Yaesu FTM-350

<Note: this article was published March 20th on www.pe1don.nl. In the meanwhile this TRX became available in the Netherlands and is out of production again.>

After having driven around a couple of months with a Yaesu FTM-10R in my car I’ve decided to buy a new transceiver; though the FTM-10 still works fine I’ve got two reasons. First of all the design of the controlhead; since the set was designed to be used on a motorbike (with thick gloves) it shows a bit Spartian. Second reason is that it’s difficult to remember all options in the menu structure. 

I must say there is one thing I’m very pleased about with the FTM-10 and I don’t want to miss and that’s the support for a Bluetooth headset. Security wise it’s a very good option Yaesu added to it’s TRX. Switch from RX to TX? Press PTT once. Switch from TX to RX? Press PTT once. No need to hold the PTT button (that is if you’ve enabled the PTT toggle modus on the set). And that’s something I don’t want to miss when I buy a new TRX.

More wishes are a clear menu structure, a relatively high power output on medium (yup, Novice license so 25W allowed), a separate controlhead and as few cables as possible.

A first investigation of TRX’s that support Bluetooth by default has clearly reduced my wish list to one brand. Of course there’s always the possibility to add a sort of Talksafe solution to a TRX to enable Bluetooth but this involves an additional box, additional cables and that’s something I don’t like. This combined with the power “requirement” of 10W with Icom & Kenwood and 20W with Yaesu made me decide to buy a new Yaesu TRX.

Some highlights:

  • Full-duplex VHF-VHF UHF-UHF VHF-UHF
  • three build-in speakers (one in main-unit, two at the backside of the controlhead)
  • a large colour display (8 different colours possible)
  • bandscope
  • build-in 1200/9600 TNC (Compatible with APRS)
  • Bluetooth prepared

I’ve noticed that Yaesu sort of shows a bit of a trend to share some accessoires amongst their equipment. For example the BU-1 Bluetooth PCB fits in the FTM-10R, the FTM-350R as well as the Yaesu VX-8 HT. Another example? The external FGPS-2 receiver which fits the VX-8 and FTM-350. Another example? The CAB-10 chargesleeve that can be connected to the FTM-10 controlhead and the FTM-350 controlhead. I must say this is a very positive thing!

Unfortunatelly the TRX cannot be ordered in the Netherlands yet so I took the gamble and ordered it in Hong Kong. After 6 workingdays I had my TRX. And as expected it’s the FTM-350E (so the export version, no American set with 222 MHz band). The set is expected to be available here around the end of April.

It’s very easy to control the set; the menustructure is clear and you get a good overview of all options. Another pro is the fact that you can disconnect the cable directly from the controlhead whereas with the FTM-10 you could only remove the cable from the set. This resulted in a very (too!) short cable between the controlhead and the set or a cable of 6m. Nice if you want to remove the controlhead when leaving the car… But as said that TRX was initially designed for use on a motorbike and not in a car.

Fortunatelly Yaesu decided to provide a standard MH-48 DTMF microphone with the set. The FTM-10 only had an optional mike.

Some remarks:

  • as said the TRX has a clear menustructure; programming is easy and can be done very fast.
  • the left and right part of the TRX are seperated; I haven’t found an option yet to copy memories from left to right side and vice versa.
  • No programmingsoftware available yet.
  • No firmware upgrade possible yet; maybe in the near future like the FT-950 PEP program?!
  • Sorting memories within the TRX only possible on frequency, not on label
  • If you’re programming memories and you adjust CTCSS settings there’s a risk of losing frequencystep, repeateroffset or both. This looks like a bug in the software that could be adjusted easilly.
  • Improved sensitivity compare to the FTM-10

If you have a brandnew set that’s not available yet in your country it also means that some accessoires cannot be bought yet. I’m for example waiting for the FGPS-1 receiver that can be installed in the controlhead to enable APRS. This was also one of the points from my wishlist if it wouldn’t result in too many loose cables in the car. 

And then the mount; I’ve already read a couple of reviews and all of them mentioned the provided mount that can be glued to the dashboard. No-one is very positive so I decided to see if the cupmountholder I used with the FTM-10 could be adjusted. Yes! 

<Note: it’s now possible to do firmware updates and programming software is available>