This weeks review is on the FT-891 HF and 50MHz Transceiver. After using an old Kenwood TS-520SE for a couple years, I wanted something more modern and user friendly. After some research, I decided on the Yaesu FT-891.
The FT-891 can be used as a mobile or base station. It is compact and has a detachable face. The die cast case makes the unit pretty rugged. The price starts around $640.00.
Out of the box you get the transceiver, handheld mic, power cable, mounting bracket and the user manual. I am using mine in the shack so installation was easy. If you are using this as a base station I recommend using a 13.8 VDC power supply. The power cable has a fuse so you can hook it directly to a power supply. I increased the gauge of the wire on my installation.
One of the reasons I selected the FT-891, besides price, is that it is ready out of the box to connect to a computer. All that is necessary is a standard usb cable. After installing the drivers it was easy to gain CAT control of the transceiver through virtual com ports. There are many programs this radio will operate with.
There is not a built in sound card but with a cable that is sold separately you can hook it up to the sound card on your computer. It is a good idea to have a second sound card connected to your computer.This is so you can isolate operating system sounds out and not transmit them.
It was very simple set this radio up for WSJT-X. After Installing the program it was on air in minutes. There were more problems with logging software than the radio. In later post I will share more on the setup of WSJT-X.
The transceiver comes with a handheld mic. It is made of plastic but has a nice feel. There is a little weight to it and does not feel flimsy. I have only received positive reports for audio quality.
One complaint I have heard about this radio is that it has fans. They do not bother me and usually don’t notice them when they are on. If set to contest mode the fans stay on for and extended period of time. This setting is nice, I like to have this on while operating FT-8.
The menu interface takes a little getting use to. The user manual helps navigate the menus and after operating a bit you start to get use to it. With a computer it is easy to overcome issues with the menu. Programs like TRX-Manager work well and give you a nice interface. Since my radio is in the shack I keep the computer connected to it.
Over all I am very pleased with this radio. For the price you get plenty of options. Even though the menu took some getting use to, it does not cause any issues with operation. With this radio I have made hundreds of phone contacts and thousands of FT-8 contacts. Recently I made a confirmed FT-8 contact to Saudi Arabia from Florida. This radio has also made confirmed contacts to Hawaii, Alaska, Asiatic Russia, and Antarctica. So far the only issue I have had is finding more time to get on the air.
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