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Yaesu FTM-350 Review

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Moleculo, Jan 9, 2010.

  1. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    I've been watching the pre-release information about the new FTM-350 mobile VHF/UHF APRS rig from Yaesu since the photos starting showing up on the web. I found out that the local HRO got them in this week, so I decided to go over and look at them and I ended up coming home with one! :D

    As soon as I got home, I opened up the package to see what all was included. Here is a picture of everything laid out:

    [​IMG]

    You can see the main radio chassis, the control head, suction mount for the head, suction base, 10 foot separation cable, power cable, extra fuses, chassis mounting bracket, DTMF mic, mic holder, a couple bags of screws and bolts, allen wrench for the chassis, two manuals, and stereo audio output cable. That's quite a lot of stuff in the box!

    This is the main chassis:

    [​IMG]

    You can see that it's not very large, although it is quite heavy. It weighs right at 4 pounds because the whole case acts as a heat sink. This is not a flimsy, thinly packaged radio and I'm quite confident it could take quite a bit of abuse.

    Here is a close--up of the control head face. It's fairly large for a VHF/UHF mobile:

    [​IMG]

    The back of the control head has an interesting design:

    [​IMG]

    The screw hole in the center is where the suction mount goes. The removable plate in the center is for the optional GPS unit. The two circular ports on either side are where you can mount the optional CAB-1 charger sleeve that can be used on the Yaesu BH-1A or BH-2A Bluetooth headset or the FPR-1 monitor unit. The control head also has dual speakers that can be seen in this pic on the left and right. These provide stereo audio output for the rig. Lastly, you can see the mic and control head RJ-45 jacks on the bottom left and right.

    I also purchased the optional FGPS-1 module to use with the rig. Here's a pic:

    [​IMG]

    The GPS module looks to me like the same one that is used on the VX-8r. To install the GPS module, you remove the two screws on the plate on the back of the control head to expose a little ribbon cable.

    [​IMG]

    The bottom of the cable has the contacts that slide into the slot on the GPS module.



    [​IMG]

    The cable was fairly tough to insert in the slot. You want to be careful that you don't crimp the ribbon cable when you do this, but you want to get it in all the way. After fooling around with it for a while, I found that the easiest way to do it was to turn the control head so that it is facing you, hold the GPS module so the slot is facing you (make sure the print is oriented properly!) and push the cable away from you into the slot. Once it's in correctly, it won't come out very easily. If you already have the GPS module from the Yaesu VX-8r (FGPS-2), you can use that with the FTM-350 by purchasing a bracket and cable adapter. The bracket part number is CT-136 and the cable is CT-133.

    Here is the installed FGPS-1 on the back of the control head:

    [​IMG]

    It's very neat, tidy and overall a nice package.

    I couldn't just leave well enough alone, so I had to open up the radio to take a look inside. Depending on which accessories you purchase, you will have to do this anyway. Here is a pic of the inside of the control head:

    [​IMG]

    If you purchase the optional BU-1 Bluetooth, it plugs into the white vertical block that is a few inches left of the control head's CPU.

    Here is a picture inside the main radio chassis:

    [​IMG]

    To get at this, you remove the four allen screws and accompanying lock washers. If you purchase the optional FVS-2 Voice Guide Unit (used for GPS navigation), you plug it into the white terminal block that is along the left edge, a few inches from the bottom of the radio in this pic.

    Finally, here are a few pics of the radio turned on:

    [​IMG]

    The standard display is very bright, easy to see and simple to understand. In this pic, you can see that the GPS is turned on (top right) and the APRS modem has been turned on (the A12 indicator).

    Here is one of the GPS screens:

    [​IMG]

    The left side shows you driving direction while the right side shows standard GPS information including coordinates, speed, and altitude. The VFO frequencies are shown above.

    There is also a date/time screen. Again, the VFO frequencies are shown at the top:

    [​IMG]

    More to come...
    #1
  2. SR385

    SR385 Active Member

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    Did the mic actually come with yours? Initially....and very oddly, they were saying a built-in mic in the control head was the only one included.

    Like to see an example of a full length alpha tag displayed for a frequency too when you get a chance....had my eye on this rig for a bit now.

    Had to figure you would get one LOL :)

    Oh yeah...that ribbon cable? What were they thinking...that will be cause for a few "I don't know what happened, it just came out of the box that way." returns.
    #2
  3. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes, the mic came with the rig. There is also a built in mic right on the control head. One of the soft buttons on the top right activates the PTT on the control head. I'll post a pic of that in a bit.
    #3
  4. Robb

    Robb Yup

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    I like the large blue face on it - vurry coool.
    Does it have a kitchen sink?
    #4
  5. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    After verifying that everything worked properly, it was time to figure out how to modify the rig for extended transmit. Because I sold my other VHF/UHF rig in the house to help pay for this, I needed to figure this out ASAP so I could access our Navy MARS repeater. Unfortunately, Yaesu Tech Support has told me on more than one occasion that they don't get the mod information from Japan for at least two months after the radio is released. Obviously that won't work for me :(

    So, after studying the schematic and radio for a while, I was pretty sure I identified the appropriate circuit. I posted the mod info here:

    http://www.worldwidedx.com/radio-ra...u-ftm-350r-mod-first-internet.html#post171170

    After modification, the transmit range is as follows:

    136-174 Mhz
    222-225 Mhz (unchanged)
    420-470 Mhz.
    #5
    1 person likes this.
  6. ButtFuzz

    ButtFuzz Anti-BS Advocate

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    Neat!

    What a great looking rig.

    And I know the blue display doesn't make the thing perform any better, but it sure looks good.

    Here's a crazy question: Will the GPS help you as an aid to (automobile) navigation? In other words are there maps or directions that appear on the screen? Or is it intended only for APRS?

    What's the cost of that thing fully loaded? Will I have to re-fi my house?

    Thanks,

    Rob
    #6
  7. SR385

    SR385 Active Member

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    Hahah modded already that rocks.

    Noticed it has adjustable mic gain too OMG what a novel concept that is eh? Cool.

    My wallet is trembling....probably another month or so before I do this one.
    #7
  8. airplane1

    airplane1 W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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    I am trying to get rid of radios, you are making me want more radios. your bad.
    #8
  9. MisterFatty

    MisterFatty Poppin Fresh!

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    Very Nice, are you going to make use of the TNC? I may just have to start saving for one.

    I can just see myself bitching as I go round a corner, and the suction cup decided it does not like my dash :oops:

    Thanks for sharing, can't wait to see how this radio does.
    #9
  10. kd7jym

    kd7jym Member

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    great pictures and great review, thanks for that.

    after reading your great review i jumped right over to order one and facepalmed when i saw the price.

    no doubt will be a great radio, but dang i will have to think a bit harder now.

    i have been somewhat eagerly anticipating this thing for a while now, but somehow the price escaped me. i think i was just in la la land because i wasn't expecting it to be $600. were it closer to 400 i think i'd jump on it.
    #10
  11. w5dmt

    w5dmt Member

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    I bought one this morning and installed it in my Tahoe this afternoon. So far, I'm really impressed by this. I haven't however, installed the GPS yet. I'll do that before I go to bed.

    Here is a picture though, of one side "Alpha'd".
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3301077&l=e7cc1a1ae4&id=709629070
    [​IMG]

    Hope this helps.

    73,
    Dave, W5DMT
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2010
    #11
  12. Skysho

    Skysho W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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    Thanks for a great review and mod information. I'm curious how sensitive the GPS on the back of the control head will be if its mounted on top of the steering column. My 7800 is mounted there now and the 350 is going in today. I haven't picked up the GPS yet. Hopefully RT Systems comes out with the programming software soon, this manual entry is time consuming.

    Thanks again

    Bryant
    W7BDB
    #12
  13. -Devil-

    -Devil- KD5ZJU

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    i can't decide between this one or the 208H ... i know there is a big price difference between them ... but this one just has some extra features that i like ...

    don't care to much for the dual receivers part of it ... so would likely only have one of em actually running ...

    i guess mostly for me though it is going to boil down to where i can fit it in my 08 xB ... only a few places ... guess its time to start figuring out ...
    #13
  14. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    I'll address a couple of the questions before I continue on with the review.

    Sort-of. The rig doesn't have any mapping software built in, so the display won't give you turn by turn directions. However, you can store 16 waypoints into the "point" memories. If you enable the "Navi" page, it will show you the direction to the point, as well as the distance. When you reach the destination, it beeps and says "Goal" on the screen. Think of the function more like GPS enabled orienteering rather than GPS Navigation. Perhaps at some point I'll make a simple video to demonstrate how this function works.

    Yes, I bought this rig because I want to use the APRS functionality. It would be hard to justify the price if you weren't going to use that.

    I got the radio for $569.95 and the GPS for $66.95 from HRO. Hamcity has them listed for that price online but they had no stock. I just asked HRO if they would match their price and they did. $569 is a lot for a mobile radio, but it is almost the same price as it's competitor, the Kenwood TM-D710A that also lists for $599. You have to remember that if you want to do APRS with any rig, you need a TNC which can run you as much as $200 for a basic one. You would also need a small computer of some kind to make the APRS useful in a mobile environment. So, subtract $200 from the price of the radio for the TNC/APRS functionality, consider that it's an all-in-one package, and you'll see that it's competitively priced for the basic radio functions and for the added APRS functionality.

    It's the same GPS unit as the VX-8, and it's very sensitive. I installed the GPS on my work table, about 12 feet from the nearest window and it was able to lock onto the satellites and display my position within moments of turning on the radio. I use my VX-8 GPS mounted on the windshield visor in my RV which is under the bed overhang and it always works. On a steering column isn't going to be a problem at all.

    You can do that, too. I'll take a pic and show you how.

    More pictures and functionality review coming...
    #14
  15. Chop

    Chop Active Member

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    i need. i need. (y)
    #15


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