Who says you can't get nice stuff at hamfests.......

I found this nice Yaesu FT950 for $800 at the Tompkins County Amateur Radio Club hamfest the first Saturday in August every year. Check it out, its worth the trip! Great VE session as well.

Current "new" market price is about $1200, which is a great deal, marked down since Yaesu seems to be phasing it out and selling the FT1200 now. From a reading of the specs, it appears that they are about the same, probably using more current integrated circuits. Its probably a good idea to pick up the common spares, if you are OK with soldering surface mount devices.

That having been said, I cannot find a comparable radio for the price.

There is a lot of chatter on the eham reviews about the 950. I have yet to join the user's group, but plan to. Some of the reviews are in my opinion unfair as they either compare to other radios way out of the price range, or just plain do not do their homework in tweaking the menu items to their preference or operating conditions.

I have acquired the following accessories:

  • MD100 a8x mike (a hand mike just seems too much like CB) which gives good audio reports without any intervention from the equalizer or compressor, which I have not yet had time to play with
  • FH-2 Keypad control (I plan to use this for CW pre recorded messages in contesting)
  • T9207451 amplifier interface cable for ALC, which may not be needed
  • The Yaesu service manual
  • MINI-MANUAL quick reference summary
  • RT Systems ADMS software and cable (for accessing menu items from computer and saving menu configurations and Yaesu updates). Since I do not need a band scope, I probably never will get a DMU2000 unless it is dirt cheap,
  • HEIL dual footswitch FS-2 for keying the external amplifier with a time sequenced method. Keys the amplifier first, then the FT 950 to avoid arcs and sparks. Old CB trick, works good, saves complexity. This eliminates all sequencing problems with a linear amp.
  • HEIL BALANCED MIKE CABLE "CC1-XLR Y-BAL" for 3 pin professional mikes. This cures all "RF in mike" problems by keeping the excellent separate return for the mike provided by Yaesu.

I operate this radio from an Astron RM-35 power supply which has both Volt and Amp meters.

I have a spare cable which is set up for the battery operation when AC is knocked out.

I have an 8 inch dual cone heavy magnet speaker mounted in a common wall mounted speaker box to save desk space. This is a total fix for the unwarranted complaints of bad receive audio. It is nuts to expect hi fi sound from a 3 inch speaker inside a metal cabinet. WA1HLR sounds GREAT when bandwidth is set wide open on AM from this speaker. Well adjusted ESSB sideband are good too. Yes, the FT950 does not have the full bandwidth to do either justice, but for a standard SSB transceiver, not bad. AM and shortwave reception was good.

This radio came to me already modified for MARS/wide function.

This was the most helpful and fair review I read on eham (THANKS!)

First impressions:

Initial tests made me very happy to have acquired this radio. I was hoping for a Ten Tec Eagle. But the cost was a deterrent. Also the Eagle has had questions about third order transmit distortion figures which could affect digital mode using a computer sound card audio interface. Additional questions about interfacing the Eagle to a non Ten Tec amplifier exist.

BTW - Some have objected to a squelch control. I like to use this feature when scanning a memory bank containing my favorite "watering hole" frequencies. If something of interest pops up while I am in listening mode while at the workbench, I can jump in.

I will share more information as I become more familiar with its operation. This will also include specific menu settings to address various concerns or operating conditions. Suggested menu settings:

  • Specific Noise Blanker settings for electric fence and line noise
  • Specific Audio and Bandwidth settings for optimum CW performance
  • Evaluation of break in keying
  • Transmatch operation (called TUNER by Yaesu). Yes, it only matches about 3:1. But it is an included transmatch, not an expensive accessory. A well adjusted beam antenna or standard dipole for 40 Meters and above will match quite nicely with this unit, and once a given frequency settings are stored, no whirring noises. The Ten Tec Eagle will do 10:1 SWR, but consider the price! A G5RV antenna is not a no-tuner multiband antenna! There are better multiband antennas, check elsewhere on this webpage.
  • Suggested equalizer settings for real world mikes such as an affordable Radio Shack dynamic and an electret condenser home-brewed mike. These will be optimized for AM and SSB/DX communication profiles.

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