Digital Voice 2m Communications – First Impressions

If you get QST Magazine, it is hard to miss Yaesu’s push for their 2m/440 digital/analog radio offerings. They have been taking out 2 page ads right after the cover for some several months now. Yaesu  digital radios use the C4FM modulation method. It is currently only compatible with other Yaesu radios.

FT1DRYaesu’s base HT radio, the FT1DR, has become very reasonably priced, with most outlets selling them for less than $300. First, they are full featured dual band analog HT radios with all the features you would expect from Yaesu. But there’s more. A lot more. This radio also has digital capabilities, GPS, and APRS.

Levi K6LCM and I decided to take the plunge and order a pair of these powerful little radios. They operate just like any other quality HT on VHF and UHF analog so they are great for every day communications. Levi and I tried our first experiment with digital using simplex between his home QTH on the far western end of the ocean side of the Mesa, and my QTH on the far eastern end of the Riviera. Between us there are two hills to overcome, so we hooked our radios to our rooftop antennas and used 5 watts of power.

Wow! The first thing I saw was Levi’s callsign come up on my radio. His voice was completely natural and absolutely clear. No static, no background noise, just an absolutely clear voice as if he was next door.

There are all kinds of other cool features we have yet to experiment with, like seeing the other person’s location and relative distance. For now the bottom line here is that digital communications is not a gimmick. It really works. We’ll continue to explore the capabilities of these little radios and post more in the future.

If you want to learn more about digital voice radio, tune into the ATV Special Modes Net on Tuesday at 8:30pm. We will be discussing this more there this week.

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About Brian K6BPM

President, Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club 2016-Present

15 Responses to Digital Voice 2m Communications – First Impressions

  1. kk6yyzkk6yyz says:

    I’m sold…..I’m putting an order in for one tonight!

  2. says:

    You still have to program them for the repeaters, don’t you? Is that hard to do like the Wouxuns? Can you program using a computer? Try using one in Carpinteria and hitting K6TZ.

    • K6BPMK6BPM says:

      Actually, they come with a programming cable and software. But one of the neat things is that you can save your programming setup to from your computer to a micro SD card. Then you just insert it into the radio and load all your programming. It is very easy to do and we can even share setup files with all the frequencies already entered.

  3. says:

    That is very cool. This is better than my Wouxun then?

    • K6BPMK6BPM says:

      Well I know that Wouxun radios are very popular, but Yaseu is in a different class in my opinion. When I use my Wouxun, I miss the features that Yaesu offers. In other words, the Yaesus have better buttons!

  4. says:

    Are those better buttons worth the extra $200 over the cost of a Wouxun? I like the idea of programming on computer, transferring the programs to the SD card and then to the HT. But the same can be done using a cable like the Wouxun also does.

  5. K6BPMK6BPM says:

    The Wouxun is a decent little radio. I actually have several. I have a few that are certified to use the 460MHz business band which I am licensed to use and they are also certified for ham radio so I can do everything with one radio if I want. The Yaesu is simply a different class of radio. It has dozens of more features that are useful to hams such as memory banks, easier field programming, individual channel settings, large alpha numeric description fields, and on and on. And, the FT1DR has digital, GPS and APRS which Wouxun does not even offer. It is more money, but is is just a much higher grade radio.

  6. kk6yyzkk6yyz says:

    Are we using a specific discrete frequency for simplex 2M?

  7. K6BPMK6BPM says:

    Good video on the Yaesu C4FM System Fusion system.

  8. K6HMDK6HMD says:

    Got mine! What frequencies do you monitor? I’d like to try simplex from Goleta of around the condo using different antennas to see how it does.

  9. kk6yyzkk6yyz says:

    We have been using 146.495. I’ve been able to monitor it off and on during the weekdays. Brian and I have been trying ours out in different parts of town- been surprised at how well digital simplex works. The one thing you will want to do is get at least one aftermarket antenna. I use my FT1D in a vehicle with a mag mount and get good performance.

  10. K6HMDK6HMD says:

    This radio is super cool. It has a TON of useful features. It even has a usable bandscope! I’ve never seen a HT with a usable bandscope before – sweet.

    Is there a frequency everyone likes to monitor so we can play simplex and try out out radios when we’re in range?

    Also is anyone using the GM feature?

  11. kk6yyzkk6yyz says:

    I’m glad to see you picked one up too Eric! Yes, they are great! I’m hoping anyone that has an interest in what these units are capable of will pick one up. The frequency we have been using exclusively for digital is 146.495. While I’m in my work van during the weekday, I’m monitoring it. I will try to make a qso with you soon. Aloha!

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