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Reviews For: Yaesu FT-817ND

Category: QRP Radios (5 watts or less)

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Review Summary For : Yaesu FT-817ND
Reviews: 169MSRP: 589.00
The world’s first self-contained, battery-powered, Multi-mode Portable Transceiver covering the HF, VHF, and UHF bands! Despite its incredibly small size (5.3" x 1.5" x 6.5"), the FT-817 delivers big performance! Its next-generagion PA puts out five watts on all HF bands, plus the 50 MHz, 144 MHz, and 430 MHz bands, on all popular operating modes: USB/LSB/CW/AM/FM/Packet/PSK-31/RTTY. Now the 817 legacy is even better with the introduction of the FT-817ND, which includes coverage of the U.S. 60-meter (5 MHz) band, and it also includes a 1400 mAh NiMH Battery pack (FNB-85) and NC-72B Charger!
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KF4EUZ Rating: 2023-08-01
Amazing Shack in a Box Portable Rig- Near Perfect Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've owned my FT-817 for almost 20 yrs!- (first release). Its been awesome. Even at the current retail price, its an amazing value. I've had a few problems over the years, but with the extensive documentation (schematics) and user support, they were easily resolved. Its a mini version of a full size HF rig with all controls and VHF and UHF thrown in. One of the best radios ever in my opinion. I've travelled and operated my FT-817 all over the world. I recently purchased an Xiegu X6100 Mini HF SDR and am comparing them, my main use will be for digital modes. Except for waterfall displays and built in network/USB features, its basic performance is on par with my old FT-817. Time will tell.
WB0FDJ Rating: 2023-05-13
Everything you need! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Update: The original ND, bought in 2005, finally developed a problem that couldn't be fixed so I bought a new one just before the 818 model came out. I updated the new rig with "stuff" from the old one: 500 Hz CW filter, the off brand TCXO module, the aftermarket internal battery (about 2.7 aH) and the mylar speaker that I installed in the old one. I've used these rigs to run WSPR and digi, work CW, occasionally check into MIDCARS on 40 SSB and monitor the bands in the backround while I do other things in the shack. It always sits near the main operating position, ready to roll. If I had a fire and was tossing my radios out the second story window to save them I know it would survive-its that rugged.

Yes it's an analog radio. So are the other two radios sitting on the desk (Mission RGO One and IC-703+). I prefer the the sound of an old analog IF chain for my kind of simple operating. Recommended for durability and flexibility. Previous review follows:

I've owned mine for 10 years, got it when I lived in an apartment. First time out took it to the local park with a simple vertical antenna and had 2 long winded stateside contacts, then worked Greece running 2.5 W.

Moved into my present home 8 years ago. This was my daily driver for about a year, hooked to a simple 33' wire. Made a lot of Q's and was able to get back into the hobby. Connected now to my Gap it just sings. If you understand QRP you'll know that 5 W is more than enough power.

I have a number of other QRP rigs but this is one that will NEVER leave the shack. I have the aftermarket internal battery and it's adequate for a back up station. I use it, connected to a dummy load, for calibrating the kit's I've built checking frequency and offset. My very first 6 meter QSO ever was made connected to an indoor slinky dipole, SSB into Maine.

It's nice to have a "do everything" radio handy. Did Yaesu make compromises here? Of course but then it's small enough to actually fit into my parka pocket and runs DC to daylight. It always gets the job done.

W9MT Rating: 2023-04-09
My 2nd radio from this series... Time Owned: more than 12 months.
April 8, 2023 Update:

I bought a used FT-818 about 3 years ago and sold my "FT-817-plain". (I didn't need 3 similar QRP radios.) The 817ND and a second Hardrock-50 will be put into use at another QTH to replace an IC-706Mk2G that got sick and totally died on the repair bench after buying it new in 2000 (Dayton) and happily using it without incident for over two decades.

I do like the pairing of the 817ND and HR-50 amp. It's amazing what you can do with them, although the 817's small LCD requires a lot of focus while operating due to its size.

One add-on I highly recommend is the Funk Amateur DYC-817 v3.0 "Dynamikkompressor" semi-kit from Germany. This is a "plug in between the mike and mike's RJ-45 mike socket" accessory that does a wonderful job at speech processing, a function sorely missing from all 817's, 818's, 857's and 897's. (It works on ALL of these Yaesu radios.) Speech processing is a function that should be on every SSB capable radio, but you don't know you need it until you suffer the frustration of not being heard....and then a simple add-on completely fixes that.

I worked a guy on 40m LSB (using only 5 Watts QRP output) who said I was "spotty" w/o the processor switched in and Q5 with it operating. In fact he said I was a bit "too loud". When one builds the semi-kit (SMD parts are pre-soldered for the builder along with the input and output RJ-45 jacks), two pots are soldered in by the user. You are advised in the manual to set each one to mid-range. The first pot sets the audio input level to the SMD audio IC on the compressor module's pcb. This setting is fine. The 2nd one sets the compression percentage of your audio out of the accessory and into your radio's mike amp circuitry. This is the one that needed a bit of slight backing off to prevent minor audio distortion from over compression. I finished that first QSO using the compressor by speaking about 6 inches away from the mike in a quiet voice. This was an amazing difference.

There is a neat function where if the radio's MH-31 hand mike's "DOWN" button is depressed while PTT is also engaged, the compressor module injects a pure audio tone onto the mike's audio path. This is especially handy for "throwing a carrier" to allow an auto antenna tuner to do it's job. Nice...

I bought two kits and dedicated one to each of my 817ND/818 radios. The cost was less than $100 for both, shipping included. I got them in less than 10 days. Construction and verification of functionality was also quick and easy. (Each took less than an hour to build, working VERY slowly and carefully.) DX Engineering used to sell a built version of this speech compressor (under a different brand name) for a bit more money. I believe they do not do that anymore. Plus, I believe that example was v2.0 of the design. (I don't know what the differences are.)

So, if you're still struggling making those QRP or POTA contacts using low power, consider this fine add on for the Yaesu 817/818/857/897 family of radios. You'll be pleasantly surprised. (You can also read other corroborating reviews on the DYC-817 in the "QRP Accessories" section of's Product Reviews.)

Even though the designs of the 817 and 818 are growing long-in-the-tooth they're still "classics" when equipped with cranker knob, peg-legs, and an optional CW filter. I'm keeping both of mine.

In fact, I may just program those Doppler shift frequencies for working satellites into several memory slots and then "do-without" hearing my own audio on the downlink to simplify satellite operations from my backyard.
Original 12/2021 review:

I bought a stock FT-817ND for a reasonable price at a Tucson AZ Estate Sale more than five years ago. It came along with a Windcamp battery. Nice.

Since then I optioned it up with a CW filter, Chinese ripoff TCXO-9 clone, cranker VFO knob, and tilt peg legs. (Just like I did with my older FT-817 "plain".) I like the ND a lot. I use it at home with a Hardrock-50 amplifier as a backup to my main rig (currently an IC-706Mk2).

This ND joined my FT-817 "plain" and was also intended to use both as a pair to "chase satellites" using an Arrow 2m/430 handheld antenna in full duplex mode using a 2m/440 MFJ duplexer. The configuration does work, but unless one programs several frequencies on each band dedicated to a specific satellite and the Doppler shift specifics of the expected pass over your location, things get busy (out of hand) very quickly. To me, this was a lot of work for passes that are viable for communications for no more than mere minutes.

So, the Arrow antenna usually sits unassembled in the garage and I don't plan to be chasing satellites unless I buy a VHF/UHF rig with more "canned" satellite chasing features. (unlikely) But, this was an excellent experiment, I proved the concept did work for me (with a lot of finagling) and I learned a lot. The old 817-plain now sleeps, awaiting the few times I operate backyard-portable with a tripod and a SuperAntenna.

What I like about the ND over the "plain":

1. 3 selectable colors to the display's backlighting: blue, purple (my favorite...easy on the eyes), and amber, as opposed to only blue/amber.

2. 60m operation already built in. (Not just the Alaska emergency frequency in the same wavelength.)

3. The design correction where the PA has upgraded transistors over the old 2SK series parts from the 817-plain's PA module, and the PA doesn't (reportedly) have the same suicidal oscillations tendencies of the older PA design when one doesn't use the radio or leave DC power to its rear jack continuously and the internal battery pack is allowed to discharge down to 6VDC or less. This self oscillation is silent and simply kills one or both 2SK devices in the 817-plain's PA module. I bought an ND PA module replacement from Yaesu parts and fixed my older radio via this replacement. But having been burned by the older radio's problem, I don't leave a hot-connected battery pack in either radio when I'm not going to use it for for days or weeks.

3. Like others have reported, I find that the 817ND, along with the Hardrock-50 usually works as well OTA as my 100W Icom radio. My Hardrock has the internal ATU, so I don't need to use an LDG Z-817 or similar (e.g.: Z-100) tuner, although I have both.

I use both my Icom and my ND with their audio fed into an MFJ-616 which feeds a pair of ClearSpeech DSP speakers. This is a wonderful setup, which my aging hearing immensely enjoys using, although I sometimes think I hear Sirens "singing in the distance" about IC-7300's and 7610's. (Nah...)

My honest opinion is also that the cost delta between a used ND or a new 818 versus a new Icom 705 doesn't buy double the fun unless the buyer also needs the D-Star functionality. For the other 98% of the functionality, I'd rather have the proven design of two decades of history.
KB3MLC Rating: 2023-03-06
I’ll Pile On.. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
So many are quick to berate this radio because “it’s getting old.” You know what? My Jaguar E-Type is getting old, too, but everyone wants one of them! As a matter of fact, my E-Type sold new for $6,700 back in the 1960’s. Now, they command prices approaching half a million dollars, because it’s a classic design.
The 817ND is a classic and is just as competitive as anything out there that’s newer. Its simple, menu-driven functionality is a breeze once you find the “F” button and get in there and snoop around a bit.
The 817ND’s weight is perfect for backpacking with an OCF dipole (or end-fed sloper) and a solar charging array. Seriously - I find it to be the perfect “zombie apocalypse” transceiver. Mine is easily charged by the sun and has proven to be extremely resilient in very inhospitable environments.

In typical operations, the stock microphone is more than sufficient. With the right antenna arrangement, you can walk across the Atlantic. (Done it.). Some are also critical of its ability to hold a frequency. (What are you people doing? Shaking the radio while transmitting?)

Prices for the 817ND still respectably hover between $550 and $800, depending on condition, completeness, and greed of the seller.
If you remain calm and bide your time, you can absolutely find an exceptional deal on a used 817ND. Its usage history speaks to its reliability and is well worth your money. This is the Colt 1911 of QRP radios. I only give it five stars because there are no more stars to give.
WB7DND Rating: 2020-04-10
Just Plain Fun Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
This is a review of the 818ND for HF CW. I won't repeat all the points other reviewers have raised.

The rig is fun, whether in your shack or on a picnic table. If you would rather spend your time operating instead of soldering, this is the rig for you. If you want something that is very portable and very capable of putting a smile on your face as you communicate over thousands of miles on 5 watts, you will enjoy this transceiver. There are several well regarded QRP kits on the market if you like to build but this is not one of them.

However, if you are interested in CW on HF, you will need about $150 in accessories to get satisfactory results.

About $25 for a power pole adapter for the external battery connection and $10 for a cable to attach the external battery to the adapter. The existing battery connector is notorious for failing.

$65 for an audio filter (or more for a mechanical filter). Otherwise, the passband is too wide, making it difficult to copy a cw signal.

$30 for a 6000 Mah Li-on battery. The internal battery is pretty pathetic. You can also pick up a 3000 Mah battery for about $25 that you can use to power the audio filter, and, in a pinch, to power the rig. (You can also power the filter with 9 volt batteries.)

$15 for a stand to prop up the front of the rig so you can read the screen.

The power pole adapter and audio filter are available from SotaBeams. Amazon sells the other items.


W5APL Rating: 2020-01-17
Yaesu FT-818nd-The Best QRP rig Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Just got another FT-818ND this month. Over the years i had a FT-817, FT-817ND and now another FT-818ND. These are great rigs for both HF and 2/440 meters. They all sound better with the SOTAbeams speaker in them. I also use the SOTAbeams Speech Compressor.
VA2DV Rating: 2019-10-31
Ft-818 a total fail ??? I dont think so. Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I recently bought a new Ft-818 as a challenge to myself to operate with a qrp rig. First, I’ve never been a fan of dsp on any of my previous rigs. I am mostly an SSB guy and on very weak signals, I’ve always preferred the sound of a good analog iF chain. I even prefer a wider filter just to increase the bass and treble a little bit. I don’t do contests so selectivity is not my main concern. The 818 combined with a Collins 2.9k filter and a good external speaker give me full satisfaction in that department.

As far as sensitivity is concerned, I don’t use large antennas but I found the IPO function to be very useful on 40 and 80M for comfortable listening.

6w is 6w so in the current conditions, it can be a little frustrating to always run a that level, I recommend an outboard amplifier when not portable. While I was able to make a few transatlantic contacts at 6w, a small 45w amp brought me up to the same results as I was getting with a regular 100w radio.

I am also happy to have again 2m and 70cm all modes capability. Radios for these bands are getting scarce and expensive.

A well know reviewer quoted the Ft-818 as a total fail.
I don’t see it that way as a first-time owner. If you already own an ft-817, I don’t see any valuable upgrade in an FT-818. However, if you are starting from scratch as I do, the Ft-818 represent a very good value VS all the capabilities.

I wish I had bought one years ago...
KB3NWU Rating: 2019-06-30
Sheer Fun Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Owned the 817nd about 4 yrs. now. Have used it as a secondary base and especially portable. In performance straight from the factory I would actually rate it a 4 but, with all the after-market accessories available and the sheer fun of working even some DX on low power, it gets a 5. So, in this review I would like to mention the accessories/mods I've used to enhance the success with this rig: MFJ switching power supply: many complain it creates noise in the receiver. Mine did also but a few loops of the power cord through a ferrite took care of it. Modified to 10W TX power: I know they say not to do it but I haven't had a problem and it does give you 1/2 an S-unit. Peg Legs: lightweight & useful. Mylar speaker replaced paper speaker: Mouser Electronics, waterproof & does sound a little bit better. Cut the green wire on the AA battery pack: convenient for recharging NiMH AA batteries. You can get NiMH AA batteries that have a lot more capacity than the factory supplied battery pack. Elecraft T1 tuner: awesome. Can't say enough about it. Get the control cable and it will follow band changes in the 817nd. Click2Tune Dongle from SOTABEAMS: 2 quick presses of the PTT throws a carrier - very convenient when using my Alexloop antenna or when using a manual tuner. Alexloop mag-loop antenna: expensive but totally portable (even walking mobile), directional, quiet, and capable of DX even indoors. And last, my 2 favorite accessories: BHI DSP: simply eliminates that fatiguing noise. A whole different experience using the 817nd with it. Funkamateur speech processor: I can go from barely being heard to "no problem copying you" by turning it on. Reports consistently say my signal goes up a full S-unit with it on (that's the equivalent of having quadrupled your TX power). I achieved the "1000 miles per watt" using it. If my 817nd died tomorrow would I buy another one (now the 818nd)? Yes, as long as they still sell the BHI DSP and Funkamateur speech processor. If not, I would probably put out for the Elecraft KX2 or KX3.
DJ7ST Rating: 2019-06-16
Great little rig Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Got mine few days ago.
It is a very nice rig.
After so many years on radio it is a new experience to work
with qrp.But 6 watts is enough to work around Europe on 20 and 40 meters.
My location is in Stuttgart 415 meters over the sea level on a hill top where I live
And it is nice to work over the local repeaters on 2 meters and 70 centimeter.
Great little rig -WOW !
KR4GT Rating: 2018-11-28
The Best Value In Amateur Radio! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
This review is for the FT-818, as the 817ND is no longer available. If there is a better bang for the buck in ham radio than the FT-818, I have yet to find it. This is a do it all radio, at a fair price. Want to work the local 2-meter repeater? You can do that! Want to work DX on the HF bands? You can do that! How about some late-night shortwave band listening? You can do that too! I've worked contests running only 5 watts with this rig and the guy on the other end had no idea I was QRP until I told him. Use a good antenna and you'll be amazed at what this little rig can do. If you don't own one, GET ONE!