Over the past few years, I’ve received numerous requests to check out the Yaesu FT-891 HF transceiver. Almost all of my ham friends have one and they are widely considered one of the best 100 watt HF radios for park activators. Indeed, I bet it is *the* most popular 100W radio among POTA activators.
I’ve been tempted to ask Yaesu for a loaner model and I even came within one button click of ordering a new FT-891 from DX Engineering during a Black Friday sale in 2020.
I’ve resisted the FT-891 temptation, though, because I tend to use smaller, more portable QRP radios in heavier POTA rotation. I knew if I purchased an FT-891, it just wouldn’t get a lot of field use. It also demands a beefier field battery due to its current requirements and, frankly, it’s so rare I run more than 5 watts (and 5 watts is the lowest power setting on the ‘891) I would simply have a lot of radio for my needs.
A few weeks ago, however, a friend reached out because he wanted to sell his FT-891 and 30Ah Bioenno battery and downsize to a smaller field portable radio like the Xiegu X5105. Long story short, we worked out a trade/purchase which included the ‘891 and his battery. I had been thinking about a large capacity battery to use as a backup in the shack, so this worked out well for both parties.
Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace (K-6856)
On Tuesday, March 14, 2023, I once again had an hour to fit in an activation at the Vance Birthplace before picking up my daughters at school. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to play radio at Vance so much during this particular school term; next term, it’s unlikely I’ll have this opening, so I’ll enjoy it while I can!
I deployed the Chelegance MC-750 vertical again. I’ll admit that it’s so convenient keeping an antenna in the car trunk/boot that can be made resonant so easily from 40 meters and higher.
I was going to show the antenna deployment again in my activation video, but received a call and decided to deploy the antenna while finishing up the phone call. It only takes a couple of minutes to set up.
Next, I connected my 15Ah Bioenno battery to the FT-891. Even though I was only using five watts, the ‘891 needs more capacity than the 3Ah packs I normally carry with my QRP rigs.
I also connected the Begali Traveler key–I do love this key (thanks again, Jackie!).
Note: All Amazon, CW Morse, Chelegance, and eBay links are affiliate links that support the QRPer.com at no cost to you.
- Yaesu FT-891
- Chelegance MC-750
- Key cable: Cable Matters 2-Pack Gold-Plated Retractable Aux Cable – 2.5 Feet
- Begali Traveler
- Red Oxx Micro Manager
- Bioenno 15 aH LiFePo Battery (Model BLF-1215A)
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch
- Rite In The Rain Notepad
- Jovitec 2.0 mm Mechanical Pencil
- My fingerless gloves
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 3 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
I hopped on the air and started calling CQ POTA on 20 meters.
It was a busy band! Within nine minutes, I worked the ten stations required for a valid POTA activation.
I continued calling CQ POTA for another 18 minutes, adding 18 stations in that time for a total of 28 contacts in 27 minutes.
I was having so much fun, I lost track of time and had to call QRT with a lot of hunters still calling me (sorry about that!).
Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map.
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
Note that Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free through Vimeo on my Patreon page:
Click here to view on YouTube!
‘891 First Impressions
I mention in the video that I expected the FT-891 to have quirky ergonomics and it certainly does. I’m not super pleased with band switching and a few other common functions, but with time I will get used to it. I look forward to assigning some of my most common adjustments to a couple of the function keys.
As I mention in the video, I do love the keying action of the FT-891. I have it set to full break-in and it’s just brilliant. The keying is very accurate and smooth–I made so few keying mistakes during the activation despite my fingers being quite cold.
As so many of you have noted, the FT-891 audio is superb for field use.
I also like the ‘891 filtering. Of course, I set my filter to wide (that’s how I like to roll) but the front end easily handled all of the signals crammed into the pileup.
I’m fairly certain I might install the FT-891 in my car or truck eventually.
Thank you for joining me on this activation!
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them. This one was certainly loads of fun for me!
Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me! Have a wonderful week!
Cheers & 72,
19 thoughts on “Finally did it! First POTA activation with my new-to-me Yaesu FT-891”
I agree, the front end and filtering on the 891 are very good, good enough that it has all but replaced my FT-857d if there’s any possibility of a noisy power line in the vicinity. I wish Yaesu would clean up the user interface – that “dump some settings on band change” is really annoying. Beyond that though, I’m thoroughly impressed by the 891, especially at the going price.
My 857 always have signal strength of S+9 even on any kind of antenna or even indoors with antenna taped on all sides of ceiling.
The 891 is a keeper. Its shortcoming is the lack of real estate for buttons ect. With practice, menu navigating becomes quite easy. The other trick is to use memories for band/mode changing. The memory buttons are fixed and always available. Also I found the RT Systems software to be excellent and almost a necessity for managing the 891.
Agreed, switching bands and modes with memories is almost a must with this radio. N4HNH gives a good description of how to set it up in this video. If you take the time to set it up this way, it will change your experience with the radio for the better.
That’s a great idea for saving settings between band changes. Thanks for the tip.
I have looked and looked again at the FT-891. I have an IC-7300 which I think suits me better. I would be curious how you feel about the radio down the road. Some may consider me an Icom Fanboy but I do have and use an FTDX10 in the shack.
Yaesu made good successor of 857 and I am curious when Icom will make the successor of 706 series…
I own a FT-891 and use it in the ham shack/man cave as my primary rig with my FT-450D as a back-up. Both are great radios for the modest prices they cost me originally. You call the 891’s ergonomics “quirky.” I have described to others the 891’s operation as idiosyncratic. Its deficiencies are compensated by a first rate receiver for the price, although the DNR’s watery feature is not my favorite. I must admit, however, that the DNR is a champ when operating in marginal band conditions. Another great video. Thanks.
Very cool! Check out Doug N4HNH on his YouTube channel for videos of his 891 mobile install, complete with ATAS antenna. You’re not getting any younger, you know, lol.
Just picked one of these up to put together a portable setup. I’ve not gotten on the air yet but in getting familiar with the radio, the menus are indeed a challenge. I’m not traditionally a Yaesu fan but the price point of this is too hard to beat. I couldn’t stomach paying more money for a used IC 7000.
Blimey, just when I move this radio to the bottom of my wish list you release a video that moves it back up.
Ha ha! Sorry about that, OM! (No I’m not!) 🙂
Thanks for the report on the FT891, Tom!
… and great to work you from K-4905 yesterday! I’m not sure conditions were very good. The remnants of snow prevented access to areas away from the road. I just pulled over at a safe distance off the highway, which passes through the State forest. The rooftop Hustler whip made setup quick and easy.
I see from my log that I called CQ for 12 minutes before getting the first response. That’s only happened once before. There was also a 10-minute gap between contacts. Some days are like that! Still- after that rough start, 47 contacts including France and EA8. – 73, K1SWL
You probably missed even more QSOs, because RF gain were down to S9 level signals. RF gain is managed with outer ring of AF gain knob.
Yep! Probably so! I need to check that next time. Still just getting used to this radio.
This may seem like an odd question but at 5W-10W do you have any idea of the current draw? In NZ this radio is only slightly more expensive than a G90 and physically they don’t appear to be massively different. I realise that the G90 has the tuner built in and is quite a different design.
I guess I’m contemplating if this is a viable alternative for POTA. The weight difference isn’t really a concern and the benefit of the waterfall display in the G90 isn’t really much of an advantage as the general POTA operating frequencies are well established. I’d be operating both CW and SSB and hadn’t considered the 891 as a possibility until I read your post.
Not an odd question at all!
In fact, I only recently checked FT-891 current at a power setting of 5 watts. I measured 5.65A in transmit and 1.04A in receive at 13.8VDC. I could probably lower that by 30mA or so by tweaking a few settings. If memory serves, I believe the G90 consumed about 0.6A in receive and 2.5A or so in transmit (but I can’t remember the power level or voltage when I tested).
In NZ, if I were in your shoes, I must admit that I might appreciate the ability to activate with 50-100 watts when needed. I’m a QRPer through and through, but you’re in a fairly remote corner of the world and if you wanted to open up NZ parks to DX, a good antenna, common mode choke, and running something north of QRP might help do that. That said, I’m sure you can snag DX POTA hunters in NZ with QRP.
In terms of receiver, the FT-891 is much better than the G90. The G90, in my opinion, is the best of the Xiegu radios in overall performance.
It’s a pig on current drain at 5 w but with a Buddipole A123 battery who cares for your 1 hour activation. When 40m gets squirrelly then crank it up to 50 watts and keep logging away in HamRS. No extra amp needed with your QRP rig. For many the 891 is the POTA radio of choice. Really who has a 891 bolted into their Camry? It’s a POTA rig
The Chelegance JNCradio mc-750 is a great antenna for field ops
Ideal for non tuner based radios