Monday, 10-Mar-2014 15:33:41 GMT
June 19, 1997
I had the opportunity to use the radio during this past weekend's VHF contest. 6m was dissappointing overall, but I was able to get a little more familiar with the radio. Using a 6 element yagi on 6m at 7500 ft, I worked into Nevada, and central Arizona from my location in southern California. Too bad the band didn't open up, as the location was great.
The DVR (digital voice recorder) was fun to play with, but it seems that it is very easy to over drive the radio with a recorded message. I get the impression that the documentation is leaving something out here. The manual says the recording level is set automatically, but it seems to leave out the effect of certain settings on playback. I'll re-read the manual to see if I am missing something.
I also noticed a quirk with the Dual-Watch system, that I have not tried to duplicate yet. It seems that it worked fine UNTIL I changed the timing in the menu. After I changed the timing from the default to 5 seconds, the radio would change to VFOb, but it never changed back to VFOa. More on this one as I have time to play with it. (06/21/97 - This was operator error: The squelch needs to be turned up. The Dual Watch system stays on VFOb as long as the squelch is open.)
The menu system is nice, and I think that there might be too many things that can be changed. But my FT900 has many things that can be changed as well, and I have yet to change more than one or two.
One other problem...The plastic covering the LCD is just dark enough to make it difficult to see the display when exposed to outdoor lighting. My FT900 is great outdoors, but the 920 could use some help. Field day will give me a better feel for this problem. I imagine that the location for that event will have more sunshine than the VHF contest.
Things I REALLY liked that I didn't pay attention to before...The amp and volt settings for the meter. I powered the radio with a marine battery, and it is REALLY nice to have a meter on the radio (that is accurate) so I don't have to have my DMM in-line. I did use the DMM to make sure the radio was reporting some accurate information.
June 10, 1997
Very pleased with the results of the noise blanker fix. The hiss is definitely gone, and the noise blanker is just as effective as before. Last night on 10m, I noticed a difference of 5 s-units in the noise level with the noise blanker on.
June 9, 1997
Recieved the noise blanker fix from Yaesu this morning, and it appears to work. It requires cutting some wires, reconnecting them to the circuit boards in different places and cutting some circuit traces. One of the solder points is REALLY tiny. If you are not comfortable working in small places...send the radio to Yaesu. An alternative is to remove the main circuit board and do the soldering on the reverse side, but I think that would be too much work. As has been my experience in the past, Yaesu technical support has come thru with flying colors.
The FM unit went in quickly and easily. Yet another well thought out design. Remove the bottom cover, and the module snaps into place. I think it took my ten minutes to disconnect all my cables, install the FM unit, replace the cables, and get the radio back on the air. Kudos to Yaesu on this design. Installing the TCXO, and the filters will be just as easy!
Also played with the DVR a little. This will come in handy for field day. It has the ability to continuously record the incoming audio, and play back the last 16 seconds of that recording. Nice if you want to be sure about that callsign you think you heard. I will be using mine for my CQ Contest, and field day exchange as an experiment.
The DSP works well for pulling out CW signals as well, and I will be adding the 500hz CW filter soon. My first thought is wondering why Yaesu has a 500hz, and a 250hz CW filter available as options for the FT900, but only the 500hz for the 920. I am not a serious CW operator yet, so I don't know that this will bother me.
I have been enjoying operating 6m these past few weeks. Much more so than with my 900 and the transverter. Kansas came in on Saturday, so that was a thrill. Yaesu has come up with a wonderful radio (in my opinion). While it is not the next 1000D, it is a great compromise for those of us who want a nice base radio with 6 meters. I also like the level of complexity better than the 1000mp. The mp is a nice radio, but I was never comfortable operating it. The 1000D, and the 920 have a nice feel for my style of operating. Now I can't wait for field day to see how well it does in the mountains of Southern California.
June 6, 1997
I picked up the FM unit for the 920 today, and will write a little about it next week. Also heard from Yaesu about my noise blanker complaints (they have a fix for me), and I will go into greater detail about the problem, and the possible solution when the fix arrives.
June 4, 1997
My FT920 arrived on May 22, 1997. Due to the memorial day holiday, I haven't yet spent a lot of time with the radio, but here are some observations based on the time I have spent with it.
The radio is a joy to use. It is loaded with many features (of which many are still unused by me). There are FEW options for this radio. The DSP handles most of the filtering with only Narrow CW and Narrow AM filters as options. The only other options for the radio are the TXCO (Temperature compensated crystal oscillator) and the FM module (more on that later).
The DSP works well, along with the noise reduction. Past experience with DSP is limited to a Timewave DSP59+ which I used with my FT900. I really enjoyed the external DSP with my 900, so I was a little apprehensive about how the DSP in the 920 would compare. So far the DSP does a good job of filtering out some of the garbage I don't want to hear. The variable noise reduction is great. The DSP59+ has variable NR, but it is not as effective as the 920. I have yet to see how well the 920 DSP pulls out weak CW, but I'll be sure to find out soon.
One complaint I do have, is with the noise blanker. It works extremely well at removing noise, BUT it has a terrible HISS that is really obvious when using headphones (which I do most of the time). I called Yaesu, and they admit there is a problem, but as of June 3, 1997 they do not have a fix.
The 920 has two VFOs but does not have dual receive. This is not that much of a bother for me, as I have never used it on the 1000D at the Queen Mary (I am an operator for W6RO). The dual watch feature is acceptable at this time. It is adjustable to scan the two VFOs for 3-15 seconds.
Decisions Yaesu made that I question... Exclusion of the FM module and inclusion of a Digital Voice Recorder. The CW contest keyer is another nice feature, but not something that I am too concerned about. I would have preferred that FM be included, and the DVR left out, but for $65 I'll add the FM module this weekend. That is still cheaper than the external DVR anyhow....so I guess it is a bargain on one hand.
Other things that I noticed out of the box, is how nicely the radio is put together, and how the controls are laid out. Oddly, Yaesu chose not to label the connctors on the back of the radio, instead placing a label on the top of the radio near the back edge. I missed that at first glance.
When I first started using the 920, the Mic Gain had to be turned up to 3 o'clock rather than the 9 o'clock they recommend in the manual. But after a few contacts, I was able to turn it down as the radio warmed up. This strikes me as a break-in kind of thing. The audio monitor is a nice feature as well. It allowed me to adjust the speach processor compression in a way I was never able to on the 900. It sure is nice to be able to hear what I am broadcasting. Makes me think back to my days of commercial radio broadcasting.
Another thing that I like, is that the CAT interface is built in (you just need a db9 serial cable), but the CAT command set is slightly different. Enough so, that the program I wrote for CAT control of my 900 needed some recoding. It would have been nice if they had made the 920 command set compatible with the 1000mp or another radio so that other programs (like LogWindows or TRLog) would work. The authors of those programs are working on adding support for the 920 right now.
So far, I have had nothing but pleasure from using the FT920. All signal reports I have received have been good, and I have been very pleased with the 10m performance (working several VKs this past weekend). The antenna selection recall is nice too. I have my 6m antennas connected to the B connector, and the HF antennas connected to the A connector. Changing bands also changes the antenna selection to the last used antenna connector for that band.
--Mark A. Downing (WM7D)