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Author Topic: Any other radios like the Yaesu FT-897D out there?  (Read 4598 times)
GRANDKODIAK
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Posts: 85




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« on: June 07, 2012, 10:54:17 AM »

I just came across the FT-897D radio, HF/VHF/UHF, high output, battery power and DC, multimode etc... looks awesome! I was wondering, are there any other radios out there like this to compare it too? This looks like a perfect basestation that can be taken on the run type radio for camping etc!

http://www.yaesu.com/indexvs.cfm?cmd=DisplayProducts&ProdCatID=102&encProdID=0372FA803B7BBADBF3076C94ACA7A8C5&DivisionID=65&isArchived=0
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Tech/General

no base station yet

Yaesu FT-7900r VHF/UHF
Cobra 29LX CB
Wouxun KG-UV6D VHF/UHF
STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2012, 01:53:46 PM »

If all of those parameters are important to you, particularly the integrated batteries - the short answer is no, there are no other radios out there which have all those features together.
There are many radios which have some, but not all.
Remember, on integrated batteries, the power is automatically set down to 20W, but that is only 7dB down from 100W.
I have two of these radios, which have had hard use for six years,both base station and mobile, and they are still going strong.
So, from my experience these radios can take tough use, and that is an important factor in my choice of gear.

When trekking, I do qrp only, so use an FT817ND, which is like a shrunken version of the FT897D, and has the same freq/mode/battery features.
The FT817ND transmitter power is 5W though, so it is not everyones ideal base station, but it's great for lightweight camping.

Everyone's ham radio experience is unique however, so although I really like my FT897D/FT817ND minimalist combo, I know it is not everyones style.
So, don't discount other manufacturers equipment, think really hard about what you want from ham radio, and what you would need to accomplish that.
We are spoiled for choice these days, with lots of great gear available, so good hunting.

73 - Rob



« Last Edit: June 07, 2012, 01:59:39 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
GRANDKODIAK
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Posts: 85




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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2012, 02:27:45 PM »

Thank you for the response and input. I do love that combo, I do want a good basestation, but don't want some big dedicated unit... and I like my HT, but I want something more powerfull. I'm happy with my 7900r as my mobile, but it stuck in my truck which I rarely use. I have an 80w 12v folding solar panel kit and I figured a 20w full feature multibanned radio that could have multiple battery packs would be a perfect combo! I would also like to get away from FM VHF/UHF and start exploring HF, cw and some other fun stuff! Guess I'll have no choice but to save up for it, if only it had a remote faceplate, I'd use it as my mobile too!!
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Tech/General

no base station yet

Yaesu FT-7900r VHF/UHF
Cobra 29LX CB
Wouxun KG-UV6D VHF/UHF
AE5QB
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Posts: 267




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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2012, 03:18:38 PM »

IMO there are no other radios like the Yaesu FT857/FT897.  These are just really good all mode/all band radios.  To me they represent a great value - bang for the buck.  I was like you when I got back into ham radio several years ago after a long absence - looking for the radio that will do it all.  A lot of times this train of thought is driven by finances which is a real consideration for most of us.  Most of us are nervous about dropping a lot of cash on a new hobby.  Most of us have other priorities that we have to consider.  And some of us have spouses that make the decisions for us.

I have the FT857 and I like it a great deal and think it is a better value than the FT897.  I just don't think the FT897 offers enough for the price differential.  If portable operations is what you are looking for, you can add an 8 AH battery to the FT857 for less than $50.  If the tuner is what attracts you to the FT897, then you can find a better third party tuner for a reasonable cost.  I have an FT857 that I use as my main rig in the house and I put it in the car when we go on road trips. It is great for portable work in the park so I do like the radio a great deal.

With that said, I want to run a few things by you for consideration.  Remember, engineering is all about compromises.  The engineering triangle includes quality, features, and price.  You can have any two sides of the triangle but not all three.  Therefore, while I think the FT857/FT897 series of radios are really great, many will tell you that they are not as good as X or Y radios - these folks are probably correct.  But then, IMO most of us don't need "the best" to the point that we can buy a new radio every time we decide to operate differently.  The fact is that most of us are limited by the antennas we put up and other factors besides the last bit of receiver sensitivity or other stats that hams enjoy throwing around.  If you are a big time contester or a major DX chaser, your needs will change, but most of us will never be in these categories of operators. Most of us just cannot afford to compete with the top contesters and the financial resources they have availalble to them.  So why even think like that?  Now there may come a time when you move into ranks, but you can make another choice at that time.  For now the fact is that most of us just want to have some fun, learn a little, and make some contacts.  In this case we don't need and can't afford the best in everything.

Now when it comes time to climb a mountain, I can tell you that the FT857 and especially the FT897 is going to quickly become a chore.  They need a lot of battery power which means heavy.  You may haul the rig up once or twice, but you will soon be looking for a lighter alternative.  A low cost QRP homebrew or the FT817 or the new Elecraft KX3 is the class of transceiver you want to be talking about for serious backpacking work.

So seriously think about what you want to do in the intermediate and longer terms.  Right now you are in the new ham mode where you are eager and excited and want to do everything.  And that is great!  Looking, comparing, dreaming about this and that represents a good deal of the excitement of ham radio.  The FT857 is a great starter rig and you get a lot for the bucks.  I do think you will be happy with it.  In fact if you want to buy my FT857 I'll be happy to sell it to you, along with the remote head option.  Not because it is a bad rig, I use it every day, but because I am ready to move on to something else.

If I were starting from scratch today, here is what I would buy.  It would cost me more in the short term, but I think I would be satisfied - well at least for a while.  I don't do a lot of hand-held work but I still want to have a hand-held of some kind.  I'd buy one of the dual band Chinese hand-helds like the Wouxun.  I have one of these, by the way, and have no complaints for a $100 radio.  I won't take it out in the weather for emcomm ops but for the occasional race or other events I work it does just fine.  I would then buy a good dual band mobile rig from one of the big three - about $400.  Then I would not have any qualms about putting $1300 down for the Elecraft KX3 and a few of the options to go with it.  I would then add a third party 100-300 watt amp or wait for the Elecraft 100w amp.  So for under $3000 I would have all the radio I think I will need for a long long time.  Elecraft is coming out with a 2m option for the KX3 by the way so that could be added also.

This is the direction I am headed.  The KX3 amp combo will give me a great base rig, I have a handheld that I seldom use, and I'll have a good base/mobile 2m/440 rig.  If I want to go climb up a mountain, something I do once or twice a year, or operate in the park on a weekend the KX3, IMO, is going to be the new standard over the FT817 (a fine radio in its own right) and the new clear favorite for mountain topping.

At least this is what I think will make me happy today.  Again, if you want to buy my FT857, I'll be happy to sell it to you for a good price. I havn't listed it for sale because I am not that eager to get rid of it.  But if I can help you get started in the hobby, I'll tell my wife I have to sell it to help out the new guy and then I'll order a KX3. Smiley

There are dozens of radios out there that are all really great.  If you are buying new, you really can't go wrong with any of the big three.  If you want to go to the next level, you are talking $1500 for a good basic HF rig.  Above that and you are in the $3K to $10K range, which IMO is somewhat silly unless money is no object.
 
Don't overlook the used market.  These fine radios last and last and last, but there are some bad deals out there so be careful.  Some folks swear by the old tube or hybrid rigs and there are some great deals on them for a few hundred bucks.  But IMO these are for the guys who have the background to fiddle with and repair these rigs and not for the new users who do not have experience in radio repairs or operations.  

So there are my 2 cents.  Remember what you paid for the advice when making your decision.

73

Tom/AE5QB
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1236




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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2012, 05:20:51 PM »

One more opinion:  I bought a used 897 last year for portable ops, and I think it's a *great* little radio.  Especially if you get one at a good price.  But keep in mind that the 897/857 is an old design, and the performance is a bit lacking in some ways.    If you buy an 897 or 857, you might find yourself wanting a better radio in a year or three, for DXing, for contesting, whatever.  Of course, that doesn't mean you won't still enjoy the 897--as I said, I just love mine; it's as tough and as versatile as a Victorinox Swiss Army knife.   73!
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KG4NEL
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Posts: 373




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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2012, 08:43:51 AM »

Quote
I do want a good basestation, but don't want some big dedicated unit..

You may find after a few times of moving it, having a dedicated radio that you don't have to disconnect/reconnect things from at home isn't that bad of an idea Smiley

I did the one-radio-two-locations thing with my 706MKIIG for a little while, until I thought about how much of a PITA it turned out to be. Like other posters have mentioned, having different radios lets you optimize for each application, which don't always go together.
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N6AJR
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Posts: 9891




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« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2012, 11:49:11 AM »

the 857 and the 897 are almost identical except  for the  built in battery and such.  I have 2 ft 857's one in the car and one in the  pickup.  I use them with an ATAS 120 for the convenience of autotune on 40 to 2 meters.  As a base the 897 may work OK as base and the 857 is on the small side for a base but will work OK.  The icom 707 M II G is about the same, and there are many other  similar rigs, like the alinco dx 7.  I always reccommend to folks to get the best radio they can afford so they don't buy on, then sell it and buy a better one and then sell that and buy the one they should have started with.  Also an antenna is the  best place to see the most improvement per dollar spent.  like in a stereo , you put your money in the speakers, the radio needs a great antenna, but you can save money and build your own.  gud luck, have fun and get on the air.
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NO2A
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Posts: 758




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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2012, 11:51:51 AM »

The `897,`817ND are fine rigs but I would never rely on internal battery packs as my only source of power. They won`t hold a charge for any length of time. You would need an external battery at the very least. Most all rigs draw at least 1 amp or more on receive,even the `817 is not that efficient on receive. Dedicated qrp rigs draw much less current on receive so it pays to "shop around." For backpacking I would consider a rig like the Norcal 40,or any monoband rig. The Small Wonder series rigs are an excellent value.
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K0JEG
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Posts: 638




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« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2012, 12:56:48 PM »

If you're handy with a soldering iron a K2 might be close to what you want:

http://www.elecraft.com/k2_page.htm

The standard K2 is a very small radio. There are people who will build one for a fee if you don't want to DIY.

I was fairly sure I was going to start building one and then they introduced the KX3.  Now I'm not sure what I want to do. If the the KX3 were a little cheaper (and they were caught up on orders) it would be less of a decision.

I have an 897d now. I used it a few times on hikes and have to say it's not ideal for anything other than a day trip. The heavy duty AL chassis becomes just plain heavy after a few miles, the internal batteries are disappointing (why has no one come up with a LiON or liPO battery pack yet?), and trying to use it while perched on a rock is difficult. That said, it is a nice entry-level base station, and works just fine on a picnic table with a nice sized gel cell.

One other very minor thing: the CAT interface isn't quite as robust as some other manufactures. I don't find anything I use missing, but if rig control via PC is important you may want to make sure it will do what you want it to. For example, reading and writing to memories is only possible using Yaesu's software.
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AF6WL
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Posts: 129




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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2012, 12:27:01 AM »

I constantly keep looking, wishing someone will produce a field portable radio - a lightweight amateur version of the classic military manpack set.

For now the KX3 seems the closest we are going to get, but it's still a campsite radio, rather than a SOTA exposed to the elements type of radio.

If Yaesu can design weather sealed handhelds like the FT270R - why not follow through on the outdoor theme with a die-cast and sealed 10W+  HF set with a clip on battery pack and built in ATU.
It needs to be about half the size and weight of their best effort to date : the VX-1210 http://www.vertexstandard.com/lmr/HF-Radios/VX-1210

I have felt the need for many years to design my own HF field set and with that in mind just ordered the venerable K2 kit to get some HF home brew experience - with a set I can easily use as a open chassis for experimentation and modification prior to starting my lifetime's desire project.
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