The FT920 Resource Page
Last update: Monday, 10-Mar-2014 15:33:41 GMT

September 20, 2003

The sound card spectrum analyzer software site has moved: http://www.visualizationsoftware.com/gram.html. It's now shareware and costs $45, but compare that to the cost of hardware... Thinking of buying an FT920? Now is the time... They can be had for as little as $1049 (shipped). Tell 'em that WM7D sent you.

September 16, 2003

Wow, it's been a LONG time since I last updated this journal. Seems that they are called BLOGS now.

It's been nearly one year since I accepted the job in Nevada, and packed up the station. I'm just now (10 months after tearing it down) starting to setup a station again. I've setup a few antennae and unpacked all the radios. I'm also working on finding help to erect the tower. If nothing else, I'll run the FT920 with the R5 and Butternut verticals until spring. That will get me on the air, and allow me to participate in sweepstakes (my favorite contest).

Working with N7ROJ last week, I have tweaked the radio to work with the new Heil Proset Plus that I purchased just before taking everything apart.

My FT920 is working perfectly and has for the better part of the past four years. The filter kits have really made the radio a joy to operate. MANY thanks to George at International Radio for the kits and filters.

April 13, 1999

The FT920 has arrived. Though I have not yet put it on the air (I have not set up an antenna at my new house), I decided to open the radio up to see what the filter kits look like installed. In my own strange little way, I find a certain artistry in well designed electronics, and the filter kits are a work of art. George has done a fabulous job of integrating the boards into the radio, and I am very impressed.

Each filter switch board takes up a little space on either side of the chassis, just behind the front panel (in the open spaces on the sides of the radio that are visible when you remove the top cover). A few wires are routed from the boards to the main circuit board to put up the RF signal paths from the original filter locations, and to allow the boards to get some power. The design is such, that you will require only one toggle switch to switch between filters (as the radio will automatically route to the proper kit depending on the mode you select). The toggle switch mounts directly to the bottom of the radio using the existing silver colored screw. The location of the switch is nice, but could be moved further to the front if you fabricated a slightly longer mounting bracket. As it stands, the switch is easily accessible now.

There are no mechanical switches to the boards (other than the toggle switch), so the only obvious sound of selecting a new filter is the change in the audio as the bandwidth changes.

The filter switch boards are a perfect addition to a fabulous radio. Nearly all of my complaints about the FT920 are now addressed in one fashion or another. Of course I'd still love to have dual receive capability, but I'll live with what I have.

My thanks to George Cutsogeorge (W2VJN) of International Radio for his efforts in making this kit happen.

April 08, 1999

My FT920 is on it's way back from International Radio with filters and switch kits installed. I have been working on the office/shack at my new home, and hope to have the radio installed and on the air in a week or two. Then I will offer some opinions about the filter kits. I am extremely excited about this modification to my FT920 and eagerly await it's arrival.

On another note, my new FT100 has arrived. I have decided to create a new FT100 page that will be very similar to this one in both appearance and content.

March 23, 1999

Been away for the past week with family stuff, so I called INRAD this morning. The filter kits are nearly done, and I am extremely excited about what I heard. The installation instructions are written, and the kit works well. Call INRAD for pricing and availability. I'll have more comments when I get my radio back. For now, I'll say that this addresses my biggest complaint about my FT920.

INRAD also has filter performance curves on their web page. You can now look at the graphs for most of the filters they sell.

March 16, 1999

International Radio states that the filter switching kit works as expected. Testing is being done right now, and I hope to have results soon. George has put together a kit with instructions for a pending DXpedition, and expects to start analyzing the kits in my radio today.

March 8, 1999

Ok... Escrow closed, and we moved in last week. Now all I have to do is get organized and setup a new station! Hopefully that will happen by mid-summer.

I received an email from George at International Radio, and he tells me that the new boards are in. Testing was supposed to begin early this week, and we should have results soon. I'll put up any new information that I recieve as soon as I can.

February 19, 1999

Escrow closes next week!

My radio has arrived at International Radio, and I am told that the new boards should arrive any day. Hopefully, things will go as planned this time, and we will be seeing a completed kit soon!

February 10, 1999

Moving day is two weeks away! The station has been broken down, and I am making mental plans for the new station.

I spoke with George again today, and he expects to see the new board in a week or so. We agreed that shipping my FT920 now is probably a good thing, so it will be off to Oregon again this week. If testing goes well, expect an announcement here, and on International Radio's web site about the new filter switch kits.

I cannot adequately express my satisfaction with the prototype! Anyone who decides to add this modification to their FT920 will not be disappointed.

January 29, 1999

Sorry, but not much to add lately. George tells me that the artwork has been sent for the new pc boards and it should be about three to four weeks to get them done.

I'm in escrow on my first home, so updates are likely to be few and far between for the next month or two. I'll respond to email, but it will take time for me to do so.

January 11, 1999

I didn't think that it was necessary to do this again, but it seems that someone wanted to see what the 1.8kHz and 2.1kHz filters looked like on the same signal. My comments about the analyzer software were only to let people know about a cool piece of FREE software.

This image is from International Radio's HP spectrum anaylzer and shows the bandwidth of the 1.8, 2.1, and 2.4kHz filters. Go back to April 1998 for more info.

As far as a comparison of CW filters, I do not own the Yaesu 500Hz filter, so I cannot provide one to George for a comparison. When I receive the final filter kit for CW, I will run a simple graph of the 400, and 250Hz filters.

As it stands right now, the filter switch kits are in need of a new printed circuit board. In my last conversation with George, he told me that it would be about three weeks. As more information becomes available, I'll let make my comments here. You can also check International Radio's web site for updates. Assuming the final production kit works as well at the prototype I have, there will be many happy FT920 owners.

January 05, 1999

Well, I guess it's time to get off my butt, and get serious about life again. Merry new year to all.

My FT920 returned from it's latest excursion to Oregon, and I am very excited about what I find. George has installed a circuit board that allows me to switch between my 1.8kHz and 2.1kHz filters. The installation is very nice, and I have taken some photographs that I will add to the web page as soon as the film is developed. Hopefully the new boards will be finished soon, and anyone who wants the kit will be able to get it.

I also played around with some software that allows me to use my sound card as a simple spectrum analyzer. The white line represents the center of the RTTY signal I was trying to tune.

wide rtty spectrum
This is a RTTY signal from my FT920 using the default bandwidth.

narrow rtty spectrum
This is the same RTTY signal using International Radio's 400Hz filter.

You can get this software from http://www.monumental.com/rshorne/gram.html.

December 18, 1998

There are several things to write about today. First, the filter switch kit: I had a phone call with George on wednesday afternoon, and he reports that the circuit board has gone back to the drawing board. This is good news, because it means that he found some things (using my radio) that he would not have found without the FT920 in his shop. My FT920 is on it's way back to me right now, with the new prototype board installed. George tells me that this one works, but it is not pretty. It should be about a month for the new PC boards to be done, and then I will send my radio back to him for final testing.

Another thing that was discovered in this testing, is the lack of bypass capacitors in the CW filter circuit. George installed a couple of caps in my radio, (on the main PC board), and says the difference is dramatic. I'll get more information about this modification from him after the holidays.

One other thing... I had assumed that the switch kit would be for four filters (two CW and two SSB), but it turns out that the kit will be for two filters. You can have two kits installed, as my radio will, or you can install only one for your preferred mode of operation. This should allow for more flexability. George also mentioned that his initial design used a relay, and he was not happy with the noise it generated, so the redesigned kit will use diodes instead.

More comments soon.....

December 04, 1998

George at International Radio has informed me that the filter switching kit is coming along nicely. This photo (You need Adobe's Acrobat Reader) that George provided, shows the prototype installed in my FT920. Note the adapter board in the CW filter location, and the TWO CW filters installed at the side of the radio! There will also be two SSB filters in the radio when the kit is complete. Keep in mind that the kit is in the final testing stages before production, so it will be a little while before you can buy one. Contact International Radio for more information about pricing and availability.

I'll be sure to put more information about this filter switching kit as I receive it. I hope to be able to visit with George at his Oregon QTH next weekend, and I'll add my thoughts about the kit after I return.

November 30, 1998

My FT920 has been shipped off to International Radio to allow George to finish the filter switching kit. For those who are unaware of this, George has been designing a kit that will allow two SSB AND two CW filters to be installed in the FT920. Switching between the filters will be done via a toggle switch installed below the VFO dial. The technical details are not available to me yet, but George has been extremely excited about this kit (in my recent conversations with him), and hopes to have it available soon. More details will be added here as they become available.

October 26, 1998

The CQWW contest was a blast. I had nearly 175 contacts on 10m alone, and the radio behaved perfectly. Adding the INRAD 1.8 kHz filter REALLY makes a difference for phone contests. The 2.1 kHz filter is nice for everyday use, but it is not quite narrow enough for me. Installing the 1.8 kHz filter really makes it easier to find the stations in the noise.

As a side note: I spoke with George at International Radio today, and he tells me that the filter switch kit is progressing well. I hope to have more details about this kit soon, but for now, let it suffice that this kit will allow you to have two SSB filters, AND two CW filters in your 920. There will be a little toggle switch attached to the bottom of the radio (near the front) to allow you to switch between filters. I have been looking forward to this modification for quite some time, and I hope that others will welcome this too.

October 13, 1998

My radio is back, but Yaesu was unable to duplicate the low power problem. It occurred several times for me, and once at Yaesu's repair center, but has not occurred again. So, I'll give the radio my usual workout (CQWW is next weekend), and if the problem is still there, I'll probably find it.

Yaesu performed the usual updates (I have no idea what what done, other than a few parts were replaced), and perhaps that solved the problem. Overall, I cannot complain about the experience. My FT920 has been trouble free for the past year, and the folks at Yaesu were really great to deal with (especially dealing with my impatience.)

October 07, 1998

Nothing significant to add today; just a note to say that Yaesu did, in fact, find a power output problem similar to the problem I reported. However it is in another part of the 10m band. Repairs are being done, and I hope to hear something soon.

September 29, 1998

Yaesu's customer service surprises and amazes me again. I dropped off the radio yesterday, and left with an extremely good feeling. Hopefully the radio rapair will go just as well.

In all honesty, any time that I have had to deal with Yaesu, the support has been fantastic. My FT900 had a similar ALC problem about two years ago, was also repaired under warranty, and has not given me a bit of trouble since. As far as my FT920 is concerned, the original radio was in several times for repair (unfortunately, most of the trouble was operator error). Yaesu was able to fix the real problems, and seemed genuinely concerned about making sure that my radio worked properly. My experiences with other amateur radio manufacturers have not been quite so good.

September 28, 1998

I just got off the phone with Yaesu technical support, and they tell me that my radio is still under warranty. The discussion centered around some possibilities for the cause of the problem (perhaps a leaky cap). I will drop the radio off in Cerritos this afternoon and will update this journal when more information is available.

September 27, 1998

The problem noted yesterday still exists. However, it only occurs AFTER the rig has been powered up for a few minutes. If I turn the radio on after it has been sitting for a while, I can get 100+ watts out on any frequency. I am pretty sure that this problem is directly related to the ALC circuit. Tomorrow, I'll find out what Yaesu has to say, and hopefully they will fix it for me. My hope is that it is simply an alignment issue, but the fact that it does not happen when the radio is cold worries me.

I did try to find a sevice manual yesterday, but none of the local shops have it in stock. I might pick one up at Yaesu's west coast office tomorrow.

Other than the 10m problem, my 920 is working well in the CQWW contest so far. I really could turn on the amp, and the low power output on 10m would be no big deal... it's just the principal of the thing {grin}.

September 26, 1998

Well, here is a new problem... While participating in the CQWW RTTY contest, I noticed that the power output on 10m seemed to be low. This was confirmed by transmitting into a dummy load. At 28080 the maximum RF output is 40 watts. At 28400, the RF output goes up to about 65 watts, and I do not see 100 watts until 28675. All other bands appear to be fine, but this anomaly is something I have not seen before.

I have tried reseting the microprocessor to no avail. It seems that this problem might be related to the ALC. I notice, upon checking the other bands, that the ALC drops off on 10m, but remains constant for all other bands. I wonder if there is an adjustment for the ALC level for each band. Perhaps I should look for a service manual today?

I will call Yaesu on monday, but I don't know how they will handle this. The radio is less than one year old, but the original purchase was made in May 1997. More to follow...

September 16, 1998

I have added photos from the 1998 Field Day excursion. There are a couple of pictures of my FT920 in it's operation position...

Still nothing of note to add. My 920 has been working perfectly. I had the opportunity to work Italy on 10m a week or so ago. It's nice to see that conditions are improving.

Just a thought while I am rambling.... I commented some time back on a problem I was having with RF getting back into my radio when I had some other equipment attached to the same power supply. Well, I finally found it. Turns out that I built a relay interface for isolating the keyline for my amplifier is the culprit. This simple little box was something I threw together a couple of years ago to use with my FT900 and a Timewave DSP. Seems that the FT900 did a better job of isolating the ground than my FT920 does, and there seems to be a problem with RF getting back in on the keyline. Oh well, I have since replaced that box with a solid state switch, and that RF problem is long since gone.

Also, I added a nice review from an SWL point of view. Thanks to Guy Atkins for this one.

August 30, 1998

Someone recently asked if I was going to add some comments for July. Unfortunately no. I simply just haven't had a lot to say.

In a nutshell, my FT920 has performed perfectly for the past few months, and I am really happy with it. Periodically I get email asking about the radio, or telling me about a problem that has been experienced. The typical experience is that most people are extremely happy with their FT920s.

Over the weekend, I noticed that Yaesu has blindsided us with a MASSIVE price reduction in the FT920. I paid $1829 for mine (of course I picked it up one week after the original release), and now you can get one for nearly $400 less than that! Texas Towers, and HRO are both selling the FT920 for $1449! If you are reading this and don't own an FT920 yet... now is a fabulous time to buy one. This is a bargain! Now just wait for the next $100 coupon! WOW.

June 30, 1998

Field Day was fun... We really didn't take it as seriously as in the past, but I did get a chance to use the 1.8kHz filter from INRAD. It is a major improvement for phone contesting, and I highly recommend it! The desert was HOT, but the nights were incredible, and we really had a great time.

June 2, 1998

It has been just over one year since I purchased my FT920. There have been a few problems, as expected with any new radio, and many wonderful experiences. There have also been quite a few operator malfunctions as well. As I look back on this past year, I have learned much about the radio, my abilities as an operator, and how much this page has had an impact. It is apparent that many people read this page, and I wish to express my thanks for the feedback I have received.

My 920 still works great, and is an absolute blast to use. It is a very different transceiver now than it was when I purchased it. Most of that change is due to how much I have learned about the hobby in the past year. However, one major change that I made to the radio itself, was the replacement of the OEM filter with filters from International Radio. This has really changed the performance of the radio in such a way that I extremely satisfied with the selectivity and sensitivity now. I recently received a QSL card from Indonesia, and it reminds me of how well my FT920 worked to pull out that weak signal. It was difficult to work that station, and I really doubt if I would have even heard him with my FT900.

Things to look for in the coming months? What would you like to see?

I have an FT847 in my shack for a couple of weeks, and I'll make some comments about that radio soon. Also, look for more information about the upcoming FT100. This is a radio that I am very excited about.

Here's to many more years of fun with our FT920s!

May 26, 1998

Yaesu tells me via email today, that while it is possible to record off the air, it is not possible to retransmit that recording. That is unfortunate, I feel, as the DVR could be quite a bit more useful than it is.

I also wanted to comment about something I saw on the DX email reflector. Radio Shack (I REALLY hate shopping there) has a boom mic headset on sale until 5/31. The price is 40% off at $29.99. It really is a good deal, and being made by Koss, good quality. I took the Heil HC4 element out of my BM headset, and was able to make it fit in the RS PRO55MX headset in place of the original mic element. However, if I had made the QSO with N4EIX an hour earlier, I wouldn't have made the effort. He was running a PRO50MX headset with his FT920 (using the original mic element), and the audio was FANTASTIC. For $29.99, this is a real bargin, and it works well with the FT920. For that matter, it should work well with any Yaesu radio, and many other rigs as well.

For those interested in the FT847, I will have one in my shack for the better part of a week to run thru it's paces. This is the same one I used last weekend, and thanks go to KC6NGN (Jamie) for loaning it to me. I'll have more comments on it in June.

The FT100 looks to be interesting as well. I was able to get a look at some better pictures in the new Yaesu catalog I picked up today. One thing of note is the 11.705 IF. There are three filters listed in the catalog: 500 and 300 Hz CW filters, and a 6 kHz AM filter, all at 11.705 MHz. The photo also shows, clearly, the removable face plate. Sensitivity figures published in the catalog are comparable to the 847, and the size is 6.3 x 2.1 x 8.0 inches (W x H x D). I'll put more information here as I can gather it.

May 25, 1998

There is a function for recording off the air...press REC and then 0 to record the incoming signal. Has anyone figured out how to retransmit that recording? N4EIX and I played around with it for a while during a QSO not long ago, but we could not figure it out. Retransmitting that recording might not be possible, but it would sure be nice.

May 23, 1998

I have been away on a business trip, so I didn't get a chance to put my thoughts up on the FT847 vs. FT920. Thanks to KC6NGN for letting me borrow his 847.

The FT847 seems to hold it's own against the 920, but the biggest disappointment to me is the lack of filters (yea I know.... quit harping on the filters.) The 847 is REALLY small, and the only provisions for filters are for the 2.5 kHz Collins filters. One each for the TX and RX paths. It hears well (I don't know how it will do on really weak signals), and I got good audio reports using my Heil microphone.

All in all, it is a nice rig, and the 2m/440 addition is nice, but I won't trade my 920 for one.....

The word from Dayton is that the FT100 is slightly smaller than Icom's 706, and will be priced about the same. Sign me up for one (anyone want to buy an FT900?).

May 15, 1998

The long rumored do-all Yaesu rig has been announced. The FT100 covers HF/6m/2m/440 all in one package that appears to be slightly smaller than the Icom IC706. Pricing and availability to follow...

May 05, 1998

The 2.1 and 1.8kHz filters from International Radio make a tremendous difference, but I noticed the change in audio (a loss of the low tones), and this was also mentioned by N5WU as well. The simple fix is to adjust the IF shift counter clockqise for USB and clockwise for LSB. Another way to adjust the RX audio (and the TX audio) is to use menu settings U-58 thru U-63. These menu settings will allow you to adjust the TX and RX carrier offsets for both USB and LSB.

A visit to HRO this afternoon produced a new brochure about the FT920. Called "Technical Overview", it goes into more detail about the radio, and has a nice listing of all the menu settings. It is really just another marketing brochure, but it does go into more depth about how some of the things work, and for those people who might be looking at the FT920 for a new rig, it just might push them over the edge.

May 04, 1998

I have received the 1.8kHz filter, and have recorded some audio from the FT920 with the 2.4kHz, 2.1kHz, and 1.8kHz filters installed. Kind of interesting. I'll see about making them available for downloading later in the week. All were recorded with all radio settings at the factory default.

Field day 1998 is coming soon. Preparations are now underway, and I will probably end up taking both my FT920 and FT900 for this years campout (somewhere in the southern California desert.)

April 22, 1998

First impressions of the new filter assembly: It looks great, and works just as well. I was tuning around 20m last night, and the filter selectivity is fantastic. Keep in mind that I can only go by my ears, but it is nice to be able to tune about 3kHz either side of an S9+20 signal, and not hear any splatter, bleed thru or any part of that signal. The adapter has really improved the selectivity of the filter when compared to my lousy (wired in) installation. And the filter was better than the OEM even then.

I did check into the local 6m net last night, and let them know about the new filter assembly. I didn't transmit much, but I did listen for a couple of hours, and I am very happy with the way the radio sounds. I might just put the OEM filter back in to remind myself how much of a difference the Inrad filter makes.

April 21, 1998

Happy day... my radio has returned home from its journey to Oregon. The UPS driver was kind enough to NOT leave it at the front gate (as they have been known to do in the past). I did, however, have to track him down in my housing tract to retrieve the box.

Now that the radio has been unpacked, the first thing to do was look at the filter installation and the adapter board. The adapter board is a beautiful piece of work. I have to say that I am impressed. The whole assembly looks far better than I expected, and my hat's off to George.

Tonight, I hope to get on the air... it has been nearly two weeks, and I am getting a little itchy. Perhaps a little RTTY and then a little phone? I'll look for a crowded section of the bands to give a little (perception) test of the filter. More comments after I get back on the air.

April 14, 1998

I just received a fax from International Radio showing the 709, 711, and OEM filters.

Filter chart

George's notes: The outer curve shows the typical OEM filter. The middle curve is for the IR #709 and the inner curve is for the IR #711 filter. The flyback responses are from the OEM unit as the IR filters show no flyback in the 80dB dynamic range which is graphed. Measured bandwidths are as follows:

Filter-6 dB-60 dBShape factor
OEM2450 Hz4300 Hz1.8
#7092125 Hz3225 Hz1.5
#7111875 Hz2825 Hz1.5

April 13, 1998

International Radio emailed me over the weekend, and said that they will be announcing that the SSB filters for the FT920 are ready to go. They have had my radio for a few days, and had the opportunity to test a few things. George also sent me a graph showing the difference between the 709A (2.1kHz filter) and the OEM 2.4kHz filter. I hope to get more graphs showing the 1.8kHz filter as well.

My installation of the 709A filter was not the greatest (I simply wired it in place). George mentioned that with the adapter in place, and with the grounding that it provides, there is an addition 10db of selectivity beyond what I was getting.

Addendum: I just got off the phone with International Radio, and the SSB filters are going to ship. We are happy with the results, and hope to have photos, installation instructions, and graphs for these filters very soon.

April 11, 1998

Just received word from George at International Radio, that the filter adapter works great. He reports that there is now better selectivity and the possibility for other great things from Inrad. More information to follow as it becomes available!

April 10, 1998

I have shipped my FT920 off to International Radio in Oregon. The parts for the SSB filters are in, and George is working with my radio to ensure that everythin g works well before any filter kits are shipped. Hopefully, all will go as plann ed, and I'll have more information soon, as well as comparisions between the sto ck filter, and the 2.1kHz, and 1.8kHz filters from Inrad.

March 30, 1998

I have decided to rework the FT920 pages, and turn them into a resource for FT920 owners, rather than just a way for me to reflect my thoughts. With this change, I ask for help in gathering information for other FT920 owners. Comments, links, information, etc, are just a few of the things that can help make this a better page.

Something that has been bothering me the past few weeks, is the inability of the FT920 to support more than one SSB filter. I have been using an International Radio 2.1 kHz 8 pole crystal filter in my FT920 for several months now. It is markedly better than the filter that Yaesu supplies, but there are still times that I would like to be able to have other filters available. I understand that INRAD has a 1.8(1.9) kHz filter available as well as the 2.1, but they were in the process of finalizing an adapter to allow the filters to be soldered in place. My filter is wired in at the moment, and although I am happy with the filter, I don't think my installation is very "clean".

I asked George about the possibility of an adapter with sockets for his filters, as I thought it would be really great to be able to plug a filter in, rather than having to remove the circuit board and solder in another. I'd like to be able to use the 1.8, the 2.1 and perhaps any other SSB filter that they might make.

Another great modification would be the ability to have multiple filters installed, and be able to switch between them. I know I am asking for a lot, but look at some of the filtering that Icom has available on their newer rigs.

Ok, enough said. Send me your wants, wishes, comments, and anything else you feel pertains to the FT920.

January 14, 1998

Absolutely no problems for the past few months; I really love my FT920. In the past few weeks, I have played around on the air, participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup, and worked some great 6m double hop. The RTTY contest was marred by problems with RFI, but that turned out to be something REALLY simple (RF getting into my computer via the printer cable). I should have double checked the operation of everything BEFORE the contest started.

In November I finally got my tower up in the air, and now my station is basically complete. The antennas are: 5 element 6m yagi (homebrew) at 42 feet, a tri-band vertical on top for 2m/220/440, and my Mosley TA33 with 40m add on kit. Everything seems to be working well with the 920.

The INRAD SSB filter is working well too. I have had good signal reports from people, and they report the sound is very natural. Hopefully the redesigned filter will drop into place and work just as well.

The 920 seems to be working extremely well on 6m SSB. I have been doing a lot of listening on 6m, with little actuall transmitting. However, this past weekend, 6m opened up quite a bit, and stations that were getting 5/5 reports from local ops were +20 on my 920. The report I got back was just as good, so the homebrew 6m yagi is working well, and the 920 seems to be happy with it. I worked several Southeast US stations including Florida, Georgia and Louisiana on sunday. Now I know why they call it the magic band. I really enjoyed myself!

December 22, 1997

INRAD let me know that the SSB filters will be about 10 weeks out. If you want to know more information about other filters available from INRAD, go to their web page.

December 21, 1997

There is a minor problem with the new SSB filter. I thought it was working well, when in fact it wasn't working at all. George at INRAD (International Radio) was kind enough to call me saturday morning, and we discussed the problem at great length. Then I got a call from Don Baughman, K7MX, who also has one, and he explained in greater detail what the problem was. Don is the one who actually found it. Because of a different grounding for the Yaesu filter, the INRAD filter will not work properly if installed in place of the stock filter. The INRAD filter must be wired in place to work.

I believe that all is working now, and George is going to be making a change to the filter which will cause some delays in shipping (I believe). My hat goes off to George and Georgia for their great customer service. They are really trying offer a drop in solution for a lot of radios.

I will be taking about 10 days off over the holidays, and I really hope to spend a bit of time on the air. If you hear me (mostly on 20m and 15m and during the RTTY roundup), please give me a shout, and give me a signal report. I'd really like to know how this combination of filters works.

December 17, 1997

Just got done with my first QSO since installing the new SSB filter. The INRAD filter has a very nice sound. I can only describe it as warm. The selectivity is great and it makes the receive audio sound great. The report given was also positive. Too bad I cannot have both filters for an A/B comparison.

All in all, right now I am a very happy guy. Now we'll just have to wait for a good phone contest to come along to see how it does. Perhaps it is time to look at getting the AM filter, and try out a new mode.

December 16, 1997

The INRAD 2.1kHz SSB filter has arrived. I found that the installation process is relatively simple, but not for the faint of heart. It requires that you remove the main circuit board, and unsolder the existing filter. If you are not comfortable working with these components, PLEASE do not risk damaging your radio; get the assistance of someone who is experienced with this type of work.

In order to remove the main circuit board, you need to remove the bottom cover just as when installing the CW or AM filters. The next step is to remove the DSP unit. Looking at the board from the back of the radio (upside down), its the large shielded unit at the right towards the front of the radio. Remove the three screws holding it in place, and gently lift it straight up. You can then remove the wires plugged into the side of the DSP, and it will lay nicely over the side of the radio.

Next, remove the twelve screws holding the main circuit board in place, and gently slide the board to the front of the radio. As you slide it, lift the front edge so that you are able to get the connectors at the back of the board to slide out of the radio chassis. At this point you can then flip the board over, toward the front of the radio (you don't need to disconnect the ribbon cables.) With some solder wick, you can remove the solder from the original filter, and then it will be possible to pop that filter out. Be careful, when removing the solder, to ensure that you do not overheat the filter (which will loosen the posts on the filter), or that you do not overheat the traces or nearby components.

The INRAD filter is a very nice piece of work. It looks great, and fits perfectly. Solder the four posts in place, and reassemble the radio.

Replace the twelve screws holding the main board in place, and then reconnect the DSP unit. Be sure to line up the edge connector correctly. Then replace the three screws that hold the DSP. Finally, replace the bottom cover, and test your installation.

I'll have more observations about the performance of the filter, after I get a chance to actually put it on the air. I'll be looking for reports about the signal, and sound quality, as well as how the filter compares to the stock filter.

December 15, 1997

Just to clarify things... I have not yet received my SSB filter from INRAD. It should arrive in the next day or two (of course considering the usual delays due to the season). As soon as the filter arrives, and I have a chance to install it, comments will be placed here.

December 11, 1997

There is information about modifying the FT920 for open transmit circulating around the internet. I have only a few comments about these mods.

First, use them at your own risk. It has been mentioned that one owner screwed up his radio, and had to have it repaired by Yaesu. Then there is the reminderthat transmitting outside the band edges is not allowed except in certain circumstances (like MARS or CAP licensing).

If you need to have your radio modified for transmitting outside the Amateur bands, I suggest having it done by an authorized Yaesu source. It shouldn't cost you anything.

FLASH: I just received notification that INRAD will have lots of new filters for the FT920 "imminently". In addition to the 400hz CW filter (#701-A), the following filters will be available shortly.

Part no.ModeBandwidthPriceins tallation
#708-ACW250Hz$110on a custom PC board
#710-AAM6.0kHz$110on a custom PC board
#709SSB2.1kHz$110solder in (replaces original filter)
#711SSB1.8kHz$110solder in (replaces original filter)

The #709 filter tested out:

        2.1kHz @ -6dB
        3.1kHz @ -60dB
        Shape Factor = 1.47

November 20, 1997

Funny, I realized that it has been nearly a month since I added anything to the journal. Nearly 500 contacts since the last entry, and the 920 is working flawlessly. Sweepstakes was a blast, and the rig performed like a champ.

The nice thing about the radio now, is that I am learning more about how to take advantage of it's features, than I am learning about the radio. It has become almost second nature to pull a weak signal out of the noise. If I can hear them, 99% of the time, I can work them.

I have very little to add right now, as the rig is working perfectly (I am sure that there are people that will be relieved to hear that), and I am just enjoying operating lately. Hopefully the INRAD SSB filter will arrive in the next three weeks, and I can offer my thoughts on that addition.

October 28, 1997

INRAD tells me that the 2.1kHz SSB filter is on, and they expect to have it in about the middle of December. Estimated cost will be $110, but keep in mind that this is subject to change. My understanding is that the filter will replace the existing 2.4kHz filter, and requires that the circuit board on the bottom of the radio be at least partially removed to desolder the stock filter. You will then have to solder the new crystal filter in place.

I look forward to receipt of my filter, and will have more information about the installation process at that time.

October 26, 1997

WOW. What a kick. The CQWW contest was a blast. Worked 279, and learned alot about how to work DX with the FT920. With the IF shift, the noise reduction, and the DSP, I added 13 new countries to my total. Saturday was a problem with 30+ mph winds at my QTH, my antenna blowing around, and an S9 noise level. The 920 did an adequate job, but the noise was just too much for me. Sunday went well. The noise level dropped to about S3, and turning off the preamp seemed to help. I was able to work about 60 stations on 10m, including into africa, and really had fun on 15m. One thing that I really like about the 920, is that it seems to put out a good signal. Nearly anytime I could hear a station, they could hear me. I sometimes had to struggle to hear them, but very few stations asked me to repeat my call.

I used the DVR a bit, and wish that I had used it more. It would have saved some strain on my voice. The DVR needs to have the ability to control the input level. The output seems to be controllable by mic gain, and compression, but if the input is too hot (as it seems to be with my Heil mic), the recording will be too hot to begin with. I am going to try an HC5 element, and see how it compares.

The FT920 held up to my abuse this weekend extremely well. I admit that I am not an expert contestor, nor do I have an expert's station. However, I am really pleased at how the 920 works in a contest; both phone and RTTY. I might have to try a CW contest next just to see how it works.

Overall, the 920 works well, putting out a strong signal (no complaints of distortion, or splatter), hears well, and didn't skip a beat. Wish I could have said the same for my computer. Oddly, with TR running, I had all kinds of problems with the keyboard locking up. Seems that RF was getting into the computer from somewhere. I ended up removing all extra cables that were not in use, and added a toroid or two. That got me through the last two hours with no problems. This has not happened with RTTY, which strikes me as odd. I would have expected more problems with RTTY as it is full carrier all the time. Oh well, next phone contest will have a separate computer for TR. I really enjoy using TR (this is only my second contest with it), and it works well with the 920. It's nice to not have to think about band changes, and TR has some really neat packet cluster features.

October 23, 1997

Observation: The DSP settings for TX audio do not seem to work very well. I have played with them in the past, and I like the way it shapes the audio to my ear, but it seems to knock off much of the punch that my Heil microphone already has. As soon as I turn off the MIQ-EQ menu, the audio seems to come up quite a bit. There is little, if any difference in the ALC meter reading. The TX audio monitor is where it is manifested.

I bring this up, because I noticed over the past few day, that when trying to reach some DX stations, I was not getting heard as quickly as I used to. I normally keep the TX DSP turned off. For some reason I turned it on when setting up my station again. Last night when trying to call ZL7AA, I noticed that I had to turn the audio monitor up higher than normal. As soon as I turned the DSP off, the audio level came up, and shortly thereafter, I got my QSO with Stan. I imagine that I will not use the TX DSP until after the CQWW contest. I want to get on the air with someone who will be willing to take to time to evaluate the audio quality with all four settings, using both my Heil, and the Yaesu microphones.

Also, the other radio that I mentioned with the ATU problem... Turns out it was not serious either. Seems that one also had a problem with the motor coupling. The radio has been repaired, and is back with the owner.

October 20, 1997

Well, I have had my radio back for nearly two weeks, and it is working perfectly. Worked a little RTTY in the JARTS contest (not nearly as much as I would have liked), and worked a few more new countries. One thing that I have found with the FT920, is that I am beginning to prefer running the radio with the preamps turned off. There is a very high noise level at my QTH at times, and the preamp seems to do nothing but amplify it. Since I started using the FT920 without the preamp, I am having much more success hearing weak signal stations. I was able to copy a station from Italy yesterday that was not moving the S-meter, and was barely moving the indicators on my Kam Plus.

Most of my operating time lately has been RTTY, so I am really looking forward to the CQWW phone contest this coming weekend. Conditions over the past month or so have been good here in southern California. I have been able to work a lot of EU stations in recent weeks, (many on 15m), and this has not been happening for the past few years. Perhaps I'll learn something new about using my 920 in the upcoming contest.

October 13, 1997

Good news! Yeasu reports that the ATU in my FT920 lost an IC. Q5506 had an intermittent failure, and I am told that this is the first reported failure of that IC. This is good news, as it means that it is not a severe problem with the FT920.

October 12, 1997

I had to go to Indiana for a few days. The radio is in the shack, plugged in, and ready to go. I have yet to do anything with it due to my business trip.

October 08, 1997

I have been trying desparately to find out more information about the failure of my FT920. Based on conversations with Yaesu's technician, this is what I know: The antenna tuner will not tune from 160m to 17m. 15m to 6m tunes just fine. Yaesu Japan has asked that the radio not be repaired, instead shipped to Japan for evaluation. I cannot speculate on the cause of this failure, nor can I supply any more information.

There have been a couple of reports to me of other FT920s with ATU problems. One in particular was described as nearly identical to the problem I had. Another was caused by RF getting into the radio (a choke solved that problem).

Yaesu chose to replace my radio rather that repair it, and the new one was picked up today. I'll put it on the air tonight, and see how it works. I did open the radio up and noticed that the noise blanker modification was performed, and my CW filter, AM board, and FM board were installed. More to follow....

October 06, 1997

This past week, I have been using my FT900, and that experience reminds me of how good my FT920 really is. And it also makes me want my FT920 back even more.

I received a phone call from Yaesu this afternoon. Apparently the antenna tuner problem is serious enough that I will be receiving a new radio. Yaesu Japan has requested that my FT920 be sent to them, and that a new FT920 be sent to me.

October 01, 1997

In my contacts last week, I was fortunate enough to hear from someone who told me that my SSB signal was very distorted, and that it sounded like I was FMing. He was kind enough to work with me to help me find the source of my problem, as I was unable to hear this distortion on the monitor. It appears that I was getting RF into the 920 via my 2m packet station. As soon as I disconnected the 2m power connection from the power supply (I was sharing a PS between the two), the problem went away. I have not yet determined if it was due to the power strip, the connection between the 2m radio and the kam plus, or some other device. When I get my 920 back from Yaesu next week, I'll make an attempt to narrow it down.

September 28, 1997

I just gave up on the CQWW RTTY contest. What a blast. 300+ contacts and the 920 really did well. The INRAD 400hz CW filter really made a difference. It took a lot less effort to hear signals than in the last contest I did. And I got 18 new countries to boot. The radio is going to get packed up for the trip to Yaesu tomorrow, and as soon as I hear about the ATU, I'll put more up here.

September 22, 1997

Yaesu says about a week to get the tuner repaired, so I will wait until next week to return it to them. This will also give me a chance to think of anything else I want them to look at.

September 20, 1997

Ok. My power supply has been eliminated as well as any other hardware failure. This is one of the dumbest things that I could have ever done. The Kam plus has a hardware watchdog timer. It is controlled by a jumper that either enables itor disables it. Thankfully, someone (I lost the callsign) was kind enough to mention it last night. I have been chasing my tail around in circles trying to figure this problem out, and it turns out to be something simple.

So, there is nothing wrong with my FT920 as far as RTTY goes, or the PTT cutting out. However, the antenna tuner bit the big one again. This time it appears to be something more serious. I opened up the radio and looked, but no loose connectors this time. And I really doubt if I will be able to get the radio repaired in time for next weekend's CQWW RTTY contest.

The last time the tuner went out, it was due to a connector between one of the motors, and variable capacitors. That was an easy fix. This time the tuner will not tune better than infinity into my dummy load. I'd really like to use the tuner, as my tri-band beam has been a little detuned due to my new 6m beam above it. The options appear to be 1) take down the 6m beam, or 2) get the tuner fixed in time for the contest.

More to follow after I call Yaesu on monday morning.

September 15, 1997

Boy do I feel stupid... It seems that my problem with the radio cutting out when transmitting FSK may not be the radio after all. I decided to respond to a CQ from a station in Texas on friday, and after a few minutes the cut-out problem reappeared. But this time I noted a buzzing from my power supply. Since I was going to the ARRL Southwest Division convention anyway, I decided to ask the Yaesu people about the power supply, and the first comment was a description of a possible problem that I might have.

The buzzing I heard sounds like a relay coil just before it loses power, and an apparently common problem with this power supply is a large 10w resistor near that relay. So I have replaced the resistor, and we shall see if it solves my problem. In any case, I have borrowed another Yaesu PS from a friend, just in case I continue to have problems. Once I can confirm that the PS is/was the culprit, then I will replace it if necessary.

I did have a chance to work VK9WY on Willis Island twice yesterday. 20m phone, and 15m RTTY. Next up is CW. The 400hz CW filter is great with RTTY, and really cuts noise, along with nearby signals. I should have picked up a filter when I bought the radio, but then I was primarily a phone operator up to that point. The good side of this is that I learned what the radio is capable of doing without filters....

September 08, 1997

I have received the 400hz CW filter from International Radio. It is a very nice looking piece of work. It plugs in, in place of the the Yaesu filter, next to the AM filter (or pass thru board). The cutoff is very sharp and with the DSP, makes a great filtering combination. Now the shift really works well; A turn of the shift knob, and the nearby signals completely disappear. There is a slight ringing in this filter (could be just my ear), however, I am very pleased with the results. This filter is just wide enough for great RTTY performance and should work very well for CW contesting as well.

August 28, 1997

A couple of questions have come up in the past few days. First, did I solve the problem with the DVR? Yes and no. The DVR works just fine with the standard microphone. I just don't like that mic, and use an old Heil BM10 with the HC4 element. It has been my experience with this microphone, that it is just too hot for the radio. Heil told me to add 100ohms resistance in series with the mic element, and that did solve some of the over driving problem. However, I think that 100ohms is not enough. It did give me the ability to use the mic with the FT920, but only barely. I will experiment with resistance values until I find one I like. Right now the mic is usable with the mic gain adjustable. Before, it was either too much gain (over driving the ALC) or not enough. There was no in between setting.

Second, I was asked about the SB200 amp with the FT920. It works just fine, but the ALC is not compatible. I have used the amplifier for RTTY and SSB with no problems, as long as I keep the drive down. For RTTY (in this past contest), I was running the amp at 250-500w with 25-50w drive. Did not experience any difficulties with the amp or the radio running hot. For SSB, I run about 500w out with 50w drive. I have worked about 15 new countries in the past few weeks with this combination, and again, no difficulties. The FT920 has a nice feature that allows you to set the maximum power output to an antenna connection, but I am not currently using it. I have all my HF antennas connected to the A connector, and my 6m antennas connected to the B connector. There have been times that I have actually overdriven the amp because of this setup, but it seems to be the best way to deal with all of my antennas at the moment.

August 27, 1997

Been having a lot of fun with the FT920 the past few days as conditions have been good all over the world. Mainly working phone, and a little RTTY. The power problems I had experienced seem to have gone away. I decided to bite the bullet, and try full power in RTTY mode with no problems in my QSO with Brazil.

Two things to comment on: First, there seems to be a lot of speculation about the MARS mods... I have heard directly from Yaesu on this. The MARS mods can only be done with a firmware change at the factory.

Second, the SSB filter from INRAD may yet happen. I am not going to speculate on this any further until INRAD says FIRMLY that it will or will not be made available.

August 24, 1997

Just found out that the SSB filter is not going to happen. The problem lies in that you must remove the stock filter which is soldered in. This could be difficult, as you would have to remove the circuit board. Not something I would recommend at this time.

However, the CW filter will probably ship next week. Pricing and availability can be confirmed from International Radio (INRAD). See www.qth.com/INRAD for phone and address information.

I hope to have my CW filter something next week, and will offer more information at that time.

August 21, 1997

UPDATE: I received an email from Yaesu shortly after today's entry, and was told that a third party would be providing other filters soon. I have just received word from that third party that there will indeed be a 2.1khz SSB filter, and ALSO a 400hz CW filter. Pricing is not yet available, but I will put it here as soon as they tell me what the firm pricing will be. The CW filter should be available in a few weeks, and the SSB filter around the end of October.

I will make more information available as I get it. Expect pricing information in a few days, along with contact information.

August 21, 1997

I have received several messages in the past few days from people concerned about the problems I have had with my radio. Just to make things clear here, I am extremely happy with the FT920, and have no regrets about the purchase. Yaesu has told me that there have been no reports of serious problems with the FT920, and I have no reason to doubt them.

All of the "problems" I have had are minor, and (in my opinion) should be expected from a newly designed radio. As more radios are produced, there will be refinements to the design, and by now the radios will be pretty stable. Remember that my radio was purchased less than a week after it was made available in stores.

In summary, the problems were as follows:

  1. Crosstalk between the noise blanker, and the audio monitor.
    • Easily fixed by Yaesu, or you can just turn down the audio monitor pot.
  2. Problems getting the dual watch to work properly.
    • This was an operator error. I needed to reread the manual and turn up the squelch.
  3. Problems recording a message with the CW memory keyer.
    • Change menu U20 to EL2 for recording, and back to EL1 for sending.
  4. Couldn't get AFSK RTTY to work.
    • Problem is in the manual. The DATA[USB] mode is AFSK and DATA[LSB] is FSK.
  5. Antenna tuner malfunction.
    • The connector between the motor, and the variable capacitor popped loose.
  6. Power output dropped off in FSK mode.
    • This is the only problem that I considered to be serious. However, Yaesu was unable to duplicate the problem, and I have been hesitant to try to reproduce it. The ideal solution is to run with less than 100w output.
  7. Miscellaneous errors in the manual.
    • Yaesu has stated that there will be an addendum printed, and that these corrections will be added to the manual when there is another printing.
  8. The last item that I think could be a problem, is the lack of optional filtering.
    • The radio has only two optional filters. A 6kHz filter for AM, and a 500hz CW filter. The DSP does a good job for most needs, but there are times when the AGC gets overloaded due to strong signals nearby. This has become very noticable to me as I get more involved in contesting. The 500hz CW filter will solve my problems with RTTY, but there have been time that a narrower IF for SSB would be nice.

I feel that the list of problems above it relatively short for such a new radio. There has only been one problem (the power loss) that prompted me to take the radio to Yaesu for service. The antenna tuner problem was easy to fix, and was probably due to assembly problems.

Anyone else with an FT920 that wishes to send me some of their thoughts for this page? I'd sure like to see what others think as well.

August 18, 1997

The SARTG RTTY and NAQP SSB contests were held this weekend, and I did get to participate a little, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. The first objective of the weekend was to get my beam in the air. That accomplished, it was time to get on the radio.

Started the weekend with the RTTY contest friday night. Had a little fun, and enjoyed working 40/80m. 40 and 80 were far better this time around than during the NAQP contest. Probably because there are no such power limits during the SARTG contest. I ran the FT920 at about 25-35w out, into my SB200 for about 250w-350w into the antenna. Friday night was strictly a vertical antenna night.

I noticed that the 920 was a little warm to the touch on the back, next to the vent for the internal fan. Two things I need to do here. Yaesu suggested a muffin fan to help cool the radio. I thought I had a spare lying around, so I didn't buy another. It will be purchased before the CQWW contest. Also, I think I will get one for my amp. The amplifier did not act up at all this weekend (as a matter of fact, it has never given me trouble) but a little extra cooling never hurts any tubes.

Another thing I meant to do was pick up the 500hz if filter. Due to the efforts in raising my beam, I didn't get up to the candy store saturday. And I was unable to get back to the second stage of the SARTG contest as well. However, sunday morning, I did participate in the last 2 1/2 hours of the contest, and had a ball. The radio performed flawlessly, and I had fun. I will admit that I was not willing to run the radio at 100w in FSK mode because of the previous problems I had.

There was one other thing that I thought was strange after I got the radio back from Yaesu. The antenna tuner started doing strange things again. It continued to work fine on 80, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, and 6m. The oddity came on 40m. Instead of bringing the SWR down, it was bringing it up. This is hard to describe... On all other bands, the tuner would immediately try to match the antenna and the SWR would start to go from say 2:1 down to 1.5:1 and then down to the final low SWR reading. On 40m, the tuner would go from 1.5:1 up to 3:1 or higher. Eventually, it would come down to near where it started, but it was far from ideal.

The solution was a simple one. I did a frequency and tuner reset, buy pressing the GEN and ENT keys, and turning the radio on. The tuner then started behaving as expected. I have no idea why this occured, but it doesn't appear to be a problem.

August 12, 1997

Picked up my FT920 at Yaesu this morning. They went thru the radio with a fine tooth comb, and then put the radio thru the weekend torture test. It has been in the cycling room since friday running one second on and one second off for about four days. As a matter of fact, the radio was still warm to the touch when I picked it up this morning.

So far, it looks like the radio is fine. In my discussions with Yaesu staff, we have come to the conclusion that it may have been a loose connection that was fixed when the radio was taken apart on friday. We also thought it was best to get the radio back to my environment to see if I can again duplicate the problem. But after three days of on/off cycling, the radio held up to a three minute full carrier transmit test. This is far better than I was experiencing last week.

The SARTG RTTY contest and NAQP phone contests are coming up this weekend, so I will be sure to give the radio another workout then.

August 7, 1997

Well, the FT920 has been dropped off at Yaesu's southern California office. It's sick, and the power output has started doing some strange things in FSK mode. I noticed it on Monday, when I was in a QSO with WB5B, and the radio just cut out. After calling Yaesu, I decided to try to duplicate the problem, and was able to see it happen three times. The radio worked fine for about 1.5 minutes before the power dropped off, and the transmitter cut out. It ran 100w and then started to drop off rapidly until it stopped transmitting. This happened in about a second.

Rekeying the radio resulted in a full 100w again, for about 1.5 minutes. I did not wait for any lengthy period as I wanted to finish my QSO, however I did check the radio to see if it was excessively hot. The fan was moving air, and the radio was warm to the touch, but not hot.

The odd thing is that the power would immediately come back up if I rekeyed the transmitter. It is as if the radio had a hidden time out timer, except for the power drop off. I would have never noticed the power drop off without my external power meter. The LCD meter on the radio showed no indication of RF power loss.

Hopefully the problem will be found and corrected in time for the SARTG, and the NAQP (phone) contests next weekend.

August 1, 1997

Turns out that I don't have to take the radio in after all. Called Yaesu this morning, and spoke with a representative who has helped me before. Don't know if he remembered helping me before, but he has a great attitude and is a pleasure to deal with.

Anyway, the rep suggested I look at the connectors to the capacitors in the tuner. Bingo. The plastic connector that connects the motor to the capacitor had come loose. A little adjustment, and tightening of a couple screws, and the tuner is working fine again.

Observation: The service manuals are finally available, and I'll get one next week.... but even without it, the radio seems to be straight forward. Of course there are things that I would not be to repair, but for accessibility, this radio is great. Lots of room to work, and the chassis is well thought out. To get to the tuner, you have to remove the top cover, and then a shielding panel (the speaker is mounted in it), and finally a shielding cover over the tuner. Very easy to figure out, and once I had the covers off, it was very easy to fix my problem.

Kudos again to Yaesu service! They have done a great job with nearly all of my problems.

July 31, 1997

Well, it's time for my first real experience with Yaesu repair (with the 920). My last experience went well, when my FT900 lost the ALC circuit.

The antenna tuner on my 920 is shot. Will not tune better than 3:1 into a dummy load. Not that I really care about the tuner (all my antennas offer better than 2:1 anyway except my butternut). But I do need the tuner for 80m, so monday the radio gets driven up to Cerritos. Hopefully they will fix it and call me this time. When the FT900 was repaired, I asked for them to call me so I could pick the radio up, but they decided to ship it instead. The nice part about the service last time was the turn around time. It took less than five days.

I am going to ask them to give the radio the once over, to make sure that everything checks out. I'll write more when the radio is fixed.

July 23, 1997

Participated in the NAQP(RTTY) contest this past weekend. After some sound advice, decided to rewire the Kam to use FSK, and was very pleased with the results. Also decided that I need to get the CW filter in order to effectively participate in RTTY contests. For casual use, the filter is not really needed as the DSP handles filtering just fine. However when there are lots of signals, the DSP does help; but it cannot made up for the front end overload from strong signals nearby. I make 100 RTTY contacts, and had a lot of fun. With the filter it would have been easy to get more.

July 17, 1997

Tried my hand at connecting a new Kam Plus to the data jack last night. Not very successful with that experience. More details to come.

Been using the 920 for RTTY with a connection from my computer soundcard. Found a nice software package called BTL that uses the soundcard for RTTY tones, and the best part is it is free. Email me for more details. I used the AF output jack for the receive audio to the computer, and the patch input jack for the tones from the computer. Seems to work nicely. Being new to RTTY, I wanted to experiment with it for as little monetary output as possible. So far I have worked several new countries with RTTY that I have not been able to get with phone. All with 75-100w and my R5 vertical. I did need to add an isolation transformer to the input line to stop a ground loop problem.

The only real problem with the phone patch input is that it is tied directly to the mic line, and requires that one or the other be disconnected, depending on which mode you wanted to use. I solved this with a toggle switch on the interface I built to connect the soundcard output to the radio.

Now back to the Kam Plus. The Kam is functioning properly, but the radio is not. It seems that there is more to setting up RTTY than the manual would lead me to believe. There has to be a menu setting or something that I am missing. Currently the radio is in FSK mode, and I need it to be in AFSK to use the Kam as wired. I could change the wiring to use FSK, but that does not solve the problem of the manual.

Yaesu tech support is doing a fine job of trying to help me solve this problem, but the "data" expert is apparently not around today. Hopefully they will be able to give me a solution today, and I will make an attempt to muddle through it this evening. When I find a solution, a detailed explaination will be written here.

Right now I think the manual needs a lot of help explaining how to setup the 920 for AFSK data modes.

Part II: Well, the manual is wrong here. Page 56 says to press the Data key until LSB appears. Well, Data[LSB] is FSK and Data[USB] is AFSK. The manual doesn't tell you that one. And the xmit monitor works in AFSK mode, so you can hear what is being sent by the TNC. Selection of Upper sideband or Lower sideband is made via menu selection U46.

Yaesu tech support was almost on the money with this one. The representative I spoke with was able to give me enough clues to solve the problem.

July 07, 1997

It appears that there is a serious problem with the memory keyer. I tried to key in CQ CQ CQ de WM7D WM7D k, and all the keyer took was CS. Go figure. I am going to call Yaesu today, and find out what the scoop is.

Part II: Yaesu was not very helpful with this problem. Basically, I was told to read the manual (in not so many words). But in a way this was good advice. Turns out that a solution does exist, but I am not sure that Yaesu knows about it (at least they didn't seem to know when I called).

I am not sure why this works the way it does, but I will tell you what I did. With the default menu settings, the memory keyer will only record 2 or 3 characters. I don't know why, and Yaesu seems to be lacking in information on this one. However, I found a solution: Menu setting U-20 has three settings. The first is the default, EL1. Second is BUG, and last is EL2. The winner here seems to be EL2. In the manual on page 75 it states; "EL2: Iambic keying with Automatic Character Spacing enabled. This selection is best when programming message memories." There is no mention of this setting on page 52 when explaining the use of the memory keyer.

The default (EL1) is Iambic Keying with Automatic Character Spacing disabled.

After making this change, I was successful (several times) in recording a message for CW playback. Now perhaps I need to give Yaesu a solution to their problem.

July 03, 1997

Well, I guess it is time for another update: Field day was a blast. We camped out on Butler Peak in the San Bernadino mountains north of LA. I decided to use the 920, and it worked very well. Tree has added FT920 support to TRLog, so that was a big plus also.

I found, during the VHF contest, that the radio was easy to overdrive with my Heil headset, so I called Heil, and they recommended adding a 100 ohm resistor in series with the microphone element. I didn't get that done before field day, but it did make a big difference in how the mic gain responds now.

About two weeks ago I was given my first look at RTTY, and really liked it. So rather than spend a few hundred $$ for a new TNC or other RTTY equipment, I found a neat piece of software called BTL (Blaster Teletype). I was able to make my first RTTY contacts with this free software, and a couple of wires connecting my radio to my sound card. Panama, and Argentina with 100w out. The cooling fan seems to make a little noise that I didn't notice when using phone (mainly due to the headphones I use). Not bothersome at all, but you will definitely notice that the fan is on.

I hope to have a KAM+ by the time the NAQP (RTTY) rolls around. Then I will get a chance to work the radio over a bit more with a new mode.

I also decided to connect my amplifier (SB200) to the radio, and it works just fine. Too bad the ALC isn't compatible...I managed to overdrive the AMP the second time I used it. Now here is a great place to use another feature of the 920. I need to get another antenna switch, but you can connect the amplifier to one of the antenna ports, and set the radio to limit the power output to that port. In my case I would limit the radio to 50w out to the amplifier. There is also a pulse tuning mode that will allow you to tune you amplifier without a full carrier. I haven't yet tried it, but the idea is nice.

So, now I have had the radio over a month, and I am even more happy with it now. The AM pass-thru board came in from Yaesu (it's a freebie!), and it installs just like the filter would. It is basically a filter board without the filter installed. Now I have AM, FM, and the only other option that I think I would like to have is the CW filter. All in all, the radio has been great to use. It seems to hold up just fine, and seems to be relatively easy to figure out. A friend used it for CW on field day, and seemed to enjoy using it. It took him about 5 minutes to get it set up for his style of operation.

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)

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