I have been away for a few days - in North Yorkshire minus radio.
Well, I took the Wouxun handheld and heard nothing for a week on 2m plus one brief squawk on 4m. So it is not just South East Scotland which has low activity.
"Mark" pointed out on the FT-450D posting here that it is possible to update the firmware on the FT-450D. True. I have never done it so I guessed it was time to try.
Maybe my reluctance to do anything was at least partly caused by the fact that the Yaesu UK site does not mention to possibility of a firmware update, or they hide it away very well. In either case, that site was no use.
Mark provided a link to the yaesu.com site. I could not get that to work but I did get onto the FT-450D page on that site :-
Then from that I clicked "Files" and scrolled down to "Amateur radio/software". Note that there is a different version available for earlier versions of the FT-450 too. I wanted the FT-450D one.
Note also that you can read the information pages as a PDF, and that contains a link to download the software. However, that link just takes you back to the main FT-450 page, which foxed me for a while. What you have to do is follow "Files" and scroll down and then select the firmware download specifically. Easy enough really, but apt to confuse people like me.
At this stage I might just point out that I can only quote links valid at the date of writing (in this case 14-09-16). Over time links get moved, sites close and so forth. Nevertheless, if a link does not work you can usually find the page somehow, and I try to name pages so that you can find them by using a "search engine" (I use something now called "Yahoo", which I know as Alta Vista, though I have heard that some other search engines now exist). (Aren't the Celts strange people?)
Of course your rig needs to be connected to a computer which has the update files ready to transfer. The Yaesu instructions go out of their way to say that some USB leads may not work. This has been my experience with cheap USB leads. My computer has an RS-232 D-9 socket so not using USB is not a great problem for me.
If you need to use USB I would suggest using a CAT lead with a good chip in it (available on eBay for under £20). I haven't tried this one, but it looks fine:-
Another route is to use a USB to RS-232 converter and then use a straight-though D9 to D9 RS232 lead. However, I would suggest using a converter with an FTDI chip. Prolific chips are all well and good, but I have found problems with them beyond the much talked about fake chip issue. And if, on the other hand, you do use an RS-232 lead, make sure you are using a straight-through wired one. The old ones in your parts box might be wired for "cross-over".
NOTE - if you already have CAT up and running reliably on the FT-450D then whatever you have should be able to communicate with the rig and the above paragraph is not for you.
So at this point things take their usual dreary way for firmware updates. You download the files from the site, unzip them, save them to a folder. For the FT-450D you turn if off and disconnect the power and CAT lead, slide the switch under the front right hand corner (as viewed from the front) across - the switch is hidden under a slot in the bottom panel). Then put the power back on but leave the rig off ,and reconnect the CAT lead.
Then you run the firmware update software and watch the data load. Once that is done, you have to do a hard re-boot of the rig so you will lose all your settings. The instructions say that you should have written down all your memory and function pre-sets before you started all this, but of course being a real amateur I decided not to. Real amateurs work it out for themselves (and get screwed up in the process).
So turn everything off, disconnect the DC power and CAT again, turn the slider switch under the rig back to where it was, and then turn the power back on. Press and hold the "Home/recall" button (left hand in the middle of the top right-hand buttons) and press the power button. The FT-450 should come back on and do a hard reset. After that you can reconnect the CAT lead and everything should be fine again, but with a factory reset to the new firmware settings.
All you have to do now is re-input all your settings. I found that the main issues I had to were restore "D Type" from RTTY to "User-U" for data modes, change "CAT RTS" to "Disable", "CAT TOT" to "3000" and "CAT RATE" to "9600". Of course your settings might be different , so for example I also had to reduce the keyer speed (of course) and reverse the key polarity. Those are just my things.
You can check you firmware version by keeping the "MODE down" button pressed while turning the rig on. Here is mine to prove that I now have the latest firmware settings (ver. 244).
Exactly what has changed? Not sure. Most firmware updates I have done have not really surprised me with new features. Generally they are about tweaks and minor improvements. They are worth doing though, especially for rigs with DSP or other major digital processes. Updating your firmware is like having the latest rig off the production line. Any noticeable improvements I find will be reported here.
While looking for this, I did check out the PCC-450D software on the Yaesu site. It is a remote package for operating the 450D from a computer. This could be handy enough, and it is free. Generally with this type of software you can find ways to change things which take ages to do by hand using the knobs on the rig. I may investigate that further soon.
The rig was running fine this week, with cross-Atlantic 40m contacts worked with no strain at all.
It might not be The King of Rigs, but the FT-450D continues to work away efficiently and without fuss.
Thanks to Mark for pointing me towards the yaesu.com site or I might never have found this.