|Great Radio, but .... - Uptading at December, 5
||Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
|After several reports of malfunctions of my FTDX 101D, the Italian importer (tnx Marco) proceeded to solve the problems. Now the radio is fine and I think that with the next firmware the small problems related to the display will disappear. I repeat that the receiver of this RTX is truly exceptional and the listening quality is superb.|
I waited several months before leaving my assessment.
Purchased in May, one of the first produced. Excellent receiver with very effective filters. Pleasant listening and overall I must say that the radio is also well done. But… .. several problems that even today, after more than 4 months of patient waiting, have not been solved. The negative judgments, all reported, there are the different problems related to the TFT screen with its functions. Even today it is not possible to use it with some programs such as the CW Skimmer. In CW mode, the panadapter is slow to display after the TX / RX switchover. Bump in the speaker during RX / TX switching in CW which makes it almost impossible to listen through headphones. In short, many small things to fix. But the reason why I leave a low mark is the unpleasant behavior by Yaesu. After spending over 3,300 euros for a radio that is not efficient, it doesn't seem polite to me. At this point we must wait until and if there is a remedy for the defects.
|Very good transceiver but
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|Superb transceiver with top ergonomics and a very selective receiver.. Menu and sub-menus are well organized . The different colors on the main and sub-receiver are a big help...|
The selectivity of the receiver is at top level with the combination of the roofing filter and the automatic preselector ... ( driven variable capacitor...)...
Also less noise ...
The AMC function is not very clear... There is a direct interaction between AMC and ALC....on SSB...
It is not explained correctly in the manual...!!!
If the equalizer is correctly set , you are getting a superb modulation... The mike gain should be reduced....
Have set AMC at 55 , microphone gain at 35 and processing as follow :
at 5 dB....for locals....
at 18dB …for DX......
Yaesu SSM-75G Speaker Microphone ...modified (see text) ...
Settings of the internal equilizer :
Bandwidth 100 Hz to 2900 Hz
P PRMTRC EQ1 FREQ 400Hz, LEVEL -10, BWTH 5
P PRMTRC EQ2 FREQ 1400Hz, LEVEL +5, BWTH 6
P PRMTRC EQ3 FREQ 2700Hz, LEVEL +10, BWTH 10
Attention ! The liitle mike joined with the transceiver , SSM-75G is faulty... it is not sensitive at all...and the modulation is disastrous....
Open it ...carefully...and remove the plastic membran covering the electret element, having a 1 mm whole on it...
Done in 5-10 minutes and you will see the difference...!!! See Equalizer settings above...
Results : a very plaisant modulation, well balanced on the mediums and on the high pitched tones...
My personal comment: it is absolutely not necessary to buy a " studio microphone..." which costs a lot of money...maybe later on...
Other problems : not really, but the PA fan switches on a bit quickly ...even after 3 minutes on SSB...
Fortunately at a low level...
|Good Radio_ Rotten as an SDR
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|This is one of the best performing RF rigs I have ever used. I have a 9000D and used the 5000 and various other rigs.|
While there are lots of different definitions for SDR, I think Flex, Apache Labs, SDR Play and other SDR manufactures have defined what is a "SDR". While this radio may have a FPGA in the lower IF and uses such to perform various functions, the "SDR" experience is about building your radio in software, or using your computer to control and define filters etc. Displaying different slices etc on your computer screen.
Yaesu missed the mark on this one, period!!
It is a great radio, however so is the 5000 and the 9000 and I am running the 9000 right next to the 101D and they play just about the same. The 101D has a better DNR system than the 9000, but add a CLR DSP to the 9000 and they are about the same.
I will l run Sweeps next week. I have both radios hooked to receive and I will transmit on the 101D. I will then get a better idea how each performs in a jammed RF environment, but thus far they seem about the same.
Yaseu just dropped the price of this rig from 4K to $3400. Racing to the bottom on price??
Take off the front panel, put all the filters in the radio.
Build a great software interface that can run under windows and Mac and sell it for 3K. You will make a mint.
Add the front panel as a $1000 option.
Make a versatile SDR out of this platform and you will do well.
Make no changes and your just another radio in the bunch racing for the bottom on price.
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|First the bad:|
1) 3DSS is absurd, present signals are hidden by the messy past and the past signals are hard to find exactly in the present due to the slant perspective. Just because its possible to do 3D doesn't make it a good idea.
2) No averaging function for conventional 2D view.
3) Sub VFO ring is hard to rotate without knocking the main VFO with your knuckles.
4) A bit of a faff to set up transmit audio to properly drive the PA.
5) No mouse scroll wheel function.
6) Most controls aren't responsive during transmit except bandwidth.
7) Fan startup noise sounds like a light saber from star wars (might change this to a good thing), not loud but noticeable in a quiet shack.
8) Stupid upgrade implementation which means you have to buy the radio with all wanted options fitted or return the radio to get options fitted...nuts!
Now the good:
1) Weak signals just seem to to be clearer!
2) The RX DSP functions all work and work well!
3) RS232 and USB provide simultaneous CAT for 2 applications.
4) Best dual receiver implementation with clear on screen representation, control layout and led status feedback so you never get confused. Very intuitive, well laid out radio making it ideal for contesting. Nice horizontal split of controls between main and sub with colour coding.
5) Mouse control for every on screen function means you don't need to get the touch screen messed up with finger prints.
6) Spectrumscope is plenty fast, good resolution and sensitive. There is no discernible time lag between scope and audio.
7) Scope tuning modes of fix, center and cursor allows all operating styles. I use 'fix' for CW (bottom 50KHz of every band) and 'cursor' for SSB as I don't like the trails moving all the time on the scope as I'm tuning (center).
8) Loads of options for tailoring the scope content like 'expand' which allows more realty for scope than meters.
9) External monitor output means when the radio display eventually fails you can still operate the radio.
10) 70MHz included.
I've owned a lot of radios over the last 33 years, my previous main radios were a Flex 6500 and before that a K3, the FTDX101D is by far the best radio I've ever owned.
|CW issue with sideswiper key
||Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
|I love my FTdx101D but I and other sideswiper/cootie key users have run into a slight problem. The maximum speed of sideswiper keying is limited to approximately 23 to 25 wpm. Above that speed and dits turn into dahs and dahs turn into even longer dashes making the CW unreadable. This problem occurs over the air even though the CW heard in monitor sidetone sounds perfect. The operator is unaware of the jibberish going out on the airwaves unless they are listening on a separate receiver. Yaesu is aware of the problem but so far is laying blame on the type of key used. |
If you are a high speed sideswiper/cootie operator you may be disappointed in the FTdx101D unless Yaesu acknowledges the issue and comes up with a firmware fix.
73 John K7FD
Earlier 5-star review posted by K7FD on 2019-05-04
I will leave a detailed review to the more technically minded owners. This review is an overview of my first 24 hours with the FTDX101D.
Coming from the Icom world I found a bit of a learning curve requiring a good read of the Yaesu manual. The onboard menu'ing of the '101D is very logical...once I got the hang of it, hi. No complaints.
First impression, well built. Like a tank. Quality. The TFT display is crisp and clear. Initially I thought the 3D spectrum scope would be more of a novelty than useful. Whether it's useful I'm not sure yet, but I LOVE IT! You can't take your eyes off of the 3D display; even static crashes look great!
So the display is top notch. Next, the DNR digital noise reduction is excellent; best I've used. On both SSB and CW. Really takes your breath away. And noise.
So far, I have only had the rig on CW driving a small amp. No troubles. I work 99% CW but will venture onto phone later. I suspect the included hand mic sounds like most...but it might surprise me, like the hand mic with the IC-7300. We'll see.
Dual receive works great and the ergonomics gets a big thumbs up. MAIN and SUB controls and buttons are color coded making it easy to use.
This is my first Yaesu HF rig since the FT-101F and the FT-303. Those go back a few years! The new FTDX101D has made a favorable impression.
|Top Tier Radio
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|This is one fine transceiver. I have owned a number of high end rigs over the years and this is among the best. The build quality is superb and it looks even better in person. The 3D band scope I really like and is enjoyable to watch. Ergonomically, the radio feels great and is fun to operate. Yes, lots of menus, but most are one time set and forget. An RF power output control can be left configured with the front multi knob. A reported RF overshoot problem was corrected at the factory. My late serial number has the fix. Some have complained of a noisy relay in this model on CW. I operate semi break in and it's not an issue. In full QSK mode the relay clicking is evident which I find annoying. I've never liked full QSK mode so for me it's not an issue. The CW decoder on this radio is the best I've ever used. Large white text with great accuracy. The NR is very good, not the conventional adjustment from zero to max, but adjustable algorithm anywhere from 1-15 for the best solution. The noise blanker works well. Being old school, I've never been a big fan of touch screens and finger printing up a radio. An inexpensive stylus works great in this regard.|
My other rig is a Kenwood TS-890s which is very impressive. I've compared both radios on weak signals, strong adjacent QRM, etc, both radios are superb. Just different models of sports cars, to each his own. I take the #1 Sherwood rating with a grain of salt. I don't think we can notice the performance edge the lab instruments measure. In all honesty, my previous rig, IC-7610 was impressive and on par. I really doubt I could pick a winner of these in a blindfolded test. I am very happy with this Yaesu and give it definite thumbs up. Yaesu has a 3 year factory warranty as standard. Nice!
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|I have only owned this radio for a couple of months. It is a lot of radio. Beautiful receiver. Clean transmitter. Controls are well laid out, I had ran it for a few weeks before I dug out the manual and started reading it. It had been a while since I was able to operate a new radio like that. The display is huge compared to what I am used to. A lot of information. A very user friendly radio. Using it with the Quadra amp and it is like a 1000 watt transceiver. |
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|I’ve had the radio now for 10 days and it has replaced my trusty Icom IC7600.|
I bought the radio blind so to speak, my research being limited to QRZ.com and You Tube reviews. The final decider however was the fact it has 2 receivers, 4 metres, ( 70Mhz) 3 antenna sockets , one of which is now configured to 70Mhz, and finally, it was £350 cheaper than the Icom IC7610 and had a SP101 matching speaker thrown in as part of the deal. (more about that later)
Day one was a real headache of a learning curve, but most controls and menus are intuitive so very little need to refer to the manual.
My initial impression is that I’m taken by it. I like it. The receiver is quiet compared to my old Icom 7600 and the touch screen and real time scope are far better that I had expect them to be. You can see a signal, tap the screen where you see the signal and then use the main dial to fine tune it. I thought I would really miss the Icom way of doing things where the tuning speed increases as the dial speed increases, but in reality, the touch screen is easier and quicker to work with.
So far, I have received many unsolicited complimentary audio reports with pretty much out of the box settings and the MD100 desk mike. I haven’t touched the parametric TX audio controls as I find them confusing, and I don’t find the manual any help. An audio engineer may find them easy to use, but for me they are too complicated. I prefer the simpler Icom method of constantly variable bass and treble controls.
I’m not convinced by the 3D display, which while looking impressive, doesn’t to me at least, serve any practical function. I prefer the standard 2D scope and waterfall. I would have liked to have seen a wider colour palette for the display, but that’s a minor thing.
The SP-101 speaker to my ears is awful. I use a BHI desktop noise reduction speaker on the main receiver and an old Kenwood SP820 speaker on the sub receiver, both of which sound far better.
Although in the set up procedure there is the facility to set time and date, I have as yet to find the time display function. There’s no obvious reference to one, so I guess there isn’t one. In my opinion, a really serious omission on such a high end radio. I expect to see UTC and local time display options on the screen. I emailed Yaesu UK with a query about this some 7 days ago, but they haven’t bothered to reply.
In conclusion so far, this is a fine radio, easy to use and easy to listen to. A keeper.
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|I have owned the FTdx101D for about 6 weeks now and it is a superb radio. It works seamlessly with my Quadra amplifier. I like the radio so well that I sold my FTdx5000 that I have been using for the past 8+ years. |
Comparing the 2 radios is difficult since they are similar in some ways but very different in others. The Dynamic Noise Reduction (DNR) is implemented differently but much is much more effective on the 101, especially on SSB. The ability to listen to 2 different bands at once on the 101 is a big plus when watching for openings on 6 or 10 meters while operating on 20.
The ergonomics of the 101 are excellent. Controls for main and sub are grouped together and clearly marked in white and blue lettering. The "MULTI" knob can be set to control one of 11 radio functions, including RF Power, or one of 5 screen functions. The menu system is greatly improved over the 5000 with a touch screen and grouped menu items with understandable names. The ability to save the menu and memory settings to an SD card and reload them later if/when you mess something up is a big plus.
Firmware updates on the 101 are a breeze compared to the 5000. You download the firmware from Yaesu, copy it to the SD card, and select Firmware Update from the radio SD card menu. No hidden program switch to change or combination of buttons to hold when turning the radio on like the 5000. It only takes a total of a couple of minutes to do.
On CW the transmitted waveform is very clean in QSK and semi-break-in. On SSB I am getting unsolicited reports of excellent audio. Adjusting the new AMC correctly (Automatic Mic Gain Control) is a bit confusing at first but following the instructions gives good results.
Using the radio on FT8/FT4 requires a minor adjustment in thinking. In the Data Mode the VFO and on screen filter display show the frequency in the middle of the 3 KHz passband, not the SSB suppressed carrier frequency. Setting the VFO dial 1.5 KHz higher than the traditional FT8/FT4 frequency results in the 3KHz passband being in the right place and everything working as expected.
The spectrum display is real time. It shows what is happening on the band as it happens. I like it much better than the soft smoothed display found on many radios. There are multiple choices for what is displayed including one that shows the band spectrum plus an oscilloscope and an AF FFT.
Getting familiar with some of the new and changed features has been both fun and frustrating. It is necessary to actually read the manual to get the most out of the radio and understand the function and flexibility of the menu settings and front panel controls.
Overall the FTdx101D is a keeper. It is easier to use and a better performer than the FTdx5000. It's the best radio I have used in my 57 years as an active ham.
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|The radio is great, but here's a significant issue if you operate FT8.|
I am trying to use Data-U mode for WSJT-x (FT8) but there is a problem. The maximum Bandwidth in Data-U mode is 3 khz. But if you look at the Filter Display, the bandwidth is centered on the phantom carrier (I assume this is the yellow line with "C" at the top) so that the effective Upper SB bandwidth is 1.5 Khz which means anyone above the 1500khz FT8 channel are not demodulated (and if there are any signals on what would be Data-L they can interfere since they are in the passband). And these undemodulatable (?) signals can be seen to be outside the Red filter lines on the Filter Display. This is with the Roofing Filter wide open.
The phantom carrier line (yellow line) should be on the edge of the red passband indictor (LEFT for DATA-U, RIGHT for DATA-L) rather than the middle so that the DATA-U is actually USB only.
Using the SSB mode for computer data modes would mean having to reset in the SSB menu from MIC to Rear USB port when changing from SSB to FT8 and back, not an acceptable solution, IMO.
I sent a message to Yaesu on this DESIGN ERROR (I mean, there's another reason that their DATA implementation makes no sense, why have distinct DATA-U and DATA-L if both sidebands always come through the filter???). Here was their reply:
What you are experiencing is correct for the Data -U bandpass. You will find this on all of our radios. This is why, traditionally FT-8, and all other AFSK modes were set to SSB not Data U-"
Which makes Data-U essentially useless. Whatever Yaesu's tradition regarding what DATA mode is, it really needs to change. So I would say that Yaesu needs to be flooded with Tech Support questions asking why DATA-U was implemented in a way that makes it useless for computer data modes. Just to get their attention. If you don't operate FT8 now, you may in the future.
Earlier 5-star review posted by K3OX on 2019-06-08
Until early 2016, my main xcvr was usually an Icom IC-781 chosen for it's reasonable used market price and high RX performance. There was a brief flirtation with the Elecraft K3, but ultimately I decided against it, mostly due to its a la carte pricing. The 781 was finally replaced by an Icom 7300 in early 2016, despite being outdone by the 781 in a few areas, its combination of low price, size and weight, excellent bandscope and DSP RX features carried the day. But eventually, I wanted a rig that offered enhanced capabilities along the lines that the 781 offered back in its day.
My first foray was into a Flex 6400. It was a good performing radio, but ticked me off in ways probably more descriptive of me than it. I bought a Maestro panel since I (still) believe that a radio should be a radio with knobs and buttons. Now I liked the Flex in many ways, but ultimately I must say it was kind of a kluge. Just getting the rig "booted" and fully functional could be a frustrating experience, at best taking a few minutes, at worst requiring IT skills beyond what I thought should be necessary to merely turn on a radio. With the IC-7300, you push the button and presto, in a few seconds you had a functional radio! Conclusion; Flex was not for me.
So the Flex was sold and the 7300 put back in place, but still...
I wanted something better. However, nothing jumped out at me in the Marketplace until the FTDX-101D was announced. This looked promising, but around a year later promising was still all Yaesu was doing. But finally, the rig jumped off the drawing board and became a reality. My first inclination was to wait and see, but a trip to HRO Delaware would be fatal. So one warm spring day found me driving home with a new rig and thousands of dollars lighter. Would this be Flex 6400 redux?
Nope. I hooked up the 101 to my (so called) antennas and my power supply then pushed the Power button. The rig beeped and came to life! Excelsior!
The RX sounded good, but the bandscope experience was different from what my IC-7300's was. The scope actually works fine, but could use a bit of averaging in its response. The rapid response made me (more) neurotic at first, but after a bit of time at least I calmed down (if not the display). Actually, this is sort of the way the 7300 scope looked before I found the adjustment to mellow it out, it would be nice if Yaesu would offer this adjustment in a software update at some point.
The receiver sounds good to me and even crowded bands during contests can be largely tamed. The infamous Sherwood Engineering Receiver Test Data chart lists the 101D at the top, but the top 7 slots are so close that there would not be much practical difference. The Noise Blanker works well and the Digital Noise Reduction works better than any of the others I have used. So far, I haven't much to complain about regarding the receiver. The only slight problem is strong impulse noise (such as light switches, motors starting etc.) can "capture" the AGC momentarily. The 7300 did the same thing and this is apparently a common issue with many of the modern DSP Radios.
Now, my inclination is to be somewhat forgiving on operational stuff since that tends to be more a matter of preference and what you are familiar with rather than absolute. So far, I have found the rig works more or less like I would expect with a few things I had to get used to. One was setting up the radio to operate split frequency, it was different from what I was used to but I actually ended up preferring the way the Yaesu implemented the function. I also really like the concentric to the main tuning knob sub-receiver tuning knob. It looks and feels really good and in operation is convenient to use. Overall, the radio feels well built and as attractive as a Ham Radio needs to be.
To get N1MM and WSJT-X running required this key bit of information, the Ham Lib analogue of the 101D is the FT-991. So I was able to work the current 3D2CR DxPedition on FT8 on 7 bands. Can't be bad!
One important thing when operating FT8 is to check the ALC level. I had to back off the Audio om my computer to around 25% on the "Speakers USB AUDIO CODEC" adjustment to keep from overdriving the radio and causing spurious signals. This is actually just part of proper setup, just sayin' check it.
One other issue I had is that, when using the DATA-U mode for FT8, sometimes the computer didn't fully modulate the radio or indicate any ALC level at all. Switching the rig to SSB, whistling for a second and switching back to DATA fixes this until the radio is powered down. I can't make much of this since I don't know why this happens, it could be a setting in the radio or in WSJT-X or involved with the lack of dedicated Ham Lib setting for WSJT-X or...
Interfacing with my Acom 1010 amp and my Receive K9AY array was simplicity itself, plug and play and did not require the DX Engineering RTR-1A external box as the IC-7300 did. This for only $2500 more! Seriously, the FT101D is a significantly better radio in many ways that (to me) justifies its greater cost. So no buyers remorse here (yet, hi hi).
Regarding amplifiers, there have been some reports that there were RF overshoots that have caused problems with certain amplifiers (I have had no problems with my Acom). It appears that Yaesu has figured a fix for this, said to be implemented in current (as of now) production. Good on Yaesu for working this out and it looks like anyone affected by this will be taken care of.
Overall, I think this is a great radio, not perfect but neither are any of the circa $10k radios. It's not cheap, but I believe it is fine value for the money if you need (or want) this level of features and performance. It will be interesting to see what Elecraft comes up with in their K4, but to be "better" than the FTDX-101D it will have to be one fabulous radio.