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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | Yaesu FT-ONE Help

Reviews Summary for Yaesu FT-ONE
Yaesu FT-ONE Reviews: 23 Average rating: 4.2/5 MSRP: $2,895.00
Description: Yaesu's Early 80's Top Of the Line Radio.
Product is not in production.
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VA3UMA Rating: 5/5 Jun 12, 2013 16:10 Send this review to a friend
CLASSIC  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased 2 rigs from a club for a good price. Was told that they were donated by a SK's harmonic. Cosmetically excellent, but both rigs were tech-specials. After debug, a CMOS IC in one, and a PNP BJT in the second one fixed the problems. No drift whatsoever even after several hours of operation - despite all these years. Easy to operate, and very good Rx. These rigs complement my other rigs of that era - FT-101ZDMKIII and FT-902DM - all with full options.
G4UDG Rating: 5/5 Mar 10, 2012 03:12 Send this review to a friend
GREAT OLD CLASSIC RADIO  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
WA9CWX Rating: 5/5 Jan 20, 2011 20:53 Send this review to a friend
Excellent all around radio.  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned my FT-ONE since the early 80's, aligned by Yaesu once in the mid 90's (osc badly missaligned)... I used it mostly on CW for about 10 years, great performance, never had any trouble, I bought an FT 1000 in 1991 and since then I use my ONE for AM operation, sounds great on the air, I get excellent audio reports. As others have stated, find one with all options, scoop it up.
K9CTB Rating: 4/5 Oct 15, 2010 04:44 Send this review to a friend
Great radio if originally overpriced  Time owned: more than 12 months
First of all, I have to say, I like this rig. I own two, one with no options (not even the extra filters) and the one I just acquired, with ALL of them. It is very well laid out from an ergonomic standpoint. Concentric knobs where needed and good, strong, long-throw stick-handle toggle switches. The rotary switches are truly military-quality. They are not the open-air rotary switches you see on most gear. No, these are solid, sealed switches like you see on the Harris RF-5200 .... or older crypto gear (fellow ex-servicemen). Nicely built all around.

Both my FT-Ones work FB and both are 28 years old. Older than my kid! As another reviewer said, what more can you ask for?

I do like the FT-One because it is solid. If you find one today, chances are it is the original radio with the original circuit cards, etc. As others have pointed out, its main competitor was the Collins (Rockwell) KWM-380. Most '380s out there are either in a hollywood actor's playroom or with a serious collector who had it since it was built. If you see a '380 for sale now, there's a good chance it's a thrown-together Franken-Rig that surplus sales place put up on e-rip as if was one of the originals. You'll STILL pay upwards of $3000 for it. $300-$600 for a good FT-One! it's a no-brainer unless you're sure that KWM is original or you won the lottery. And no, the "collins mechanical filters" aren't any "better" and they certainly aren't worth the extra $2700.00! In fact, they're very fragile at 28 years old compared to the crystal units in the FT, and some probably ring like a telephone by now.

An original KWM-380 against an original FT-One is a good comparison. Sadly, the KWM is a bit more frequency stable than the FT-One, but we've talked about why in other reviews. This is really the only down side of a great Yaesu rig: They WILL NOT hold an alignment! Guys with an original KWM-380 probably haven't had to fully align their rig since they bought it. I've aligned my FT-Ones 2 or three times and I can tell you right now if I go over there and warm it up, it'll be off by maybe 500 Hz. That's too much in my book. There are just too many "master" oscillators in the FT. Reading these reviews, NOBODY knows what Yaesu was thinking. I can do the same with my TS-930, and it will be within a few Hz of WWV on all frequencies. One oscillator.

On the good side of the FT, it was made from the ground-up as a general coverage transceiver. You can see it in the receiver pre-selector as well as in the transmitter bandpass filter. They are set up for no-holes coverage to 30 MHz. There used to be some squawking about forcing an 80,40,20,15,10 rig to cover 60 meters because the transmit bandpass filter attenuates too much of the 5MHz signal, heating it up, which could cause a black hole, etc, etc. It's BS, of course, but with the FT-One, there is a REAL bandpass filter that will pass 5 MHz. I'd say the FT-One is the Japanese equivalent of the Harris RF-3200 or the Transworld TW-100 in this regard.

I really am a fan of the FT-One. I gave it a "4" because it won't hold an alignment. Not now, and not "then". Not like I'd expect for $2800.00.

Right now, I am working on substituting the 20 MHz "master" oscillator on my optionless FT-One with an off-the-shelf TCXO to see what will happen to stability. I'll keep going with this until I nail it down or know for a fact that I can't improve things.

Like most people end their review, if you see one of these for sale in working condition in the $500 range, and it has all the options, (the keyer (a Curtis 8044), the RAM board, the FM board and the AM and RTTY filters) ... it's a good deal. Only one thing I would add to the FT-One if I had designed it. It would have been good to offer a CTCSS tone encoder/decoder to use with that fancy FM card. Other than that, Yaesu did a pretty good job of covering all the bases. Oh yeah, if you buy one, join a user group too. You'll need to know someone who has the extender boards.

K4CLL Rating: 4/5 Feb 20, 2009 07:55 Send this review to a friend
Great Rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
This has been a really good dependable rig. After 10 years of ownership, it still works the same as always. It was sent back to Yaesu and was upgraded about 12 years ago. I see some people claim this radio is unreliable. I don't know what more you could ask of a rig around 28 years old. It still works. That should tell you something. If you can get one in good shape at a fair price, you can't go wrong. Remember, all models have a few lemons in the bunch.
SIERRAHOTEL Rating: 4/5 Dec 24, 2008 18:30 Send this review to a friend
This is one I have always wanted!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was visiting a relative in Southern Ohio a while back, and he mentioned his neigbor was a ham, and in very bad health, and was going to be selling his equipment, except for his HTs, as he was going into a nursing home at the end of the month. So we went over there, and there was an FT-One, in very nice shape, fully functioning, but it did have some hum. The old guy said, "Just a filter cap problem, but I can't even do that minor repair anymore!" Needless to say, I made him an offer, and he took it! For $1000, I went home with the FT-One, an Astron PS (I needed one anyway), and a copy of the service and owners manuals. He promised he would have his daughter send me the manuals themselves, along with the box later on, but he went sour and died almost as soon as he got to the nursing home, and they probably got tossed out.

Other than replacing all the electrolytic caps, and doing an alignment, it's been a great rig.
AC5XP Rating: 4/5 Sep 1, 2008 08:22 Send this review to a friend
Perfect it is not, but a great collectors item!  Time owned: more than 12 months
After having bought (and restored) another one of these, I felt it was time to re-write my original review, not in the least because I learned a few details since then that might help you when undertaking a similar effort. Most of my original conclusions still stand, but some nuances are due, not in the least to give the radio (and Yaesu) better credit for the design. To summarize the original review:
Strong points:
- Very well built, arguably the best built ham radio of the era with the KWM-380 as the exception
- Truly designed with general coverage in mind (TX and RX)
- Good receiver with excellent crystal filters
- AM and FM modes were not neglected, work very well
- Great ergonomic design, a pleasure to operate
- Very good looking radio, really LOOKS like a transceiver, not like something that belongs in Darth Vader's living room

Weak points:
- Poor synthesizer and LO design: prone to drift, inaccuracy and phase noise

At its market release, the radio was launched as the new Yaesu flagship, a title previously held by the FT-902DM at the time. It was Yaesuís first fully synthesized, CPU controlled ham radio while also introducing the concept of general coverage. Given the true general-coverage design and the professional build, I get the impression Yaesu designed this radio with markets other than just the ham market in mind. A replaceable PROM (thus firmware) determines where the radio can be operated for TX, allowing for professional customers with different band requirements by just changing firmware. Not that you need a new PROM for general TX (MARS); the existing PROM has the ability to allow transmitting from 1.8 to 30 MHz simply by cutting a wire jumper to the PROM.
But letís talk about the frequency synthesis. This is where I learned a few new things.
First of all; Yaesu originally designed a sub-par concept for the frequency relationships and synthesis as a whole; even for the era in which this radio was designed (late seventies). For instance; the Collins KWM-380 (its major competitor of the time) used a synthesizer that makes the 10 Hz finest steps digitally, and all derived from a single master oscillator. The FT-One uses two reference crystals in the synthesizer (actually 3 but the third one has no impact on final stability). One reference oscillator is pretty stable (20 MHz), but the other is used to create the 10 Hz steps in an analog way (pulling the crystal using a variable capacitance diode and D-A converter doing oscillator "rubber banding"). As such, this particular oscillator is a major source of drift on the operating frequency during warmup.
Furthermore, the radio uses a very convoluted way to generate the sideband injection frequencies and the several LOís for establishing the IF with & shift feature. Creating the SSB exciter injection frequencies by mixing two higher VXCO oscillators down to a much lower frequency for the actual SSB injection; thatís asking for lots of inaccuracy problems.
Yaesu introduced circuit modifications in later production series to improve on this issue, but it was not a 100% fix to the problem as the major concepts remained unchanged. However; the mods DID introduce inconsistencies in the technical manual as the modifications are poorly explained and documented with lots of errors I have found.
When Yaesu designed the FT-One, they should have used the synthesizer concept that the FT-980 deploys, this radio is of the same vintage but derives ALL internal LOís from a single master oscillator. Even the IF shift oscillator is digitally synthesized for that radio. As the radios were released to the market at practically the same moment in time, it is a mystery why Yaesu did not do this for the FT-One. Only explanation I can find is that the development of the Ft-One started earlier but took much longer than anticipated with resulted with the FT-One market launch practically coinciding with the FT-980. As a result, it looks like the FT-One never sold in great quantities and was not a market success for Yaesu.
But here is the new information I promised you. Yaesu must have made available a new local-unit with a completely new mixing- and LO generation concept. The new module was in my recently purchased radio (which already was of late serial number itself) and has a different nomenclature designator, not at all described in any manuals I could find. I called Yaesu USA but they claimed they had no information about it (the easy answer of course) so that was no help. They diverted me to the Fox Tango users association but I am STILL waiting for my user passwords there....
So instead, I decided to study the circuit more in detail by opening the module. The module has semiconductors in it dated around 1990 so I suspect this redesigned module must have been made available in the late eighties. I found out the module now uses crystals for the LSB and USB injection frequencies, using a reverse mixing scheme to generate the other, higher LO frequencies needed for the IF shift and width controls. So basically the opposite of that the original (older) module did.
It is not wise to align a radio for which one does not understand the basic mixing and frequency relationship concepts. So I found an extender card for the local unit, and my doing some measurements I was able to "crack" the secrets to the new module. It goes to far to write this all down here but all I can say is that after aligning it all using my TCXO stabilized Icom756 as the reference receiver, I got the FT-One working perfectly and dead on frequency in all modes.
So the improved but undocumented local-unit definitely fixes the problems with the original design. I therefore recommend you open up this module in your own FT-One and check the dates on the semiconductors (or check for the two sideband crystals being present: 8.986 and 8.989 MHz)
The drift with the earlier discussed "rubber banded" reference oscillator in the synthesizer module still exists, (as this oscillator is not part of the local unit) but if you align this after allowing for a thorough warming-up period for the radio as a whole it is basically on frequency pretty well. Keep in mind the manual is wrong on that one as well; there ate TWO trimcaps for this alignment, one for 10 Hz step linearity and the other for over-all frequency setting. The manual (pictures and diagram) shows only one.
All in all; an earlier reviewer here was right: This is not a radio for the faint-of-heart but I have found that restoring it is rewarding.

And as mentioned in my earlier review, I really like to use this classic Yaesu on the air.
The radio "feels" well, looks great and the receiver is excellent, actually better than I remember from the earlier unit I once owned.
If you have read the original QST report, I think it was not done justice there: Most measurements came out "noise limited" (as ALSO was the case for the Collins KWM-380!)
Which does not make a lot of sense because such measurements can still be carried out for a value at the point where noise limited the measurement; like what they do today.
Nevertheless, such limitations only become prevalent in the vicinity of very strong nearby signals. A situation most of us will never experience anyway so for comfortable ragchewing and "low-stress" DX-ing this classic radio truly is fun to operate!

73s, Loek díHont AC5XP
G1EUZ Rating: 5/5 Jan 24, 2008 08:11 Send this review to a friend
Solidly Built, Good Performer  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I now own the FT-One that was bought new by my Father in 1982, he is now sadly SK. The radio is in excellent condition with keyer and filters. Some alignment was required, but thankfully I have the service manual. I bought the fan mod through the Foxtango site (Carol) which makes a huge difference in operating pleasure. The fan now only runs on TX, or if temperature remains above the thermal switch level when the key is released. The build quality of this radio is outstanding. For my casual use and DX chasing I cannot fault it. Probably not a contest radio, but thatís not my bag. I remember listening to this radio when I was 15 and unlicensed, I am now 42. My memories probably colour my review, but this radio is still a great piece of engineering and I will never sell it.
N3JJT Rating: 4/5 Jan 24, 2008 03:31 Send this review to a friend
Fun Rig to Use!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had my FT-ONE for about 2 years. A very good friend of mine gave it to me knowing I would put it on the air. I primarily operate CW, and this is a great rig for CW. The filtering is very good. The rig has everything except the built in keyer. If I find a keyer I will put it in...The morning group I talk with in the morning tell me the audio is very good. The radio is a joy to operate, I get full output. I had the rig aligned last year, and after about 15 minutes of warm up time, its ready to go! The FT-ONE will always be on the desk! The only thing I can say in a negative way, is the fan is a little noisy. If you like operating older radios, and have the chance to pick one up, do so, you will enjoy it!

73 de..M3JJT
WA4RVB Rating: 4/5 Jan 21, 2008 13:35 Send this review to a friend
Great Old Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
Had this Radio For 25 Years and Still Going Strong. The Only Thing VFO Always off 300 Herts low..But Still a good old Radio..
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