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Advice on a new rig: FT-817 or KX2


My very early production FT817 (Feb '01) blew it’s finals whilst switched off, being charged up for an activation of G/NP-005, I didn’t even realise until I was on the summit and the rig was dead!

I had the final board replaced with the ND version, the radio has been perfect ever since. In fact my rig came back from Yaesu better than new, the alignment was absolutely spot on.

I’d say that Yaesu put the issue to bed and it’s no longer a worry.


Yes. And no! The KX2 is a better receiver and has lower RX power consumption. But if you have no VHF/UHF capability then you wont be able to take part in what may become the next SOTA challenge.


I have the same impression with my 2016 model of the FT-817-ND. It survived a few bad mistakes even at 5 W output (like building an ATU and messing up the label for the TUNE-WORK switch for a Tayloe SWR indicator.)
Maybe you can kill the finals by using 5W and sweep the capacitor of a magnetic loop over its entire range…

73 de Martin, DK3IT


Could you help me understand what you mean by that?

As for RX consumption: Yes, the FT817 is quite bad wrt this (500 mA), but the MTRs (30 ma @ 6V, 20 ma @ 12V) easily pass the KX2 (receive current drain 135 mA with backlit off).

Quite clearly, the SDR-based receiver in the KX2 is better than the simple direct-conversion one in the MTRs, but I wonder by how much? Would I be able to work more DX stations or QRP chasers with a KX2?



I’d say yes and no - I think it is fair to say that the problem was primarily confined to the orignal 817s. However, a colleague of mine had the finals go on his 817ND. Plus, as I said, I have an original MK1 817 and have never had any problems.

What I was actually saying, is that if you look hard enough, every radio will have its “problems”.


Certainly you would, Martin, as you would not be limited to CW!:smiley:


After hundreds of activations with my FT817ND I was looking at lightening the load that I was carrying in my rucksack…I purchased a KX2. Mindful of the possibility of water ingress and damage to the controls I designed and made a vaccum formed cover for the top of the KX2 which when completed only cost me £1.

Simple mould for vaccum forming

Elastic band holds the cover in place…working on a velcro hinge at the moment.

Slides nicely into camera lens case and controls are protected.

Another method to keep the KX2 dry whilst in use is a simple shower cap. You can use the controls. Cheap and cheerful on e-bay :slight_smile:

As I was trying to keep the weight down this was my approach and buying extra add-ons was not my option. I’m very happy with my KX2 despite it’s shortcomings regarding bands.

KX2 and cover on Mynydd Carn y Cefn…December 2017…link to my blog below.

73 Allan GW4VPX


Love it! Great idea.


If you’re doing joint activations and sharing the load, why not consider an FT-857? Neither of the two rigs you have suggested, will come even close to it.

Knocked off 170 DXCC’s from SOTA summits with mine, using nothing more than a CB antenna, auto tuner and ssb.



Absolutely agree, pity the KX2 is so expensive, but the filtering/cw performance is excellent, when comparing with the 817.


it really depends on your budget. you can use ssb and CW quite easily on the Ft817 and have full HF-VHF with the Ft817. it is cheaper, more sturdy and does the job of activating the summit.

The KX2 is newer, looks nicer, less rugged, a lot more expensive. it does have better capabilities and can have things like ATU in them but if you use resonant antennas then theres no need for that.

I chose the FT817 over the KX2 due to the price and the fact that the FT817 is proven to work and last in all conditions and covers all bands. Its not as all singing and dancing as the KX2 but the KX2 wasn’t worth the extra £ in my personal opinion.


I assume we are talking about operating (in the rain, etc) rather than just transporting the rig. In which case, I think the shower cap (or any thin loose-fitting see-through plastic bag) has the advantage over the hard molded plastic in that you can still operate the controls.

Although, using the KX2 paddles (KXPD2) might be tricky through a plastic bag. Not a problem if you use an external paddle like the Palm.



I’m tempted by the SideKX side panels and plastic cover for my KX2. However, after viewing the installation video on that website, I was put off by the guy saying the removing (and subsequent replacing) of the two transistor mounts plus the antenna wires de-soldering from the BNC connector is “tricky”.

I assume it’s similar operation for your KX3. Did you do it yourself? And was it difficult?

My KX2 is a pride-and-joy birthday present and is very expensive here in the UK.



I made a realization last night that I probably should have sooner: if I go with an Elecraft, it will likely become my main radio at home too. This makes the decision for me I think.

Right now, my home rig is an old Kenwood TS-520. I love it, but as I’ve gotten more into CW operation it’s been less ideal. It doesn’t have a cw filter, and they’re ridiculously expensive. I’ve had several aborted QSOs result from people moving in nearby (which, without a real cw filter, doesn’t have to be all that near). From all I’ve been reading, the Elecraft radios are really stellar when it comes to cw operation (great filters etc).

That said, I think my decision now is between a KX2 and KX3. I don’t have the room for 160m operation, so that’s not a draw for me with the KX3. The option for 2m is nice, but I have a 2m HT that makes it more a luxury than a necessity. The extra 5w with the X3 would be nice, but I am not sure it’s worth the extra size. Off to read some more.


If you think the rig will become your main home rig, go with the KX3 over the KX2. The KX3 look/feel is a step up from the KX2.

73, Barry N1EU


Running the KX3 in connection with HDSDR can also radically improve the SNR when you are at home. I still can’t get over the difference it makes on 80m. But the KX2 is what I would choose if SOTA was my main priority. I find the KX3 just a bit too heavy for multi-day trekking.


Wow, good info to have. I live in a city (Chicago) so improving my SNR is always a good thing. And I probably use 80m at home 2x more than other bands (it works best into the eastern part of the country in the evening, which is usually when I can operate at home).

Multi-day hikes would be once a year sorta things for me, so I am not sure the weight difference is enough to make the decision. My normal use case is going to be weekend trips into northern WI or down into the Ozarks for an activation or two on sat and again on sunday.


I started with the FT-817ND matched with the LDG z-817 tuner. Truly enjoyed the included 2M and 70 CM capability, but I did not like the outboard tuner with the additional cables and I did not like the small screen. I switched to the KX3 with the ATU and 2M built in. I find it easier to set up and operate. With internal batteries 5W and external LiFo 15W I find it a great radio. Easy to operate, easy to program, easy to carry to summits. I use an end fed wire for HF and a roll-up j-pole for 2M and I have used a 4 element Arrow for 2M SSB. I am not a wet weather guy so that is not an issue for me. I have added the sidekick plates and clear top. When I used the FT-817ND I felt there was a greater amount of front end overload when operating from summits with multiple radio installations. With the KX3 there appears to be less front end overload. When I operate with a friend he sets up his KX2 generally within 50 feet - we try to orient our antennas at 90 degree angles, and rarely interfere with one-another. If I only had $500 I would get the FT-817ND and get on the air; but I sold the FT-817 for what I paid and got the KX3 and glad to have made the investment. I use a Kenwood TS-590 at home but may add a PX3 and KXPA100 to make full use of the KX3 at home and on the summits.


I would just go with a soundcard and HDSDR like Matt mentioned above

Barry N1EU


My KX3 has fallen off the roof of my car onto pavement twice and still works fine. I do have the SideKX plates and my car is a Miata, so it wasn’t a huge drop. But still…


What was the KX3 doing on the roof? Standard procedure is to put it on the hood in front of the driver’s line of vision. See FAQs in the file section of the NaSota Yahoo group.

Elliott, K6EL