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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held) | Yaesu FT-8500 Help

Reviews Summary for Yaesu FT-8500
Yaesu FT-8500 Reviews: 37 Average rating: 4.1/5 MSRP: $699.99
Description: DUAL BAND VHF/UHF radio that has achieved cult status
Product is not in production.
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KD5BFF Rating: 3/5 Dec 14, 2004 14:02 Send this review to a friend
Ok, could be better  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I got my radio from a friend in a trade. After using it for a couple months the radio started spazing out. The radio is complicated to get throught the menues while mobile. The VHF side will flash and won't transmit. I got in touch with Yaesu and that didn't offer much help. Basically I would need to buy a $250 part that may or may not still be available. I could use this for a paper weight and buy a new one for a few dollars more. The UHF side has no complaints. I have come to grips that Yaesu likes to discontinue models and get amnesia about ever making it to begin with. I think it is safe to say that with this being the third Yaesu I have owned, and never been impressed, I will not put faith or money in another Yaesu product again. I have always felt that their radios were over priced and now I know that Customer Service is all but a service. If anyone has any ideas on a fix for this VHF problem, please get in touch with me. Other wise I am going to get rid of it and get a simple radio that works like a Kenwood, Icom or Alinco.
N8VI Rating: 5/5 May 18, 2004 19:01 Send this review to a friend
Great first rig  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The FT-8500 was my first rig, and I love it! The scanning features are great (although for some reason freqs programmed into banks other than bank 1 on THE VHF SIDE ONLY are automatically skipped on scanning unless you manually unskip them ... weird), it can scan two frequency ranges per band, one bank or all banks and both at the same time. I use this for scanning channelized simplex on two meters in two of the banks, and also the experimental/misc portion of the band as a range. My first bank is local repeaters, my last bank is local police freqs.

The cross-banding feature is great and very easy to use, IT CAN DO SINGLE-DIRECTION CROSS BANDING, you just need to program in your input frequency with an offset that puts its TX out of band -- the rig will not TX out of band. I tested this with an HT to be absolutely sure. Just gotta get ahold of that FTS-22 board. And I wish it was remote controllable via DTMF.

The only problem I've had with my rig after treating it quite rough -- TXing while in V/V mode, having the rig on while starting the car, blowing part of the circuit board by inserting the power plug backwards, etc is this: ever since I got it (mind you, used, from an unknown vendor at a swap, probably modded), it picks up audio from a local TV station on, of all frequencies, the 2m FM calling frequency, 146.52. This problem goes away if I drive about 30 miles from home, but not if I remove the antenna, move to my basement, and switch to a computer power supply.

Oh, and with an 8-conductor connector for the mic that has all of the radio's controls, it makes it kinda hard to hook up a computer to the rig for anything other than packet (which there is a specific connector for). I'm a bit suspicious that the packet connector is just audio prior to going through the rig's filters and such, and if that is the case, that problem is already solved. I'll be hacking with that when time magically becomes available.
G4IRX Rating: 3/5 Oct 28, 2003 10:26 Send this review to a friend
Difficult to use /M!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I got mine to replace a Kenwood TM-733E. Big mistake.
Although the RF performance and features on a par with the TM-733 I found the microphone controller a nightmare to use /M if I was driving the car.
On the plus side it did perform well when used in the shack.

No longer have the rig but I found the circuits the other day whilst having a clear-out!
N1EE Rating: 5/5 Apr 20, 2003 02:47 Send this review to a friend
Best Dual Band ever made!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is a follow up review. I own three of these outstanding radios. I've owned one of these radios since 1996, and the other two were acquired a few years later. I use three of these radios constantly and I'm shopping for a 4th, 5th, or even a 6th. I use one at home for a base going into a dual band triple 5/8 wave vertical antenna for general use or crossbanding. I use one mobile, and one in my boat. I'd like to give one to my brother and use two more for dedicated packet links.


1. HUGE DISPLAY--90% of the faceplate. Display shows Frequency and Alphanumeric on both sides simultaneously.

2. Battery Voltage display--option for right side.

3. Memory Bank scanning the best I've ever seen in a dual band. Up/down, and up-arrow/down-arrow controls give 3-D movement through memory channels.

4. SCANNING: Best scanning capabilty I've seen in a dual band, and it is without peer. Scan by bank, by band, on either or both sides, with skip functions. I often scan simplex VHF bank on one side and one or more repeaters, on the other side in VHF mode. The number of combinations of scanning routines is the most flexible of any dual band. Punch in commonly used frequencies in VFO and it is easy to see how one or two key punches by feel will put you on the frequency you want.

5. Computer programming software ADMS-2D is great and a handy tool

6. Nothing but outstanding Audio reports.

7. 9600 pbs packet capable

8. Outstanding weather recieve.

9. Mods?? Simple cut of one green wire to open up.

10. Crossband is easy to set up and works great. I often use my HT as a cordless mic to extend it's range while boating for working around the house. I don't see any appreciable degradation of signal in this process.

11. Quick release bracket is the best design I've seen. Get one for each radio and spares for shifting radios from car to car.

12. Impervious to intermod. Never had a problem with that even in areas that screw up my other radios.

Direct Frequency entry from mic. Punch up and change to a new frequency faster than anyone else. I've never seen anyone able to keep up with me changing frequency unless they happen to be changing between two adjancent memories. By careful layout of the commonly used frequencies,using the 3D controls for bank and slot number, I can change to another memorized location faster than any other dual band radio. Furthermore, I have been enjoying direct frequency entry for so long, that I was stunned to find that many VHF/UHF radios don't have this feature. I often run in dual VHF mode and when someone talks about changing to another frequency, I can flip to the other side, direct enter the frequency, or use the up/down and or up arrow/down arrow keys to pull up a memorized freqency, all while everyone else is still on the other frequency. Meanwhile, I'm monitoring the new frequency without missing any of the other conversation. This has given me the opportunity to see how long it takes other people and other radios to change frequency. I've found that no one can beat me in changing frequnecy, at best they can match me. For me this is a major asset on VHF/VHF, VHF/UHF, or UHF/UHF modes.

14. Audio from stock speaker is good and loud.

Negatives {all negatives have work arounds):

1. Programming is awkward with out software. I'm used to it, but plan on putting the radio on a Power Supply and playing with it for a while before going mobile. Using the programming software mitigates this problem. Time to upload or download changes is about 6 seconds. Be sure to make a template file first, and then save all changes.

2. I've blown 2M power modules three times. This seems to happen when transmitting in VHF/VHF mode. So I now switch back to VHF/UHF before transmitting or go to a home channel away from the transmitting frequency. Don't take chances transmitting in VHF/VHF mode. I rarely run UHF/UHF mode, so I never had a probelm in that mode.

3. Optional FTS-22 board. This is an easy install. I bought one and found I didn't use it much except for crossbanding from the base. Nevertheless, I plan to refit the other radios with this option since I've come to love this these radios so much.

4. Switching between the 2M and 440 side using the mic control sometimes doesn't work, or if the button is held down too long, it shuts the radio off, which it is supposed to do. However, I've gotten used to pressing the control knob on the faceplate which duplicates this function and it works great as long as the rig is firmly mounted.

5. Packet Operation: I find I have to plug a dummy jack in the external speaker jack to disable the sound while operating in packet mode. This means you cannot run packet on one side and phone on the other at the same time. Although I think there must be a mod to fix this, I never had the need.

If anyone has one of these radios for sale, please contact me first.

Bart Senior

KB7QDI Rating: 5/5 Feb 12, 2003 16:29 Send this review to a friend
Good radio - not that hard to operate  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased the FT-8500 from an auction. I already had the Kenwood 'Cool-Blue' and wanted something else.

I am very happy with the radio. I like the fact that everything is controllable through the mic, and the audio is very good.

The only problem I have with it really isn't Yaesu's fault. A personal web site said that it was both one-way and two-way cross-band repeat functions. After buying it did I realize that it is only 2-way. With today's technology and people wanting to use small HT's to hit repeaters, the 1-way cross-banding feature seems like a no-brainer.

Anyway if you see one, get one.

73 Dean KB7QDI
N7UIC Rating: 5/5 Dec 12, 2002 13:52 Send this review to a friend
Awesome Radio  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This radio is great. It has lots of features but they arenít overwhelming. The cross band works superbly and it is a cinch to operate with the potato head microphone. Yes you do need to hook it up at home and use it for a week or 2 before putting it in the mobile but once you get the hang of the mic you donít even have to look at it due to button layout and bumps on the mic. Computer programming is the best way to get it setup the way you want it. I made my own cable from an old PS2 mouse and a level converter design that was for the Icom CI-V(quick search on google). Then just hunt around for the software, found mine on some German site, but enough of that. The microphone is set at a level to reduce the ambient noise of a mobile, so you have to speak loudly, not yell, into it for the best results. Most people talk louder in the car while driving anyways due to the noise. The radio is easily expanded for out of ham band operation. It also has a lot of nice scan features. You can scan for activity by time and carrier and also scan for clear channels/frequencies by time and carrier. In other words it will stop of frequencies not in use which is handy for crowded areas when looking for an open spot. When you lock the keypad you can play music on the number pad, quite fun for the geeky bored type. The only down side I see with this radio is that the encode/decode can't be split. It must decode the same frequency it encodes, but that isnít that big of a deal. I also have the separation kit which is a nice feature. You get a small display that can go anywhere, including above your mirror, and then you can mount the radio where ever you want. The kit comes with extensions for the speaker and the microphone cables. You would need an external speaker if you want to extend it. I find an external speak is best in a mobile anyways since that little speaker has to compete with a lot of different noises. Don't get me wrong about the speaker though, it can pack quite a punch for its size. I haven't used any of the packet features but it is capable of 9600bps. Oh there is another feature I like too. It has a spectrum display that can be configured to cover a 2MHz range. I like to find interesting frequencies and this gives me a visual on where they are. It can do a single pass or a continuous scan. Over all this radio is a very good buy and will serve you well.
WV4R Rating: 4/5 Oct 11, 2002 15:07 Send this review to a friend
The Most Complicated to program...  Time owned: more than 12 months
The FT=8500 IS the most complicated radio to Program that I own...
So Why do I own THREE of them for over seven years???
They are computer programmable. They are coverage and can be opened up. They can be computer/programmed for the odd F.R.S. frequencies. The receiver is sensitive. I have the stock mic on all three which has custom buttons. I clone all three radios Identically so no learning curve once you git it goin'!
All I have done to the radios in seven years is replace the Lithium batteries... cheap but a chore. I use the radios in my Farm vehicles and they get a pounding and but keep on ticking.
I am only rating a "4" since it is so complicated to learn to use if you do not use computer.
73 es God bless, murf/wv4r.
WA3UOO Rating: 2/5 Oct 11, 2002 11:52 Send this review to a friend
When it works, it's a great radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought this radio in March 1996. Over the four years I owned it, it made four trips back to Yaesu for repairs. Three repairs were the reuslt of failed front end transistors and crystals in the 2 meter section of the rig. The last repair was for a bad switching TX transistor. When the transistor fails, you have no idea there's a problem untill you try bringing up a repeater. The S/RF meter still displays whatever power setting it's set to.

When the rig was working, I really liked they way the "Mr. Potatohead" microphone worked. I could use it one-handed for most of the functions I needed. It has a very sensitive receiver, but in high intermod areas, it's like most radios built today - the front end is broad as a barn door.

However with an average of one trip to the shop per year, it was time to sell it.
AL7B Rating: 1/5 Apr 28, 2002 01:45 Send this review to a friend
I Hate This Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
As a mobile this radio is potential dead trap. I have tried both mics and both are cumbersome to use.

Seems to work fine as a dedicated packet rig where it is set, then forgotten about.

Knobs belong on the radio, not the mic.

N1EE Rating: 5/5 Apr 15, 2002 03:31 Send this review to a friend
Great radio I have three and would not mind having a fourth  Time owned: more than 12 months
This dual band has every feature you could want, crossband, dual watch, plus a lot of features you may never use.

I own three of these radios--all with the standard microphone. I was never interested in the potato microphone. I bought the first one in 1995 and the other two a few years later, one on closeout, and the other I bought used.

I have had one radio die and was fixed under warrantee. In another the power module failed only in the high power setting, which Yeasu repaired for a reasoable charge. I think I am to blame for both the problems by using a defective antenna.

The radio has a number of protection circuits that prevent it from being damaged. If you run on high power for extended periods it will overheat and shut itself off, but you have to really key down on high power for a long time.

The radio can be opened up with simple wire cut mod.

I like the alpha-numberic display. The programming can be a pain. There is a Japanese character set included. That doesn't get in the way, but seems silly to have that on US models. The menu system must be selected by category then sub menu to make a change which sucks. If the radio would allow you to scroll through every option it would be a lot easier to program manually. Instead you have to change the button that controls the scrolling and once you make one selection, don't hit the wrong button, or you have to repeat the operation. Stupid design.

I was unhappy with the programming until I bought the ADMS software and after that I just loved the radio. I now have several sets of frequencies saved that I can program depending on where I'm using the radio. I have a marine band set that I use on the boat with all the wierd splits used on some of the channels. Having the programming software makes it easy to program each radio the same way. I can go from house to truck to boat as if I carried the radios with me.

So you can see that with the software overcoming the one problem with the radio and in fact enhancing it substantially, you naturally want to get more of these great radios.

It is not a good radio to program while driving. The mic keys are small and take a deliberate effort to find and push. Pull over if you want to program it. Chances are that if you use the software, you can set the radio up exactly they way you like.

On the plus side you can adjust the banks of VHF and UHF to meet your needs. I have 7 banks of VHF and 3 of UHF, eachwith 10 channels. I use Bank 1 of VHF for calling freq, a few simplex freqs, and several local repeaters. Bank 2 is for more distant repeaters, Bank 3, still more distant, Bank 4 is simplex freqs, Bank 5 is Marine, simplex, Bank 6 more Marine, Bank 7 is weather and packet set to skip on scan. Banks 8, 9, 10 are UHF simplex and repeater freqs.

I find I can pull up any freqency I want quickly because the software enables me to move them to easy to find locations. It took me a few month to set the radio up the way I wanted and now I can move around faster than anyone I'm talking to.
If you leave a bank, it remembers were you were when you change back to that bank. Than means you can often change freqencies to a favorite channel in only one button click.

You can scan one bank of preprogrammed channels, all banks (only one band), or increment through the the frequencies between band limits. By careful selection of the skip function, this gives you a lot of flexibility as a scanner--I like this part of it's design. It has the best scanning setup of any tranceiver I own.

I get lots of compliments on the transmit audio and have no intermod problems.

It works well on packet.

I would consider buying another of these radios.

I hesitate to give it a good review because that may make it harder to pick up another radio in the future. I expect I'd pick another up if the price was right.

If you buy the radio, get the ADMS software. Take the time to study the manual. Don't put it in the car right away. Master the funtions on home using it as a base first.

FINALLY. Get the quick release bracket. It is one of the nicest feature of these radios. I've also used the remote head mounting kit, but I didn't like it nearly as much as the slide mount. The slide mount is worth the money and makes it easy to remove the radio when you drop the car off for service or for use in another vehicle.
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