FT-891 Portable Station Review: Last update – 09/24/2019

Long story that got shortened: I got rid of my KX3 station for several reasons.  Three years of agony has taken it’s toll and it was sold to a new home that will give it some much necessary TLC.  A relief that it is gone.

To take it’s place was 4 choices.

  • IC-7100
  • IC-7300
  • FT-891
  • FT-857D

Of these 4 choices and several hams who assisted, I chose this wonderful transceiver.

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The FT-891 has become my new portable radio for those operations that require 100w in a compact design and also feature laden, just as the KX3 was while in my possession.

Unpacking this radio was an actual pleasure. I will spare you any details of the unpacking since some people hate unpacking videos, but I can say everything was packed with the utmost care.  Much better than my elder FT-817ND several years ago.

After unpacking, I inspected all of the components and noticed one concern.  Included in this kit is a RJ11 cable from the RF deck to it’s FT891 control head.  this cable was contorted in such a manner it looks quite painful. I may see some issues down the road, but it should be an easy fix, or buy a separation kit.

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Another concern is the placement of the microphone cable.  my FT-891 has a severely recessed RJ45 jack into it’s RF deck that is covered by the face place.  This not very convenient for removal but could also pose an issue where strain can be placed on it’s face-plate and also unnecessary cable wear. You can see the images below.  I did not feel a need to tare apart this radio for a picture.

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On to functionality: The Pros

  • my FT-891 accommodates 1/8 plugs for ALL of my keys without issues. This includes TRS, TRRS, and TS configurations.  There is no inadvertent keying of this radio due to poor design and architecture such as the KX3. 444.jpg
  • Ergonomics on this FT-891 are excellent.  VFO and muti-fiction knob are located within one hand width from one another. This minimizes movement and fatigue operating this radio.  The addition of Portable Zero Side carrying handles with thumb screws enhances this feel and offers some protection.
  • Another feature I recently came across is an ability to dual wield an external speaker and a pair of headphones at the same time.  For me, this is a big plus and allows others to listen while I am operating via headphones.
  • One hallmark of this radio is it’s DSP module. Excellent! The DSP has several useful characteristics such as noise reduction, contour, automatic notch and IPO.  This all contributes to a radio that rivals BHI’s DSP card for it’s 857D and 817 units.
  • CW can be done in SSB mode as well.  Although I am not accustomed to listening, all at once, several CW signals and picking out my own, the ability is there to stay in one mode and use another.
  • A real treat, and one that is not even pre-programmed into my IC-7610 is 60m.  Don’t get me wrong, my IC-7610 does have the ability, but the FT-891 has all 60m frequencies pre-programmed for CW, digital and SSB.
  • Menus,  I really hate menus in Yeasu products.  I was astonished to see the amount of menus and how they were laied out.  they are very easy to navigate. There is one main menu that governs higher level functions and another menu to drive functionality.
  • This unit also stays very warm during RX and even has general coverage!

The Cons:

  • Given the fact this radio is designed to be operated mobile, there is no easy way to switch between USB and LSB at a button press.  That all needs to be done via FT-891 main menu.
  • It can get irritating at times, but the lack of a “D,” option button in place of the clarifier is much desired.
  • Operating CW with filtering requires use of this radio’s functions WDH( width) and NAR (Narrow). NAR engages filtering down to 50hz and WDH allows the adjustment. Otherwise filtering is stuck on 500hz being the lowest setting.
  • This one is a neutral issue.  I found the FT-891 to be very sensitive to SWR.  After tuning my Dentron MT2000A to a 1:1 on my meters, the FT-891 still registered a 1.4 SWR. Further tweaking was needed in the form of capacitance very slightly to remediate this irritation. Amid some forgiveness could have been built into this rig to handle 1.4 but I suppose this can also be viewed as a neutral comment as well. I have no issues comparing it to my IC-7610 which does not exhibit this behavior and has ample forgiveness for SWR.
  • Yeasu could have refined functionality menu abbreviations to look more like it’s main menu, with full length words for each function.
  • On 6m FM, there is a 500ms pause after the PPT is pressed. Not sure why that is happening,
  • I found that the tuner button, when hot connected to an external auto ATU, it does not recognize it.  A power cycle of this radio is needed.

 

The more I utilize this radio, I will continue to add more to this review. Stay tuned for more live updates.

Things left to test and review

  • SSB TX
  • Digital TX
  • Portability

RESOURCES

FT-891 Manual

Equalizer settings; How to
Actual Settings

 

 

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