I recently bought a Yaesu FT‑7800E amateur radio transceiver for my car (no more handie-talkies in the mug holder). As far as reception and QSOs are concerned, there have been no problems so far, even though the antenna is something of a compromise due to garage height.
However, when configuring the radio, the ergonomics department leaves lots to be desired. You will likely need to do an awful lot of knob-turning when trying to select e.g. a repeater split or memory channel number from the hundreds of possibilities. Also, I not only needed to have the operating manual open in front of me when “programming” the radio; I also had to print out a cheat sheet for daily use, reminding me what the different microphone keys do. How do you like the following for a default setup?
- [A] Key
- Press this key momentarily to activate the Smart Search feature. Press and hold in this key for 1/2 second to activates the ARTS feature.
- [B] Key
- Press this key momentarily to switch the Memory Channel display between the “Frequency” format and “Alpha-numeric Tag” format.
- [C] Key
- Press this key momentarily to disable the noise squelch action, allowing you to hear very weak signals near the background noise level.
- [D] Key
- Press this key momentarily to allow tuning in 1-MHz steps on the VFO frequency while operating on the VFO mode. In the Memory mode, this allows tuning in 10- channel steps on the memory channels. Press and hold in this key for 1/2 second to activate the Priority Channel Scanning (Dual Watch) feature.
- [P1] button
- This button replicates the functions of the front panel [BAND(SET)] key. While operating on the VFO mode, press this button momentarily to toggle the operating band as follows: 144 MHz _ 250 MHz _ 350 MHz _ 430 MHz _ 850 MHz _ 144 MHz …… In the Memory mode, press this button momentarily to activate the “Memory Tune” function. Press and hold in this key for 1/2 second to enter the Set (“Menu”) mode.
- [P2] button
- This button replicates the functions of the front panel [V/M(MW)] key. Press this button momentarily to switch the frequency control among the VFO, Memory System, and Home channel. Press and hold in this button for 1/2 second to transfer the VFO contents into a Memory register.
- [P3] button
- This button replicates the functions of the front panel [TONE(REV)] key. Press this button momentarily to change the Tone Squelch mode: ENC (CTCSS Encoder), ENC.DEC (CTCSS Tone Squelch), or DCS (DCS) operation. Press and hold in this key for 1/2 second to reverse the transmit and receive frequencies during split-frequency (i.e. “Repeater”) operation.
- [P4] button
- This button replicates the functions of the front panel [LOW(ACC)] key. Press this button momentarily to select the transmitter power output level (“LOW,” “MID2,” MID1,” or “HIGH”).
Even though I have owned three other Yaesus (a VX‑150, an FT‑60, and an FT‑817), the above is far from intuitive to me. The same can be said for many functions of the keys on the actual set. Well, I guess I will learn to remember those key assignments as I use the radio. Being able to change the microphone key functions from these defaults (which lack e.g. the 1750 Hz repeater opening beep) helps.
Another problem is that the automatic power-off functionality works only when listening to a VFO-tuned or memory frequency. If the radio instead is set to scan, and you forget to shut it off when leaving your car, it apparently will happily drain your car battery, whether or not auto power-off has been set. This makes no sense to me.
These issues aside, I am happy with my FT‑7800. The display is visible even in bright daylight, the set does not take up much cabin space, and as mentioned, reception and transmission are OK.