FT-2000 — Thoughts and Observations

Written by admin On January - 1 - 2009 0 Comment

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AC0C 3 khz roofing filter add-on (Spring 2011)

Yaesu made a bit of a blunder with the stock 3khz roofing filter in the FT-2000. The 3khz width is almost as wide as the 6khz roofing filter (really, it is!). But Jeff AC0C has come to the rescue with an awesome after-market fix — a bullet-proof 3khz that works like a dream.

Built by Network Sciences to Jeff’s specifications, the filter isn’t the easiest installation project, but if I can do it, I think anyone can. Check out Jeff’s website for a lot more data and background.

FT-2000 PEP enhancement as of Jan. 1, 2009

Yaesu has updated the FT-2000’s firmware and DSP software — it is an extraordinary improvement for this already great radio. This was the much-anticipated PEP (Performance Enhancement Program) update version 1.42.

Enhancements include an auto-peaking contour (peaks and filters at the same time), awesome DNR (digital noise reduction), and front-panel display of settings in DNR, CW speed, pitch, etc. I cannot describe the amazing change in this radio when I updated to firmware v.142 — but you’ll know the difference the second you turn on the upgraded radio!

More about the PEP update


Station upgrades include a new FT-2000 transceiver. (Sept. 16, 2007)

I have had the FT-2000 since Sept. 16, 2007.

Since 2002 I’ve used a lone FT-920 — a great radio made 10 times better with the Inrad cascading CW filter board (400 + 250 hz filters installed). But I didn’t have a computer-controlled second radio to operate SO2R (single-operator, two-radios). I wanted to:

  • Enter SSB contests (my FT-920 worked OK, but it’s outfitted as a CW workhorse with InRad 400hz and 250hz filters, but no narrow SSB or IF DSP filters)
  • Try SO2R to max out RTTY and CW contest scores
  • Attack the S-7 to S-9 power line noise that BC Hydro has not fixed in three years

I read about every new radio in my price range. The FT-2000 was actually more than I could afford, at Canadian retail prices (total cost to my door, nearly $2,900 CDN). But after years of salivating over FT-1000MPs andMKVs, the new FT-2000 was the radio I wanted.

  • I considered going real low-cost with the FT-450 (at least it had one roofing filter and IF DSP for a great price, but it isn’t a contest-grade radio, if only due to its small form-factor).
  • I looked at used, older Icom IC-756 and Pro IIs, but I’ve never had an Icom and all my cabling is set for Yaesu gear.
  • I looked at the new FT-950 — a great-looking rig for the price.

But the FT-2000 kept calling out to me. Contest-grade all the way, it seemed to say to me. (Except for the glaring error of having a keyer with Mode B keying only, it is contest-grade).

About the FT-2000

I chose my rig wisely. The FT-2000 wipes out the power line noise almost entirely, with no side-effects when there’s a strong adjacent signal (which was an issue with the FT-920 — its noise blanker was great, but a busy band defeated it and allowed the noise to creep through).

The FT-2000 also will work well as a SO2V (single-operator, two-VFO) radio, though the sub-receiver is limited to whatever I can hear on the same antenna as the main receiver — great for picking up mults on your running band.

Both receivers can be tuned to different bands. However, the rig doesn’t allow independent antenna selection for receiving (i.e. one antenna on VFO-A and another on VF0-B… sad, as even the FT-920 allowed a separate antenna on each VFO, it just didn’t allow me to listen to both VFOs at the same time.)

Sub-receiver works in the same bandpass filter set as the main receiver, so even with VFO-A on 20M and VFO-B on 40M, it all has to be on one antenna. However, when transmitting, you can set VFO-B (the sub-receiver) to transmit on either Antenna 1 or 2. Neato, so it can work.

You won’t take this radio out of the box and start using it immediately. There’s a lot to learn, no matter which radio you’ve had in the past. The radio is the same size as the FT-1000 and FT-920 (though the 2000 is about an inch deeper toward the back). It’s big, beautiful and daunting if you take it all in at once.

As with any rig, you get familiar with it over time. Just a few days of casual playing around and I’m already pretty quick with the basic features — adjusting noise blanker, filter widths, the dual receiver AF and band controls, etc.

First impressions: Wow! Quiet receiver, great sensitivity, great noise reduction and noise blanking, handy and sensible sub-receiver tools (except for the antenna selection limitations). Feels like a CW operator’s dream with variable filtering. Tons of audio in and out connection options.

Bells and whistles I haven’t found a need for yet include the Variable Roofing Filter (maybe in heavy contesting this fall).

Most valuable feature: the “Contour” control, which I have set up as a peaking control capable of improving the perceived signal-to-noise ratio quite dramatically. To customize the Contour control for peaking, rather than notching out, signals, I have set “Contour Level” to 13, “Contour Width” to 10. The difference in signal strength is remarkable.

Firmware Updates

Although they have not fixed the terrible built-in keyer flaw, Yaesu has been VERY responsive to the FT-2000 user-community’s requests for feature enhancements and updates. For example, firmware update 1.39 included improved noise blanker operation and a host of other improvements.

On Jan. 1, 2009, Yaesu issued the much-anticipated Performance Enhancement Program (PEP) firmware update — v1.42. As of April 10, 2009, the update is now at v1.45, and includes new on-screen displays of filter bandwidth, speech processor level and several other control settings.

Get the update: Check out the “Files” tab on Yaesu’s FT-2000 page

One of the really great features of the FT-2000 is the Contour control, which peaks a signal in the passband. The PEP firmware update adds automatic contour peaking while keeping the capability for manual peaking using the Contour knob. NOTE: these Contour level and width menu items are 92 and 93 after the v.142 firmware update.

If you haven’t already joined the FT-2000 groups on Yahoo! There are GREAT tips there about updating the firmware. Here are the two most active groups I’ve found:


I recommend FT_AWH Master Commander software (it’s free) to backup the FT-2000 menu settings before updating firmware. Then you can use the same program to reload the memory settings.

Noiseblanker: The powerline noise here seems to be worst on the high bands (I know it is about 1 km away, due east). The FT-2000 noise blanker works quite well in removing the noise, but if the band is busy I find it becomes less effective. My FT-920 is the same way — effective NB until the band gets crowded, then the noise seems to sneak in with nearby signals. Better than not having it on, though 🙂

Transmit audio settings: I have the Heil Proset (HC-4 and HC-5 elements). I’ve used the settings recommended by the Heil website for the FT2000:

SSB TX Bandwidth
 Menu 083 Tx BPF (Menu 085 in firmware v.142 or later)
 Fidelity 200-2800 Hz
 DX 400-2600 Hz
 Center frequency 200 Hz
 Menu 123 (125 in PEP firmware)
 bandwidth 2 Menu 124
 level -8 dB Menu 125
EQ 2
 Center frequency 900 Hz
 bandwidth 2
 level -6 dB
EQ 3
 Center frequency 2100 Hz
 bandwidth 2
 level +8 dB

PE menus 132 through 140 (after firmware update v.142 the PE menu items are numbers 134 to 142) set the equalizer for when the speech processor is on.

Rig Control Software: The simplest way to make adjustments to the equalizer and parametric equalizer is using a third-party program calledFT_AWH Master Commander.

This software lets you adjust the EQ and PE settings visually, showing graphs of the envelopes. It also can save and reload the FT-2000’s memories, menu settings, has digital voice keyer (DVK) recording tools, and lets you customize just about everything. Master Commander has been updated to work with the PEP upgrade.

FT-2000 Type ID and Certification

The FT-2000 has Industry Canada certification — # is (VERTEX) IC 511B-2025X50. Approved June 15, 2006, this certification allows it to be brought into Canada legally (I checked before buying online, just in case). The number is on a non-removable sticker on the radio’s back panel, right below the FCC type ID.

The CAT Cable

Use a DB9 Female-to-Female “straight-through” cable. Do NOT get a “null modem” style cable. I bought mine from Interior Electronics in Kelowna — $4.17. They reminded me that most “straight-through” cables are Male-to-Female, so they sold me one of those plus a male-to-female adapter (gender changer for $3.50).

While I was there I bought four new BA9 1819 lamps for my CDE Rotator control box ($0.85 each! Four will last me a few years), and a pair of 1N5711 Schottky diodes to fix my AEA AT-3000 antenna tuner’s metering circuit ($2.65 each — so I got two pair).

N1MM Logger CAT Settings for FT-2000

For my FT-2000 (on COM port 1), the following settings were applied in the Configurer window:

Speed: 4800 Parity: N (none) DataBits: 8 Stop Bits: 1
DTR: Always Off RTS: Always On

  • I set the FT-2000 as the Radio/VFO Number: 1
  • I set the FT-920 as the Radio/VFO Number: 2

Be sure to set the radio numbers in N1MM’s Configurer, as I couldn’t get CAT to work until I gave each radio its own number (had them both as Radio 1 for a while, scratching my head).

By the way, in my setup, I tried the FT-2000 CAT RTS both ON and OFF, and it made no difference in operation of the CAT with N1MM.

For FSK and CW keying, I use a serial port for each radio (DB9 — Pin 4 CW, Pin 3 FSK). These are configured in MMTTY. If you’re using an LPT Parallel DB25 port, you’ll need the EXTFSK dll to be installed if running Windows 10, as I am.

I had a hell of a time getting EXTFSK to recognize the LPT port in my previous Windows XP setup, so I gave up and got a four-port serial card instead. When it turned out XP didn’t like the PCI serial port card, I replaced it with a $10 5-port PCI USB 2.0 card and a couple of USB-to-Serial cables that work very well for rig CAT control and FSK/CW keying.

N1MM Logger DVK Control Macros for FT-2000

In 2008, with the release of version 7.12.7, N1MM Logger received new ASCII command macro capability to control the FT-2000’s internal digital voice keyer. I use these to trigger the DVK memories and it works very, very well.

My N1MM SSB macros are set to use the FT-2000 DVK memories for CQ, TU, Again, and EXCH for any contest with a static exchange such as “59 BC” or “59 Zone 3”.

The FT-2000 macro strings are:

 F1 Run CQ, {CATactASC PB01;}
 F2 Exch,
 F3 Thanks, {CATactASC PB03;}
 F4 {MYCALL}, {CATactASC PB02;}
 F5 His Call,
 F6 Dupe,
 F7 QRZ,
 F8 Again, {CATactASC PB05;}
 F1 S&&P CQ,
 F2 Exch,

Note that the above macros assume your FT-2000 is a single radio.

  • If you are using the FT-2000 as Radio 1 in a two-radio operation, replace “act” with “a1” (shorthand for Active Radio 1).
    Example: F1 Run CQ, {CATa1ASC PB01;}
  • If your FT-2000 is Radio 2, just change the “act” to “a2” (shorthand for Active Radio 2).
    Example: F1 Run CQ, {CATa2ASC PB01;}

For FT-920 owners, here are the macro strings I used to use for that radio — however, since moving to N1MM Logger+ I have not been able to get CAT control to trigger the FT-920’s digital voice recordings:

F1 Run CQ, {CATactHEX 00 00 01 1B 70}
F2 Exch, {CATactHEX 00 01 01 1B 70}
F3 Thanks, {CATact2HEX 00 02 01 1B 70}
F4{MYCALL}, {CATactHEX 03 00 01 1B 70}
F5 His Call,-
F6 Dupe,-
F7 QRZ,-
F8 Again,-
F1 S&&P CQ,-
F2 Exch, {CATA2HEX 00 01 01 1B 70}{CATA1ASCPB02;}

Before this new macro feature, I had a hard time getting soundcard-recorded DVK levels to match my live microphone audio for natural-sounding exchanges (for example, when I manually cut in to acknowledge a new caller and give the serial number). Lots of guys are great at it and the soundcard DVK tools in N1MM are truly outstanding, but my Heil mic just never seems to drive the soundcard very well, and I always found either the recording or the live mic too loud in actual exchanges.

For me, the new CAT control macro capability has reduced the complexity of using DVK for basic CQing and exchange sequences.

For recording the DVK messages, I use the Yaesu rig control program (from the “Files” section of the Yaesu FT-2000 site), which makes it easy to record each memory as many times as you need, without fumbling with the teeny front panel buttons. This method also gives access to FIVE voice memories in the rig (without reading the manual, I only managed to access four memories using the front-panel buttons).

The wonderful FT_AWH Master Commander (no longer in development, but still downloadable) also has tools for DVK recording and may be a better all-in-one solution for this.

On advice from the Yahoo FT2000 group, when I am recording messages I set menu 15 (DVS RX LVL) and menu 16 (DVS TX LVL) to “2” and turn up the rig’s mic gain a bit. This seems to help eliminate any stray DVK-generated noise on the recorded audio, for a clean message. When finished recording, I adjust the mic gain control for proper drive from the live microphone, and adjust menu 15 to provide that same audio level from the DVK messages.

Easy and the adjustments are right there on the rig.


Update Aug. 2008: I now have I.C.E. single-band filters for 80M, 40M and 20M, and use a 22′ coax stub for 15M. They work very well even when running high power on one of the radios. There’s some phase noise on 40M FT-2000 when transmitting on 20M with the FT-920, but not enough to make 40M unusable. There’s no interference on 20M when transmitting on 40M, unless I’m right on the harmonic frequency.

For more about the I.C.E. filters, see the News page June 16, 2008 note.

Previous SO2R note…. Casual testing indicates that I’ll be OK running 100W to my tribander on one radio, and using the second radio on 40/80/160 (or on the all-band vertical), without overloading either radio. Antenna separation seems adequate.

No stubs or filters yet, so I’ll be VERY cautious if I jump in as SO2R without that protection. Plan to run SO2V with the FT-2000 all alone first, with no worries about blowing anything up. Figure a pair of ICE 6-band filters will be needed before I get too far along. Whenever the budget grows back, I’ll get them. Maybe by 2010, hi. If I can find a source of PL259 T-connectors, I’ll build a set of coax stubs as a stop-gap safety measure. T’s are hard to come by up here.

KEYER NOTE (May 2008)
I think the FT-2000 is an exceptional radio overall, but it has one limitation for some CW operators: the internal keyer is Curtis Mode B only.

This means if you squeeze both paddles, the keyer adds a dot or dash when you release the paddles. It turns a K into a C, or an A into an R, etc. (Some hams like it, but I cannot send code this way and many others can’t send in Mode B, either.)

If you use an external keyer you’ll be fine, however, I believeMode A keying is a necessity for a contest-grade transceiver.

I would love to see CW Mode A keying added to a future firmware update. [END of rant].

Price jump after PEP firmware update

Curiously, the price for a new FT-2000 soared after the Jan. 1, 2009, firmware update.

In the U.S., the retail price went from $1,995 to $2,495. In Canada (at Radio Worldthe 2009 price rose to $3,000 CDN! (That’s about $2,495 US with the current exchange rate).

Fortunately, I purchased my FT-2000 in September 2007 from W7BJN (Brian) in Moses Lake, WA, who had listed it on eBay. Serial number indicates it is from the Nov. 2006 production run.

Price paid: $1,950 USD. Had to pay 6 per cent Canadian Goods and Services Tax, and 7 per cent B.C. Provincial Sales Tax (total: $265 CDN or so) at the Canadian border. (Dollar exchange rate was about $0.96 CDN for each US dollar, and a few days later the Canadian dollar was on par with the US dollar). There is no import duty on amateur radio equipment, so that was a nice break.

Total cost to acquire the radio was $2,330 CDN incl. taxes. Shipping cost me $60 in gas to visit Brian in Moses Lake (a fantastic 10-hour round-trip through Washington on an Indian summer day). Bonus was the programming DIN switch, which Brian had on hand.

To buy a new FT-2000 in Canada in September 2007 I would have paid: $2,679 + $161 GST (no provincial tax) = 2,830 + $53 shipping = TOTAL $2,883

Price difference at that time, buying slightly used (but PRISTINE condition) from the U.S.: $493, or about 1/5 of a new SteppIr 3 element yagi (I know from experience that in April 2009 a 3 el. + 30/40M SteppIR comes in at about $3,500 Canadian with shipping). I imagine I’d have to ship the radio to California for service, but if it’s anything like my FT-920, I’ll get years of use out of it before that’s required. Would have to ship it somewhere anyway.

Had I waited until the unusual price hike in 2009 to buy the radio, I would have paid more like $3,200 CDN. So, as Howie Mandel likes to say, I “made a very good deal.”

I used the money I saved to buy a Heil Pro Set Plus, Heil FS-2 dual footswitch, the AD-1Y Yaesu mic cable adapter, a second soundcard for SO2R, a four-port serial card for the FT-2000 and FT-920 FSK and CW lines, and cabling for it all.

Contesting, DXing, General, Uncategorized

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