Yaesu FT-1DR: A Trail Friendly SOTA HT
A common topic in the QRP community is the Trail Friendly Radio (TFR) concept for backpack-style operating on the high-frequency bands. I’ve adapted the concept for the VHF/UHF bands, calling it the VHF Trail Friendly Radio (VTFR).
Strong candidates for the best VTFR include the Elecraft KX3 (with 2m option) and the Yaesu FT-817. Heck, both of these radios deliver all of the HF bands, 6m and 2m in one portable package. (The FT-817 also has 70cm.) See my blog post that compares the two rigs.
But the other set of strong contenders for the best VTFR is one of the many dualband HTs available on the market. It is hard to beat the compact, portable attributes of these great little radios for casual use on the trail. I’m not going to review them all but instead talk about my current favorite: the Yaesu FT-1DR. (Yaesu has recently replaced the FT-1DR with the newer model FT1XDR, which is the same design but with an improved GPS receiver and larger battery pack.)
My main usage of the radio is when hiking and doing Summits On The Air (SOTA) activations. This radio has a lot to offer in terms of capability and features, but the main things that stand out are 2m/70cm band coverage, two independent receivers and built-in GPS/APRS capability. Most SOTA VHF operating is on 2m fm so that band is critical, but I also make contacts on 70cm. More important is that together 2m and 70cm covers that vast majority of fm repeaters in my state, providing the best backcountry repeater coverage. The built-in APRS features allow the HT to be an effective tracking device as I move down the trail. SOTA chasers can see my position in real-time and anticipate when I’ll be on the summit. The radio has two separate receivers which turns out to be very useful when on the trail. With two receivers, I can monitor 146.52 MHz (2m fm calling frequency, often used for SOTA) while also keeping an ear on a local 2m or 70cm repeater. Another configuration is using one side of the radio to ping my location via APRS while the other side monitors 146.52 MHz.
The extended receive capability of the radio opens up lots of listening options: AM broadcast, FM broadcast, airband, shortwave and NOAA weather radio. I don’t use these very often but there are times that I want to tune to weather or news.
I am not a huge fan of Yaesu’s C4FM digital mode but do use it on occasion. The DN (digital narrow) mode supports voice and position information simultaneously, so Joyce KØJJW and have been using it to keep track of each other on the trail. The radio provides a basic indication of distance and direction to another C4FM radio.
One final note: if you buy an FT-1DR, I recommend upgrading the belt clip to the BC-102 clip from Batteries America. It is way better than the standard one from Yaesu.
73, Bob KØNR
The post Yaesu FT-1DR: A Trail Friendly SOTA HT appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.
Thanks for the great article, Bob. Also, for the one referenced in this article… From your Aug. ’14 blog post, comparing the FT 817 and the KX3. I’m a hiker/backpacker and found both articles very interesting and useful. MH
Enjoyed the article. I have owned a Yaesu ft-817 and a Ft-817nd. I just recently sold my Ft-817 no. Reasons small display and knobs to small for my hands and no DSP and filters in stock model. The Yaesu can’t be beat it for a $605.00 radio for QRP. For a beginner you will be better getting a Hf/VHF/UHF radio that can put out 100 Watts and be turned down to 5 watts or less. QRP takes a lot of listening and technique and knowing of the propagation charts. A lot of people like the challenge of QRP. The receiver in the KX3 plus DPS and the filters make it better radio .again you will pay more.The real drawback about the Kx3 is the speaker. To solve that problem use some stereo ear buds.