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Re: FT-817 mini review... (with extensive current draw comparisondata)

Marc Holdwick wrote:
> I bought a Yaesu FT-817 this last weekend and have begun to play with it.

I bought one thursday after using it in the store.  Here are some of my

My inital usage was on 2m and 70cm FM.  It works good.  Battery consumption
is high but I was able to get a few hours of receiving with some transmitting.
I doubt I will get the Yaseu pack as I am using 1600mAH NiMH batteries
(Sanyo cells).  I got a fast charger to charge the batteries external to the
unit as it charges in two hours.

Radio Shack currently has on sale in the US a 13.8 3 Amp portable power
supply.  This is a lightweight switcher that can even work on 220v.
So far it seems to work ok with no hash in the receiver and only a .9
volt sag on transmit.  I also got an adapter for my other Radio Shack
cables (it takes adapter 'B', 4.0mm OD and 1.7mm ID).

It seems various versions have the FM broadcast band included and I find
it has good sensitivity.  Audio quality is decent but not hi-fi stereo.
Listening to SWBC is not too bad.

This morning I listened to the 10 meter openings as well as 15 and 20.
I just used a short random length wire.  No HF transmit yet.  The receiver
worked well receiving CW and SSB.

I like alpha tagging of memory locations.  I have not stuffed all the
200 memories yet.  Alot of characters can be selected (maybe too many)
but the usage of the small select knob for character position and large
dial for character makes it not too bad for character entry.

There is a menu selection to disable the big dial on AM and FM.  I can see
why they have it because it is easy to get off frequency on AM or FM when
handling the radio.  I needed it on for some AM stations on LW but you
can also have the dial lock switch only lock the big dial.  So I set it up
that way and use the dial lock when on VHF.

The small select knob is used as a channel step and the large knob to
fine tune.  I use select to change frequencies on VHF and to quickly
scan the bands on HF.  I use the big dial to tune in SSB or odd channel
AM.  You can adjust the step of the select knob and there is a fine
and coarse setting for the big dial.  I got select knob stepping 2.5 KHz
on SSB.

There seems to be a 'floating' HF band that the manual indicates is at
15 MHz.  I find if you tune any of the HF bands out of it's amateur
band (like tuning 5975 to listen to the BBC) that the 15 MHz band
is 'used' for it.  This is interesting because the HF band you used will still
have the old values when you use the band up/down to go back to it and
the 5975 frequency will appear when going up or down with the band switch
between the 80m and 40m band.  Of course each band will keep it's mode
settings and if you use narrow to select narrow FM for 10 meters then the mode
will be FMN (not FM) when you select modes for 10 meters.

I find some of the menu selections interesting as you can set up for
various digital modes, RTTY, 1200/9600 Baud Packet, PSK31, etc.  PSK31
can be set up for USB and LSB.  There is also a user digital mode where you
can adjust oscillator offsets.  This rig seems to have alot of features for
digital modes and there is some discussion about the different modes in
the manual.  I plan to buy the CW filter (it is expensive!) and I suspect you
can use it in RTTY receive mode as well.  Amazing for a portable rig, it has
two mini-din sockets in back for the audio signals/ptt, CAT, etc.
Yes you can control this rig via the cat interface.

The manual describes some setup for FM satellite use but this radio is
not full duplex so any transmitting will be 'in the blind'.

The 6 meter rubber duck antenna seems almost worthless.  I measured the
SWR with the built-in meter and it was high.  I do not have very high
power out indication as well.  I was able to connect it up to a discone
and key up a number of 6 meter repeaters.  I was not able to hear anything
with the rubber duck on 6 meters although I could hear the strong stations
on 10 meters during the band opening.

I am going to use this radio portable during my travels and it also appears to
be a good IF for microwave transverters.  It will not be full duplex but you
could buy two (8->) or combine it with a FT-100 for a portable station.
Actually the FT-847 may be better for that.  It is also interesting that
any mode can be selected for the air band so it may be possible to use
the drake converter without some of the mods and the FT-817 on 120 MHz
to receive S Band.

I am also interested in PSK31 and I am going to see if I can get on.
This will also give me a chance to get on 6 Meters.

Overall I like the radio.  It has some neat features and I cannot get over
how it is slightly smaller than the Drake TR-22 that I used for 2 meter FM
in the late 1970s.  The TR-22 was a 2 Meter FM radio with 6 crystal
controlled channels and only a few watts of power.

73 Eric eac@shore.net  WB1HBU
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