Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A new rig

AA6E just acquired a new small rig, a Yaesu FT-897D. Small on the outside (size), but big on the inside (features) -- like Dr. Who's Tardis. This is the first Yaesu HF (+ VHF/UHF) transceiver I have used since the days of the sainted FT-101.

A limitation of all compact rigs with sophisticated operating modes is the very limited user interface (knobs and buttons) through which you have to configure the equipment. We have a smallish LCD screen, 14 buttons, and 4 knobs -- and something like 100 parameters that can be set.

I am climbing the learning curve now. So far, it appears that the "information design" is fairly rational and easy to deal with, conquering new features one at a time. It will take a while to know the rig thoroughly. I'm only afraid I'll forget faster than I'll learn - especially since this is meant as a secondary rig for me.

People complain about the complexity of the Ten-Tec Orion, which is my main transceiver. They have a point, but navigation through the menus is much easier. With the Orion, the big concerns IMO have to do with setting up the flexible AGC system, IF DSP parameters, etc. (Not to mention finding and loading the firmware version that works best for your own operating style!) "Fortunately" the 897 has much less to offer in terms of advanced issues like these...

Getting on the air? I tried for a while without success. I was transmitting at 18 MHz into my 80 m dipole -- not a good strategy. Switching in the SteppIR, I made quick contacts with HA8, F5 and Texas for good measure. Nice reports.

Note to self: Improve antenna switching system!

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