I have enjoyed the Yaesu FT-2000 HF/50 MHz rig for 16 months now. Considered the price, the rig offers a range of versatile features – a range of features not found in many other rigs. It does offer a lot of flexibility – both on receive and transmit, on SSB and CW. On SSB it gives you so much flexibility that many amateurs have a hard time getting the signal sound clean and clear. The three band parametric EQ is easy to use, but the almost infinite number of combination of values (three sets of values for frequency, gain and width) are a bit confusing. In addition to the EQ, the operator can choose between five different TX band widths. At last – the operator selects a microphone of his own taste, which might have or not have the proper impedance and signal levels to match the rig’s input. You better know what you want to obtain and have a honest listener on air to help you.
The FT-2000 has a design that some might dislike – the first amplifier on the microphone input is sensitive and does easily get overloaded. Not everybody notice this, but if you like to get high quality sound on air, you should pay attention to this design feature/flaw. One rule of thumb is the 12 o’clock rule. This means that if your mic signal is so strong that you have to adjust the mic gain well below 12 o’clock to obtain on-scale ALC deflection, measures should be taken to attenuate the mic level. Make a voltage divider with two resistors to step down the signal level. To be more precise; I recommend a mic signal at -20 dBu at voice peaks and the mic gain at 12 o’clock. This should give ALC deflections on voice peaks – and that is all you need. See below.
If you use external accessories connected to the microphone, such as mixer, compressors, EQ or noise gates – use a galvanic isolator (a 1:1 transformer) to avoid hum from ground current loop between the rig and other equipment with separate power connections.
Connect the microphone to the rear connector. I have experimented with both the front and rear connector, and my experience is that the sound becomes clearer with the rear connector.
Go easy on the ALC. Again – be careful with the mic levels, also on the ALC. If you try to maximize your output by pressing the ALC towards the ALC scale limit, you obtain nothing but distortion. The power increase (by compression) you get is marginal and hardly readable for the operator in the other end. The rule of thumb for the ALC is that the needle should deflect only on voice peaks. By saying so I mean that the ALC should have time to rest between deflections. The function of the ALC circuitry is to prevent overdriving the PA final stage. When the ALC deflects, your output power is at maximum. So, if your ALC needle is always deflecting during transmission, the signal is compressed. Compression is not a kind of signal processing you want if you crave for high quality audio. One easy way to adjust the mic gain is as follows: Adjust the mic gain fully counter clockwise. Key the transmitter (into a dummy load) and say “aaaaah” or whistle into the microphone. While doing so, increase the mic gain while looking at a power meter. The power readings will increase – until a certain point. This point is where you want to set your mic gain. Beyond this point the power will no longer increase – no matter how high your mic gain is adjusted.
Another rule of thumb: The PROC button should be left alone. All HF transceivers come with a speech processor. Sadly, the speech processors that are implemented on ham radio HF rigs are not doing much for the readability of your signal. The processor tries to raise the average signal power, but also puts a lot of distortion on your signal. The net effect is the opposite of what you actually wanted. Actually – it is possible to adjust the mic gain and processor gain on the FT-2000 in such ways that you don’t get distortion, but at the same time you don’t get much compression effect either. The same effect is obtained by adjusting the mic gain higher and switching off the speech processor. The ALC circuitry in any transmitter is in fact a limiter, so it will give you some compression – more ALC deflection equals more compression.
Update (1/Jan/2009): After the PEP 2000 (EDSP ver 11.29) was installed the speech processor of the FT-2000 actually works quite well! The way to adjust the compression is to switch the PROC on, put the PROC level at 12 o’clock and adjust the MIC gain. But still I will state that ham radio speech processors distorts the signal. If you want clean and clear audio, don’t use it.
If you want more punch and a signal that cuts through QRM, adjust your treble-bass balance. Many operators have an excess of bass in their signals. Bass tones do not contain much sensible information, so the result is wasted signal power. If you take a look at SSB signals on the air with a band scope, you can see that many operators throw away much of their expensive power on bass tones. Remember that most operators use a 2.4 kHz band width on their receivers, so the lower part of your spectrum is cut away after all.
A rule of thumb here is that the energy should be evenly divided over the frequencies in your voice spectrum (e.g. 3 000 Hz). That means that your voice should show a flat power spectrum on air. For most of the operators this means less bass and more treble. The only exception from this rule might be local QSOs with very high SNR when the operator can choose a wide band width. After you have reduced your energy waste in the bass segment, stretch your signal in the other direction – towards 3 000 with the band width setting and the EQ. This will give a sharper signal with more punch – but still clear and clean without distortion. One last trick which might increase the readability of your signal: Much of the information in your voice is found in the region between 700 – 1000 Hz. You might try to put a small peak with the EQ somewhere in this segment. But be careful. You could easily end up with a hollow sound.
Update (18/June/2009): ESSB on Yaesu FT-2000 – 4 kHz bandwidth! I have just been onformed of a hidden feature which turns the the FT-2000 into a ESSB rig with bandwidth expanded to 4 kHz. Thanks to the guys that digged somewhere to discover this very important menu setting – K3UR, K6JRF, KC4PE & LA3XIA. Here’s the trick:
- Save all menu settings and stored channels.
- Switch off the rig with the front panel ON/OFF switch.
- Hold in the “CONT” and “DNR” buttons while you switch the power on again.
- Go to menu item 085 SSB TX BPF, and where you used to find 3000WB you will now find TTBF – 4 kHz bandwidth ESSB mode.
- To get back the 3000WB setting, do the same again – switch off the rig first and then hold in the “CONT” and “DNR” buttons while you switch the power on.
Be aware that you have to adjust the EQ settings if you are going to use the 4 kHz setting. I’ll publish my ESSB EQ settings when I have tested them properly.
- Start with a microphone with a flat response with no bass attenuation or treble enhancement.
- If you have PAs or power supplies near by, you might choose a condenser mike – not a dynamic mike.
- Select the widest band width on the rig (3 000 Hz)
- Balance your signal spectrum – it should be as close to flat as possible on average after EQ. This means less bass and more treble in most cases.
- Adjust or attenuate the signal levels from your mike so that your mic gain on the rig is at least at 12 o’clock when you speak normally in the mike and the ALC is deflecting.
- Use a transformer to isolate the rig from external equipment connected to the mic input.
- Use the mic input on the rear panel – not the input on the front
- Go easy on the ALC level – let it work part time on the left side of the scale.
- If you need more punch – narrow your band width (with a narrower TX band width setting or increase treble). After the PEP 2000, the speech processor works quite well, but compression is not the way to go if you want strictly clean audio. Consider a (small) PA instead.
My set up:
- Microphone: AKG HSC 271 headset with condenser type with pop filter.
- Preamp/phantom voltage: SM Pro Audio TC01.
- Shure A15LA 50 dB attenuator.
- Shure A15RF RF filter.
- I use the parametric equalizer in the FT-2000
FT-2000 Menu items settings (after the PEP 2000 upgrade) without speech processor
- 085 3000WB
- 125 100
- 126 0
- 127 1
- 128 1500
- 129 5
- 130 1
- 131 3200
- 132 8
- 133 1
- Mic gain at 12 o’clock
FT-2000 Menu items settings (after the PEP 2000 upgrade) with speech processor
- 085 3000WB
- 134 100
- 135 -8
- 136 1
- 137 OFF
- 138 0
- 139 1
- 140 2700
- 141 8
- 142 1
- Mic gain at 10 o’clock
- PROC gain at 12 o’clock
- Yaesu FT-2000 HF & 50 MHz (My review with some receiver test data.)
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