Over the last week we’ve been testing out a new radio, the Yaesu FT-891. Throughout the Ham community the radio has been met with mixed review, so we really were not sure what to expect.
While TX ad RX reviews have been generally pretty good, it seems most people have found the radio a little hard to operate and many have complained about the menus. I can’t say we disagree with those assessments, but we will say that this is a tiny HF radio, probably one of the smallest on the market. So with that in mind, I’m not sure how much more you can really cram into such a small 100W and make everyone happy.
A Preparedness Look at the Yaesu FT-891
I have a number of UHF/VHF Yaesu radios, but when it comes to HF rigs I grew up using a Kenwood and these days I almost exclusively use Icoms. But lately I’ve been looking for something small to put in my truck, and to be honest here are not a lot of good options out there – that is until I came across the Yaesu FT-891.
What we like about the Yaesu FT-891:
- If you are looking for a small compact radio for your vehicle, you are going to have a hard time finding something this good, at this price point. It’s strong, extremely compact, and is a great all-around mobile rig.
- The radio has great DSP adjustable selectivity and the audio peaking filtering is awesome for CW. I know this is primarily sold as a mobile rig, but this radio is great on CW. For SSB, it also performs pretty good for a mobile rig and we’ve received great reports from DX stations.
- The radio is a great receiver! We were actually pretty surprised, but when we compared it to one of our ICOM IC-7300, the radio’s ability to receive was sometimes actually a little better. In fact, in an urban environment this is where the radio actually performed better. In a city setting where you are going to have to deal with lots of interference, the FT-891 was able to pull out weak signals better than the Icom IC-7300.
What we didn’t like about the Yaesu FT-891
- The Noise Blanker sometimes seemed to add noticeable distortion to people’s voices when turned on.
- The user interface isn’t the greatest, but again with this small of a radio it’s going to be hard to improve on the menu and I’m not sure there are really any better compact HF Radio options out there.
- Switching between USB and LSB is a pretty big pain in the ass! The feature is buried in the menu settings and is probably one of the most annoying things we encountered when using the radio.
Yaesu FT-891 Specs and Features
Tx: 1.8 – 54 MHz (Amateur Bands Only) Rx: 30 KHz – 56 MHz
Channel Step: 2/5/10 Hz (SSB, CW), 10/100 Hz (AM,FM)
100W SSB/CW/FM (AM: 25W)
Supply Voltage: 13.8VDC +/- 15%, negative ground
Current Consumption: Rx: 2.0 A (Signal Present) Tx: 23 A
Recommended Accessories and Add-ons
The Radio is pretty good to go out of the box, but there are a couple of things that can greatly improve the radios performance.
Although pretty damn expensive, we had a lot of success paring this radio with the Yaesu ATAS-120A auto-tune Yaesu mobile antenna. The ATAS-120A is designed specifically for use with Yaesu radios and uses a motorized tuning system which resonates the radiating element to obtain the lowest SWR without the need for using a monoband whip. The Antenna can be mounted to a standard mobile antenna mount with a SO-239 connector.
If you are using it as a mobile rig, then you can simply wire it into your vehicles battery system. If you decide to use it for a base station (a lot of people with limited room sometimes choose this radio because of how compact it is) then we recommend something like the Yaesu FP-1030A. The FP-1030 supplies 30 amps peak current and 24 amps continuous current at 13.6 VDC which is perfect for this radio which requires 23 amps.