Opinions on Yaesu FT-991 vs. Yaesu FT DX 1200

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by KG5NNA, Aug 21, 2016.

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  1. KG5NNA

    KG5NNA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good day to all!

    I passed my Technician and General Licenses back in April and I'm just now getting in a position to purchase my first rig. For a while now, I've targeted the Yaesu FT DX 1200 as my first HF rig. Then I thought I'd add a Yaesu FT-7900R as my 2m/70cm unit. I've been reading a lot about antennas and what to use, etc.

    However, I recently was made aware of the Yaesu-991 which is priced about the same at the FT DX 1200 but includes HF+2m+70cm all in one unit. This would save me the cost of having to buy a separate dual-band mobile unit (still would need the power supply). Both seem like excellent starter units for me so I wonder if anyone has gone through the same kind of wrestling between these two?

    I am limited in space on my property in a suburban residential neighborhood, so I'm probably going to be only working a limited portion of the HF band, but I do want to get into digital modes.

    Suggestions on one versus the other?
  2. G0JUR

    G0JUR Ham Member QRZ Page

    spectrally the 991 has not got a very good reputation, the imd products are quite high so for me the choice would be the 1200
    I wouldnt like to get a reputation for a dirty signal ymmv
  3. K4PDM

    K4PDM Ham Member QRZ Page

    And the FT-991A is about to come out.
  4. KG7FIU

    KG7FIU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  5. PA1ZP

    PA1ZP Ham Member QRZ Page


    I think the FTDX1200 is a lot better rig on HF as the FT991 , this rig started of with a lot of child deseases and a world record of members in the blown finals club.
    It is a cheaply produced little do it all to be the next generation FT897, it was so succesfull they even stopped bringing the new FT817 and FT857 probably as they are totally sweaped of their feet by the new Icom 7300 now and sales have dropped to nearly zero for all Yaesus in waiting of the new IC7610.

    Both the FTDX and FT991 have a lot of bells and whistles but are both of an aged design (high first IF, poor first IF filter and amp folowed by a realy cheap IF DSP based mainboard) in todays standards and are more about bells and whistles as build quality and good performance.
    the FTDX1200 has a proven power amplifier and tuner and bandfilter board so not to many problems there, in fact its a FT950 with a new IF DSP mainboard and a colour screen and new front panel boards and layout, even the diecast chassis is the same as the FT950 performance is about the same as the FT950 , but more bells and whistles in the front panel.

    If you like the FTDX1200 keep it it is a lot easier in use on HF.
    Is it a realy bad rig that FTDX1200 no still the most important factor are operator and antenna system and location of the antennas.
    I do not know if you want to do digital in VHF/UHF.
    With us VHF/UHF SSB, CW and DX is as dead as a doornail.
    In fact 160/80/40 CW/SSB are getting empty too as these bands get almost unusable due to all the household QRM made by all sorts of cheap HF spectrum poluting electronics.

    Do not know anything about digital modes I often think that a signal is one of my many man made noises and then someone tells me its a digital signal.

    73 Jos
  6. KG5NNA

    KG5NNA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Jos - Many thanks for that detailed feedback.

    Here's my situation, and maybe I'm just being overzealous.

    I have a 1800 sqft single story residence in an establish neighborhood with no covenants. My lot is a typical, old residential lot with a not so bad back yard, some limited space on the sides (about 6 feet). So, I'll never be able to do 160/80m without some significant investment in probably a vertical antenna (and at 63 my climbing days are way past me!). So 40m and below will probably be where I live for the foreseeable future. Probably I'll work 40, 30 and 20m in addition to UHF/VHF. I AM interested in digital modes very much.

    I have no rig right now, seeing that I recently passed my Tech/General in April. Studying now for the AE. Way I looked at it, I wanted to get up on 2m/.70cm first (I had a J-pole given to me by an Elmer), and for a while I planned on getting a Yaesu FT7900R with a power supply for my first rig, then get the FT DX1200 for my main HF. Others have validated that choice in the past. But then here comes the FT991 with BOTH for less than $1000!. It was attractive because the FT DX1200 itself was around $1200 (w rebate) then the FT7900R was around $300. On the surface it looked like about a $500 savings. But then, being new to the equipment arena, and ham radio in general, the alarms went off in saying 'is this too good to be true'?

    My son's father-in-law is a ham, and he has the 991, but hasn't really used it a lot yet. The folks at HRO "suggested" it to him. Your input seems to be supportive of other reviews I've seen. However, you also point out the the FT DX might also be a little long in the tooth. So the only other Transceiver I've really spec'd has been the ICOM 718 which is much less expensive (around $650) but also much less functionality. The new ICOMs are significantly out of my price range.

    Maybe this helps you with my profile and needs. Because of space restrictions, I plan on starting with just a simple 40m inverted-V on the side of my yard, with a telescoping mast, which should be fairly easy to put up with a little help from my son-in-law!

    Thank you for your input!

  7. PA1ZP

    PA1ZP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Korky

    I do not work in feet but in metres so always get a bit out of comfort zone as I do not have any idea in how much a square foot is as we work in square metres .
    I think a square metre is about 10 square feet so my lot is 150 squeare metres (1500 square feet ?) with rotatable V-dipole, for 10-40 mtrs and a wire dipole for 80/60 and 40 mtrs.
    My house is 34 x 18 feet and my front yard is 18 x 44 feet my back yard is 18 x 19 feet.
    My wire dipole runs from the front of the front yard at 18 feet high to the V-dipole on my house at 34 feet high to the back of my back yard at 12 feet high.
    It is 2 x 16.5 mtrs long , my alumnium V-dipole is based on top of the roof at 35 feet high feedpoint and is 2 x 23 feet long

    That said the FT991 went down in price in over year from 1400 to 1000 that is not because it is that good, because they blew and had so many defective rigs, that a lot of dealers even refused to sell them to their customers, but that was the first series.
    Second series improved in defect rate, but perfromance wise it is still a very mediocre rig, and it still is more expencive as the FT897D was , but yeah it has a colour screen.
    Then came the Icom 7300 that blew away the competetion totaly, not because it is that good but its a totaly new design concept that can be much better then these 2 Yaesu's ever will be.
    Yes I tell you can be better because I highly doubt it realy is, but it certainly looks feels and sounds better as both the Yaesus do.
    But lab figures say it is so Yaesu can not get rid of the FTDX1200 at all, so they lowered the price.

    In facto the FT991 is not a damn better as the FT897D that it replaces it only has a colour screen and lots of bells and whistles , but again no real performance.
    The same goes for the FTDX1200 bells whistles no real performance , in fact nothing better as the FT950 that was its predesessor, and the FT950 replaced the FT920 that was not a darn thing better as the FT950, in fact the FT920 was in many regards far better as the FT950 and FTDX1200.

    What was the real difference between the 3 generations of Yaesu, bells and whistles and the FTDX1200 is as cheap or cheaper to produce as the FT950, and that was a lot cheaper to produce as the FT920.

    But in real performance no differences at all.

    No problem as in your situation the most limmiting factor in your ham perfromance will be your antennas and your QRM noise-levels in your direct living area.
    I think your plan isn't bad at all the FTDX1200 and the FT7900 for VHF/UHF , I would consider the IC7300 instead of the FTDX1200, that is all.

    Concentrate on your antennas and on your operating practice, that is where your problem is.
    I have a FT857D had a FT920 and FT450 and now a TS590S , there is not a single QSO my 14 yr old beaten up cheap FT857D misses against the far more expencive TS590S.
    In contest conditions my TS590S CW reciever wins, in non contest conditions my FT857D (with narrow optional CW filter) wins in CW recieving.
    In SSB the TS590S has better audio in TX and RX, but in real perfromance they do not differ much at all.

    I have build over 200 antennas for HF, UHF and VHF in all sorts, yagi beams, verticals, dipoles magnetic loops , phased arrays , endfed wires, endfed verticals, about 150 different antennas.
    Also build a number of antenna-tuners, a noise canceler, antenna switches, CW keys .
    Now my QRM levels at home are so bad i am forced to go portable to recieve a decent HF signal on 80 and 40 mtrs.

    Concentrate on antennas, radiation patterns and noise reduction though, special RX antennas, your rig never will be the limmiting factor.
    That will be your knowledge in operating practice and condition knowledge and your antenna systems.

    73 Jos
    W3KKO and K4RKY like this.
  8. KB5PRZ

    KB5PRZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    I am running the FT-991 as a home rig and it is excellent for that purpose. I have it attached to a FC-40 tuner joined to a 280' loop skywire antenna that runs around my lot. I previously had the FT-897. I can cover all HF bands with this setup. The VHF/UHF side is attached to a Diamond vertical. I talk to friends on repeaters at home, and also use it to test signal and audio on my mobile rigs.

    The 991 is a favorite target for Yaesu bashing right now. There have been some blown finals. All new radios have growing pains--this is nothing new, and not a problem exclusive to the Yaesu brand. I would not worry too much about it. I am always amused by the few hams who find fault with every little problem and complain about them--but the whole hobby is deeply rooted in evaluating technical problems (natural or man made) and resolving them or compensating for them. What Jos has said in this thread is consistent with my understanding of the 991, except for the part about the 991 not being better than the 897.

    The 991 is definitely an upgrade from the 897. I can run digital modes with full rig control and logging with a single USB connection between my laptop and the radio, which reduces the complexity of the setup. I have also taken the 991 out on field day and VHF contests, so its small form factor makes it somewhat portable. It has incredibly sophisticated filters for received signals and parametrics to modify input audio. Yes, the built-in waterfall is somewhat moot if it's not an active/real time band sweep (like the DSS digitized waterfall on the Icom 7300). The 7300 and the 991 are not really comparable radios--everyone knows that--but they end up being compared anyway because of the excitement the 7300 is generating. This tells me consumers want Yaesu to respond with a similar radio, but Yaesu has seldom built its product line around a competitor's offerings, and the same goes for Icom--both companies have distinct design philosophies and attract customers accordingly. The key is knowing what you like. It's odd, but all of my radio needs are based on very specific use cases, and all are made by Yaesu: an all-in-one QRP radio (FT-817), a detachable face V/U/HF 100w mobile rig with compatible tuner (FT-857 + FC40), a do-it-all base station rig that has modern USB interfaces, digital mode, internal or external tuner support, and is small enough to travel (FT-991 + FC40), a handlebar mount VHF/UHF rig with bluetooth support for my motorcycle and bluetooth helmet (FTM-10R), and a VHF/UHF handheld, with digital mode and with GPS and APRS support for tracking (FT1DR). There are some other brands that have some of the features of these radios, but Yaesu fit my use cases perfectly.

    I would recommend the 991 to any relatively new ham, though you may want to wait for the 991A to come out (perhaps later this year?). If it were me, I would buy the 991, work with it for one or two years, and then decide where I would want to specialize. For the future, the FTDX3000 is a good specialty HF rig in the Yaesu line, and I am sure other brands have other features to offer. If my experience with about a dozen older Yaesu radios is still true, your 991 will hold its value just fine and you can resell it later and recover 80% of your cost (and you could say the same about Icom or any other brand)--so that knowledge should give you some security in your purchase.

    Good luck with your decision.

    Last edited: Aug 30, 2016
    KG5EXW and K4RKY like this.
  9. WB4WHJ

    WB4WHJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am thinking about buying the 991. Do I need to buy a TNC to operate JT-65, JT9 etc. Or will the unit handle it. The info says it will do RTTY, but being new to digital modes I don't know. Time for me to learn some new modes. :)
    I got my license when tubes & transistors were state of the art. :)
  10. W9FTV

    W9FTV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nope, the 991 will handle it. Check out WSJT-X for JT modes, Fldigi for most other digital modes.
    I have one and use it constanly for digital modes.

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