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Yaesu FTM 400DR

  • 24 Feb 2015 8:04 PM
    Message # 3234502
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I am seriously considering upgrading to this radio.  It has a lot of new digital functions and integrated APRS. The digital functions are supposed to be outstanding for search and rescue operations because it gives your position, distance and bearings to other FTM 400's.  Does anyone else run one of these radios and can you give me the pros and the cons.  They are on sale right now for just under $500 after the $100 rebate.  

  • 24 Feb 2015 9:40 PM
    Reply # 3234551 on 3234502

    I just got one. Here is what I think after only a few days;

    The APRS function will give location, distance, bearing (on a compass display) to any APRS beacon (not just other FTM400s).

     I think what you are referring to is the digital group mode, which sounds like it embeds location info in your voice transmision. I have not been able try this yet - need another FTM 400 user for this. 


    -great APRS interface

    -built in GPS

    -cross-band repeat capable ( i haven't tried this)

    -touch screen and color display make the menus easier to navigate

    -"text" messaging via APRS

    cons (minor); 

    -The GPS coordinates only seem to display in degrees / minuets / seconds. No option for DD.DDDDD

    -The control face is smaller than it looks in pictures and videos.

  • 25 Feb 2015 12:27 AM
    Reply # 3234574 on 3234502
    Chris Doering (Administrator)

    I might be in the market for another radio soon. All 4 of my radios seem to have problems. Keeping posting on this topic please and I'll chime in, especially as I begin to look for a replacement.


  • 28 Feb 2015 3:02 AM
    Reply # 3237691 on 3234502
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thanks for the feedback Greg.  I currently have a 8800 but it lacks APRS.  I have someone willing to buy my 8800 for $380. (it is about 3 months old)  For a little over $100 I can upgrade to the 400DR which has the APRS plus a bunch of other extras.  It would cost me that just to add a tiny track APRS to a handheld. It seems like a no brainer but I wanted some feedback before I pulled the trigger.  I have 2 other friends that have them and love them so I will be able to use the digital mode with them as well.  I hope to have it by the next Op on the 14th.

  • 04 Mar 2015 1:09 PM
    Reply # 3242155 on 3234502
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Well I went ahead and took the plunge.  I am now the proud owner of a Yaesu FTM 400DR.  I had a Kenwood G707 dual band for about 12 years.  It was only one band at a time operation but it suited my needs very well.  In fact I just moved it out of the FJ and into the garage so now I have a “ham shack”.  It was time to upgrade so just before Christmas I took advantage of a sale at HRO and purchased a new Yaesu FT 8800R.  I chose this radio because it was a true “dual band” radio which could monitor two frequencies at the same time and it had cross band repeat functionality.  One of the reasons I felt I needed an upgrade in the first place was my experiences with Land Ops.  I was running my Kenwood plus two handhelds and two hand held GPS.  I also found that sometimes we had to hike a ways to the cache and needed to bring the cache back to the vehicle or go back to the vehicle for effective communications.  With the cross band repeat function I can use the hand held to transmit to the FJ and use all 50 watts on the Yaesu to communicate back to base camp.  Very helpful if you are at the bottom of a canyon and your vehicle is on top.  I really enjoyed the FT8800 as it is a very capable and robust radio.  One thing that it lacked was APRS.  APRS could be used but it needed and external TNC and GPS.  I determined it would cost approximately $100 minimum to add a reliable APRS system to the FT8800.   Land Ops uses APRS extensively to keep track of teams on ops and I felt I needed to add that capability to my radio package. 

    For the past few months several friends of mine had been talking about the New FTM400DR.  In short they loved the radio.  They could not stop talking about it and in particular the enhanced features of the digital mode.  I read many reviews of the radio in various forums and most were not complimentary.  After talking with my friends and reviewing the reviews it seemed almost all of the negative reviews came early on shortly after the release of the radio.  The manual was poorly written / translated from Japanese and many functions and features were omitted.  There have been a few supplements written and there has been a firmware and software update to address these issues.  Yaesu, HRO and Giga Parts are running a special on these radios right now.  They are $589 with Yaesu giving you a $100 rebate.  Total cost after rebate is just under $500.  I believe that is a lot of radio for a pretty fair price even if you are only interested in upgrading to an integrated GPS / APRS capable radio like me.

    I have only had this radio for two days but I can tell you my initial feelings.  I know why my friends love this radio.  It has all the capabilities of my FT8800 and so much more.  In fact Programming the frequencies into the radio has been an absolute breeze.  I am an avid use of the RT Systems programming software.  I have extensive frequency lists and they change pretty often.  Trying to manage that without some type of software would be a nightmare.  The RT Systems software is compatible within other RT systems.  You still have to buy the software for each radio model but they are interchangeable once opened.  To further explain, I loaded the FTM 400 software and opened a “new” file.  The same software opened my 8800 file in a separate tab.  I clicked on channel one, held down the shift key and clicked channel 500, Right click, copy, go to the “new” file tab, click on channel one, right click and paste.  Just like that every frequency from the 8800 was now in the 400.  Rinse and repeat for the b-band and both radios were perfect clones as far as frequencies and locations.  I have to tell you that is a HUGE plus being able to share data bases between radios.  The software still needs to be specific because the radios have different functions, i.e. the FTM400 is much more capable. 

    Here are few of the additional features and highlights that make this radio stand out.  First and foremost is the large color touchscreen display.  Those of us north of 45 years old have difficulty with those small displays and even tinier function buttons.  The knobs and buttons are few and they are large for easy manipulation.  Many of the functions are accessed through the menu system on the touch screen and are easy to read and access.  You have the option of smaller icons or larger icons.  I am over 45, I chose larger.  The FT 8800 had many small buttons on the face that I was always accidentally bumping.  That does not happen with the FTM 400.  The APRS and GPS are integrated into the radio and operate seamlessly.  There were many complaints about the GPS not receiving in early reports.  My experience has been the opposite.  I have mine mounted in my center console area.  The FJ Cruiser is a box and I would not say the unit has a “clear path” to the sky yet I routinely have 7 to 10 satellites locked on at any time.  It takes less than a minute to acquire a good GPS lock.

    Many of the other issues that have been written about as negatives of the radio were due to a lack of understanding.  Myth, the FTM 400 will not cross band repeat. FACT, it does cross band repeat the instructions were accidentally omitted from the manual.  Myth, it will not receive “air band” frequencies.  Fact, it does receive air band frequencies.  You just have to set it to “wide” receive mode instead of “normal” in the setup menu.

    Of course the unit’s primary feature is it is a digital radio and it can send and receive digital signals.  The radio senses if a digital signal is being received and it will automatically shift between digital and analog mode.  One of the nice things about digital mode is that it sends out your position and distance with your voice.  This means that if I am communicating with another digital Yaesu radio their call sign, position and distance is displayed on the screen.  Another handy feature for keeping track of everyone in the desert.  The digital communications are clear and crisp but they do have a different sound or tone than the analog sound.  It is not bad just slightly different.  There is no white noise or static in digital mode.  You either get the transmission or you don’t.  I have found I can get slightly farther distances out of this radio compared to my others side by side. (Your mileage may vary).

    There are several open digital repeaters in Southern California with new ones being added soon.  There are over 300 of the digital repeaters stuck on a ship in the port waiting to be off loaded.  They were delayed due to the port labor dispute.  Those will be distributed soon and then they will be put on the air.  Some of the local ones are on Mt. Wilson, Otay Mountain, Oat Mountain, Signal Hill, La Mirada and several more in San Diego.  I know of at least one going up on Santiago Peak and two going to Sierra Peak.

    The bottom line for me is if you are in the market for a new mobile or hand held radio with built in APRS you need to get one of these Yaesu radios.  They are feature packed radios that deliver everything their non-digital counterparts do and so much more.  So much for a “short” review.  I would be happy to answer any questions you might have on these radios.

  • 05 Mar 2015 4:36 AM
    Reply # 3242830 on 3234502
    Jim Biram (Administrator)


    From what I can see the radio is designed to be used as a separated radio with the head mounted near the dash for GPS visibility.  Am I righ that the mic plugs into the base unit?  If so, is there a way to extend the mic cable so that the base can be mounted some distance from the head unit and still plug in the mic?  Or can you plug the mic into the head unit?  I'd love to upgrade but the ability to split the head from the base is critical for my vehicle.

  • 06 Mar 2015 1:59 PM
    Reply # 3244000 on 3234502
    Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The radio head is designed to mount separate from the radio.  It comes with a remote mounting kit for the head.  The cable is 6 or 8 feet long, I do not remember.  The mic cord does not plug into the head.  It plugs in to the radio body.  This is problematic for some however Yaesu does sell a remote mic extension kit.  Of course the price is astronomical!  Do not buy it.  It uses a six pin telephone type wire.  I do not know the proper name of the cabling but it is somewhat of an odd size.  You can buy it on Amazon for about $5 and the female to female connector for another $5.  I bought mine at Fry's and it works flawlessly.  If you would like I can try and attach photos here or send them to your email account.  I will be there on the 14th if you to see it up close.

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