Yaesu FT-470 2m/70cm HT
Yaesu introduced the first dual-band walkie a few years ago. The FT-727Rr though somewhat large and power-hungry, was an instant success, and many are on the air today. Recently, miniature dual-banders have begun to appear, and Yaesu is once again at the forefront of the technology with the introduction of the FT-470.
The 144/440 MHz FT-470 is patterned after the highly successful FT-411 series of single-band walkies, and it's impossible not to compare the two rigs. The *470 has the same basic look, a very similar keypad function layout, and a slightly longer and thicker case. It uses the same batteries, mikes, and most of the other accessories.
Small, Powerful Battery
The battery was the first thing I noticed when I opened the box. It was about Vfe-inch shorter than the FNB-10 which was shipped with my "411. A glance at the back, however, revealed that it had the same 7.2-volt, 600 mA-hour capacity. As it turns out, it even uses the same charger! There is no electrical difference between the two packs I immediately ordered one for my '411. and I tove it; now the rig is truly pocket-sized, with no compromise in performance. If you want to get one, the battery's model number is FNB-17,
The FT-470 is small as dual-banders go It's about one inch longer than the '411. Trie supplied YHA-28 duck is actually longer than the radio! By the way. the duck is flexible and appears very well made. The rig fits comfortably m my hand, and the keys are larger and easier to press than those on the 411.
The top of the radio has four controls: squelch (which operates on both bands simultaneously), volume, balance [concentric with the volume control), and the "dial" knob. The balance control adjusts the relative volumes of the two bands. That's right, you can monitor both bands at once! Also on top are the mike and earphone jacks andT of course, the antenna connector.
The left side houses the rubber buttons for the ptt, squelch monitor, and lamp. As for the '411, the lamp lights the keypad as well as the LCD. I find this very handy for night operation.
All other functions are performed from the keypad. In addition to the usual sixteen keys, there are four more, permitting you to do some commonly-used operations without pressing the function button. This arrangement is especially nice for the REVERSE - function, which requires only one keypress, instead of the two used on the *411,
Another improvement is the separation of the keypad lock and ptt lock into two keys. Now you can lock the ptt without locking the pad.
The LCD is large and easy to read. The numbers and icons are clearer than the '411's. Both the main band and sub-band are shown, with the main band's frequency on the left in large numbers, and the subband's on the right, in smaller numbers,
Yaesu opted for a 5 1/2 -digit display. The half digit refers to the kHz display. Rather than a zero or a five, there is just nothing for a zero, and a small block which shows "50" for a five. This is somewhat disconcerting when entering frequencies from the keypad, because the display looks the same (for frequencies ending in a zero) before and after you've entered the last digit. Actually, the decimal point only comes on when you finish the entry, but it's easy to overlook. Several times I was unsure whether or not I had entered all the digits. There seems to be no advantage to this kind of display.
The FT-470 includes nearly all the features of the '411. The only thing missing is the vox circuit, which few of us are likely to use, anyway. Of course, there are new features related to dual-band operation. The band key transposes the main and subbands. The sub key turns the subband on and off. The alt key allows the rig to alternate between bands during memory scanning.
The rig has two memory banks, one for each band. Each bank contains 20 memories, any of which can hold odd splits, and the frequency and status of the included CTCSS encoder/decoder. Two memories in each bank set upper and lower scan limits. Memories may be locked out from scanning, or hidden entirely.
Each band also has a ' call'* memory, accessible from the call key. This memory is just like the others, except that it doesn't get scanned, and you can access it with one keypress. It's especially handy for simplex and hamfest use. It shares one quirk with the '411: If you turn the dial on top of the radio while you are using the call memory, it transfers the frequency to the VFO. trashing whatever was there. The regular memories don't do that.
There are two VFOs for each band, for a total of four! That's a lotta VFOs. Of course, you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many VFOs, and in a pinch, you can use them like extra memories.
As on the FT-411, memory management is very flexible. Memories can be fixed or tunable, and you can perform various kinds of scanning and priority operations. But this radio can do all of it on two bands at once! You can be memory scanning on 2 meters while band scanning with sequential priority watch on 440! It may sound confusing, but it's easy to do A multitasking microprocessor with the usual lithium battery backup makes it all possible.
The DTMF pad has a ten-number autodialer. The '411 also has this feature, and I have grown to love it. If you're in walkie range of the repealer, you'll find yourself using it to dial fnends while you drive, instead of trying to manually key the autopatch codes and phone number into your mobile rig.
The receiver and transmitter operate well. The receiver seems considerably more sensitive on VHF than the '411's, especially for public service band scanning. The NOAA weather channel, which is fairly weak on my 411 is full quieting and nearly full scale on the '470's LCD S-meter.
There isn't much 440 activity here in northwestern Vermont, so it is hard to check sensitivity on that band. The local repeater, however, comes in fine. The transmitter sounds crisp on the air. With the supplied battery, it puts out 2.3 watts on both bands. At 12 volts, you get 5 watts. A "low" position cuts the output down to much less, saving battery power. Interestingly, the high/low setting is specific to each band For instance, you can be set for high on 2 meters and low on 440, or any other combination you desire.
The FT-470 can operate full duplex because it continues to receive on the subband even while transmitting on the mam band Hearing the receiver come to life while you're transmitting is an eerie experience that takes some getting used to. If you add a connection from the earphone jack to the mike jack (with appropriate attenuation, of course), and key the ptt, you've got an instant crossband repeater.
As received from Yaesu, the rig only covered 144-148 MHz. There was no extended coverage! and nothing in the book about how to extend it, I tried the reset procedure used on the '411, and after about five tries, it worked! If you need to extend the receiver, just turn off the rig; hold down both arrow keys; then turn it back on If it still tunes only 144-148, do it again until it works. Of course, all the frequencies in memory will be lost and require re-entry. Once extended, receive coverage is 130180 MHz, and transmit is 140-150 MHz. UHF coverage is 430-450 MHz. I am not aware of any way to extend it.
The FT-470 is a very nice radio. It has advanced features and, with its ability to monitor both bands at once, is like having two radios in one small, handy box. There are some problems, however, about which you should be aware, to make your operation as smooth as possible.
When monitoring both bands at once, the IF "whoosh" noise from the band not being received leaks into the audio of the received signal. It's not nearly as bad as if the squelch were truly open on both bands, but it is fairly objectionable.
There are two ways to avoid this. You can either turn the subband off (which is fine if the signal you're receiving is on the main band), or you can rotate the balance control toward the band you want.
By the way, there is no indication on the display of which band is being received! If you're monitoring both bands and you get a call, you must either rotate the dial or turn off the subband to see on which band the signal
lies. Otherwise, you may respond on the wrong band! tn future models Yaesu should consider using a blinking dot or other icon next to each frequency to neatly avoid this kind of confusion.
On the FT-411, rotation of the dial temporarily disables the battery saver, so that you can hear channel activity as you pass through the frequencies or memories. On the '470. that function was omitted (although the saver disables properly during automated scanning operations). Thus, you can turn the knob through all your memories, or a segment of the band, and the frequencies will appear vacant even though they may be bursting with activity! You have to turn the saver off to correct the problem.
The battery saver also seems to "miss" sometimes, taking up to ten times as long as it should to notice a signal. I've seen it wait as much as ten seconds before opening up on a signal that was there the whole time. I suspect thai it doesn't wake the rig up long enough for the pll to reliably lock, although that's only a guess. The receive light will flash on each saver cycle (such as 0.5 seconds), but the squelch won't open. Again, the fix is to shut the saver off.
The audio makes a substantial "pop" when the squelch opens, which makes it painful when using an earphone. It's no big deal, however, in normal speaker operation.
As on the '411, the low battery icon gives almost no warning at all before the battery dies. I clocked it at 20 seconds from the time the icon blinked (during transmit on high power) to total radio shutdown.
The rig has the same annoying keypad beeper, with its double beeps and tunes. You can turn it off without losing the auto power off warning beeper.
There's a rubber plug flush with the right side of the rig. Pulling it revealed a hole obviously meant for a coaxial DC power jack (which would be nice to have). Yaesu currently doesn't install this jack on the '470.
I spoke with Chip Margelli. Vice President of Marketing for Yaesu USA. He confirmed the company's awareness of the squelch leak and battery saver problems, but said that there were no fixes at this lime. He did sayr however, that when solutions became available, Yaesu would fix any FT-470s sent to them.
All in all. the 470 is a very nice radio. If you don't plan on lots of dual-band monitoring, and are willing to work around the battery saver, you'll probably be very happy with it. It's small, powerful, and offers more flexibility than you're ever likely to need!
Michael Geier KB1UM 73 Amateur Radio 1989