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Reviews For: Yaesu FT-51R

Category: Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held

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Review Summary For : Yaesu FT-51R
Reviews: 42MSRP: Used $200-300
Twin Band HT
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KJ4FGI Rating: 2017-06-12
Solid Preformer Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Quick review, I owned the Yaesu FT-530 and enjoyed it, the problem with this radio is that the Belt Clip on the back of the radio is the heat sink. Many of these radios are missing it and it gets Hot.

Than the newer Yaesu FT-51r came out, Yee Haw ;-) and I enjoy it, it even has a preprogrammed user help messages to guide you through most operational functions via the second line on the two line alpha-numeric display.

The FT-51r is also a full duplex Cross Band Repeat HT, Yaesu fixed the heatsink problem, It has a sculpted die-cast alloy rear case/heatsink and thick high impact polycarbonate plastic front panel, it has a solid 5 watts out, the FT-530 only had 4 watts out.

You don’t see many of the FT-51r for sale, they are a keeper.

A built-in spectrum scope shows you band activity above and below the selected channel.

Goes great with the Arrow Dual Band Yagi, Nice Radio for satellite work.
G7MZS Rating: 2013-04-30
Been with me a long time! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Got this radio back in 1995 as a replacement to an Alinco dual bander, but thats another story!!! Got the remote mic for it and the over priced vehicle power adaptor for it. Apart from the antenna going missing and the rubber cover on the knob it is still going strong, even using the same ni-cad pack. Have also used a VX-7R but still go back to this radio when Im sitting out in the garden, hope the VX-7R lasts as long!
N8PMG Rating: 2012-07-22
One of the best Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have had this radio since the year it was introduced. Except for a temperamental battery latch, it has been exceptional. Although I usually use other batteries or alkalines, the original still holds a usable charge. The programming steps should be a model for all manufacturers. It has more features than I use, but was ahead of other radios when it came out.
N1UMJ Rating: 2012-07-04
Not bad Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My parents got me the FT-51 and all accessories when I was going to college in 1998. I didn't have a hand held at the time, the ft-50 is what was ordered but somehow I ended up with the FT-51. It's bigger but I had the FT-11 before that so was able to use it very easily. It went in for repair, the rattle sounding speaker as some reviewers mentioned and that turned out to be a problem in the speaker/mic jack. The tuning dial also had a problem skipping which was repaired. I've had other hand helds and prefer my commercial ones but still keep this and one other hand held aroudn for public service events in case a new frequency is thrown at us last minute and we're heading in to 14 years old for that radio and it's still working. It's been dropped many times but in my comparing with newer HT's, it performs what it does better than any of the mirco ones on the market in the last few years though not as well as commercial radios. I generally don't care for yaesu but this is a keeper though after all these years I'd heavily doubt the next problem will be fixed. It doesn't have DCS, or broadbanded receive but that's not a bad thing, intermod is about none and the more receive is expanded, the worse it seems intermod can be. For public service events I don't want something that will receive intermod, I want something that will receive what it's supposed to and talk to who it's supposed to and that's it. I don't use my ht's as scanners or short wave receivers, there are devices made for that, the more you cram in one box, the more likely you're going to have problems.
DO9GB Rating: 2012-03-11
Solid full duplex HT Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Bought mine on eBay recently. I'm collecting full duplex HTs and the FT-51R performs reasonably but is not overly standing out.

I think all the good comments of previous posts are valid. So here some things I don't like so much:

The display contrast is a bit weak, you have to look at it at 90 deg to be able to properly read it. Part of the display background is darker, so that important symbols are even harder to read. And especially the top row often has shadow from the chassis, which reduces contrast even more. And worst: you cannot adjust display contrast - or I'm too stupid to find the setting.

Mine came with FNB-33 battery and CA-9 charger. Can't believe that there is no LED or other indicator that tells you if the charger has power, is charging or finished charging. You just connect it and hope it does "something".

I would prefer using AA rechargeable cells, but there seems to only exist FBA-14 for 4 cells which does not give a lot of output power. Plus, FBA-14 is hard to get nowadays.

Furthermore the FT-51R has no power plug, which would allow to charge or operate it directly from an external power source.

And replacement of the backup battery seems to be bigger effort. FT-530 solved this better.
VR2XMC Rating: 2009-11-20
an oldie but still excellent Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Through years, I have played around many H/Ts including the latest VX8R etc. etc. While many of them have gone, I am still keeping this one. It does not have all the functions in the new H/Ts such as WFM RX, AM broadcast RX.

However, it is a solid performer in any ARES or other similar operations. What you get is solid full duplex dual band function. The full cross band repeater function in the FT51R is now absent from any of the new H/T. In the new generation H/T, there is only one single RF FET responsible for TX in V and U. For F51R, it has separated RF power modules for V and U.

The cross band repeater function is very useful in case you need a small repeater suddenly.
Li-ion 3.7v 1500maH rechargeable cells are very cheap. I renovated the FNB31 and FNB38 with 2 x 3.7v cells for my H/T. The operating time for my W32a is now very loooong before the need of recharging.
W4HH Rating: 2009-09-29
Best handheld ever Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've been using handhelds since 1980-something. My first one was an IC-2. My favorite was the Yaesu FT-470 and I still have a two of them but batteries are a problem and the old FT-470's don't get much use any more.

I use a simple method of determining if a rig is worth owning: Without looking at the manual, I play with it. If I can figure out how to use most of the features without referring to the manual, it's a good rig.

The FT-51R is "intuitive" -- which means you don't need a PhD in engineering physics and computer science to operate it.

It's rugged. Mine has been dropped from 25 feet a couple of times, run over by my truck, and puked on by my grandson. Still working.

If you don't like punching buttons to program it, buy the ADMS programming software -- it works.

Doesn't have GPS. So -- who really uses GPS on a handheld?

I own two FT-51R's -- think I'll slide on over to eBay and see if I can find another one.

Batteries are a slight nuisance. The original NiCads have pretty much reached the end of their lives. Don't worry -- Maha sells a charger and NiMH batteries for the FT-51R.

Earlier 5-star review posted by W4HH on 2008-09-30

I purchased my first FT-51R about a year after Yaesu came out with it. A couple of years ago I purchased another one on eBay and probably will get a third one.

In my opinion, this is the best handheld available.

The keypad is intuitive -- you can look at it for a minute and figure out how to use it.

Lots of useful features. Other reviewers pretty much said it all.
KD6ANF Rating: 2009-07-21
Oldie but a Goodie! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
When the display on my trusty old FT-470 began to "ink" a good friend decided to offer his FT-51R on "permanent loan" to me, Thanks Ray! This is Yaesu's finest dual-band hand-held portable radio. Please understand, the newer radios available literally have many improvements and are VERY feature rich in comparison, however, BNC antenna connectors have all but disappeared and as of this writing, the Alinco DJ-G7 appears to be the only radio offering "full-duplex" operation. The last production radio to include this type of functionally is the Icom IC-W32A. When operating through AO-51, having full-duplex capability is very handy. The 51R has the same type of speaker/mic connection as the 470, the Heil Traveler Headset plugs right in! To the previous poster/reviewer, Maha/Powerex, at: - still has batteries available for this radio. I'm getting about 6 hours of service from the FNB-31 but really need to get the higher capacity battery for extended operation. The only real improvement to this radio would have to be the belt-clip, which is made of plastic. It hasn't failed yet but it IS fragile. VHF aviation AM receive is an added bonus too! These radios are becoming hard to find used, however, this is an "oldie but a goodie"!

Best regards

george potter KD6ANF
DJ0RD Rating: 2009-07-15
But Battery Availability Time Owned: more than 12 months.
A great little handheld, with real buttons, but here in Germany, batteries are turning into unobtainium. Now I use a 4 AA NiMh FBA-14A holder.
KQ4KK Rating: 2009-05-04
One of Yaesu's best HTs Time Owned: more than 12 months.
One of their better products. Easy to program, easy to use. Replaced mine with a VX-7R, not as easy to program, but thats what they now make software for.
However, on many of the used -51R's I've seen, including mine, that might have been dropped once or twice, the case starts getting small cracks where it makes a 90deg turn on the bottom for the battery pack. Probably nothing Yaesu could have done about it. Big battery, heavy weight, just cracks. Still a great HT