Last updated: 9 May 09
Since the 1960s Yaesu Musen from Japan has been a major force in ham radio equipment.
Yaesu equipment sells very successfully on classifieds sites, on Ebay and other auction sites and in private advertisements.
My Yaesu at Ebay page lists radios currently for sale at Ebay Australia.
You can also find Yaesu radios for sale at vkham.com. Use the advanced search option to list the Yaesu ads.
The first Yaesu radios I saw were a separate receiver and transmitter combination, the FL100 transmitter and I think FR200 receiver, which a local ham in Canberra owned. I photocopied the circuit diagram of the transmitter as I was building a SSB transmitter myself at the time (1966) and was having trouble getting the balanced modulator to work properly.
My first Yaesu radio was an FT200, which was an HF 5 band tubed transceiver. This was a popular economy model in the early 70s and featured a 500 Khz vfo range on each band, approx 100 watt output from a pair of 6JS6 or similar tubes, and nearly fully tubed receiver and transmitter stages. The balanced modulator used a 7360, an uncommon item but quite suited to the purpose because it was quite stable and maintained good carrier suppression. The FT200 was a little deaf on the higher frequencies, 15 and 10m. Also it was susceptible to RF feedback and mine had some talkthrough of the transmitted signal via the receiver stages when transmitting. Transmit/receive switching was also a bit noisy with some clicks and thumps that would be considered excessive by modern standards. The CW keying circuit was not the best and needed to be modified to reduce transmitted clicks. This was readily done using standard key click suppression circuitry taken from the ARRL and similar texts. The FT200 required an external power supply for heater, low voltage (around 180v) and high voltage (700-800v) and bias supply (-120v). The standard Yaesu supply was the FP200. Many people still had plenty of suitable transformers with the required secondary voltages then, so quite a few of these radios were powered by home made power supplies.
I later purchased a separate receiver and transmitter combination, the FRDX400 receiver and the FLDX400 transmitter. While still mainly tubed equipment, facilities on these rigs were quite good. You could for example, monitor your transmitted signal on the receiver, which was particularly useful for CW operation to ensure your signal was clean and click free. The frequency stability of these rigs was nowhere near as good as our modern gear and today's users would find it inconceivable that a commercial transmitter would change in frequency over a period of 30 minutes, which unfortunately my FLDX400 did. This was only ever a problem when I had to transmit a news broadcast for my WIA division. However it gave listeners something to talk about and that was a hidden bonus.
The FT7 mobile transceiver was produced in the late 70s and was a great hit. It was small, fully solid state, had a hot receiver and was very popular with the novice licence class which was still relatively new in Australia then. The FT7 was followed a few years later by a more powerful model, the FT7B, which could produce about 50 watts, compared with about 15 from the original FT7.
Power figures were still quoted by the manufacturers as power input to the final stage, rather than the more sensible power output used today. So you will find people referring to the FT7B as having "100 watts input", and the FT200 and FT101B would be described as having 260 watts input, when in reality the power output was 100 to 120 watts on the lower bands and probably somewhat less on the 21 and 28 Mhz bands.
On VHF bands Yaesu provide a range of equipment that other makers didn't attempt to copy. A transverter socket was to be found on the rear panels of most of their tubed radios. This socket contained low level transmit output from the driver stage of the HF, an input for the receiver, some control circuits and possibly power for the external transverter. Even back in the 70s it was quite easy to get going on six metres (52-54 Mhz then) using the Yaesu 6m transverter FTV650 and the later FTV650B. This was an upconverter for transmitters, downconverter for receivers, using the 10m band (28 MHz) on the HF transceiver as a tunable Intermediate Frequency (IF). The '650 series used a single 6146 tube in the output stage to produce about 50 watts of clean SSB on the six metre band, which was about as high tech as you could be on 6m in the 70s (apart from one Qld gentleman with more like 300w PEP from a Heath linear amp). The FT200 and the hybrid FT101B together with the FTV650 would have been in many VK radio shacks then.
Yaesu also produced a 6m only transceiver, the FT620, later FT620B, and FT625(B). These single band transceivers were fully solid state producing 10 watts (25 from the later rigs) of a good ssb signal, with a sensitive receiver. I owned an FT620 for some years and made many sporadic-E assisted contacts between Canberra and North Queensland (VK4), South Australia (VK5), WA (VK6) and New Zealand (ZL), with the occasional P29 from New Guinea and Japanese (JA) signal venturing southwards over the VK4 border.
The 2m equivalent was the FT220/FT221/FT225 series. Again fully solid state with 10w output, these rigs were ideal for use with the early Oscar satellite translators, especially if used with an external power amplifier to bring the output up to the 50 to 100 watt level.
In the early 80s Yaesu produced a multiband VHF/UHF radio, the FT726. This rig was a 2m multimode transceiver but you could add the 6m and 70cm bands as well. The 70cm option was used by the satellite experimenters, again with external amplifiers, and you could set the rig to transmit on one band then listen on the other, to make use of the band-changing translators aboard various satellites. Together with crossed polarity yagi antennas steered to track the satellites, many international contacts were made using setups like this.
Following the FT726 was the FT736. Similar in concept to the 726, this radio added 1296 MHz (23 cm band) and digital memories. In the US there may have been an option for 220 Mhz, which Australia does not have. This radio was technically quite complex. I used one several times on VHF field days and they were a nice radio to use. They had a power output of approx 50 watts on the lower bands and 10watts on the 1296 band.
On HF Yaesu has continued to produce interesting radios including the recent FT817 portable rig. This is a multiband, multimode, battery operated radio, covering all the HF bands, 50, 144 and 432 Mhz. An instant hit and there are websites and mailing lists devoted to these radios.
The mobile 100w version of the 817 was originally the FT100D but more models have been released with the FT857 and FT897 being similarly multi mode and multi band (or all band, really, all the HF bands plus 3 vhf bands). These radios are being referred to as "shack in a box" as there is almost no need to have more than one radio. And in fact if you prefer to be able to monitor multiple bands, or make contacts on one band while monitoring another, you just get two or more of these "shack in a box" radios. That way you don't need to learn how to drive two different front panels, menu systems etc, and all your accessories will work with both radios.
Overall Yaesu radios have achieved very high market acceptance and many amateur radio operators are keen supporters of the brand. What will Yaesu come out with next?