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Yaesu FTM-350 Review Summary

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  #1  
Old 02-25-2010, 12:18 AM
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Default Yaesu FTM-350 Review Summary


Now that I have a fully functional FTM-350 with all of the initial issues resolved by Yaesu, I can give a summary of my overall impressions of this radio.

While it was unfortunate that the radio had two major initial problems with locking up and also improper NAVI functionality, both problems have been addressed by Yaesu after a trip to the repair center. Anybody with these issues should contact Yaesu to send it in for a firmware update. New radios purchased from retailers should not exhibit these same issues.

With that disclaimer out of the way, here are a summary of what I like and dislike about this rig:

Likes
  • Display - the big, bright display and LARGE dot matrix letters are the best I've seen on a VHF/UHF rig. A ridiculous number of display colors, brightness, and contrast settings lets the user tailor the display to their liking. The large alpha tags are a great feature.
  • Dual receive and dual watch - Receive two frequencies on any combination of bands on the dual receiver. You can also set dual watch on one of the VFOs. If you don't want to use two receivers at once you can set it to single band mode.
  • APRS and GPS Options - The APRS functionality and associated screens are easy to use and easy to read, especially while mobile. A GPS option that mounts in the control head enables GPS functionality that works especially well. The built in APRS functionality is very complete.
  • Audio quality - the hand mic delivers excellent transmitted audio quality. The control head mic is not as good, but I feel that mic is more of a gimmick feature.
  • Receive - The receive is very good on this radio. On the Icom 2720H (that this radio replaced) I was constantly battling intermod on 2 meters. It's a complete non-issue on this rig. I'm not sure how to quantify the over receive capabilities except to say that the rig seems better than most other VHF/UHF rigs I've used.
  • Crossband Repeat.
  • 1000 memories - more than I will ever use.
  • NAVI feature - The navigation feature works quite well now that it has been updated from the factory.
  • Rugged design - the body of the aluminum is all thick aluminum and also acts as a heat sink for the radio. I can't see this radio ever getting hot.
  • Excellent Band scope - The band scope functionality on this rig is really good and works on both receivers at the same time.
  • AM, FM, Stereo FM, and wide receive capabilities, with a Stereo Line-In for hooking up other audio input devices like iPods. It's conceivable that you could replace a car stereo with this rig.
  • Remote head - It has built-in stereo speakers and plenty of volume. The audio quality isn't great for music, but it is more than sufficient for voice. The speakers in the control head are actually quite loud. The remote head's included suction mount works OK.
  • 220Mhz!!
  • Bluetooth - if you require a wireless bluetooth mic headset, you can get that option with this radio
  • Excellent customer service - When I sent the radio in for the problems, they turned around a fixed radio within only 2 weeks. When I first spoke with them, they didn't even know what the issue was that was causing this problem.
Dislikes
  • Missing APRS digipeating capability - This functionality is included with the competing Kenwood rig, so the lack of it in the FTM-350 seems like a major oversight. I really wanted this functionality.
  • Lousy manual - It looks like is was an afterthought. It's missing a few small areas of functionality.
  • The included suction cup mount needs a ball joint to give it more adjustment. Most people will probably not use this mount and have to buy a different one.
  • As noted by some others, the ability to not trigger the built in TNC externally via the serial port is a bummer. This would open up a lot of possibilities for use with external software.
  • Lack of memory management (groups). Yaesu hit a home run with the memory group function on the VX-8. They should have included that feature on this radio. Utilizing 1000 memories is just not practical without some way to group them and quickly jump to those groups.
  • Inability to download firmware by users - We have to send it in for updates. REALLY????
The list of my likes are a lot longer than my dislikes. I believe that the majority of my dislikes could be fixed by firmware programming upgrades. However, with the inability to perform field firmware updates, Yaesu will probably charge for a new version of this radio that includes these features, much like they are doing for the VX-8Dr upgrade from the VX-8r. With a few simple feature inclusions, this radio would blow the Kenwood TM-D710A away. Lacking the APRS features mentioned above, hard core APRS users will still probably want to seriously consider the Kenwood rig. Keep in mind that the Kenwood rig does not have many of the features that the FRM-350 does, so you have to weigh all of your options when making the decision on which rig to purchase. For the ham that wants an excellent VHF/UHF rig with an awesome display, easy menu systems, all the APRS functions that 80% of us need, a cool NAVI feature, crossband repeat, wide band receive, and a slew of other features, this rig is a winner.

See the full review thread here:
http://www.worldwidedx.com/vhf-uhf-b...ftm-350-a.html

See the Current GPS & NAVI reviews here:
Yaesu FTM-350 GPS & Navi Review after Warranty Repair

Before warranty fix GPS & NAVI review:
http://www.worldwidedx.com/vhf-uhf-b...eo-review.html

See the Full APRS Review here:
http://www.worldwidedx.com/vhf-uhf-b...rs-review.html


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Old 02-25-2010, 09:09 AM
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moleculo: Your review is superb. The ongoing updates, the followup to questions and the detailed, thoughtful review and commentary are all immensly appreciated. Thanks for your extensive efforts and the time you devoted to this and other reviews. You are a real asset and friend to the hobby.
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Old 02-26-2010, 04:16 AM
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It was a toss up between the Kenwood and Yaesu. The cross band repeat was the deciding factor for me.

Excellent review.

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Old 02-26-2010, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shepard View Post
It was a toss up between the Kenwood and Yaesu. The cross band repeat was the deciding factor for me.

Excellent review.
I have not tried it personally, but I'm 99% sure the Kenwood will do cross-band repeat. It doesn't show up on the spec sheets, but there is a fairly extensive section on it in the user manual.

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Old 02-26-2010, 02:09 PM
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You are correct. The Kenwood operates well in CrossBand mode.
I use it all the time where I can have my HT on 50mW linking to the 710 into our local repeater.

Gerard
VK2JNG

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Old 02-26-2010, 03:30 PM
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When I reviewed the specs for each radio only the Yaesu listed cross band repeat.

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Old 02-26-2010, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JandG View Post
You are correct. The Kenwood operates well in CrossBand mode.
I use it all the time where I can have my HT on 50mW linking to the 710 into our local repeater.

Gerard
VK2JNG
Which HT are you using? Is it a Kenwood with Sky Command?

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Old 02-26-2010, 04:29 PM
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Hi Moleculo,

The HT I use is the Kenwood TH-F7.
I do not use Sky Command.

I just put the 710 in CrossBand mode with a UHF simplex frequency on one side and the Local repeater 2m on the other side.

That way I can wander around as I like and always have a good copy of the repeater because the 710 has a much better antenna and can run 50W if needed.
The HT gets into the 710 on 50mW which means the battery is gonna last a long time.

The 710 is actually in our caravan (RV)

I also use the 710 for my own EchoLink node which I can access from anywhere around the RV with my HT.

Cheers,
Gerard
VK2JNG

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