When I got my license in 1990 I bought a FT736R because I wanted to work the satellites. Such as AO-30 and AO-10. I also got all 4 bands. 6 and 2 meters, and 70 cm and 1.2 ghz. I then thought I'd try EME.
It took a while using a linear 100 watt amp on 1.296 to clean up my cable run, find a good low noise preamp, and good connectors. I ended up using a 10 foot TV satellite dish, and a rather large carefully made custom horn antenna. It was made of brass, which I had the interior of the horn silver plated. With that, the day came when I sent my CQ to the Moon, and 2.5 seconds later, at an S7 I heard the return echo. I'll never forget that day. I was hearing back in time.
The thing is, I had done nothing to the FT736R, other than cleanup the losses in my antenna and cable system enough to allow and incredibly weak return signal to be processed by the FT736R's receiver. And I had no problem tracking the Moon, (a full Moon sounds like a pot of boiling water due to its surface heat). It was a thrill I've never topped in Ham radio..
Using a large V corner reflector, I found I could receive stage microphones, (supposedly limited to 100 feet), at 7 miles.
The receiver could handle practically anything I could feed into it to process. Using an over the horizon TV channel #6 carrier, I once tracked what could of only been and SR-7 spy plane as it came up from the south toward Spokane, WA., then turned and headed over toward Seattle, WA., It then drifted out to sea, heading down the coast apparently to Edwards AFB. I lost it shortly thereafter due to the curvature of the Earth and the TV station in Idaho. I couldn't determine altitude. but using the rotor degree indicator I could track the direction of aircraft at heights great enough to see the TV station in Idaho.
Just for kicks, I did the math on the Doppler shift in the carriers reflected signal, and got a speed of Mach 2.5. Probably not that accurate, but good enough to give me an idea of what it was.
The reason I write this is, there are a lot of reviews saying that the FT736R receiver sensitivity wasn't that great. I found the hard way, that cable and antenna losses have a tremendous affect on what the receiver receives to process. And I might add, I used no other computer enhancement of the signal to clean it up before, or during processing. The receivers processed result simply went into a water fall display, and a set of headphones.
In short, I found out that a larger antenna upgrade can cover up some losses in your system. But if "Quality" connectors and cable are used with that upgrade, at times stunning results come back when those loses are removed..
True, good cable, connectors and such are expensive, but it pays off, and usually lasts for a decade. It is also a lot cheaper than upgrading to a new, and supposedly better receiver..
Cliff Bates KC7PPM
Since purchasing this radio new back in the early 90's, I've added just about every accessory to the radio I could find. I've used it for the VHF contests on 6M, 2M, 70CM, 222MHz and 1.2GHz, and it's worked just fine. Computer control for the satellites is easy.
The only major problem I've had with it is the power supply - just like other owners have found, the internal power supply quit working. I have yet to replace the bad caps - I'd rather run it off of 12V anyways.
This radio seems to be what others are compared to, and was top of the line in it's day. Modules can still be found (expect big $$$ for the 1.2GHz module), and I'm sure there's still 1,000's still in use world-wide today. Prices have significantly dropped for the basic radio - if you're looking for one, be sure of what features are included. Some out there are being sold stripped down with no PL board or the CW filter (the filter was included in my radio when I bought it). Prices for accessories can be high!
I love the radio because of the sensitivity and options available. If I could buy another one, I would!