When Yaesu released the FTM-300DE I was amongst one of the first in the Netherlands to receive the transceiver. As I used to own an FTM-400 and was still in the possession of an FT-1XDE, FT-2DE, FT3-DE, FT-70 and FTM-100DE, I was somehow used to C4FM. And I’m still happy with C4FM…
So what about the new set? That’s a question you might expect when you buy a model that’s just hit the market. And is it for me? That last question is a bit more difficult to answer, because it strongly depends on the requirements/wishes you have for a new set.
After playing around with the FTM-300DE for a few days, I think the audio sounds nice. In addition, I have the idea that the fan does not start as quickly and is a lot more quiet compared to the FTM-100DE or FTM-400(X)DE. The redesigned air funnel apparently does do its job.
It takes some getting used to doing without a touch screen, but once you get the hang of it, you can use it quickly, especially if you’re used to the FT-3DE two-way radio. Everything is “hidden” in a logical place in the menu in my opinion (compared to the other sets).
Since the release Yaesu has released new firmware two days before I received the transceiver. And so the first thing I did upon receipt was initiate a firmware upgrade. The upgrade consists of two parts, a MAIN and DISP. Only for the MAIN upgrade you have to move a mini switch, which for convenience is now placed in an accessible place (behind the display on the main body). The whole process takes less than fifteen minutes.
Then I tried to load memories from the FTM-100 or FTM-400 with the ADMS software. The software says you can import files, but all options were greyed out and unusable. After some testing I managed to import a file from the FT-3 and write it to the SD card (which was pre-formatted in the transceiver). In no time the memory channels appeared on the screen and I was able to write the changes to the SD card and read them into the set.
The question is whether this is a good mobile set or whether it is better to use it in the shack. My idea is that if you don’t want to change too many settings on the road and you remain “stuck” on a frequency or repeater, you have a great companion with the FTM-300DE. And if you do want to make a lot of adjustments while you’re behind the wheel, I recommend an FTM-400XDE. The screen of the 300, although easy to read, is still fairly small. In addition, the fast functions are hidden behind the F key, but there is an extra menu layer in between, unlike, for example, with the FT-3.
What doesn’t make me happy is the memory management. All memory channels are contained in one large memory bank that can be accessed from both VFOs. I would have preferred half of the memory channels for VFO-A and the other half for VFO-B. In memory mode you can select all channels (M-ALL), all VHF channels (M-VHF), all UHF channels (M-UHF) or channels you have selected yourself (M-GRP) by pressing the BAND button. ).
The channels you have selected yourself can then be called from both VFOs. So it’s not like you have a memory group for VFO-A and another memory group for VFO-B. Grouping, for example, the digital channels for VFO-A and the analog channels for VFO-B is therefore not possible.
In addition, it is a time-consuming task to select the channels and add them to the memory group, unless you use the ADMS software.
Another point to note is that if you rotate through your memory channels and you reach the last channel you have to turn the DIAL in the opposite direction yourself. So there is no jump from the last memory channel directly to the first memory when you turn the DIAL key to the right.
In my opinion, the set could have won a lot of points as a mobile set because it is standard equipped with Bluetooth. However, when I compare its implementation to an FTM-100 with BU-1 and BH-1 headset, I am somehow disappointed. When I use a parrot function to verify my audio it doesn’t sound very good. And then it doesn’t matter whether you use a standard headset or a more expensive one with noise cancellation. By the way, the headset must have a default PIN code of 0000; this is not a choice, so Yaesu again says farewell to the older headsets such as the BH-1 and BH-2, where the pin code is set to 6111 by default. The audio via bluetooth sounds a bit pinched, not clear and far from nice. In a silent shack it is still do-able, but the question is how your counter parts, especially if they are mobile, will respond to your modulation. A plus is that the standard PTT toggle works, so you have to press the PTT button once to start transmitting and once to stop transmitting.
In short, the FTM-300DE is a nice set, but there are plenty of areas for improvement that can easily be addressed with a firmware update.