Yaesu FT-450D – long term review

Overview

I’ve had a Yaesu 450D transceiver for 2 years now and I thought this would be a good point to post a long term review. The following should be read in the context of using the 450 as a receiver for 99.99% of the time. I think I have had at most, 5 QSO’s using this as I much prefer to listen. Also, much of my listening is on the Shortwave Broadcast bands, with occasional forays onto the amateur (ham) bands and the MW AM broadcast band. So, here goes.

I will only summarise the technical side as all the details are available from the Yaesu website. In short, the 450D is a 100W HF+6m Amateur bands transceiver, with a general coverage receiver spanning 30KHz to 56 MHz. Modes available are AM, SSB,CW,FM and Data (both TX and RX). Sensitivity is rated at 2uV for AM, 0.25uF SSB/CW and 0.32 for FM. These are pretty standard specs. for a transceiver in this category. What does set it apart from most ‘entry level’ transceivers is the DSP, which is realised in the Width control. This provides stepped bandwidths as follows: SSB: 1.8KHz/2.4KHz/3.0KHz; CW: 300Hz/500Hz/2.4KHz; AM: 3K/6K/9K; FM: 2.5K/5K. When the DSP Width control is used in conjunction with the DNR and Contour controls, it is possible to dig a signal out of the noise. Unfortunately, the Notch control is only available in SSB/CW modes and not AM. This would be useful to Notch out some annoying adjacent blow-torch transmissions such as CRI when one is trying to hear one down in the noise. Of course, switching to LSB brings this in, and a number of times I have dug out a faint AM signal using LSB.

The DSP/SEL control on the receiver is the one knob most used on the receiver. It is used for selecting various DSP modes, along with selecting menu items. It can also be used, as I do, as a replacement for the tuning knob. The DSP control can be set for various steps, so I have set it for 5 KHz when tuning AM broadcast. When tuning ham bands, I use the main tuning knob, but have the ‘fast’ button engaged as this steps through at 100 Hz. If further fine tuning is required, the fast button can be switched out and tuning is in 10Hz steps.

Other controls available to the listener are a Noise Blanker, AGC Fast/Slow/Auto and attenuator switch. There is also the IPO button which avoids the RF amp and switches the antenna straight through to the first mixer.

Day to Day use

I have used a number of receivers over the last 40+ years, from simple homebrew regen. sets to AR88’s, Racal RA17, FT101, FT707 etc but nothing as modern as this. And quite frankly, the performance to me is stunning. I guess if I was a dyed in the wool contester then it probably wouldn’t, but then I wouldn’t be using an entry level transceiver for that. But for every day listening to broadcast band programs, both the high power regulars and the more obscure clandestine stations, this receiver shines. As it does too with regular ham band listening. My antenna ‘system’ is not ‘state-of-the-art’ being only a homebrew 66′ doublet, in inverted-V configuration, the highest point of which is about 25′ at the gable end of the house. This is fed to the receiver via a homebrew 9:1 balun.

The biggest problem of course these days is not the sensitivity or selectivity of the receiver (for those with a decent spec.) but RFI from all manner of devices. This is where the various DSP controls help. As well as being able to remove or reduce ‘natural’ interference, they are as useful in reducing the man-made version. Comparing a received signal on say, my Tecsun PL600 portable with the 450, the Tecsun struggles sometimes, even though in its own right it has an excellent receiver. But the 450 will useually dig them out.

All the knobs and switches function as they did 2 years ago; nothing has come lose or gone sloppy. The display is still bright and readable.

Now of course, there are some things I think could be better and/or improved upon. No receiver is perfect! I would like a wider bandwidth on AM for those high powered stations that come in at S5+40 (such as Radio Romania International). But, that would compromise the selectivity as the roofing filter would need to be wider (set at 10Khz on the 450). I would like the Notch control to work in AM as it does on the Icom 7200. But these are minor complaints compared with what is on offer.

When I purchased the 450, it was offered at £499.99. I notice it has gone up considerably recently, no doubt due to the falling pound and other factors. Martin Lynch, from whom I purchased mine, have it currently for £579. But even at this price, I think it is excellent value for money. For me to change the 450D, some thing rather special would have to come along for a similar price. All the offerings from Icom are much more expensive, as is the case with Kenwood.

I would whole-heatedly recommend this transceiver either as a first transceiver for a ham just starting on the HF bands, or a listener like myself who wants something a bit more than the good portables can provide. I would be interested in comments from other users, however you use your 450.

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Low Cost Ham Radio

I have just found and started subscribing to Low Cost Ham Radio

From their ‘about’ section:

“Amateur radio should not be an hobby for the rich people!
In recent years, however, we have witnessed increased equipment costs which can dissuade a lot of people, especially young people from becoming amateur radio.
This is insane for the wealth of the entire community.
LowCostHamradio.com doesn’t want a muscle hobby where the rich race to get more and more KW to overcome others.
For us, Hamradio must remain a popular hobbywith space for the excellence of the most expansive radios, but where the vast majority of the novices can afford a radio, having fun and experimenting the joy to be in a worldwide community like amateur radio fellowship.

In this website we will list and review low cost radios with affordable price to incentivize Hamradio development and knocking down the walls that can dissuade the birth of new amateur radio operators, specially in developing Countries.

This site is not related to the theory about a sustainable degrowth, we just love a fully accessible hobby for everyone.”

A sentiment with which I can wholeheartedly agree. Amateur radio can be enjoyed with simple home brew receivers and transmitters, or cheaper commercial equipment. As has been said many times in the past, the 2 most important parts of any ham radio station are the antenna and the operator. Its true that ‘bells and whistles’ make hearing easier, such as the excellent DSP system on the Yaesu Ft-450D, but they are not necessary.

Talking about ham radio, I have been doing more listening to ham radio just lately, though not forsaking the broadcast bands. I have to say that I am more than happy listening these days and have no desire to talk back. I use the previously mentioned Yaesu FT-450D for all my listening, both ham and bc, and it does have a superb receiver. Hooked up to my 66′ doublet fed with 450 ladder line to a 9:1 balun, this makes a superb receiving setup. I find the ‘quality’ of QSO’s these days leaves a lot to be desired, with very little information exchanged by stations other than the signal report. A lot of times there o name exchange, power used or equipment/antenna details. This to me is what its all about, along with finding out about where the other person lives etc. Otherwise its just ‘scalp hunting’. Contests are a different matter as the idea IS to get as many stations as possible in the log.

Some of the call signs I’ve logged just lately:

9K2HN, 7Z1SJ, 4X6FR, YB6LBH, W1NVT, PY2RKG, 5T2AI and YB0IBM. These on 20, 17 and 15m bands.

 

Not forsaken, just word bound

Just a quick note for anyone who reads this blog (all 2 of you!). I haven’t forsaken it, I just got to a point where I didn’t have a lot to say, a sort of bloggers block! I have also been pursuing my other hobby, photography, quite ernestly, and that, along with much gardening through the summer has curtailed any thoughts of writing. Normal service will be resumed as the nights draw in and more time is spent on the radio.

Great conditions

I’ve not had an extended listening session for a while, until this evening. I was pleasantly surprised that conditions are excellent, and I am hoping this continues through the weekend. And it is not just high bands or low bands, it is across the board. So a good number of stations logged; some well known ones but received with higher strength than normal, and some South Americans which don’t often pop up until later into the summer. A great evenings listening!

15580 Khz Botswana VOA 18:23
UTC English. Africa News Tonight SINPO: 44444 2017-05-05

15400 Khz Ascension Island BBCWS 18:36 UTC English. Sports news SINPO: 43434 2017-05-05

15540 Khz Kuwait R Kuwait 18:57 UTC English. ‘This day in History’ program SINPO: 54444 2017-05-05

9700 Khz New Zealand RNZI 19:06 UTC English. News. Some ACI from VOIRI on 9710 SINPO: 32222 2017-05-05

11900 Khz Sao Tome VOA 20:10 UTC French. Music and chat SINPO: 33333 2017-05-05

12015 Khz North Korea V O Korea 20:17 UTC German service. Classical and Korean music SINPO: 43333 2017-05-05

9480 Khz Japan R Japan 20:22 UTC Japanese. Discussion SINPO: 32233 2017-05-05

9630 Khz Brazil R Aparecida 20:27 UTC Portugese. Chat SINPO: 21122 2017-05-05

9650 Khz Guinea R Guinea 20:34 UTC French. Discussion. Some ACI from Algirienne on 9655 SINPO: 33333 2017-05-05

9730 Khz Vietnam V O Vietnam 20:38 UTC French. World news SINPO: 54444 2017-05-05

9895 Khz Egypt R Cairo 20:44 UTC French. Amazingly, it is legible. Just a small amount of hum. Music and chat SINPO: 44444 2017-05-05

5915 Khz Zambia R Zambia 21:02 UTC Vernacular. Discussion SINPO: 22222 2017-05-05

5940 Khz Brazil R Voz Missionaria 21:07 UTC Music SINPO: 21122 2017-05-05

5980 Khz Botswana VOA 21:13 UTC French. Music and chat SINPO: 43333 2017-05-05

7460 Khz Mongolia RFA 21:29 UTC Korean. Discussion SINPO: 33333 2017-05-05

KBS World Service Tests to India and Europe for A17 season

With thanks to the Radioactivity blog comes this news:

KBS World Radio English Service will carry out test transmission from March 6 to 9 ahead of the A17 shortwave frequency adjustment. Please tune into the following frequencies and send us your reception reports. Your feedback will help us greatly in choosing the best frequency option for the new season. Thank you !

Date     Time (UTC)  Frequencies (KHz)  Target Area

March 6 & 7, 2017 – 2300 – 2400 UTC – 11810 kHz to Europe
March 6 & 7, 2017 –  1400 – 1600 UTC – 9525 kHz to India
March 8 & 9, 2017 –  1400 – 1600 UTC – 9880 kHz to India

(KBS)

February goes out with a bang

Listening conditions for a large chunk of the Winter Period (here in the Northern Hemisphere) have been plagued with noise and low MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency). This has been caused, in part, to a somewhat disturbed Sun. Even though we are in the descending part of the current cycle, CME’s and other perturbations can still occur.

However, over the last week or so, Old Sol has quietened down enabling a number of stations, not heard here for a while, to be logged once again. I noticed that South American stations have started to become audible earlier. Radio Bahrain, which is only a 10 KW transmitter and usually inaudible for most of the year, was logged on the 28th. Fairly deep down in the noise, but audible nonetheless.

Some I’m looking forward to some better weather as we move into spring, to enable me to repair my antenna which the autumn gales slightly trashed. I am also looking forward to getting out and about with a newly acquired Tecsun PL-310ET. This diminutive can pack a punch when connected to an external antenna, but can overload. So I want to get it away from all the urban RFI and see how it performs. I will report on this at a later date. So here’s to spring and summer and good DXing.

Stations logged on the last day of February:

9335 Khz Phillipines VOA 16:21 UTC Burmese. Discussion SINPO: 33223 2017-02-28

9355 Khz Thailand VOA Deewa Radio 16:27 UTC Pashto. Discussion. Horrible over-modulation. SINPO: 54344 2017-02-28

9390 Khz Thailand RFE 16:30 UTC Uzbek. ID and schedules at 16:30. SINPO: 44444 2017-02-28

9405 Khz Taiwan R Taiwan Intl. 16:33 UTC Traditional music and chat in English. ID at 16:40 SINPO: 32222 2017-02-28

9525 Khz Java V O Indonesia 17:12 UTC Spanish. Discussion with male announcer.ID at 17:15 SINPO: 44444 2017-02-28

9730 Khz Vietnam V O Vietnam 17:19 UTC Vietnamese. YL announcer. SINPO: 43333 2017-02-28

9745 Khz Bahrain R Bahrain. 17:22 UTC Arabic. OM announcer just audible. Some music at 17:24 SINPO: 22112 2017-02-28

9810 Khz Singapore BBCWS 17:26 UTC Dari. Closing announcements and back-ground music. SINPO: 54444 2017-02-28

9835 Khz Malaysia RTM Sarawak 17:30 UTC Music. SINPO: 22222 2017-02-28

9390 Khz Thailand R Thailand 19:00 UTC English. News and current affairs on The Morning Program SINPO: 54455 2017-02-28

9985 Khz Thailand VOA 19:10 UTC Korean. Music and chat SINPO: 43333 2017-02-28