Monday, 10-Mar-2014 15:33:41 GMT
The FT920, in my opinion, is a fantastic radio, packing a ton of features in at a bargain price. For under $1800, you get a radio with the following features:
For not much more money than I paid for my Yaesu FT900, I have what I feel is a much better radio. I bought the FT900 knowing that I was making compromises, but I really had no idea how much I was giving up until I got the 920.
- MF/HF/6m transmit, and general coverage recieve.
- DSP including noise reduction, bandpass filtering, and TX audio shaping.
- Automatic antenna tuner (can be used on receive to act as a band pass filter).
- CW memory keyer.
- Digital voice recorder.
- Built in computer interface (no longer do you have to buy the CAT interface).
- TX Audio monitor.
- And many more features.
In the six months that I have owned my radio, it has been relatively troublefree. There have been a few problems caused by errors in the manual, or my own ineptness, but for the most part this has been a great radio. It has helped me to work over 50 new countries, allowed me to play around with new modes (RTTY), and helped me to learn about tools for better operating. My radio was purchased without any options. As I learned how to use the radio, I added options like the FM board, then a CW filter.
The FT920 has a better receiver than my FT900, and seems to put out a better signal. I like the dual VFO tuning knobs, as they make it easier to work splits when chasing DX. One thing that I would like to have, that the 920 doesn't offer, is dual receivers. The 920 has a dual watch mode, but as it depends on the squelch, it is basically useless, unless you are just waiting for a band like 6m or 10m to open up.
For a phone or RTTY operator (like me), this is a great radio. It has many features that make contesting or general operating fun. If I was a CW contester, I don't think this would be my first choice of radios though. The DSP based notch filter works great, but it is useless in for CW. It would be nice to have a manually controlled IF notch for CW. But for phone, and notching out that clown that has to tune up on top of that DX station, it is amazing. The noise blanker is also very effective. I live in a neighborhood in Southern California that is plaagued with S7 noise most of the time. Under most conditions the noise blanker will cut the noise level by 3-5 S units, making it possible to hear signals I could not hear with my TS520 or my FT900.
Filtering is adequate for most conditions with the DSP doing a good job of shaping the incoming signals. However, because the DSP is AF, and after the AGC circuit, strong signals in the IF bandpass will cause AGC pumping. Most of the time this is not a problem, but in contest situations, it becomes difficult to hear weak signals. I experienced this with RTTY when I got started with that mode, because I purchased the radio without any optional filters. Since that time, I have purchased the 400hz CW filter from International Radio, and have been very pleased with the results. This filter is just wide enough to keep the RTTY signals from getting chopped, and the DSP works with it to help get rid of any other garbage. Use the noise reduction with it, and the signals just jump right out at you. There has been talk of a replacement filter for SSB (2.1KHz vs. 2.4KHz) from INRAD, but this filter will require removal of the main circuit board to solder it in, and and it means losing the existing filter.
The large LCD is full of information, and the front panel is packed with lots of buttons, many of which I never use. The menu for settings is very nice, and one feature especially appreciated, is the quick menu. You can select menu items for inclusion in the quick menu, and then you have a smaller menu for frequently accessed settings. This beats searching through the 70 or so menu settings every time you want to change a setting. Another display feature I like are the available meters. Press the meter button to cycle through ALC, SWR, voltage, current, and compression displays. I found it nice having current and voltage displays during field day (running off a battery). Also on the LCD are indicators for CW tone, and DSP bandwidth. These can both be changed to display other functions.
The manual is lacking in a few places, with a few errors. It could also be improved in the documentation of the computer control information. My FT900 offered a far better explaination of how the computer control codes worked. I was able to figure out the FT920 codes a bit easier due to the experience with the FT900, but for someone who wants to write a control program for the first time, it will be definitely more difficult with this radio.
Overall, I am extremely satisfied with this radio. It has helped me work toward operating goals that I have had difficulty achieving with my other radios. This is definitely not an FT1000 or FT1000mp, but it does save considerably over the cost of those radios, and offers impressive performance.