Time for amateur radio to catch up



Yaesu FT2DR

This is one of my favorite handhelds. I am partial to Yaesu, because it was also my first handheld. When I was originally licensed 17 years ago, I got an FT50. Since then I have owned a VX-6, and this.

The FT2D is Yaesu’s handheld foray into the world of digital modes. This handheld uses C4FM. It can connect directly to other handhelds, nodes, and repeaters using digital modes. It can transmit voice and data simultaneously. The people you are communicating with can know who they are talking to, where the person is, and even see what is going on (camera mic attachment).

As neat as all this is, I hope this radio is just a proof of concept. Here are the must have changes that need to happen in the next iteration of this radio.


Use a capacitive eInk touch screen that is the full size of the front face (minus the speaker). Get rid of all buttons on the front of the radio. Raise the resolution of the screen (800 x 450 minimum). That is a 16 x 9 ratio, yielding a 2 x 3.2 inch screen size. With capacitive touch, you can be wearing gloves and it will still respond. There are color eInk screens that refresh fast enough to show video. Use one.


Time to add 1.2 GHz. Why? Data speeds. This radio must be able to handle 256kbps data speeds to other radios, repeaters, and nodes. This can be done using C4FM and 128K baud transmission. Using this speed a 12 MP jpeg (average 5 MB) could move from one device to another in 20 to 30 seconds.


Add the computer to the handheld and make a SmartHT™. Use Android so that people can use the mountain of already available Android software. They can edit/resize photos, create/edit documents, log, track satellites… This would become the most common radio in the field during emergency exercises.

Get rid of everything on the right side of the radio and make it flat.


Starting at the bottom, the EXT DC IN must go. The USB 3.1 standard allows for 9 watts of power and data to use the same connector. Stop requiring connectors to do a single job. If it MUST be on the radio, make it do as much work as possible. Combine the data and DC power connector into a single connector, and put it on the bottom in the right corner.

Next one up, the MIC/SP connector. GET RID OF THIS. Have you NOT heard of bluetooth? Why are you requiring the use of cables in 2017? Make a MIC/Camera handheld device that is bluetooth based. Make the Mic rechargeable by having a micro USB connector on the bottom. This way it can use any phone charger, connect to a computer, connect to the port on the bottom right, etc. And while we’re talking about a camera, 12 MP. Period.

We’ve already talked about the Data connector.

Now we are down (up) to the microSD card slot. This is unnecessary. If the radio can connect through USB (which we’ve already addressed), make it so that the storage inside the radio is read like a drive on the computer that is connected. Then backup files, logs, and configurations can all be accessed directly. The software for configuring the device can read and write directly to the onboard memory. Since there is going to be a camera and applications, a minimum of 32GB of onboard storage is a must.

With all that gone we can now make the side flat so that someone can set the radio on its side and use it as a monitor (connecting a bluetooth keyboard). The power cable will not knock the radio over when connected. This makes the configuration field expedient and functional.

Drop in

The drop in charger should make contact with both power AND data. Keep the removable battery. We MUST be able to swap in the field. All in all this radio is a good first step. We need to catch up with tech to make the next handheld everything it can be. This recipe will not put amateur radio back out in front like it used to be, but it will make it so that we are in striking distance of cutting edge again.

6 thoughts on “Time for amateur radio to catch up

  1. Well it does what I want, C4FM (Aka Apco P25) and I don’t need the touch screen or APRS.

    In fact the interface looks remarkably similar to my Yaesu VX-7RB with the added benefit programming cables are probably alike.

    • I am happy that you have found a radio that does what you want. That’s great. I don’t see how that makes anything I said any less relevant though. You are satisfied with a set of features that were limited to the cost you were willing to pay. That’s basic economics. But that fact does not invalidate anything I said. Your perspective makes a good argument for why there should be an FT-70 (or moving forward an FT-80). My conclusion does not contradict that position. I’m glad that you have something that works for you.

    • I assume you are saying that the FT70DR does all the exact same things as an FT2DR and is cheaper.

      Since the FT1DR AND FT2DR came out before the 70, it would be assumed that the design of the predecessors educated the design of the most recent model…


      And in what I explained, I showed WHY the touchscreen (color touchscreen) would be useful, did I not? I talked about including Android, did I not? I explained how amateur radio operators would benefit from having access to a “smartHT,” right?

      Would I expect it to cost approximately the same as a SmartPhone without the subsidy from the service provider? I would, wouldn’t everybody expect that? You’re in essence getting a SmartPhone that has 3 transceivers (2m, 70cm, 23cm) for amateur radio use, instead of transceivers for cellphone use. Am I willing to pay for it? Of course. Are you? I have no idea. If people only want cheap radios with digital capability DMR is in plentiful supply.

      So yes, it costs more. But when you get more than $200 benefit out of the design… isn’t that an acceptable, even expected thing?

      • I’ve seen the FT2DR as low as $300, and as high as almost $600. But the problem with what you are saying is found in the first statement I made, “I assume the FT70DR does all the exact same things as an FT2DR….”

        It does not. The FT2DR has built in APRS for one thing. THAT matters. The FT2DR can be used to find various rooms when connected to a C4FM repeater, from the touch screen… how does the FT70 do this? There are many more differences between the radios than just the touch-screen.

        So no, the FT70 is NOT the same as the FT2. There are other differences. and those differences add to the bottom line. I do realize that there would be a cost difference between the FT70 and the radio design I am recommending.

        You still haven’t supported that the price difference is a bad thing. So I’m still in the same position. Yes, there’s a cost difference. Yes, I agreed with that. So what? You are still getting more capability for the cost.

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