I know at some point I’ve mentioned that I own a venerable, old Yaesu FT-736R. By serial number I’ve dated it to around 1989. While it’s getting to be an aged model now, it still packs in a lot of great features. It makes an ideal fixed station radio because of its large size and built-in power supply. It just looks like a radio should–with all the buttons and knobs and analog meter. Can you say, “No menus!” In addition to the standard 2m/70cm all mode and full duplex satellite operation, mine also contains the optional 6m module and CW filter and tone board. I don’t think Yaesu makes anything like this today.
I was bummed out because the VFO encoder locked up right in the middle of a VHF/UHF QSO party contest. I don’t do much of the weak signal work but it’s nice to know that I have a radio capable of performing the task, and I was enjoying making some 2m SSB contacts. I eventually found a work-around that entailed using a software emulator that took the FT-736R CAT commands and converted them to FT-847 CAT commands. This allows for control via HRD. Unfortunately, the radio is so old that most radio software doesn’t support it. The emulator works fine but is a little extreme for just casual repeater contacts and dial spinning. This is what I do mostly on 2m.
With the aid of some suggestions on QRZ.com I’ve managed to free up the stuck VFO. Very carefully, I was able to dribble some WD-40 down the encoder shaft through a very tight-clearance opening that leads to the innards. It seems a little extreme to go after an encoder with the WD-40 but as it was inoperable I didn’t figure there was much to lose. It seems that this is a common problem with other Yausu’s of this era, too. I guess they even still stock the part. Nice to know this…but I was able to get mine freed up. After two day of soaking I grabbed the shaft with a pair of pliars with padded jaws. It started to move a little. I just started working it back and forth a little at a time and then soak it with some more lube. I’m pleased to report that it now turns better than it ever did! As much as I like this old radio I think it’s time to sell. It’ll go on the block at Dayton this year. Hopefully there’s a weak signal enthusiast out there that’s in the market for an old-school radio with no menus and limited CAT capability.