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Author Topic: Think I'm going to go QRP  (Read 19065 times)

Posts: 160

« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2012, 07:30:13 PM »

I can vouch for the FT-817ND & Miracle Whip combo. It works. I use a Shortwave radio type retractable wire (15') and a 1/8" mini-stereo to BNC adapter with the Miracle Whip IL. It works great on 20, 15 and 10m strung up inside a hotel room, at the park, or from an apartment patio in Cayman Islands.

Posts: 2243

« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2012, 01:08:31 PM »

I'll have a look at the 857 and Icom 706. I'm guessing
either would also make an adequate base station.

IF you go this route, avoid the 706 MkIIG at all costs.
It’s a decent rig for what all it does, BUT:
Icom completely redesigned the PA board mid production
Run, and the “pre change” PA boards and PA transistors
are %100 Unobtanium unless you find a “Parts Rig”.
Problem is, NO ONE, not even Icom, knows or will say what
the Serial Number cutoff is for the PA change over is!

This is fact, it happened to me.

I'm a Technician, so my privileges are limited to the 6 and (part of) the 10m band.

Au contraire mon ami!
You also have limited CW privileges on 15m, 40m, and 80m!
You can have a BLAST with those.  Grin
Don’t marry yourself to a microphone.
And…remember you have some DATA
Privileges on 10m too!

Overall, I would recommend you NOT buy
a QRP rig as your first HF rig. Buy a decent
used or new HF rig and dial it down if you
want to try QRP.
There's going to be enough
frustration in setting and learning to operate your
first HF station. Why start off with one hand tied
behind your back?

Good Luck es 73, Ken  AD6KA

Posts: 10

« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2012, 04:16:43 AM »

After using my 817 for the past couple weeks IMHO it's a great rig!
No it doesn't compare to my Ten Tec and it can't bust a pile-up like my 811 but that's comparing apples and oranges.
As far as the menus go, I've found that I really don't have to enter them very often after initial set-up so no big deal there.
Although the power consumption is greater than the tuna can sized QRP rigs I was able to operate about 7hrs on a recent camping trip using a 5ah sla and by the end of the week the battery was down to 9v, and even at that I contacted the Ukraine.

Posts: 160

« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2012, 12:42:19 PM »

I would have to agree with Ken in that a QRP rig is not the best choice for a primary radio, but if you are bent on portability and flexibility, there is no bigger bang for your buck than the FT-817ND and for the most part it will serve you well in that capacity.

Before dropping $700 on a new 817ND as your first HF rig, think about the fact a new KX3 is only $200 more. A new FT-897 is only $300 more. Both of those are far superior to the 817ND in HF capabilities and ergonomics.

For the price of a bottom end Buddipole system, you can get a LDG Z series auto tuner, add an inexpensive LDG Unun and a spool of wire, and you will easily outperform the Buddipole. Or an Elecraft T-1. Or the holy grail, a used SGC auto coupler.

How portable do you really need your portable radio to be? Backpacking requires a much more compact system than, for example, picnic/park table operation or mobile ops.


Posts: 875

« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2012, 01:14:02 PM »

For the price of a bottom end Buddipole system, you can get a LDG Z series auto tuner, add an inexpensive LDG Unun and a spool of wire, and you will easily outperform the Buddipole. Or an Elecraft T-1. Or the holy grail, a used SGC auto coupler.

I totally agree.
One of the best purchases I ever made was an LDG Z100+ atu for use with the ft817nd.
A small atu runs for up to a year on one set of AA cells, weighs very little and means your options are expanded exponentially.

I think the days of hams spending more than 2 minutes matching their antenna to their rig should have been over with the first ATU.
Why bother with buddipoles and tweaking antennas incessantly when a touch of the button will do that all for you.
In addition, with QRP, you dont need any more transmission line other than a short connection to the ATU.
Just put the antenna wires straight to the output of the ATU with a PL259/banana plug adaptor.

Not only will this lead to a much more productive use of your time, but it will be more efficient and flexible.
In many cases the greatest loss in a system are the feedline losses caused by high SWR operation, which a remote ATU will avoid.
It is true that the batteries and a small ATU will weigh something, but less than a tubular antenna, and will give much better results.
When operating portable or qrp, flexibility is something desirable, and something an ATU can deliver.

73 - Rob
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 01:15:56 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged

Posts: 11

« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2012, 06:22:31 PM »

Over the years I have had a total of 5 of these radios, starting off with the first one. I have a trading disease so I keep trading radios. And in some case wondering why I did trade. The FT-817 and IC-703 are both great radios. The 817 does give you VHF/UHF and the 703 give you DSP, internal ATU and lower current and a few other nice feature. However they are hard to find and are much larger then the 817. I just did a trade a few weeks ago for my 5th attempt at keeping this radio. Mostly for PSK31 and some limited SSB. For that I am going to W4RT and get the Mic speech compressor. The added punch is worth it and later the SSB filter. Again worth it. For PSK31 I have a awesome stand alone modem called the NUE-PSK. Look it up. Then get it. It will turn your 817 into a real digital station without the hassle of taking a computer with you. The little wonder does psk31/rtty and now cw that decodes like magic. Far better then 99% of the computer cw decoding programs. Antenna wise. The bigger the better in QRP. Stay away from the Miracle whip, and the Walkabout types. They work, but you can become real frustrated very quickly. A Z-827 by LDG or A T-1/with 817 cable by Elecraft and a 4:1 balun and a long wire will get you out and let you make contact. I have tried many different types of antennas and done a lot of QRP. (last radios were K2 and KX-1) and found the better the antenna the better the results and longer wire makes better contacts.

Well that is my 2 cents worth. Hope it helps.

Harry K7ZOV

Posts: 159


« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2012, 09:22:45 AM »


I see you are getting lots of advice - so let me keep this basic. 
it may succinctly summarize your many responses. 

(1) define your goals for HF operation.  will you be doing mostly voice?  will you be operating mostly from home, or mostly portable, or mobile?  this will make a difference in your needs

(2) in your context, QRP may merely be a power level - in particular if you are operating from home!  (to many QRP motivates building rigs, and operating portable with battery power - many commercial rigs don't deliver for this paradigm)

(3) being limited to 5 watts on SSB can be quite a handicap (not that I don't sometimes do it, for example in contesting)

(4) a new FT-817 station (with power supply) is not substantially cheaper than some 100 watt options

(5) when receive current is high, battery time is very limited for portable operation - unless you obtain and carry a large battery. 

(6) if at all possible, erect a full-sized antenna.  it benefits you on receive as well as transmit.  one can build antennas from simple instructions - so put your funds into the rig. 

(7) join a local club - learn from nearby amateurs!  I can also imagine them letting you get onto the air from their station (or a club station) to get you even more interested in ham radio. 

As with others, I suggest considering a 100 watt station unless you expect to operate mostly CW.  And related, work for your general class since Technician HF spectrum for SSB is quite scarce.  yes do also get involved with digital modes, but likely you will want a decently effective SSB station. 

73 Curt

Posts: 884

« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2012, 05:17:30 PM »

Another reason to wait on the FT-817: The Elecraft KX-3. Simply put, a lot of people are very excited about this radio, and there's a lot of backorders being processed (I think they finally shipped out the last of the first day's orders). Over the weekend I picked up an Elecraft K2 with almost all options other than the 100 Watt PA for $750 (I priced out all the options and it would have been over $1500 to buy as a kit). The seller said it didn't make sense to sell it for more given the price of the KX-3 new.

So in a few months, when production is ramped up I'm sure we'll start to see a lot of FT817s at hamfests and on ebay.
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