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Author Topic: Alternatives for the Yeasu FT-897?  (Read 2912 times)
PA3GMP
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Posts: 75




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« on: June 24, 2008, 12:24:19 AM »

Dear Elmers,

I'm considering trading my Yaesu FT-100 in for an FT-897 for use in my base station. (I use the FT-100 for a base station as well; I don't work HF mobile.) I've always liked the FT-897 and the reviews here on Eham.net are pretty good, too.

I'm just wondering what the competition has to offer. Are there Icom and Kenwood models available in the same price range with similar (or better) specs and performance? How do these radios (if any) compare to the FT-897?

TNX!

73 Frank ZS6TMV / PA3GMP
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2008, 08:23:32 AM »

I'd go for an IC-706MK2G or IC-7000, myself.

The FT-897 works okay, but there's more to radio gear than it simply "works."  For me, the FT-897's display is hard to read unless I'm right in front of it and have good eyes (display characters are small and viewing angle is narrow).   The Icom's displays are larger and easier to read.

Also the FT-897 has a fairly complex menu system that I found frustrating to use, even after several weeks.  It's not much different from my little FT-817, and I don't like that one, either!

The Icoms have more functionality without referring back to menus, although you do sometimes have to use menus with them as well -- just not as often.

Kenwood hasn't made a "little" rig like this for HF since the TS-50, and that was a long time ago.

Kenwood does make a very competitive rig, though: The TS-480SAT.  It's better than the FT-897 in pretty much every respect except it does not cover 2m and 70cm (it does cover HF+6m).  The Kenwood's display panel is excellent and has enough controls that you rarely have to use a menu; and, the Kenwood has a built-in automatic antenna tuner, standard.  It also has far better modulation characteristics ("audio quality") than the FT-897 -- no comparison.  However, it is larger.

WB2WIK/6
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PA3GMP
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Posts: 75




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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2008, 09:31:38 AM »

Thanks for your input, OM!

> I 'd go for an IC-706MK2G or IC-7000, myself.
Well, I know that the IC-7000 outperforms the FT-897, but it is a LOT more expensive, so it becomes a matter of apples and oranges.

The IC-706 Mk IIG is a little more expensive, but still in the same price *range* and has a comparable feature set, as far as I can see from the specs.

> the FT-897's display is hard to read
I've heard other complain about that as well. But to me personally that wouldn't be a killer issue.

> Also the FT-897 has a fairly complex menu system that
> I found frustrating to use, even after several weeks.
> It's not much different from my little FT-817, and I
> don't like that one, either!
The FT-100 suffers from too few knobs, too few menu options as well. It's the main drawback of miniaturization, I suppose. :-)

> The Icoms have more functionality without referring
> back to menus, although you do sometimes have to use
> menus with them as well -- just not as often.
OK. So that's the second "ease of use" issue.

> Kenwood does make a very competitive rig, though: The
> TS-480SAT.
Definitely a nice radio, but way more expen$ive. Not a fair comparison. :-)

Thanks again for your input. It's greatly appreciated!

73 Frank ZS6TMV /PA3GMP
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2008, 01:46:13 PM »

Here in the U.S., the TS-480SAT is not "way more expensive."  Actually, it's the same price or a bit lower than the IC-706MK2G, which makes it a couple of hundred dollars more than an FT-897.

Having used them all, the TS-480SAT would be my first choice in terms of features and performance, as well as ergonomics, and the FT-897 would be my last choice.

Remember the TS-480SAT includes a 100W all-band ATU, which is about $200-$300 worth of "accessories" that it comes with, standard -- the FT-897 doesn't have this.

To me, that's worth the cost difference, right there.

Very difficult to use most solid state rigs without a tuner, and having an "internal" ATU is a great feature.

WB2WIK/6
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K1TWH
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2008, 02:40:03 PM »

Frank,
___I have an FT-897D.  After making a dozen changes to the surface mount parts, some because Yaesu failed to mount what the engineers specified, others because later units were improved, and still others because the receive and transmit audio is very mid-range oriented, I'd recommend the IC-706mkIIG.  My 897D now fits its purpose just fine, but it was a battle getting it there.
___The 706mkIIG is a third generation unit and I've used it with its narrow SSB filter & its 360Hz CW filter.  It was a mature product with good transmit & receive audio, and generally good performance.  Most of the ALC power overshoot problems from the earlier versions are gone.  When I sold mine I had no idea just what I was selling.  I sold it because I wanted better SWL selectivity (and then many of the major shortwave services went to the internet, ha ha.)  Add the low level fan mod to a mkIIG and enjoy a good display with good features, and no miniature soldering iron needed!    Tom Howey  WB1FPA  
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PA3GMP
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2008, 12:19:34 PM »

Hi, everyone,

OK. I've read all your input and thought about it, and I've come to the conclusion that I need to be very careful before I buy an FT-897. :-) At the very least I should try the IC-706MKiiG and the TS0480SAT to see how well the 897 holds up in a head-to-head shootout. This is a lot of money for me so I won't spend it lightly, and you've convinced me that the 706 and the 480 deserve a careful look.

Although these are more expensive (not all that much, but still significantly) in my neck of the woods (US prices are a lot friendlier than in other parts of the world!) a relatively small cost increase could give me a lot more radio. The FT-897 is generally considered good value for money, but all reviewers seem to agree that the TX/RX performance is fine, but not stellar. I'll see if Icom or Kenwood tickle me enough to make me want to spent the extra $$$. :-)

Thanks, everyone!

73 de Frank ZS6TMV / PA3GMP
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KF4URY
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2008, 02:52:31 PM »

For those who have a hard time seeing displays, you can output the 7000 display to an external screen.  I have seen in-dash DVD players used as the display, as well as portable DVD players too (my EC bought just bought a 10" to use with his 7000).  

Hooking it up to a 42" LCD would make for a rather large display  >Shocked)
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W6CD
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2008, 10:22:41 PM »

I recently went through a buying decision for the same radio segment - after carefully reviewing and using them at the local ham radio emporium, I finalized on the Kenwood TS-480SAT.  

I am very pleased with my TS-480SAT and echo all the comments here regarding it's performance and usability.
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W6GF
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Posts: 161




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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2008, 05:32:45 PM »

I have the FT-897D, TS-480, and the IC-706.  I also have a YAESU FT-450.  The FT-450 is my top choice considering the price.  The front panel of the TS-480 can not be attached to the radio, but the FREE Kenwood control software is great.  The FT-897D seems a little tired, but 20 watts with a built in battery is neat.  The 706 is also a little tired, but still a nice radio.  I think it is pricey.

The FT-450 is such a neat little radio and cheap here.  If you need 2 meters buy a cheap 2 meter mobile rig.

None of these radios are contester radios, but they all are solid performers.  This is like the question about which ice cream you like best. Some people like chocolate others like coffee...etc.

George, W6GF
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AB8ZL
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2008, 08:13:32 AM »

Remember to add the cost of any filters you intend to use when comparing prices. An IF DSP rig like the IC-7000 does not require any additional filters, narrowing the cost difference between it and AF DSP rigs.
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2008, 05:28:22 PM »

K3
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N4CQR
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2008, 06:44:35 AM »

I replaced my 706 with a 897D. Very satisfied. Would I do it again? Absolutely - but much quicker.

BTW, Phil, I don't recall the K3 being one of the options in question...
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N5EAT
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« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2008, 02:50:12 AM »

A few things I have to say FOR the 897 is the capacity for internal batteries or an internal power supply and the bolt-on tuner.  I have mine installed with internal batteries and it will run for hours at 20 watts under normal continuous use.  I have mine fitted with cw and ssb filters and it's a wonderful carry anywhere radio.

I have an ic-7000 and it's not a substitute for the 897.  Neither is my TS-480sat.  Neither is my K3.  Neither is my IC-706.  My  FT-817 is a substitute, but it's 5 watts portable instead of 20.  It weighs less though...

If you need a very good integrated solution for most amateur bands there is no substitute for the 897.  

An off topic remark for those with the Kenwood 480 series...other than the DSP being of a previous generation - it's receiver is nearly as good as that of my K3.  Only when you pound it will it produce junk.....and it takes quite the pounding signalwise prior to breaking down.  It's a great radio.  I knew that before I got the K3, but now I know for sure.  

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KQ6Q
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« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2008, 11:40:28 PM »

If you have a little more room on your Desktop, and a highly readable display is worth a bit more money, consider an IC-746Pro. The display is large and clear (black letters on white background, like a copier control panel), and the use of menus is greatly reduced - there are 11 knobs besides the tuning know, and 27 switches that each do only one thing! and 5 function keys, whose use and label changes with the mode (SSB, CW, FM, RTTY) you select. And it has a built-in antenna tuner. It does 100w all the way up to 2 meters. After looking at many smaller radios, and the FT-847, this was my pick. I've had it for about 5 years, and it goes to our club's field day site every year, and is very popular because it's so easy to use!

Fred, KQ6Q
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N5BXP
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« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2009, 10:43:43 AM »

The FT 897D has a menu option to enlarge the numbers on the display. You can also change the backround color and contrast. I enlarged the numbers, and use a amber backround.

Mine is very easy to see. I don't understand why people complain about the display.

The FT 897D is a cost effective radio. For all it does, it is a steal.
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