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Railfan Technology > Yaesu FT-25r

Date: 04/11/17 18:30
Yaesu FT-25r
Author: trkinsptr

They are finally shipping! I should have mine this week.

Date: 04/12/17 04:04
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: kgmontreal

Ok.  What does this scanner do that would make me want one?


Date: 04/12/17 08:32
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: trkinsptr

It's a VHF ham radio that also scans and covers the railroad spectrum. I have 2 Ft-250r's which are great but don't have banks.

Date: 04/12/17 12:10
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: TCnR

The rated audio power looks very useful. Not very expensive but the VHF would be a HAM specific feature. Curious how it works out.

Date: 04/14/17 15:47
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: trkinsptr

I have had one for a couple of days and am busy testing it out.Program the memory channels first and then fish out the freqs that you want to put in the 10 available banks. I am waiting for a better portable antenna and adapter for the cable in the car so I can test it with a 1/4&5/8 wave antenna. It has a loud speaker so you may not need an aux speaker.It seems to receive very well even with the supplied antenna (SMA female connector).

Date: 04/15/17 13:42
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: WW

OK, I'm going to beat this very dead horse one more time.  This radio, like almost "mainstream" Japanese amateur radios, for all of their virtues, WILL NOT TUNE THE POST-2013 NARROW BAND "SPLINTER" ANALOG CHANNELS THAT ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR RAILROAD USE.  The key spec to look for is the tuning step:  if a 2.5 kHz tuning step is not available, then the radio will not tune the splinter channels.  Period.  That means that this radio can only tune the 97 "original"  AAR analog channels and will not tune the additional 97 or so splinter analog channels that are also now available.  In that regard, this radio is no better than the decade-plus old Yaesu VX-150 and VX-170 radios that I have.  By contrast, most of the current Chinese amateur radios from manufacturers like Bao Feng and Wouxun WILL tune the splinter channels--primarily because the chassis of those radios are essentially built almost identically to their corresponding commercial models, which have to be able to splinter channel tune.  Why the Japanese amateur radio manufacturers can't figure out that many of their radios are sold to people who need to have the splinter channel tuning capability in the extended receive portion of the radio is beyond me.  Kenwood did figure it out on the TM-281A amateur mobile and it is THE amatuer mobile radio that I recommend for railfanning.

So, in short, people buying this "new model" radio are buying a radio that can tune only half of the analog radio channels that are available for railroad use.  How is that a good deal?

Date: 04/15/17 17:43
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: BRAtkinson

This thread got me off 'dead center' about doing something about replacing my ancient but still reliable Radio Shack Pro-51.  I bought this one to replace one just like it I accidently left on a train in back '92 or '93.

I decided to look at the specs and other information regarding the Yaesu FT-25R as well as other Yaesu portables in addition to a few competitors offerings.  Among the things I found out is that the more basic scanners don't have the (cross-talk?) signal selectivity/sensitivity that ham radios do, so getting a HAM transceiver/scanner will produce better/clearer reception than a scanner-only device.  I'm also a very low-end 'doomsday prepper', being able to handle perhaps a month without electricity and/or plumbing, so getting an emergency radio with transmit capability seems to be a worthwhile investment.  I also need one with a capability to use AA or AAA rechargeable batteries that I have multiple means of recharging, including solar and in my car.

So, I downloaded the instructions for the FT-25R and was immediately overwhelmed by the complexity of the the buttons and even knobs having multiple uses.  That's a far cry from the easy to use and program Pro-51.  What I'm looking for is the ability to have a railroad-by-railroad set of frequencies programmed such that band 1 is the NEC, band 2 is CSX, band 3 is NS, etc.  That's worked well for me on the Pro-51 as with a press of a single digit button while scanning will add/subtract each band...until I dropped it about 3 years ago and the entire memory was erased!  Normally, removing the batteries doesn't lose the memory, but dropping it (and batteries popping out) did!  So, I spent hours finding and reprogramming all the frequencies again, and less than a year later dropped it again with the same results.  So now I only program what I need when I need it and hope to not drop it again.  This getting old stuff really stinks!

While it looks like the FT-25R as well as other HAM transceiver/scanners will do what I want, the big problem, as I see it, is programming them!  In my 'studies' the past couple of days, I found there's software available, some free, some paid, that can run one your computer and be uploaded into the radio, and vice-versa...but only IF you have the proper cord, about $25 or so.  Here's the rub...like folks who have to get the latest and greatest camera only to discover the hard way that their computer doesn't recognize the camera and/or their post processing software cannot handle the changed RAW formats.  The newest scanners have the same problem!  There's no programs available just yet that can be used to program them!  One programming product, CHIRP, which is free, is strictly volunteer-written, so it may be a year or so before a new radio can be programmed with their software.  I suspect the paid versions will similarly be a while before the FT-25R is supported.

So, what I’m leaning towards is the FT-60R.  It’s been available since 2004, still available new, and multiple computer programs support it.  After downloading and reading the user manual, it looks like it can be set to support 2.5 khz tuning steps although the default setting is 5 khz.  Many thanks to WW above for the heads up!  Used prices are in the $100-130 range and can be had for $155 new!  Time for more checking….

I also don’t want to go to jail for accidently pressing the “press to talk” button.  There’s times, too, I may feel the urge to talk to a train crew on the air and will have to actively curb that tendency.  In reading the manuals, it looks like PTT is used for other purposes…like to stop scanning.  Yikes! 

To be completely legal, I’ve started looking into getting a HAM license.  The ‘entry level’ technical level license doesn’t look too difficult from what I’ve found online.  I think I’ve got 3/4s of it already down pat as I started college as an electrical engineering student 51 years ago, but the heavy duty calculus convinced me to switch to computer sciences instead. 

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/15/17 17:49 by BRAtkinson.

Date: 04/15/17 18:04
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: TCnR

Yeasu has a method to prevent trainsmitting outside of the HAM Band. No issues with transmitting, however havng a scanning radio that covers the Police Band is illegal in some states. The HAM license clears that hurdle, in those states. The low cost Boefang, or whatever spelling, does not have that lockout and can/does transmit in all bands that it receives. If you're out there in Mongolia somewhere why would it not?

RT Systems has a website listing the radios that they support, the price is around 40 bucks. What is interesting is that the spreadsheet in the S/W becomes a record of frequencies. It also makes it clear how many settings there are for specific HAM uses, like Club Repeaters etc. There is also some YouTube and other demonstrations for using Search and Rescue channels.

The FT-60r is now my most used radio because of the EOT and DPU coverage. It has a number of 'almost but not quite right' features, like the tiny knobs and overly sensitive keypad, also the weak audio. ICOM has a similar radio with a 700 mW audio.

The HAM radios are still susceptible to InterMods, spurs and noise from the many transmitter sites in the modern world, just at a higher level. Not nearly as bad as hobby style scanners but it does happen, usually just being too close, or being in a site to site beam for some reason.

The splinter channels is a good point, so is the conversion to NXDN. The narrow channels causes the audio to be very low, not sure how much of a detriment it is. Technical details change quickly, in the meantime there's trains to catch and you need a radio.

Date: 04/16/17 09:18
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: WW

BRAtkinson Wrote:

> So, what I’m leaning towards is the FT-60R. 
> It’s been available since 2004, still available
> new, and multiple computer programs support it. 
> After downloading and reading the user manual, it
> looks like it can be set to support 2.5 khz tuning
> steps although the default setting is 5 khz. 
> Many thanks to WW above for the heads up!  Used
> prices are in the $100-130 range and can be had
> for $155 new!  Time for more checking….

The FT-60R DOES NOT HAVE 2.5 kHz tuning steps!!!!!!!!!  The owner's manual shows that it has a minimum tuning step of 5 kHz.  Another way to tell is to look at the display--manually enter a splinter frequency into the radio, e.g., 161.3325--if that displays on the radio, then it has 2.5 kHz tuning capability; if it will not take and display a splinter frequency exactly, then it likely does not.  Even with a 2.5 kHz-capable amateur radio, the STEP setting is generally set to a default of 5 kHz and must be reset to 2.5 kHz.  Don't get fooled by the "wide/narrow" setting that allows a 2.5 kHz deviation.  Most amateur radios have that feature, which makes narrow band transmit/receive sound better, BUT IT DOES NOT ALLOW TUNING AT 2.5 kHz STEPS!

I will repeat this again: to my knowledge, I do not know of ANY portable amateur radio made by Yaesu, Kenwood, or Icom that will do 2.5 kHz tuning.  In mobile radios, the only currently sold amateur model by Kenwood, Yaesu, or Icom that will do 2.5 kHz tuning steps is the Kenwood TM-281A.  The Chinese manufacturers, Bao Feng, Wuoxun, and others, do make "amateur" radios that will tune 2.5 kHz tuning steps.  However, quality and performance of those radios can vary widely--even among different radios of the same model, programming can be difficult, operating manuals are often incomplete and confusing, and most of them will transmit out of the amateur band--which raises the risk of inadvertently transmitting on the railroad channels one is monitoring.

Many people are betting (when they buy a minimum 5 kHz tuning analog radio) that the railroads will not use the splinter channels that are available to them.  That, in my opinion, is a poor bet.  Though it may not come soon, I also think that betting that railroads will not use NXDN digital is a poor bet.  Why?  Well, if either was true, why would the railroads have spent, and continue to spend, tens of millions of dollars on radio equipment with those capabilities with no intent to eventually utilize those capabilities?

For those interested, the AAR frequency plan is readily available for download at various locations on the internet.  All of the splinter AND NXDN frequencies already have AAR channel designations assigned.  For example, the frequency of 161.3325 that I wrote above is designated AAR Channel No. 181 in narrow band analog and AAR Channel No. 456 in very narrow band NXDN digital.   By the way, the FCC has essentially delegated frequency coordination for the railroad band to the Association of American Railroads.  The Frequency Coordinator for the US is housed at the Transportation Test Center at Pueblo, Colorado.     

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/17 09:23 by WW.

Date: 04/16/17 19:46
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: TCnR

So nobody is presently using 2.5 kHz steps, but they could.
Nobody is using NXDN, but they could.
What happens if a radio with 5 kHz steps receives a 2.5 kHz channel? I can see a problem if two adjacent channels are received at the same time.

If a radio receives two 2.5kHz channels on using a 5kHz bandwidth, can you still sell the radio on E-Bay?

yeah, I know the answer too.

Date: 04/22/17 17:58
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: trkinsptr

I have been testing the Ft25r all day in the Portland area.Connected to a 1/4 wave antenna on the car it is awesome! However it also picks up more interference than my FT250r.The closer you get to downtown Portland the worse it gets! Currently in Troutdale working interference free.

Date: 04/22/17 18:47
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: trkinsptr

I adjusted the squelch setting to level 8 and that helped a bit with the interference. Also my old radio shack aux speaker plugged right in to the side of the radio (3.5mm).Next week I will test a new portable antenna.

Date: 04/22/17 19:38
Re: Yaesu FT-25r
Author: WW

Lack of selectivity is the downfall of most scanners and many amateur radios. Adjusting the squelch up to 8 to try to silence interference also "deafens" the radio to most weak signals, too. It's like having a cheap radio with poor sensitivity. Unfortunately, the problems with RF interference are exploding with the proliferation of electronic equipment everywhere. That equipment is supposed to comply with Part 15 of the FCC regulations that are designed to prevent "spurious emissions" from such equipment, but the FCC has few resources to police the regulations and violations are at epidemic levels. Even commercial radio equipment is not immune to interference problems, but it generally fares much better at rejecting interference compared to amateur equipment or scanners. I've reached the point that I don't even try to use anything but commercial equipment when I'm railfanning in metro areas or even medium-size towns--there is just too much RF interference to foul up reception on scanners and most amateur equipment.

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