Radio Preppers

General Category => Radio Reviews, Questions and Comments. => Topic started by: RadioRay on September 17, 2016, 12:01:42 pm

Title: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: RadioRay on September 17, 2016, 12:01:42 pm
I trade/sell radios often.  A bout of medical bills or 'lust' for a different radio sends one or more to the auction block.  However, the one model I come back to is the FT-817 series.  It's not that it's "the best" at any single mode, but it's strong point is that it's "pretty good" at almost everything.  The performance is lower in CW than a KX-3, but only by a little and it's 1/2 to 1/3rd the price of the EXCELLENT KX3.  IT's not a top rated VHF/UHF rig, yet it's perfectly capable of working simplex, repeaters and even through satellites with an Arrow Antenna. Someone a few years ago coined the phrase that sums up the 817 well:

"It's the Swiss Army Knife of radios.

That's why I own one and many accessories, oh and - did I mention that it's a good shortwave radio for listening to broadcasts as well?

The one problem with the 817 series has been relatively high receive current.  The manual very honestly states it as over 400 mA.  However, by turning off the backlight, noise blanker and IPO, mine is well under 400 mA.  Secondly, batteries and charging options have come a long way since the 817 was first introduced. Taking a tip from Survival TechNord, I looked into the new generation of NiMH rechargeable AA batteries, which have capacities around 2500 mA/hour, and take roughly 2,000 recharges!  - WOW! Julian was right-on in his assessment that these are far superior to the Yeasu 1000 or 1400 mA/H internal pack.  They charge faster, are very low self discharge and versatile, in that you can use these AA batteries in consumer devices and in your 817.  I got 16 "Amazon Basics", AA NiMH cells and a smart charger for far less than the Yeasu battery pack - with a capacity of 2400 mA/H, I get an extra 1,000 mA/H above the 'big' Yeasu pack- screaming deal!

Because my mountain/desert walking days are over, I enjoy going to parks and easily accessible places to 'play radio'.  The lower noise and ability to erect a wire antenna is a big plus for me, and a relief fromt he HOA Stasi here at the rental.  The power upgrade , using the AA batteriea makes operating on the internal pack a reality.  For those times when I want more power, I bring my Chinese amplifier, another E-Bay find. I get about 32-35 Watts out, and power both the rig and the amp from an external 4.5 a/H LiFePo4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery.  The Lithium IRON batteries have built in over/under voltage protection and are NOT the type which suffer "rapid deflagration" when bent, over charged or shorted... 

These Bioenno are considered 'the stable lithium batteries'. It's also rated for 2,000 recharges. and fits into the side pouch of my  , Sherpa bag.  I got the protective rails for my FT-817ND and they are totally worth it! (

Between this radio bag, a push-up pole and SOTAbeams type wire antenna, I can have an efficient antenna up and radio station working in under five minutes. 

73/72 de RadioRay   ..._  ._

Title: Re: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: Sparks on September 17, 2016, 09:15:07 pm
Thanks for this note about the Yaesu FT-817ND! I bought one over the counter at my (European) country's major ham outlet this summer, with a 10% discount because there was a special event for our capital's hams.

It's the first radio I have handled since I sailed the high seas as a Radio Officer (1963-73). In addition to my Merchant Marine First Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate I also had a ham license, not used for more than 40 years. When I definitely retired from later occupations at age 70 I renewed my ham license (same C/S, the proper authorities never forget you). The Morse Code that was drilled into me at the tender age of 16-17 never left me, though, and I believe it will help me to stay mentally fit for service to start using my CW capabilities after these more than 40 years.

I have long since decided: CW only and QRP only. So for years I wished for an Elecraft KX3, and lately, KX2. However, I simply cannot afford any of them, yet. So when I had a chance at a new but affordably priced Yaesu FT-817ND, I grabbed it, to get started.

The vendor also sold me the LDG Z-817 Autotuner for FT-817 (a must, they told me). In addition, a balun which I so far don't understand how to use, and some other more or less useless (to me, so far) antenna stuff. So I am still not on the air!

I hope I may use this forum to ask for good advice. Essentially, I was exactly where Gil was this year when he lost his sailing vessel and all his radio equipment, so I have followed all the threads in that connection. The exception is, I finally acquired a QRP transceiver, and I need help to get it on the air.
Title: Re: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: gil on September 19, 2016, 04:53:09 am
I almost bought an Ft-817nd, and would have saved a bundle if I had, instead of getting the KX2... The Elecraft is a better radio but customs charged me $300 upon delivery!

Sparks, where are you located? Is your BALUN a 4:1 or 1:1 type? You would use it to feed a dipole or Windom.. Do you have two support points high up to string a wire, only one? None? Trees?

A tuner is not a "must" but a "nice to have" item. You could start with a 9:1 UNUN like the EARCHI model and a simple wire up a tree or whatever. Your tuner would make it multiband. A resonant half wave wire with end-fed tuner is better but covers one band per wire..


Sent from my A1-830 using Tapatalk
Title: Re: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: RadioRay on September 23, 2016, 03:57:15 pm
Hello Sparks,

I do apologize for the delay: crazy week.

I think that you'll enjoy the little FT-817ND.  It still amazes me how much can be put into such a small case - with room to spare.  Fascinating about you have been an R/O on merchant vessels!  Thre solar cycles ago, when I lived in California, I used to talk in CW with many Japanese R/O's during the long nights when they were bringing cars into ports like Los Angeles. It was an enjoyable way to pass the time.  I think they may have had the H:15/H:45 radio watch at that time - I do not know when it was discontinued.  However, we'd pick right up after the time passed.

Though you're accustomed to using your ears for CW filters - I am certain, the accessory narrow CW filter of either 500 or 300 Hz is very useful.  An alternative is the DSP SSB/CW filter from  , however, the SOTAbeams filter is not a drop-in filter, but requires surface mount soldering (tough on my eyes, but doable), while the drop-in IF filter installes with no soldering.  I did find that it made a tremendous difference.

I find that those new generation "AA" NiMH rechargeable batteries fit into the "AA" battery tray and give me much more operating time and they take 2,000 recharges!  Wow- much better than the orginal Yeasu 1,400 mA/hour pack that comes with the radio.

73 de Ray  ..._  ._
Title: Re: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: cockpitbob on September 23, 2016, 05:09:48 pm
I put the 500Hz CW filter in my FT-857.  It really helps when someone is blasting right next to you.  Much better than the DSP filter that's down in the audio band.  I'm pretty sure it's because if you knock out the close by interference in the IF stage the big signals won't get intermodulated with the little one you want.  That seems to be what's happening anyway.  For small signals nearby, the DSP filter does an OK job.

I keep dithering between wanting an 817 and a KX2.  When every ounce counts, I already have a KX1 and MTR.  But for some strange reason I want a very portable all mode rig.  I have an FT-857 and love it.  For the most part I think the 817 is the same thing, just without the 100W.  The 857 is a compromise and doesn't have the best specifications, but the damned thing does everything from 1.8MHz to 440MHz and all the modes, all in a small package.  It's only problem is 3/4Amp during receive and it weighs a lot.
Title: Re: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: Sparks on August 13, 2017, 01:04:44 am
Quote from: gil on September 19, 2016, 04:53:09 amSparks, where are you located? Is your BALUN a 4:1 or 1:1 type? You would use it to feed a dipole or Windom.. Do you have two support points high up to string a wire, only one? None? Trees?

Thanks to the three of you who have replied. Sorry for not responding until now! Life's unforeseen circumstances and family responsibilities forced me to leave the radio and the paraphernalia packed and stored with a friend in southern Norway, until further notice, so I haven't been able to look closely at the balun. I planned to use the set for portable QRP (CW only) on hiking trips in forests and mountains. I now consider selling the FT-817ND and instead acquire this radio:,1327.0.html (,1327.0.html)  ( ELAD FDM-DUO Transceiver (,1327.msg12239.html#msg12239) )
Title: Re: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: caulktel on August 15, 2017, 11:06:36 am
I was surprised to stumble across this thread because after owning just about every QRP rig out there, (no Elecrafts, too $$$), I decided to finally order a FT-817ND yesterday. I have built many QRP radios, CW and SSB and DSB too, but they all had drawbacks of one sort or another, so after watching a lot of YouTube videos and noticing that for the most part they most are running 817s, I decided to try one. I have a Hardrock 50 amp that I rarely use, but it might make the 817 more usable in bad conditions. I also have a Elecraft T1 tuner that I seldom use which interfaces real well with the 817. The radio will be here tomorrow, so we shall see.

Title: Re: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: gil on August 16, 2017, 06:38:26 am
One good reason to get the 817 is the 2m band in USB and CW modes for regional communications.


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Title: Re: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: caulktel on August 24, 2017, 06:31:01 pm
Well I've had my FT-817 for a week now and have made lots of contacts on many bands, I love this radio. I wish I would have bought one sooner. The only gripe I have is the built in battery, the whole charging process is a joke. If I use the radio for 15 minutes the charger charges the battery for 8 hours, so I bought the WindCamp liPo pack for it, now at least I can top the battery off without ruining it and its double the capacity. Ok, I'm done with my rant now, back to making contacts on 20 meters:-)

Title: Re: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: swxx on August 24, 2017, 10:51:23 pm
Anyone know how this compares to IC703MKii in terms of RX current?
Title: Re: The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
Post by: caulktel on August 25, 2017, 10:05:13 am

I don't know what the 703 draws in receive, but the 817 draws about 350ma, (high!), according to the specs. I haven't actually checked it yet. The receive current doesn't bother me much because I go portable for short periods of time, usually no more than a hour and a half at most, so my battery bank has power to spare.