APRS functionality. Until now, only Kenwood offered an all-in-one APRS solution. However, Yaesu has attempted to one-up Kenwood's TM-D710A by offering an small, optional GPS module that integrates directly into the radio control head. This is a detailed review of the APRS functions available to the Yaesu FTM-350. You turn on the APRS modem in the APRS set menu. You can also choose which band is used for the APRS and TNC data. You can choose to use either the left or right band or even a combination of both bands, splitting the TX and RX functions between the two bands. On my radio, I chose to make the right band the APRS and data band. Here is a screen shot of the radio receiving APRS data on the right band. You can see that the A12 and bullseye symbol at the top indicates that the APRS modem is on and auto beaconing is enabled. In the above screens, you can see that I have selected the APRS functions for the buttons across the bottom. You do this by pressing the right "F" button repeatedly until the menu at the bottom reads "F-3". In this picture, I've hit the S-LIST, or Station List button to show all of the received APRS stations: Using the left main knob, you can scroll up and down on the list to choose a station. By pressing in on the knob, you can view the details of the station: You also use the left main knob to scroll up and down to view more details about the station: Hitting the MSG button shows all of the messages that you've received or sent: Again, pressing in on the knob shows the details of the message. In this example, I'm showing a message I sent to my VX-8 HT: If you choose any of the Reply or message transmit buttons, you get this screen: To input the message, you can use the soft buttons on the bottom of the control head or just use the DTMF mic to input the message in the same way you would enter a text message on your cell phone. On the DTMF mic, you can also use the A or B buttons to move the cursor, as well as the C button to delete. The instructions in the manual are pretty clear on this topic. On the message list screen, if you hit the F button, the bottom menu changes to allow you to perform more functions: The TXClr clears all remaining retries on a message send attempts. The UnRead toggles the "Read" flag that shows to the right of the RX indicator. Lastly, you can query a station that sent you a message, or just show the position of the station that sent the message. Here is a pic of the query screen: If you want to "ping" or query a station to get an updated position report, you just hit the Query button on the second function menu and it performs the operation. APRS Setup Options There are quite a few useful APRS options and setup choices. Many of them are standard APRS setup options like filters, digi path settings, position options (most people will just use the GPS). I've highlighted a few of the interesting or key setup options here. Beacon Status Text The FTM-350 allows you to input whatever text you want for the Beacon Status Text, but it also supports the "listening frequency" options. If you select this option, it will include your other VFO's current frequency, tone squelch, and shift information. You can also include additional text in the message. In this example, I've chosen to just include my listening frequency and a short text blurb: APRS Popup You can choose how the radio notifies you of other stations and messages. The default is to popup a screen on every received beacon and message. In a busy area like Southern California, I don't want to be notified of every station because there are too many of them, so I turned the beacon off. You can also set a time limit that the popup screen displays for both the beacon and message. APRS Ringer The radio also gives you a little bell ringer when it receives or transmits a beacon or message. You have complete control over this behavior, as well: APRS Beacon TX These options change both the frequency of the auto beacon and what route the beacon includes. If you turn on the "Proportional" setting, it will change the transmitted route between "WIDE1-1, WIDE2-1", "WIDE1-1", AND "OFF" automatically. The INTERVAL setting will tell the radio how often to change between these routes. If you use the DECAY option, it extends the setting of the INTERVAL when the vehicle is stopped. If you turn on the SmartBeaconing option (menu E33), you can also just choose to use that by setting the AUTO menu in this section to "SMART". Here is a shot of the screen with this settings: Here is a shot of the SmartBeaconing option screen: Here is a short video clip of the radio receiving beacons with the beacon popup and RX ringer turned on: Here is a short video clip of the radio receiving an APRS message with the popup and ringer turned on: There is one function I was looking forward that is included in the Kenwood TM-D710 but is missing in the Yaesu FTM-350: digipeating. I was really hoping to be able to use this radio as either a mobile or base digipeater, but the option just isn't available. If you really want to do it with this radio, you'll have to use an external TNC or some type of PC based TNC. Overall, I'm very happy with the APRS functionality of this radio except for the inability to digipeat. However, I realize that digipeating is a feature that the vast majority of people will not want or use. I was able to figure out most of the basic functionality without even reading the manual! Message sending and receiving is very simple to learn, and I really like the APRS functionality customization options that you are given. The message and beacon fonts are large and easy to read, which is important in a mobile environment. I think most people will be very happy with the APRS functions of this radio.