|Are you kidding, Yaesu?
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|Updated on May 25th 2023: It seemed that setting the FM deviation to narrow for the APRS radio improved reception slightly, but it was just my imagination. Going for a walk with the FT3DE and either a Kenwood TH-D64 or a Yaesu VX-8 shows a 2:1 comparison in APRS decoding performance. The FT3DE doesn´t work.|
I am afraid there might be a bug with the power save feature in the FT3DE which Yaesu claims is automatically enabled when APRS is configured. I tried to contact Yaesu after getting my unit and realising that APRS reception barely worked, but nobody answered.
Update again: Aug 25th 2021. It looks like Yaesu abandoned this piece of junk they released. I have seen no more firmware updates (which might at least help solve the APRS disaster, I think it's a firmware bug!) and they have announced a new model, FT5.
So, the FT3 is the last Yaesu product I have purchased ever. I won't get bitten again.
Update: Jan 14th 2020. I updated the firmware to version 1.02 released on December 2019 and the appalling APRS performance (and other annoyances) haven't changed.
So it's still unusable for APRS.
The promising flagship turns out to be a turd in its present state. Moreover, as Yaesu hasn't responded to an email letting them know about the problems (although they claim to answer within 48 hours, been a week or two now) I am beginning to wonder wether this is just poor firmware (which anyway is unacceptable to release) or there is some deep issue.
So, the issues:
For some odd reason, whenever one of the on-screen buttons is pressed or the top knob is operated when using a menu (for example, navigating the options, the APRS station list or whatnot, the squelch opens annoyngly.
APRS: Appalling, it hardly works at all. Compared to another HT like a Yaesu VX-8, it can decode maybe 50% of the APRS packets it receives. There isn't a correlation between signal level, sometimes it misses to decode strong signal packets, sometimes weak ones. In either case, a VX-8 side by side decodes all of them, while the flagship FT3D does not.
APRS again: Some APRS bug makes it show my own call as a received station in the stations list, failing to identify my packet as one relayed by a digipeater and, hence, a relayed beacon.
I would hold this review waiting for a fix, but after Yaesu's lack of response I am beginning to fear the worst.
I guess I will sell it to someone not interested on APRS who is happy with Yaesu Fussion. I got this unit as a high end APRS HT.
|FT-3DR -A Winner for Winners
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|Once again the whiners were out in force for a great radio that performs well if one reads the manual. APRS and GPS on target. Audio with earpiece in noisy area works well. Battery life superb unless your life centers around 24 hours of ham radio. Menus easy to use. Squelch and volume easy to adjust. Problem with the radio is learning how to use it. Sorry, but one gets tired of those technically challenged in keeping up with change, what our hobby is all about. Overall the best handheld for the advanced amateur who still reads the manual and can learn new things as the human interfaces change with the times.|
|Feature rich, but some features need work.
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|Let it suffice to say, overall, I really like my FT-3DR. I'm glad I purchased it, and would do it again...albeit with a few reservations. |
I could have bought a used FT-2DR and probably been equally happy with its functionality, but I got a good price on my FT-3DR from HRO during the recent, Covid-19 inspired, weekend virtual Hamfest event. Plus, I really do like the vivid color touch screen LCD on the FT-3DR much better. It truly is like having an FT-400XDR in the palm of one's hand.
I also own an FT-70DR (my first Fusion radio) and will admit the receive audio is both louder and mellower (fuller) coming out of the FT-70 than that emanating from the FT-3DR. But the FT-3DR's receive audio is what Moto used to call "good communications quality" on their handhelds and is perfectly acceptable to my own ears.
I have a ham colleague who removed the lower rubber splash grommet and retainer screw for "mic/spkr and ext DC in" from the right side of his FT-3 (as he wears two hearing aids), in an effort to improve its receive audio. By doing this, he achieved a nice tuned port receive audio improvement effect by having some of his FT-3's speaker audio now coming out that part of the case. He did this with the trade-off of losing the some of the waterproofing of the radio's case design. (I'm leaving mine alone, but this does work to improve the FT-3's receive audio.)
Battery life is excellent. Aftermarket drop-in fast chargers along with a spare 2200mAH battery can be had as a Prime bundle from Amazon.com for about 50 bux.
I will subtract one star in my rating of the FT-3DR for the same Bluetooth complaints a lot of other reviewers have identified. I have tried an expensive Plantronics Voyager headset and also the $17 JVC Gumy headset from Amazon (two earbuds) with my FT-3DR. Both work, but not without annoyances. The audio quality in QSO's on both T & R is very good when using either headset. (I have received OTA compliments.) But...there is an underlying level of "digitial noise" constantly present in both headsets' earpieces...even when there is no active QSO in-progress with the FT-3. (During such times that kind of digital noise trash should be totally squelched.) Both headsets are silent when used with an iPhone SE when not in a call. Only the desired audio is heard when listening to streaming (NO digital background noises). The underlying digital noise base is louder on the more expensive Plantronics than it is on the JVC Gumy. This constant noise transmission from the FT-3 to the BT headsets shortens both handsets' usable battery life between charges. This background digital noise is about only half as loud on the JVC than on the Plantronics, making JVC the better choice of the two. But it really shouldn't be there at all.
BT is a technology that has been around since the early 1990's. I know because my software team at Moto had to implement BT headset profiles and other BT functionality into analog cellphones in that time period. Such digital background noise was as unacceptable then as it still is now. A cell phone that had such a base level of digital noise riding on or under the conversation during a BT headset call would have never passed Type Acceptance testing. I can only conclude that the Yaesu FT-3DR's BT headset implementation and its software profile is an unfinished kludge. I hope a future software update to the FT-3DR will "silence this digital BT receive audio crud" without a hardware fix also being needed. This is a much needed refinement in an otherwise super radio.
Only time will tell. Four out of five stars for now.....
I guess now that Yaesu has announced the FT-5DR, "time HAS told".
I expect the remaining FT-3DR stock to be sold at a "fire sale" price and soon afterward be discontinued. I believe that Yaesu could not solve the FT-3DR's issues with releases of future firmware updates (and really kind of expected this to become the case). So now we have a highly similar flagship C4FM handheld radio, the FT-5DR, coming in at a much higher "street price" which I suspect fixes the FT-3DR's major user complaints.
While Yaesu does hit many "home runs", like the FTDX-10 HF radio, they do have a track record of products that are released with problems, with new versions coming out to fix the problems. (Remember the FT-100 and FT-100D and its issues?)
I won't be buying an FT-5DR.....thus the lowering of my FT-3DR's rating.
Bought a Yaesu SSM-BT10 Bluetooth headset from HRO this summer, just to try with my FT-3DR and Kenwood TH-D74 radios. It works perfectly with the Kenwood, with absolutely no noise floor when there is no receive audio. With the FT-3DR, the digital "tonal" noise is gone, but there is still a constant level of "white noise" as a noise floor on receive. It is low enough to make the Bluetooth function of the radio usable, but really "should not be there at all", just like when I use the SSM-BT10 with the Kenwood radio or my iPhone. So, it's kind of obvious to me that this was the only BT headset used by Yaesu in their product validation testing. I'm guessing they said "Good enough..." even with the low level of scratchy noise still remaining, and "held their noses" and waved it through the test.
So, no change to my rating.
I also got a good deal at a summer hamfest on an FT-1XDR Fusion handheld. I'm liking it better than the FT-3, albeit without the FT-3's BT or color touch screen. I may post another update in the future when I get a chance to compare the APRS functions of both the FT-1 and FT-3. Other than its weird textual menu compared to the FT-3, the FT-1XDR seems like a more fun radio to operate.
I still wouldn't pop for an FT-5, though, with the early reviews I've read.
|I really wanted this radio to be my goto….
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|I sold my Kenwood TH-74a. For what they were selling for, I just couldn’t keep it. So I thought I would replace it with Yaesu’s flagship HT - the FT-3DR. |
I read the reviews about the thin audio, but I thought maybe that was just nitpicking. Well, yes it is difficult to hear while driving in a car with the window open.
Here are the things that eventually brought me to sell it at a loss.
1. “The receiver audio is just difficult to hear.” Sitting on your nightstand, it’s just fine, but if you’re out and about or in any sort of loud environment you may struggle to comfortably hear anyone. It got to be more noticeably an irritation over time.
2. “ The constant opening of squelch when turning the dial or selecting with your finger items on the screen.“ This is just so unacceptable. You get a full volume open squelch (birdy?) with each click of the dial. There was talk of a firmware update for this but with the release of the FT-5, I doubt it.
3. “The placement of the microphone.“ My hands are not large but many times the tip of my ring finger would cover the microphone during transmissions. I’m right handed and hold the HT with my right hand. I tried to remember to not cover the mic with my ring finger but after a while that’s gets to be kind of annoying.
4. “I didn’t care for the placement of the push to talk button or the other buttons below it.“ Seems I was always searching for the correct button.
Here are a couple things I liked about it.
A. “The battery life is really decent.” Even with the GPS on, I found the battery life was acceptable for my length of use day to day.
B. “I liked the built-in micro USB for recording audio.” This is a really nice feature when recording events like sky worn or capturing Satellite transmissions when away from the radio.
At a fraction of the cost, I replaced it with an Icom V86. No bells, no whistles, just good audio, good battery life, and a good antenna with 7 watts out to boot. Also a very nice PTT button that you can “feel.”
I really wanted to love this radio.
|Problems are not solved!
||Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
|Unfortunately, I have made the same experiences, miserable speakers, not received APRS reports, Speakers Squelch opened with Menunaviagungen. My distributor www.csyeson.it accused me if my legitimate reports have read too many nergy reports. He was no help. Yaesu itself referred to any firmware updates - but such errors are often hardware issues that can not be solved with firmware updates. Considering that Yaesu only employs an employee employed for the support for the support of all yaesu products ....|
I have given the faulty device back with full purchase price refund!
It seems that Yaesu is only interested in the sale again and again new devices - but not at an acceptable customer support.
|Think long and hard before buying this radio
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|This radio has a great touch screen display, the GPS has a sensitive receiver and the ARPS and Group Monitor functions work. That’s all I can say that’s positive about this radio.|
The actual radio part needs work. The drop-in charger is under powered and the radio must be off to charge. If you leave the radio on while charging, it will actually go dead in the charger. And, as others have said, it takes a long time to charge.
This is just opinion, but the radio is too small. It should be larger with a bigger battery and speaker. I don’t want a radio that fits in a shirt pocket. I don’t understand the obsession with micro radios. My cellphone is bigger than this thing.
The battery clip is screwed to the battery. So you can’t easily take it off to drop it in a carry case.
The charging port is crap. It’s a cheap, loose connector that allows water intrusion. It’s also impossible to put the radio in a case with the fragile microphone plug sticking out the side of the radio.
I saved the best for last. On VHF the radio is almost unusable. The radio unsquelches for no reason. Turning the squelch to max won’t fix it, nor will removing the antenna and even shorting the antenna connector. It picks up the slightest noise and unsquelches. It also unsquelches momentarily when pushing some of the touch screen buttons, in a very repeatable fashion. The receiver basically has no selectivity and I live out in the country with S1 noise levels. When I take it into the big city, I have to put the VHF on a channel with tone or set the volume to zero, or listen to an unsquelched receiver. I frequently find myself turning it off just to shut it up.
Still, I wanted to try a radio with GPS/ARPS and I love the display. If not for that, I would send it back.
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|Having owned many different brands of radios, I'm always skeptical of the newest and latest, preferring the older models as they are so much less dependent on computers and software to make them work.|
My latest handhelds have included the Kenwood D74 and the much praised Yaesu FT70, which I adore. And after reading reviews here of the FT3DR, I was a bit concerned. But, with all of the features it has and the Fusion possibilities, I decided to splurge and get one.
First of all, the audio issues I read about. Definitely NOT
a problem for these ears as I find it just fine when listened to. Granted, when plugging in headphone mics it is too loud and I don't have any options to lower the main level further, so there is that. But that is on me, not the radio.
Pros: Colour screen, Fusion/Wires X, wide receive, easy freq/memory entry, APRS, LOTS of memories, software programming, perfect size, touch panel, sensitive receiver.
Cons: Programming cable not included (BIG mistake, Yaesu), fast charger not included (on a radio this price?).
Not too many cons against this radio. I will include that I could not get the Micro SD card option to work on this radio, as it left Fusion not working at all. So instead of spending another $50 (I'd already spent almost 500 on the radio and accessories), I went old school and added all 200+ frequencies into memory through the front panel. Yep, no computer necessary and it was super easy, one of the high marks for Yaesu in this regard.
In conclusion, I'd get this radio again in heartbeat. Sure, the FT70 has many of these features at half the price (and that is why I have both) but lacks APRS, the colour screen and true dual band capability. As for Fusion, let's just say that I'm a big fan and it is my favourite digital mode! Yes, I own Dstar and DMR as well, but love how Yaesu has made it so easy to use and get on board!
Get this radio while they are available and the price is decent as that will change I'm sure!
|Great handheld radio
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|I purchased my FT3DR in October of 2019, and I’m simply astonished at all the complaints I see about this radio. Complaints about the audio seem to be the single biggest gripe. Okay, it is not the very loudest of all Yaesu handhelds. Nor does it approach a 15” subwoofer in bass response. However, it IS fully capable of being heard above the engine and mud-tire road noise in my Bronco. So I’m not sure what that’s all about. The GPS does indeed work inside my house, and it locks on to satellites right quick. The APRS works great, I love the touch screen, and it’s small-but-chunky shape works great for my short-but-chunky fingers. This radio is a pleasure to operate. Very similar in operation to the FTM400XDR. In fact, I think of this as a handheld version of the FTM400XDR. But where it has an enormous departure from the FTM400 is where it has a huge advantage over the FTM400; the FT3DR memory bank system is BRILLIANT! And NOBODY mentions this? Oh yeah, I forgot, the FT3DR lacks 15” subwoofers. Well, for those who actually USE radios, the FT3DR stores 900 individual frequencies, in up to 24 banks, and up to 100 frequencies per bank. This allows for plenty of repeater-overlap as you travel from one region to the next. I use RT systems software, and I’m able to organize memory banks by geographical areas and interstate travel routes. The micro-SD card slot makes programming the radio from a computer a breeze, and after updating memory banks after actual use, I save the changes to the SD card via the radio. Then I update the RT software on the computer as a back up. Great back-and-forth capability. Is the FT3DR rugged, you ask? Well, weekends in the desert, the FT3DR lives in my Polaris RZR zippered door-pocket, and puts up with an insane amount of abuse as I pound through the desert at speed, subjecting it to banging, bouncing, and vibration that no such wonderful piece of tech deserves. This radio goes with me everywhere. Dusty, dirty, hot, extreme environments that test components and equipment to their limits. Damn thing still works like new! What about performance? Okay, try sitting in a concrete building, at a ground-floor desk in Norwalk CA. Then, transmitting through endless city-blocks of multi-story buildings, it has no problem holding the Lake Forest Win-System repeater. THIRTY-EIGHT MILES AWAY. With the STOCK antenna. Yeah, I’m truly scratching my head over all the complaints I see about this well designed, rugged, eminently useable handheld with the best memory storage system in all of amateur radio. |
|Easy speaker mods - big difference
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|No doubt the radio has thin speaker audio. Somewhere on the internet I read removing the rubber side cover for the power and mic jacks makes an improvement in speaker audio. This does work and if you are not too worried about losing a little water resistance, it's a good start. Then, with the side cover removed, cut a small piece (0.75" by 1.10") of vinyl electrical tape (Scotch 700 is my favorite) and place it centered over the speaker opening on the front of the radio. Don't push the tape down into the horizontal depressions - leave those "ports" open to the left and right of the tape. You will be amazed at the improvement. The width of the tape can be tailored to your preference - making the tape wider reduces the high frequency content but don't completely close off the "ports". Experiment with different tape types and sizes. The tape I'm using is same color of the radio case and is hardly noticeable.|
BTW, the radio came with a MH-34 speaker mic. Audio just as bad as the radio - it too benefited from a piece of tape across the face. Again a little trial and error and it was easy to refine the size and placement of the tape for the best sound.
The rest of the radio has been pretty good so far. The free software is good - I can't fault it. And the ability to use a SDcard to to go back and forth between the computer and radio without a cable is cool. I like it. One less cable I need to have with me.
So 4 stars for now - I think once I get everything programmed up and working, it will be a 5 star adventure.
|Plenty of features, but let down by receive audio
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|It wasn't for me! |
Firstly, to charge a 2200mAh battery = 9 hours? Really? What century is the battery technology from? I can charge the 2200mAh battery in my phone, from completely flat to 100% in just under an hour! Battery life with the screen blanking to save power and on a quiet channel, is way less than a day. Again, my MUCH more powerful phone, with a screen 3x the size, only gets down to 65-70% after a whole day of fairly heavy usage. My Retevis RT3S DMR handheld radio, which cost 1/4 of the price of this, charges the 2000mAh battery much more swiftly and it lasts easily a whole day.
Audio quality from the speaker is tinny and harsh. Again, the audio quality from my DMR handy is much clearer and far less harsh. Therefore much more pleasant on the ears. Even with the volume control turned fully down on the FT3D, there is still a faint continuous shhhhh coming from the speaker. Why?
Usability is hardly intuitive and despite this being marketed as a C4FM/Fusion/Wires radio, there is little on these modes in the supplied manual. You have to go to the Yaesu website and download the separate Wires/Fusion manual for the rig. Why? It leaves you reaching for the manuals several times a day, to do things that should be relatively easy.
On the positive side, there is free programming software available from the Yaesu website, which is a nice touch.
Overall, I am not impressed. For a radio costing this much money, I would expect it to be intuitive to use, have fast charging, decent battery life and excellent receive audio.
Yaesu's school report "Must try harder!" ;-)