End User Reflections: Yaesu FT-70DE

I’ve had mind about 4 months now, live where there is nil to ■■■■■■ all C4FM traffic (in fact, locally there is very little ham digital simplex traffic at all outside of the few VHF/UHF contests where digital is notably a ghost).

So, why buy and why I did?

Well I bought it out of curiosity and aimed to have at least one representative example of each digital radio system out there (even if little or no use happens). So for noncommercial C4FM, the FT-70Dx series was a good entry choice for the curious.

To really get the best out of it digitally, you need proper WiresX node access - but I’ll have that when I get a tetherable mobile to use as a base and node (FTM-400 being a good choice). But without that level of investment, you can still cheaply give it YSF /FCS/P25/DMR access with a pi-star equipped hotspot.

I’ve gone down that route for now, where my YSF hotspots each are configured to one YSF direct or YSF crosslink to each alternative digital network. Which are actually active depends on what I’m interested in, such the YSF2P25 item when I want to monitor and interact with P25 traffic

It’s also used, mostly, for club nets on DMR using YSF2DMR access, as it’s there and usable and frees up actual DMR gear for other DMR/Digital PMR 446 purposes.

But even in limited scope use, both on readability and comfort terms as a basic example of it’s breed, it’s a nice set - cheap enough to have a spare ready in the event I need to provide C4FM scope to another ham if and when we can go stuff post lockdown.

Also being very compact FM units works out nicely and barely any more expensive than a modern Yaseu FM unit. Build quality is what you expect from Yaseu gear, good and clean and reliable - fit for purpose.

So my summary is - if you’ve got some scope to exploit C4FM at all, fancy a toe-dip cost adventure into that segment of digital, you get a pretty sound dual-mode entry point that’s either going to remain a curiosity thing or drive you to add a proper WiresX network node as well as keeping a hotspot for other crossover uses.

I’ve also used it as a C4FM DAC crosslink (using a borrowed C4FM UHF mobile) client on Echolink, so there is another possibility. Not that I’d set out to use that combo as a buying consideration as DMR DAC offers a better (cost wise) crosslink for Echolink which isn’t that great a quality network link anyway.

Anyway, I’d thumbs up the item even if I initially was dubious about buying into an obscure (around here) digital mode.

DMR setups still make better cost sense, but VM mode on C4FM and P25 makes DMR audio sound very comms grade - not necessarily a reason to opt for C4FM, but VM on C4FM makes for a much more comfortable gentle audio when used on a headset for long stints. That’s where the FT-70Dx series has it’s value aside from being cheap to explore with.

Accessories aren’t cheap - be warned, and factory battery isn’t a particularly high cap item, but it’ll handle a good day Rx and a few hours of active Net usage, so that you may consider a priority accessory buy. I rewired a headset to suit, so didn’t get ripped off for the matching item.