Wednesday, 25 April 2012

FT-790R, 1W of Forlorn Hope?

“One Watt! One Watt! What on earth bl***y use is that to you?! I don’t know… (sigh)” exclaimed one local straight-talking OM on 2m FM yesterday.

His response to my acquisition of a rather dated Yaesu FT-790R ‘portable’ transceiver was less than encouraging. It’s just as well I’m an optimist then. With a maximum output of one Watt on one band (70cm) I think I’ll need to maintain an upward outlook.

But here’s the thing – I always find myself drawn to obtaining the more elusive QSO. You need a certain amount of eccentricity and tendency to self-harm to stand on a hilltop for hours calling out on 23cm FM QRP, for example. I was the first in the area to start calling CQ on DV mode on 2m. It took months before my first simplex QSO and then very little since.

The higher bands and modes have their rewards in spades, however. The rush of excitement when you finally make that new or distant contact. The perceived camaraderie knowing someone has gone to the same quirky lengths as you to operate on a lesser used band/mode or from an unusual location. You feel you have made a meaningful and personal connection, at least for the duration of the QSO. Oh, it’s such a far cry from exchanging reports of 5/9 with the fiftieth Italian station running 1kW on 20m you’ve spoken to in one morning. Better still, no QSL cards.

Any why the FT-790? Well, at just over £100 it’s one of the few portable internal battery-powered transceivers you come across before taking the small fiscal leap to an FT-817, for example. Either way, it will hold its value if my 2m friend’s prophecy becomes true.

Anyway, so far so good. It’s powered up and seems to be fully serviceable. I’ve even managed a short-distance QSO with John GW4ZPL over the Menai Strait in the Caernarfon direction, just a few miles away.

I’ll be out and about when the weather improves and will post my experiences here. Will it be too futile, or with a bit of luck will I make that elusive QSO I’m after? Will my single sidebanded plaintive cries of CQ reach a caring ear?

Maybe I’ll be happily shouting “One Watt! One Watt!” from a heathery Welsh hilltop.

FT-790, forlorn hope?


  1. Ha ha! I was trying to remember what I worked with 1W on 432MHz. Definitely remember working into IO71/IO72 from Cheltenham and also working GD8EXI. I had a 21 ele beam too, but you'll be fine :-)

    You should work a reasonable amount during the RSGB UK Activity contests....

    73, Tim G4VXE

  2. I remain very hopeful! Yes, a contest evening could mean a glut of contacts! I can also rely on the odd SOTA person with an 817 in the area. Will be using a homebrew 9 element yagi on hilltops to start with and we'll see how it goes.

    73, Rob.

  3. I wonder who the odd SOTA person is? (Thought they were all odd!)

    The FT790 should be fine. I have managed a few contacts with one up in Northumberland, where activity is very sparse. Also, an old FT708 1w brick got me a good 20 mile contact from inside the house, using a battery which hadn't been charged in months. The reaction of the person at the other end makes it a worthwhile exercise to try: surprise, disbelief, gratitude, satisfaction.

    73, Derek

    1. Thanks for the comment and encouragement, Derek! Funnily enough, I'll be uploading Part II of this article later this week. Please come back and read about what happened....

      Vy 73, Rob.