Yaesu FT-891 Review: A Sleeper of a Deal

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KE0EYJ, Jul 6, 2017.

ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: Left-2
ad: Left-3
ad: L-Geochron
ad: HRDLLC-2
ad: abrind-2
ad: MessiPaoloni-1
ad: L-MFJ
  1. VK4DX

    VK4DX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Regarding the dot matrix display ... see my post above. I was wondering why Yaesu didn't use the TFT screen like on FT-DX3000, but opted for rather low resolution, rubbish looking dot matrix. Today I've found my answer.

    I used my FT-DX3000 to operate WWFF from a park the other day and the display was pretty difficult to read in the broad daylight. Not even in the direct sunlight, there was some shade but I still struggled reading it.

    Yesterday I had my FT-891 delivered and this afternoon I took it outside to the local park to tune my linked dipole.

    That display was a perfect read even with the sun shining straight into it. No problem reading it at all. The blue backlight becomes irrelevant but the dark dots are just like printed on the paper - perfect. Being a mobile rig, this makes perfect sense. OK, it would be better, much better, if they used a higher resolution, but it is what it is.

    Have a look here, it's perfectly readable. I forgive them now :)
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
    KC8VWM likes this.
  2. WQ2H

    WQ2H QRZ Lifetime Member #214 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I use an FTM-400 in my car, and have no trouble reading the display even in the harshest sunlight. (assuming you use a 'high screen brightness' setting, and cancel out screen glare)

    Clearly a subjective observation - but there you have it. Either way, I still like the 891 a lot.

    ND6M likes this.
  3. W5ZZ

    W5ZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I wonder if CAT clicking noise is related to USB?
    Is it possible to control this rig using TUN/LIN connector ?

  4. W1PJE

    W1PJE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Update as of 21 Jan 2018 on FT-891 "clicking" problem under CAT control:

    (Youtube video here: )

    My radio is now on its way back from Yaesu Repair in California after nearly 2 months. My radio "meets factory specifications" according to repair. Yaesu HQ in Japan told me they are aware of the clicking problem. Yaesu told me they have no fix for the problem. Worse yet, Yaesu has no technical bulletin officially admitting there is a problem. Japan HQ was completely non-responsive to my requests for discussion or a fix (these were passed along multiple times to HQ by Yaesu repair). So I have completely failed to fix the problem by sending it to the official repair facility.

    Based on my 30+ years of RF experience, this is a hardware problem and will not be fixed by any firmware updates. Their engineers created a poor mixed signal environment and the digital lines are crossing over into either the audio amplifier stage or worse yet into the RF stage (perhaps more unlikely). I am convinced that the only way to fix it is to redesign the PCB inside the radio, but Yaesu HQ seems unwilling to do this, or to publically admit there is a problem. There is no way to avoid it as it is not possible to control the radio any other way than using the USB port. As a result, I am definitely planning to sell the radio as the clicking noise is so bad that it is useless for any control application (e.g. digital) and contesting is impossible since the noise covers up stations in situations where you ride the RF gain (normal practice for any receiver in crowded bands). This is obvious from the video.

    It is possible that you might get a radio that does not have the problem under CAT control, but I would say the odds are not good as more than one person has written me with exactly the same symptoms. The engineering on the radio's digital lines is obviously very poor, and I was really disappointed by Yaesu HQ's unwillingness to work with me at all to address the issue. It's a sad situation and the company should not be very proud of its work or its non-response.

    It's a sensitive receiver and a fine radio if you don't use any CAT control at all - this is true of course for many applications - but as I mentioned above, it's unusable if you want to use any kind of computer control. This same conclusion has been noted by Derek Fichtner more than once here.

    I would like to thank Tim Factor and Dale "Scotty" Scott of Yaesu Repair in Cypress CA for their assistance - they did an excellent job with customer service and faithfully ran my requests up the chain. The problem is entirely with Yaesu HQ in Japan, its engineers, and their regrettable unwillingness to work with me to effect a solution.
    KR3DX likes this.
  5. K4PDM

    K4PDM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    This is rather troubling to me as I am considering getting into digital ops with the 891.
    If I were using a Signalink or SCU-17 for an interface with the 891, and use the front panel to control the rig, would this clicking still occur?

    73 Paul K4PDM
  6. W1PJE

    W1PJE Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you avoid USB control of the rig through CAT commands, you would completely avoid the problem. Sounds like the front panel control avoids this issue and then you would be OK. Note that I have not tried this avenue so these are assumptions.

    Of course, if the rig is polling the radio to see what its frequency is through the Signalink (I do not own one so cannot comment further on whether this is wrong), then we're back to the same problem.
  7. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just thinking out of the box here, but have you tried a wireless Bluetooth CAT controller instead of using a hard wired USB cable connected to the computer?

    My thinking here is perhaps the USB cable is injecting some kind of data signal noise from the computer USB port directly into the radio CAT port, and perhaps when using a wireless Bluetooth CAT adapter it wont do this anymore because it eliminates the wire?

    I am using one on my Yaesu FT-817 to control N1MM logger. It works with any kind of software really. Basically the Bluetooth connection just looks like any regular serial comport on the PC end of things. You just point your software to whatever comport the Bluetooth connection is assigned to and you're good to go. Except there's no longer any cable connected between the rig and PC anymore.

    If you don't have Bluetooth capability on your PC, they make a little inexpensive dongle ($5 or something) that plugs into your USB port and looks like this:


    This is just a short video showing you what these wireless Bluetooth CAT adapters are exactly, (not my video) but these adapters for Yaesu rigs are all over eBay.

    I think the Yaesu CAT control port is standard and function the way same on all the FT- "8" series radios. But confirm that your FT-891 is with Yaesu to be sure. I'm not 100% sure about that model.

    These wireless Bluetooth CAT adapters wont break the bank or anything and it might be worth a try. Here's one for 10 bucks but there's many others.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  8. W1PJE

    W1PJE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the detailed suggestion. Unfortunately, the 891 only has a USB control port and not the DIN plug style port you're referring to with the other "8" series radios, so this approach would not work. It is possible I suppose to use the USB-to-bluetooth dongle you show but I have not tried that and I don't know whether it would cure the problem or not. Perhaps someone else out there can give it a try and report back if it helps.

    I can say that my educated guess is that the difficulty is directly inside the radio and not with the cable - i.e. they have coupled digital transitions on the internal PCB traces to the audio or RF sections of the radio. But it's a guess.

    This comes from the fact that I tried multiple USB cables at different lengths with and without toroids and none of it helped.
    KC8VWM likes this.
  9. ND6M

    ND6M Ham Member QRZ Page

    Gee, Somehow I manage to operate digital modes with out CAT control.;)
  10. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I wasn't aware CAT was a USB port on this rig, but perhaps converting the CAT port to Bluetooth may be a work around to the problem.

    Good luck.

Share This Page