View Full Version : The Yaesu FT-301 and accessories

10-20-2012, 08:56 PM
Once upon a time - long before the "shack in a box" days - most amateur equipment manufacturers espoused the modular approach. That is, offer a transceiver and accompanying accessories separately...perhaps not everyone wanted a comprehensive lineup?

Drake, Heath, Collins, Kenwood, Yaesu and more - seems all of them followed this approach; some model lines met with more success than others. None of the packages were the equivalent of a modern-day K3 or FT-9000 but for many they were good enough.

I've owned a number of these ensembles over the years: The Kenwood 820 line. The Drake 7-line (which I dearly love.) Yaesu's FR/FL-101s; unique in their own right. I would have liked an SB-104A, perhaps an S-line. But these models are yesterday's technology and any one of a number of pre-DSP-genre rigs currently in the shack will run rings around the lot.

So why did I embark upon an effort to snatch up a collection of FT-301 goodies? Simple: When all else fails, the diminutive Yaesu rigs will still perform. Yes, they're 40 years old. They also give you exactly what you need to get on the air and make contacts. Nothing more, nothing less. ASICs, VLSI, DSP are absent. But those components won't quit and take the set with them, either.

Transceiver (FT-301, FT-301D):

The only real faults one can find with the rigs are the digital readout in the -D model (they run hot and occasionally burn out display segments) and the ubiquitous MOSFET front end is subject to overload/poor IP3 and static damage. Both issues can be fixed if one is willing to do a bit of re-engineering. The '301 series doesn't cover the WARC bands but this can be remedied with a few modifications. I find the receiver quite pleasant to listen to for long periods of time. Its analog VFO is a two-edged sword: No phase noise in the receiver but it does tend to drift a bit...less than my vaunted TR-7, though.

VFO (FV-301):

If you're planning to operate split, the accessory remote VFO is a must-have. It uses the same temperature-compensated scheme as the FT-301s internal 5MHz unit and once warmed up tends to stay put.

PSU (FP-301/FP-301D):

One has a nifty clock/10-minute CWID feature; both give your rig the required amount of 13.8VDC. Purists might want a -D to match their digital '301 but your transceiver really won't care.

Scope (YO-301):

Do you really need this? If you're operating the '301 on AM, using an amplifier with the rig or are curious about your friends' transmitted waveforms then the answer is "yes". No panadapter function (as in the YO-901) but there are ways to rectify that...including modifying a '901 panadapter accessory.

Antenna tuner (FC-301):

Essentially a repackaged FC-901. Can handle 500w and incorporates an antenna switch. If you only have one HF radio and several antennas, this is a wise choice. Tuner section works well, and though it doesn't incorporate WARC bands on the switch taps it doesn't seem to have a problem matching those segments.

Phone patch (LL-301):

A somewhat rare accessory; possibly unnecessary in this day and age. Integrates seamlessly with the rest of the lineup and does exactly what it was intended to do.

I really doubt you could break any of this stuff under normal-use conditions. Fun to use, easy to service. They also take up less space than the 101/901 series gear.

10-20-2012, 09:54 PM
That sounds like an interesting project, Fred.

Just for the record, though, I have yet to notice any significant drift from the TR-7, at least not once it's had 20 minutes or so to warm up. My much newer IC-736, even with it's totally synthesized oscillator, is not much better.