Amateur radio, also known as Ham radios, have been around for some decades now. Even with the many advancements in technology, HAM radios are still useful since they can be used to send messages regardless of hindrances caused by weather or obstructions in the environment.
Although there have been so many advancements in the radio world, one radio that has continued to stand out among its peers is Yaesu FT900. This radio has so many unique features that make it one of the best and most sought-after Yaesu radios.
This radio is suitable for both home and mobile use, which is one of the reasons why most people own this Yaesu transceiver. In this review, you will be learning everything you need to Know about Yaesu FT900.
Table of Contents
Considerations for choosing the Yaesu FT900
Buying a radio is easy but buying a radio that suits your needs requires taking a few things into consideration.
Ease of use
One important thing to note when buying a radio for use as a base station or as a mobile transceiver is useability.
It is almost impossible to use any radio with complicated options and menus to Its full potential. It would take a longer time to study and might require technical knowledge. This is why it is advisable to get a radio that is simple to use.
Most of the recent designs of radios today have only a few buttons and knobs to increase mobility. The side effect of this is that the radios are menu-driven, and they require several trips to the manual to understand and program the buttons. As a result, the radios are stressful and frustrating to use.
This is where Yaesu ft-900 triumphs over other modern ham radios because every knob and button on the front panel of this radio has its own function. With a total of 40 buttons and 9 knobs, this radio has a busy front panel. Regardless of the number of knobs and switches, it is easy to navigate and understand, making it user-friendly. It is recommended for anyone who is new to ham radios or who enjoys using simple but effective radios.
The size of a transceiver depends on its functions and features. The heaviest radios come with many features, but while such radios might be multifunctional with great range and quality build, they usually compromise on mobility.
The light weighted radios, on the other hand, are mobile, but they may lack essential features or might be built with inferior materials. Finding a radio with lightweight but doesn’t compromise on functionality is no easy task.
But you can choose to buy a heavy radio if you intend to use it in your shack as a base station. Most people buy lightweight radios because they are portable and easy to carry around. However, there is no point in buying a lightweight radio with limited features.
The FT900 radio blends functionality with mobility and, as such, can be used as a base station and a mobile radio for your truck or camping trips.
With a weight of 5.3 kg, it is not as heavy as a standard base station yet; it excellently performs the functions of most base station radios. However, it would be somewhat unfair to compare it thoroughly to transceivers three times its size.
The radio has a dimension of 238×93×253mm. It has a detachable frontend panel feature, which reduces both the weight and dimensions of the radio. This makes it easier to mount it in your truck or car.
Buying a transceiver is almost like investing; it is necessary to take calculated risks to avoid a huge loss. Most people assume that buying an expensive transceiver means that it would be built to last.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t matter how much the radio costs as it is possible to buy a low priced radio that would last for several years. It is equally possible to buy an expensive radio that would barely make it past a year.
What matters most when buying a radio is considering the brand, the radio’s history, and what other customers have to say about it. The Yaesu brand is known for designing radios that last for years.
This radio is no exception; it was built to survive through tough times. For a radio built in the 90s, it is efficient and has managed to gather so many fans over the years.
Most people who have used this radio praised its resilience and durability. It has a rugged design that can withstand any terrain, which is essential for mobile radios. All of its buttons are tactile and would work for as long as you use the radio. This radio would serve you for a long time, depending on how you treat it.
User Guide Documentation
Not every brand gets the user guide or manual documentation right, although Yaesu is known for creating outstanding manuals. Sometimes, most brands leave out a lot of useful information. Other times, the radio manual might be too voluminous or complex to understand.
Besides the fact that Yaesu ft-900 has a simple user interface, it also comes with a 48-page manual that is logically laid out. The table of contents is designed such that it would always lead you to whatever information you seek.
To make it easier to comprehend, the FT900 manual comes with tables, well-labeled diagrams, and pictures.
It also comes with a page titled “Important Advice on mobile installation and operation.” This page has several tips to guide you through the radio’s installation smoothly, further improving your user experience.
The major reason for buying any radio is to send and receive information. A radio that cannot perform this task effectively is almost useless.
A radio needs to be able to receive messages and produce them clearly for communication to take place.
FT900 features a noise blanker that minimizes pulse-like noise. The hand mic accessory that comes with the transceiver also does its job well. It fits comfortably in hand and is suitable for use while driving.
Although the radio’s speaker is small and located at the top, it still does a decent job. Yaesu ft900 is also fitted with a Collins filter that allows you to receive clear information.
It would help if you calculated the cost of the radio versus the value you get for your money before buying any radio. Considering that most base stations cost quite a lot in the market as expected of bulky radios with multiple functionalities, You might be looking to get a radio that would give you as much functionality most base stations but doesn’t cost that much.
This radio is a smart and cost-effective choice because it offers you the full package, user friendly, excellent audio quality, simplicity, and portability, all for a reasonable price.
This feature comes in handy when you need to communicate without hitting the pushing the push to talk button.
It works great for moments when you can’t take your eyes off the road while driving or when you are performing other tasks.
When you speak to the microphone using this feature, it causes your voice to transmit or receive messages.
However, you must set the three controls on the rear panel to match your microphone for the VOX circuit to operate or perform properly.
The controls must also be set to match the acoustic environments of your station.
After the initial setup, the trimmers may not require adjustment, except you change your station, location, or microphone. Setting up this feature is easy and shouldn’t take much of your time.
The FT900 radio has a large Display screen that graces the radio’s front panel elegantly. The radio’s display panel has an orange backlight that makes it suitable for use at night and also during the day. The display uses LCD bar graphs for metering, which can be controlled by the METER button.
The display indicates the selected mode( AM/FM/SSB) and the current frequency. It also indicates the current memory channel, the selected memory channel, and the VFO being selected.
Remote mounting Kit
The Yaesu radio has an optional separation kit, YSK 900, available to help you conveniently separate the front sub-panel from the main chassis. The separation kit includes a cable that is about 23.6 feet long and a small plastic bracket ( 2×4 inches) that can be attached to a flat surface to fit the remote control head. Two metal brackets are also included in the separating kit. They can be used to RF deck of the radio to the floor of a vehicle
You can mount the subpanel on your vehicle’s dashboard while placing the transceiver’s body somewhere safe. The controls on the bottom third of the radio cannot be operated after the mobile installation. They stay with the main chassis.
However, you can use MMB 20 to mount the entire radio in a suitable location. If you choose to remove the radio in your vehicle, you should avoid taking the radio in and out of your vehicle a lot this is because it’s easy to lose some of the small size hardware.
This radio makes it easy for you to get around as it offers a total of 100 tunable memory channels—the memories on the radio store amateur band edges and different frequencies.
This Yaesu radio also features dual VFOs that offers more memory channels. You can easily check the content of any memory while maintaining the frequency of your current VFO.
The lock feature is controlled by the lock button present on the front panel. It locks all the knobs and buttons. After pressing the lock button, you may still be able to turn the knobs, but it won’t work.
To change the lock settings, simply press down the lock button and the power button.
100 watts power output
The power output for FM, SSB, and CW modes and bands are adjustable from 2watts to 100 Watts except for the AM band, which is limited to 25 Watts.
In order to prevent the transmitter from overheating, you should avoid using the transceiver at full power for more than 3 minutes.
With this radio’s keypad, you can directly enter in any numeric frequency or amateur bands. The keypad has 12 keys. Besides the GEN and ENT keys, every other key has two labels. The yellow label goes from 0 to 9, and they are used for entering in different frequencies.
For instance, you might want to tune in to 15.432MHz; all you need to do is press ENT15432ENT.
The white labels on the keys, on the other hand, indicate 1.9-29Mhz amateur bands. You can change the receiver to a general coverage frequency using the GEN button.
Controls and switches
This ham radio has many buttons and knobs, which makes the radio keys appear a little bit clustered. However, there is no need to fret as every key has its own functions. Yaesu expertly distinguishes the radio’s buttons, making it easy to identify what button does what even without visiting the manual.
Here’s a summary of the major buttons on the sub-panel.
1) Power button: Pressing this switch momentarily will not cause the radio to power off or on. To toggle the power function, the switch must be depressed for a few seconds. If the radio is installed in your car or truck, make sure to turn off the radio when turning off your engine or turning it on.
2) Tuner button: When you press this button momentarily, “TUNER” is displayed on the screen, and the antenna tuner is put on ( inline). If the button is pressed again, the tuner is put off (bypassed). Pressing this button for half a second activates the transmitter, and the tuner seeks a tuning match. The settings are immediately stored in the 31 memories for recall afterward.
3)Meter button: This button lets you select a meter function. You can choose from any of the three combinations which are available on the display screen;
* S-meter/ RF power
* S-meter / RF power and ALC
* S-meter/ RF power & SWR
4) Proc: This button activates the speech mode in the AM and SSB modes.
5) ATT: This button is useful for situations where powerful signals overload the mixer while the IPO is on. Pressing the ATT button makes reception more comfortable by reducing the strength of all signals and noise by 12DB.
Att button and IPO button should be turned off if the signals are weak because you need maximum sensitivity to listen to weak signals.
6) IPO ( intercept Point Optimization): You can turn on this button to bypass the RF amplifier. When you notice intermodulation from strong signals on the frequencies, if it doesn’t reduce the noise, then put on the ATT button.
7) Noise blanker: This button functions by activating the blanker, which reduces pulse-type interference. The NB button has an LED indicator that lights up when the blanker is turned on.
You can turn on the blanker whenever you hear a pulse-like sound, but it is better to turn it off if the signals sound distorted.
8)Split: Since Yaesu Ftb900 features dual VFOs (VFO A and B), the split button toggles whichever VFO that is not displayed on the screen for transmission.
9)HAM/GEN: This button decides what the DOWN/UP button’s function would be when receiving a returned memory. When GEN shows on the screen, it indicates that the DOWN/UP button would move by 100kHz. HAM moves only from one amateur band to another.
10)FAST: You can use this button to tune faster when rotating the tuning knob or while pressing the UP/DOWN button. By holding the power button and the fast button simultaneously, you can set the fast button to either “press and hold” or toggle on or off is advisable because it makes it easier to focus on rotating the tuning knob.
11) MOX: When the MOX button is depressed, it keys in the transmitter. In order for a reception to occur, this button must be undepressed.
12) VOX: The Vox button activates the Vox circuit. The Vox function is useful during hands-free communication.
13) AGC(Automatic Gain Control): The AGC button increases receiver gaub after tuning past strong signals. It’s better to turn off the AGC when you Finally tune into a signal as the function can affect reception quality.
14) MIC GAIN: The MIC GAIN functions by adjusting the input level of the microphone for SSB and AM.
15) RF PWR: The RF PWR knob sets the output power level for all modes during transmission, which ranges from 10 to 100 Watts.
16) KEYER: When the KEYER button is in a fixed position, it activates the electronic CW Keyer located inside the transceiver.
17) SPEED: The SPEED control only works when the KEYER is turned on. It adjusts the speed of the CW keyer
Other buttons on the radio include the DOWN/UP button, A/B button, V-/M, M-/V, LOCK, CLAR, AF SQL, and the mode buttons (CW, FM, AM, SSB). The buttons are intuitional. Once you get your Yaesu radio, you can simply start using it right away.
An AF speech processor that increases the average power of your signal.
A carry handle that makes it easier to lift.
A noise blanker that increases sound quality.
Dual VFOs for more memory.
100 Watts output
A backlight LCD display screen
Well written manual
It is not menu-driven
Connecting it to a laptop can be stressful.
Adding an optional filter might be difficult for an average HAM.
How to connect Yaesu FT900 to a laptop
Connecting Yaesu Ft 900 to a computer can be frustrating because Yaesu FIF 232C CAT doesn’t work with new design computers. In order to create an interface between radios and RS 232, which is a serial port of a personal computer, Yaesu developed the FIF 232C CAT as an outboard interface system. The device was of great benefit compatible with computers in the 90s
The Yaesu FIF 232 works by converting TTL levels required by the radio to RS 232 levels required by the computer. Since almost every computer today uses a USB port, It is important to upgrade to a USB connection.
Some people recommend using a signal link USB; At the same time, it might work with some old generation design; it does not work effectively with the FT900 because signaling will not provide you with connections for rig control. Although, you can control your radio with FL Digi software if you already own a signal link USB.
A better option would be to use another 21st-century third-party offering capable of converting signals from Yaesu Ft 900 CAT to a DE – 9F or USB 2.0 connector, which can be found on a modern PC. There are a number of options in the market but the time wave Navigator or rig expert designs are the best matches.
A time wave Navigator sound card modem is the most comfortable option. It provides rig control and supports the Yaesu CAT. With this device, all you need to do is connect an interface cable from your radio to it. Unlike the signal link USB, there are no internal configuration jumpers. The device comes with software that lets you control your radio from your PC easily.
Although the Yaesu FT 900 has been around for a long time, it effectively carries out its tasks. It combines its friendly user interface and durability, making it stand out from its peers.
There are many accessories available for this radio in the market today, like the TCX03, a high-stability reference oscillator and the Sp6 base station speaker. You can also opt to change the filters since there are better filters in the market now. This Yaesu radio has a flexible design to give you room to accessorize.
Considering Yaesu ft 900’s price, features and mobility, it is a no brainer why so many people love it. If you are looking to get an older generation rig for your shack or vehicle, then this radio is a smart choice.