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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | Yaesu FT-817 Help

Reviews Summary for Yaesu FT-817
Yaesu FT-817 Reviews: 279 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $769
Description: All band 160m thru 10m plus 6m, 2m and 70cm, all mode QRP rig with internal batteries. PL259 on rear, BNC on front.
Product is in production.
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Page 1 of 28 —>

M3RTX Rating: 5/5 Mar 2, 2014 09:58 Send this review to a friend
Great fun radio  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I'm on my second one and what a great fun radio!
I have had several different radios and find this to be lots of fun.
Keeping this with dtmf mic and my TS50, TS850 . the rest must go. 73
W5RHR Rating: 4/5 Feb 10, 2014 08:56 Send this review to a friend
band stack vfo issue  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Only had the rig a few weeks, but I am having issues with the band stack VFO system.
VFO A is remembered for every different band I switch to, but VFO B remembers the last frequency setting and will not follow the band change
Other than that its nice for what it does.
KA3RCS Rating: 5/5 Jan 2, 2014 00:25 Send this review to a friend
Vastly more than just a QRP radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
When I first saw the FT-817 advertised, I knew that my dream radio had become a reality. Here was almost everything I ever could have imagined, all packed into a tiny, rugged, portable package. I already had experience with various earlier rigs with a similar form factor, such as the FT-690R and FT-290R, but each of those only covered a single band. Here was the equivalent of those, as well as my FT-101ZD and HR2510 (no FM or usable AM on the 'ZD), a general coverage receiver, and even more (such as an all-mode UHF rig and SWR meter), all in one package, and far smaller than any one of them! The only exception was that some of them offered higher transmit power; more on that later. It was like putting my entire shack, and then some, in a device which could fit in a large coat pocket!

I purchased my first FT-817 new in 2001. It shares a very special status with only one other model: it, as well as the VX-7R, are absolutely my two favorite radios ever made, bar none. I have dozens of radios, and have probably had hundreds over the years, and have used even more...these are simply the best of the best.

To lump the FT-817 into the category of merely a QRP radio is to do it a serious disservice. It is an extremely versatile, high performance, all-mode HF/VHF/UHF transceiver and communications receiver, with no competition; it is truly in a class of its own. It is quite competent in a high RF environment, and is on a par with all but much more expensive and larger radios (and actually quite superior even to a lot of those). It sounds every bit as good as the FT-857 (another excellent rig which I shall review as well), and actually much better than some rigs, such as the FT-450 (all on the same external speaker for a fair comparison). Its front end far outperforms those of various HF and VHF/UHF radios such as the IC-2720H and IC-706. Some other models may outperform it on a specific mode or band subset, and some with much more limited frequency coverage may draw less current on receive, but there is simply nothing else available with so much capability in such a superb form factor.

Those who downplay it as a QRP rig are likely the same ones who complain that the VX-3R only puts out 1.5 watts. It happens that 5 watts is only about 2 S units below 100 watts. Not only have I worked other states on 6 meter SSB with a telescopic whip and other countries with a wire antenna on the higher HF bands, I have even worked Europe on 75 meter SSB with 5 watts from an FT-817 into a horizontal loop at about 20 feet. A good antenna is far more important than lots of power. A proper low power radio is also vastly more efficient running from a battery supply than a 100 watt radio turned down to 5 watts. Of course, for those situations where more power is desired, various amplifier options exist as well.

I like this radio so much that I bought several more used ones at hamfests. One has a few scratches, while the other one is almost mint, but both are functionally perfect. I have never had a hint of final amplifier trouble (or any other real issues, actually) with any of them. I wonder how much of the final 'problem' is caused by followers of the golden screwdriver school who go into the service menu and crank it up to 10 or 15 watts...

I have heard complaints about the small display and tuning knob. They are perfectly sized for the form factor of the radio. Making them any larger would mandate a larger radio, and would therefore detract from one of its greatest advantages over anything else even remotely comparable. There are plenty of larger radios available for those who find such things necessary.

It would have been nice to have a tilt bail included, but Peg Legs (which I only discovered when I found them already fitted to my most recent used radio) solve that issue quite elegantly. I've since obtained them for the other radios as well.

I installed the TCXO-9 in my original radio long ago, and recently did the same with the others. That makes a tremendous improvement in frequency stability, particularly after zero-beating them to WWV so that the tones sound identical on AM, USB, and LSB. It was interesting to note that most if not all of the TCXOs which I have obtained over the years came from the factory slightly off frequency (much like those in several FT-897s I know of, as well as my FT-450). I realize that some people don't care, but I really find it pleasant to dial in even frequencies regularly and notice that high profile stations very often sound exactly right. Of course, there are those people who simply cannot tune an SSB signal; they probably wouldn't benefit much from a TCXO. ;)

If one wants more power and/or a larger knob and display, all of these are available in the form of the FT-857, which uses many of the same accessories and a similar menu system (and which is exactly what I got for a dedicated mobile rig).

In summary, the FT-817 is a superb radio which still blows away anything else ever made, over a decade later. It is so versatile that I have even used it as a piece of test equipment already. It's just so much fun to use, does so much, and works so well...I would give it a rating of 10 if I could!
KD6HUC Rating: 4/5 Jul 23, 2013 17:30 Send this review to a friend
Nice,but kinda limited  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I've had this rig for about four months now and overall quite happy with my purchase. I ALMOST gave it a three because of the really Lame-O internal battery life. Honestly,it's a waste of time! Other than that,I really like mine. I use it mostly for backpacking and mountaintopping,so it makes my bag infinitely lighter. I really can't wait to get more competent at CW so I can really make this rig shine.
KC9WQR Rating: 5/5 Jun 27, 2013 23:33 Send this review to a friend
Great radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought this radio used from QTH and couldn't be happier This little radio had been abused by a previous owner and I spent a little money and got her where she deserves to be. I'm glad I did. This little radio has converted me to completely QRP. Furthest contact 2335 miles SSB running 5 watts, and that's with an end fed wire!!!

5 stars for size/weight/versatility/performance
WA6MOW Rating: 5/5 Jun 23, 2013 06:43 Send this review to a friend
Versatile Bargain  Time owned: more than 12 months
There isn't another QRP radio that compares to this little rig. While I loved my KX3, I found myself using my 817 to monitor the aircraft band, listen to FM broadcast as well as the AM band. When I am bored I listen to the folks on 2 meters. Since I only work cw, my little rig has a cw filter installed and the receiver in the 817 works well enough for me to work the world with 5 watts. I have owned 4 of these rigs and every time I sell one within a few weeks I round up another as to not feel "naked". There is a plethora of used ones for around $550 bucks. If you can live without 60 meters the non ND model is a good deal at less than $500.00. The KX3 was sold but an 817 sits proudly on my desk.
W8GND Rating: 4/5 Jun 23, 2013 03:59 Send this review to a friend
Good Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had an 817 a while ago, and it was ok. The principal problem with it is that it is so small that it's hard to see the little screen. But it hears fine, and does ok on transmit.

The only problem I have with it is that I loaned it to someone, and I've forgotten who I loaned it too. I don't really care, but would you please give it back, whoever you are

Dandy radio. Don't ever loan a radio

Jerry W8GND
VK5CQ Rating: 4/5 Mar 23, 2013 18:59 Send this review to a friend
Battery case design weak  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
So, after burning through 8x Alkaline AA cells, I thought I'd give the (proprietary) battery pack a go.

Well, this entails -carefully- removing the empty battery tray & inserting the battery.

Only inside the compartment for tray or battery did concern about the quality of this -otherwise- TERRIFIC radio begin to arise.

First, the door to the battery compartment was very hard to open.

Next, cheap-looking (read: thin) wires, which lead from the battery-tray to an "impossible" (read: hard-to-grip) to remove plug, in the battery compartment, left me feeling like I was working on a kid'd toy.

(Something like computer-ZIF connectors would help here.)

I know space is tight on such a radio, but - for $800+ - I still expect a higher standard.

Result: Tray remains in-place (sans 8x AA cells),
& I feed all of the radio's power via its rear-
panel power jack... a satisfactory workaround.

I'll take responsibility for this last gripe:

I have forgotten how to switch radio between BNC-connector (on front panel) & rear SO-239 socket.

PS I'm on the lookout for a waterproof case for my
FT-817ND... with pockets for antennas (wire &
its own), cables, a camera, phone & some pens,
2E0MCA Rating: 5/5 Mar 23, 2013 10:13 Send this review to a friend
Punches way above its weight  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought this rig last summer intending to get more involved in portable operations. As usual, life got in the way of those aspirations. I did get to do some operating from my garden with my base 1/2G5RV antenna and found that the rig did ok. This past month, I've had to strip out the shack as we're having a replacement boiler fitted in the week over easter. My normal FT-2000 base station has gone into the cupboard along with the manual tuner. The FT-817ND is holding the fort with the LDG z-817 Tuner. It's doing a great job! I'm amazed at how many stations are hearing me and giving good solid signal reports and good Audio reports too! The 5 watts from this rig certainly packs a punch! For the record I'm using the Heil Traveller boomset with this rig and they seem to work well as a combination. The receiver is pretty good too - though nowhere near on a par with the FT-2000. For what it is this rig is a real Mighty Mouse - Highly recommended.
KC2ZXL Rating: 5/5 Jun 5, 2012 09:23 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Portable QRP   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have been bitten by the HAM bug and was on a buying binge (radios that is). Bought the FT817ND used (about 3 years old) which came with Collins SSB and CW filters.

I was quite surprised as to how well the radio is made; just like my FT857D except it's smaller. Also have been surprised by how flexible it is when it comes to powering it. It will take regular P/S power as well as both rechargeable and regular alkaline batteris. I currently use both the rechargeable pack as well as the Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable AA batteries which seems to work really well for me.

Now for the performance. Menu structure is very similar to my FT857D and display is small but very clear and sharp. I also use Ham Radio Deluxe with the radio which makes it operating it as a base station a breeze. As per the receive; it's just as good as my 857D; sometimes it is so clear that I have hard time believing it that the sound is coming from the stock speaker.

Now for the transmit: I've made several DX contacts during 40m opening recently and one operator up in Massachussets kept asking me whether I was truly running 5W -- he was running 1KW. Yesterday, I have installed the PegLegs (Milestone Technologies) and Kranker Knob (W4RT) and it is just truly remarkable how nice this radio is.

Planning on getting the Z817 autotuner (currently not using a tuner but my G5RV seem resonant on 20 and 40m) along with a portable G5RV or Mini Buddipole. Lastly, looking to get an DXpeditioning pack to round out my portable gear.

If you're contemplating whether or not to go with FT817ND for QRP operations, don't, get this radio, you won't regret it!
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