Over the holiday season I was offered the opportunity to buy a Yaesu FT-7 radio and I accepted. For the last number of months I have been experiencing the advantages and disadvantages of QRP operations and this is THE rig for just this practice. I have been working 15, 20 and 40 meter bands on power outputs in the range of 5 to 15 watts on the voice peaks. Offered for sale in the mid 1970’s, was a popular radio for entry level amateur radio and designed for mobile operators. It has nice pleasing front panel features with simple clean arrangement of controls. I find operation the main tuning dial no problem and the recessed front knob is a comfortable size for good control. The tuning dial control is through a gear reduction system that makes small adjustments of frequency very easy. One rotation of the knob covers 16 KHZ of bandspread.
For a radio of it’s time, it is small but compared to current radios is quite comparable in size. If I were looking for a mobile radio in the 1970’s this would have been a wise choice. I think it would have fit under the dash of many cars of that time. I have decided to use this radio in the future as a portable station that can house in a aluminum travel case to take to the lake.
Power for this rig is any 13.5 volts power supply that can serve up 6 amps. If operating away, this takes away the requirement to have a big bulky power supply as any 6 amp power supply will be much smaller in size opportunity. I doubt very much that this rig ever draws 6 amps at any time. More like 3 with power outputs of only 10 watts.
The receiver is very good and compares to many current receivers of this time period. I have no problem hearing signals through much of the normal noise floor in my area. Signals even on 15 meters without any kind of pre-amp are easily heard. I just completed a contact to a station in Chile, XR4SURF, a special events station in the west coast of South America. This was a 6000 mile contact and the power I was using was only 8 watts.
What his radio is teaching me is the power of good propagation and it’s power to make very weak transmissions work. I am doing with this rig all that I did with the Kenwood TS-570D that I had. All on one tenth of the power that the 570 had.
I am using a DX-88 Vertical antenna that is also quite good on 15 meters.
I built a digital interface for this radio and use it to work RTTY and PSK31 with great success.
The one issue I have with operating this rig is the regular calibration of the frequency so that what is read on the dial is really the proper frequency. It takes a bit of practice to use the Marking signal and the instructions in the manual are pretty good. Moving the calibration slider takes a bit of patience to hear when you are on frequency that the beat tone is low. What is read on the dial frequency readout is now the frequency of reception.
This radio transmits reasonably well on frequency, I used to worry that when sending a signal I was off but all replies have never indicated that I was off frequency at any time so I have become more comfortable that I am on the frequency that I am receiving.
I have discovered that this radio drifts ever so slightly when just turned on and I am not quite sure what part of the radio contributes to this condition. After thirty minutes warm up this radio stabilizes and holds frequency properly.