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Author Topic: Ft-817nd or the Ft-857??  (Read 16706 times)
KD0PBO
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« on: February 08, 2012, 07:27:56 PM »

So I'm looking around trying to decide which of these radio's will fit my needs best and was wondering if anybody has some advice for me. So first lets start with what I like about these rigs.

Ft-817 - All modes, All bands. BATTERY POWER!! I go camping, hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, and just plain traveling alot so the convience of having the battery power is a near luxury for me. I like that it has two RF outputs so I can run a Dual band Jpole for 2m/440 from the BNC and then a Dipole for whatever band out the standard SO-239. Very easy to set up in the field. The only thing that I don't like is the limitation of 5w output. I understand that it is limited due to the battery option but with 5w and decent band conditions one could make decent contacts right?? And what about running on QTH power?

Ft-857 - All modes, All bands. Bigger size overall! 100w output with a large tuning knob and bigger display. I like being able to run this guy on a 12v battery or the one in my truck for whatever or whenever I need to. However, camping or hunting back in the boonies presents a problem if I can't get my truck back to where I'm staying and I do not want to have to lug a large power supply, in some cases a few miles to a camp site. Would the exta 95w be worth the larger power supply??

Any and all advice is accepted and appreciated!
For those of you that own one or both of these rigs, what do you like about it/them? Sell me folks! Make me a believer!!  Grin

KD0PBO
Miles
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 09:47:01 PM by KD0PBO » Logged
W8JX
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Posts: 6659




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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2012, 09:52:01 PM »

I can tell you this, while it is possible to work world on 5 watts when conditions are right, when they are not it is very hard to get a few hundred miles especially on lower bands when noise levels are up. It is better to have a 100 watt rig that you can run at say 20 watts to extend battery life yet give you more punch and even more if needed rather than having pedal to floor at 5 watts and hope for best. From 5 watts to 100 is two plus S-units which can make a big difference at times. While I have worked a few QRP stations on 40 the copy has been tuff at times and rarely Q 5. Even with a 817 you still need a external battery if you plan to use it much because internal batteries have limited capacity. It would help if it had modern laptop style high capacity lithium batteries with serious capacity but it does not because 817 is a old design.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2012, 07:56:18 AM by W8JX » Logged

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WX7G
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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2012, 09:04:18 AM »

I own both radios and like them just fine. The FT-857 is in the car while the FT-857 is used for camping and field day. I work the world on 40-10 meters while mobile CW running the ATAS-120 antenna.

I work only CW and 2.5/5 watts is alot of fun (each radio has the optional CW filter). On SSB 2.5/5 watts isn't much fun.

There is a companion 45 watt amplifier made by Tokyo Hypower for the FT-817. Ham Radio Outlet sells the HL-45B for $450. 

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AE5QB
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2012, 04:01:16 PM »

I have both and I agree that both are fine radios.  They are both packed with stuff so they are a bit heavy, especially the 857.  But considering what is packed inside, the weight is a relative thing. 

They are really two different radios designed for two different tasks.  I think if you try to pick one you are sure to be disappointed at least in some situations.  The 857 draws considerable current even on receive so it is designed to be a vehicle radio with a continuous conversion of hydrocarbons to electricity.  Compared to it's Icom brother, the 857 draws about twice as much current on receive.  While it will work just fine as a portable radio with a good sized battery (I use a car battery) it won't run long on a small 7 or 8 amp hour gel cell which is about all you will want to haul up a mountain - unless you are a much better man than I am which is probably true.  The extra power of the 857 is great, but for me it just isn't worth carrying the extra weight and extra battery power a great distance. 

The 817 on the other hand is not really made for mobile or shack use.  It is made for hauling up mountains. The thing will run all day on a 7 AH battery - stretching it a bit.  It represents a reasonable weight to haul up a mountain and still be able to get on the air.  Yes it is very low power but you will also be operating in a very noise free environment.  Besides, noise is more of a receive thing and the 817 has a fairly good receiver.  On our SOTA trip we had s0 noise and and had 50 reception.  We could hear perfectly clearly and the S meter wasn't even budging.  It is quite fun to operate in a noise free environment.

Our club did a SOTA expedition up Guadalupe Peak TX last August.  There is no water in the back country so we had to haul everything in and out.  It was an 8.4 mile round trip with a 3000 foot vertical climb over rocky trails.  We took an Icom 7000, an 817ND, a couple of vertical antennas, and a couple of 7 AH batteries.  We took 1 gallon+ liquids for each hiker.  We cached some water about half-way up the mountain so we didn't have to carry it up and back down.  The result was we ran out of water and were dog tired when we came down.  The 7000 ran just fine on the 7AH battery at 100 watts and we made about 21 contacts in an hour.  I suspect we could have run the 857d for a full hour also but maybe not.  As it turned out we didn't use the 817 that day but I am confident it would have run for a couple of hours on the internal battery alone with average transmitting duty cycle.  So what does this prove?  Nothing, just some anecdotal evidence.  If you are young and can carry twice the battery weight plus twice the radio weight (4.6 lbs vs 2.5 lbs), you can probably do fine with the 857 on a 1 or 2 hour operating trek.  I think I would have been in trouble if I had tried to carry my 857 plus 2 batteries, plus water, plus antenna, plus food, and errr toilet paper, GPS, knife, first aid kit, guy lines, antenna tripod, pistol, pen, paper, cell phone....  You get the idea. If you check out some of the hiking sites such as the thru-hikers who do the Appalacian Trail or Continental Divide Trail, you will find that they measure their weight in ounces.  And they try to eliminate every oz.  So while the difference in weight between the 817 and 857 might not seem like much that extra 2 pounds plus battery adds up to a lot of oz.  Especially when going up a steep grade.

So that is my opinion.  Take it for what you paid for it.   There was an article a while back in QST on how to calculate battery life based on a reasonable duty cycle and what not.  It may be worth taking a look at if you want to figure out how much battery you would have to carry for your planned operating style.

My advice is get one of each!  I know easy to say.  But the point is that radios are designed for certain roles and there is no one size fits all.  In the end you will need to decide what is right and best for you.

Good luck and have fun with it.

Tom
AE5QB
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K6LCS
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2012, 11:01:51 AM »

Anyone can work the work with 50-100W. It takes more finesse and talent to work the world with 5W.

Go with the FT-817ND.

Clint K6LCS
http://www.clintbradford.com
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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.work-sat.com
W8JX
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Posts: 6659




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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2012, 11:09:16 AM »

Anyone can work the work with 50-100W. It takes more finesse and talent to work the world with 5W.

Go with the FT-817ND.

Clint K6LCS

It is not so much your talent as also finding first a fairly clear frequency and then also finding someone that has the patience to try to copy a QRP signal too when conditions are not perfect as while 5 watts will work fine when conditions are perfect, they rarely are good often in practice.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 03:10:25 PM by W8JX » Logged

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W7ETA
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2012, 03:49:39 PM »

My assumption has been that being able to copy weak signals and signals that are in the noise level, like 40 and 80, has a lot to do with my rig, antennas, and my hearing.

I believe that after a while QRP ops look for occasions when they have the best conditions for low power. 

When I used to play around DXing on 75 meters, I learned that as sunrise progressed, band conditions favored ops west of me.  When the noise level dropped. allowing me to hear weak signals, I could not work stations in Asia that 6 land was working.
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W8JX
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2012, 04:14:08 PM »

My assumption has been that being able to copy weak signals and signals that are in the noise level, like 40 and 80, has a lot to do with my rig, antennas, and my hearing.

I believe that after a while QRP ops look for occasions when they have the best conditions for low power. 

When I used to play around DXing on 75 meters, I learned that as sunrise progressed, band conditions favored ops west of me.  When the noise level dropped. allowing me to hear weak signals, I could not work stations in Asia that 6 land was working.

You still have got to give a LOT of credit to guy copying you verse a 100 watt or KW signal unless he is QRP too and your are struggling a bit too at times and returning favor.
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K1WJ
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Posts: 464




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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2012, 06:48:15 AM »

If this is your only radio, go with the FT-857.

If you want to run QRP turn it down to 5 watts.

100 watts will come in handy most of the time.

Most Hams have more than 1 radio ( I have 3 HF rigs / 3 vhf/uhf rigs & 2 HT's) - get the QRP rig later.

But I must admit, I have been thinking about getting a FT-817ND for a few years now........

Catch you on the AIR WAVES..........73 K1WJ - ARIZONA Cool
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STAYVERTICAL
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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2012, 09:17:04 PM »

I do a lot of hiking in heavily forested regions where trees abound.
I would not take a 100W rig, no matter its brand, because a big battery rides shotgun with it.
What I do is take my FT817ND and a spool of wire, and tiny homebrew antenna tuner.
Then, I set up my camp, and put up a vee beam, rhombic, dipole, or whatever I feel like using that day.
The gain I get from these beams and the low noise make me seem like a big gun to the receiving stations ( of course on the beam heading), and I can operate all day, while solar charging an extra set for the next day.

Too many hams think the same way in camp as they do at the home QTH, when they should be using the freedom and real estate at their campsite to break the mold.
There is an Italian station who uses 5w qrp with a big HF log periodic - and he booms in, good times or bad.

If you are on a treeless campsite, take a 27 foot collapsible squid pole and some wire, lay out some elevated radials and have fun.
You are not trying to replicate your home qth outdoors.

However, having said all that, if you want the rig as your home/camp rig, I would get the FT857, since many home QTH's have space limitations that limit antennna effectiveness, and could lead to frustration in poor propagation conditions.
This could be remedied by using a linear amp with the FT817 (which I do).
However, if a linear costs as much as a 100W rig, it may be false economy.

I can tell you if a zombie apocalypse occurs, the rig I will be grabbing will be the FT817!

Good trekking, 73s
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 09:26:13 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
W8JX
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Posts: 6659




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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2012, 07:02:41 AM »

If you "graduate" from using heavy gel cell batteries and move to lightweight lithium you will find that you can bring more radio for same total weight and have more run time and option of more power too. If Yaesu would update 817 and use lithium batteries with it they could greatly increase run time on internal batteries and even boost power some too. BTW you can still run 5 watts for a 857 or the like but you could run more when needed too.
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AE5QB
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Posts: 273




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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2012, 04:22:25 PM »

If you "graduate" from using heavy gel cell batteries and move to lightweight lithium you will find that you can bring more radio for same total weight and have more run time and option of more power too. If Yaesu would update 817 and use lithium batteries with it they could greatly increase run time on internal batteries and even boost power some too. BTW you can still run 5 watts for a 857 or the like but you could run more when needed too.

What are the ins and outs and gotchas associated with making this switch?  Is there an a short version of how to go about doing this and what the pitfalls are?

Tom
AE5QB
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N4MJR
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Posts: 7




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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2012, 05:28:17 PM »

I agree with the idea that these are 2 entirely different rigs.  I have operated QRP probably 99% of the times since I got my general ticket about 12 years ago, mainly SSB and PSK 31.  I finally bought a used Kenwood TS-680s a few months ago and have used it twice.  Why?  Because with the recent solar conditions I simply haven't needed more that 5 watts. 

I hear the arguments that a QRP operator is somehow better that a QRO operator, that they must use pristine operating technique and finesse.  In my opinion this is hogwash.  What you need are a lot of sunspots, a high solar flux, and the best antenna you can fit into you lot and wallet.  Cute little radios should not use cute little antennas, period. 

I also hear that the true hero is the ham at the other end of the QSO.  I must admit there is a good bit of truth here, as I do owe my gratitude to other hams on some occasions, like when the sunspots and solar flux are low.  I thank them during the QSO, and now here publicly.  Still, when propagation is good I get a lot of legitimate 599 reports without any requests for repeated information.  My record is about 9,000 miles on a watt SSB with 59 for me and 59+ for him and his 400 watts.  The propagation gods were smiling on me that day!

There are other times when I'm lucky to make 1 contact in a month and the other ham struggles to get me.  Under these conditions I usually concentrate on contest stations that are having few replies, they appreciate the contact as much as I do, so no hard feelings. 

All this being said, I use the FT-817 because I like QRP and portable operation, not because I'm better or worse.  Then I bought a cheap 100 watt rig for when conditions are bad.  My suggestion is that you clarify your operating priorities for yourself and get the radio that fits that profile.  Keep in mind we should have good propagation for a few more years.  I hope this helps.

Michael N4MJR
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KD0PBO
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2012, 07:21:23 PM »

Thanks to all for the GREAT replies! Alot of information to think over...


In the past few weeks, I have been swinging back and forth from both radios and trying to weigh the pro and cons of both. My ideal answser that pops in my head is "GET BOTH!!" But unfortunately my wallet says "You shouldn't be buying either one stupid!"

We shall see what happens..

KD0PBO
Miles D.
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KD8MJR
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« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2012, 11:01:35 PM »

I agree you got some great answers Grin
If hard core long haul camping is the only reason for the radio I would get the 817 if you think it might be mostly short trek camping with the Radio being used for other purposes in between trips I would get the 857d and a healthy set of batteries.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 11:35:48 AM by KD8MJR » Logged
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