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Yaesu FTM-350 Review Summary

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Moleculo, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    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???? :mellow:
    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-bands-vhf-uhf-rigs/40252-review-new-yaesu-ftm-350-a.html

    See the Current GPS & NAVI reviews here:
    http://www.worldwidedx.com/vhf-uhf-...50-gps-navi-review-after-warranty-repair.html

    Before warranty fix GPS & NAVI review:
    http://www.worldwidedx.com/vhf-uhf-bands-vhf-uhf-rigs/43215-yaesu-ftm-350-gps-navi-video-review.html

    See the Full APRS Review here:
    http://www.worldwidedx.com/vhf-uhf-bands-vhf-uhf-rigs/41539-yaesu-ftm-350-aprs-review.html


     
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  2. KO4GS Member

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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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  3. shepard Member

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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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  4. mmccurdy Member

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    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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  5. JandG W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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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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  6. shepard Member

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    When I reviewed the specs for each radio only the Yaesu listed cross band repeat.
     
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  7. Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Which HT are you using? Is it a Kenwood with Sky Command?
     
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  8. JandG W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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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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  9. Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Interesting. You're the first person that has ever confirmed to me that the 710 can crossband repeat. Even the guys at HRO near me couldn't tell me if it did it or not in the store. That is definately good info.

    Would you mind giving us a detailed review on your Kenwood 710?
     
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  10. radio818 Member

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    Moleculo,

    Thanks for the very excellent review (the summary in this thread, and all the other info you provided on the other threads).

    Two items I thought worth mentioning:
    - You mention the 220MHz availability. For those that did not read the fine print, it provides only 1W.
    - I thought the ability to connect the microphone to either the head or body is also a great feature, allowing more versatility in mounting.
     
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  11. SR385 Active Member

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    One note on 220, even at low power...

    I recently noticed my FT-8800R can receive on 220 with PL or DCS enabled. Using 220 for crossband linking is very nice. What I generally do is set up the shack for crossband using a 220 link frequency with DCS enabled as the input and simply listen to the repeater's output on the portable.

    Using 220, gives me quite a nice range for wandering around local to the house, even with the 300mW or so that my VX-7R can muster on 220 TX.

    So though 1W may not sound like much, if I had 1W in a mobile as 220 capability, I'd likely have a good mile or more coverage from the mobile back to the house for cross band. Cross band to 2m simplex as a better example here, would give me a lot better signal than doing it directly from the mobile. 220 also allows for cross band onto 440 outputs where using 2m for doing that , particularly in full duplex mode, simply has too far a range even at a 5W level.

    Recently playing around with cross band, I used a 2m linking frequency for full duplex cross band and went for a drive. At 5W, which is the minimum I can set the 8800R for unless I go into a service menu, I had full scale for a good 2 mile radius...far far too much coverage for a personal link like that.
     
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  12. Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    See, now you're starting to think like me :) This is one of the very reasons I was all over this rig when it came out.


     
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  13. JandG W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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    I would be more then happy to do a write up on the Kenwood TM-D710

    I have two of them and have been using them for 2 years now.

    Give me a week or two (I am travelling Australia at the moment) and I will write about my experiences with the 710 and put it on this forum.

    Kind regards,

    Gerard
    VK2JNG
     
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  14. W1MSG Now W1MSG

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    I would love to see a write up on the 710 so I can compare with the FTM-350. I am still on the fence about the 350. There are a few things that it doesnt do but I am unsure if I would miss them. Not being able to run UI-View from my laptop is one of the big stoppers. I wouldnt miss the firmware upgrades as my 700a isnt capable of that either. No digipeat function is another, and you couldnt use it as a base for a weather station as you cant connect it to a computer.
    Someone also mentioned they cant find the DCS, can anyone confirm that.

    I might just get the 710, my 700 has been perfect since day one with no issues and I have had it for almost 9 years. I also found the price on the 710 as low as $500 ..

    Thanks Craig
     
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  15. Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    It's there...it's one of the Squelch types
     
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