Why on earth would someone still keep (and use!) a 30-year old, bulky, heavy ‘boat anchor’ transceiver? Good memories? Good performance? A bit of both.
My FT-901 -still shiny, no damage, and technically 100%.
Building on the success of the FT-101 line, the FT-901DM was crafted as a “hybrid” transceiver, using all solid state design except for the driver and final amplifier stages. It utilized plug-in circuit boards, popular in the 101 and 301 lines, and it featured a die-cast front panel and spectacular solid mechanical construction inside the case. The FT-901 was among the “cleanest” internal structures Yaesu ever created.
The “breakthrough” feature of the FT-901DM was its memory system. In a day when the only concept of “memory” was a quartz crystal, the FT -901DM allowed the operator to push a button, wait about five seconds, and in that time the synthesizer would lock in on the current operating frequency, storing it for later recall. No other HF radio in the Ham world had memory, and it was a huge performance breakthrough that set the stage for the memory-based transceivers of today.
Another area where the FT-901 shone was in its improved receiver performance. The 901 was the result of a concerted effort by Yaesu’s top receiver people, who included a permeability-tuned RF preselector (similar in concept to the “µ-Tuning” modules in today’s FTdx9000!), and the entire receiver section featured at least 10 dB more dynamic range than any previous solid-state receiver from Yaesu. At the time, the dynamic range of the FT-901DM was, by far, the best in the industry, and it led to the wide acceptance of this model in DX and contest circles.
For the fun of it: take a look at the receiver tests, done by Sherwood Engineering (link). Even after 30 years, the FT-901 is still ranking #12 – defeating numerous modern transceivers with ease.
On the transmitter side, the 901 used a pair of 6146B tubes in the final, and utilized RF negative feedback to ensure low IMD products. The 901 series was always renowned for its outstanding audio quality and signal purity. Will I ever sell my FT-901? No way.