Cloning or Saving Radio Configurations

There has been a lot of activity on the Bulletin Board lately regarding the ability to save your radio configuration on a PC file and to be able to restore it later. This would be very handy for the inevitable RESET, and you could then reload the memories like you had them without having to enter them one at a time.

The FT-847 is capable of cloning itself to another FT-847. See p. 92 in the Operating Manual for how to clone. Since most of us don't have access to more than one FT-847, or if we did, it's unlikely we would want an identical setup on both, the cloning feature by itself is not very useful. But the capability to clone, with some clever decoding, does allow us to "clone" our radio's setup to a PC file instead of another radio. I call the cloned information a "configuration," or configuration file. It would be a record of all your memory settings, and likely other setup preferences.

A clone file contains a wide variety of information about the radio it came from. It contains at least the following:
the memory channels 1-78 (including offsets, splits, mode, etc.),
the satellite memory channels (including tags),
the home channels,
the band stacking registers,
the status of the buttons on the front panel (ATT, AGC-F, PROC, MONI, etc.), including DSP buttons, and
the values of all the menu selections.

This means that you can save the "state" of your radio at any particular time and restore it at some future time. It also means that you can save multiple "states" and have a choice for reloading.

The first step in manipulating a configuration is the ability to save it on disk and then reload it to the radio. Mitch VE6JTM, Eddy F5EZH, and Gary N5IXI (and others, I expect) have been able to save and reload a configuration. Peter DH1NGP, has a program called FT847-SuperControl which allows you to 1) read your radio's data, 2) manipulate the 78 main memory channels, the 12 satellite channels and two scanrange channels and then 3) reload the edited configuration back to the FT-847. This neat feature means that you can create different configurations for your FT-847 and then download whichever one you wanted, a la ADMS software. Click here to read the FAQ on Available software and where you can get FT847-SUperControl and other software.

Gary also relayed to me his finding that reloading a configuration to the radio requires that both the configuration file and the radio have the same "country" identity. (Click here to read about the solder pads and country identity.) What this means is you can only reload a configuration if the radio has the same country identity. (The "country" is changed by modifying the solder pads on the rig). If you save a configuration, then you will only be able to successfully reload that configuration to an identical radio. In this way, the FT-847 is behaving identically to the FT-50R; it rejects configurations that do not match its identity.

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Limiting Maximum Transmit Power

People have been interested in being able to limit the transmit power of their rigs. Often, this is in order to drive existing amplifiers that might have, say, a 10 watt input limit, or transverters. One fella just wanted to ensure he would not be causing any RFI.

The quickest way to limit the power is, of course, to turn the RF PWR down on the front panel. There are those of us, however, who have made mistakes, and are concerned that eventually we will make another one by forgetting to lower the power when keying the rig. Well, there are a couple of other ways to accomplish limiting the maximum power.

The first is described in the FAQ on Reports on the Alignment Menu, and involves adjusting the TX-GAIN setting on the alignment menu. This method allows you to limit the output power on a band by band basis for each of the bands (HF, 6m, 2m, 70cm). On HF, there appear to be individual settings for 160m, 20m, and 10m. Yaesu Tech Support reports that this adjustment is not harmful, but that you might lose some of your TX signal to noise ratio. As told to me, you could lose some headroom between your TX output and the noise floor, resulting in a hissing noise on the signal.

Mike N6MIK at Yaesu Tech Support suggests instead applying a negative voltage to your external ALC port. This way you can control the output power from the rig via that method and presumably not suffer the possible signal degradation. I have not played around with the ALC control, so do not have any direct experience. The ALC method, though, would seem to affect all bands at the same time. The TX-GAIN method adjusts each band individually.

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Scanning Features

The FT-847 scan feature works on all bands and all modes. In FM or AM mode, you can scan memory channels by pressing VFO/M to place the rig in Memory Channel mode. Then, pressing the scan button will start scanning through the memory channels in ascending order. If you turn the main VFO or the MEM/VFO CH knobs while the rig is scanning, it will change to scan in the direction you turned either knob.

Note: If, after pressing VFO/M to set Memory Channel mode, you turn the main VFO knob by even the slightest amount, the rig will go into the Memory Tune mode. If you then press the Scan button, the rig will scan up in frequency, and not by memory channel.

To scan in another mode besides FM, set the rig to that mode, make sure you are in VFO or Memory Tune mode, and press the Scan button. The rig will scan by frequency. If the squelch is open or opens on a signal, it will slow the scan down to 1/10 the normal rate, but will keep scanning. One the squelch closes, the scan rate will revert to the faster speed. Key your mike or hit the Scan button to stop the scanning.

You can also do a "programmed" scan. Set Memory Channel L to the lower limit you want to scan and Memory Channel H to the upper limit. Press the PMS button and "LU" will show in the memory channel number position. If you press Scan now, the rig will scan between those limits. Note that the firmware in the rig will round off your L and H values to the next lower 100 kHz. This means that the smallest increment you can scan is 100 kHz.

Note that if you have either Memory Channel L or U set to SKIP on scanning, you cannot put the rig into Programmed Scan mode by pressing the PMS key.

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Transmit is Stuck On, but No Transmit Audio
Control Panel and Display Are Locked!

A moment of panic sometimes arises when the FT-847 appears to be locked into transmit, the control panel is locked, the VFOs don't work, there's no TX audio from your mike, and you might have an "Error" on the display that you can't clear. Do not panic. Yet.

What has happened typically is that you have managed to turn on the PTT for the Data In/Out port, and this control has some strange properties. This happens when you have connected some kind of interface to the rig for, say, PC controlled digital operations like PSK31, RTTY, SSTV, and the like. But not always--read on. Digital interfaces between the rig and the PC must have a way to turn on the PTT when you want to send data. On this rig and others, you must assert PTT via the Data In/Out port if you want to send data via that port. When you use the port to assert PTT, your mike audio is disabled. Conversely, if you press PTT on the mike or use MOX, typically the rig will not pass the TX data coming in the Data In/Out port. The data PTT is often asserted by using one pin of the COMM port, typically the RTS or DTR pin. Much of the digital operations software for the rig uses this method of keying the rig.

When your PC is first turned on, or when a program first runs that uses the COMM port that's connected to your rig, it will often pull the COMM port control pin (typically either RTS or DTR) low. In most interfaces, this will assert PTT via the Data In/Out port on the back of the rig. Usually, this will clear after a few seconds and things will be normal again. If you are having a port conflict or other problem, though, the rig might stay locked into TX mode until you pull the plug from the COMM port or the Data In/Out port. Sometimes a quick press and release of the MOX button will "release" the PTT situation.

This problem doesn't always have to come from the interface. One fella relayed to me that he had accidentally plugged his external speaker into the Data In/Out port and then found that his TX was locked on but he had no TX audio. Something to watch for, since the plugs are the same size.

One other "feature" of this problem (and a good clue) is that your mike audio is cut off. If you key the rig via the Data In/Out port, then the mike audio is disabled (and vice-versa; if you key with PTT, MOX, or the External PTT on the back of the rig, the Data In/Out port is disabled).

29Jan00 Update: Three hams have reported that their mike audio is not disabled when transmitting via the Data In/Out port. Mine is fully disabled. We're still trying to get to the bottom of this. Stay tuned.

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Serial Numbers

Updated 10Jan01

Yaesu appears to use the following format for serial numbers on their amateur products:

Year of manufacture-Month of manufacture-Production Run-Individual Unit number, where the month of manufacture is offset by 2, so "C" means January, "D" means February, "E" means March, and so forth.

Example: 8G051234 = 1998, May (fifth month, or "G"), Production Run 05, unit #1234 in this run.

One key serial number range is 8G05. This seems to be the point at which Yaesu had corrected the bi-directional CAT issue and made some other improvements. This version was made in May 1998. Later serial numbers (e.g., 8L09nnnn) all seem to have incorporated the earlier improvements plus new ones.

Thanks to Barry W4WB who wrote in with the correct information.

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Errors in the Operating Manual

The owner's manual, formally called the Operating Manual, is an excellent and well written document. There are a few errors in it however. This FAQ points out the ones I am familiar with. I will add more as I learn about them.

The first is the error on p. 63 in the manual, dealing with split mode operations. Click on the link to read about that error.

There is an error regarding setting the output power for AM Operations. Click the link to read about it.

Another error is on p. 90 where the manual discusses op codes. The Receiving Mode Status, accessed by sending 00 00 00 00 E7 to the radio, returns information about the S-meter reading, CTCSS & DCS status, Discriminator centered or not, and squelch status. The manual refers the reader to "Note 1." Note 1 is labeled "Receiver Status," but the description of the returned byte is actually for transmit, not receive. The same is true for the Transmit Mode Status. To make sense out of this, simply "move" the byte explanations from one Note to the other.

On p. 92, discussing Transceiver-to-Transceiver cloning, the manual says Menu #96 is SEND CLN and that Menu #97 is RCV CLN. This is incorrect; the correct menus are Menu #95 SEND-CLN and Menu #96 RCV CLN. The discussion of the menu features on 81 and 88 are correct.

12/29/99 Update: There appear to be multiple editions of the Operating Manual. Mine has a code of E11791001 (9803Z-AK). Alan WA4SCA reports that his manual discusses op codes on p. 92 and the cloning information on p. 90, the reverse of mine. Go figure.

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Crossband Operations

There has been a considerable amount of discussion on the web page regarding what is meant by "Full Duplex Cross-band Repeat." The FT-847 clearly performs cross-band in that you can receive on, say, 2 meters, and press the PTT and transmit on, say, 440. This is cross-band operation. The radio can also operate simultaneously on two different bands at once, receiving a signal on, for example, 2 meters and simultaneously retransmitting that signal on, say, 440. In this mode, it is functioning as a cross-band repeater (you must be in satellite mode for this to work).

However, the FT-847 does not have the key features of popular "simultaneous" dual band FM transceivers such as the FT-8100, FT-51, FT-8500, TM-V7A, etc., nor can it be modified to have them. In order to be able to perform like these other rigs, a rig must simultaneously listen on two different bands (i.e., it must have two receivers) so it can react to signals incoming from the remote station (or repeater) as well as from the user (typically an HT). Additionally, one band must be operable with a repeater offset so the rig can be used as a remote link to repeaters.

Since it lacks two receivers, the FT-847 cannot listen simultaneously on two bands, and it is more like the latest generation of "dual band" radios (e.g., FT-90, FT-50R, TM-G707) that only work on one band at a time and are not capable of simultaneous V/V, V/U, and U/U operation, and cannot be used in a remote base function. It's the "V/V, V/U, and U/U" that is the indicator of a rig's having two receivers.

Gary N5IXI is (or was) working on a simulated "full duplex two way crossband repeat" feature in Catlink and I tried out a preliminary product called Supercat that attempted to do the same thing. Both involve rapidly switching between two bands (thus simulating two receivers) and reacting to a found signal on either band. Implementing this feature in software requires complex routines to assure proper control of the rig on the air, too. Also, I don't think either implementation would be capable of performing this feature through repeaters (particularly if you had to be in satellite mode to be able to switch frequencies fast enough--the satellite mode will not support repeater offsets). I know Gary worked on this feature for a long time and at one point felt it was nearly impossible to implement.

In short, although the FT-847 will do "full duplex cross-band repeat," it is not designed like other "V/U, V/V, U/U" dual banders and can't be used like they can (e.g., as a remote base, or a link between a HT and a repeater). It simply wasn't designed for that. It does make a good emergency or temporary cross-band repeater, however.

Eddy F5EZH has published a simple program for the FT-847, Transpon (or Transponder), that will simulate dual receivers so you can run crossband in a remote base type operation. It does this by using software to rapidly switch the rig between the two receive frequencies needed for remote base operations. When it detects a signal on either receive frequency, it stops swapping and the TX will turn on to retransmit the received signal. Limitations of this software are: no remote control of the FT-847 so it can be stopped from transmitting when necessary, and no ability to operate through repeaters (the FT-847 can't be set to use repeater offsets when in satellite mode). Click here to see how to get this program.

Peter DH1NGP has published FT847-SuperControl, a complete CAT control package, that will also simulate dual crossband transmitting and receiving. Peter said, that it is possible to use also repeater offsets in the crossband-repeater function with his program. Click here to see how to get this program.

Update: If you can receive a repeater on your HT, but can't hit it well enough, then you can set up your FT-847 for what I call "semi-duplex crossband." You have to set up your HT with RX on the repeater output, and TX on another band. Set up the FT-847 to receive on the "another band" and to TX on the repeater input. To do this, the FT-847 must be in satellite mode.

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Memory Backup Battery Replacement - New 26Feb01

The FT-847 uses a small button battery to retain the memory and other configuration settings of the rig. Now that the rig has been out for nearly three years (as of Feb01), people are starting to post comments regarding replacing the battery.

The battery is held in by a strap that's soldered to the AF-CTRL board, so to exchange it, you'll have to unsolder the strap. This is close quarters. The battery is a simple CR2016, available from Radio Shack and probably most drug and hardware stores. The service manual shows that the battery lies on top of one of the big ICs on that board, so be careful.

My review of the schematic suggests that, whenever 13.8 volts is supplied to the rig's power jack, a circuit provides the memory backup current, even when the rig's "off." If you remove the power from the rig's power jack (e.g., shutting off the power supply along with the radio or shutting off the radio with the power supply instead of the rig's power switch), then the battery will have to provide the memory backup current.

Perhaps some enterprising ham will, when changing the battery, find a way to put a battery carrier in there so the next replacement could be simply sliding out the old battery and sliding in a new one.

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Mobile Mount Information - New 26Feb01

Jason W1WOW, in response to an inquiry about the size of the mobile mount, reported as follows:

"Well, I just went out to the Jeep Cherokee to measure the FT-847 in its factory mobile bracket. I noticed that the FT-847 in its mobile bracket is no wider then the width of the carrying handle and the little "feet" on the other side...(this includes the four screws that hold the mobile bracket on) Its about 10.5 inches..."

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