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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: 281 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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PHINEAS Rating: 4/5 Dec 21, 2006 11:42 Send this review to a friend
If you have the will, you can work this radio.  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have read all of these reviews about small displays, and buttons. Also about how the power of the tranceiver is not enough. First of all, I almost never used the knobs on this radio. Old laptops are cheap enough to use one as a radio controller. Hamradio Delux with a CT62 cable gives you full remote capabilty. Since a lot of features can be stored in memory channels, I only use the display access memory channels when a computer is not present.

Battery Life. If you are creative, you can find a place like Bateries plus and make a lightweight portable Lithium battery. I had one built the would give me 5000mah that weighs about 8 ounces. The internal battery I just use as a reserve. Also, with the low price and weight of switchable power supplies, this will not add much weight to your pack either.

Contacts. Antenna, location. Nuff said. If you can hear a person at S9 and they are running 100 watts, you should still hear them at S3-S5 with 5 watts. This myth about power is another thread.

Finals. I have always wondered with all of the hardware and software mods, how many people messed up their own radio. Or how many people accently switched from the front antenna to the rear antenna.(This is pretty easy to do and forget about it!)

WX Coverage. This was one of the dumbest things that Yaesu did IMHO! However, how many hardcore packers are not going to carry a scanner or an HT as a backup.

It is my opinion that the only REAL short comings on this radio is the lack of filtering, output power and the display. Otherwise, this radio is really great for what is is. It is the only radio out there that is like it. I have done everything from SWL, CW, PSK, SSB, FM, Satelite, SSTV, Echolink, etc... With this radio, a West Mountain PNP and a laptop, it will do almost anything, and runs on batteries!

This radio is not perfect. They could have at least included one narrow band filter with it. With the price of the FT857ND w/DSP coming down some, the price of the FT817 will wind up about the same price when you start adding just 1 filter!

I am about to buy another one of these for Xmas. I have the Japanese version, and need to get the US version now that I am back in the US. I already have an 857 that I can rip out of the van if I need a higher power portable.

Do not sweat the small stuff. IF your radio works, then just use the @#$% thang!

KK7SS Rating: 5/5 Dec 1, 2006 19:40 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Portable...  Time owned: more than 12 months
My comments about the FT-817 are based on having owned two 817's, one 857 and one 897 amongst other rigs. I have kept the 817.

KB3MMX wrote:-
-Complicated menu system for basic functions.
It has almost the same menu layout as the FT-857

-No agc,not that I could find
In the menu under the 'B'

-VERY POOR operators manual from Yaesu!
I find it acceptable.

-Filters are an "arm and leg"
Same filters as the FT-857

-How do you turn on auto repeater offset?!?!
In the menu under button 'A'

-no DSP
Optional on the 857D

-High stability TXCO is not standard
Optional on the 857D

Using R/C 9.6V battery packs I find that I'm not loaded down and I can operate for quite a reasonable time.
KB3MMX Rating: 1/5 Dec 1, 2006 10:00 Send this review to a friend
Overpriced-No DSP  Time owned: months

The best feature of this rig is portability with the internal battery, althought operating time is limited. The Reciever is "ok", I think it is on the noisy side personally, the 857D is more sensitive.

Here's some of the things that really turned me off:

-Very small and hard to read screen.
-Complicated menu system for basic functions.
-Poor battery life @5W
-No agc,not that I could find
-VERY POOR operators manual from Yaesu!
-Weak audio output(speaker)
-recieve very succeptable to interference
-no DSP
-Filters are an "arm and leg"
-How do you turn on auto repeater offset?!?!
-HF through UHF on same so239(back) requires a duplexer unless you want to unplug all the time to switch antennas or run another line on the front of the radio(in the way!)
-Overpriced, considering you could have bought a 857D for a little more and had a LOT more flexibility.
-High stability TXCO is not standard

Other than that, the DC-Daylight ability of the rig is a nice thing to have. Definetely would carry an external power source if you intend to actually operate any amount of time in the field.
WA2DTW Rating: 5/5 Nov 10, 2006 06:41 Send this review to a friend
Very good, very compact rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have owned this rig now for 5 years. It covers everything from 160M to 440 mHz (excluding 220), with a general coverage receiver. All modes imaginable. Very compact, can take it almost anywhere. A very good CW rig (if filter is added). Extremely versatile.
Draws a great deal of current, so that it is not possible to use AA batteries to transmit for more than a few minutes on medium power (unlike a HT). It does work well with a gel-cell. It is necessary to add an additional filter for CW, and perhaps for SSB also if you are a serious operator. The rig has no DSB, no speech processer. In order to tune an antenna, one must go into the AM mode in order to get a sustained carrier. W4RT has a good remedy for all of these issues. The menu is complicated, particularly if you own more than one rig (which have differing menus). The buttons and the lettering is tiny. I find that I have to consult the manual frequently, even now. It lacks the intuitive simplicity of a Ten-Tec Argonaut.
That being said, this rig has given me a great deal of enjoyment and I recommend it. It is a very good QRP rig. With W4RT accessories, it is a great rig.
OE3SGU Rating: 5/5 Oct 1, 2006 03:01 Send this review to a friend
Great little versatile RIG  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I own both, the IC-703 and the FT-817ND. Both are nice RIGS for qrp but honestly, the FT-817ND is more versatile. The built in batterypack (even if not effective) and the addition of VHF/UHF makes it THE unbeatable RIG for portable operation and travelling. Add a filter of your choice (I would love to install 2 filters...) and you will like this RIG. Of course its not made for pile-ups and lacks a lot of things but this is the only RIG I always take with me. its so handy and it has become a legend.
KC0VDN Rating: 5/5 Sep 10, 2006 15:00 Send this review to a friend
Great all-around QRP rig  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
As a beginner into HF, I was a bit skeptical for what I could do with the 817. My mind soon changed with use. I can make casual 20 and 40 meter contacts regularly and really shines with a decent antenna. Great receiver, even for shortwave and utility stations. I liked it for portability, and I was a bit concerned with high current draw, but it is not nearly as bad as I thought, especially with a decent sized gell cell battery. Operation is a breeze with a little practice. Gripes about small keys and confusing menus seem far overstated. It is very easy if you read the manual a little. 2meter/440 SSB/CW is a real plus as well, and 5watts can really shine in the VHF+ market. I look forward to using it with digital modes as well. CW works well, even without full QSK, and it is pleasing to use with a small paddle.

Only gripes:
-DSP built in would be handy with the sunspot cycle the way it is.
-Built in ATU would be very convenient.
-CW filters make a huge difference. I would pay the price for built in adjustable (non crystal) filters.
-WX coverage?

Otherwise makes a great rig. Fun to operate! You will be surprised with its features. Get one!
K3MD Rating: 5/5 Aug 14, 2006 16:01 Send this review to a friend
Wow  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After owning or putting together a K-1, K-2, OHR-100A, rock mite 40, SST-40, Sierra, glowbug 40, homebrew 40M 2 watter, etc., this is definitely the Cadillac of QRP rigs. Very small and portable, good receiver (despite the not-so-good figures in QST reviews), all bands, all modes. A guy at the radio club had one, I saw it, I had to buy one. I have the later model, will let you know if the final goes. Tons of performance-enhancing mods available.
I love it.
KT1G Rating: 5/5 Jul 9, 2006 06:31 Send this review to a friend
Great portable  Time owned: more than 12 months
Works fine ..have the original not ND model. Goes on every fishing/camping trip with a small a gel cell battery. Use a Resonant dipole,loop or groundplane. Great cw rig, needs the filter. Worked alot of dx and north America. Have also used it mountain top vhf-uhf, with beam and rubber dummy load. Even worked UO-14 when it was still operational.

Overall think it's a great qrp rig with resonant antenna. Haven't had 1 problem with this radio.

Bought this to replace mfj-9020 qrp, which is also
a very good QRP rig. (20 meter only)
YV5IAL Rating: 5/5 Jul 5, 2006 23:27 Send this review to a friend
Un radio increible....  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Acabo de comprar el Yaesu FT-817ND.
El transreceptor es pequeno y liviano (menos de 1 Kg. sin baterias). No sabia que era posible que un radio de ese tamano tuviera tantas funciones (es cierto... las teclas son tan pequenas que resultan incomodas, pero una vez configurado el radio, poco se utilizan).
Yo nunca habia experimentado QRP (5 W. o menos). El primer dia que lo probe, lo conecte a mi antena vertical Hustler 4-BTV y empece a llamar: Hice en la banda de 40 metros una gran cantidad de QSO's con estaciones de mi pais, alejadas de mi entre los 400 y 800 Km. En promedio me reportaban 5-7 (yo los recibia 5-8 a 5-9 (una diferencia de solo 2 unidades-S menos). Ese mismo dia hice un QSO con Haiti (Aprox. a 1000 Km. de Venezuela) en la banda de 20 metros y tambien me reporto 5-7.
En realidad al FT-817 solo le falta un procesador DSP y un Procesador de voz (Vox Processor) para ser un radio perfecto.
KN7T Rating: 4/5 Jun 21, 2006 12:23 Send this review to a friend
Second Failure Of Finals  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have since sold my FT-817 but it did blow the finals two times in the period of time that I owned it. The second set of finals which were installed by Yaesu was the newer configuration board that's used in the 817ND. I had the same problem as the previous reviewer - full output to zero with no warning and no apparent reason. At the time, I was operating into an MP-1 antenna through an LDG tuner - 1:1 SWR and the finals simply quit. I had it repaired a second time by Yaesu and sold the radio shortly thereafter. Not sure if this is something peculiar to the original 817 even with the new 817ND finals board or if there is something else going on. I have a friend who owns an 817ND and he has had no issues with it whatsoever. The 817 and ND are both nice radios, lots of features and DC to light band coverage in a very compact package. It's just too bad that some of these rigs seem to be very touchy when it comes to the operational life of the final amp transistors.
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