FT980 Repair, Restoration log

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FT980 - what a great rig

Postby vk4kvk » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:02 pm

Hello all,

I have recently had the chance to spend considerable time working on my 2 x FT980s.
One has been problematic ever since I purchased it - the other was a much better rig to start with but exhibits the occasional problem.

Let me say - I have a renewed favour for these fine rigs. They are a pleasure to work on, everything is predictably laid out. My original FT980 purchase was always problematic. I have been putting off confronting it for a proper bench top repair for some time (3 years!)
Well, Dec 2008 had me working on several FT101's and a decided to bite the bullet in 2009 and tackle the FT980's.

It turned out - all my problems stemmed from the IF board - it seems someone may have dropped the rig at some time in its past - I found a cracked copper track on the board which was only discovered by very very close examination of the board after working all the usual routines on old rigs - cleaning board edge connectors, refitting all connectors etc etc. This FT980 got a full working over - all connectors were cleaned up and reseated and checked.

I also found the audio o/p down and this was traced to some of the pots on the IF board which control S-meter sensitivity and various dry joints or poblematic joints with the various filters.

I found an easier way to calibrate the S-meter - use an existing FT1000 as the calibration reference standard - crude but it worked.

Ques for FT980 owners - has anyone got any real good audio stories on mating a mic to the FT980? I use the original mic on one of my FT980s but am keen to explore other possibilities. I have a shack full of MH-31's on account of them being a popular mic with more recent Yaesu rigs.

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Tracing the devt story of the FT980

Postby vk4kvk » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:07 pm

Anyone got some info on the devt story of the FT980?
Ques like:
- to what extent was it a for runner to the ft1000
- what was the Yaesu progression after the FT980
- who were the engineers that worked on the F980, were there links to the ft1000 or ft920 group?
- what are the connections between the FT980 and the FT-one? eg they share a common
power supply

Any other stories welcomed.
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Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 9:22 pm

Postby WA6Q » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:49 pm

I will be contributing here on the FT-980.

I purchased one back in 1984 when they were first released. It was a late model series #3. I had sent it back to Yaesu Munsen 1 year 6 months after purchase due to a receiver problem. At the time I was not brave enough to approach the design of the FT-980. A mishap occured in shipping and UPS provided a new FT-980 series #7 directly from Yaesu in Los Angeles.

The FT-980 followed the FT-1 at nearly $1000.00 less in price about 1 year after the FT-1 didn't develope enough sales for Yaesu. The architecture in design between the two were similar. The FT-1 had glass epoxy boards. The FT-980 was a price-point constructed rig.

The FT-1000 is NOT of the same design. The FT-990 and FT-1000 was a completely new generation.

I have never owned an FT-1 and I've never been inside one. For some reason the FT-1 had a bad rap for problems. I share this only as reference from hear-say.

Both rigs were of "modular board" design. There are errors in several places.

I sold my series #7 17 years ago.

I just obtained a series #3 one week ago. An estate item from an SK in Sacramento. This rig has been sitting in storage for over twenty three years. It has a couple of small errors. I have repared two of them and the rig is functional however; it will not be placed on the air until I find the error in the main VCO section.

I will publish my findings.

I will also publish the 47 modifications (factory errors) that required 17 years of casual diligence in research to refine and correct. Please don't ask me how this came to be. It is a bit complex to share at this point.

I will provide full schematics with "before" and "after" changes in bit.mat format for all FT-980 heartfelt enthusiasts to down load.

For those of you lucky enough to have the SP-980 speaker enclosure PLEASE hold on! You will need this to house the "new power" supply. The "hump" on the back of the FT-980 will be removed and the "grunt" DC will be provided via remote. Just like Collins equipment! There are only two DC voltage levels required from your new supply. One 13.8 volt and one 24 volt level. All other operating DC levels are already on your corresponding boards within the 980. You will have room to place the entire RF amplifier within the rear enclosure of the vacated area of the previous "double-hump-back". This can be enclosed with a nice powder coated or black anodized screen to provide the factory look of proper design. You will have easy access to the occasionaly accessed controls on the back without breaking your neck to view them under the previous "humps". You will drop the overall weight of the transceiver to a reasonable level. You will loose the major heat generator of the poorly designed and over taxed power supply form Yeasu. The stupid "screaming FAN" will no longer be required and the thermal sensing circuit that NEVER worked correctly will be GONE!

I could go on for much longer. I will be compiling all of this in short time. I'm sure you see by now I am an FT-980 enthusiast. I am a purest to a certain extent however; somethings need to be changed for the better.

Warning....for those of you who have butchered your 980 to perform out of band opeartion through the GEN control system. PUT your rig back to stock as a new prom for the cpu will provide everything you want is being worked on right now. That modification is very poor and devalues the tranceiver greatly.

Please know your rig before asking me any questions. If you do not fully understand which way a diode points in a circuit you are not qualified to perform these upgrades. I will not provide basic electronics coarses to neophytes. This rig is NOT for butcher beginners and you can have a pile of Dump in no time.

I will help those who are true to the calling of the FT-980 with a proper background.

I assure all of you....none of this will be a waste of your time. Give me a bit of time and I'll spill all the information in documented form.

These rigs are cult status.

William WA6Q
HF Equipment is: FT-900, FT-980, FT-990 and full Collins S-Line w/30S-1 VHF/UHF Equipment is: Two fully loaded 736R's and of course mobile rigs are: FT-8800 and (brand X)-Alinco 220...Yaesu doesn't make 220 stuff. :(
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Postby K7ZRZ » Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:07 pm

Dear, William,

That's a very nice addition to this thread. Although it sounds a little daunting (what you propose), I do know that the diodes always point to the north in a circuit, I have a good 750 watt soldering gun, and have a fully stocked carpenter's tool box.... I'm ready to get into this thing! :lol:

I see an SP-980 on ebay now, and unfortunately, I don't have the room in my station space allotment to accommodate it (need a bigger motorhome). I'm also looking at a couple of the other Yaesu speaker cabinets that are a bit smaller, and might procure one of those. I would like to have one that is the same size as the 102 external VFO box, so as to be able to put something else in its place to hold up the scope which is now atop the VFO. (The 102 is at my buddy's place now... and the VFO should go along with it.)

Can't wait for more!
Brian K7ZRZ
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Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:59 pm

Postby WA6Q » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:08 am

Hey Brian,
Sorry to all for the bravado and I don't want Phillip VK4KVK to think I'm a jerk Yank or anyone else who might be checking in on this thread. Really these rigs are cool pieces of gear if you happen to own one.

I was in touch with Rob Sherwood of Sherwood Engineering last week.


Indeed the FT-980 has a place in the ratings even if it's not in the top-dog catagory but, don't get carried away with these stats. Granted, I wouldn't want to be in a major location with kilowatt stations putting 45 Db+ signals on the front end during the 160 Meter World Wide SS CW contest but, on SSB the FT-980 will prove to be quite the performer. It would be nice if Inrad (now in Aptos California) would provide a few more goodies for the 980 but, that's up to us FT-980 owners to drop emails to Inrad and bug them for a few new items for the IF stages. Most of us will fair quite well over-all in performance when you compare the present day RF DSP rigs to what these rigs provide from twenty plus years ago. BESIDES...we can work on our stuff! Have you looked under the hood of those new rigs! Holycow...I'm not going there. All of the newer rigs are horror stories right out of the box and if you think we have problems with phase-noise issues you should take a look at what five to ten thousand dollars will get you into! So...be proud of what these cult-rigs will provide on an over-all basis.

Anyhow...guys please don't let me scare you away from any of this. Heck, power supply relocation is not a big deal and if you don't have a nice SP-980 speaker enclosure forget about it. The same project can be placed onto a standard aluminum chassis with rubber feet. You will still monitor VCC on the FT-980's front panel meter. I assure you this is a must do because the original DC supply is a piece of poop and needs to be remoted. This will drop the operating temperature of the entire FT-980 enclosure and promote longivity by removing the heat. You will use less air-conditioning in the summer in the shack and the rig will cost less money to operate over a thirty day period. It's win-win all the way around!

As for the other multi-updates on various boards it's mostly small componants removal and replacement. This will be done with a small soldering iron....so....Brian throw the 750 watt cow-burner away! :shock:

I'm sorry I don't have the corrected schematics ready for bit.mat yet. I will get them up on this site as soon as I can.

Just to finish up this FT-980 blog tonight I want all of you to look on the RF board towards the rear and find the two transistors with the tall black anodized heat-sinks that are vertical. Take a look at the toast marks on your circuit board...it's from the way over temperature that these babys are running at. If you don't see toast marks your just lucky...none the less...apply power to the rig ( of course the lower cover is removed...don't be silly) wait about five minuets and put your finger on the top of the heat-sink stove pipe....does it burn you? Heck YES...these two devices are biased incorrectly from the design and I'm gonna teach you what to do to change this. I'm also going to explain why Yaesu did this...your gonna laugh at this one.

I hope you guys and girls will allow me to play this out. Again I assure you...all of this will be for the benifit of performance and longivity of this great cult rig.

HF Equipment is: FT-900, FT-980, FT-990 and full Collins S-Line w/30S-1 VHF/UHF Equipment is: Two fully loaded 736R's and of course mobile rigs are: FT-8800 and (brand X)-Alinco 220...Yaesu doesn't make 220 stuff. :(
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Location: Paradise, CA

First computerised rigs

Postby ZL3MH » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:41 pm

I had a early FTONE but the reciever was not as all sensitive on
10 meters. I did like the filters and controls and it was beautifully
made. The latter one the Reciever was much better. I then got
given a FT101zd MK2 WARC Tranciever. After 40 hours of fixing
it worked great. The main problem was the 6146s had 12 volts
on the filements . Boy did this cause some quir problems. I now
have this one for parts and have two FT101zd mk3 models.

First computerised rigs gave a lot of trouble and some where
very hard to work on like the IC701. Best of luck on the repairs.

I will stick with my ZDs 73 Murray ZL3MH
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Location: Christchurch New Zealand

Postby WA6Q » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:48 pm

Thanks for the encouragement. I'm still gathering all the hand notes and documenting the changes along with the final bit.maps for the schematics.

Good deal on the 101ZD....12 volts on the 6146 filaments? I've not owned a 101 series transceiver however; I have experience with many tube type radios that can be operated in a 12 volt enviroment and most have a simple but, confusing power cable that when connected in the "mobile" configuration all the 6 volt filaments are operated in series as pairs. The Collins S-Line transmitters and KWM series would fall into this catagory.

HF Equipment is: FT-900, FT-980, FT-990 and full Collins S-Line w/30S-1 VHF/UHF Equipment is: Two fully loaded 736R's and of course mobile rigs are: FT-8800 and (brand X)-Alinco 220...Yaesu doesn't make 220 stuff. :(
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Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:25 pm
Location: Paradise, CA

Postby K7ZRZ » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:26 pm

WA6Q William,

Please check your Private Messages for here.

Brian K7ZRZ
Brian K7ZRZ
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Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:59 pm

Postby wp3vv » Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:04 pm

I read somewhere that parts are getting very difficult to find for the ft-980.

is this rig running the same fate as rigs like kenwood ts-950 etc.?

I am considering buying one but it has some VFO issues. Cosmetically is a 10.

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Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:27 pm

Postby K7ZRZ » Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:04 am

Wp3vv (name?)

I suppose it depends on what part gives up. Most of the stuff in the radio is just plain old radio components and can be obtained many places.

What exactly is the problem with the VFO which you mentioned. If you aren't interested after all in purchasing that rig, can you pass along some info about it for my consideration? Thanks if you do.
Brian K7ZRZ
Posts: 41
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:59 pm

Postby WA6Q » Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:46 pm

WP2VV Raul...
As Brian has stated the FT-980 is all discreet componets. The VFO is an optical-chopper and short of total physical damage the entire platform is serviceable. The rig is daunting for a beginner and the only thing you should be concerned about when purchasing this vintage classic is "who" owned it before? Butchered FT-980's are NOT what you should invest in. I don't know any ham on a world wide level who is a master of the 980's. It has become a cult rig in certain circles and has nobility in design from many engineering stand points.

I realize I'm expressing this from a romantic subjective standpoint but, if you are an experienced Amateur Radio operator then Collins Radio equipment would be a known manufacturer. Collins has a rich history and certainly achieved recognition on a world wide level. From early production Art Collins set technical standards that resulted in performance levels. Today, 50 years later, the noble lineage of Collins still demands attention.

Yaesu Musen...the original, produced certain platforms that may very well approach or achieve acknowledgement as "noble" in specific lineage. Not all platforms reach this level. All manufacturers have their success stories and their failures. Not every device produced is perfect in everyway however; there is a fine line from an engineering or design stand point that would allow a certain transceiver to be adorned with such recognition.

To be on the funny side of things...you may very well go to your local landfill and see a D9-Caterpiller running over a Kenwood ts-180 in the garbage pile but, I doubt you would see someone tossing a Collins KWM2/A to the same fate.

I don't wish to open a large debate here regarding what maybe deemed "noble" but, in my humble opinion the FT-980 has some very interesting technical attributes that may set it into the catagory of noblity.

Time will tell....and at this point there are many FT-980's still operational and being supported. It's been 25 years....? Going to swap meets now and then I see Swan 100 MXA's for $25 dollars....after all...who cares...it's not in the same catagory. I know....I know....I'm getting carried away here.

None the less...for those who are lucky enough to have an FT-980 sitting in the daily operational posistion....as you stare at this thing....you must admit, it's one of the most beautiful looking platforms inspite of it's age she is a sweet unit.

For those of you with experience in repair of these babies....you have to admit....it's kind of like a piece of Collins gear...and by this I mean...she's a friendly piece of gear to open...fold out her boards...and get to the issue. I say this from experience with other types of equipment...I like my FT-980 for many reasons.

Like Collins....the FT-980 has it's issues too....but, it's approachable and with graceful-care you can achieve great satisfaction.

I am still compiling data....it is very detailed and I will spill my efforts soon.

HF Equipment is: FT-900, FT-980, FT-990 and full Collins S-Line w/30S-1 VHF/UHF Equipment is: Two fully loaded 736R's and of course mobile rigs are: FT-8800 and (brand X)-Alinco 220...Yaesu doesn't make 220 stuff. :(
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Location: Paradise, CA

Postby WA4DYN » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:27 pm


What's become of the FT-980 info? I'm looking forward to your information. My Ft-980 has recently starting having problems and I'm looking for an excuse to dig into it.

Bob WA4DYN (ex-WU5F)

WA6Q wrote:WP2VV Raul...

I am still compiling data....it is very detailed and I will spill my efforts soon.

Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:35 pm

Postby WA6Q » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:52 pm

I'm so very sorry. I was out of work for nearly 15 months when I began this project. I'm lucky to have returned to work as of April 2010. I have several friends who have most recently obtained FT-980's and I will shortly regroup my efforts. December will allow some time to go forward and I'll compile the information.

Bob (WA4DYN), I'm out on the road working however; I can check this website for activity. Could you post a short note on what you are seeing as issues.

Brian...if you are reading this please forward this onto Jeff and Kerry. I could use a little help while I'm traveling. Kerry is working on his FT-980 at this time and is making great headway.

HF Equipment is: FT-900, FT-980, FT-990 and full Collins S-Line w/30S-1 VHF/UHF Equipment is: Two fully loaded 736R's and of course mobile rigs are: FT-8800 and (brand X)-Alinco 220...Yaesu doesn't make 220 stuff. :(
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Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:25 pm
Location: Paradise, CA

ft980 problem

Postby Howardk0acf » Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:07 am

I got this rig from another Ham that tried to fix it but couldn't get it to work. I found 2 transistors that were put in the vfo board wrong, replaced them in the right position & then the rig started to work. It now has the problem that when on lsb on 160, 80, & 40 I have to have the IF shift turned about a 1/4 turn counter clockwise to sound right. If I put it at 12 oclock it is just extreamly tinny & can't understand anything. USB is ok. I have checked the bfo at tp4001 & with it set on usb & fully counter clockwise & it reads 6 vdc. When I put it on lsb & if shift fully clockwise it reads about 5 vdc. Now also if I turn the rig off & then turn it back on it won't recieve at all & voltage on tp4001 is just over 1 vdc. If I adjust tc4001 the voltage will rise to 6 vdc ok & rig will come up great. If I turn it off again the same thing happens....I have also checked the 30 meg frequency & it is right on. When the rig is working the dial readout is righ on frequency...S meter doesn't read on any signal strength & ALC also is not working on transmit but sometimes will peg the needle. Output on a dummy load is 100 watts & can make it go higher with the mike gain turned up high & same for CW with the drive...I sure hope someone can help me with this??? I am leaning to a bad TC4001...I also think the passband for 160 -40 is narrow as to the IF shift having to be about 1/4 turn counter clockwise...Thanks in advance for any help as I sure do like the rig... Howard K0ACF...
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Re: FT980 Repair, Restoration log

Postby WA3GGV » Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:05 pm

It does not appear that you have received any reply to your post. I just picked up a 980 myself and it appears to be in perfect condition without any "fixes" applied to it..... at least I hope that is the case.
When I got the rig back home I merely plugged it in just to see if the thing would hear anything...... to my delight many signals were heard and it appeared that the S meter was working just fine. Since I don't have a shack yet configured the 980 just sat in a safe place until today. Today I hooked the 980 up to my vertical and the S meter now does not appear to work. Signals are "low" but they appear to be there. I "worked" the AF and RF gain pots and noticed that there was a "scratch" sound coming from the speaker...... dirty pots?? I don't know.... and I still do not have a shack to even begin to see if the rig will transmit. I am the third owner of this particular rig and love the size and appearance of it.... just getting back into ham radio after 35 years off the air.... I am not in love with those rigs with tiny, tiny switches and controls that do several things if you know what other button to push!
At any rate, let me know if you have explored your S meter problem. I was reading on this site about a fellow who was going to post a lot of info about repairs...... but BEWARE..... no "newbies" appeared to be welcomed..... he apparently just wants to communicate with guys that know what they are talking about. Now I could be wrong about that, but that's what I got from the tenor of his posting.
I will let you know if I figure something out myself and/or find something useful on the internet that might be of use to us with the S meter and receiver sensitivity problems.
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