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Author Topic: Yaesu now made in China?  (Read 34567 times)
KE2KB
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Posts: 633




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« on: December 05, 2014, 08:04:44 AM »

Hi;
I've been considering purchase of a Yaesu radio - either FT-60r or maybe a mobile 2m rig like the FT-1900 or 2900.
I have been reading a lot about Yaesu shifting manufacture to China, and quality declining. This seems to be especially true of the FT-1900 and FT-2900. They seem to have serious overheating problems, and a few other quirks and defects as well. Fewer horror stories on the FT-60r, but it does appear that quality and performance have degraded over the years.

So, if Yaesu is made in China, and not of the quality I had expected, may I ask if there is any brand of ham equipment (2m/70cm) that is made in Japan, and has retained its quality?
I am willing to pay more for a better rig, but my budget is still pretty tight.

Thanks for your help

Frank - KE2KB
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KF7CG
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2014, 10:38:29 AM »

Hi, I don't know how to tell which model is made where, but it seems as if Yaesu  is manufacturing in both countries. I know that their SCU-17 is Chinese made. The FT-8800 and FT-8900 the my wife and I have are Japanese. The FT1D is Japanese, but the FT450D is Chinese.

I have had no problems with any of them. The selectivity on the FT450D isn't as great as I would like but that is a design rather than a manufacturing issue.

KF7CG
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KD0REQ
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2014, 10:49:48 AM »

iirc, the issue started when the tsunami and meltdown hit Fukushima (you can bowdlerize that into three words instead of three syllables if it suits your fancy,) and not only a Yaesu factory, but those of some critical suppliers washed into the sea.  no second sources on those displays and stuff for the other Yaesu plants in Japan.

so, off to China we go.
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KE2KB
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2014, 11:01:27 AM »

Well, I guess for the price, China is OK. If I buy the fT-1900 for example, and it has overheating issues, I can install a fan. What I don't like about that rig though is that its heatsink is on the bottom. That is just plain stupid!
The 2900 would be a better radio, but I don't like that its sensitivity spec is 0.2uV lower (higher value) than the 1900. I need good sensitivity and selectivity.
Maybe I can get a used older rig that would be well made, and have good specs.
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AA4HA
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2014, 05:17:44 PM »

It is interesting about the overheating problem. Usually it end up being the PA transistors and is caused by a bad mating between the transistors and the heat sink.

I was having lunch with one of my friends who is a QA engineer who travels to asia quite frequently to review compliance on some aerospace specced systems that are manufactured overseas. (not radios). He said that they were having a heating problem with IGBT transistors used in variable frequency drives. The manufactured products were failing at a much higher rate than the prototypes and the limited-run manufacturing batches they had made domestically. When they mounted temperature probes on the IGBT transistor bodies and compared what was going on there was about 40C more heating on the IGBT's of the production run.

They took a much closer look at what was exactly going on. In the casting of the aluminum chassis/heat sink they had milled and polished the mounting surface on the heat-sink contact area to a certain degree of smoothness and flatness. Taking apart a bunch of production units they found that they had been milled to the same end dimension as the milled and polished units but they had been milled really badly. The surfaces were very rough from using dull milling equipment operating at too high of a speed. Also the mating surface on the casting was not flat so the heat sink was not fully in contact with the IGBT transistors.

To make up for the differences in tolerances the Chinese manufacturer had just used a goopier thermal compound. It was not silver based, not beryllium based, just some thermal compound of dubious quality. In a way the thermal compound was acting as a thermal insulator between the transistor and the heat sink.

Under operation the transistors were going into thermal runaway and destroying themselves. The heat sinks barely registered the increased temperature. They had to glue thermal sensors directly to the IGBT transistors to find the problem because when assembled, the transistors were not accessible to something like a temperature probe or thermal camera.

It ended up that they had to discard thousands of these cast heat sinks. The manufacturer said that they made them to the specifications but since the paperwork did not specify flatness or finish they were able to weasel out of the contract. What is really annoying is that the same manufacturer ended up making the replacements (and getting paid twice+ for the same part). Even with that, they still had to leave my friend over there during the entire production run to personally inspect each aluminum casting for tolerances, flatness and finish. He said that he would leave at the end of one day and by the time he came back the next morning they went back to their old manufacturing technique and packed up the castings for shipment and they refused to pull them out of the boxes for inspection.
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
Free space loss (dB) = 32.4 + 20 × log10d + 20 × log10 f
KE2KB
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Posts: 633




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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2014, 07:38:53 PM »

AA4HA;
That is very disturbing, especially for the aerospace industry. Do you think this is a problem specific to Chinese plants, or is it common everywhere?
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M6GOM
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2014, 08:12:51 PM »

Its common everywhere. Plenty of crappy machining coming out of the USA - just look at some of the quality of MFJ stuff.
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KE2KB
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« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2014, 03:59:59 PM »

Its common everywhere. Plenty of crappy machining coming out of the USA - just look at some of the quality of MFJ stuff.
I have an MFJ 1715S 2m flexi-whip for my VX-150, and the whip is loose in the connector. It still works fine, but it would not be water tight. I replaced it with a Comet SMA-24, but that one will be going onto my new FT-60r once I receive the radio (ordered it today).

Way back when I was a kid in my 1st job one of my co-workers told me about his experiences at his previous job, which was manufacturing CRTs for TV and Oscilloscopes. He said that the plant would routinely turn out a bad batch of tubes, then have to do OT to build good ones.

We just have to hope that if we receive a unit that is dead or defective right out of the box it will be quickly and courteously replaced. That said, I bought a Gateway computer once, and the monitor soon became defective - less than 30 days after I received it. I had to fight with them to send me a bran-new monitor - they had a policy - which was stated in on the invoice - that defective units could be replaced with new or refurbished units. After the 2nd monitor they send me was also bad, I demanded a bran-new one or I would notify my bank to do a credit "charge-back", which I felt I was legally entitled to. Gateway gave in and sent me a bran-new unit which lasted for years.

I haven't read much about DOA Ft-60r's, but I did read several reviews of the FT-1900's being received DOA or defective.
In the end, it's only an inconvenience, but it sure can ruin your day!

Frank - KE2KB
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G8YMW
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2014, 05:21:02 AM »

Tisha, I'm surprised that the components were not rejected because the recipient was prevented from verifying them.
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73 de Tony
Windows 10:  Making me profane since March 2017
AA4HA
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« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2014, 08:39:30 AM »

It seemed to be more about what they could get away with on the heat sink manufacturing. Doing it right did add a slight incremental cost to the manufacturing process. It required that the end mill bit that was used to work that surface had to be a new, sharp piece of tooling. Replacing or resharpening a tool bit does cost money and the additional step probably took one more employee and ten more minutes of effort to put the piece in the jig.

They just did not see it as a problem. I would expect that they had been doing that type of work for years and it never was something that was an issue for other manufacturers they shipped to. They would just slather more of that heat sink compound on the aluminum surface and let it go.

Maybe it is about taking pride in your work, the idea of making something that will last for a long time. High end equipment is not like consumer goods where you almost expect a certain percentage of short term failures of things right after the customer uses them two or three times. High reliability goods should be able to take a certain amount of abuse, have a bit of a performance margin designed in and should last for years.

If you have ever seen a high power IGBT transistor they are large devices. I have a bunch here that are about an inch and a half by three in size on the heat sink surface. It is not like mounting a TO-3 transistor or a stud mounted diode. If there are variations in the mounting surface then the IGBT is not going to be making an intimate contact with the heat sink. They are switching something like 600 volts at 100-200 ams so there is a great deal of heat to contend with.

I have pulled the PA boards out of some radios and cleaned off the goo. Most are done really nicely with a near mirror finish on the casting that is very flat. A couple looked like they have had a single pass with a very worn out milling bit and is very coarse with grooves and scratches and not flat. I was easily able to envision the problem he was describing to me.

Some may know that a casting, even one done right, has granularity to the finish. A mating surface really does need to be machined down to tolerances. The thermal goo is not meant to be used like "Bondo" car body filler. If it is done right you should only need a tiny dab of thermal compound and the component and casting will smash that flat to a nearly invisible layer between the two components.

I think the approach of using the cast aluminum chassis is a great idea for PA heat sinks. When done right it is a great way to get the heat off of the PA components and out of the chassis. If that mating surface is not done right then you are creating your own little thermal meltdown and the finals will not last very long on a long QSO or when operating a digital mode where there is a high TX transmit cycle.

As long as we are buying products from suppliers (or countries) where quality is not the top priority we need to be prepared for weird problems like this. If you are seeing high failures like overheating then take a few mental steps back and really pay attention to the manufacturing process, the desired result and the actual result. Seemingly inconsequential actions all can contribute to shortened life expectancy or out of tolerance behaviors.
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
Free space loss (dB) = 32.4 + 20 × log10d + 20 × log10 f
G8YMW
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Posts: 656




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« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2014, 09:33:32 AM »

Although I've not seen an IGBT, I did some temporary work at a firm that amongst other things,made them.
Also having a little interest in railways, I know they are used on locomotives so yes, big beasties and loads of heat to lose (Electric loco, 6000+ HP, 4 axles. Aka Class 91)

I was thinking back to the late 70's when Jaguar (Then part of British Leyland, which had got a reputation for turning out rubbish cars) started billing component suppliers for defective parts.

Surely withholding payments until they got it right would "steady them up a bit" or would it?

Yes it is about quality and pride in the job
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73 de Tony
Windows 10:  Making me profane since March 2017
AA4HA
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« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2014, 12:25:05 PM »

Tony,
I agree with you, if there were financial consequences to companies where the quality of a product was tied to payment for making it, then that might be further incentive to doing it right.

Unfortunately there have been times where a contract has been delayed or withdrawn because a supplier did not want to be held to something like a performance standard. I have been involved in a few of those, the people who negotiate such contracts only look at the price and will sign off on an agreement, even if there are a bunch of disclaimers put into the language by the prospective supplier. Suddenly the only thing that becomes important to them is the cost.
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
Free space loss (dB) = 32.4 + 20 × log10d + 20 × log10 f
AC2KV
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Posts: 41




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« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2014, 01:01:49 PM »

Hi, I don't know how to tell which model is made where, but it seems as if Yaesu  is manufacturing in both countries. I know that their SCU-17 is Chinese made. The FT-8800 and FT-8900 the my wife and I have are Japanese. The FT1D is Japanese, but the FT450D is Chinese.

I have had no problems with any of them. The selectivity on the FT450D isn't as great as I would like but that is a design rather than a manufacturing issue.

KF7CG
My FT-450D has a tag on it that says "Made in Japan".
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AC8QI
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2014, 07:41:22 AM »

I just bought the XYL a new FT-60 (from HRO, so it's most probably not old stock), and it was made in Japan.

The wall wart was Chinese, if memory serves.

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Charlie / AC8QI
Walled Lake, Mich.
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers." -- Thomas Pynchon
KE2KB
Member

Posts: 633




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« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2014, 02:07:26 PM »

I just received my Yaesu FT-60R from HRO, and it was made in Japan. The SBH-13 charging cradle is also Japan, and the PA-48B wall-wart supply is China.
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