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Reviews For: Yaesu FT-101ZD

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : Yaesu FT-101ZD
Reviews: 49MSRP: $895 (1979-198X)
180w (input power) SSB/CW/AM HF Transceiver covering 160-10 mtrs plus WWV. Hybrid solid state design incorporating tube 12BY7A driver and 6146B finals. Featured digital and analog display, variable IF bandwidth, noise blanker with threshold adjustment, and RF speech processor, selectable AGC. Considered by some to be the peak of the FT-101 Series.
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
IK2GWH Rating: 2017-11-28
Still great after 30 years Time Owned: more than 12 months.
It was my first RIG. I bought a MKIII in 1985 by second hand and later on I collected the entire line. I used it intensively on contest and DXing, in all modes (SSB, CW and RTTY AFSK) and it never fails. Comparing the RX with other my "new generation" equipment (IC706 and FT857D) there are no really big differencies in daily traffic, while in crowded bands you can feel the minor dynamic range. In 40 and 80 meters at night with 10 to 20 dB of attenuation you can work without any problem. Rx audio sounds very fine, even without external speaker. "Width" control works fine in all modes, but for serious CW operation I inserted a 500 Hz Inrad filter, which really makes the difference. Bit of suffering for built-in keyer lackness. Little use of APF and Notch, which are effective anyway. I always have received from "good" to "fantastic" audio reports with all microphones I've used (YM21, the old YD844a of FT101E line, Turner +3 and the new MD200ax). Mike compressor is superb and really impacts on output power with no distorsion on audio quality. Final circuit is very solid and original tubes even today give me 80 to 100 W output, depending on band. Surely it has not the flexibility of new RIGS (CAT, any settings you desire, built-in keyer ecc.) but it works great and has a preminent position in my shack also after more than 30 years.
Solid 5/5, gained on field.
VK2JEM Rating: 2017-07-25
Hank the tank Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My only valve TXer I ever owned and how fun it was.

Mine was actually the Z without the D display, but i later chanced the display option for $20 NOS on ebay. Ten minutes work to fit it. Worked like a champ

Big and heavy, built like a tank. Glowed delightfully in the dark, kept me warm in winter pumped out lots of watts. HAd beautiful audio both TX and RX.

Had to learn to drive it and like learning to drive one of those big land barge cars of the 1960s was intimidating at first but so much fun when you got the feel for it.

Worked the world and got great reports and was great fun to use with no bells ore whistles.
"We dont need no stinking DSP or filters"
VE7JBX Rating: 2016-11-03
Excellent rig Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Picked up a working Mk.0 with some scratches / chips in the paint on the front panel trim, for a good price (~$100 US). Repainted the trim strip (Tamaya German Grey model paint was a near perfect match); cleaned and de-oxit treated all switches, pots, etc. Snugged down all circuit boards and ground screws. Bought a generic eB_y microphone and put it on the looks great and performs well.

Results have been impressive. RX is very good, very sensitive with good selectivity. Width control good at removing adjacent QRM or high freq hiss, and variable NB is really effective and can be dialed in for minimum noise suppression needed. For real weak signals, AGC can be turned off. Wish mine had the CW narrow filter - would be suggested if you want to work much CW, the wide filter is not ideal but workable for good signals.

Where this rig really performs is in SSB phone mode. The speech processor is adjustable, and makes a very noticeable impact on power out - in the same operating position, I have an Icom IC-720A, and Kenwood TS-130S and 520; all of these show voice peaks ~40W with their processors ON. The ZD shows 40W processor OFF, and processor ON @~10-o'clock setting, the ZD shows 70W voice peaks(!) while from RX end I am told the audio remains very clean and undistorted. Not surprisingly, I find the ZD gets me through pileups faster than the other rigs! And, it will happily run this way for extended rag chewing sessions, air off the cooling fan is just slightly warm - the rig isn't working hard.

Another plus for SSB phone, is that with speech processor ON, the Drive control can be used to set max power out - continuously variable right down to QRP levels.

Only dislike about the unit - the tune up process is slower / more awkward than Kenwood TS-520, because you have to repeak plate and load every 2 steps of Drive. Not a huge fuss but does take longer than simple three controls peak once approach of the Kenwood.

If I had a later version with WARC bands, notch, and CW narrow filter, I think I would have the near-perfect HF rig. As it is, I will live without 17 and 30m and try to locate the CW filter. This radio is such a pleasure to use that it's getting used almost to the complete exclusion of my other rigs.
G3ZPS Rating: 2016-09-28
I love them Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Bought my first 101Z in 1979, another 101ZD in 2003 and now another 101ZD MKIII in 2016. I cant bring myself to sell one of them as many are broken up for parts in the UK (I know its a free market, but it still seems a shame). These rigs just keep on going and need minimal maintenance - switch cleaner a few HV caps, little 12V relays. Although the receive dynamic range does not quite match my FT902 in practice I don't notice..they are soooo smooth and quiet to listen to - and much less complex than the FT102. The MKIII came to me as part of an SK sale (spares or repair) and was badly bodged to have both AM and FM options with extra switching (which didn't work). It took me a few days to remove the rats nest of extra wires and put it back to stock. It works great again proving that they are very hard to kill.. every home should have one. Steve G3ZPS
WI6T Rating: 2015-12-31
Impressive Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Purchased my FT-101ZD MkII (incl. the CW and AM filters) new along with FV-101Z VFO and the speaker patch. The outboard VFO allows unparalleled split frequency operation. Use the Shure 526T Series II pre-amp microphone which was the recommended mic for this rig many years ago. Has performed to specs on all bands since new. Located replacement caps (HV and others) through a Canadian source. After 36 years had the rig refreshed through the services of Mike Alexander (affordable radio repair dot com). Mike replaced the caps, attended to a sticky relay, examined all internal components and did a complete alignment. Rig looks and performs as new. If you have a ZD in need of attention, contact Mike. Mine has had dust covers, and no kids, pets or smoke. Shack visitors are impressed with the appearance of the rig, vfo and speaker/patch and performance of the radio. If you find a 101ZD, consider acquiring it. Note, however, that the MK II and III models are the ones with the WARC bands.

VA3MLV Rating: 2015-03-09
Tank !!! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Well there's a few different models but all contain same components except for a few options. I been a proud owner of a mint condition FT 101ZD MKIII since I been a amateur radio operator. It's my first transceiver I purchased & still have it. It always impresses me with it's fantastic receiver & transmit audio. I only use it on the 10m through to 20m with the 130watts output combined with a pre amplified microphone all set properly into a three element Tri bander & a omnidirectional vertical. It's a transceiver that could only be appreciated by a certain group of operators that can be great full for the workmanship & operating methods. It's a transceiver not just for anyone.Its like every other transceiver you have to know how to use the unit to its max potential. I don't think I will ever part with it & it works flawlessly every time I flip those switches.

Earlier 5-star review posted by VA3MLV on 2013-10-28

Well my Yaesu FT101ZD MKIII is still performing flawlessly every time I flip that power and heater switch, mainly used on the higher HF bands with a vertical omni and a Mosley 3 element Tribander. Puts out a little over 100 watts on all bands, nice DX cutting thru modulation with desktop mic but most importantly is the receiver in this transceiver it always seems to amaze me over other stations nearby that are not as close with there reports back to the same contact. It does not have the best type of filters for tight band interference but there's enough to do the job but back to the receiver , it is great especially because of being a preselected receiver you get a manually adjusted recieve on all bands. These radios are not just for anyone , you have to appreciate the quality and workmanship. Allot of operators still own these radios for a reason but like I said there not for just anyone. If you come across one but make sure you know which model it is so you know what you have they are great radios for the experienced hands on operator. I will never ever get rid of the one I have , it's my first HF transceiver I got and learned how to operate a tubed type piece of equipment " after reading the manual " many times until I was comfortable to start touching the transceiver but like I said these transceivers are not just for any operator especially if your just starting off in the hobby and your not really patient cause its gonna take time with this rig but once you got it all understood and using it on a regular basis after that you will be able to tune any linear or transceiver with tube finals without having to call someone to come and do it for you every time , I know a few operators still today who have to get someone to come and tune there linear for them which is pretty funny if you think about it. Point is great transceiver in my opinion hands down even though its a oldy but a really really goody. Got pics on 73
ON6ZK Rating: 2015-01-08
Great old rig ! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Hi, I'm the happy owner of 2 FT101ZD Mark III.
One belongs to my dad ON4ORP , he has it since 1980 and I got mine back in 1993 second hand.
I love the way of tuning up the rig and get it tuned properly on the right band ! It is like a tank ! Never failed ! I also have the external speaker , the antenna tuner , the external VFO and I recently bought a brand new amplifier FL2100Z . Not a scratch ! I think it never has been used. There were no tubes inside but I removed the 572B tubes out of my SB200 amp ( Heathkit) and put them in the FL2100Z; Hooked the amp up to the FT101ZD and I get extremely good reports. I have a big optibeam OB16-5 , so I have at least 4 elements on every band from 10 tot 20 meters ! I can only recommend to buy this old boatancher if you find one in working condition. You will have the time of your life with it.
W3AMF Rating: 2015-01-05
Great Old Radio For Modern Times Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I traded some non-radio equipment for my FT-101ZD Mk II several years ago. My rig includes the optional fan and 600 Hz CW filter. I have the AM board but have not yet installed it. I also have the YD-148 desk microphone, a mobile microphone, and a service manual.

The FT-101ZD performs well on SSB and CW. It delivers 100-120 watts on all bands except 160 meters (40 watts). Reports received on CW and SSB are good. The receiver is quite sensitive, the noise limiter works, and the selectivity is adequate for today's crowded bands. The S-meter, however, is a bit erratic.

You do not have to remove the case to tell if the optional AM board and optional CW filter are installed. If the AM board is not installed, the receiver will not "hear anything" and the transmitter will not operate in the AM position. If the CW filter is not installed CW-N will not work, and CW-W (which uses the 2.4KHz SSB filter) must be used. I sometimes use the CW-W position when QRM is not a problem but normally opt for the CW-N (600Hz) filter. The filter Width control works in both positions.

On CW, I use the external VFO to control the receive frequency and the internal VFO for the transmit frequency. I do not use the Clarifier (RIT/XIT) control unless I am operating SSB with only one VFO.

Usually, after a 15 minute warm-up period, the internal VFO and the FV-101Z are quite stable, but occasionally they will shift a couple hertz. The problem appears to be dirty push switches. If pushed in and out repeatedly the VFOs usually stabilize. It is an annoyance when it occurs, but not a real problem to me or my contact.

Subsequently, I acquired an FV-101Z VFO, a YO-901 monitor scope (with band scope option), an SP-101PB speaker/phone patch, and a FL-2100Z linear amplifier.

If the operator is careful during tune-ups, the 6146B finals will last a very long time. If you can find one at reasonable price, I would recommend adding it to your lineup. It is competitive in today's ham radio environment.

I gave it a 4 because of the condition mine is in. Remember it is about 35 years old! If it were performing to specifications, I would have rated it a 5.
AE5J Rating: 2014-11-21
Still Great! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I just got my father's (N5BKT - SK) FT101ZD put back into almost new condition at Houston Amateur Radio Supply. They did a super job at a very reasonable price.

Brought the old gal home and powered her up. It is easy to forget the great performance of these old hybrid radios. I have to say that the sensitivity and audio quality are easily a match for anything you can buy today. Mine is a MKI so it doesn't have the WARC bands, but it is still a joy to operate. There is something about tuning a tube rig up that just brought the memories flooding back. The XYL came in the shack (I have to share a spare bedroom with her sewing stuff) and she asked what put that silly grin on my face. After listening and watching for a few minutes, she was grinning too! (She is K5YUM)

Owning a great old rig is great, but operating one is priceless.
Z31GH Rating: 2014-10-11
the workhorse Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I wasnt experienced when i bough this rig. This was my first rig and i am using it 5 years. My first impression was.."Ok, old and cute, i will use it some time before i buy a bether one". My longest distance calls were Australia and Japan with only 100W from the Republic of Macedonia. I used a simple dipole antenna, and i reached allmost every country. I know there are much bether rigs now, but i will never give it away. One of the reasons that i give a 5 is because this radio gives you the chance and room for reparations, because its simple. This rig have a sensitive receiver, and the radio doesnt need big maintenance. This rig is something like Kalashnikov AK47, it will never jam, and never dissapoint you