Yaesu FTM-350 reviews

Needs Refinement

Yaesu FTM-350, Mobile VHF/UHF Transceiver

I have the A/R version of this rig, purchased new just a few months ago. It replaced an FT-2900 in my truck and, I have to confess, while I like the rig I'd rather have mt FT-2900 back.

First, the manuals for this rig (there are two, one for the radio and one for the APRS) are quite possibly the worst manuals Yaesu has ever put out, and that's saying something for a company notorious for poorly laid out manuals.

Second, while the rig has some great features it also has some that make you wonder what the engineers were thinking, like a recording barometer that resets when the rig is off, a 1 watt mode for 220, and a mounting system that's just about useless. It also lacks some features that leave you scratching your head trying to figure out why it wasn't included, such as a tone search feature.

The remote head is nice, with a good display, but the inability to mount it to the rig body means you're stuck with the suction cup mount that's included (and is the only mount offered for the rig by Yaesu) and frankly, it sucks... or doesn't suck actually, falling off constantly at the slightest bump.

The audio on this rig also leaves a lot to be desired. There is a speaker on the body, but since you can't mount the head to the body you'll probably have that buried under a seat somewhere, rendering it useless, and the twin speakers in the head are small and underpowered, and face away from the operator, which means you'll have a hard time hearing this rig in almost any vehicle. It does come with an audio splitter plug, allowing for the addition of two external speakers, but if the audio had been designed properly you wouldn't need them. As it is, they're almost mandatory to be able to hear this rig.

Then there's the APRS and messaging system... Good, but also in need of major improvement. Entering any kind of text for a message is a real chore, and if you run the APRS you'll have to dedicate one VFO to it, which means forget about actually using both VFO's to monitor anything. Also, anytime the APRS transmits it will cut off the receive on the other VFO, so you'll miss parts of transmissions.

With 500 memories per VFO you'd think you'd be all set to store anything you need, but there's two serious flaws with the system. First, it's impossible to transfer or copy a frequency from one side to the other and, second, there's no bank system that you can use. That, combined with the inability to easily program priority frequencies (or overwrite them with new) means programming software and a laptop are pretty much mandatory to get the most out of the system.

It's not all bad news though. The rig does perform quite well, and since it's mostly a software based system Yaesu can (and has) come out with updates for the firmware to add new features or change things on menus. Alas, they will not release anything that will let owners do such changes on their own, so you can't redefine to soft menus and controls the way you might want them, but it does give hope that as they get feedback from owners things will improve.

Lastly, the inclusion of 1 watt transmit on 220 strikes me as almost an afterthought on this rig. By the time that 1 watt signal gets to your antenna (which will need to be a tri-bander) you've already lost a good part of that watt due to feedline losses. Why they didn't make it at least 5 watts, and preferably 10 or more, I'll never understand.

The choice I had when buying this rig was between it and the Icom IC-2820. If I had the choice to make over again I'd go with the Icom.

Written by KJ4VOV on May 15, 2011

Overall
 
Performance
Build quality
Features
User friendlyness
Value for money
Aquired
Mint condition in 2011
USD 685.00