Yaesu FT-991 as a 2M station

July 2018 - Updated Februari 2019

I bought my Yaesu FT-991 to replace my Icom 746 that I use for 2M. And here is my pros and cons. And in this article, I only speak about 2M (and some 70cm), so if your aim is to use this as a HF radio, well.. this is probably not for you.

First, I love this radio. It’s small, good quality, good sound reports and so on, but it’s not perfect.

The filters

On the IC-746, every button and feature works, whatever you are in FM, SSB etc. but not on the 991. If you are in FM you don’t have and RF gain to play with, and if you don’t have RF gain, you don’t have any ATT. Here is a list that I miss and that's not working in FM mode.

:: NB
:: IPO
:: RF gain
:: ATT
:: Notch
:: Width
:: NDR
:: Shift
:: DNF
:: Mic EQ*
:: Proc

(* You have some sort of EQ in the menus. )

And yes.. many will say... “You don’t ever use notch, IPO, NB.... “ on FM....

Well... you are little wrong there!
If you only speak over a local repeater or to your neighbor, then you don’t need this functions. But if you speaking to a noisy station fair away, this functions and feature are rally good to have. On the IC-746 you can eliminate so much noise and other stuff that you hear the station very clear. You can’t do that on the 991! You have to listen to all that noise and interference that you barely hear the station. So.. Yeasu.. come on.. this is a good radio, give us some filter!

Even in SSB you don’t have access to all the filters and functions! You don’t have ATT, IPO (and maybe some more that I haven’t notes yet). Come on!
I have a Yaesu FTM-400DE, and I understand why I don’t have many of the above functions, it’s a FM/C4FM mobile station. But on the 991, that IS a all mode station... I don’t get it.

Do Yaesu have any (new) radio that give you these functions on 2M?

The memory

What about it?
You don’t have a fast way to access the memory channels. And many radios have this problem, not only the 991. On the 991.. well... here is the manual (picture).

It’s to many steps to access them or to scan them. There is a function that you can hold in the down/up keys on the microphone to start the scan. Thanks for that!

Yeah.. another thing.. it’s so slow when it scans, the FTM-400 is much faster. And if you have C4FM and other modes in the memory, it’s even slower! So if you are gonna program this radio, take all the C4FM channels in one row, and then all FM, or vice versa. Don’t mix them! Trust me!

And when we pay this amount money on the radio, why can’t we have a free program? €40 extra for the program... :/
I have a FT-70D, and I can download the program for free at Yaesus website, but not the 991.

But there is an option. Chris, VK2BYI made a program that you can program your radio for free... but... come on! Give him some donation.

Here is the program to VK2BYI website.

The buttons

It’s a small radio and you need to put the buttons somewhere. But in some way, it’s to close to the VFO and AF/RF knobs, so it’s really easy to change the frequency or something else when to need to press some of the right buttons. The radio is not that small, so the layout is not the best, and I don’t have big hands.

The heat!

Yes.. this radio overheat, or in some way.
We have around 30 degrees celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) indoor, sometime even more. And this radio turns into a fire bowl. Once (when I write this article) I notes a strange thing. I was on the radio and it just flipped the frequency. It went down -230kHz, and then it tried to compensate +230kHz with the clarifier! That did’t work very well... :)
The interesting thing was that it tried to adjust itself. I just turned it off and on again, normal..

If we look in the service manual we see how the heatsink is designed. It’s not bad, but I have seen better.
The next picture you see my station and the the heatsink under the HF finals. The 2M/70cm heatsink is under the tuner... it’s flat.

So yeah, this radio is warm. I have a Hytera MD785, and that radio is a bubble fire bowl! You can’t touch that radio, seriously!!.. But that works without any problem.

The fan noise

Many say that this radio have a low fan noise, I can’t agree. I think is to noisy.
In this article I change the fan, and it got much quieter. Plus, I got a better airflow with this designed fan. So, I have the heating problem, but not that much that I have with the original fan.

But I thinking to put another fan on it because it’s worm climate / indoors here.

The waterfall

Is it just me???
It’s a annoying thing! I don’t have the A model (but with all the new firmware), and i don’t like it! When I turn the VFO (fast), the sounds go away and the poor waterfall comes in. Didn't they fix this in the new firmware?

I would LOVE to have a function there I could disable that thing. Can I do it? I haven't seen that function yet, and I have look’t at the menu a loot.

So, in the end.. Is this radio so bad?

NOOOO! I love this radio...

It’s a nice radio.
I always get nice signal reports and sound quality with a big boost. And if you invest in a MD-100 microphone... you boost this radio even more!

My aim was to replace my Icom-746 and the FTM-400 with this radio, but I can’t!

I always use the 991 with the local repeaters and contacts around on FM and C4FM (and sometime with a 200W amplifier). But on SSB, that’s another story. This radio don’t come close to the IC-746 when we speak about the operation on SSB with all the filters and functions. Yes... you have them on the 991 as well... in a menu format with a multi-knob... is just annoying. Is so much easier on the 746, and it has better filters as well!

And the 746 have 100W output on 2M, the FT-991 only have 50W.

So... right know, I can’t get rid of the 746, it’s a good station. But the 991 beats the 746 on local communications. And it’s beats the FTM-400, so I don’t “need” that one.

And it have C4FM (like the FTM-400). I don’t like D-star or DMR, but C4FM (fusion) have a much better sound quality. Here in my country, C4FM is not that big, and that’s sad! Because it’s better. Yes, DMR have nice functions... but it’s not the same.

And you can get a OpenSPOT then you have access to DMR (Brandmeister, DMRplus), D-Star (DCS, REF/DPlus, XRF/DExtra, XLX), System Fusion (FCS, YSFReflector) etc. Some full functions, some limited.

So.. the end of the day...

The 991 is a HF radio that came out the same time when the Icom released the IC-7300. I have an 7300, and that radio wins over the 991 on HF, easy! It’s like Yaesu just threw in a “bad” 2M/70cm radio in it to say HF/VHF and UHF.

But.... this is the best (HF) 2M/70cm radio that Yaesu have, if you don’t need (or want) a mobile station. And it’s so sad that all the manufactory don’t make any good 2M/70cm radios any more (yes... we are waiting for the IC-9700)! Every time they disable some functions. And again, we don’t speak about mobile stations, then we have IC-7000 and 7100, even if 7100 is very close to compare. But I will probably never compare the 7100 with something because I don’t like that radio. The 7000, I like it as a mobile there you have everything in a very small box.

I asked my self... if I have to chose one radio... I would take the 991! But I would go for a A model then.

It’s a all bands (HF/6M/2M/70cm) and all modes (CW, SSB, AM, FM, C4FM, RTTY, DATA) station in a small case that have digital mode. And with a OpenSPOT, you get access with the DMR channels around the world if you like that. And then you have a USB port on the radio, so you don’t need any Signalink to use any digital modes (PSK, F8, Packet etc.). Everything in a small case!

I had a Kenwood TS-2000 before. It stood between that and the IC-746, I kept the 746 (it had better filer and receiving sensitivity). Also, my 2000 was in the range of the bad filter manufacturing (even if I didn't have any problem with it), but I didn’t like to take the risk and I didn’t like the radio.

A (good used) TS-2000 and the 991A.. Even if the Kenwood is better in some ways, and the 991 in the other ways, I would take the 991A (if we only speak about analog). But the 991 have C4FM, USB, etc. etc.... so... it's a easy! And Icom have nothing to compare with here. Not in that price level (we don’t speak about mobiles).

The IC-9700 could be very interesting! But, that will not have C4FM, and i don’t use D-star. So to replace 746 with a 9700 just for SSB on 2M? Is that worth €1500 extra? And then, you have to struggle with the multi-knob like the IC-7300.

The 746 is a damn good radio even if is 24 years old know! Back then, they make good stuff.
I wold love to try out the new? 2M all mode, all function no limit 200W Yaesu radio. Where is it??
And where are Kenwood on the map. Ohh.. sorry, they lost the 2M race for a long time ago.. Sorry Kenwood fans.

In the end.. The Yaesu FT-991(A) is a really great radio. It’s absolutely not perfect in any way.. but....

Updated February 2018

Well.. I did an update of my used 991 to a new 991A. Not because of the waterfall, that’s not worth it, instead, it’s a new radio and i had some volume problem with the old one. The seller sad that it worked to 100%, but... no. So I ordered a new 991A just because I like the radio very much.

The A model is the same that non A, except of the waterfall. If you are looking for a used 991(A), my suggestion is that you look for a non A model. That’s the half of the price of the same machine. If the waterfall is important for you, well.. then you don’t have a choice.

If you are looking for a used non A model, be sure to take a “new” model or a radio there the finals has ben change. Yaesu had a loot of problem with the finals in the non A model there they burned up.

The waterfall

The argument that many say that this is the reason to choice the A model... there I say no no no... Yes, it’s nice to have, but it’s the double price.

So, is it worth it? I knew that you can’t compare the 991A to an Icom IC-7300 waterfall, and the waterfall is really crap on the 991A. Yes.. if this is your first waterfall radio, then you don’t have anything to compare with and it’s really cool. But.. Yeah..