Travel Log

Todays commute is DTW to MCI for the Great Plains Network annual conference. It’s exciting to head out and see all the great folks connecting our research and education institutions. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many of the leaders in this community in the last several years and I’m proud to be a small part of what they do.

Practical Preparedness Part 3

What are we not going to talk about?The Zombie Apocalypse (TEOTWAWKI)– This is the straw-man ‘The End of the World as We Know It’ scenario from movies and TV shows like The Walking Dead. The odds of this specific scenario happening are slim-to-none, but it is illustrative in some regard. However we are going to discuss getting by in more likely scenarios and if you think the zombies are coming, you can use what you learn then too.Conspiracies – There are many conspiracy theories and we won’t have the bandwidth cover any of them. This is not my area of experience or expertise. Suffice to say if your conspiracy theory involves having to be prepared for the failure of services or supply chain then what we discuss will help, but I won’t use this as the basis of any discussion. What equipment/supplies do I need?This answer also varies, but there are some solid guidelines provided by FEMA and the Red Cross. The general consensus is that at a minimum you need to be ready to get buy without services or supplies for a minimum of three days in an emergency or disaster. This means three days without water, food or other supplies coming from outside your little world. As I write this, I’m about three weeks after a nearly week-long outage of utility power in the wake of an ice storm. The power outages were widespread and I’m pleased to report that pretty much everyone I know coped with them well despite it being quite cold. I like to say that you should be prepared ideally to go at least one week without outside support, and thirty days in the event of a supply chain failure. That means a weeks worth of water and up to thirty days of food, medicine, cleaning products and other supplies you deem necessary to survival. In reality shortages of various supplies could last longer but the idea of being without food for more than a month in North America, Western Europe and the developed parts of Asia is pretty remote based on history, but your mileage may vary in other regions of the world. WaterSo let’s talk about water. Water is a crucial supply and vital for survival. You can survive three days without it, but it is very unhealthy to do so. So how much water do I need in an emergency? The short answer is one gallon per person, per day. This is is a guideline provided by the CDC, FEMA and the Red Cross. More would be nicer, and certainly you could get by with less, but it’s a great basic guideline. These linked articles are both VERY good in their own right and worth a read. FEMA Basic PreparednessCDC article on Emergency Water SupplyGiven the guidelines we have so far, does this mean you need a barrel with a gallon of water per person per day for three days to be prepared? Maybe. Certainly there are folks that do this. The recommended supply of a gallon per-person for three days for a family of four is twelve gallons. Seem like a lot? Do you have a hot water heater? My hot water heater tank holds 40 gallons. So I have that much water sitting in a tank at all times. There’s a spigot for draining the tank for maintenance and I could, in time of dire need, hook up a hose to the tank, shut off the heater so it isn’t damaged by trying to run while partially empty, and draw off the water as I need it. However, my home is serviced by an on-site well and pump, so if I need water, I simply need electricity to run the pump. Your home may be on a municipal water system and you can use the water from the tap even if the pressure is low, by simply boiling it to remove any potential contaminants before using it to drink or for cooking. Most people simply buy several large flat-packs of bottled water when they are on sale and set them in the corner of the basement, but this might not be feasible for someone living in a very small apartment. If you find yourself so-constrained, you can simply go to a home store like Lowes and buy a few five-gallon plastic buckets (with lids!) and fill them with tap water. That’s fifteen gallons of fresh water and three durable, clean plastic buckets you can use for all sort of things in an emergency. Don’t overlook natural sources of water! I live about fifteen miles from a known natural spring that produces potable water all day and night and people that live nearby use it as a water source simply because the water is SO good tasting. It’s free, you simply need to take suitable containers. Are you lucky enough to live near such a resource? It’s worth looking into. Does that all seem simple? It is simple! Remember, the biggest thing is the mindset. How you think about preparing.

The Ties that Bind

It’s a little after 6:00am and we’re slowly making our way out to open water. It’s still mostly dark, the boat is loping along on one of its two V8 engines and the skipper and I are bathed in the light of the radar, depth sounder and chart displays. I’m quietly sipping coffee. None of our party is completely awake, that’s the nature of ‘up early and at the dock before sun up’. But it feels good. The vessel is called ‘Double Trouble’ and our charter party is three generations of our family. The oldest, my uncle, is in his early 70s. My brother and I are in our 50s. My nephew is not quite 30. My uncle remembers when my brother and I were boys, fishing in a small lake we could walk to from where we lived. I remember my nephew playing with my son and falling out of the apple tree in my back yard, breaking his arm near the wrist.

Our family is somewhat scattered. My sister lives an hour away and her husband works jobs all over the state. Her son is our youngest angler. My brother and I have lost both of our parents. My Uncle has lost one brother and one sister. But we have the morning and our shared love of the outdoors. Hunting and fishing have been binding ties throughout all of our lives. From my grandfather down to my granddaughter there are pictures of us holding rods and fish, sitting in boats or even just standing on shore. There are pictures of us dressed for hunting, holding our guns or posing with game. My brother and I both took nice gobblers the opening weekend of turkey season. I’m in the tech industry, working for a Silicon Valley company, and he is a tradesman, making high-end aerospace parts and tooling for industrial machines. We have little in common for our vocation, but we both love the woods and water.

These trips always have three parts. The getting there, the fishing (or hunting) and the getting back. My brother offered to drive, so the four of us piled into his truck for the trip. The windshield time is good. We talk. Calob and I are both in tech. My brother and uncle in the trades. We all have homes, and family and past adventures to talk about. It’s familiar, comfortable. It’s much the same at dinner. And talking in the hotel before bed. But we’re in bed by 10:00 because we’re up at 5:00. And there’s coffee in the morning. Blessed coffee.

Our boat gets to the end of the channel with its protective breakwater, and dead ahead is a dredging barge and tug. The captain picks his way through the marker buoys and then opens up the throttles on both engines. There’s a pleasantly muffled growl and the 37-footer gets on plane. The water is relatively smooth and we run down to the near shore area where he and his guests caught 18 fish yesterday. It’s a gray day, but comfortable and soon the lines are set and we’re watching the rods for a sign of fish on. It’s not very long before there’s one on and my nephew is handed the rod for the retrieve. The fish spits the lure as soon as it’s in sight of the boat. We lose two more before we start catching cohos in earnest. There were a few lake trout too. Big, heavy and rewarding to fight, and not too bad to eat.

We’re on the water for seven hours. We catch a total of eight fish. It’s not exactly a haul, but these trips aren’t really about the fish. It’s our shared passion for the water, and the opportunity to spend time together, sharing a bit of our lives with our kin. It’s the good natured banter and teasing. The blue language punctuated with laughter. It’s sometimes simply bobbing our heads to the music playing on the boat’s sound system as we watch the wake and the rods. The wind picks up as the day wears on, making us feel a bit colder. I’m dressed in new Gore-Tex rain gear, but it doesn’t rain until we’re on the drive home.

On the way back to the dock we’re already talking about the next adventure. When are we fishing again? Whose boat are we taking? What lake? Have we lined up the fall walleye charter yet (it’s still spring). The ride home is quieter. I fall asleep for a bit. We’re all a little tired from the air and being up early. We’re fading back into our routine. But we’re still talking about fishing trips from decades ago. Who was there. What it was like. There’s no doubt we will get together again. Some combination of us anyways. It’s what we do. It’s the common thread. The ties that bind.

Practical Preparedness – Part 2

So I want to be prepared – Now What?

Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The most critical thing is what I like to call the “Preparedness Mindset”. This doesn’t mean paranoia, or keeping a shipping pallet of toilet paper or non-perishable supplies in your garage. It means that you consider what you’re going to do in the event of an emergency, and that you have a plan. As I like to say about nearly everything in life: Make the plan, work the plan.

If it feels like this isn’t normal, or that no one else is doing it, consider this : The US federal government has actually been supporting the notion of preparedness for many years, but in the face of convenience culture, it’s pretty widely ignored. But we have real-world examples of disasters in our recent past. Consider these scenarios:

The regional blackout in the northeastern US in 2003

Hurricane Katrina in 2005

The Camp fire in Norther California in 2018

And of course the Covid 19 pandemic that locked the world down in 2020.

These are not hypotheticals. And they are not completely isolated. Do you live on a coast? You’ve got the threat hurricanes and floods. Live in the Midwest? You’ve got snowstorms and hurricanes. Live in the West? Droughts and wildfires (and if you’re in California you can throw in earthquakes too).

Read what our esteemed federal government says about preparedness. There’s some great material here and you could easily spend 30 minutes (or more) immersed in this. and the Department of Homeland Security.

So now what do you do. The first step in being prepared (aside from establishing the need to be prepared) is to assess who you are making preparations for and what hazards are you likely to face.

Who – This is your family, your tribe, your clan. For many of us, these are the people that are going to look at me in time of need and trouble and expect answers. Are you a parent or head of household with children? Are you single, but look after an elderly parent or special needs friend? Is it just you? What you need and how much of it is heavily dependent on assessing the ‘who’ in your life. Don’t forget pets. And irreplaceable photos and documents. In this day and age of technology priceless memories can be digitized and stored in the cloud or on media that you can easily take with you, but you have to think of this beforehand.

What – What disaster are you expecting to face? Storms? Earthquake? Riots? Are you expecting to shelter-in-place or ‘get out of Dodge’ when something bad happens? This will decide if you’re going to stock emergency supplies at home or at the office, or if you’re going to have a ready cache of supplies and gear that you ‘re going to load up and haul somewhere else. Perhaps you don’t know with certainty and need to be prepared on some level for either scenario.

Resources – What do you have to bring to bear to an effort at becoming prepared? If you’re thinking about this and making a plan you’re already most of the way there. Your best resource is the gray matter between your ears and your hands and feet. You don’t need thousands of dollars or to move to a forest miles from civilization. Even the popular notion of being prepared to ‘Bug Out’ isn’t really what most people should be thinking about first. We already equip ourselves for every day life, so all we really need to do is make a plan, add a few things and some supplies to get us by.

Look at Where You Want to Go

Photo from

Why is it human nature that we are constantly re-hashing the things in our past? Why do we focus on the things behind, instead of the things ahead? So much emotional dysfunction is a result of our experiences, so it’s natural for us to dwell on our personal history… events wonderful and terrible. One of the problems is that this vision isn’t really perfectly clear. Our memories are not flawless and our emotions tend to color and distort everything. After almost six months of counseling, I’m learning that my recollections and perceptions are distorted.

Looking back and learning from our past is very important. We need to understand how we got to where we are. But dwelling excessively, disproportionately, is unhealthy. Imagine driving a winding, interesting, scenic, busy road, constantly focused on the rear-view mirror. How well is that going to work? Is it safe? Productive? Do you think you’ll arrive where you intended to go?

As I’ve recently heard someone say in one of my favorite podcasts ‘There’s a reason the rearview mirror is so small and the windshield is so big.’ Take a moment to reflect there. Our attention should be primarily focused on the road ahead. On where we are going and the things that are unfolding ahead and in front of us. We cannot alter the past. We cannot re-drive the road behind or (more importantly) change how we travelled it. We can only impact our future. This may include righting wrongs, or reconciling and healing hurts, but we cannot and should not constantly relive our past. It is our natural inclination and a function of trauma and emotional pain to do so, and to the degree that we do it with guidance from wise counsel, as a way to deal with our troubles, it’s fine. But to dwell on it otherwise is unhealthy.

I’m learning, more every day, to leave regret, shame and heartache where they belong. In my past. The grief and anger and pain need not be my life-long companions. And if I let them be that companion, if I let them define me, then my life will never be what it could be. I will never realize the joy that I’m meant for. And I want that joy VERY much.

Practical Preparedness – Introduction

Photo by author

What happens when the sky looks like this? Here in the midwest, we get severe thunderstorms and tornados in the summer and snowstorms in the winter. Maybe you live in an area prone to hurricanes and there’s a storm coming. Maybe you’re traveling or camping off the beaten track and the weather comes on suddenly. Maybe you’re at home and the lights go out. What are you going to do?

Severe weather and natural disasters are the most common challenges you may want to be prepared for. What are some of the others? Instead of making up hypothetical situations, let’s examine ones we already know happen in the real world.

  • Weather events such as: hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, snow storms, and derechos. These events happen and they can cause tremendous damage and lead to (usually) short-term loss of services that we take for granted and in some case are critical to our survival. These include utility power outages, water service outages, outages in natural gas infrastructure and short-term stress on the supply chain and availability of food staples and possibly medicine. The effects can be local, or in some rare cases impact an entire region.
  • Medical emergencies such as trauma from auto accidents, criminal attack or animal attacks/bites, falls or the aforementioned natural disasters. Other emergencies arise from chronic illness or other disease. Here in the United States our healthcare and emergency medical infrastructure is second to none, but if we couple these emergencies with other factors these systems can be be taxed beyond capacity. The recent Covid19 pandemic is a perfect example.
  • Supply chain failure. I think this was once considered a very unlikely event. The Covid19 pandemic has revealed the weaknesses in the globalization of economic systems and the risks of just-in-time inventory models in manufacturing. Being out of toilet paper is unpleasant. Being out of supply when it comes to food, medicines and baby formula could be it’s own kind of disaster.
  • Man-made disaster. The war in the Ukraine is the most recent illustration of how human-kind makes its own disasters. But even civil unrest can be dangerous. We have seen time and again criminal violence and looting in the wake of a natural disaster or during riots and violent protest. Couple a natural disaster, with attendant power outages or shortages of basic supplies and human nature can turn unpleasant and even dangerous quickly. We’d like to think the best of our fellow men, friends and neighbors but when people start to go hungry and feel threatened our sense of community tends to tighten up a bit.

Faced with these very real possibilities there are many folks who simply have no response. In many cases we expect someone else (the government, relief agencies etc…) to take care of us. In the days of maximum convenience, everyone has a mobile phone, and when things go wrong, we expect that we will call someone who will come and make it all better. But current events are highlighting the fact that sometimes help is not simply a phone call away. In a disaster or at the height of the pandemic the every-day resources of first-responders were overwhelmed. Sometimes help was not forthcoming and resources were simply not available.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic those who focused in any way on preparedness were objects of curiosity, at best or suspicion and derision at worst. This may be changing. Popular opinion about preparedness at some level, is changing. Take for example this article in ‘The Atlantic’.

We should all be preppers – The Atlantic

Building a Better Boat

This year I started on a journey that I never thought I would take. Two of them actually. The first journey is divorce. My wife of 35 years and I are separated and in the process of making an end of our shared story (this part at least). The second is a journey of emotional well-being. I would have thought, even as recently as a year ago, that I knew myself a lot better than I really do. I’ve spent most of my life learning about technical things, the world, history, and business. But until just a couple of months or so ago I spent zero time learning deeply about what makes me tick, why I am who I am and what it takes to make a genuinely good life. To be brutally honest, despite life-threatening illnesses and pretty much every warning sign, I neglected my own well-being, out of ignorance and to some degree pride.

To quote Joe Walsh, ‘Life’s been good to me so far.’ In every externally visible sense I’ve enjoyed life and been blessed beyond what I ever expected from a career perspective. I’ve been blessed with three amazing children and three amazing grand-children. Anyone who saw my life from the outside would have believed that I ‘Had it all going for me’. And in many respects I have to say that’s how it has been. But inside, I’ve been living with a broken spirit and a broken heart. And in 2022, everything I could do to hold it together failed at once. Everything I should have taken joy in was empty and colorless. I realized I was genuinely depressed and disconnected from own soul.

I’ve been in therapy now for a couple of months. I’ve been exploring and reading books on trauma and depression. I’ve got a renewed focus on my faith (this may be the understatement of 2023, but I’m not sure how else to put it). I know it’s a long and winding road. I know it’s the journey of a lifetime. I realize now that ‘soul care’ is more than just a buzz word. I realize now why people burn out. I’ve been striving to live up to what I thought everyone wanted me to be. And I’ve also cried until I felt like an empty shell. I’ve been angry, unreasonably angry, for reasons I didn’t understand until my therapist pointed them out. Finally all the things I read in the books started to gel. The lightbulb went on. I understand why my health is what it is. ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ (the title of a book I recently read), and my body has been keeping it ruthlessly. I’m obese, diabetic, I’ve had cardiac issues, I’m weak and constantly tired. Continuing this way leads to an early grave and I’m not ready to go, not like this.

It only goes to follow that if I’ve been this bad at caring for my own soul and spirit, that I was equally bad at caring for the souls of those around me. Being blind to my own emotional problems was bad enough, but I can only begin to understand how much it affected the people I love. I tried to do what I thought was best in every respect, but I now understand I saw everything through faulty lenses.

So I’m on a journey to (as Kenny Chesney puts it in the song) build a better boat. I don’t know what all 2023 holds. This post and potentially others that follow are part of my therapy. Part of externalizing and excavating decades of neglect of my own heart and spirit. I want to know my true self a lot better and be a better friend, a better brother, a better father and a better Christ-Follower. What I do know is that I’m learning the way. And day by day, I’m doing at least one little thing. And when a wave is too big to stand against, I ride it. I breathe in. I breathe out.

If anyone reading this is in a difficult place with depression, PTSD or other emotional challenges, I urge you to seek help. The days on the road, on the water, and in the woods with my friends or just sitting and talking over coffee have been invaluable to me. I treasure each of my close friends more than I can say. The adventures, the hours and days in beautiful places and doing relaxing things are the coping mechanisms that got me this far. But the truth is that none of my friends are therapists and none of them understand how to excavate and process the most difficult things that life can bring to us. I needed help from people trained in and experienced with sorting all the stuff we accumulate in the attic. And finally I’m seeking that help and learning as fast as I can.

Meet the New Jeep er…. Bronco

I’ve recently consolidated my fleet of automobiles down from five (!) at the height of the pandemic, down to two. Of course one of them is my wife’s beloved Toyota 4Runner, a staple of our garage, our travels and our shared life for the last six years. The other is a new (to me) Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. My last consolidation was to sell my BMW 328i outright and then trade-in my 2013 Jeep Wrangler JK on the new one. The egregious state of disrepair of Michigan roads, plus the state of my knees, has convinced me that a sporty sedan is no longer a viable choice of transportation or entertainment.

The process of paring down the fleet got me thinking though. I adore the Jeep Wrangler (I had my last one 8 years, the longest I’ve owned any vehicle). But what about this new Ford Bronco? I mean as of this writing the Ford Bronco has been out in the wild (pun intended) for some time, but now I’m really starting to notice them. And the vehicle, along with it’s owners, feel like kindred spirits to this long time Jeep owner. I’ve seen plenty of Jeeps with top and doors removed, but last weekend I saw a Bronco similarly stripped down for a journey and I had to nod with approval (and almost gave the driver the ‘Jeep’ wave).

I know this is going to come across as blasphemy to the hard-core Jeep faithful, but Ford has genuinely opened a door by rejuvenating the Bronco. Sadly Chevrolet has missed the opportunity to join the party by making the new Blazer simply another cross-over. GM fans have much to lament as the only real 4×4 SUVs left in the GM stable are the Tahoe/Yukon family with price tags approaching 100 grand. Toyota soldiers on with the 4Runner, nicely loaded in the mid $40s. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited in Rubicon trim meanwhile is well over $50K and they can’t make them fast enough. With all the lamentation about the demise of gasoline powered vehicles, it seems the last gasp of internal combustion is going to be a real treat.

I know there are some who look at the Jeep/Bronco/4Runner as unnecessary lifestyle vehicles, but even taking that ‘accusation’ at face value it’s no more egregious than a high powered luxury car as a status symbol on wheels. My new JLU has enough dust in the interior and a faint patina of mud from my first couple of weeks of ownership to give it a shadow of credibility as a vehicle run off-the-beaten path. But even if your biggest adventure amounts to a trip to the mall, I won’t look at you funny. To each their own. I grew up running trucks hard in places they might not have been intended to be and dirt bikes in places they were intended to be. I’ve got nothing to prove, and I’m fine admitting my old Jeep Wrangler rarely saw the trail but often saw the winding backcountry dirt roads.

In conclusion, I’ll simply say that I’m glad, even at this late hour in the days of internal combustion, that you can still buy a vehicle made to go places and do things, and have fun doing them. Long live the SUV and welcome back to the club Ford Bronco.

Travel Log – Little Rock

A Delta 757 getting some last minute pre-flight service. – Photo by author

The start to this trip was inauspicious. I was at the airport, through security and at the gate with plenty of time, but this was the scene that awaited me when I looked out at the plane that was to take me on my first leg. The engine cowling is open and there are two mechanics examining the the engine. Despite my initial consternation, we managed to board on time, and as I got to the end of the jet bridge I noted a technician logging something and a part that looked like a valve sitting on the console next to him. I was hopeful the issue was repaired.

And it turned out to be. The door was closed, we backed out, and were on our way in short order. This was only my second post-pandemic fly-away conference and my third trip by air, and things seemed to be working. We were still all masked, but the planes all seem to be full and (with one notable exception) seemed to be running on-time. The second hop, from Atlanta to Little Rock was equally uneventful. Everyone was courteous and things seemed to work the way I remembered from years of business travel.

I took an Uber from the airport to the hotel. The driver was friendly, but his car was falling apart. There seemed to be very few people on the street downtown for a Monday afternoon, and the hotel was equally empty. People had obviously been traveling, but it didn’t seem like a lot of them were coming here. The hotel restaurant had only a few tables occupied and there were literally less than five people in the hotel lobby. I couldn’t help but feel I was in a post-apocalyptic movie. My last business trip to St. Louis saw a lot more people downtown. That’s a bigger event and attendance was a fraction of normal, but that was November.

The reception and conference event I was to attend in Little Rock normally sees 200 people. There were 20 at the reception, and most of those were vendors and the event staff. Maybe 10 were attendees. At the event itself there were approximately 35 people not counting presenters and staff. I guess things aren’t quite back to normal. I couldn’t get a sense for the reason why there were so few. Is everyone still concerned about Covid? Are there budget issues where customers weren’t authorizing travel? This event was confined mostly to people in Arkansas, not requiring air travel, and yet they had 10-15% of the usual turnout. I’ll be interested to see if this improves. Everyone I talked to was glad to get back to an in-person event, as I was, but no one could put a finger on why so few had come.

The trip home was a bit more challenging. Pre-pandemic I would leave a hotel in a major city about two hours prior to my flight. I did so again, knowing the airport was only about 15-20 minutes away. The Uber app showed no available drivers. There were no cabs outside the hotel, and no one to summon one. I went straight to the front desk to ask them to call a cab for me. The phone at their usual cab company rang unanswered. I did not think to arrange for transport the night before and the hotel shuttle would not start running for almost another hour. If I didn’t leave for the airport on time, I would miss my flight and there were not a lot of flights out of Little Rock.

I walked back outside to make sure I had decent mobile signal, to try again to get an Uber and that’s when I saw Pete. I didn’t know him at the time, but he appeared to be getting ready to go to the airport too. I approached him, prepared to offer to split cab fare or Uber cost.

Me: “Are you headed to the airport?”

Pete: “Yeah.”

Me: “How are you getting there? I haven’t been able to get a cab or Uber and I don’t want to miss my flight.”

Pete: “I’ve got a rental car, ride with me.”

We introduced ourselves as I got in the car. Pete is a genuinely nice guy. He works for a packaging company and we quickly determined we were on the same flight out of Little Rock that morning. I thanked him repeatedly and his reply was always “I was going to the airport anyways.” So thanks to Pete, I made my flight, had pleasant conversation along the way, and got to learn my lesson about early morning transport in the days of the pandemic. Delta got me home on schedule and none the worse for wear. It seems the machinery of travel is ‘mostly’ working, but things are not back to what we once considered normal. At least not yet.

Learning the Yaesu FT5D

Just about a month ago, I pulled the trigger on the Yaesu FT5D. As a satisfied user of the VX-6 (my first ham radio of any kind), the FT2D and the FT3D, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. I ordered it from Ham Radio Outlet, who had it in stock at a slight discount off of MSRP. I’ve had really good experiences buying from HRO and this was no exception. The radio, the spare battery I ordered and a couple of other items all shipped the next day and were on my doorstep three days later. I wasn’t a ham in the days before the Internet, but I’m guessing that buying new gear was a bit more involved back in the day! 

The FT5D next to the FT3D. Photo by author.

So, what are the differences between the FT5 and FT3?

  1. The case and screen are physically larger, which I like. Not as big as the FT2D (the size of which I really liked), but noticeably bigger. 
  2. The menu buttons have changed and are illuminated differently. The DISP button has been removed and the Menu button introduced. I’m not sure this was a necessary change, but I learned my way around fairly easily and more importantly I can switch between the two without much confusion.
  3. There are two LEDs to indicate activity, rather just the one on the FT3 (and FT2). 
  4. There is a plastic ‘fence’ around the base of the antenna on the FT5 which I can only imagine is meant to protect the connection where the antenna screws onto the SMA connector. 
  5. The FT5D is designed to be used with an included plastic belt holster, unlike the battery-mounted belt clip that was standard with the FT2 and FT3. 
  6. The biggest difference, and probably the reason so many have upgraded is that the audio output on the FT5 is considerably louder. If you need to use it in a noisy location or just can’t get enough volume from your FT3 or other HT, this one will howl for you.
Close up of ‘fence’ around the base of the antenna. 

Yaesu wisely (I think) made it so the accessories, batteries and chargers from the FT2 and FT3 work with the FT5. I’m thrilled by this. This is a big win for me. My lovely YL is now the designated user for the FT2. It sits on a a charging base in the kitchen where it’s convenient for her to grab on her way out the door. Any of the batteries, AC adapters and car chargers work between these three radios. 

I won’t attempt to compare these radios to offerings from Kenwood or Icom. All the makers are pressing on with their designs, and frankly, I would accept that you would do as well with the flagship HT from either of those makers as you would with the FT5. For me, I’ve learned the menus and operating modes of Yaesu HTs, so I continue down that road. I’ve had great luck with the quality and performance. The FT5 is roughly similar in range, reception and battery life compared to it’s predecessor. I’ve run the GPS and APRS on it, which of course consume battery faster. 

In conclusion, I’ll observe that if you have an FT3D and like it, the FT5D won’t offer anything revolutionary (except the audio!). I like to have more than one of anything I use regularly (life is better with a spare), so I figured getting an FT5D would make my FT3D the spare-or-share radio so I have the best of all worlds. If you already have a high-end HT that does everything you want, there’s not a lot this one will add. But if you want a flagship product with all the features, and you like Yaesu Fusion and other digital features like APRS, this one is a winner.