My "New" FT-51R

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by KB3MLC, Jun 24, 2020.

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  1. KB3MLC

    KB3MLC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm very pleased to announce the arrival of my "new-to-me" Yaesu FT-51R. While I'm sure many others have experienced this foundational Japanese, dual-band HT, I decided I'd offer my own review.

    I like HT's, as I enjoy their portability and their versatility. What they offer during a week-long hike in the woods is unsurpassed by any other amenity. As a 32-year soldier, radios hold a special place in my heart. This one particularly holds my interest, if I could only get it to transmit.

    The FT-51R is an intuitive handheld with the typical quality expected from Yaesu. The audio leans a bit toward the "treble" end of the spectrum, but is quite satisfactory to me. The display is clean and easy to understand, and the radio feels solid in the hand. The feature that most interests me is the integrated "signal scope" which graphically informs the user of any voice traffic within a few MHz above and below the frequency currently being monitored/used. Very cool.

    My gripes are several, however. First - and perhaps I'm spoiled - there's no indication of battery level (unless you go deep into the menu functions and scroll through to menu item #25 and view the current voltage level), nor is there any indication of whether or not the battery is actually being charged when you plug the radio into a battery recharger. The radio displays a "low battery" indicator upon reaching a certain voltage, but I'd prefer a little more than that.

    Currently, while I seem to receive just fine, mine also won't transmit. Upon pressing PTT, the red "transmitting" indicator light will illuminate very briefly, but will then immediately go off as if I had released the PTT. Odd. To address this, I've even reset the radio to factory-original settings and then tried Simplex operation. No joy. Still won't transmit. Maybe someone has a thought or recommendation for me? It was recommended that I let it charge overnight - so we'll see what that yields.

    At any rate, and despite the challenges I'm experiencing, I'm truly enjoying the FT-51R. It feels solid and is certainly appealing to the eye. It didn't come close to breaking the bank at $100 (and free shipping!), so I plan to explore my x-mit issue a bit further before crawling to the forum and pleading for help.

    I'll be pleased to update this posting a week or two of use.

    Best regards,

    Joe (KB3MLC )
  2. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nothing you can do about most of these things, it is what it is, but if it resets while transmitting, the battery is probably too weak. New (aftermarket) batteries are about $50. There are some adapters, but they are impossible to find. If you want, break open the old battery by whacking along the seams with a small hammer, remove the batteries and get a 12V 3A supply and either modify it down to 9.4V or make up a regulator circuit that will handle 3A and attach it to the + and - contacts at the back through the charger. I've made some packs for the 51R, but it's not worth the $50 in time. That's the biggest issue with this radio, it doesn't work off 12V. Otherwise it's a fairly nice HH.
  3. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I got a cheap $7 open frame PS (S-36-12), a 3A 12V adjustable supply. It adjusts down below 9.7 VDC didn't check the bottom. Took the batteries out of one of my old packs, attached 2 wires from + to +and - to - inside, and it works fine. It thinks it has a FNB-38 pack on it, you can see that under the battery voltage. If you punch Func-lamp the lamp stays on full time too. Trouble is for some reason the VHF only puts out 1/2W and the VHF about 3.5W. Otherwise the RX works fine. Somehow I put it on band 5 and it receives from 60-180 and 300-512. Of course the band ends are pretty pathetic. TX range is not so wide. The upload/download software doesn't work any more either. But hey, how old is it?
  4. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    OK, here's something else. I got an 8 pack of 600mah ni-mh batts for $10 on amazon. Soldered them together and replaced the old batteries on one of my packs. Works great. The batts also measure over 600mah also. I ordered another 2 sets. Now how long they'll last is anyone's guess but they seem fine initially. I had to stuff some pipe tubing insulation inside the pack to keep things tight. It wasn't a big project thought. I kept one of the old packs to use with the 3A supply on the bench.
    N2HUN likes this.

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