Thursday, December 23, 2010

FT-817ND: The QRP Machine of my Dreams

In amateur radio, QRP operation means transmitting at reduced power levels while aiming to maximize one's effective range while doing so. To that end, I found this particular Yaesu radio rather unique in it's specifications:

From Universal Radio Website: the Yaesu FT-817ND
The Yaesu FT-817ND is a new deluxe version of the hugely popular FT-817. The FT-817ND includes 60 meter coverage plus the new high capacity FNB-85 battery. The radio is a fully self-contained, battery-powered, low power amateur MF/HF/VHF/UHF transceiver for portable/camping/mountain top use. Providing coverage of of the 160-10 meter amateur bands including 60 meters, plus the 6 meter, 2 meter and 70 cm bands, the FT-817D includes operation on the SSB, CW, AM, FM and digital modes. This radio is designed for use either from an external DC source or internal batteries and provides up to 5 watts of power output when on external DC power. When using the battery pack or 8 AA cells (not supplied), the radio automatically switches to 2.5 watts. The multi-function LCD screen includes selectable blue or amber backlighting which may be disabled for battery conservation. This radio comes with: MH-31A8J Hand mic, FNB-85 Ni-MH 1400 mAh battery, FBA-28 Battery case (for 8 x AA cells not supplied), NC-72B charger, YHA-63 Whip antenna for 50/144/430 MHz, E-DC-6 DC cable and shoulder strap. Installation note: only one optional filter may be installed in the FT-817ND.


* TX Frequency Coverage: 160 - 10 Meters, 50 MHz, 144 MHz, 430-450 MHz, plus Alaska Emergency Channel (5167.5 kHz).
* RX Frequency Coverage: 100 kHz - 56 MHz; 76 - 154 MHz; 420 - 470 MHz. (Exact frequency range may be slightly different)
* Power Output: 5 Watts SSB/CW/FM with 13.8V External DC; 1.5 Watts AM Carrier. 2.5 Watts SSB/CW/FM with 9.6V Ni-Cd Pack or 8 "AA" batteries (AM: 0.7 Watt), Up to 5 Watts SSB/CW/FM power (max.) programmable via Menu on Ni-Cd/AA cells.
* Operating Modes: USB, LSB, CW, AM, FM, W-FM, Digital (AFSK), Packet (1200/9600 FM).
* Digital Modes: RTTY, PSK31-U, PSK31-L, and User defined USB/LSB (SSTV, Pactor, etc.).
* Case Size: 5.31 x 1.5 x 6.5 inches (WHD)
* Weight: 2.6 lb (with Alkalines and Antenna, w/o Mic.).
* Two-Color LCD Multi-function Display (Blue/Amber).
* Bar-Graph Metering of Power Output, ALC, SWR, Modulation.
* Optional Narrow CW and SSB Filters.
* AGC Fast-Slow-Auto-Off Selection.
* RF Gain/Squelch Control.
* Built-in Noise Blanker.
* Transmit coverage of the new 60 meter band
* IPO (Intercept Point Optimization) and ATT (Receiver Front End Attenuator).
* Dual VFOs, Split Capability, IF Shift, and R.I.T. ("Clarifier").
* Wide/Narrow FM Selection.
* AM Aircraft Reception.
* Dedicated SSB-based Digital Mode for PSK31 on USB/LSB, AFSK RTTY, etc.
* Built-in CW Electronic Keyer and Semi-Break-In (down to 10 ms delay) Capability.
* Adjustable CW Pitch; CW Paddle Normal/Reverse Connection Selection.
* Built-in VOX.
* Automatic Repeater Shift.
* Built-in CTCSS and DCS.
* ARTS™ (Auto-Range Transponder System).
* Smart Search™ Automatic Memory Loading System.
* Spectrum Scope.
* Front and Rear Panel Antenna Connectors (BNC on Front; M [SO-239] on Back).
* 200 Regular Memories, plus Home Channels and Band-Limit (PMS) Memories.
* Alpha-Numeric Labeling of Memory Channels.
* Automatic Power-Off (APO) and Tx Time-Out Timer (TOT) Features.
* Rear Panel Data, Accessory and Key jacks.
* CAT System Computer Control Capability (4800/9600/38400 bps); Cloning Capability.

Wow! So many features, and modes. It's a real incentive to upgrade my license. The reviews on eHam have been pretty good too:

Reviews Summary for Yaesu FT-817ND
Reviews: 21       Average rating: 4.6/5       MSRP: $589.00

Description: The world’s first self-contained, battery-powered, Multi-mode Portable Transceiver covering the HF, VHF, and UHF bands! Despite its incredibly small size (5.3" x 1.5" x 6.5"), the FT-817 delivers big performance! Its next-generagion PA puts out five watts on all HF bands, plus the 50 MHz, 144 MHz, and 430 MHz bands, on all popular operating modes: USB/LSB/CW/AM/FM/Packet/PSK-31/RTTY. Now the 817 legacy is even better with the introduction of the FT-817ND, which includes coverage of the U.S. 60-meter (5 MHz) band, and it also includes a 1400 mAh NiMH Battery pack (FNB-85) and NC-72B Charger!

Follow the link to read individual reviews by users.

I'm also impressed with some of Yaesu's other offerings, like the FT-857D and the FT-897D. They aren't QRP though. Not that my first HF radio has to be QRP, but the challenge of QRP has always attracted me, and I would like to learn CW and PSK31 and be able to use them with low power. I like that the 817ND can run on AA batteries if needed, and it's portability. But which would be best for my FIRST HF radio? I'll be giving that some thought.

Also see: FT-817ND

Videos about the Yaesu FT-817ND


Anonymous said...

The Ft-817ND has the crapiest paint job of any radio that I have ever owned , it peels off as Yaesu did not prime the metal first !Like buying a 50 thousand dollar sports car with a $19 paint job !

Anonymous said...

If that's your only complaint, I'd say we still have one fine radio. All go and no show is fine with me!

Anonymous said...

I have one of the older original non-ND units and my paint is still fine. Not sure what happened to the other guys radio but mine is solid.


Anonymous said...

I gather that my FT-817ND was painted before the metal was primed, as every day I noticed flakes of black paint that had peeled off the radio exposing bare white metal ! Rather than ship the radio back to be repainted, I repainted the cabinet myself, with a fine brush and a quality black paint ! The radio performs great but I feel there was very poor basic quality control on the part of Yaesu ! ALWAYS PRIME BARE METAL BEFORE PAINTING !

Chas said...

I certainly believe it has been a problem for some folks. I've not noticed a problem with mine, yet. Perhaps it was a limited quality control problem, that has been corrected? I can only hope. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

When I contacted Yaesu I told them I felt as a qrp rig the FT-817ND was probably the best radio I ever operated, the two biggest criticisms I had for this rig were the lousy cabinet paint job, peeling paint and why didn't Yaesu put a handle on this rig to carry the radio and to prop it up when it is in use ? Yaesu included a carry strap, but who in their right mind would want to carry a $600 radio unprotected with a carrying strap, hiking in the woods, the radio banging against bushes small trees etc, there is no point to a carry strap for this radio, a handle yes ! And a good protective leather carrying case also !

Anonymous said...

I want to make an additional comment about the Yaesu Ft-817ND, if any of you who do own this radio and you want to take your radio while traveling, suggestion, buy the Miracle Whip antenna,I picked up a second hand one of these antennas a few months after I purchased the Ft-817 at the Williams Arizona hamfest, this little antenna is truely a miracle and is perfectly mated for the FT-817, operating indoors(here in Northern Arizona) running the FT-817 and the Miracle Whip I worked the Hawaiian Islands 10 meters SSB, outdoors I worked Los Angeles Califonia SSB on 40 meters and the Midwest and the East Coast on 20 meters SSB, really great little travel antenna, check it out on the web ! The antenna will load up from 440MHZ thru 80 meters, on 80 meters a counterpoise wire is needed to get the SWR down but no counterpoise is needed on 40 meters and higher !