Yaesu FT-60R Dual-band Handheld Transceiver
Reviewed by Dan Henderson, N1ND.
This new dual-band handheld transceiver offers a lot in a rugged, compact, easy to use package.
Ready to replace the old handheld transceiver with one of the dual-band models? If so you'll want to check out the latest offering from Vertex Standard, the Yaesu FT-60R. This lightweight (13 ounce) transceiver packs good "bang for the buck" with many extra features that will appeal to most Amateur Radio operators.
The Yaesu FT-60R claims a 5 W punch on the 144 and 430 MHz amateur bands, though the model tested at ARRL fell a bit short on 430 MHz. (The ARRL Lab measurement was 4.3 W on that band measured both on batteries and with an external dc supply. Yaesu indicates that this just requires a simple dealer adjustment and is not typical.) With three nominal power levels (5, 2 and 0.5 W) the amateur providing communications for a public service event or emergency response should be able to use this radio for a normal operating shift and be able to get the message through.
I find the smaller readouts on some radios a bit hard to read. I was pleasantly surprised that the FT-60R provided a clear and concise display on the radio, and an easy to read and follow operating manual. This made programming relatively simple. As with so many of today's products, the wide array of programmable options included with the radio requires you to refer to the manual for general setup. This manual was very user friendly, with simple step-by-step instructions for each process.
Making it Play
Since the whole purpose of a radio is to use it, I am a firm believer in being able to get on the air with the product as easily as possible. The FT-60R did not disappoint in this area. The ON/OFF/VOLUME knob is the smaller of the two knobs on top of the radio. Once a charged battery back is attached to the rig and an antenna is attached, you simply turn the knob clockwise and you are set to receive.
The larger knob on the top allows you to adjust the frequency up and down. The squelch adjustment is a ring knob at the bottom of the larger knob. I found this to be preferable to several comparable radios that have the squelch adjustment as a digital control, making it necessary to program in the squelch level.
Now that the radio is on, there are several ways to select a frequency. For the beginner, you may simply use the keypad on the front panel and punch in the desired frequency. If your choice is a common repeater output frequency, say 145.45 MHz simply key in 145450 and the FT-60R will automatically select the appropriate repeater offset for the frequency selected. The same is true for standard repeater splits on the 430 MHz band. Don't fret—the FT-60R will also automatically set itself to simplex when a standard simplex frequency is selected. Once the frequency is selected (and unless there is tone access required for your selected repeater), you are ready to get on the air.
After the initial set-up you will quickly learn that the F/W key, which is key D—the very last key on the keypad, will allow access to the secondary functions for the rest of the keypad. Once the secondary function is selected, the large knob on the top (used to change the frequency in its primary mode) allows you to select the desired variable for the selected secondary function. Remembering this combination makes programming the secondary functions easy.
For example, if you wish to operate the radio on a 146.91 MHz repeater that uses a 91.5 Hz CTCSS tone—first key in the frequency. The radio will go to that frequency and show the standard offset (-600 kHz). Now, to set the access tone,
press the F/W key, then press the 1 button (indicating that you are selecting the continuous tone-controlled squelch system (CTCSS) or digitally coded squelch (DCS) function). The main display will change to show which type is currently in memory or OFF, as the case may be. Simply turn the large knob on top until the display shows TONE, the press the F/W button again, and you will have turned on the CTCSS function. Now to choose the proper CTCSS tone, press the F/W button again, then press the 2 button. You can then turn the selection knob on top until you find the proper CTCSS tone. A final push of the F/W button once the display reads 91.5 and the FT-60R will be ready transmit the CTCSS tone of 91.5 when transmitting on the frequency selected. It sounds more complicated than it is, but with the well written operating manual as your guide you will quickly be able to use the wide variety of features provided.
Once you begin using any handheld transceiver the variety of extra features— the bells and whistles—distinguish one model from its competition. The FT-60R offers an attractive package of extras that will appeal to a wide range of interests. I especially enjoyed the broad coverage receiver capability of the radio. It is capable of receiving the 108-137 MHz aircraft band, both in AM and FM. It then continues its coverage to 137 to 520 MHz, and 700 to 999.990 MHz, FM only, less the cellular frequencies.
Memories to Burn
Your desired receiving frequencies can readily be programmed into the large.....