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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur (inc. HF+6M+VHF models) | Yaesu FT-857 - all flavors Help


Reviews Summary for Yaesu FT-857 - all flavors
Yaesu FT-857 - all flavors Reviews: 447 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $769
Description: Yaesu HF/VHF/UHF Mobile Transceiver
Product is in production.
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You can write your own review of the Yaesu FT-857 - all flavors.

<— Page 3 of 45 —>

KA3RCS Rating: 5/5 Jan 5, 2014 02:34 Send this review to a friend
Best HF/VHF/UHF mobile ever made  Time owned: more than 12 months
I got an FT-817 in 2001, and absolutely love it. I thought about running it mobile with an amplifier, but ended up getting a new FT-857D in 2005 as a dedicated mobile rig instead (subsequently referred to simply as FT-857, as it's effectively the same radio). I really could not be happier with this radio. I'm particularly pleased by the fact that the operation, menu system, accessories, and performance are all very similar between the FT-817 and FT-857. Each is, by far, the best and smallest (if not only) option in its class.

I recently moved this radio to a different vehicle. It is still being used with an SGC SG-237 automatic tuner feeding a whip which is approximately 6 feet long. The install is still a work in progress; I have not yet reconnected the switch to allow the VHF/UHF antenna to be switched to the FT-857 instead of the IC-2720H. That configuration is quite handy, as it allows this radio to serve as a backup VHF/UHF radio, and also allows SSB operation. The only reason I usually use the ICOM is its dual receive capability. The Yaesu also has a vastly superior front end, making it much more usable in a high RF environment. I may just install a second dual-band antenna instead.

The FT-857 has one of the best receivers I have ever used. It picks up very weak signals with a small antenna, yet also handles high signal levels from large antennas with ease. Its DSP works well, and its noise blanker is extremely effective. The vehicle in which mine is currently installed has a very noisy ignition system, often generating S9 or higher static, which the NB knocks down to virtually zero. Also, I have yet to find any other full power HF radio with better receive audio for less than twice the price, and in a much larger package which also lacks VHF/UHF capability. It has much better frequency response than the FT-450. This really is like a 100 watt big brother to the superb FT-817.

The transmitter in the FT-857 puts it in a totally different league than many popular 'competing' models. Another member of our club keeps his FT-857 at our club site, and I often use my FT-450 there as well. The DC power system at the site (a large switching supply and several banks of batteries, which also feeds a variety of repeaters and other radios and accessories) maxes out at about 13.2 volts with minimal loading, and can drop to around 12.0 volts at the operating position when heavily loaded. We just take it for granted that these radios have no problem and put out full power in this environment. Imagine our surprise when another member tested his IC-7000 on the same power system, and found that it only put out about 60 watts. Hooking it directly to a 13.8 volt supply brought it to full power. Later research turned up the fact that the IC-706 and IC-7000, among other models, are incapable of generating full power at anything much below 13.8 volts. Worse yet, they draw considerably more current than the FT-857 (or FT-450, etc.), even at much lower transmit power levels, and even on receive. Ironically, the IC-706 and IC-7000 are not really suitable for operation from a battery supply unless a 13.8 volt charging system is active. No wonder there is apparently a market for a 12 volt to 13.8 volt DC-DC converter...a bizarre product to work around a hideous design flaw. My FT-857 has been used for many hours from a vehicle battery without the engine running, with no problem at all even when it drops below 12.0 volts.

I really like the display on the FT-857. Some people complain about it being too small. Interestingly, I've heard exactly the same complaint about some of the best radios ever made over the years (the Standard C558A, FT-817, and VX-7R come to mind). The small displays on all of these models contribute to them being among the smallest and most refined examples of each respective type of radio. A large display (or tuning knob, or whatever else someone arbitrarily declares to be too small) would make the entire radio larger, which would detract from the overall package. There are plenty of big boxes with big displays if that is what one really wants; the fact that the FT-857 is the smallest 100 watt HF/VHF/UHF radio available was one of the primary reasons why I bought one.

Another high point about the display is that it can be set to any of 32 different colors, as well as multiple brightness settings. I love being able to set it to a nice subtle blue. It would be nice if it would be reversed (light characters on a dark background, similar to the FT-450), but it is definitely not bad.

I've noticed a few vertical lines in the LCD matrix occasionally fade out, particularly in hot weather, but so far they have not been permanent (and have not shown up at all this winter). I have always made a point of protecting the control head from direct sunlight, as I know that such is obviously not good for electronics in general (and LCDs in particular). I do hope that this does not become a more serious problem as some have reported (and which I have unfortunately experienced on several of my VR-500s). I have noticed it on at least one FT-897 as well, where it does appear to be permanent.

The menu system on the FT-8x7 series is extremely logical and easy to use, with all entries having meaningful names which are listed in alphabetical order. Unlike some other radios, there is no need to turn the radio off to enter a separate menu just to configure some functions. It is also extremely handy to have an SWR meter which functions on all bands, unlike some models which either have no SWR meter or one which only works on some bands. Additionally, the ability to monitor the DC power supply voltage at all times is a huge advantage over many other radios.

I finally got around to putting the TCXO-9 into my FT-857; I don't ever plan to go back to a radio without a TCXO. It really does make a big difference in stability. I zero beat it to WWV, resulting in the same tone pitch on USB and LSB as well as AM, and now it has virtually no detectable frequency error.

One very cool feature which is apparently not too common or well known is the carrier insertion point adjustment. My assumption would be that any given radio should generate virtually identical receiver noise on USB or LSB. My experience is that my FT-857, my friend's FT-857, and all three of my FT-817s (as well as others) have all been somewhat off at the default of 0 Hz. Having these adjustments available is great, as it allows the two sidebands to be independently lined up properly. They also have a surprisingly significant effect on transmit audio. I forgot to mention this in my FT-817 review; these adjustments are equally applicable to that model. I have the OEM SSB and CW filters in my FT-857, and noticed that these adjustments had a somewhat different effect on the SSB filter compared to the stock ceramic filter. I found a good set of compromise adjustments which is better than the 0 Hz default on both filters, and of course the IF shift can always be used to tweak it if desired.

I found one thing early on which bothered me a bit on this radio: the cooling fan did not run enough to satisfy me. Any radio which has a menu option to make the fan run continuously (such as my IC-2720H) gets that option turned on immediately and permanently. Unfortunately, I could find no such option on the FT-857, so I looked at the schematic and found two points which I could jumper together to make the fans run at full speed all the time when the radio is on. I did the same mod to my friend's radio, which has run virtually 24/7 for 6 or 7 years, and the fans still work perfectly on both radios. They don't even rattle like the fan in my ICOM. ;)

For those who desire a larger radio with a larger display and big knobs, the FT-897 uses exactly the same electronics as the FT-857. I've used the FT-897 a number of times, and it bothers me tremendously because all of the controls are in totally the wrong places. Having already used the FT-817 for years, going back and forth between it and the FT-857 is a totally natural transition for me. However, for someone who is not already accustomed to using either, and who does not mind a more bulky package, the FT-897 may be a suitable option.

One item which mystifies me to this day is the piece of detritus known as the MH-31A8J microphone. This is the dynamic stock hand mic provided with every FT-857 (as well as various other models). A stock 1970s CB mic would probably have less muffled audio. Any FT-8x7 radio sounds vastly better with a proper condenser mic. I bought the MH-59A8J remote control mic for mine, and it sounds quite good. Unfortunately, it exhibits significant RFI susceptibility. I've improved it with the addition of numerous ferrite cores to my installation, but it is still far from optimum. The same is true of the MH-36E8J DTMF mic, of which I have several for the FT-817s. I need to look into it further to see if a real fix is possible. If one does not require remote control or DTMF capability, the MH-67A8J (the stock mic for the FT-450 as well as a number of Vertex commercial radios) is very solid, provides excellent audio, and does not appear to have any RFI problems. There are DTMF versions of this mic for the commercial radios which may prove to be a good match for the FT-857; I need to research this further. For additional details, note that I have written separate reviews for each of the mic models mentioned herein.

In summary, the FT-857 is simply the best 100 watt HF/VHF/UHF all-mode mobile transceiver ever made, and can hold its own quite nicely in a fixed station as well.
 
AB4D Rating: 5/5 Dec 27, 2013 10:12 Send this review to a friend
Great little mobile  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've been using an original FT-857 mobile for over 10 years, and luckily have not experienced some of the issues reported by others. Maybe the original was built better than the "D"???

My 857 has been mobile in two separate vehicles, with the radio riding along in operation for over 375,000 miles. I've been mobile using other rigs as well, Icom IC 706mk2, and Kenwood TS-480. I would rate the Kenwood 1st, Yaesu 2nd, and the Icom 3rd.

In the mobile, noise reduction circuits are worth their weight in gold. The Icom's arsenal of noise reduction options were mostly worthless in fighting the type of noise encountered when mobile. The DSP in the 706 has a lot of artifacts that are introduced into the audio chain, if you try to use the DSP too aggressively. I found that both the 480 and 857 worked much better in a mobile environment. The Icom 7000 is reportedly much better. However, others I know that have used both a 7000 and 857 or 480, prefer the Kenwood or Yaesu over the Icom.

Based on my experience, both the Kenwood and Yaesu have proven to work well for mobile HF and VHF.

My preference of the TS-480 over the FT-857 is about the size of the control head. The small buttons on the Yaesu are difficult and distracting to use, especially at night. You really have to memorize the lay out on the 857. In contrast, the 480's relatively large backlight buttons are a pleasure to use, and even more so at night. Operationally, they are fairly equal in performance, with one edging out the other depending on the comparison of features. As an example, I like the fact you can set one of 32 custom colors for the display with the Yaesu, but I also like the fact that the Kenwood has a decent size speaker mounted in the control head.

Based on my experience, I would purchase the FT-857 again. It's been a nice compact mobile. Although I like the TS-480 slightly more than the FT-857. If space is at a premium, the FT-857 may fit where a Kenwood TS-480 will not.

73
 
NS5F Rating: 1/5 Dec 27, 2013 04:17 Send this review to a friend
Quality Control and Durability is very poor.  Time owned: more than 12 months
Let me stress, I have been a MAJOR fan of Yaesu since they began importing rigs into the country. I originally bought the rig for DC to Daylight mobile use with the matching ATAS-120 antenna. After finding that match up was a complete debacle, I had switched to the "Lil Tarr Heel and had great success on HF and using Larsons on VHF/UHF all was well. THEN the display issue began..the dreaded "Zebra Strip" issue. For the princely price of 400+ dollars Yaesu will replace the complete board. The failure reason by the way is the cheap use of conductive glue to connect the display module to the board. I Loved my Yaesu, everything from the FT-101 through the FT-847. I have the FT-2800, the FT-8900, but those are the last I'll own. With the total lack of quality control, the cheap construction, and the general lack of interest in repair.
 
PA1ZP Rating: 4/5 Dec 9, 2013 10:28 Send this review to a friend
shack in a box  Time owned: more than 12 months
Hi

An update.
We have the FT857D for 10 yrs now.
I have the 300 Hz Collins CW inside for 10 yrs now.
i put it in when I bought the radio.

I use it as a back-up rig at home and a do it all for portable.

It hasn't got the best and quite reciever but it has excelent ears.

We have abused it a lot portable and it never failed.

I hear others having quality problems and that could be ,we didn't have a problem at all.

It is small it can do anything and works great portable.
i do not think there is another rig that size and price that can do the same.

And in CW it still amazes me that it works so good even on very big antennas.
In big contests the RX will overload and using ATT helps.

i am glad I bought it 10 yrs ago and it will stay here untill it falls apart.
It is the best back-up rig I could wish.
It can be a back-up for all my rigs.
for the price it is a very nice peace of equipement.
i hope it will take another 10 yrs before it falls apart and I will have to say goodbye to the old FT857D

Are there better rigs, yes a lot.
but it is what I said a little shack in 1 box.
take it with you and you have got everything you need in one little handy box.
And at its size and prize it is very hard to beat even after 10 yrs.

73 Jos
 
AE7LC Rating: 5/5 Nov 28, 2013 11:57 Send this review to a friend
After three years very rough use in 4x4  Time owned: more than 12 months
I'm hitting the three year anniversary since I purchased this radio new. I've been using it *a lot*. It gets beat to heck in my 4x4 that is 95% used for off-road trips. The other 5% that's in-town use always has the radio going. After a year or so I got tired of moving it from truck to house and back even though it only takes five minutes and got a nice base station for the house. So it pretty much stays permanently in a non-garaged 4x4 that is in the Arizona heat and cold.

It gets a lot of punishment. Extreme heat, aggressive pounding, tons of dust, storage *and* operation well below freezing. It's doing great. No display problems or anything else. It's hard to imagine a much better rig for the 4x4 and the price was right. The display is super easy to read day or night and I'm completely comfortable navigating the unit. Just in case there's a copy of the manual in the glove box but it rarely needs referring to.

It doesn't have the brilliant receiver and capability of my home rig. I don't expect it to. It costs a fraction of that rig and is great for mounting and using in a mobile application.

We use it for rig-to-rig while off-road. Fantastic for that and extremely useful. 2m FM simplex at 50W does great even when the other guy is behind a hill or in a canyon. We usually follow with up to half a mile between each vehicle since there's usually a lot of dust. Without radios we have to wait at every ambiguous turn-off in the road for the guy behind us. With the radios it's too easy to say "I'm bearing left by the windmill" instead. And if someone gets confused they can just shout out. It allows us to move at a much better pace.

When hanging out in the backcountry out here I'll do a lot of playing around on HF. Phone with a hamstick for quick sessions and digital with a solid element vertical when parked for a while. On mountain tops it's fun to work some 2m "DX". I've gotten 250+mi simplex contacts! I was overnighting in the far away remote desert with some friends a couple of weeks ago and they all felt lost without cellular coverage. It took me a minute to find and work a repeater. I threw on a 20m hamstick and in about a minute got Anchorage. Then the Caribbean. And so on...

Anyway, I really like this radio for the 4x4. I don't think there's much of a better way to go especially considering how much punishment I expect to dole out to it. I still carry a good HT too.


---Original Aug 5, 2011 review (owned ~1yr):

I bought a 4x4 pickup for backcountry use (I live in AZ) about a year ago. I'm very seasoned at backcountry exploration and have always carried a HT for use in case of problems. I've since seen some medical challenges that limit my ability to hike out of the rough country more than a couple of miles so having a "real radio" for the truck was very important to me.

I purchased the FT-857D about eight months ago and ripped out the upholstery from one of the [useless] little jump seats in the back of the extended cab and mounted the radio to the seat frame. The remote head was very easily mounted into the empty radio bay below the AM/FM in the dash.

Beautiful install and with a good 2m/440 antenna on the roof of the truck I've yet to find anywhere in the state of AZ I can't hit a repeater. At this point the emergency use has been addressed. Very clean and it works superbly for this.

I installed another UHF mount with a UHF-3/8 adapter. Since I only held technician's class license (for more than a decade) and don't have and CW proficiency I purchased a 6m and 10m fiberglass antennas. But then I had to promptly go out and earn my HF privileges!

Presently I have enough vertical radiator adapted to 3/8" to cover 20m and up with no loading and can be setup once parked in seconds. I run wire radial(s) that attach very quickly to the UHF-3/8 adapter and really improve performance. I've got my cookbook almost complete that allows me to immediately tune with wide bandwidth to whichever band I choose.

This HF setup works as a portable station extremely well. I have enough cables to run everything including the remote head, a SignalLink USB and remote speaker outside the cab, but I only do this if I'm set somewhere overnight. I've gotten contacts all over the US and Latin America and several in Europe, Asia and one to New Zealand.

At home I got a power supply, a multiband vertical that covers 80m-10m nicely and created a four element 2m yagi with both vertical and horizontal elements and have a seven element 440 on a simple 1-3/4" fiberglass mast. Future plans are to include a 6m 4-element horizontal yagi to this. The radio moves from truck to house in about two minutes.


I have made gobs of contacts and have a really nice and clean setup. The cost of the things I use is probably ~$2000 and I probably spent another $500 experimentation pieces. I don't mind the cost of experimentation since I get a lot of enjoyment from that.

I find the menu system on it very usable. As I learned new task I learned how to navigate the menus for those tasks.


I have been a dual-sport moto rider for many years and this radio really reminds me of those machines. They aren't really great at any one thing but do so many things very well and can generally be upgraded with a wealth of aftermarket or homebrewed things to make them even more capable. What they are really great at is enabling you to do so much because of the wide capabilities. The FT-857D is that dual-sport of the radio world. Instead of street and dirt it does HF and VHF/UHF. It does mobile, portable and base station.
 
GI0ZGB Rating: 4/5 Oct 31, 2013 10:49 Send this review to a friend
Bid Surprise Small Package  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was offered a little used FT-857D at good price, and despite never liking the look of the rig I decided it was too good an offer to refuse. The MH-31 had succumbed to the China mic element disease where the impedance had so drastically changed there was no TX audio. This is a good time to convert the MH-31 into an electret mic which blows the factory offering away. However, I bought an MH-59A8J Remote Control Mic which, being built in Japan was a different class of build quality compared to China!
But, unless the rig is well grounded in both mobile and shack use, it suffers badly from RF feedback. Once grounded I could set the mic gain at 100% with no feedback whatsoever. There are internal mic mods using a toroid core on the mic lead which clean things up and well worth doing.
Anyway, TX audio reports were were good and sounded excellent on my receiver being crisp and clear. It takes a while getting the menu system into your head, after that operating is easy, but not a few people seem to have problems that are related to not being familiar with the menu items, where taking time to have an RTFM session would have solved many of the issues. Like all multi band rigs the front end performance is, not surprisingly, lacking compared to dedicated HF rigs, but gives a pretty good account of itself overall. Received audio via the built in speaker is not bad, better into and external unit. The DSP worked better than I expected, reducing unwanted noise without sounding like a fish tank. In conclusion, I was well pleased with the performance and the bells and whistles, it's a little rig that puts a big smile on your face!
 
KD8MJR Rating: 1/5 Oct 30, 2013 16:19 Send this review to a friend
Devolpes Lines Expensive to Fix  Time owned: more than 12 months
Worked great for a few years but then the display suddeny started to get a faint line. That got worst over time and more lines developed until a few months later it was unusable.

What was the shocker was Yaesu saying it's $300-$400 to repair/replace the lCD, are they kidding!
I might as well replace the unit at that price.

The 857D was great in that it's like the swiss army knife of radios but unfortunetly like a Swiss Army knife it really does not do anything really well. The HF Receiver was pretty Deaf compared to my full sized rigs and the menu system was frustrating. If your 857d developes lines sell it fast, if you buy one that has lines I can assure you the problem will most likely gets worst and worst by the month and no one has yet been able to fix the problem DIY style because the LCD itself is failing at its own internal solder points. So I now have a $800 brick that I can either fix for 50% of it's value or I can unload it on ebay.
 
KJ4DKT Rating: 2/5 Sep 17, 2013 21:17 Send this review to a friend
PROBLEMS  Time owned: more than 12 months
Both of my late model 857d radios suddenly developed squelch and lines in the display problems. My 897d so far, is ok. When they work they are good. When they dont, Im pissed. I believe Yaesu is having QC problems. My 450d and 950 are working fine.
 
N2WSC Rating: 5/5 Aug 8, 2013 02:21 Send this review to a friend
great little radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I really can't add more comments when it comes to the positive remarks, it's just a great little radio. the floor noise is very low and I sometimes
have to switch off the nb cause it's too quiet when there's no activity . when it comes to customer service in California , you can not beat them ! they stand behind their products with very fair pricing.
 
KP4MLF Rating: 5/5 Jul 21, 2013 15:42 Send this review to a friend
The Best Mobile HF ever!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This radio is the best HF for the money, maybe the menu's are a littlebit hidden but the performance of the radio and all toys that come for him make it special
 
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