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Reviews For: Yaesu FT-817

Category: QRP Radios (5 watts or less)

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Review Summary For : Yaesu FT-817
Reviews: 297MSRP: 769
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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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
WB7VTY Rating: 2022-01-20
Love it, miles of smiles Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Over 10 year update on the FT817nD. Zero problems other than replacing the microphone a couple times in about 12 years. Its still here, still working fine, still goes out portable and still gets used nearly every day on my desk. I still find the receive audio a little annoying at times but have learned to manage that a little with the RF gain. While this radio isnt perfect, its still a joy to operate, puts a smile on my face, it works as good as it did when I bought it, and has been an absolute tank of a radio for portable and SOTA. After 10 plus years, on a scale of 0 to 5, I would give it a 10. It has earned it. I also now have an Icom 705 which is a major step up and a great rig, but its twice the price, and we will see what it looks like in 12 years. In the passing of 12 years several radios have come and gone from my desk. Of all of those radios, the ONE that is STILL here, is the FT817nD. Would I buy an FT818? Absolutely. In a heart beat. The 818 was a waste of time as an update, but even so, its still an 817 and absolutely worth the money if its a radio that interests you. My only concern now days is availability of a CW filter since Im mainly a CW operator. Thats a very important item so if there is none available, that might be a deal breaker, but otherwise no reservations at all about buying one. If you could find a nice used one with a CW filter thats probably a very safe buy if its in good physical condition. Its hard to abuse an 817 so if its physically beat up, somebody was REALLY rough with it and its a pass.

Prior review from shortly after purchase in about 2009;
I would give it a 4.5 honostly. The only ding I can give it is that the receive audio could be better. There is a little distortion present at times from what others have identified as an AGC issue. There is a mod to fix it but I havent done it. The problem isnt severe enough to make me worry about it too much at this point. Otherwise its a 5. TONS of fun. Nice receiver. 500 hz cw filter makes cw great. Very easy to operate and easy to navigate menues. Controls are well laid out for the tiny size of the radio. Very well thought out. Just the right features and good options to configure the radio to your taste. For what it is and what it does Im surprised that it gets the battery life it does... 3 or 4 hours on receive on the internal batteries. After 30 years of hamming this little box has put an amount of joy and adventure back into radio that I havent experienced for a very long time. I have had it for a few months and have worked 34 states including AK and HI, as well as half a dozen countries with my only antenna, an off center fed dipole for all bands at 30 feet. Granted 5 watts is more dependant on propagation for success, but to those that say you cant bust a pile up with the little 817...NOT TRUE,.. been there, done that. Skill, not power. My entire station, from power to antennas, SSB and CW, for 160 through 70cm fits in a haliburton aluminum "brief case". Cant wait for next field day. If you look up my call on QRZ there are pictures and more info. The 817 has made me forget Im qrp most of the time. Love it, cant say enough good. Dont hesitate to buy one.
VE5EDE Rating: 2021-11-01
An Historic Radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My model is a plain old original 817 that has been in regular use now for nearly 20 years. When this radio first came out it was the answer to many QRPer's prayers. It has always worked and I can depend upon it. I know of a few owners who have had their finals fail due to high SWR. I tend to treat equipment carefully and conservatively and have had no problems with any malfunctions of any sort. If something ever went wrong, it was always my fault, not the company's.

There are new, exciting developments in QRP every day, but I'm hanging on to this one. For a small radio it's built like a tank and is rather beefy. I have a pair of dollar store reading glasses so I can read the display in my old age, and it is perfectly legible. I plan on taking this radio to the Nursing Home with me when they put me out to pasture.

Most emphatically, this is not a zero-star radio, and very the idea is so preposterous and offensive, it leads the rest of us to do a good head-shake and face-palm. However, there are "zero-star" reviewers that routinely post here, and invariably, the "reviewer" is slagging the product bacause they refuse to read and learn how to operate it, or simple don't get it. This is unacceptable in the tradition of ham radio, which until now has been data driven. Publishing one's misgivings with such malevolence is increasing in proportion to a lack of politesse found on the airwaves of late.

If you can find one, nab it. A previous "reviewer" can't figure his out, so make him an offer. Unless you're a big-gun QRO kinda guy, you need one of these.

KI6WJ Rating: 2020-04-25
5 plus Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have been using my ft817ND for 15 years portable and home with a ldg auto tuner and external battery. I have used it for contesting and satelite work, cw and digimodes!. I have used a pair for full sat ops. What it is NOT is a mobile radio. Everything I read from the N0AH review suggest that He does not understand how the radio functions. His best choice is a true mobile radio such as the IC7100 and ft857d. I say this to help newbies make better choice based on what they want to do.
N0AH Rating: 2020-04-24
CPU seems possessed Time Owned: more than 12 months.
So this radio looks like a transceiver but acts like a toy. My problems with this rig started 4 years ago when we took it out of the box- the battery sucked. The brand new battery sucks I got from HRO last month. Or is the rig just sucking it out through holes? The display in a mobile sr up is tiny and is difficult to read. The controls are jammed together making it difficult to solve any common issue while driving. The receiver is excellent- but HF operations are a real bust due to poor selectivity. Everything seems to cause QRM. Do not get burned buying this radio. I guess the upgrade has solved some issues, but I keep spending money trying to put lipstick on a pig. I am very frustrated. This in my mind was suppose to be a great back up rig or one easy to take out of the car for mobile operations. Bottom line, if HRO is selling me a new battery and it cant get the rig to even stay on for more than 3 hours, or the one that came with it never worked, I guess it is a worthless radio. I have the programming software but it is a waste of time since the CPU can't remember it- or just acts up like control button freezing, the rig getting stuck in TX on some bands, while being on RX as it should be on others. I have over a hundred reviews on e-ham. This by far is the most scathing I have ever written. My advice is do not waste your money on a radio you have spend much more on finding an outside source for a battery that works. Anything from Yaesu is just them dumping crap-
W9MT Rating: 2019-10-11
Swiss Army Knife of QRP radios... Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The radio deserves a rating of 5 except for the fact I had to replace the PA module for something I feel is a design problem.

I left the NiMH battery pack in the radio for several weeks of non-use without a DC PS actively connected with the radio "off". To my dismay the PA was only transmitting at only half of its normal RF output power (3dB less RF output, down to PA device blown) This was due to the fact that the battery pack always remains connected to the PA module. The PA module slowly drains the pack whilst the radio is "off" and not connected to external DC. When the pack's DC Voltage drops to less than 6 Volts or so, the PA module goes into oscillation and kills one or both of the PA transistors. Apparently (but not to me) this is a documented and well known failure mode for the plain, vanilla FT-817.

$60 for Yaesu to ship me a replacement (with the newer PA transistors) and a bit of work later, I had my 817 working as good as before. The upgraded PA (which also fits the ND model) is supposed to be immune to this failure mode. I don't trust it, so I leave the battery pack out unless I plan to go portable (almost never).

That said, I still love the radio. I bought it and its companion FT-817ND both used. I use them individually for portable HF QRP with a SuperAntenna and together to work the ham satellites with an Arrow yagi.

Both units are upgraded with cranker knobs, flip down peg legs, CW filters, and the Chinese ripoff version of the TCXO-9. The ND also has a WindCamp battery pack (which wisely has the disconnect switch built into it).

Yaesu was ahead of its time with this radio. That's why the 818 is still selling well.

AJ6MA Rating: 2019-09-03
My new best friend! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
When I recently (August 2019) wanted to buy an 818ND, HRO Manager told me "don't bother" it's only 6 Watts max. Instead get an IC-7100 or at least get an FT-857. He said " this radio will be mostly causing frustrating and nothing else when you want to make contact".

I told him that's ok. I am coming back to hobby after a looooong break and don't know much about many things anyways.

The 818ND is the "Volkswagen Bug" of the radios!!!

Yes it is not a Porsche or BMW or Mercedes but also it is not priced like those too either. This little monster is capable to do almost everything. I am NOT into those Satellite and other weird stuff which became "hip" lately. I have a radio that does SSB & CW. That's all I wanted. I ordered an ALexLoop magnetic loop antenna which didn't come yet and I was only left with my leftover EndFed MyAntenna and just about 30 minutes ago on 9/2/2019 at 5:30pm PST on 20m Band I talked to an Illinois station from my home in Central CA and got 5-9 report. I heard him like he was in my shack too.
Great room filling audio.
When HF bands are not good for me for any reason I go to my 2m or 70cm groups and talk to friends on C.A.R.L.A. system or at local repeater.
So if you're looking for a time tested and proven performer that gives you, HF/VHF/UHF/SSB/CW/AM/FM/ in an Ultra Compact body and reasonably priced don't even think twice!
Go for it!
HRO price was $595 in August 2019. You can't find a better radio at this price level that gives you as much as option as 818ND does.
Great learning tool for beginners, great play toy for experienced ones. Especially when you setup with a decent antenna, there's not much things out there this little monster can't do.

I got myself one and loving the every minute I spend with it!

I carry it easily with me wherever I go and setup in seconds and use it for fun filled time. What else more anyone could ask?
N8AUC Rating: 2019-03-17
So much fun - such a small package Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought this radio used several years ago. And it still astounds me how much this radio does in such a small package. It could easily be your only radio.

It isn't the best at anything, but it does everything, and does it quite well. And I dare you to sling an FT-5000 over your shoulder and carry it out into the field, much less all the batteries you'd need to run an FT-5000.

Radio-wise, it's a combination of a swiss army knife and a leatherman tool all rolled into one neat little package. 160 meters through 70 centimeters, ALL modes, 5 watts. I did add a CW filter to it, which makes all the difference in the world when operating CW.

My only regret is that I waited so long to actually buy one. I do know that I never want to be without an FT-817. If mine ever dies, I'll replace it immediately with an FT-818ND. There isn't another QRP rig out there with the fit, finish, function, and ruggedness of an FT-817.

If there is one thing I'd really add to this rig, it's a zero beat tuning indicator for CW like the FT-857D has.

It case you haven't realized by now, I absolutely love this little radio!
W9HAN Rating: 2019-03-17
Phenominal rig with room for improvement Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I absolutely love the Yaesu FT-817 for all the reasons stated by the others, but here is my wish list for the perfect FT-817-Mark-II...

Direct fequency entry via keypad on mic. This is a massive oversight by Yaesu.

Direct frequency input by taping the Tune dial and rotating for each digit of the desired frequency. To clarify, I mean that a push button would be added to the tuning dial just the same way it's done on the SEL knob. Depress the tune dial to enter the left most digit, then depress the tune dial again to enter the next digit to the right and so on until all the digits of the frequency are entered. Yaesu should do this to all their radios.

Native LiPo battery and internal charger. Nothing else needs to be said about this.

The VHF frequencies top transmit limit is just below marine (156/157MHz) band on MARS Tx so let's expand to include marine. Including marine VHF would make this the perfect rig for sailors who sail big water (oceans and seas) and want to travel light.

Yeasu, I hope you read this.

AB0O Rating: 2018-12-08
Very nice rig! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Owned this rig since 2002, so probably fitting to review at this time.
This has been my trusty portable rig all those years, and I had a chance to look at the new 818 recently...see no big changes or concerns.
I have operated my 817 in a variety of ways and setups...
a) Packpack, bicycle, and other portable with both the internal battery and an external battery. The internal battery is limited, but convenient.
b) Base station with the MFJ power supply and the LDG Z-100 autotuner (if needed)
c) Mobile, powered from the car power and using a hamstick

I installed the BHI DSP internal unit in 2007 which was a worthwhile addition.

The receiver is quite good, and operating portable with a buddipole provides good signals, R and T, even on current bands conditions. I play portable HF with a friend who uses a KX3 and I can hear and work any station he can work. Simple as that.

I owned the 857D as well (bought them on the same day), and the software is virtually the same, but the 857D consumes far too much current on Rx to qualify as a portable rig.

I looked at the KX2 and KX3, but hesitate to give up the all-band feature.

I would likely give the 818 a try if I needed to replace my 817.
VK3FBIC Rating: 2017-11-30
Best Radio Ever - Period Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
The best radio i have personally ever owned, its well made. And it made in japan NOT china! which is a bonus. the radio is solid and does not feel flimsy, this radio feels rugged and it does not feel like it will fall apart when taking it QRP. The radio is very functional and has all the features that could be expected from a QRP radio. the only critisism i have of it is that in this day and age it should be fitted with Lion batteries rather than NiMH batteries that it is fitted with. However it is understandable because the radio is designed in 2004, however it would be nice if lithium batteries were fitted.