Mid 2019 and I decided it was time to rationalise the radio shack and perhaps raise some money to make some upgrades or other repairs. So it was that a quite a bit of ageing and surplus equipment found its way onto eBay and had the desired effect of raising some much needed funds. Ultimately it paid for some upgrades to the FT817nd and the IC-7000 leaving a choice of repairing and upgrading the IC-251e and IC-451e duo (both suffering the effects of age) or perhaps look for a clean low mileage VHF/UHF multimode Yaesu. I had long admired and secretly wanted a FT736r but this was where I actually looked into it in more detail. Risks of course being an older radio with ageing caps etc. but a well respected unit and an upgrade on the even older FT726 (which I have 'almost' bought before on a couple of occasions!).
Decent condition and well sorted 736's seemed to be pretty popular and fetching good money on eBay (£500-£900) even with only the standard 2m and 70cms specification so it took a while (several months!) to find something. In fact I wasn't really looking when I spotted an ad in the back of Radcom (the RSGB magazine) for a fully spec'd 736 for sale for 'the right price' so a message was duly sent, everything seemed to check out so I took the plunge! Thank you to Brian GW0GHF whose description as well as photos was accurate and detailed and a few days later my lovely new radio arrived well packaged and in good order. The radio is fitted with the 50MHz and 23cms modules as well as the CTCSS module and when new in the early to mid 90's would have represented a significant investment in the region of £2,000 for a keen radio amateur (equivalent to about £4,000 in todays money!).
Initial local contacts on the Jersey after news net were encouraging with GJ0PDJ, 2J0SZI, 2J0CMB, MJ6ORG, GJ8PVL and others (once I got my head around properly setting up and operating a relatively complex radio) and at Christmas brought it back to France to install in the shack. Much to my pleasure there was a significant (in fact record breaking) few days of tropospheric propagation on 27, 28 and 29 December 2019 and even with 'only' the white stick multi-band vertical soon gained a number of VHF DX contacts on both FM and SSB (despite not being horizontally polarised) in France, Jersey (GJ7DNI and GJ7JHF), South West UK, Wales, Northern Spain and Germany (with assistance of my MML144/100S linear amplifier). So I am a happy bunny and looking forward to putting up some more permanent aerials for 6m, 2m, 70cm and 23cms (which I have never tried!). Not a bad start to my tenure of the new (to me) Yaesu and 2020..., happy new year!!!
Further benefits, the FT736r works well with the 2m linear as well as my trusty Heil HC-4 headest and footswitch, should work well with the MFJ voice keyer (but not the MD-100 desk microphone which only works with newer radios!). May be worth keeping an eye open for a Yaesu MD-1 microphone!! Antenna plans include a HB9CV for 2m and 70cms, a short boom length 8 element beam for 23cms and the delta loop I have built for 6m as well as the 'white stick' vertical of course! All relatively low profile aerials I know but living in the forest in a conservation area requires care sometimes!
Below: Photo of Brian GW0GHF and his shack with what is now 'my' FT736r, thank you Brian!
2021 update: Well the global Coronavirus pandemic kept us away from home in France for most of 2020 and threatens similar for at least some of 2021 until widespread vaccination takes place and travel can start to return to something closer to normal. In the meantime the long term VHF/UHF/SHF planned developments for the ‘new’ FT736R and associated aerial rigging had to be put on indefinite hold. And so the FT736r has just had to sit sulking in the shack not even being connected anymore to the VHF/UHF collinear vertical which was taken down for maintenance in January 2020 and stayed down pending the overdue and still awaited repairs to our front gable wall! Roll on summer!?!