Yaesu FT1XDE


FT1XDE




The FT1XDE dual band APRS C4FM radio from Yaesu ( I hear that it has been discontinued as of Spring 2017?).  This is a collection of personal observations and other bits and pieces.

FM and regular H/T function.

I bought the FT1XDE to replace the APRS function  I had in a Kenwood H/T.  It is however a feature rich, 900 channel, FM dual band radio with wideband broadcast receive even if you ignore APRS, GPS (with the intriguing GM features) and WIRES-X.

Out of the box

This radio was supplied with a 'get you going leaflet' in tiny writing, and a 154 page English language manual.  You then can download the GM/GPSAPRS(c) and WIRES-X manuals.   I keep them on a tablet - you can print them out of course, but being able to search them is useful.

Also supplied, a charger wall-wart with a cable that connects half way down the right hand side of the radio under a water resisting flap.  The charger will not run the radio.  Yaesu advise swapping the battery pack out for an empty case if you do intend keeping the radio on external power.  That could have been addressed with a software switch. I have an additional plug in charger- but even that fails to detect the battery from time to time - radio needs to be off in any event.

Also supplied is a usb cable with an uncommon plug for connecting to the radio (right hand side again, different flap) for plugging the radio into a PC running memory management software.  It doesn't charge the radio (funny how nowadays I thought it might). 

Yaesu recommend ADMS-6 software for programming the radio. It works - but only just.   The supplied cable has circuity in it (maybe a serial to usb?) and this makes sourcing more copies challenging.

The radio accepts a mico-sd card (not supplied) which inserts on the lower right of the radio under a flap.  It faces top forwards.  It clicks when you push it in, it clicks and pops up when you push again. It does not pop up enough to be easily removed by my fingers however.  The SD backs up the memories and is used by WIRES-X and the GPS so is a useful addition.  32Gb is the maximum size (but you probably only need a few Gb in reality).  You might store GPS tracks, images, small text files - as well as a copy of your memory settings and a 'full backup' file.  All take kb rather than Mb.  I'm using a class 10.  I doubt that speed is so important.

A Lithium-Ion battery is supplied.  The supplied charger needs EIGHT HOURS for a full charge.  Now that is a great improvement on the FIFTEEN hours that a Nickel-Cadmium needed, but we are used to mobile phones now aren't we?  Fast(er) chargers are available.  The battery supplied is quoted at only 300 charge cycles however.

A dual band whip antenna (about 70cm quarterwave size) is supplied.  You are told to hold it at it's base to avoid breaking the internal conductor.  Some Yaesu H/T whips are single conductors with base coils - maybe this one (others have more robust helically wound spring format), K0NR wrote an excellent piece on this.

Appearance

The FT1XDE/R (Non-USA/USA) is an upgrade to the FT1DE/R.

1:It's now only available in black!  ( the 1DR was black or silver. )

2:The GPS has been 'improved' - the original could take a relatively long time to get GPS lock by today's standards.  This one locks quickly.

3: The battery has been upgraded to the SBR-14LI (7.2V 2.2Ah) from the FNB-102LI ( 2Ah ) and a different charger SAD-14B is supplied instead of the SAD-11B.  Both batteries are compatible with VX08R, VX-8E, VX-8DR, VX-8DE, VX-8GR, VX-8GE and, I'm told, the FT2 series as well.

Screen view FT1XDE

Rather crisp black plastic with the kind of shine you see on the dashboards of second hand cars.  I'm not a fan- it looks (but isn't) slippery and brittle.  It is a material similar to that seen on the Baofeng UV-5R.

External Connectors

SMA (female) connector.  I hate these, having snapped one off a Kenwood once.  I have swapped the supplied whip for a Diamond RH 771 quarter wave on 2m- with a significantly poorer receive performance which was a surprise.  It may be the whip is matched to the radio, rather than 50ohms? 

Nice to know that the supplied whip does something positive however.

Combined mic/speaker socket - four section 3.5mm jack.  Mobile phone headsets don't work, but aftermarket Yaesu compatible hands free headsets are available.

External DC in - the supplied charger will not run the radio, but an external 12v feed will charge and run the radio- however I don't think it will do the battery any good to leave it float charging.

Battery level is indicated conventionally by bars of LCD (lower right of display) but the battery charge status is only properly indicated on transmit.

Data port.  Its like a swollen mini-USB, the kind on compact cameras before they began to standardise.  It's quite robust however, will last longer than a micro-usb I'll bet.

Micro-SD socket.  Insert with the terminals facing the back of the radio.  Push in to click in.  Push in further to eject.

LCD display is clear, but small for the amount of information they squeeze in (Most data heavy pages are windowed, you turn the tuner to scroll)

You get your callsign and your APRS callsign displayed on switch on.  Nice.  Its illuminated red.  Can't have everything.  I'm spoiled by the FT-817 choice..

It's a similar physical volume to the Icom ID-51e but whereas that radio feels 'tiny' this one, being wider, feels bulky and is slightly less comfortable in MY hand.  Also the PTT is small and raised and seems to require more effort to hold down.   This may be deliberate, this is the first radio i have owned where the manual says transmitting for long periods may cause injury to the user...injury?.. to me?

FM use

Handheld radio operation makes heavy use of repeaters - well sited stations allowing low power hand held units to 'hear' the signals from each other.  I have a 70cm FM repeater only 6 miles away which covers my local area well for hand portable use indoors and out.  The antenna you use is a compromise therefore, bigger is more efficient, smaller is more portable.  Connecting to fixed antennas is better done using pigtails rather than heavy adaptors.

Two Volume modes

Press and hold [VOL] key and turn knob to change volume (two hands!)

OR

[SET] <TX/RX><AUDIO><VOL MODE> to 'AUTO BACK' then hit [VOL] to lock MUTE, turn the knob to set the volume, and when you stop, the volume menu closes.  So it's now one hand - but in two places. :)

Squelch setting

Hold the [MONI] key in to open the squelch.

[SET][SIGNALING][SQL LEVEL] then rotate the knob to set level

or

short press [F] short press [MONI] then rotate the knob to set level

The manual implies that this latter option is unavailable on the FT1XDE, but it works fine.

squelch manual


VFOs

The H/T has two 'radios' available simultaneously.  The [A/B] key swaps between the two, or activates both together as a vertical 'splitscreen'.  Both A and B can work in THREE FM modes.

1: VFO MODE

Punch in the frequency required, or tune with the knob.  Repeater shift, CTCSS and TONE setting or scanning are menu options from longpressing [SET].  Volume change requires two hands, hold [VOL] and turn the knob.  Touch [VOL] to mute (very useful on an H/T).

Only VFO A supports digital functions, only VFO B supports APRS.  Otherwise they are the same.

2: Memory mode

No surprise here.  There are 900 general purpose programmable memories.  You can store more receive frequencies than the radio will let you transmit on.  You can label the memories with alphanumeric tags.  Memories store name, TX and RX frequency, CTCSS and power level - but not MODE oddly.  Both 70cm and 2m appear NFM by the way so should I assume we are stuck at 12.5kHz bandwidth on 70cm too?   

You can scan memories, if the radio is in Auto-Mode you can have digital and FM (analogue) memories on the same A or B receiver the radio will detect and switch.  Starting and stopping scan is [F] [SCAN] (the [F] latches so you don't have to hold it).  The PTT stops scanning too.   [V/M] toggles VFO and memory mode.

3: Bank mode

Having entered the frequencies you want, you can allocate them to one or more Banks.  Thus you can access different block of memories depending on where you are, or what you want to do.  This is powerful stuff.

[BAND] toggles Memory and Bank mode.

[F] <tune> changes selected Bank (banks start with numbers but you can give them names).  A Bank lists up to 100 memories.

Banks mean that you don't need worry too much about sorting the memories as you edit them over time, the Banks will keep the relevant ones together.


Adding a memory from keypad

Decide which memory to use first. Toggle to VFO and tap in or tune to the frequency.  Long press [SET] then select <SIGNALING> menu item with the [ENT] key to set PL TONE type and frequency. 

Long press [MW] til channel number flashes- turn to select and hold [MW] for 1s to write.To select a desired memory channel number turn the tuning knob - but short press [SET] to add one hundred channels to the count.

For duplex, Put TX frequency in VFO, long press [MW] to select channel, then HOLD PTT when long pressing [MW] to write a separate TX frequency.  This split frequency option is useful for creating a bank of memories to compensate for doppler shift when working with satellites.

It sounds complex, but the programming is logical and easier than either the Baofeng or Icom radios mentioned above (in my view).  In fact if you program the VFO with the memory split then both tx and rx frequencies are entered with the single [MW] hold.


Hands On

First off I established the VFO mode [V/M] and tuned around.  The tuning/volume knob is quite stiff to move. N9EWO has a suggestion about the stiffness- but I'm expecting it to loosen with use and worry about water resistance?

FT1XDE keypad

Lots of prompts are screen printed onto buttons and case.  This is handy and not over cluttered.

The best way to get the most out of a radio such as this, is to force yourself to use it exclusively for a period of time (say on holiday).  Gradually the stuff you 'need' to do begins to feel familiar.  e.g. [F] [REV] checks the input of a split frequency.  You don't need it often, but if you can't find it you feel silly ("I can hear you on the input 'om' can we try simplex?"...er.....)

I visited the Red Rose QRP Rally July 2016 and on the way back rode into the coverage of GB7SJ (Northwich).  GB7SJ isn't connected to Wires-X but is running as a 'Dual-Mode' FUSION repeater.  I had already put the frequency into a memory - (the memories do not store mode remember) - so first call was on FM and the repeater came up and identified itself in CW.  Then a station from Lincoln called through - the repeater is connected to the Echolink system - this station had called in from a PC - and we had a short QSO on FM.  Then the keeper of GB7SJ M0WTX popped up- from EA7!  We let the repeater drop out (you cannot change repeater mode whilst it's transmitting) and he called through with the repeater in digital mode.  My FT1XDE was in 'auto-FM' mode so switched to digital Fusion (C4FM) automatically.  See the FUSION section for more.

Use [F][A/B]to toggle the battery voltage and time display.
display volatge and time with F A/B

Program on a PC or via the keypad?

 Using a serial cable to back up and alter memories on the now aging TM-D700E and TH-D7E Kenwoods was a blessing, and many people prefer a PC interface for their FT-817 - the more modern Icom handy carries it's data with it on an SD card and can save and load from it (and doesn't come with a cable!).  The FT1XDE does both- and you can access the SD from the PC too . The programming of this radio is just much better done on a big screen with a keyboard if you have a lot to do.

This micro SD card can back up settings (ie everything) or just memories to the card.  You can load from the card too, so exchanging cards is a quick way of cloning or copying memories. I have not seen compatible flles on the internet yet for quick programming but they will appear and are pretty tiny.

There are commercial programs that will talk to the FT1XDE but the Yaesu one is free to download and called ADMS-6

ADMS6  isn't as intuitive as it's menus suggest, in fact, I suspect it's broken and will need an upgrade.

CLONE mode for USB file transfer

Connect the radio to the cable and then reboot the radio in CLONE mode.  Do this by switching off, then press and hold [F] whilst switching on.

Select the menu item in the ADMS-6 software called <COMMUNICATIONS> and then select <GET DATA FROM FT1D> then surprisingly you are asked to press [BAND] on the radio to send data to the PC.  This takes about a minute.

To send data back to the radio.  Ensure you are in CLONE mode as above.  Press [Dx] and the radio displays the word   

"-wait-"

but this doesn't mean 'wait', actually means, 'I am ready for you to press OK on the PC and send the data'.  Its slightly slower uploading to, than downloading from the radio. 

The ADMS-6 software is idiosyncratic.  You can save data in a proprietary form, but usually the load data menu item is greyed out and unavailable.  This must be a fault.   By associating the software with the file type you can click on the file in file explorer and load it that way - sometimes.    Save it to the radio before you save it to the PC in case you cannot in fact load it from the PC.

The software also imports and exports CSV format.  That may be it's salvation, although the CSV file format is complex when examined in a spreadsheet and it would be simple to corrupt it methinks. (Speaking personally)


Typing in entries.

The ADMS-6 software gives you a series of spreadsheet looking grids.  Incidentally the windows version runs on windows10 with no problem.  You don't install it either, just uncompress the zip into a folder and click adms.exe. The cable comes with the radio but has an atypical connector.

The main screen shows 900 memories - but additional classes of memories such as marine band, and wide band short wave are available on tabs.  The preconfigured weather (USA), short wave broadcast and marine band entries cannot be changed (ROM).

The software does allow import and export in spreadsheet format, so distributing current repeater lists, say by geography, should be a simple matter.  Cut and Paste however works on an entire row basis only...

Plugging in the USB cable the windows 10 PC allocated serial port 4 so when I ran the software I didn't have to add this manually.  Some do, apparently.

I loaded the memories (empty) from the radio just in case, and began to type numbers into the main Memories tab.  If you mistype a frequency out of range it says obliquely:

"Error a valid frequency"

which I assume is a typo for

"ERROR: Enter a valid frequency".

It then usefully restores the old value pre-mistake but moves the entry field down a box!

When entering repeater split you have to scroll right past the 'offset' to set repeater offset direction before it will let you type the split.  You can however directly type two different frequencies in tx and rx and it accepts that too - split frequency memories being an alternative to single frequency +- offset.   Useful for some of the more recent satellites that crossband memories are supported ( Icom's ID-51e doesn't). 


How to organise the memories ?

When tuning, only occupied memories can be scrolled through.  Sensible.

Which memory holds what is a highly personal choice defined by the use the radio will get. I'm sure some will put only the channels they need in - and that's simple.  My strategy is to enter my favourite channels (repeaters, echolink nodes where CTCSS, name and frequency split need adding) in one section of memory - then all the FM simplex and repeater channels as a block elsewhere. I also have a block of common Fusion gateway channels in one area.  The nature of Fusion is that although in FM mode you really need one memory per repeater, once you have the correct frequency, any Fusion node or repeater will work on that channel so a set of frequencies will do. 

You have three ways of selecting frequencies.  The main two are VFO mode and Memory mode -toggle between them with the [V/M] key.  However when you are in Memory mode press [BAND] to toggle between ALL-MEMORIES and a selected BANK of memories.  Finally when in BANK mode, press [F][BAND] and then rotate the knob to change the BANK you use.

When scrolling through the memories using the ADMS-6 you can allocate each memory to one or more banks.   You can also allocate banks from the keypad.  You cannot put all the memories in one bank -they won't fit (max 100 per bank).  There is room for all the repeater and all the simplex channels to go into one bank- to make it easier to find activity in a new area.

 

Why use memory banks?

You can allocate memories to multiple banks.  So you could have a bank for - channels used at home, another for channels used on a commute, another for channels when on holiday and have some channels feature in all of them.   By separating digital and FM channels into different banks, you can scan digital memories on VFO A (ONLY) and scan FM memories on VFO B simultaneously.  Note- you can scan for digital and analogue frequencies on one VFO but only if you are in FM-AUTO mode.

Data channels -eg for APRS or digital (non fusion) repeaters you might chose to omit from banks you want to scan.

SO-50 satellite settings

The satellite Saudi Oscar-50 is workable with a single H/T as it will handle crossband.

There is full information on G6LBV's site.

The easiest way is to preprogramme five split memories because you need to keep the same TX frequency but make a few adjustments of receive frequency.    

Note that as the received frequency drops, the transmitted frequency should rise but the effect on 145Mhz (3kHz) is small enough for FM to cope and it's only right on the horizon when it is most pronounced.  The change at 436 is nearer +/- 10kHz

5kHz is the smallest step that the FT1XD supports otherwise more memories could have been used.

In the <SIGNALING> <SQL TYPE> menu set TONE and <TONE SQL FREQ> 67Hz you do not need to set a receive CTCSS tone.

Channels
Receive
Transmit
Tx Tone
AOS
436.810
145.850
67Hz
Above horizon
436.805
145.850
67Hz
High in sky
436.800
145.850
67Hz
Towards horizon
463.795
145.850
67Hz
LOS
436.790
145.850
67Hz

Wide Band Receive

To select marine band from the radio, start in VFO mode on radio A.

[F] [P.RCVR]     ( programmed receiver) but then press.... [BAND] repeatedly to cycle through

INTVHF: Marine Band

SW: AM shortwave:  The 89 memories are preprogrammed to commonly used broadcast frequencies on shortwave and a full list is in the manual. 

WX: Weather alert 161-164MHz Not used in the UK

Also from VFO you can, on radio A use BAND to cycle through medium wave,VHF broadcast,Shortwave (AM),6meters,Airband AM, 2m,178MHz pmr, 222MHz pmr, 70cm, 744MHz and 811MHz.   The tuning knob changes the kHz, toggling [F] tunes the MHz.   You can scan from any VFO position with [F][SCAN]


Marine Band

The marine band channels are pre-programmed so they don't take up memory space - you can chose which of those to put into a bank too.  NB the coastguard channel 156.000 has been omitted curiously so to put it 'back' allocate a regular memory for it and put the marine channels you want and and this one in a single 'marine' bank.  The banks are numbered but can be named too.  Then use the 'marine' bank to scan all MB.


Short Wave Broadcasts

I stated my radio listening with Radio Nederland, Voice of America, and the unavoidable Radio Moscow and Radio Prague.  The World Radio TV Handbook was a must.  It even listed the musical notation for the interval signals.

On the Shortwave frequency toggle [F] on and turn the knob to tune the MHz and toggle [F] off to use the knob to tune the kHz.  The squelch functions on AM.

www.primetimeshortwave.com has an updated list of English language short wave broadcasts.  Useful for a general idea of where propagation might be.

English SW to Europe

Idiosyncracy or Feature?

I'll put here casual observations, until I can think of a better place:

1: The memories on the radio do not store 'mode' - so it's perfectly possible to find yourself scanning a few FM frequencies in a digital mode with disappointing results.  The answer of course is to leave the radio mainly in 'auto' mode, but since tone, ctcss, frequency split and DCS are all part of the memory, I'm surprised that mode isn't.

2: When running APRS (which I believe has to be on VFO B), notifications appear on the screen (they can be turned off or shortened in time) but whilst a notification is on, you cannot tune VFO A curiously.  Not a deal breaker but if a long stream of APRS stuff is received it gets in the way of what you might be doing on VFO A.

3: The base of the whip antenna has a grip printed on it - and the manual states that twisting any other part of the antenna could break the conducting element inside.  Seems reasonable, but not something I have read before.

4: Not the most comfortable to hold in the hand for long periods- bit wide for me.  Note the warning about potential injury if it is on Tx too long.  Two handed volume operation is weird although MUTE is one handed and quick which compensates.

5: Menu operation during a WIRES-X connection freezes whilst digital audio is being received.  You have to wait for a pause in the transmission.

Yaesu Page holding FT1 software updates

To check the DSP version, from the main operating menu, select TX/RX, then Digital, then DSP.

To check  FT1XD version number, turn the radio off, turn it on whilst holding BAND, then release BAND and press it again.  It vibrates a lot.  Restart radio to cancel this.

 My radio is version 12.06 dsp 4.10


      

Other parts of the FT1XDE review

GPS APRS GM

FUSION & WIRES

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External Links

Li Ion Battery Advice

by K9EQ , applicable to all Lithium Ion battery users but tailored for the FT1DR user particularly

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