Product Reviews

Yaesu FT 65R Review

With the Yaesu FT 60R already doing so well, it would be easy to assume that 65R is an upgrade on the predecessor; maybe, this is Yaesu cashing in on the success of the FT 60R.

But what this Yaesu FT 65R review shows is that the gadget is not an upgrade. Some functions and features have been removed which accounts for the cheaper cost. 

That said, as a standalone portable handheld ham radio, this is another great addition to the Yaesu line. It is tough, compact and at the price tag, it is a great entry-level ham radio for newbies. 

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. Carefully go through this Yaesu FT 65R review and make up your mind about it. You might even consider it better than the 60R given the lower cost. 

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Yaesu FT 65R review

Unboxing the Yaesu FT 65R

Yaesu Original FT-65 FT-65R 144/440 Dual-Band Rugged & Compact Handheld Transceiver, 5W - 3 Year Warranty

What might pop into your mind when you hold the device for the first time is ‘solid and rugged’. Like most handhelds 2-way radios, it is certainly compact with a casing that looks like it would take repeated falls on a hard surface well. 

At the top of the left-hand side, you would find the PTT button. The orientation of the button jutting out at a slight incline to the body makes it easy to press. Left-handed would find it easier to press with their thumb given its location. 

Two buttons are located below the PTT button: the monitor and SET buttons to temporarily unlock the squelch function, and for changing the operating features and the radio’s settings respectively. 

One the right side of the device are two ports, these are the speaker and microphone jacks both hidden behind a rubber flap. 

The power/volume knob, orange button, and a flexible antenna are located on top of the Yaesu FT 65R. The orange button activates the white LED located on the front panel. You could use this light to quickly find items in the dark. 

Also, at the front panel is the keypad. It consists of 18 black buttons each with a white label. The rectangular, monochromic LCD is located directly above the keypad and below the speaker. The LED flashlight is positioned just above this display to the right bottom side of the speaker. 

At the base of the radio, you would find a latch used to either lock the battery in or release it. The sliding lever controlling it is a bit recessed. So people with short fingernails might find it a bit hard removing the battery. 

Also at the rear of the case is the clip that is sturdy and strong enough to pass very thick belts through it. 

Other items in the box include the 7.4V, 1950 Li-ion battery, charging dock, the flexible antenna and the instructions manual. 

Preparing the Yaesu FT 65R for use

The battery needs to be fully charged first Using the charging cradle to get it done is pretty basic. First, insert the battery into the device and drop it onto the dock making sure the lead contacts of both the charger and the device are aligned and are touching each other. 

The LED light on the charger is usually red when plugged and charging. When the battery is full, it would turn green. A completely discharged battery takes about 4 hours to get to 100%. 

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Using the Yaesu FT 65R

Veteran users of handhelds radios always harp on simplicity in determining the utility of the device. The 65R gets top billing for me in this respect. it is very easy to use and because the steps are easy to remember, you’d become an expert very quickly. 

One button you would become familiar with almost immediately (that is apart from the PTT button) is the function button. This is the ‘F’ button on the keypad. 

To bring up the menu of 38 items, you have to press and hold this ‘F’ button for at least 2 seconds. You would use the same button to display the menu details after using the up/down arrow keys to navigate to the desired item. 

And after making the necessary adjustments, you have to press this button again to save your settings. And finally, pressing and holding it would take you out of the menu. You would get the hang of it after repetitive use. 

Display – At about 0.4 X 1.7 inches, the LCD is small. But not small enough that you won’t make out the numbers, letters, and icons displayed. To be fair though, your close-up vision has to be pretty good. 

Displayed on the screen are items such as the signal strength, battery indicator, battery voltage, and about 8 other icons for a variety of functions related to the use of ham radio.

Setting the Squelch – If you are used to working with dedicated squelch buttons, you might find the squelch control on this device unusual. You may even hate. it. 

To get to the squelch mode, the F function button is once again your friend. Press and release it and immediately press the MON button immediately above it. That’d take you to the squelch menu if done right. 

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The squelch levels start at zero right up to 15. Adjust it to the level you want by using the up/down arrows. To save your setting and exit, simply press and release the function button again. 

Memory Channels – You can customize the 200 memory channels by assigning alphanumeric labels to them. If you want to delete a memory channel, simply go into the menu and scroll to item 18 to get to the delete feature. Note that you can’t delete the call channel and memory channel 001.

Storing channels or frequencies involve the use of VFO/memory button (V/M button), VFO mode and the up/down arrows. 

You might want to start by using the first two channels to store 146.250 and 446.000 MHz simplex calling frequencies. Enter the VFO mode by pressing the V/M button and selecting it. 

Then using the keypad, press the numbers 146520 and finally press and hold the V/M button again. Release it only after ‘MEM-IN’  shows on the display. That shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. 

When you see it, that indicates the 146.250 MHz frequency has been stored on Channel 1. Use the same steps to store the second simplex frequency on Channel 2; and your other frequencies in subsequent channels. 

Programming shortcuts – On the keypad, you can get to some default functions by using buttons P1 – P4. On the device, these are the Home Frequency, TX Power, Squelch and Reverse buttons respectively. 

Audio – The output level is okay. You would begin to notice distortions in the sound quality only when you get to the 1W output power. This means in noisy environments; you would be able to hear it clearly without needing to raise the volume to the highest level. 

You would also enjoy listening to FM stations as the sensitivity on this band is rather good. Weather channels audio is pretty good as well. 

On the transmit end, people listening to communication from the device won’t have a hard time getting individual words clearly.

Battery life – Using the device for a full day without recharging is normal. The battery has a decent charge holding capability. In essence, you won’t lose power quickly while using it. 

It lasts between 9 and 11 with continuous use. In normal circumstances, that is over a day because, generally, folks hardly use handheld ham radios non-stop for over 9 hours. 

With about 5 hours of use per day, you might only need to recharge it after every two days.

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Summary of the specifications and features of the Yaesu FT 65R

  • Dual Band UHF/VHF transceiver 
  • IP54 dust/waterproof protection 
  • Adjustable tri-power (0.5, 2.5, and 5 watts) 
  • Versatile Scanning function – VFO, Memory, Channel, and Weather scans
  • FM receiver 
  • Transmitter time-out timer 
  • Auto power off
  • 1 Watt audio power output 
  • VOX function 
  • Quick recall key providing quick access to favorite functions 
  • Built-in flashlight 
  • CTCSS and DCS capable 
  • FM broadcast – 65 MHz – 108 MHz 
  • Transmission coverage – 144 – 148 MHz & 430 – 450 MHz 


  • Durable 
  • Affordable 
  • Easy to use 
  • Long battery life 
  • Loud audio output 
  • Dual monitor via VFO
  • Adjustable power settings 


  • Scanning can be slow 
  • Absence of memory mode in the menu 


By now, you must have gleaned from this Yaesu FT 65R review that the transceiver comes without bells and whistles. It is a simple, basic handheld ham radio new amateur radio operators might find very adequate.

For those who have used the Yaesu FT 60R before, they’d realize that instead of an upgrade, the 65R is actually a stripped-down version and the lower price tag attests to that. 

The ham radio is not hard to use. Though it might take a while to get used to navigating the menu. For intending hams on a low budget, it provides a decent option with enough features and functions to get the full experience of amateur radio operations using a handheld ham radio. 

Yaesu Original FT-65 FT-65R 144/440 Dual-Band Rugged & Compact Handheld Transceiver, 5W - 3 Year Warranty
  • VHF/UHF Commercial Grade Dual Band Handheld Transceiver - Compact Design, Measuring W 2.1” x H 4.1” x D 1.2” (52.5 x 104.5 x 31 mm) - Rugged Construction; Meets IP54 Rating (Dust/Water protection) , MIL-810-C,D and E - One Watt Powerful Audio Output and Clear Audio from the Big Front Speaker - 5 Watts of Reliable RF Power within a Compact body
  • Three Selectable TX Power settings (5 W (High)/2.5 W (Middle)/0.5 W (Low)) - Over 9 hours Operating time with Supplied 1,950 mAh Li-Ion Battery pack *1 - Optional High-capacity 2,500 mAh Li-Ion Battery Pack (SBR-26LI) provides over 11.5 hours of Extended Operating Time *1 - 3.5-Hour Rapid Charger (SBH-22) Included (Using SBR-25LI) - QRK (Quick Recall Key) : Four User Programmable Keys for Quick Access to Favorite Functions
  • Large White LED Flashlight, Alarm and Quick Home Channel Access for Emergency Signaling - Versatile Scanning Capabilities : Programmed VFO Scan, Memory Scan, Priority Channel Scan, Weather Alert Scan - WX Channels with "Severe Weather" Alert (US Version) - VOX Operation with Optional VOX Earpiece Microphone (SSM-512B) - PC Programmable with Optional Programming Cable (SCU-35)

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