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Yaesu FFT-1 board install and review

For the past few months I have been back and forth about picking up the FFT-1 board for the FTDX1200, or going with a software solution.

The FTT-1 is a user add in board for the Yaesu FTDX-1200 that will give you the ability to decode CW, RTTY, PSK, as well as a small (a few kHz) real time spectrum scope.

My immediate value for the board is / was for the CW decode feature, as I will need a computer to send PSK31 and log the contact – the same with RTTY.  So, while real time decode of these settings is nice, you really can’t do anything with the data real time, as you need another interface to operate.

The install is easy.

  1. Remove the power plug from the back of the radio
  2. Flip the radio over, so the feet are pointing up in the air
  3. Remove all 17 screws off the bottom of the radio
  4. Remove the cover off the bottom of the radio
  5. Take the FFT-1 board from the box and throw away the directions – they tell you nothing
  6. Install the board in the FTDX-1200 in the space provided in the upper left of the radio (with the front facing you)
  7. Use the 4 screws in the box and screw the board to the radio mounts
  8. connect the two connections, the smaller connects to the port near the front, the larger in the rear of the board.
FTT-1 board installed in radio

Yes, this is a pic of a FTDX-3000 with the board installed, however, it mounts the same way in the FTDX-1200.

 

9. Put the bottom cover back on the radio

10. Screw in all 17 screws

11. Flip over radio

12. Attach the power cable

13. Hit the power button

 

You can find this install process in dozens of Youtube videos.  That was easy.  What was a bit confusing was how to get the decoder boards to become active.

What I found is that you have to hit the SCOPE button a few times, then double push the button to get the menu item to switch from the spectrum scope view to the decode window.

What I found is that you have to be in USB-CW for the CW Decode window to show up, as well as USB-DATA for the PSK Decode window to show up.  The same applies to RTTY decode, you have to be in the correct mode setting.  This is what is should look like below when properly setup.  You peak the signal with the window on the right with the peak of the signal in the middle of the three vertical dotted lines.

Think of this as a “tuning” section of the scope, where the peak of the scope readings is centered in this area, and the result is data being printed into the left window.

I immediately found that it was pretty quick to pull in PSK31 conversations, even through it was a bit strange use a spectrum display vs a standard waterfall display to find strong PSK31 signals, I was able to print several different lines of text.   Cool.

I then went to use the CW Decode feature.  I found several stations to choose from, however, all I could decode was the letter “E” as well as the occasional letter “I”.  I could tell there was a CW contest going on, as I could hear  CQ TEST.. repeated as well as 5NN.  However, the decode board was not decoding this CW.  I found some slower CW as well as faster CW, the same result.   I went to the internet to find out what I was missing..

  1. I was using the right mode
  2. I was using the three “tuning” dotted bands to peak the signal
  3. Signals were anywhere from S1 to S7, all perfectly comfortable copy.
  4. I still only would decode “E” and “I”.

Frustrated, I pulled up my iPhone and ran the Morse Pad software from Black Cat, which is a Decoder software for the iPhone.  Firing that up, I set the WPM (words per minute) setting to AUTO… and it started decoding CW on the iPhone.   Then it hit me, maybe I need to adjust the WPM setting on the FTDX-1200.

I looked at the iPhone, and saw it was decoding at 21 WPM.  I dialed up the WPM from 10 to 21 WPM on the FT-1200.  Boom!

CW being decoded!


Success!  As you can see in the picture, the receiver was hearing the CW at a S1 level on the meter, So I was expecting some dropped letters as well as false decodes.

I further discovered that faster QSOs at 30 words a minute wete possible to be decoded and leaving the setting higher at 30 words per minute allowed decodes at 21 through 25 WPM.  The trick was setting the WPM rate close to what was being sent.  All in all,  quite happy now that it is working!

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7 Comments

  1. Mark warren December 6, 2019

    Did you have to do a Master reset after installing the FFT-1?. I see some YouTube Videos where some people have the “water fall” on all the scopes. And also I can see where some that are on SSB that the AF-FFT scope is full from one side to another. And also I see where when they are tuning that there is a bar that moves left and right just like when you are tuning on the main scope that the R/T moves left or right when you are turning your VFO. I have the FFT-1 installed in my FTdx1200 also. I went though all the settings and got it mostly set. But when I see these video’s where their displays are full water fall on all 3 scopes I tried to see if I forgot a setting or something but can’t seem to see if I did anything wrong. Did I mis-read something or do a setting wrong or do I need to do a factory re-set?…Hope you can help…Mark K4XJ

    • n1rwy December 9, 2019 — Post Author

      Hey Mark,
      I did not have to do a master reset after installing the FFT-1.
      They scope button does shift between the different uses of the scope. You have to push it multiple times to rotate through all of them.
      I believe what you see in each scope view depends on what “mode” the radio is set to.

  2. Mick October 15, 2017

    Can you have a conversation on PSK 31 on the radio?
    Does it have macros?
    Do you attach a keyboard to the radio?

    • n1rwy October 15, 2017 — Post Author

      I have never tried, only used the board for CW decode. However, you cannot attach a keyboard to the radio, but I think you can program memories with standard text to have a “canned” conversation.

  3. Jeff January 29, 2017

    Where is the wpm setting on the yaesu? Can’t find it on my dx1200?
    Tks KA0EGE

    • n1rwy January 30, 2017 — Post Author

      Hey Jeff,
      The adjustment is made with the first dial “key speed”, the cw speed is handled on the interior dial, not the sleeve. This sets the WPM for a CW keyer when you connect it to the radio, at the same time, it helps with the decode levels when you adjust it to the speed of what you are hearing.

  4. Tony January 29, 2017

    Where is this setting in the menu section to turn back the WPM because I’m having the same problem

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