Review of the Yaesu FTM100DR mobile ham radio

By | September 15, 2016

Yaesu FTM-100DR mobile radio in my 2010 Toyota Prius

Overall, it’s a pretty nice 50w mobile ham radio.  It works on the digital modes just as advertised.  Screen is beautiful.  GPS works great.  APRS works if that’s all you want to do.  If you want to have APRS working in the background, it’s not possible with this radio with the 1.3 firmware.  The APRS feature is really dumb – either it’s on or it’s off.  If you turn it on and change frequency, the radio will start to spam that frequency with APRS beacon packets.  If you want to use it as a 2m/70cm radio and APRS at the same time (which is really a nice experience), you need to buy the FTM400 (dual-transceiver) model, not this one.  Yaesu could make APRS smarter with software updates on this radio, but as of the 1.3 firmware, APRS is still very dumb (see my ‘smart APRS’ item below in the improvements section).  As a radio, it’s pretty solid.  Yaesu is known for making really nice radios and this is no exception.  Good quality all around.  I was able to install it in my 2010 Prius using only the cigarette lighter and an off-the-shelf cable.  No soldering or fancy cable creation was required.  Yes, the prius is capable of running a 50w mobile off the cigarette lighter without any noise in the signal, and no, it doesn’t drain the little 12v battery in the car.  I’m not sure if the cig lighter is running off the big or little battery, but it works like a charm with no issues at all.

This is not a 2-transciever radio!  It will not cross-band repeat.  It does not do APRS in the background.

Some possible improvements:

  • Auto-dim on the LCD
  • For the AMS (Automatic Mode Selection) feature, it’d be nice if I could specify that I always want to try digital if digital has been used on this frequency, and FM first if digital has never been used on this frequency.  The AMS feature is a nice try, but I still find myself moving it to digital manually if I want to try to broadcast in digital on some new frequency.  Also, would be nice to be able to assign one of the mic buttons to the ‘mode select’ function.
  • A ‘smart APRS’ feature like dual-watch so the radio doesn’t spam non-APRS channels with APRS beacons – I submitted a feature request to Yaesu regarding this thought.  Just let the radio know which frequency is the APRS frequency in your area (it’s standard across the US at 144.390Mhz), so the radio knows not to send a beacon unless it’s on that frequency.  Also, if you’re not on the APRS frequency and the radio feels like it’s time to send a beacon, it could do something to what it does with dual-watch and just hop quickly over to the APRS channel, send a beacon, then hop back.