Yaesu FT-897/D is undoubtedly a bestseller, offering DC-to-daylight (actually 0.1 to 470 MHz) coverage, field day ready style and features and a rather affordable price. It’s almost identical to the FT-857 (smaller, lighter, no battery compartment) and the FT-817 (even smaller and lighter, 5W output instead of 100W, no DSP) and their family is around since 2002. The 8×7 series were never aimed at high performance or even ease of use, nevertheless they are great all-round rigs, good for basic stuff and affordable, a great radio station in one rig for alot of people.
Well, it seems now Yaesu is starting to phase out this great line of radios, and the FT-897D is the first to go, starting June 2014. People were asking for a long time for replacements of the FT-8×7 family, the outdated RF deck design and front panel ergonomy being the main subjects needing improvement. Even if Yaesu didn’t say anything about a replacement model for the FT-897D this could be the first step in the right direction.
After thinking about it for some time, I’m not sure there is a much better way of doing things and keeping affordability and the expanded frequency coverage. Performance can be easily improved by moving to SDR technology (not DDC/DUC wich is still too expensive), but there are 2 issues:
1. there is at the moment no high IP3 IQ mixer on the market that covers 1-500Mhz. This can be solved by using 2 mixers, one for HF (H-mode, with switches) and one for VHF/UHF (like an LTC5584/LT5598 combo), but this adds some cost. Upside, it can cover from 100Khz to 1.4Ghz continuously.
2. low-power DSP is still expensive, and it also needs high-performance audio ADC. Upside, it would make for one of the best performing recievers on the market.
The idea should be to don’t strand too far from the orginal concept, it should still offer alot of radio for the money in a small package. R&D costs could be high at first, but if it proves to be another best selling series the return would be well worth it. Sooner or later they will have to do it though, otherwise another manufacturer can come up with something similar and steal all this lucrative market from Yaesu.