a bit too rich at the moment even tough I would like to try satellites again (last time I tried it was 2m up and 10m down on CW or 2m FM into MIR before it dropped out of the sky). The IC-7100 won't facilitate duplex and it seems you can't get single band multimode replacements for the FT480 and FT790. I've seen the IC-9700 price coming down in Italy so there are offers out there if buying from the EU continent, though that accepts that the Italian IC-9700 is setup as we want and I read that there are some significant differences (odd for what would be Region 1 Eu transceiver). Then there is a aftersales, support though that is something that I think is disappearing rapidly. The dealer I bought from last year is C. 200 miles away and having broached the subject of workshop support I think that new kit is becoming buy it use it then bin it when it goes wrong.

    The FT991a was on my radar when buying the Kenwood TS590SG HF set last year and now that a friend has bought one and asked me to help him set it all up, I'm so glad I didn't buy it. You are correct the settings are so fiddly and in the heat of use it is so easy to get lost in the menus. How the neck they came up with 'Enc' to set a CTCSS access tone for a repeater and also have 'CTCSS' which simply blocks the RX side by setting tone squelch is beyond me, then to finds we got lost switching VFOs when the VFO B leds don't seem to be used. What Yaesu thought they were doing is an anathema, and worse still the last firmware update was in Feb 2018 so they don't seem to care about sorting some of these things out. That is really sad, because the old Yaesu's I've had have been really well made solid bits of kit if now somewhat aged and in need of support that is beyond me and doesn't appear to exist with the biggest dealers and supposed main support agents.

    I've looked again at used\second hand but I'm never sure that the kit has been well looked after or that the dealer, given previous findings above, has actually properly been able to check and align the gear before re-selling. A friend bought a TS850SAT only to find that it had all sorts of issues from one main dealer here. It is too easy for kit to be passed off that way hence I am feeling that I have to get the choice right because it will be worthless on a trade in and I have to live by my own findings if I were to try and sell privately. I certainly would not want to pass on duff kit to anybody.

    So I'm keeping looking. Thinking IC-9700 still needs fixes (thermal stability on local osc), will there be a Mk2 that sorts this... not yet a while, but if the mk 1 drops in price 25% then maybe I'll get one.
  5. W4EAE

    W4EAE Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have found that the lasted firmware for the IC-9700 largely fixes the frequency stability problems I was noticing.

    In the used market, check out the IC-9100. It is an all-band, all-mode rig; and I believe it works duplex. I may be wrong though.

    Also, I am not sure what it is like the UK; but in my area of the US you would have to spend thousands on an antenna system if you wanted to consistently make SSB, CW, or data contacts on VHF or UHF. There just are not many people doing it, so significant height and gain are a must.

    Just don't spend a lot of time considering--or a lot of money building--a station that may see very little use in the end.
  6. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Fair comment and Good advice all gratefully received. I looked at the IC-9100 too, but they are few and far between and when I found one it was 30% dearer than the 9700 Hi.
  7. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    before I bought my 9100 which was more expensive ( about $1000) than what they were in the USA, I did the same thing, looking at specs and reviews actually for 3 months. The radio is exactly what I wanted. Using satellites was new to me, so setting it up with sat32pc for doppler was interesting but not migrane producing. My hf radio was an excellent IC751A but I can honestly say I've heard stations that I've never heard before on wire antennas.
    It really shines integrating it with a PC. one USB cable connects it to any digital mode or remote operation.
    For 2M I have a 13 element yagi and put it up 31' on a mast - no preamp. When the band was open I could work SSB out to the NY, Conn and to the west out to Kansas.
    For some time I used that beam and a home made cloverleaf antenna for 70cm 12' high. It worked well on the SSB satellites with 70cm up and 144 down. Not so good on high elevations but usually almost down to the horizon on passes.
    Being cheap and somewhat of a homebrewer I built a tracking antenna for sat32pc using the K3NG rotor software and 2 old tv rotors, again a learning experience since I'd did embedded with assembly and/or a basic compiler, hardware was simple and its been working since the fall of 2018.
    Anyway I've always done ham radio on a very low budget, but after retiring I decided it was time to settle on a hobby that I could add smaller projects to.
    There are more and more 9700s on the sats so they are good sounding.
    I am very happy with this radio so my advice is forget the price difference, it was a big hurdle holding me back but in the long run there wasn't anything I could do. All my research, etc just pointed me to this radio and after I swallowed the $4000 pill I can say it was worth it for a new radio that fit like a glove. I'm been labelled "the cheapest person on the planet" many times, dont have a lot of money or pension, do everything I can around here from painting to renos (just figure cement parging out last fall) so looking to the distant future I'd rather have things setup and enjoy the upgrade now than try and figure that out later.

    73's Bob VE3CGA
  8. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well what can I say Bob, my wife would probably say I could beat you on the penny pinching side of things. That is unless she listed my hobbies vs the Kitchen that waited 20 years to get done :eek:.
    When I retired nearly 3 years ago I set about the house, a full refit throughout which took two years to work through, including gaffer taping the paint rollers, brushes etc. to my right hand which was damaged in a motorcycle accident (1st serious event in 40 years riding) a few years back so needed some assistance:rolleyes:. It was also a reason the work took so long:(.

    In some ways I wish I'd seen the IC-9100 before I bought my TS590SG but as its no longer in production it never came up and only later have I found one with a dealer but as its another 30% dearer than the 9700 and resale on the TS590 would be a big loss given its only 5 months old so I couldn't go that way, though it would probably have been the best option had I known better at the time. Only myself to blame for not looking harder when I bought the TS590SG.

    I am discussing prices with a dealer for the 9700, they won't put in in email and want me to drop by the store - hey ho, I can but the price will have to be really special because like you I've been looking a while and it will be just as easy to walk away. I do enjoy the challenge of the VHF/UHF bands and with some high moorlands near my QTH then /P operations in some VHF/UHF events would be good, then add the bonus that you don't need vast power or antennas for satellite ops is also something that means home brew is as you rightly point much more feasible and would perhaps keep me out of mischief:eek:. I've already been banned from going up on the roof to mount new antennas.

    I'll let you know how it goes but it'll be a couple of weeks before I can go by the dealer and hear the price.

    73's Phil G0KDT
  9. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    good stuff Phil, sucks to get old with injuries, I get joint pain in my wrists from a few decades of off road motorcycling, just sold my trials bike last summer :oops::oops:
    I was just out taking the rotor assembly off the mast on the wooden tripod, the elevation sensor has a wire off, much easier than climbing the tower, XYL just about has a cat everytime I go up it :D:D
    Hope you get the rig.
    And hope to work you on the sats too, it fairly easy to work western europe on AO-7, that 9700 will easily do that
  10. KE4VNC

    KE4VNC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'd put in some more effort into finding someone to service the yaesu(s), since they only have minor issues and they're solid rigs. The 790 probably just needs a trim capacitor replaced. instead of going through the hassle of putting in tone boards I would just buy an older v/u mobile rig and use that for repeaters.

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