Alfonso Faustino: Yaesu FTA-850L Aviation Transceiver

I gotta new toy! I just purchased this awesome aviation transceiver two days ago from Amazon — this is my second purchase; my first purchase was the awesome FTA-450L; and, now, I have this amazing FTA-850L — check it!

Since it ain’t an auxiliary communications tool, I believe it can still be in this BLOG-site — yes, Melissa?

Melissa is my assistant, and she removes and edits BLOGs from and on, this site, respectively, if they don’t fit her parameters…which means, all my auxiliary comms and auxiliary volunteer-work stuff go to my LandSeaAirComm.com website.

Since this transceiver is a toy for me, meaning I don’t use this transceiver for my auxiliary comms missions, I’m guessing Melissa will allow this BLOG to stay. Anyway, I guess this BLOG will stay until Melissa decides to delete it; I know she will edit it — she always edits my BLOGs.

Today, 10-May-2022, I took possession and custody of this brand new Yaesu FTA-850L Transceiver, and I absolutely dig it.

I wish I could pick up military fighter jet comms, but military aviation traffic, with the exception of Fleet Week, is scarce in my air-space.

Occasionally, civilian ATC will communicate with a passing fighter pilot, military transport pilot, or a USCG Helo pilot, but it’s short and brief and rarely happens — maybe, once a day at most.

Photo Credit: Alfonso Faustino: when I fly commercial, I fly Southwest. I took this picture at my private window in LAX.

Civilian aviation RF comms also captured my fancy, especially when I’m at a civilian airport waiting for my flight or at my FBO — I like to listen to their comms: Ground Ops and ATC.

Because I enjoy being an eavesdropper of aviation comms, several years ago, I took possession and custody of a brand new Yaesu FTA-450L Aviation Transceiver, and to date, it had not failed me; and, I’m very pleased with it. It’s a Communications-only transceiver, and it, like all my other Yaesu equipment, held up without any problems. My only FUCKING COMPLAINT is why in the hell can’t Yaesu have the Memory Group Name and Alpha-Numeric Tags listed? Do you realize I don’t need to see the word SCANNING once the scanner locks on to a frequency?

In fact, I mentioned many times over that Yaesu is the only non commercial/professional transceiver I would purchase. The FTA series, I guess, would fall into the commercial/professional transceiver; because, it’s an aviation transceiver — not a HAM transceiver.

So, why did I get the FTA-850L?

One of the main reasons is I like the GPS feature in the FTA-850L. I like to track my PIC’s flight path when he flies me to LAX, SFO, JFK, and LGA. Prior to the FTA-850L, I used my Garmin inReach Explorer+ coupled with my Yaesu FTA-450L Aviation Transceiver.

Now, that I have the FTA-850L, I don’t need to activate my Garmin inReach Explorer+ in-flight; because, the FTA-850L has built-in GPS and avionics; so, I can see all kinds of flight information from take-off to landing. Notwithstanding not having the need to activate my Garmin inReach Explorer+ while flying private, I always carry my Garmin inReach Explorer+ — it’s one of my favorite devices; because, it is so reliable, and it is a iridium satellite comms device, which also covers North and South Poles.

The date before my flight, I get my aviation map; and, I try to estimate my PIC’s flight path that he or she will be using the day or night of my flight. I have to rely on my aviation map and the Internet to get the most likely flight path to my destination. Anyway, I get whatever flight path information, and I plug in all the to-and-from ATC coordinates and frequencies my PIC will use. I plug in the VOR frequencies; and, I plug in the ILS information.

https://youtu.be/6dpg2_4ZvYU

In the video, supra, my FTA-850L is scanning; then, once I hit SFO in my car, the FTA-850L stops scanning, and it automatically goes to VOR-mode. Since I ain’t flying, I don’t have the ILS data to input; hence, the glide-path to land is not accurate in the video.

When I’m onboard the private jet, I can see the flight path and take-off and landing images and data. While that’s going on, I can listen to my PIC transfer between ATCs from state:state, as he nears his final ATC approach to get me to my locations: LGA, JFK, LAX, or SFO. I can view his glide-path and listen to his comms with ATC — all on my new, brand spanking new, Yaesu FTA-850L.

Do you enjoy the sound and feel of peeling off the screen protector when you get a brand new transceiver? I do — most abundantly — it’s an absolute splendid feeling and sound.

The FTA-850L has better on-screen user-information than the previous FTA models. Check out the picture, supra, of my FTA-850L and my Yaesu FTA-450L Aviation Transceiver. Look at the upper-left corner of both screens. The FTA-850L, while on scan mode, shows the Group Memory Name: SFO. Once it locks on to a frequency, my FTA-850L displays the Alpha-Numeric Tag I associated to that specific frequency.The FTA-450L does neither of these two aforementioned functions. It only shows MR GRP 1; I hate that lack of information — a fucking pain in the ass! Also, after the FTA-450L locks on to a frequency, the FTA-450L displays the word, SCANNING. What the fuck?!

The FTA-850L Pros (now it’s my primary aviation transceiver over my Yaesu FTA-450L Aviation Transceiver):

  • Scanning with Alph-tags: Finally! You would think this is a given in the developer’s SRD (Software Requirements Document), but it ain’t — the previous FTA models lack this feature. That’s like a salesperson asking me, when I purchase a brand new vehicle, would you like wheels and tires with your new vehicle?

The FTA-850L scans; and, once it locks to a frequency, I get the name of the frequency.

  • Group Memory Name now displayed…again, you would think this is a basic feature that should have been included in the SRD with the previous FTA models.
  • Bluetooth connection is now present to connect earpiece and mic; though, there’s a CON to this feature.
  • Color Screen: Yes! Visually pleasing, but…I will get to the BUT in a bit — major CON.
  • Dual Display: very cool! I can monitor two different frequencies at once; or, I can display the navigation screens — in the picture below, I chose to display my GPS data.
  • GPS: The GPS locks on quickly; and, the cool thing is the GPS locks on while I’m inside Eagle’s Nest. In the video below, I just turned on the FTA-850L…check out the blinking satellite — that’s the GPS indicator. When it’s blinking, it means the FTA-850L is searching for GPS. I’m inside Eagle’s Nest. Check out the quick acquisition of the satellite once the satellite icon stops blinking. Pretty quick, eh? That’s indoors, too!

FTA-850L Cons:

  • Outdoor Color Display: It sucks in sunlight — the screen is blacked out by the sun — absolutely useless! Indoors and in the shade, the screen is vibrant and has nice colors that make the data easy to read, but under the sun…forget it!

My Yaesu FTA-450L Aviation Transceiver is so much better in the direct sunlight, as shown, below.

If my FTA-450L had better on-screen information, like Alpha-Numeric Tags for scanning and group name, I would not have purchased the FTA-850L; because, the FTA-450L is an awesome Comms-only aviation transceiver; and, all the private jet PICs I know never used the avionics in their hand-held transceivers — they only used the RX/TX features on their aviation transceivers.
  • I cannot charge the battery without the transceiver, which means I can’t use the transceiver with the AA-battery-pack nor an extra lithium-ion battery — useless!
  • Bluetooth doesn’t connect to my Bluetooth Motorola earpiece and PTT FOB. I ain’t a Bluetooth engineer, but shouldn’t it connect and operate with any Bluetooth device? Based upon my early experiences with this transceiver, it only works with Yaesu-selected Bluetooth earpieces and aviation-only Bluetooth earpieces and mics. Still testing this out.
  • Manual needs work: I wanted to do a Group-only scan. Fault me if I’m wrong in my analytical and logic process…I went to the scanning section of the manual — did I err by doing this? Well, that Memory Group-only Scan information is not on page 56 nor 57. Guess the page number and heading — I ain’t gonna disclose it, so you can try to figure it out.

Is it a buy?

Does a one-legged duck swim in a circle? Yes…well, I mean, yes it’s a buy — I never seen a one-legged duck; hence, I don’t know if it would swim in a circle; I’m guessing it would swim in a circle…right? It’s just the physics of things. Well, anyway…yes — it’s a buy!

It’s a buy with stipulation…I ain’t an aviator, so I will not extend my Buy on this transceivers to aviators…I am an aviation enthusiast, who enjoys eavesdropping on aviation comms; hence; if you wanna listen in on civilian-based aviation comms, play with the FTA-850L’s avionics, and you ain’t an aviator, then the answer is, yes — it’s a buy.

Now, here’s another stipulation…you can do the same thing, just eavesdrop, with a less expensive model…the comms-only Yaesu FTA-450L Aviation Transceiver; I have this transceiver, as I mentioned, herein. The RF/RX was tested out by my PIC, and it’s an excellent comms-only transceiver.

The color screen, GPS, avionics, and Bluetooth, should not be the reasons you purchase the FTA-850L over the FTA-450L if you’re just gonna eavesdrop. If you’re gonna eavesdrop-only, these aforementioned features won’t do you any good — you’re just spending more money in features you ain’t gonna use. The FTA-450L is more than enough for eavesdropping — I’ve used that transceiver for years without any problems.

Why not just buy a hand-held scanner?

I can’t stand hand-held scanners as my primary RX-listening source for entertainment — they sound like shit! They feel light, flimsy, and no heft; and, I don’t like RX-only comms devices; hence, I ain’t gonna spend $600+ on a device that is useless piece of shit to me.

Notwithstanding my dislike for handheld scanners as my primary RX-listening source for entertainment, I do have an inexpensive hand-held scanner to pick up frequencies I wanna program in my hand-held transceivers. For example, if I’m at a commercial airport, and I wanna hear the Southwest Airlines Dispatch or Southwest Ground Crew, I turn on the scanner and get the frequencies, then I program the frequencies into my transceiver, via FPP, and listen through my transceiver.

Other than picking out frequencies via a hand-held scanner, I use my transceivers as my primary RX-listening source for entertainment; they sound great; and, in the event I get my FAA license, I can TX on my FTA-850L and FTA-450L.

This idea just popped up in my tiny brain…I can also use my FTA-850L as an emergency comms device in case the private jet or commercial plane I’m on buys the farm, and I end up surviving on a deserted island…like the passengers of the ill-fated sea vessel, the S.S. Minnow.

Photo Credit: IMDb.com: Ill-fated S.S. Minnow. Passengers survived and were in good health but stranded on a deserted island for ~three television seasons and ~10 episodes per season.

Unlike those survivors of the S.S. Minnow, I will have a transceiver, which can be used to communicate with aircrafts for help; hence, I won’t be stranded on a deserted Island for three television seasons and ~10 episodes per season…that’s a long ass fucking time to be stranded on a deserted island.

SAR ground training. I just established North for our base-camp using my Garmin inReach Explorer+. I can also do it manually with a compass, but the training session did not restrict me to a manual compass.

In addition, I always carry my Garmin inReach Explorer+, even when I’m out on the tennis courts, which is an iridium satellite communicator, which can be used anywhere in the world — including North and South Poles.

My Garmin inReach Explorer+ is always clipped to my tennis bag. Hey, ya never know…what happens if my car doesn’t work at the tennis club? I don’t want to be stranded at the tennis courts over night; hence, I need my Garmin inReach Explorer+ and my FTA-850L to get help — yes?

What? My girlfriend is rolling her eyes at me and asking, how can a person be so smart and so dumb at the same time?

“Don’t ask me how I do it, I just do it.”

“Psst…these 30-year-olds nowadays, they don’t understand the value of being prepared — ‘build your well before your need your water’ — my dad always told me this!“

Well, I ain’t building a well, but new water lines will be installed to Eagle’s Nest. I am putting some sweat-equity into my brand new compound: Eagle’s Nest.

So, now, I have two emergency comms devices to help me out of trouble anywhere in the world…and, as George Peppard’s character, Hannibal, from the A-Team, said, I love it when a plan comes together!

Photo Credit: IMDb.com

Of course, I always heed the wisdom of one of my favorite boxers and celebrities, Iron Mike Tyson: Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

Photo Credit: SI.com

Well, I if I get punched in the mouth it means the private jet or commercial plane I’m on would have bought the farm, and I hope I won’t have to experience that situation.

Like the Yaesu FTA-450L Aviation Transceiver, I’m sure the FTA-850L will be awesome in its RX and TX capabilities.

My PIC hasn’t tested the RX and TX while in his jet, but he will in the next day to two or three or so when he picks me up at the LA FBO and gets me home to SF FBO.

The FTA-850L’s GPS was the main selling feature for me; all my transceivers have GPS. As mentioned earlier, herein, the FTA-850L’s GPS acquisition is quick, holds it lock-on indoors and outdoors, and it is accurate, which I really like. The quickest lock-on, while outside and on the ground, to one of the satellites was 6 seconds — longest lock-on to one of the satellites, while outside and on the ground, was 6 mins.

Like my Yaesu FTA-450L Aviation Transceiver, the FTA-850L is durable and water resistant — these two features are a must-have for me; and, Yaesu includes these two features as a basic engineering build for all their products.

The FTA-850L has 6 watts of TX power, and it has 400 programmable frequency storage — 1 extra Watt and 200 extra frequency storage over the Yaesu FTA-450L Aviation Transceiver.

Eh — so what? I could care less of the extra 1-Watt and the extra 200 programmable extra frequency storage — my Yaesu FTA-450L Aviation Transceiver did better-than-well with just 5 Watts and 200 programmable frequency space. Remember, up in the air is clear LOS to ATC, ACIS, and aircraft:aircraft comms; so, RX and TX shouldn’t be a problem.

I strictly purchased the FTA-850L for my own entertainment value while being on a private jet or helo and while listening to aviation traffic on the ground.

I have never used my FTL-450L in a commercial plane, but I will bring my FTA-850L on a commercial plane next time, and I will ask the steward if I can operate it during the flight.

In a private jet, my PIC doesn’t mind me using my FTA transceivers — the FTA-450L and FTA-850L are tools for PICs; it’s designed to be used in-flight; so, it should not be an issue for me to activate while I’m on a commercial plane; but, commercial planes have their own strict house-rules, and they seldom deviate from those house-rules.

Anyway, I follow the house-rules whenever I’m a guest on a commercial plane, regardless of my personal thoughts of those house-rules that I’m following…like my father always told me, if you don’t like the house-rules, then leave — get your own house and make your own rules.

This is called a Slate. Some casting directors want it written down — others want a verbal slate in the audition video clip.

I have to prepare for an audition now; but, check in later — I will have some RF videos posted from LAX and SFO when I get back to San Francisco in a day or two or three or so.

RX at SFO ATC: https://youtu.be/NegpC8g_NMY

Oh, a final note before I split…remember, most of the time you are only gonna hear the PIC’s side of the conversation unless you live near an ATC or drive out to an ATC. At my residences, I am not near an ATC; hence, I can only hear the PICs flying over my building. When I hear both sides of the conversations between PICs and ATC, I really enjoy the experience.

Don’t forget to program plane:plane and helo:helo frequencies — those frequencies allow PICs to communicate with each other — since they are up in the air, you can hear both sides of the conversations.

Finally, don’t forget to program your favorite airline’s dispatch frequencies and ground ops frequencies. A lot of good comms on these frequencies that generally don’t go through ATC. For example, the other day, a commercial airline’s PIC contacted ATC; she said to ATC: I need priority clearance to land; I have a 75 yo male that just had a heart attack. I need paramedics at the gate for arrival.

I immediately jumped on the Internet to get the airline’s dispatch frequency. Once acquired, I quickly entered it to my FTA-850L.

Then, I heard her dispatch communicate with her; she and dispatch were planning the process to get immediate medical help to the passenger once she hits her gate. They were also talking about the process of deplaning given the immediate medical situation. I listened all the way until she hit her gate and opening the cabin to let paramedics in — then, it was silent. I’m guessing their comms moved to their DMR Tier III UHF Capacity Plus network.

Okay, that’s it; I gotta split. Have fun with your FTA transceiver.

Check 6.

/s/ Alfonso Faustino