note: first appeared in January 2015.
I really love this mobile unit! The Yaesu FT-8900r is an amazing piece of Ham radio technology wrapped up in a very compact and sturdy package. But before I gush all over this little beauty let me get into some of the nuts and bolts of what makes this mobile unit fit my need.
Right after getting my Ham Radio License I was looking to buy my first radio. But before just running out and buying the first radio that I could find, I wanted to describe exactly what the mission was and any specific requirements I might have for a Ham radio. If you do it and you do it right, that may take a little time because you have to think through scenarios, set priorities and use both common sense and analytical skills. So here goes…
Provide reliable clear communications over the widest range of radio frequencies for both normal daily operations and emergency/disaster/”grid-down” situation.
Requirements & Limitations –
- Must be sturdy, reliable and able to function in harsh environments; including in a off-road truck.
- Must be able to run on 12vDC power.
- Must have an internal speaker and have external speaker capability.
- Must be intuitive to operate from the front panel.
- Must be easily computer programmable.
- Must be able to scan all frequencies in all resident frequency bands.
- Should have a a large number of memory channels (at least 200).
- Should be able to dual scan all frequencies in all resident frequency bands.
- Should move easily from home to vehicle to field operations without undue effort.
The Good & Less Good
I had previously purchased a Yaesu FT-60r handheld radio and was very impressed with its obvious quality and reliability. It is a very sturdy unit that has a lot of built-in capabilities. Read more about the Yaesu handheld FT-60r radio. While I did search all available brands I was predisposed to being partial to Yaesu based on my experience with the FT-60. I did the typical side-by-side comparison of unit capabilities and performance. It soon became very obvious to me the 8900 was the right mobile radio for me.
Here are some of my findings:
- The keys located on the microphone are fully programmable for all your common usage. So you don’t have to use the buttons on the radio head while driving. Simply hold the mic and hit the appropriate key. Examples: scan stop/start, change bands, volume control, etc.
- You can use this radio as a “cross-band” repeater. And that my friends is an amazing option to increase the
distance of your teams’ handheld radios.
- Ability to monitor or scan two bands simultaneously.
- With the remote head you can mount the main radio body in a safe secure location. The mount the small lightweight head wherever it makes the most sense for you and your vehicle.
- Runs cooler than other rigs I have seen or heard about.
- 50 watts of power enables this to be used as a great base station as well as a mobile.
There are some minor, very minor, drawbacks:
- The buttons are not back lit. I actually like this for OpSec purposes in a way.
- The knobs on the front panel are a little on the flimsy side. But I am not abusive on my radios so I am not worried about that.
- You really need a computer and software to program this radio. There are many features and trying to program them, or the frequencies, is more than difficult for me without the software.
This radio is four band capable and that is exactly what I was looking for and exactly what I got. This is a great radio!
The FT-8900R is a ruggedly-built, high quality Quad Band FM transceiver providing 50 Watts of power output on the 29/50/144 MHz Amateur bands, and 35 Watts on the 430 MHz band. It includes leading-edge features like cross-band repeat, dual receive, VHF-UHF Full Duplex capability, and over 800 memory channels. And its 10-meter FM coverage brings the possibility of world-wide FM DX-ing to you on your drive in to work!
- Transmits 50 watts on 10, 6 and 2M, & 35 watts on 440 MHz, With Selectable Lower Output Settings.
- Receives (less cellular) 28-29.7, 50-54, 108-180, 320-480 and 700-985 MHz, Transmits 28-29.70Mhz, 50-54Mhx, 144-148Mhz, 430-450Mhz.
- Backlit Keypad mic, 800 mem Channels, Live Dual Displays, ctcss/dcs (PL & DPL).
- Features Cross Band Repeater mode, 1200/9600 bps Packet Jack, AlphaNumeric Display, V/V, U/U, V/U.
- QuadBand Amateur Ham Radio FM Mobile Transceiver.
- 10 Meter, 6 Meter, 2 Meter & 70cm Transmit.
- Full Cross Band Repeat.
- Remoteable Faceplate
- Full Duplex operation.
- Requires Optional suitable Antenna(s), & Hookup to 12-14vDC at least 12 Amps.
- Convenient Remote-Head Mounting Capability
- Convenient Access to WIRES and other Internet-linking Systems
- Quad Band Operation
- Wide Frequency Coverage
- High Power Output
- Over 800 Memory Channels
- Cross-Band Repeat Capability
- One-Touch Band-Pattern
- CTCSS and DCS Encoders Built In
- Easy Setup for FM Satellite Operation
- Truly Independent Two-Channel Operation
Wide Frequency Coverage
The FT-8900R provides extended receiver coverage beyond the Amateur bands, so you can keep informed of communication activities in the public safety, commercial, aircraft, and government communications ranges.
Independent Two-Channel Operation
The FT-8900R operates as two radios in one simultaneously monitoring the two bands. Each band has its own Volume and Squelch controls.
High Power Output
To get your message through when it counts, the FT-8900R puts out a full 50 watts on 10, 6 and 2M, & 35 watts on 440 MHz. There are optional lower output settings.. A thermal sensor monitors heat sink temperature, engaging the rear panel’s cooling fan only when needed.
Over 1000 Memory Channels
The FT-8900R provides a wide variety of memory resources, including 512 “regular” memories on each band, five “Home” channels for favorite frequencies, ten sets of band-edge memories on each band, and six “Hyper Memories” that store complete sets of transceiver operating status configuration.
Large, Easy-to-Read Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
Affording easy viewing from a wide range of viewing angles, the LCD of the FT-8900R features Yaesu’s renowned Omni-Glow™ display illumination, with four illumination levels available for different environments. You’ll marvel at the crystal-clear frequency display and status indicators, whether you’re operating night or day!
Cross-Band Repeat Capability
For emergency work, or to extend the range of a hand-held dual-band unit, the FT-8900R includes Cross-Band Repeat capability, similar to that pioneered on our popular FT-8100R Dual Band FM Mobile!
To save valuable time while operating a transceiver with the capability of the FT-8900R, the “Hyper Memory” feature allows you to store a complete set of configuration data for the two bands on which you’re operating. Besides the usual storage of frequency and tone data, Hyper Memory will store such setup parameters as Automatic Repeater Shift status, Packet parameters, Scanning mode, and VFO tracking configuration.
50-Tone CTCSS/104-Tone DCS (Digital Code Squelch) Tone Systems
Providing excellent performance even under difficult link conditions, Yaesu’s 50-tone sub-audible CTCSS and 104-tone DCS signaling systems ensure that you have full access to repeater and remote-base inputs, and the built-in CTCSS/DCS decoders allow silent listening on busy channels. Plus you get Tone Search Scanning, which will scan for the tone being received on an incoming signal, allowing you to match tones quickly when operating on a new repeater system.
User-Programmable Microphone Keys
Four programmable keys on the microphone allow you one-touch access to your favorite command functions. The commands available from the microphone replicate the corresponding front panel key functions, and include Band Change, VFO/Memory switching, Home Channel access, 1 MHz frequency steps, Power Output selection, Repeater Reverse, and CTCSS/DCS setup. Customize your microphone for your personal operating style!
Convenient Remote-Head Mounting Capability
With the FT-8900R and its optional YSK-8900 Separation Kit, mounting your radio is a breeze even in the tightest locations. The YSK-8900 includes a 20-foot (6 m) remote cable and mounting bracket for the front panel.
This is a “BUY!”
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