Look What Followed Me Home

Yesterday, I drove to HRO in Atlanta and picked up a Yaesu FTDX10. No, this does not replace my Icom IC-7300 which I still consider to be the best all around HF field radio out there. I bought the FTDX10 for a couple of reasons. It has been a while since I owned a Yaesu radio and I thought I would try this one out. I do tend to gravitate towards Icoms and will probably get to a couple of those reasons in this post.

Its purpose as a part of my stable of radios is going to be a field radio. Just like I have 2 QRP field radios, I now have 2 QRO field radios. This radio brings a few things to the table that the IC-7300 doesn’t and also has a few niggles absent in the Icom. In the field, I primarily operate CW and FT8. This radio has several features that enhance CW operation over the IC-7300 that are found on the IC-7610. I feel that I have an IC-7610 radio in an IC-7300 size (not totally true, but you get the idea).

Size wise, the FTDX10 and the IC-7300 are fairly close in size with the FTDX10 being about an inch wider.

The FTDX10 also weighs about 4 pounds more. Weight and size differences this small are insignificant when considering how I plan to use the radios. Mostly, it will be portable operations either operating out of my truck or my camper. I might have to lug the radios maybe 15 feet. I carry the IC-7300 in a Dewalt Tough System 2.0 medium box and plan to do the same with the Yaesu.

Setup – Display/Power. There are lots of options on the Yaesu. I would say that this is not a beginners radio. While the manual is pretty good, you still have to have some idea of what you are doing. One of the niggles I have is receive current. When I first turned on the radio, it was drawing over 2 amps in receive. The Icom only draws a little over 0.8 amps, less that half of the Yaesu. I changed the following settings to bring it down to 1.78 amps:
LED Dimmer 7
Dimmer 10
Color 5
Max HF RF Power 50 watts.
The last 2 didin’t help with the amp draw but they were set at the same time as the others. I normally don’t operate past 50 watts in the field.

Setup – SSB. I don’t plan on operating SSB in the field, but then again, you never know. I tried to setup SSB according to the manual and found I didn’t get the expected results. I had to fiddle with the settings in order to stay within the prescribed parameters. Here are the setting I used:
Mic Gain – 65
Processor Level – 71
AMC – 41
Of course MMMV. This was using the hand mic. I really like the hand mic with its controls. It has a mute button to mute the receiver as well as up/down buttons and 4 “P” buttons which perform the following:
P1 – Main Dial Lock
P2 – QMB Quick Memory Bnak
P3 – VFO A/VFO B
P4 – VFO/Memory
I may keep the microphone connected just for the convenience of the buttons. I did not set all of the parametric settings. That will be another endeavour.

Setup – CW. This is where the FTDX10 really shines. It has APF, Audio Peak Filter Zin/Spot (same as the 7610). A really nice feature is the high cut and low cut filters, which help to isolate the incoming desired signal. My initial CW settings are based upon 700 Hz sidetone:
Low Cut – 600
High Cut – 800
CW Out – 50
CW BK-IN – Full
Keyer Type – B
Ratio – 3.3
Like the Icoms, you can set the the keyer BK-IN to off, you can use the radio as a practice oscillator. One thing the FTDX10 has over the IC-7300 is it can decode CW. Often your ears are better filters, but I can see the decoder maybe helping with difficult callsigns or your brain is not firing on all cylinders that day.

Setup – FT8. Here I was surprised. My last Yaesu radio was a FTDX3000 and the computer interface was tedious at best. You had to make the radio use digital modes. It was one of the reasons I shied away from Yaesu. Icom has been doing this better since the IC-7100. However, Yaesu has learned. Now setting up for digital modes and computer logging is a breeze. Once you setup the software for FT8, on the radio you do the following:
Set Mode to USB and PRESET (both must be on or blue color)
Set Roofing Filter to 3K
That’s it. I made about 5 quick contacts on FT8 to include europe. I also set up ACLog to work with the Yaesu. Easy Peezy.

External Antenna Tuner. This has been another sore spot with me. Using an LDG tuner with an Icom is plug and play. One cable and I can tune using the radios tune button and the tuner is powered by the radio. The Yaesu on the other hand, has never been an easy fix. It seems that to use an external tuner, you had to do something extra or something different. When I bought the FTDX10, I bought an adapter cable for my LDG Z-11 Pro. It was still more fiddly than I liked.

What’s next? I am seting this up for field work. I ordered a Mat-30 antenna tuner for the radio which is supposed to work like the LDG tuner does for the Icom. Push the tuner button on the radio and it matches the antenna. I also ordred the 300 Hz filter and a pair of Portable Zero side rails. I don’t put my radios in Pelican type cases. Those cases take up too much space and in reality, the radios do not need that much protection. The side rails prevent the knobs and buttons from hitting the wall of Dewalt box while in transit and allow me to set the radio up on end which I seem to do alot while setting up and breaking down.

Where does the FTDX10 fit? I think this radio will get its most use when I am either camping with shore power or in a cabin. In general I try to go camping at least once a month where there is power available. The IC-7300 will get used in areas where I am operating under battery power. I have been an Emergency Communications Specialist for my church for 25 years and if I were to deploy to a disaster again, I would take the IC-7300. The FTDX10 is not a radio you can learn about over an hour or two. I will take a while to learn all the goodness it contains. On my POTA activations, you will still see both radios along with my QRP radios. Tnx for stopping by de Scott

Why I’m keeping my IC-7300

I know there’s been a lot of hoopla over the new Yaesu Radios. I am sure they are fine radios and do a great job. These will be fine radios for those invested in the Yaesu environment.

I have owned Yaesus in the past, the last being the FTDX-3000. However, I always seem to gravitate back to Icom. I am not necessarily an Icom fan boy, just that currently, Icom suits me better.

I was tempted to buy the new FT-710. I looked at it long and hard. I schemed about how I was going to buy one. Part of my justification was looking at the specs where I discovered something…

The IC-7300 hears better. The noise floor for the IC-7300 is -133 dBm vs -127 dBm for the FT-710. Rob Sherwood defines noise floor as “Noise floor measures how weak a signal one can hear.” I can work signals on my IC-7300 and IC-7610 with an S0 (zero) on the meter. I’m working a station and the meter is not moving when receiving.

I hear comments about the FT-710 being quieter. It could be possible that Yaesu has a 6 dBm high pass filter creating an artificial noise floor above the actual one? This is just my opinion based on what I see in the specs. That may be why the Icom hears better and the Yaesu is quieter. Ah, but the FT-710 has better close in dynamic range. This is true. The FT-710 has about a 10 db better close in dynamic range then the IC-7300. The question becomes, do you really need it? From Rob Sherwood “What do you need in the way of close-in dynamic range? You want a number of at least 70 dB for SSB, and at least 80 dB for CW. A 10 dB safety factor would be nice, so that means you would prefer 80 dB for SSB and 90 dB for CW.” Unless you’re a hard core contester or chasing DX, the answer might be maybe not. Rob Sherwood put an IC-7300 through its paces during an ARRL 160 meter CW contest. His comment was “I have zero complaints about using it in a CW contest.” This contest would be a good test for any receiver. Like Rob I have no issues with my Icom the way I use it.

Am I telling you not to get a FT-710? Of course not. It’s a fine radio in its own right. Like I said, I was tempted. But, if you already own an IC-7300, the extra expense of buying a FT-710 and/or selling your IC-7300 may not be worth the effort. I’ve owned my IC-7300 since 2017 and can make it dance and sing. I would have to relearn the Yaesu menu architecture and it may take me a while to get the same results as the Icom. I have 4 Icoms with the same/simular menu system so for me it’s a no brainer to keep the Icom. I believe either radio is well suited for the task it was designed to do. I am not really saying the Icom is better than the Yaesu, what I am saying is that the Icom is better suited to me. YMMV. 73 Scott.