Thursday, July 11, 2019

Yaesu FT-3 Instruction Manual Review

Perhaps HVDN will start a new trend where we do a review of instruction manuals and everyone else follows along. Lets start this amazing idea off with the FCC approved Yaesu FT-3 radio manual now available.

FCC ID:  K6620725X20 Manual Review

So many products today in amateur radio land almost seem to ship with little documented information on how to use them.  As digital voice radios continue to get more complex, there are "certain vendors" that do not put any effort into a decent instruction manual.

Yaesu is one vendor that actually does put forth good effort in trying to document almost every function, quirk and specification possible, so we thank you very much for that.

This article will hit on a few interesting nuggets found in the new Yaesu FT-3 C4FM capable dual band hand held radio.  We will not discuss the "how to install the battery or hand-strap" unfortunately.

As predicted with absolute precision all the way back on May 28th 2019 in our "FCC Update:  FT-3 cleared for launch" article, the instruction manual would be made public for our eyes to gawk at on July 10th.  A much better version will soon appear on the Yaesu website though, so please be aware of that.

This basic manual is not even available on Yaesu's website yet.  For anyone ever complaining about government dysfunction, the person responsible for pressing buttons at the FCC is doing a great job.

 Lets Review Page....

The really fantastic thing about page 11 is that Yaesu is pretty much telling us specifically that battery life will be near horrible with this radio just like the brochure pointed out so we all knew what we were in for after the $500 investment involved in acquiring a Yaesu FT-3.

For those interested in UHF operation, perhaps changing over to VHF would be a better experience for anything requiring slightly better battery life.  The Yaesu FT-3 out of the gate sounds like a great radio to mostly listen versus talk for any length of time, which is OK because most repeaters have very little traffic on them these days or do they?

This is the Yaesu FT-3 radio that this
article is focused on, of course.

Who ever is selling VHF capable hot spot devices should increase prices now to reap the benefits of Yaesu publishing this specification.  Quite a bit of activity can be discovered globally by using a Fusion radio with a device like one of many Pi-Star based MMDVM devices or the Open Spot 2.

The older Yaesu FT-2 battery will also fit the FT-3 which is nice, so stock up on those now before those get scarce in case third party vendors stop selling them or stocking aftermarket versions.

This is the Yaesu FT-2 which lacked C4FM
and a color screen found on the new FT-3

Vendors who sell the Anytone, TYT and Radioddity gear have for a few years now been running great deals on packages that include a spare battery, but we will likely never see Yaesu, Kenwood or Icom ever do something like that even if you purchase a $500 USD radio.

The last note on battery life is,  do not go anywhere with your new radio. The manufacturer is clear that any disturbance such as a warm fart or brief trip to the outhouse while playing ham radio may reduce the life of your battery.

The ability to receive in AM mode is actually a major benefit so that you can listen to aircraft communications in the VHF 118-136.995 MHz portion.  There is no voice communication in the 108  to 118 MHz segment as that is reserved for navigational aids.

The "hidden feature" is the ability to swap to AM in the 138 to 144,  148 to 150 MHz for military "air to air" or "air to ground" communications.   The same holds true within the 225 to 400 MHz band which is considered the domain of military operations around the world, including these big guys flying out of Stewart Air Force Base right here in the Hudson Valley of New York and tracked using the HVDN ADS-B monitor.  The FT-3 can only monitor voice transmissions in the above mentioned frequency range and not the 1090 MHz or 978 MHz transponder signals which is what ADS-B is for.

Not everything in this band segment is AM though, so having a look at the UHF Satcom website for other ideas might not be a bad idea when there is no activity on the 2m and 70cm ham bands.

Compared to the Kenwood TH-F6 and TH-D74, there is no SSB mode on the Yaesu FT-3, so HF monitoring will be limited to only AM broadcasters or the rare AM enthusiast on the 80m or 10m bands.

Lets skip ahead a bunch of pages to talk about a feature involving the use of Yaesu Fusion which is the digital voice mode they have adopted.  The above graphic shows some interesting use cases for the advanced calling function which may help use one frequency for many users at the same time.

In the 1990's there were many radios by different vendors that offered selective calling features not too different than this. Yaesu is touting this as a major feature of the FT-3, but your use will be limited to only people with a Yaesu radio with the same feature.

Back in the day for example, the Yaesu FT-530 was top of the line and funny enough, commands a price used on par with that of the FT-3 smaller sibling known as the FT-70. Neither new radio supports the cool external display speaker microphone though, but the FT-3 does have an option for a microphone that can take and send pictures, with images view-able on the color screen on this latest Yaesu radio.

The FT-530 was a great radio.
Does it not look like fun to use?

Right now the only other handheld Fusion radio is the FT-70, which retails for less than $160 USD and offers all the same C4FM functionality as the $500 FT-3 radio.  It is not clear if these extra selective calling features or picture sending option will help sell these radios except if there are groups buying in bulk and require these functions for some reason along with the appropriate accessories.

Here is more detail on calling functions in the menu system along with a really nice abbreviation for "Weather Alert"  which is a US market only feature that will certainly see more use compared to the different squelch, DTMF and Bell features. For analog FM ham radio use,  tone and to a lesser extent, DCS will also see a lot of use for FM analog repeater use.

There is plenty of detail on one of the stand out features of the FT-3 which sets it apart from the FT-70 which is APRS. Using 1200 baud data packets, the user can exchange location details with other users along with sending text messages. The APRS feature set can be used to communicate to any APRS radio including those produced by Kenwood, Alinco, Icom and the new Lanch HG-98 radio at a very affordable price.

Its worth noting that the FT-3 can store multiple paths for APRS which is helpful for those interested in satellite communications and may use "ARISS" to bounce off the International Space Station digipeater when it is powered up or any of the APRS capable LEO satellites such as NO-84, NO-44 and PSAT2. 

The FT-3 is also capable of high speed 9600 baud APRS  which is what Falconsat3 uses and requires a path setting of PFS3-1 rather than the normal WIDE1-1, WIDE2-1 settings for ground based use.

Have you ever wondered what the "Mode of Emission" is and why a vendor can not simply decode it for us to understand what they are for?  Here is what modes the Yaesu FT-3 can decode for your listening pleasure:

  • F2D means (F) Frequency modulation + (2) One channel containing digital information, using a subcarrier + (D) Data transmission, telemetry or telecommand (remote control).  This all works out to the so called C4FM Fusion mode but could also apply to APRS signals too.
  • F3E would work out to (F) Frequency modulation + (3) One channel containing analog information + (E)  Telephony (voice or music intended to be listened to by a human).  This is also known as "analog FM"
  • F7W to close out means (F) Frequency modulation + (7) More than one channel containing digital information + (W) Combination of any of the above. This means the FT-3 could while using C4FM based Fusion could handle some sort of data and voice at the same time but split across multiple channels. 
While that helps understand what can be received, on transmit the FT-3 has even more to offer as we will soon see.

Beyond the already explained F2D, F3E, F7W modes the Yaesu FT-3 can also transmit F1D which is frequency modulation with (1) One channel containing digital information, no sub-carrier and (D) Data transmission, telemetry or telecommand (remote control).  This is what APRS is technically defined as.  The F7W mode is also defined as 4 FSK (C4FM) which is the fancy way to name Fusion.

What did we miss?

What I was really hoping to learn was possible to do some level of programming remotely via bluetooth of this new radio.  Right now, that looks like a big fat no and a reason that the Kenwood TH-D74 is a good purchase even though it supports D-Star, also known as F7W but totally different.  The Kenwood can however receive J3E, A3E and A1E modes.  You can look those up right over here thanks to Wikipedia.

The advanced FT-3 user manual

Lets just stop right there. The advanced manual is not yet out, but why not go out grab a copy of the existing basic manual from the FCC, Yaesu website or better yet, right here for convenience since we know you will not really read it anyway.


  1. One comment about the battery options for this radio -- could be a misprint.
    The options list (page 9) shows the SBR-24LI battery but the operating chart on page 11 does not reference this battery, only the SBR-14LI battery provided with the radio.

  2. Nothing in the manual I casn find about the new audio recording features. I was hoping to find out if it would record both A and B at the same time and if it auto recorded with timestamps and frequency info. Gues we will have to wait for the full manuals.


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