Monday, 10 August 2020

FTM-300D FUSION SOLUTION

YAESU'S LATEST MOBILE VHF/UHF/FUSION
transceiver will probably be remembered for being one of the few new radios to hit the shops during the 2020 Covid Year! Well, maybe that and the IC-705 if it makes it to the stores before another outbreak cripples the world's supply chains again. 

The FTM-300D appears to be a replacement for the FTM400 although no one at Yaesu is admitting that yet, since there are probably still a few thousand of the old units to sell. Although I personally don't think it's as attractive to the eye as the 400, the 300 certainly is a welcome update and it offers me something that my old 400 never did AND it does things which my 991A doesn't do.

Actually, I would have much preferred it if Yaesu had updated the 991A instead, it is after all, getting on for 6yrs old and the days of building a radio and leaving it in production for 20 years is surely behind us now that SDR is here.  The 991A needs to be put into the annals of Yeasu history and  replaced with at least a "B" model which addresses the weakness of the radio's Fusion abilities. I appreciate that 6yrs isn't a very long time in traditional radio terms, but we now live in an SDR world and things are constantly moving on and aging radios which would otherwise have been current for much longer. The 991 basically needs to be on par with the 300 or higher.

Anyway, that's another story, so let's get back to the purpose of this post. Because I like to use the WIRES-X software in the shack through my computer, I had no choice but to buy the FTM-300 because my only other option was to tie-up my handheld FT3D which seems a little crazy.

So here we are at the end of July 2020 and looking around all the UK supplier's websites I can see that there's no stock! Well actually, LAMCO showed them being 'In Stock' but a quick phone call produced the usual "Oh sorry, the website mustn't have updated itself'. So with no option but to wait for a new batch to enter the country, I placed an order with Martin Lynch & Sons. 



10 days later, the unit arrives (thanks ML&S) and I quickly unbox it and store the packaging in the attic with all the others. The main unit looks very similar to the FTM-400 base unit and it even fits inside the company's cooler unit (SMB-201). But hold on - it turns out that the FTM-300D wasn't designed to be connected to the SMB-201, so I had to find some alternative screws to 'make' it fit. After a little faffing around, it's sorted. Apart from providing additional cooling when required (it gets incredibly hot in my shack during the summer), it also provides the 300 with a bit more heft when used in the shack and stops the radio moving around on the shelf where it lives.



Putting the FT3D next to the 300 it would appear initially that Yaesu had shared the same screen - which would have been a good thing - but sadly the 300 isn't a Touch-Screen. Why?? Not a clue - seems crazy to me to invest in the creation of a nice touch-screen and then not utilise it in your other radios. Go figure.

Whilst lacking the benefits of a touch-screen, the 300 is nice and easy to operate. The buttons on either side of the head unit are clearly marked and make complete sense, as do the rotary controls. The menu system (what they call Easy To Operate (E2O II)) is intuitive and doesn't give you that 'bogged down' feeling when you're trying to reach a particular setting.

One of the very best features of this new radio is the true Dual Band capability which is achieved by the inclusion of two independent receivers which means that you can not only monitor two separate bands, but can also monitor two different parts of the same band. In fact, you can even monitor two C4FM frequencies!!

VHF/UHF  VHF/VHF  UHF/UHF VHF/C4FM  UHF/C4FM  C4FM/C4FM

That's great news! But you can also switch on the CrossBand Repeater function. This won't work in C4FM to C4FM, but it will work in one analogue mode to another analogue mode, or even C4FM to analogue mode. It basically receives on one frequency and instantly re-transmits on another (FM) frequency.  Cool!



The radio has 50W power on all bands with options to reduce that power to 25W or 5W. I've not tried it yet, but I think there might be a way to modify those settings (using the hidden service menus) so that you can get a 10W setting, which would make much more sense to Foundation Licence holders.

The FTM-300D has well over 1000 Memories and a small number of your favourite stored memories can be arranged into a special group which can be put into MCS mode which monitors them in the background and then stops when it finds an active frequency to allow you to communicate if you wish to. I've not spent much time with this feature, but in my mind, it's like having a number of Priority Channels that you'd like to monitor even though you might be doing other things on a different VFO.

Another great feature is the BandScope which in VFO Mode will show activity on 30 channels either side of your tuned frequency. It will do the same in Memory Mode but only 21 memory channels at a time.


The RX audio sounds pretty good and I'd say there's no need for an external speaker unless you want to alter the tone to better suit your hearing. It's pretty loud too with a 3W speaker which is mounted to the top of the base unit.

Other sophisticated features include Yaesu's AMS mode, DG-ID and GM (Group Mode) which make good use of the radio's built-in, high-precision GPS. That GPS is also used by the radio's APRS communication system. Whenever you transmit to someone in C4FM or DV mode, your GPS Position is also transmitted and their position is received, allowing navigation to one another.



The head unit can, of course, be separated from the main unit and mounted in a different location which is handy for use in the car and in some shacks. The radio has a welcome SD CARD facility and I'm pleased to say that they've placed it on the head unit which makes it much more convenient to access for those occasions when you want to remove it. You can use a card up to 32Gb.  The radio can record your QSO's in .wav format - that includes your speech and that of the other operator. On a 32Gb card there's room for many hours recording.

The supplied microphone is like no other Yaesu mic I own and it feels comfortable in the hand. Unsolicited audio reports at this early stage have been very complimentary. I like the large MUTE button at the top of the mic - I find it very handy. Another nice feature of the FTM-300 is the built-in BlueTooth which works very well with Yaesu's own BT Device but not so well with any others I tried. The good thing about Yaesu's SSM BT-10 is that it works very well with both my FTM300 and my FT3D. Understandably, audio reports using the bluetooth mic aren't quite as complimentary but there's been no complaints either.



So there you have it, it's a great little radio and I really am very pleased with it thus far. It's great to have DualBand back in the shack after selling the Alinco DR735 - I really missed that.

99% of the time, this little beauty will be connected to a PC and a dummy load running WIRES-X, because my main VHF/UHF radio is the IC-9700, but occasionally I'll switch the antenna over to the FTM-300D to benefit from its wideband receive. 









Thanks for popping by. Leave any comments below.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

NEW SOCKS - IC-9700/IC-7300


"YOU CHANGE YOUR RADIOS MORE OFTEN THAN YOU CHANGE YOUR SOCKS", they say to me. And with good reason I guess. In the last 18 months of being a licensed Ham, I've been through a fair few radios. Some are still in my shack and some have been sold on to new owners.

Sure, I've lost money swapping around, just like I lose money every time I change a car or buy a new motorbike or basically any time I open my wallet. Money's for spending, not for padding out your coffin. Make hay while the sun shines!

I lusted after the 7610, fooling myself into thinking that in the absence of a "proper" antenna system, it would work miracles for me. It obviously didn't. Trouble is, 10W is fine and dandy up on the hills, but back at home with a simple wire, it was always a struggle. I'm perfectly happy with QRP (love it actually) but after last weekend, I realised that in the shack I spend most of my time waiting for gaps in pile-ups. 

I reluctantly decided that the 7610 was being wasted on me and my QTH, so I thought I'd have a clearout and just get a nice SIAB (Shack In A Box). It turns out that the last QUALITY SIAB was probably the ICOM IC-9100 but as good as that is (and it's fab), it was designed 10 years ago!  Someone suggested a new TS-2000 but that's even older technology! So in the end, I decided to buy something that is BANG up to date, FULL SDR with some degree of future-proofing, compact and good looking.

I put the IC-7610 on the market along with my FT-991A. Why the Yaesu? Because it's getting dated - it can't even connect directly to Wires-X and work as a node. My little hand-held can, but not my £1200 991A. And it also lacks Dual Band, so I can't even monitor 2M and 70cm at the same time unless I put the frequencies into memories and then scan between them.

Though the majority of my successful HF work is done outdoors, I still want HF in the shack and I want a nice panadapter and waterfall. I also want 2M & 70cm ALL MODES! I want good DSTAR capabilities and good C4FM capabilities.

Sadly, there's no such radio, so I've gone for the next best thing - a combo! The Icom IC-9700 & IC-7300 duo with matching speakers. It gives me everything I want in one neat solution - apart from C4FM - more about that in a minute.


The 7300 takes care of my HF requirements with the valuable addition of DSTAR. The 9700 also has DSTAR available on 2M, 70cm and 23cm. The 7300 is fitted with a RadioAnalog PTRX RF Interface which provides a pure RF output to an SMA socket on the rear panel, for connection to an SDR receiver such as my RSP1A. That will provide me with a large and super-detailed scope and waterfall on a separate HD screen.

So what about the C4FM?? Well I couldn't get Icom to agree to build it into their radios so I had to order a Yaesu FTM300DE. I will use this as a personal node connected to the Wires-X Network on a dummy load. I can then use Wires-X directly through the FTM300 or by using my little FT3D at 300mW.



Happy Days??? We'll see 😂😂😂

Sunday, 2 August 2020

LAZY OPERATOR

2020 has been a real lazy year for me. I have not been out playing radio for many months and I've started to lose interest in playing radio in the shack with 10W. Although I enjoy the challenge of QRP from home, it sometimes gets a little laborious trying to be heard amongst a pileup of QRO operators.

If I had a big beam on an equally big tower, I'm sure I'd be a lot more successful, but all I can use at my home QTH is a couple of wires (an EFHW and a G5RV). These work really well - especially the end-fed - and 10W has got me thousands of miles, but in a pileup it's almost useless.

My biggest successes have come from outdoor locations where my tiny signal can reach out much further. About half a mile from me is Winter Hill which is 1500ft above sea level and there's no excuse for not going up there - apart from laziness. 

I think the Covid Lockdown in March was the start of it I think. Stuck in the house, snacking and dossing around has turned me into a couch potato LOL. I was talking about it today to my wife and it was at that point that I realised how lucky I am to have a wife who would readily agree to have a day out somewhere playing radio.  The idea of going to the beach or climbing a hill and sitting for hours with a picnic, a flask and a book suits her down to the ground which means I could play radio and not be a saddo up a hill on my own 😂 

So I've decided to make a concerted effort to get off my backside and get out there working outdoor QRP which is what inspired me to get my licence in the first place. People urge me to study for the intermediate and then the advanced licence so I can use 400W, but that is of no interest to me whatsoever. I love QRP and the 6W of my FT-818 - I just need to get back to finding better places to work from instead of struggling in the shack.








Friday, 31 July 2020

YAECOM TM1 TRUE MULTI-MODE


Why can't manufacturers give you what you want? In the shack I have an ICOM IC-7610 for HF and for 2M/70cm/Fusion I have Yaesu's flagship C4FM 'shack-in-a-box' the FT-991A. That should be everything I need surely??  
Well apparently not, because the FT-991A is not really equipped to be considered as Yaesu's 'flagship' C4FM radio despite its £1300 price tag!

If you want to connect your radio to a PC and use the Wires-X software (which I often do), then you'd better look elsewhere, because the firmware architecture of the FT-991A doesn't really permit this. 

The only way that I can use the Wires-X software on my PC is by connecting my Yaesu FT3D to the PC in PDN Access Point mode and then using the 991A to  transmit and receive.

So in that configuration, my expensive handheld Fusion radio is tied up in the shack (literally, by cables connecting it to the computer). And it's not just one cable, it's the SCU-19 and a twin audio cable (collectively called the SCU-39 at the princely sum of £70)!!

It's obvious (now) that it's not possible to simply update the firmware in the 991A to allow it to be used in PDN Mode, so what do I do? Well I could buy an FTM-100 or similar and use that as a node in the shack which would free up the FT3D for what it was intended for.

But the FTM-100's are still around £300 which make no sense at all when you can get the all-singing, all-dancing FTM-300D for 30% more. Okay, so if I buy one of those, not only would it free up my FT3D, it would also give me DUAL BAND reception on 2M and 70cm, C4FM via RF or PDN, plus AirBand and general RX from 108MHz-1GHz and a BandScope!

So now we have a situation where a £399 radio is outshining the £1300 flagship's capabilities in all areas except, of course, it has no HF. Well the truth is, I don't use the 991A for HF - it's not even got an HF antenna connected. So why not sell it??

Well this is where we reach the awkward bit. SSB! If the FTM300D included 2M SSB it would be the perfect solution (for me at least). And does it really cost that much to implement sideband? My little 30yr old FT-290 does 2M SSB and so do plenty other radios. I'd have happily have paid another £100 for it. 

Oh dammit, I've just thought of another reason not to sell the 991A - 6M. I do use that - not a lot- but I'd miss it if it wasn't there. It works through my triband Diamond V2000 and it works well. This is a real PIA!!

Is it just me or does anyone else think the radio manufacturing world needs a right good shake up??

Looking around at products on the market, you can buy everything you need - as long as you're willing to go to different manufacturers and multiple radios. Having invested in a superb HF radio which satisfies all my HF needs (IC-7610), it would seem natural to match it with an equally superb VHF/UHF/DIGITAL radio such as the IC-9700, but oh my god that thing is £1800 and still leaves me with no C4FM although it provides DSTAR (which I use regularly).

So, to provide me with everything I need, I hereby announce the launch of the Yaecom TM1 VHF/UHF true multi-mode radio with touch-screen (23cm module available as an optional extra)...




IN THE END, I bought an IC-7300 and an FTM300.  For good measure I threw in an IC-9700 too 😂😂😂


Thanks for popping by. Leave a comment below, 73, Tom, M7MCQ.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

SWL STATION

Having returned the AOR AR-DV10 to the supplier (because it was dire), I was back to using the AR3000A again and as much as I love the old girl, she's a little bit awkward to use with those tiny buttons and screen. And then it dawned on me that tucked away in an aluminium travel-case is my field-day radio, the ICOM IC-7100.

Seems such a shame to have this radio hidden away for most of the year, when she could be setup in the corner of my lounge as the new SWL Station. It covers HF, 6M, 4M, 2M, 70cm, AirBand, Marine Band and DSTAR. It's connected to the discone for VHF/UHF and to the SA-7000 for HF. 

The beauty of the 7100 is that fabulous head-unit with its stable base, perfectly angled touch-screen and large tuning dial. 

I detached the microphone and turned the power down to zero. All I need to do now is spend some time programming in some useful Scan frequencies (mainly calling channels and repeaters) and some Search ranges to sniff out anything new. Once that's done, I reckon I'm going to enjoy this. 



Being in the corner of the lounge means I can sit in absolute comfort and if I hear a conversation I want to join in on, I can easily move to the Shack. Thanks to the generous separation lead, I can bring the head-unit closer to me and even use it on my lap.

It's also nice to have the Record feature which will save received audio to the SD Card. I can also use the OpenSpot-2 to connect to all the available worldwide rooms, gateways and repeaters.

The audio from the head-unit's built-in speaker is fantastic and I've adjusted the tone controls to tweak it further. It also has the convenience of a headphone socket.

Pretty neat!

M7MCQ

Friday, 10 July 2020

HONDA VFR (Not Radio)

CLASSY HONDA V4


I've had a thing about Honda's V4 for many years. Well actually, since the early 90's when they brought out the the 4th gen model - I didn't really care much for the appearance of the previous models.

The 4th generation VFR was something altogether different to the past models and (for me) really stood out as something special. Needless to say, the red one was the best and the fastest and mine was one of the last to be built - 1996. It had more than a passing resemblance to the staggeringly advanced and experimental NR750.


My little red VFR750 will always hold a special place in my heart and it's the one bike which I truly wish I'd kept hold of.

I also had a VFR800 which was a great all-round sports-tourer but I have to admit, it was quite  heavy for such a low capacity bike. Having said that, it still had that fabulous V4 masterpiece behind the fairings and the newly introduced VTEC system which gave it quite a bark when it kicked in.


The look of the bike changed dramatically, with sharp angles and underseat exhausts. The single-sided swingarm sported what I think was the best looking wheel of the VFR range.

Then came the ugly duckling - the 2010 VFR1200. This was 

definitely a Marmite bike! Although I didn't think it was particularly attractive, neither did I think it was that bad. 

The real beauty of the the VFR1200 was that stunning V4 engine. It was simply amazing - 170bhp and massive amounts of torque! With two people onboard and a load of luggage, it still rocketed forward at an amazing pace.



Comfort too was fabulous and despite the huge size of the bike, it had a fantastically low seat height and felt like a 600 when on the move.

So here we are in 2020 and I'm at Honda North West collecting my CB1100RS after a service. As soon as I enter the showroom, a bright red VFR800 RC93 comes into vision. "Wow, that's beautiful", I thought out aloud. The salesman responded by suggesting I take it home.

Minutes later, I've ordered a £10,000 bike and I'm wondering how I'm going to explain this to the wife 😂

Before signing up, I asked the salesman if he'd got any decent registration numbers and the best they had was "OMG" so I took it.

The only addition I made to the purchase was the addition of a luggage-rack on the back of the bike to accommodate our Givi V56 topbox. I absolutely hate having them on but my wife really doesn't feel safe without it 😂

It's worth pointing out that this bike, like the VFR1200, has a very neat mounting system for panniers. There's no need to add on ugly pannier mounting bars and it's very quick and easy to mount or dismount the panniers.








The new bike (pictured above) is the 8th generation VFR and features totally new appearance, with slimmer profile and a loss of weight. The costly twin side-radiators have been swapped for a single larger rad mounted centrally behind the forks. The new 8-spoke wheels are lighter too and reflect the bronze colours used around the handlebar area and the engine covers.



There's a new swing-arm (single-sided) and a single-exhaust which is actually different to all the images shown on Honda's website and literature.



Admittedly, the exhaust covers a lot of that rear wheel which is a real shame - not much point having single-sided swing-arm if you can't see the wheel (IMHO). The only option would be to buy a stubby exhaust from a third party, but I like the look and sound of the existing one.

This 2020 VFR is fitted with twin LED headlights which BOTH light up at the same time, thankfully. It drives me nuts when I see twin headlight bikes with only one side lit. WHY???



The rear light cluster look pretty damned good too. As does the instrument cluster. It all looks very classy and just slightly understated - nothing brash here!





There's not much of the modern world's high-tech computer wizardry to be found at the dashboard, but it does offer a nicely presented array of rider information with a big central dial to show revs and a white LCD speedo display. The speed (and other units) can very quickly be altered from imperial to metric which is handy when travelling abroad.

The latest model also comes with a 5-level set of heated grips, self-canceling indicators and for the first time - Traction Control. Gone is the famous Honda Linked Brakes system.



The suspension has adequate adjustment front and rear. Up front is a pair of 46mm upside-down forks and a pair of 4-pot radial brakes. ABS is, of course, standard.

The seat height is adjustable so that's good for short-arses like me. The back seat is perched up reasonably high to afford the pillion passenger a good view ahead. There's some storage space below the pillion seat for bits and bats.

We had our first rideout yesterday and covered 210 miles around beautiful North Yorkshire. Liana was very happy with the riding position and the level of comfort. The topbox is a necessary evil - she isn't happy without the reassurance of it stopping her being thrown off the bike backwards, LOL.



In all fairness, the Givi V56 is a very handy thing to have when you're going out exploring new places - it will accommodate two helmets which means you're not lugging them around when you reach your destination.

So, first impressions are very positive! There's some slow-speed throttle-snatch which is a little annoying and the lack of bottom-end grunt has led me to stall the bike twice, LOL. I think it's just a case of getting used to a different bike.

Liana commented on how much more "aggressive" I was on this bike and I think she's right. It's quite a sporty riding position and the engine loves to be pushed hard - when those 4 valves kick in at 7000rpm, the noise just makes you want to go faster for some reason 😂😂😂

Despite the clip-ons being low and the footpegs being high, I wasn't tired or aching after the day out. It was all good. So I'm a very happy chappy once more. The VFR800 is a fabulous bike for UK roads. You can rag the arse off it and not get into trouble and that makes it great fun (for me at least).




VIDEO REVIEW


VIDEO REVIEW


JAMIE WHITHAM

UPDATE : HERE SHE IS...




____________________


JUST A WORD about magazine reviewers: there's so many Honda-Haters out there. Young, spotty-faced keyboard warriors who don't know their arse from their elbow and yet they feel knowledgeable enough to slag off anything that doesn't ride like a Kawasaki H2.

Makes me laugh when they fail to review bikes with the target audience in mind. It's always been the same for some strange reason and although I appreciate that we all have our own preferences, likes and dislikes, professional reviewers should remain objective and on-point.

Instead of comparing this bike to its natural competitors (like the BMW F800), writers speak of the Z1000 and other bikes which have an extra 200cc and therefore more power and torque. I've noticed this is much more prevalent in the UK.  American reviewers seem to be much better in this respect.

Most people who buy a VFR do so because of its history in the world of motorcyling. The link to the early use of a V4 engine in Honda's famous NR500, the link to MotoGP V4, the RC30, the RC45. History!

The buying decision is much more cerebral and nothing to do with whazzing up and down a highway at prison speeds. VFR owners lust after that beautifully crafted V4 engine which sounds like no other. They want build quality and reliability and the dependency of a superb engine which has been developed, sequentially updated and in production for over 20 years instead of yet another inline-four.

Motor journalists cry "They should have made a VFR1000". Well maybe there is a market for a VFR1000, but that's not what this is - this is an update of one of the most popular sports-tourers of all time - the VFR800!

For all those VFR lovers whose bikes are approaching replacement time, this represents a nice update without getting rid of all the things that owners have come to love. They've removed the heavy twin-exhaust system, slimmed the old girl down by removing the side-radiators, fitted an all new set of fairings and nose cone, new hollow-spoke alloys, traction control, ABS brakes, self-cancelling indicators, heated grips, fully adjustable suspension, built-in pannier mounts, fabulous modern dashboard, LED lights and a strengthened ProArm. What's not to like?

No matter what you think of Honda as a manufacturer, you simply must acknowledge and admire what they've done in the last 8 decades. The fact is, since 1949, Honda have built over 400 million motorcycles!! What a staggering achievement!


Honda Dream
Honda CB750

Throughout that period, they have regularly led the way in design and engineering, dominated racing at all levels including Formula-1, IOM TT, MotoGP and World Superbikes. They have built motorbikes, superbikes, cars, supercars, marine engines, and even JETS!



Am I a Honda fanboy? Well I guess I am. I do appreciate the amazing achievements of Soichiro Honda and I've always loved the bikes he'd designed. I don't follow Honda blindly though, like some buffoon. When other bikes have been more appropriate, I've bought those instead. I've had 4 Yamahas, 2 Triumphs, 2 Kawasakis, 1 Moto Guzzi and 1 Suzuki (and about 36 Hondas) 😂



Wednesday, 8 July 2020

AOR AR-DV10 RECEIVER

TO BE OR NOT TO BE


That most definitely is the question as far as this radio goes! The DV10 has many enemies it seems and I need to find out which side I'm on, before the 14 days returns period expires.

I've fancied the AOR AR-DV10 for a couple of years - it seemed like an SWL dream machine in a compact, take anywhere package. Not only does it cover 100kHz to 1300MHz with CW, LSB, USB AM and FM modes, but it also included all the popular digital modes including C4FM, DSTAR, DMR, TETRA and more!

It all sounds fabulous, but the radio came in for harsh criticism just after launch due to the fact that it went slightly off frequency as it warmed up 😮 Not what you want when you've just laid out a grand, is it?

Before we move onto the performance of the radio, let's take a look at the kit itself. I was surprised to discover that AOR have teamed up with Yaesu to make this "state of the art" receiver and  I can't believe how I'd not noticed before that the AOR AR-DV10 shares the same case as my Yaesu FT-550!



YAESU FT-550L         AOR AR-DV10

Side by side, they're almost indistinguishable. That's not a bad thing - I've previously boasted about the Yaesu's FT-550's superb build and finish. The AR-DV10 feels equally lush. It also means that I get to share the Yaesu's accessories (such as battery and chargers) with the AOR. They're perfectly interchangeable. 👍

Having applauded the benefits of the matching radios, I should also admit to being ever so slightly miffed by the fact that these two radios, stood side by side look identical but one costs £155 and the other costs £995 👎

That's a serious difference! And bear in mind that the FT-550 is also a transmitter! So considering the two radios share the same case and the same screen, I'm hoping that what's inside the AR-DV10 is mighty special.

The AOR AR-DV10 is a full Software Defined Radio radio with an IF of 47.25MHz. The radio features revolutionary features such as automatic recognition and decoding of multi-digital modes including the ever popular DSTAR, DMR and Yaesu's System Fusion, thanks to the use of an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA and Analog Devices Blackfin DSP for demodulation. A new firmware update enables traffic channel decoding of TETRA trunking networks - the first handheld radio in the world to offer this!

The unit has a good sized screen (2.4") but it is rather low resolution (160x160 dot matrix LCD)  and it's monochrome. Again, this is quite surprising considering the cost of this AOR flagship handheld. My Kenwood D74 on the other hand, has a small but lovely, full colour, high resolution screen and my Yaesu FT3D also has a nice colour, touch screen. So there's a bit of a negative straight away.

I'm beginning to think that maybe AOR and Yaesu have tried to make some cost-cuts by giving the design-engineers a case, a screen and a PCB and telling them to work to those dimensions and not a mm more. The savings in tooling costs alone would be very significant.

Another bit of a puzzler, is the fact that this wideband, all mode communications receiver doesn't have an internal ferrite antenna (the Kenwood D74 does). In fact, the supplied rubber duck antenna only covers the airband! You do get a separate telescopic whip, but I'm surprised by the omission of the ferrite rod and suspect that it's something to do with the self-imposed restrictions of using an existing case instead if giving the designers free reign.

Like the FT-550, the AOR AR-DV10 feels substantial in the hand - it's bigger than most handhelds you've probably come across. The screen looks big and the controls are well spaced and functional. The buttons on the front are easy to press even with gloves on and they are backlit for ease of operation in dark conditions.

One of those buttons is the RECORD button which allows you to record sessions to a built-in SD Card and listen back at a later date. You can listen to your recordings from the AR-DV10 itself or from a PC and even play I/Q recordings back through some SDR software and examine the full bandwidth of the recording.




The radio is waterproof and is rated to IPX5 as long as the battery is fitted, so no need to worry about using it when the rains starts. Because of the incredible expense of the unit, I would strongly recommend a leather case for it. I recently 'tipped over' my FT3D and it marked it quite badly - gutted!!



Like the FT-550, the receiver comes with lots of stuff in the box, meaning that you don't have to spend extra on things like a desktop charger or a cigar-lighter psu lead. They even include an AA Battery tray to sit as a backup to the 7.4V 2000mAh Lithium-Ion Battery. It's kinda what you'd expect with a £1k radio.



While writing this, I received a telephone call from a UK supplier (who shall remain nameless) who gave me a very different take on the DV10 that Waters & Stanton gave me. In the email from W&S, they said the following....


Hi Tom, the DV-10 attracted bad press at it launch because of a few issues with drift and decoding.  Since then there have been several firmware update and hardware changes.  As a result the issues reported at the launch have now gone.

AOR are constantly looking at ways to update the radio which is done through firmware update.  The most recent to the performance of Tetra. Be very wary of internet and social media reports are many are the original issues recycled due to the ignorance of the current state of play.

Now that's a very bold and confident statement to make in writing when you are responding to a customer request for assurance that these issues have been resolved. It's a statement which is the absolute opposite to the other supplier's opinion on the radio.

The trouble is, there is no other handheld radio in the world which boasts all the features of the AR-DV10, so it's not like I can opt for a different make/model instead. I'm going to have to test this one carefully and see if it does what I want it to do. 

The main area of interest apart from the multi-mode wideband receive, is the ability to listen to DMR, DSTAR and C4FM. Give me all that in one small package and I'm happy. Having paid a small fortune, I'd also like the TETRA to work and (obviously) I want there to be no frequency stability issues.

Back soon after testing!

M7MCQ

UPDATE : Well, that didn't last long - it's been returned for a refund. Absolutely dreadful performance! Not only was it poor at decoding anything but a very strong local digital signal, but it was also incredibly insensitive on other bands too. A C4FM gateway just around the corner worked well but the digital repeaters in the area could not be decoded no matter which antenna I used.

I pitched it mainly against my  30yr old AOR AR3000A. In all tests, the DV10 came out worst. I tried it with the supplied antennas (swapping them between the DV10 and the 3000) and then with a colinear. My final tests were with the AOR SA-7000 wideband antenna.

No matter what I tried, the DV10 was outshone by the old AR3000A. I really wanted this to work, because there's no other receiver below £1200 can do everything the DV10 can (supposedly) do.

Such  a shame :-(