Yaesu FTM-400DR and FT1DR Dual Band Analog/Digital

Yaesu FTM-400DR and FT1DR Dual Band Analog/Digital
Product Review
M ark J. Wilson, K1RO, k:[email protected]
Yaesu FTM-400DR and FTlDR Dual
Band Analog/Digital Transceivers
Yaesu's comprehensive entry into the VHF/ UHF digital voice arena.
Reviewed by Gmy Pearr:e. KN4AQ
QST Co111ributi11g Editor
FM radios that include APRS packet Tbe
FTM-400DR mobile in particular is a striking departure from typic al FM mobiles
with a large, co l or touchscreen display.
As if replaces the FTM -350, it loses U1e
low-power 222 MHz transmit capability,
but gains a built-i.n OPS. The control
head has only four knobs (two volume controls. two multifunction "tuning'" dials) and five
buttons. That simplicity
belies a depili of features
and settings accessed by a
series of on-screen menus.
kn4aq @arrl.net
Yaesu has entered the Amateur
Rad io VHF/UHF digital voice
fray in a big way, beginning
with the Ff lDR dual band, dual
mode handheld, followed by the
FTM-400DR dua.I band, dual
mode mobile, and most re cently the DR-I dual band,
dual mode repeater introduced at the 20 l 3 A RRL
and TAPR Digital Communications Conference. 1
At press ti me. the hand.held
and mobile were 011 the market. the repeater was undergoing
beta testing al several sites, and one final
piece-the VIJRES-X Internet linking controller - hadn' t yet been released. Yaesu
is headlining the new products as System
Fusion. emphasizing that d1ey aim 10 maintain compatibi lity between conventional
FM and Yaesu 's choice of digital voice
modulation, C4FM. The mobile and bandheld radios also have built-in Automatic
Packet Reporting System (APRS) capabilities with an integrated OPS receiver.
In this ai1icle, l ' U review the FTI DR and
FTM-400DR radios. Even though digital
voice bas been with us for over a decade,
it's stilJ unfami liar ten·itory for many hams,
so I' II also weave in some commentary on
bow digital voice is evo lving in Amateur
Radio, and where Yaesu's System Fusio n
fits i nto the puzzle. Other puzzle pieces
include D-STAR, A PC0-25, and DMR
(Digital Mobile Radio, co mmonly c al.led
MOTOTRBO, a Mo to rola tradename).
So we now have four incompatible digital
voice modes heading into common use in
'Video of the RP-1 introduction Is at arvldeo
Amateur Radio. Commo n? Compared to
analog FM. the d igital voice modes are
stiU pretty small, but D-STAR, APC0-25
and DMR have a significant number of
users and repeaters. D-STAR and DMR
have extensive, worldwide networks in
operation. Digital voice is here to stay, but
wliich mode? Or could it be all of them,
and more?
The FTM-400DR Mobile
Even without the C4FM digital mode, the
FTM-400DR mobile and FTIDR handheld
rad ios compete at the top of the heap. They
are full-featured and well-designed a11rrlog
Bottom Une
The FTM-400DR and FT1DR are
full feature, high-end transceivers that
showcase Yaesu's comprehensive
entry in the Amateur Radio digital
voice arena. Coupled with the DR· 1
repeater, System Fusion offers something for both digital radio enthusiasts
and traditional FM users.
news.comlhrn/H R N_Eplsode_ 0099.htm I.
QST - Devoted entirely to Amateur Raa10
The control head is taller and narrower than
usual. The radio is a full
V N -U/U d ual bander, displaying and receivi ng two frequencies
at once. The alpha.numeric characters are
lai·ge and stacked vertically instead of d1e
usual side-by-side (hence the narrower
control head). They are easy lo see, even in
daylight in a vehicle, as long as ilie display
isn' t in direct sunlight
The operating band can be selected either
by pressing its corresponding dial knob,
o r by touching the display d irectly. After
discovering that tlte display is a touc hscreen, I intui tively touched U1e top and
bonom band rows to select tbem wid1out
even thinking about i l. The selected band
is highlighted by brighter c haracters. Co mpared to a modem smartphone, the resistive
to uchscreen takes a pretty good poke to gel
it to register. All the buttons, including tJ1e
o n-screen items, respond with a variery of
beeps. Different pitches or doubled beeps
c an aid in operation for visually impaired
hams, or for drivers who want to keep lbeir
eyes on the road.
The menu system begins with four mai n
on-screen, touch-accessed menu buttons
across the bottom of the displa y. You can
select your own "most-used" function for
• , 1.or1;
September 2014
Key Measurements
Re<:eiver Sensitivity (12dB SINAD, µV)
8201 0 MHz
IJ ,_
Re<:e iver 3rd-Order Dynamic Range (dB)
60020 kHz*
rt!!t ~-------"'1
40 58
20 kHz,
Re<:eiver 3rd-Order Dynamic Range (dB)
1.11 µ?
~ 50
A djacent Channel Rejection (dB)
r6?Sl I
IF Rejection (dB)
Image Rejection (dB)
Audio Output (mW)
•Measurement noise limited
at value shown.
\) .
70 cm
each of U1em. Additional menus open by
pressing the F button, or holding the DISP/
SElUP button. The display fills with the
second layer o f menus and options. most
accessed by a direct touch on the screen
(or turning and pressi.ng U1e top dial), with
some leading to another layer or two of
options and menus. With more room to
display real words, there are fewer cryptic
abbreviations, though some options require
deeper knowledge of the fu nction being
The control head cannot be attached to the
radio body, and connects wi rll a 9.8 foot
Figure 1 - The FTM-400DA control head with its mounting bracket inserted into the CD player slot
in the author's dashboard. The displ ay is show ing the bearing and distance to an APRS station.
September 2014
cable using RJ-10 4p4c plugs. The microphone plugs into the radio body using
an RJ- l2 6p6c connector. You' ll 11eed an
extension if the radio body is going to be
faiJ·Jy remote. My Yaesu FT-8900 mfo
p lugged into that radio's control bead, and l
thought I wouldn't Like tbe FfM-400DR's
configuration until I pul it in my car temporarily. Tums out it would have been inconvenient for the mic cord to be coming from
the head, at least in iliat case.
The FTM-400DR 's contrnl head comes
with a stand that holds it upright. Yaesu and
third parties have other mounting options.
or it would be easy to bui Id yourself one.
When f did my temporary mobile installation, I hunted around for a spot to put
ii. Right on the dash was tl1e most visible,
but even the mid-April North Caro lina sun
made it too hot. Then I tried sliding the
thin, flat flange on the bottom of the mount
into the slot of my car radio' s CD player,
and voiLa! Figure I shows my installation.
TI1e radio body is a little sma!Jer than most,
with beat-sink ribs along the bottom, small
fins and a quiet fan on the back. Also on the
body are the S0-239 antenna connector (no
pigtail), a ~ inch speaker jack, a slot for a
micro-SD card, a JO-pin mini-DlN for a
packet TNC (more on tJrnt later). and what
looks like a mini-USB jack, but isn't. It's for
"data," and more on that later, loo. The big,
top-facing speaker sounds good, and it's
plenty loud. After previously reviewing two
mobiles w ith volume control issues, I paid
RRL, the national association for Amateur Radio
careful attention to the Yaesu. The steps
taper down to zero smoothly with plenty of
resolution to set ir just whe.re you want.
Back on the display (Figure 2), the upper
band (Band A) and the lower band (Band
B) have completely independent sets of
500 memories. Only Band A does C4FM
digi tal, and only Band B does APRS .
APRS can run in the background while
you operate FM or C4FM on Band A, but
of course if you use 144.39 for APRS , any
2 meter transmitting you do on Band A
wi LI temporarily mute the Band B receiver.
lf you have tJ1e radio set to beacon your
position, that short burst from Band B will
mute Band A. Band A can operate on UHF
at wi!J. and APRS will have no effect. Band
B wi IJ mute Band A when in VHF.
The display can show frequency or your
own eight-<:haracter alphanumeric label. If
you use alphanumerics, the frequency still
sJ1ows up in small numbers. The remai nder of the main display feels unclutrered,
and it uses color to good effect to separate
lhe information it imparts. A large verti cal bar on the left is green for receive, red
for transmit. A thin horizontal line below
the alphanumeric label shows the relative volume setting - useful because you
may be a few button-pushes away from
opening the squelch to set volume on a
quiet channel. Below that i.s a meter bar
for relative receive and transmit levels. lt
has an uncalibrated ruler above it (no S-9
indication), but the fi rst VJ of the meter bar
is white, and the right VJ is red. Finally. the
display shows tbe operating mode (FM,
DIGITAL, and AUTOMATIC, more later), and
a few more little icons for other features.
Missing: any indication o f the tone mode
One of the default bottom-row MENU items
is SCOPE, which turns the bottom of the
display into a band scope, showing either a
slice of spectmm ill VFO mode, or a range
of memory chmnels in memory mode.
The physical DISP button toggles the whole
display through up to four other views,
including a compass rose (see Figure 1),
an al titude graph, a clock/stopwatch/ti mer,
and a GPS satellite display. Each deserves
more desciiption than I have space for, but
two poiJ1ts stand out. Both C4FM digital
and APRS use tl1e bu.ilt-in GPS to determine your position (and send it to other
stations), and the compass rose wiH display
that for tbe selected A or B band. pointing
to the received station and showing your
distance to them.
The satellite display page told me tha1 the
GPS receiver often bad trouble acquiring
enough satellites for a location fix in my
shack on tlle top floor of a typical woodframe and sh ingle-roofed house , and
when sitting inside my car under the metal
roof. It worked tine right by a window, or
directJy under the car windshield. GPS
receivers in consumer electronics such as
smartphones haven' t needed "a clear view
of the sky'' for some time now.
The memory system takes good advantage
of the big display. Enter a frequency in
VFO mode using either the microphone
buttons or the on-screen keypad you can
bring up, hold the F/MW (memory write)
button, and the memory list pops up as
a scroUable display, with four memory
channels in view at once. Dial "over'' the
memory channel you want to enter. [fit's
i11ready got someU1ing in it, your new infor1nation replaces that temporarily until you
commit it. Then you can enter an alphan umeric label with an on-screen keyboard. r
found the small "typewriter" buttons a linle
hard to hit reliably, but editing is easy.
Band A and Band B each have 500 independent memory channels and the.re is no
"copy and paste" function to share them
without using computer software. Also, I
was disappointed to find t:hat there is no
memory bank feature. Individual memory
Table 1
Yaesu FTM-400DR, serial number 3J020450
Manufacturer's Specifications
Measured In ARA L Lab
Frequency coverage: Receive, 108-137 MHz
(AM), 137-300 MHz {FM ), 300-336 MHz (AM),
396-999.99 MHz (FM, cellular blocked).
Transmit , 144-148, 430-450 MHz.
Receive, 108-136.995 MHz (AM), 137299.995 MHz (FM}, 300 - 335.995 MHz
(AM), 336- 823.990, 849.010-868.990,
894.040 - 911 .990, 943.510 - 956.990,
988.510 - 999.990 MHz (FM );
transmit, as specified.
Modes: FM, digital voice, daia.
As specified.
Power requirements: Nominal 13.8 V de.
Receive: 500 mA.
Transmit, i;1t 50 W RF output: 11 A at
144 MHz, 12 A at430 MHz.
At 13.S V de: Receive, 1 A (max volume,
max lights, no signal, one receiver),
1.1 A {max volum e, max lights, both
receivers), 423 mA (standby, min lights).
Transmit (hi/med/low). 146 MHz,
8.2/4.5'2.6 A; 440 MHz. 9.6/5.8/3.3 A .
Minimum operating voltage: Not specified.
Operation confirmed at 11 .7V de. RF
output at 144 MHz, 41/19/4.9 W.
Rece ive~
Receiver Dynamic Testlngt
FM sensitivity: (12 dB SINAO), 0.2 µV (137150 MHz), 0.25 µV (1 50 - 174 MHz), 0.3 µV
(1 74 - 222 MHz), 0.25 µV (222 - 300, 336 420 MHz), 0.2 µV (420 - 520 MHz), 0.4 µV
(800 - 900 MHz), 0,8 µV (900 - 999.99 MHz).
FM (12 dB SINAD), 0.14 µV (144 and
440 MHz), 0.14 µV (WX), 0.85 µV
(223 MHz), 0,65 µV (902 MHz).
AM sensitivity: 10 dB SIN, 0.8 µ V (108 - 13 7,
300 - 336 MHz).
AM (10 dB S+N/N), 0.46 µV.
FM two-tone, th ird-order IMO dynamic range:
Not specified.
20 kHz offset, 146 MHz, 60 dB',
440 MHz, 58 dB'; 10 MHz offset,
146 MHz, 82 dB, 440 MHz, 76 dB.
FM two-tone, second-order IMO dynamic range:
Not specified.
146 MHz, 91dB, 440 MHz, 109 dB.
Adjacent-channel rejection. Nol specified.
20 kHz offset, 146 MHz, 60 dB,
440 MHz, 58 dB.
Spurious response; Nol specified.
IF rejection: 146 MHz, 118 dB;
440 MHz, >134 dB. Image rejeclion:
146 MHz, 92 dB, 440 MHz, 77 dB.
Squelch sensitivity: 0.16 µV (144/430 MHz).
Al threshold, 146 MHz. 0.13 µV, 0.28 µV
S meter sen sltivity: Not specified.
S-9, receiver A, 2.3 µV (144 MHz),
2.48 µV (440 MHz); receiver B, 2.11 µV
(144 MHz), 3.12 µV (440 MHz).
Audio output: 3 Wat 10% THO into 8 0 .
2.3 Wal 7.5'l'o THO into 8 0 (max output),
THO at 1 V rms, 2.2%.
Transmitter Dynamic Testing
Power output 50, 20, 5 W {hi, med, low).
146 MHz and 440 MHz, as specified.
Spurious signal and harmonic suppression:
>60 dB_
Transmit-receive turnaround time (PTI release
to 50% of full audio output): Not specified.
Squelch on, S-9 signal, 146 MHz, 60 ms;
440 MHz, 80 ms.
Receive-transm it turnaround time ("lx delay''):
Nol specified.
146 MHz, 60 ms; 440 MHz, 80 ms.
(max), 440 MHz, 0.12 µV, 0.32 µV (max).
dB. Meets FCC requirements.
Size (height, width , depth): Control panel, 2.8 x 5.4 x 1.2 i nches (including protrusions);
main chassis. 1. 7 x 5.5 x 5.9 inches. Weight, 2. 7 lbs (panel, rear chas~is, cable).
Price: FTM-4000R, $695; BH-2A Bluetooth mono headset, $80; BU-2 Bluetooth adapter. $80;
C0-40 charger cradle for BH-2, $25; PA-46B power supply for C0-40, $20.
TReceiver A and B measured identically, unless noted. OV not tested; C4FM FOMA signal
generator was not available.
'Measurement was noise limited at the value indicated.
QST -Devoted entirely to Amateur Rildlo
September 2014
cha11nels can be selected for scanning or
skipping, but I like being able to group
otherwise disparate memories toged1er in
banks such as "Local Repeaters" or "Bike
Evem:· Other Yaesu radios. including the
PTIDR handheld, do have memory banks.
Also unusual: IJ1e memo1y system doesn't
remember mode (FM, AM receive, and a
couple of versions of digital IJrnt I'll detail
later). That's because Yaesu emphasizes
System Fusion, or the accommodation
between analog and digitaL They recommend using their 0 1110 11iaric mode system
that will select whatever mode is being
received, and set ilie transmitter for that
mode (except for AM, which is receiveonly). That works well if someone else is
talki11g Fust. Bui if you've been listening
to a digital signal (so the mode is set to
digital), and ilien dial in a quiet analog repeater i.n memory, you have to remember
to change the mode yourself. lf you don't.
you· 11 give the repeater a blast of digital.
(Like most digital systems, the C4FM digital transmission sounds like a buzzy noise
on an ;malog receiver.) If the repeater uses
just carrier squelch, au the listeners will be
treated to your buzz. If tbe repeater uses
tone squelch, it wilJ remain quiet.
Tone freq uency and tone mode are also not
as " memorized" as in other radios, i.ncluding other Yaesu radios. Memory chaimels
will retain those parameters as you switch
from one memory to another, but if you
change a tone mode or frequency on the
fly, the memory holds the change without
being re-stored. Ditto the repeater offset.
That' s not a complaint! It's just a different way of doing d1ings. But note that the
FTlDR bru1dl1eld does require re-storing
a memory co learn a new CTCSS lone or
offset. So if you adopt C4FM and acquire
both radios, you' II have co keep tJ1e differences in mind. The ·400 includes che usual
CTCSS and DCS. Setting the mode (encode. encode/decode, DCS, and so on) and
the parameters (CTCSS frequency, DCS
code) are done in different menus.
Yaesu FT1DR, serial number 3F030471
Manufacturer's Specifications
Measured in AR RL Lah
Frequency coverage: Receiver A, 0.5 - 30,
108 - 137 MHz (AM), 30 - 76, 137- 999 MHz
(FM, cellular blocked); 76 - 108 MHz (WFM };
Receiver B, 108 - 137 MHz (AM), 137 580 MHz (FM); transmit, 144- 148,
430 - 450 MHz.
Receive and transmit, as specified
(774 - 803 MHz blocked).
Modes: FM. digital voice, data; AM and
WFM {receive only).
As specified.
Power requirements: Receive, 150 m A (mono
band receive), 220 mA (dual band receive),
45 mA. standby (battery saver on). GPS on,
additional 30 mA. Digital mode, additional
60 mA. Transmit, 1. 7 A (5 W, 144 MHz),
2 .0 A (5 W, 430 MHz) at 7.4 V de. t
Ballery power, 8.4 V de (full charge):
Receive, 379 mA (max volume, backllght
on. mono band receive); 272 mA (max vol.
backlight off, mono band receive); 456 mA
(max vol, backlight on, dual band receive);
48 mA standby. GPS on, additional 24 mA.
Digital mode, additional 60 mA.
Transmit, Hi/l3/l2/l 1:
146 MHz, 1.68/1.06/0. 73/0.44 A .
440 MHz, 2.011 .29/0.84/0.42 A .
External power, 13.8 V de: Receive, 225 mA
{max vol, backlight on mono band
rece ive). 350 m A (max vol, backlight on,
dual band receive).Transmit, HVL3/l2A.1 :
146 MHz, 0.98/0. 76/0.55/0.32 A
440 MHz, 1.26/0.92/0.61/0.3 A .
Charging with external 13.8 V de, 217 mA
with power off.
Receiver Dynamic Teatlng•
Sensitivity, AM. 10 dB SN: 3 µV {0.5 - 30 MHz),
Receiver A, AM, 10 dB S+N/N: 0.71 µV
1.5 µV (1 OB - 137 MHz). WFM, 1.5 µV (76 ( 1 MHz), 0.66 µV (15 MHz), 0.59 µV
108 MHz). FM, 0.35 µV (30 - 54 MHz), 1 µV
(29 MHz). 0.56 µV (120 MHz}.
(54 - 76 MHz), 0.2 µV (137- 140 MHz), 0.16 µV
WFM, 12 dB SINAO: 0.8 µV (100 MHz).
(140 - 150 MHz), 0.2 µV (150 - 174 MHz).
FM, 12 dB SINAD :0.18 µV (52 MHz),
1 µV (174 -222 MHz), 0.5 µV (300 - 350 MHz),
0.17 f!V (146 MHz), 2. 75 µV (222 MHz),
0.17 µV (440 MHz), 1.4 µV (902 MHz).
0.2 µV (350 - 400 MHz, 0.16 µV 400 470 MHz),1.5 µV (470-540 MHz), 3 µV
Receiver B, AM 10 dB S+N/N: 0.6 µV
(540 - 800 MHz), 1.5 µV (BOO - 999 MHz).
( 120 MHz). FM, 12 dB SINAD:
0.18 µV (146 MHz), 3. 1 µV
(223 MHz), 0.18 µV (440 MHz).
FM two-tone, lhird-order IMO dynamic range.
Nol specified.
FM two-tone, second-order IMO dynami c range:
Not specified.
Receiver A, 20 kHz offset, e1 dB ( 146
MHz), 59 dB (440 MHz). 10 MHz offset,
79 dB (146 MHz), 61 dB (440 MHz).
Receiver B, 20 kHz offset, 58 dB (146
MHz). 63 dB (440 MHz). 10 MHz offset,
73 dB (146 MHz), 61 dB (440 MHz).
Receiver A , 91 dB (146 MHz). 101 dB
(440 MHz). Receiver B, 91 dB (146
MHz), 100 dB (440 MHz).
Figure 2 - The FTM 4000R set up for full
rate data communication on Band A {top)
and analog FM voice
on Band B. There are
Independent volume
controls and dial knobs
for each band. The
functions of the buttons
along the bottom of the
touchscreen can be
changed by the user.
There is a tone mode unique to some Yaesu
radios. They call it Pager Mode. and it
lets you be more selective in who wi U be
alened to your call. You can have the radio
sec off a bell when its code is received,
and numerical codes can choose who the
receiver is and identify the sender. C lever,
but other brand radios can' t join die fun,
nor can my o lder Yaesu FT-8900.
September 2014
RRL, the national association for Amateur Radio
Manufacturer's Specifications
Measured in ARRL Lab
Adjacent-channel rejection. Not specified.
20 kHz ottset. Receiver A , 67 dB (146
MH z). 63 dB (440 M Hz). Receiver B,
67 dB (146 MHz), 55 dB (44() M Hz),
Spurious response: Not specified.
IF rejection: R eceiver A , 98 dB (146 MHz},
102 dB; (440 MHz). Receiver B, 107 dB
(146 M Hz), 128 dB (440 MHz).
Image rejection: Receiver A, 94 d B (146
MH z), 53 dB (440 M Hz). R eceiv er 8,
101 dB (146 MHz), 74 dB (440 MHz).
Squelch sensitivity; Not specified.
At th reshold, Receiver A. 146 M Hz and
440 MHz, 0. 13 µV (m in), 0.31 µV (max).
Receiver B, 14 6 M Hz, 0. 14 µV (m in),
0.26 µV (max), 440 M Hz, 0 .15 µV (min).
0,28 µV (max).
S-meter sensitivity: Not specified.
S-9 indication , Receiver A. 4.6 7 µV
(146 M Hz), 5. 75 µV (440 M Hz).
Receiver B, 5. 75 µV (146 MH z),
5.55 µV (440 MHz).
Audio outpu t at 10% THO, 200 mW with
8 0 load at 7.4 V de, 400 mW at 13.8 V de.
10% THO w ith 8 0 load; 382 mW at
8.2 V de, 419 mW at 13.8 V de.
THO at 1Vrms, 1.9%.
Power output: 5 .0 W (Hi), 2 .5 W (L3),
1.0 W (L2), 0.1 W (L 1 ).
B altery power, B.4 V de Hi/L3/L2/L 1:
146 MHz, 4.5/2.5/1.0/0. i 2 W
440 MHz, 3.9/2.3/0.8/0.0B W.
External 13.8 V de input, Hi/l.3/L2/L1:
146 M Hz, 5.212.5/1.0/0.1 W
440 MHz, 5.0/2.3/0 .8/0.0 8 W.
Spurious signal and harmonic suppression:
~60 dB (Hi/L3 L2), ~O dB (L 1).
As specified. Meets FCC requ irements.
Transmit-receive turnaround t ime (PTT release
to 5()% of full audio output). Not specified.
Squelch on , S-9 signal, 146 and 440 M Hz,
80 ms (Receiver A and B).
Receive-transmit turnaround time ("t:x delay"):
Not specified.
14 6 M Hz, 25 ms, 4 40 M Hz, 30 ms.
(Receiver A and B).
Siz e (height, width, depth): 4.2 x 2.6 x 1.2 inches (incl uding p rotrusions ); antenna, 6.9 inches.
Weight: 9 .0 ounces (with battery and anten na),
Price: $430. MH-85 hand m icrophone wtth camera, $135.
t FNB·102Ll 7.4 V, 1aoo mAh Li-ion battery and PA-48B wall charge r supplied. Available
options: extra FNB·102Ll battery, $75; FNB-101LI 7.4 V, 1100 mAh LHon battery, $60;
CD-41 drop-in charger cradle. $40; FBA-39 battery case for 3 AA ce lls. $35; SDD-13
c;igarette lighter de power cable with filter, $25.
not tested; C4FM FOMA signal generator was nol available.
Figure 3 - The
FTM-4000 R receiving
weather Information
via APRS.
The microphone Lhat ships with the '400 is
Yaesu's old standby, the MH-48. Lo addition to U1e usual 16-bunon array for DTMF
in transm i t and frequency entry in receive,
the A-B-C-D buttons are assigned to selecc
the operating band (A and B). take the
dial to the squelch-level function (C), and
toggle through the four main display options (D). Four more P buttons can be programmed by you to get to specific settings
or options fa ster than stepping through
menus. The •400 also has fi ve levels of
Lrans mit audio gain.
WrappiJ1g up Ulis radio's take on conventional feanires, the ·400 has the usual range
of scanning options fo r bold and resume
rimes, locko uts, and so on. The resume
ti me (how Long it waits to begin scanning
after it stops on an active channel) can be
set to I. 3, or 5 seconds. The hold ti me
(bow long it waits after the signal drops) is
fixed at 2 seconds. l'd like to see more (longer) options. There are nine upper/lower
limits for V FO scanni ng , and the HOME
channel can be checked every 3 seconds for
activity (called DW, or Dual Watch). Uthe
HOME channel is quiet, doing this btiefly
flashes U1e display to the HOME channel
and takes a little hole out of U1e audio. Finally. the mi ni mum setting of the time-out
timer is 5 minutes, but could be sho1ter because many repeater timers are 3 minutes.
APRS on the FTM-400DR
T he FTM-4000 R i nc lucles a pac ke t
modem and fumware for APRS operation,
and a built-in GPS receiver (with a jack
for an externaJ GPS receiver but no provision for using j ust an external antenna).
The settings and menus fo r APRS are
extensive, letting you send a beacon after
you've made a turn, and sendi ng beacons
more often when you're moving quickly
than when you're movi ng slowly. But like
the FTM-350 it replaces. the ' 400' s packet
capability begins and ends wiU1 APRS. If
you wan t to do more, the mini-DIN on U1e
back is designed to interface with an external modem!INC.
APRS operation is fun. The display can be
set to show a screen whenever a new or updated APRS signal is received. l l iat screen
includes the call sign, distance. direction.
speed. alti tude, and message or weather
info being sent by t11e trans mi tti ng station
(see Figure 3). Or you can watch the compass rose to see the call sign. direction. and
distance for every signal as it's received.
QST -Devoted entfrelyto Amateur Radio
September 2014
The on-screen keyboard lets you compose
a message. and tbe radio logs incoming
and outgoin g messages and the most recent
100 call signs received. APRS can run in
U1e background (though it does tie up the B
Band) with minimal disruption while you
play FM orC4FM on the A Band.
C4FM Dig"rtal Voice
Yaesu's digital voice mode, C4FM, isn't
compatible witJ1 any of lhe other digital
voice systems in commou use in Amateur
Radio. Okay. you probably knew that. Well.
it isn't propriera1y. either. Yaesu uses a
newer version of tJ1e AMBE vocoder chip
that lcom used forD-STAR (the most recent
!com models do lheiJ vocoding in software
without the chip, but stiJI licensed tbrough
DVSI). As wim D-STAR, anyone can buy
them, and Yaesu says the protocol will be
published, so anyone can be compatible.
Yaesu says they chose C4FM because it is
newer and better. l can't debate that (omer,
more technical hams do). I've been listening to it for a while now. and I can say, "ft
sounds digital." All of the digi tal voice
modes, including C4FM, offer high clarity
and near zero background noise down to
the threshold. A U sound a little different.
I rounded up some hams to do a ve1y 1111scientitic test between handhelds at low
signal levels, and the performance was
also si mi lar. The biggest difference I hear
is at U1e margins, when signals are weak,
the bit error rate gets high, ;ind Ule voice
garbles. D-STAR and C4FM can sound
pretty rough. A PC0 -25 and DMR handle
it a little more gently.
But mostly C4FM works fine. l think it's
more important to focus on what Yaesu is
doing with their digital system, and compare as muc11 of that as I can to D-STAR
(J' m not familiar enough wicb DMR to do it
justice). And Ule til'Sl thing co repeat is tliat
Yaesu is crying very bard to attract analog
FM users. Thar's me essence of S yste m
The DR-1 Repeater
Repeaters are vital lo VHF/UHF FM and
Lo digital voice. Alinco introduced a ham
radio digital voice handheld abo ut 1.5
years ago, but with no repeaters to provide
area-wide coverage, ii was pretty much a
novelty. lco m'sD-STAR launch came complete witll repeaters and an lntem et linking
system. While Ule user radios were also
high-end analog FM radios, tlle D-STAR
September 2014
repeaters were d igital-on ly. The system
occupied only 6.25 kHz of spectrum, co mpared Lo about 16 kHz for FM , and 12.5
kHz for the other digital modes, including
Yaesu's C4FM. That aUowed frequency
coordinators to squeeze D-STAR repeaters into geographic areas without avai lable
spectm m for another analog or wider digital mode repeater.
DurLng my review period, Yaesu released
some of its DR-L repeaters to volunteers
for a beta test. and one of them went on
the air in my area. While Lhe hams who
received lhe repeater agreed not to release
their resu Its unti I the trial was over, I could
at least see how the radios and repeaters
performed together.
Yaesu designed the DR-I to be a drop-in
replace ment for an existing VHF or UHF
repeater. It wiU interface to existi ng controllers and run analog FM. and then there
are some options for integrating C4FM.
The ftrst option is that use.rs who have a
C4FM radio can transmit to tlle repeater
in digital, while the repeater continues to
output analog FM - it simply demodulates the digital signal and die applies the
decoded voice lo the FM modulator. Analog and digital usel's can talk to each other
in the same conversation.
There's no huge advantage to this technicaUy. The digital signal is noise-free to the
repeater, but Uledigital user is still listening
in analog. and mat analog output still lacks
me crispness of a fully digital signal. The
digital radios don' t cmTently have a mode
Lhat locks transmit to digital and receive
to analog. In "automatic" mode, when the
radio receives an analog sig1ial. rue transmitter switches to analog, too. The local
guy's workaround was to transmit in digital on Band A, while receiving in analog on
Band B. The analog-digital hybrid avoids
the social stigma of being exclusionary.
while introducing the concept of digital to
Ule analog users. At least, that's the plan.
The second option is Lo repeat analog signals as analog, and digital signals as digital.
They occupy the same frequency. and it's
one-at-a-ti me, or first-co me. first-served.
The repeater can't do both analog and
digital al the same time. In U1is beta test, the
users didn' t have control over which mode
the repeater would be in. but I' m guessing
ilcou.ld eventually be a user option. APC025 repeaters have been duaJ-mode since
their beginning, though
not aware of
RRL, the national association for Amateur Radio
Key Measurements
Receiver Sensitivity (12dB SINAD,
730 10 MHz
rtJ!i t>1 0 10 MHz
Receiver 3rd-Order Dynamic Range (dB)
580 20 kHz
9 .~
630 20 kHz 70
Receiver 3rd-Order Dynamic Range (dB)
r.-11 i=;.
50 55
Adjacent Channel Rejection (dB)
- - - - -\«
128 .. ,
11 0
IF Rejection (dB)
11 0
Image Rejection (dB)
Audio Output (mW)
l:ii:l 2so
80 50
Tx-Rx Turnaround Time (ms)
.. Off Saale
Note: Measurements shown are
for Receiver B.
any that ran digital-in, analog-out.
The dual mode repeater gave me a good
chance to co mpare analog and digi tal
performance. l was far enough fro m the
repeater that a 100 mW signal was pretty
noisy in analog. At "pretty noisy:' [could
switch to digital and have a good, mostly
garble-free signal. Taking advantage of
multipath, l could move a few inches and
go from "pretty noisy" to "very noisy."
At tlrnt point, the digital signal was eid1er
mostly garbled, or not tl1ere al all. Now this
wasn't in a lab, and multipath can affect
analog and digital signals differenlly. But
my results match what j ust about everyone
reports - that a well-modulated analog
signal can be copied a Ii nle below the point
that a digital signal drops o ut. I wonder
how much longer tJrnt will be the case? The
ARRL Lab is working on tests that wi ll
hopefully answer t11at question.
Wben me DR- I is used in fully-digital
mode, though tlle analog--011ly users will
not be able to listen to the conversation. On
an analog receiver, the audio will be just
that buzzy rush of noise. To avoid listening to the noise while still being able to
monitor tlle repeater for analog use, every
user will need to use tone-decode, either
CTCSS or DCS depending on what the
repeater tech set up for tlle repeater o utput.
Technically and operational.ly, this is not a
big deal.
Yaesu bas announced, but at press time had
not begun shipping, an updated version of
their WIRES lntemet linking system called
WIRES -X. There are menus for using it in
tlle FTM-400DR and FTlDR, but the radio's manual points the user to a downloadable WIR ES-X manua l, not yet released as
I complete this review. The WIRES system
is popular in Japan, but in t11e rest of the
world !RLP and Echolink are the VoIP repeater networking systems of choice.
Other Digital Capabilities
Yaesu 's dig ital sign al is 12.5 kHz wide,
and the data rate is also double D-STAR's
at 9600 bits per second. From lhe user's
perspective at least, Yaesu a llocates it a
little differenlly. D-STAR users sometimes
complain that the 1200 bits or ASCII is
wasted when they' re not sending any data
(which is most of the time in a voice conversation). lf t11ey have a GPS connected,
iliey're sending tlrnt in the ASCll stream
(and the newest Icom radios have built-in
GPS, so t11ey' ll be doing more of iliat). But
their point is tbey would have liked the option to dedicate all of tlleir signal to voice
to sound better, or aU to data if they wan led
to make D-RATS as efficient as possible.
''Voice Wide" although in both modes ilie
RF signal is sti LI J2.5 kHz wide. (The manual refers toDN as simultaneous voice/data
communication mode, and VW as voice
full-rate mode.) [n DN mode, the voice
audio isn't as full fidelity as VW because
it's sharing d1e birs wit11 error correction
mid a data field . VW uses d1e whole pie for
voice. And yes, it sounds noticeably better.
that, but tbat was the missing ingredient
when I tried to do it. Words are bro ken
at the end of a line with nary a hyphen to
enhance readability, but it works. n1e messages stack up 0 11 the micro-SD card.
In DN, the Yaesu radios send the user's call
sign and its GPS position. The '400 mobile
displays the call sign and the distance to
tlle received station, if everybody's GPS is
getting a fix . Tbe FflDR makes you hop
to another display Lo get the distance. The
mobile uses the S meter's space to display
Lhat information , so there's no signalstrength reading when copying a d igital
signal - just when you need it because
you can' t "hear" how strong a signal is. In
VW, you get tlle caLI sign. but no distance
info. On both mo bile and handheld, you
c an switch to a compass rose display to see
the direction and distance. You can store
that info. or your own location. and use it
to track your way to mat .location. Same for
APRS stations. Lots to play wid1.
programming and stuff. but ootJ1ing leads
to drnt data. At least not yet. I wouldn' t be
surp1ised if Yaesu introduces an update to
add it.
Send a Mess age•••
How about tllat ASC[) data? !com makes
you hook up an external device (a computer. maybe a tablet or phone today) into
their serial port to tap d1at D-STAR stream
and send to or read from ic. Yaesu lets you
b.lip in a message (80 characters max) with
their on-screen keyboard. On the FTIDR
you either twist the knob to scroll tllrough
tlle a lphabet one letter at a ti me, or use tlle
keypad like you did for text messages on an
o Ider cell phone.
The receiving station reads the text message right on their screen. I believe you
need to stick in a micro-SD card for this
to work. T he manual wasn' t specific about
So far. so good on data use. But wheD I
went looking for a way to use Yae.su's data
stream from my computer, l couldn' t find
il. There are ports m1d plugs for cloning and
Both radios can be updated with software in the field. I perfor med an u pdate
on tl1e FT JDR, and it was pretty easy.
Hint: Heed Yaesu's warning to i nstall
their d river before connecting the d ata
cable to your computer. Hint #2: Read
the update instruc ti ons all the way to
ilie end to fi nd out how to check what
tbe current version o f firmwa re is io
ilie radio because you may no t need the
update. Hint #3: The instructions say
to use an external power supply. not tJ1e
battery, during t11e update. If the battery
dies mid-update, you could brick the radio.
One more thing about that messaging. OD
the FTI DR, you have to join a group to
do it using Group Monitor (GM). Turn it
on (it forces digital mode, doesn't work in
analog) and the radio starts pinging to let
anyone in receiving range (who also has
meir GM turned on) know you' re there. On
me receiving end, you see a list of everyone
you hear. and you can " register" stations
into groups. The radios continue to ping
about every 20 seconds, and a ll U1is chatter
serves to let you know who's sti ll in range.
l.fd1e '400 has heard from you lately, your
call sign is lit up green (Figure 4). On tJ1e
FTIDR , il's highlighted in black. Fall out.
and you tum gray.
Figure 4 - In the
Group Monitor mode,
call signs of stations
in range (W1AW) are
highlighted in green.
Note that D -STAR does have an all-data
version, but ifs not part of [corn VHF/UHF
radios. Yaesu caught th at, and offers users
the DN and VW modes. The manual never
really expands the initials into words, but
I think of tJ1em as "Digital Narrow" and
QST - Devoted entirely to Amateur Radio
September 2014
••. And Get the Picture
The optional M H-85 camera-mic (Figure 5) plugs into that tittle DATA jack on
either radio. It works jusl like a speakermic, and it J1as a camera built in. TI1ere's
no viewfinder. The '400 mobile can show
you what you've just snapped (Figure 6),
and if it wasn't quite right you can try
again. On the FTI DR you're flying blind.
There are no adjustments beyond image
size and quality (not that great compared to
a typical cell phone camera). File sizes are
correspondingly small, and w hen you're
sending this across the very l.imited bandwidth of the C4FM signal, size= ti me. The
larger (320 x 240 pixels). better quality
image takes about 30 seconds to send in
DW mode. On the SD card , tJ1ey are standard JPEGs.
Wai t, DW Mode? Didn ' t l mention that
earlier, as D uaJ Watch? Tilis DW mode,
whic h the manual refers to as "data full
rate" is automatically selected w hen you
send a photo. If you're in VW. a picture
wi ll go out as DW (I' m dubbing it Digital
Wide.. . still unofficial). The manual's a
little skimpy here, but I believe that when
I sent a pic ture in DN, tJ1e picture seemed
to take longer to b·ansfer. Maybe. Again, I
wouldn't be too surp1ised if full user access to tbe fastest (9600 bps) data stream
became available some day.
And o h, yes, using Group Monitor, you can
direct a text or picture to one speci fi e radio.
Figure 6 - A photo
snapped with the
MH-85 camera/mic,
transmitted with the
FT1DR, and received
by the FTM-4000A.
About that Handhel d. ..
The FTIDR (Figure 7) is fairly bristling
with buttons on its face, and ports and
more butlons 0 11 its sides, but o nly o ne
knob. There are no connectors on top the GPS antenna occupies tlle space between the rubber a111e11na (SMA male o n
the radio body) and knob. The left edge
has PTT, MONltor (opens the squelch),
VOL (hold imd tum the knob to adjust the
volume, or o ne quick pre.ss lo mule), and
ON-OFF/LOCK. The right edge has ports for
a speaker mic, de/c harging, and a data connector that the carnera-mic plugs into (and
where I plug8ed in the included data cable
when [ updated Lile firmware). Below tJ1at
is the slot for tJle micro-SD card.
mono-band mode (you can make the seco nd band go away). You can' t make the
radio show only the alpha label Too bad,
because the aJpha label ho lds an awesome
15 characters!
The radi o recei ves AM. FM and SW
broadcast, almost de to daylight (no SSB,
and you'Jl need a .~n le more than tberubber
antenna for HF shortwave). The o ptions for
scan-resume are mo re generous (up to 10
seconds). lime-out rjmer options start at
On the fronl are tl1e display (plenty readable, but not color or touch screen), busy
lights for the A and B sides, and 18 more
buttons, inc luding the 16-button DTMF
pad that doubles, triples, and maybe even
quadrup les for other functi o ns. And a
speaker. A nd yet tbe whole tl1ing is tiny.
TI1e bottom of the radio has rubber feet. Set
it down and ii grabs the table. You can still
knock ii over easily (lop-heavy wiili the
rubber antenna sticking up), but it won' t
Here are the impo rtant differences in tile
FTIDR. I already mentioned that its mem0 1y system hangs on to to ne and o ffset a
little tighter than the FTM-400 (you have
to re-store a memo1y to get iliem to stick).
There are 900 memory channels (slwred
between A and B sides, but digital only on
A, and APRS only on B ), and a bunch of
other memory options, including 24 banks
that hold 100 memories each.
Figure 5 - The MH-85
microphone includes a
camera that can be used
to snap and send photos
wilh the FTM-400DR or FTl DR.
The lens is inthe top.
September 2014
It does have tone scan and a tone mode
icon on tlle display. Alphanumeric names
appear in smalJ type below the frequency
re adout, and on ly when the radio is in
RRL, the nationa1 as ""' t1or " ~·•ateur t1ad10
Figure 7 - The
FT1 DR is tiny
considering its
extensive list of
capabilities and
30 seconds. TI1e noise-squelch level adjustment is buried deep in menus. The feature
list is nearly endless, but I don't think I've
missed any of the go-no-go stuff. The rest
is just nice candy in a sweet radio.
The LOCK bunon locks the volume con1roJ, along with everything else. The knob
does nothing when the radio is locked
(and LOCK is a quick press of the power
button on tJ1e side - nice!). It wou ld be
convenient if. when the rndio is locked. the
knob became a volume control. turning the
nearly two-handed volume adjusDnent into
an easy one-hander.
Editorial (A New Hope)
Not long ago 1 was a lill le unhappy at
the U10ught of splinte1ing Amateur Radio
digital voice into a bunch of incompatible
formals. Now I realize that tJ1is is the way
of things. There is no question thal digital
moves fast and develops in many different
ways. The big, plasma digital TV in Ille living room that I bought in 2007 is obsolete
compared to what's available today.
Ham radio moves a lot slower. We are
99% analog in a 98% dig.ital world. We
won't change overnight, bul at least some
of our future will be tied lo digital, and we
can't get tJ1ere with radios that do only one
form of digital and never anything else.
Yaesu says their C4FM is better. newer.
How Jong unti I someone else introduces
the next be.st thing? I am very glad t11ey
embraced digital - it sends a message 10
the ham radio world that we have a future.
not just a glorious past. I do hope, though.
that the manufacturers are looking into designing radios that will do multiple digital
formats. easily upgradable when new ones
are invented (and U1ey will be).1
Each of tl1e digital systems has a fa n base
that will adopt d1eir systems. They may all
thrive, or maybe one will "win." l hope,
though, that hams will lake a longer view.
and look closely at the kinds of technology
that wi ll be fun today, fun tomorrow. and
help us reach our future.
Ma1111/acturer: Yaesu USA, 612 5 Phyllis
Dr. Cypress. CA 90630: tel 7 14-827-7 600;
www.yaesu .com.
i At press time. Connect Systems. Inc (www.
connectsystems.com) is working on a handheld 1hat will operate with as many digital systems as they can license. including D-STAR.
DMR, and possibly P25. And Whitebox. under
development by Bruce Perens. K68P. and
Chris Testa, KD2BMH , is envisioned as a software defined radio that will do any digital mode
they can license, but featuring a VHF/UHF
version or FreeDV using CODEC2.
Click here for a
video overview
of the Yaesu
mobile transceiver
and FT1DR
hand held.
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