FT920 owner comments

From AF4BH

My FT-920 has finally arrived yesterday. I think that it might be informative to some people who, with the tax refund, are considering this radio as their next major purchase.

It's been over 12 years since my last excitment of opening the box of a brand new radio. My last HF rig was the IC-751A and I sold it due to schooling and things. Nevertheless, I've been using my R-71A in these years to keep up with my SWL hobby. Now I am in the process of rebuilding my station: my Carolina Windom 40 and the MFJ Versa Tuner III are making their way thru the UPS pile. Meanwhile, I can only use a random wire to do some SW listening.

My observations can only be limited to general, not very serious, RX, appearence, and control areas.

There is a video tape came within the YAESU carton box. Texas Towers gave me an extra one along with their own packaging. I thought at first these were some fast track video tapes to guide me thru the menu items, safety, and operational concerns. But they turned out to be identical and more like promotional/commercial/infomercial video.

The little box that held the hand mic seemed to have botched up by some heavy object. The stocked hand mic inside had a very bad scrach on the back side. Apparently, that was done by the "O" ring of the mic jack because it had been compress and now was an "Oval" ring.

I couldn't find any dent on the box, nor on the rig. The mic box seemed to have a lot of room to slide around inside the package. I couldn't figure out how in the world it could have gotten compressed so badly from within. Unless it was already like that when they put together the box before shipping. I was a little upset, but I thought I could live with the scratch and could replace the "O" ring eventually. I tested it and it seemed to work OK. I like to have a desk mic in the future anyway.

I hooked it up to my power supply and the rig came up. What can I say? It looked wonderfully as it was advertised.

My first impression of the receiver was very good (A to A+). Signal popped right out. It seemed to me the FT-920 had a much, much quieter receiver than my old IC-751A. Of course, I don't have the FT-1000 or IC-775DSP to do A/B comparisons with. The DSP helps BIG TIME to assist the IF shift to fight QRM. Actually, it helps to reduce the "Boommy" AM sounds, too! Noise Reduction (NR) is very effective, which can cut out white noise with very little distored SSB audio. I use the MFJ DSP with my R-71A and I hate that "echoing" sound. The NR of FT-920 doesn't exhibit that characteristic much at all, except when monitoring AM signals. NR on SSB, in addition, does present a reduction on SSB audio level. But this can easily be compensated by increasing the AF gain. Sort of like increasing the RF gain. But FT-920's NR seems to help increase the S/N ratio, while RF gain is weaker in this round up. Since RF gain is just a totally different animal as oppose to DSP NR.

I was thrilled when the heterodyne was completely wiped out by the DSP when I listened to my favorite station "Voice of Free China" on 5950 khz! That's unheard of on my R-71A. Notch filter can only do so much, but the DSP can actually make the AM sound so much batter! The MFJ DSP can only eat dust in this round.

About the Notch filter. FT-920 doesn't provide a manual notch control and it is done via DSP and is fully automatic. Yes! It is very, very effective, narrow, and sharp, too! At this point, I don't see the need of having a manual notch control for me anymore. After all these years with a manual notch control which can only do one tone at a time, you'll know what I really mean.

FM is *&^%$ optional! I still can't believe why YAESU has to do that to us. We are talking a "MODE", not a "FILTER" here. I can see an optional 6M band, but gimme a break, please.

The menu is extensive, but I find that hard to use without a cheat sheet. A card or something like that will be a great help for someone forgetful like me. Menu prompts are somewhat helpful, but means Greek if you haven't read and remember this part of the operating manual. Set-and-forget are not very true to me since I like to tinker around with options of my radio.

I am a Coder but the electronic keyer is USELESS to me because it doesn't support MODE A keying. (May it be me who just don't know how to set it up right?) I hate to relearn how to key "A" and "N" because they turn into "R" and "K" respectively in MODE B. It might be fun for you who are MODE B operators. But it is the biggest boo I'll have for my radio. If you know how to turn the FT-920 to support MODE A keying, please let me know. I'll pay you $10 dollars as a personal way to say "Thanks". Staight Key is much easier to live with than MODE B to me. Otherwise, the electronic keyer and the contest settings are just good and extensive. Luckily enough, I have a MFJ Super Keyer on my shelf. Hopefully, I can use that rather than relying on the rig's keyer itself. I'll give that a try once my Windom is put up. But it's still aggravates me very bad.

Really: Are there more Mode B operators out there than Mode A operators? Is it just me in the whole world a Mode A coder?

I find that the "SPOT" tone feature is of less useful; however, YAESU has made it a pretty big feature to be advertised. Once I have the narrow filter, my ears can do a better job than the "Enhanced Tuning Indicator".

It's hard to believe not having a CW narrow filter if you plan on using CW mode like me. Ah! An external keyer is a must if you are a Mode A coder. This keyer thing just annoyes me to no end.

Since the "Enhanced Tuning Indicator" serves mutiple purposes, it will be nice to be toggled via a button rather than via the menu. I thought the [DISPLAY] button will include such function, but I was dead wrong.

Operating Manual has some errors in it and I managed to isolate them. My hats off to WM7D's informative web-page.

The well know NB mod was done before it was shipped to me. I am glad that I have waited.

It's hard to believe not having a CW narrow filter if you plan on using CW mode like me. Ah! An external keyer is a must if you are a Mode A coder. This keyer thing just annoyes me to no end.

I think that this radio is worth the money in it's class. How I wish to have an MP instead! Only if I were rich. Newer radios always pop out here and there, now and then. But for what I can affort and the wait for over the years, the FT-920 will probably lasts me for a while before I look into a replacement.

Thanks for your reading and time.

Best 73!

de David Ho, AF4BH

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