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Advice on a new rig: FT-817 or KX2


To add to the list, the buzz on the 'net at the moment is about the X5105 from the Chinese Xiegu company (who made the X1M and X108G radios).

The reason it’s currently on the net, I think is that MFJ have just taken up distributorship for the US.

It appears to be almost a KX3 copy of sorts but at a lower pricepoint. Only 5w though and 160m-6m all-mode. Internal battery and ATU. SDR based.

I know Joe has bought a KX2 but for others looking at this thread if you are not afraid of Chinese manufacture and possibly not such a large distribution and repair network, it may be worth a look for the price (around $650-$700).


I’d missed this one Ed. I love tech description

“Technical features: double- conversion superheterodyne, fitted with up to 3 lithium batteries of 18,650mph each.”


Wow, that’s way faster than my batteries go!


My batteries are lucky to reach 3mph going up hill.


Not sure if it has been mentioned but if you are an infrequent binge type of activator as I am the KX2 is harder to operate than the 817 is. I carry a small crib sheet with KX2 as a result. When I got my KX2 I sold my 817 within weeks of using the KX2. I wouldn’t choose to take it out on a rainy day though, but I might when I get a shower cap a la GW4VPX…
73 Phil


This is a point of comparison I actually hadn’t considered.

I was apparently coming down with the flu as I was buying the radio on Wednesday, and by that evening I was quite sick. No, this isn’t a story I was telling my boss so I could stay home and play radio for the rest of the week – I haven’t been this sick in years. In any case, I spent a good bit of time with the KX2 in the last 72hrs. Got my first experience as a chaser too, but that’s another story.

I’ve never used a ft-817 so can’t compare it to that, but the KX3 is different than any other radio I’ve used. It really feels like the difference between a digital vs analog electronic device. The effect is hard to describe, but it shows up best when listening to cw. With a strong cw signal and a tight filter applied, the code sounds like it’s being generated by a computer. Voices sound different as well, more like (not surprisingly) listening to a station on websdr.org.

In general, I think the effect tends to make code more readable, which is good. Voices are just different, though sometimes I think my brain was getting better at sorting out faint voices from analog static so this is bit of a setback. It’s hard to as as all voices are faint right now. 40m noise floor was S9 all day yesterday.

Just another bit of info for someone who is trying to make this decision.


Solves the problems of which to buy :slight_smile:


I had thought the X5105 was a direct conversion SDR rather than a superhet. The earlier X108G was a superhet. In any case - the specs are on the MFJ website for anyone who is interested in the X5105.



Xiegu’s own web site says it’s double conversion with baseband audio dsp.


Thanks Andy, I knew you would have researched it - I believe a couple of Youtube videos refer to it as an SDR.

In any case, good to see extended choice in the Amateur marketplace. It’ll be interesting to hear one on the air (ideally from a Summit).

73 Ed.


Have seen the '817 knocked completely off the air on peaks that are electronic sites due to front-end overload. Similar problems occur when there are multiple operators on same peak.

KX2: with internal logging on CW, you can defeat rain by covering it with a clear showercap. Radio can be seen and operated through the showercap. I bought one hundred such caps in a bag for about three dollars :wink:

  • fred KT5X (aka WS0TA)


Hmm RX current = 500mA and weight 2.1 lbs. I prefer a KX2!

73 Andrew G4AFI


Also something relevant that I hadn’t considered. Seems like every SOTA hill in the Midwest here has an assortment of antennas on it.

Just operated outside for an hour at 10W cw and ssb with the kx2 on internal batts. Love this thing.


I’ve activated several summits with communications sites on them and never had a problem with the '817 when pocket handies curl up and die! I’ve also operated on 2m SSB without trouble when the same summit was being activated on 2m FM by another ham.

There is a possible Top Band Challenge in the works, you’ll need a transverter!


I think it isn’t simply a matter of front end overload. It must depend on the frequencies of the local services. If all were UHF for example, that would have no impact on HF and unlikely to affect 6m and 2m. My observation after using the 817 and a 703 for 5 years of SOTA is that the 817 has a more robust front end than any HT, so is a better option than an HT for 2m FM. That’s mainly based on experience at Black Mountain where a comms tower contains multiple FM broadcasters, Multiple TV, multiple high band VHF and UHF services and multiple microwave services.

The 817 and the 703 don’t have any problems at that site on HF. And if you are assessing radios for HF usage, the VHF overload problem isn’t a problem on HF.

Given its age the 817 does pretty well.

If I was offered a newer rig (kx2/3) I’d jump at the chance. I like new toys.


Andrew vk1da/vk2uh


Like Andrew I never had a problem on the 817 with front end overload. Have even operated on the 40m band on SSB with fellow op on same summit 100 KHz away and 25m or so away - nay problem with overload both of using an 817. Just don’t sit next to one another with your aerials adjacent, tried it once in CT3 and it didn’t work, harmonic problem with overloading, let alone same band overloading! Good rugged radio, more rugged than my KX2, which only SLIGHTLY outperforms the 817 on receive and gives me a little more power about 3 watts more in my case - not needed on CW, but useful on SSB where sometimes folk cannot hear your puny QRP signals, especially on 40m, so as many including me have found, the 817 is brilliant for SOTA operations. If you are strong enough to carry an FT-857 though and a 4 amp LiFePo bang for buck buy that instead. If you need a lightweight robust radio buy the 817 and save your dollars on the excellent but overpriced KX2. I don’t have a KX3 unlike our rich IT specialist (MM0FMF) however I do have a very scratched FT-857 with me. Yesterday I worked Fiji, New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand on my link dipole receving 59 and 599 reports! I have to say I cheated a bit though as I am currently staying in Sydney Australia with my old FT-857!

73 Phil
VK2/G4OBK/P Sydney

PS N0MAP - I just read back - decision taken you got a secondhand KX2 - nice buy well done, glad you liked it! My answer to the thread is purely hypothetical in that case. Good luck - you won’t regret having the KX2.


Joe, there is unfortunately no one radio that does everything perfectly. There are so many different facets of the radio hobby that you simply cannot make a radio that does everything. I run a number of different radios for different applications - my FT-817 is used for longer distance / high climbs, my FT-857 is used when I need more power and the hike in is not too nasty and my IC-7300 is used for those summits that I can drive to. At home the IC-7300 is used as a secondary radio to my IC-7600. The different radios all have different applications and are better in different situations.

As you have heard from others in this thread, the FT-817 is an excellent all rounder radio - yes compared to others it is heavier, uses more power, technologically is older and in stock condition it doesn’t have particularly good filtering. But it has the crucial benefit for many in that it covers 160m to 70cm with all modes. You may not currently have an interest in SSB on 2m/70cm, but using 2/70 on a summit can deliver some outstanding results. Noting it’s limitations, as an all rounder the FT-817 cannot be beaten.

Much as I like my old FT-817, the Elecraft radios are a very attractive option for HF, the lack of 2/70 with the KX3 (and no 160 or 6m with the KX2) has put me off buying one - but the KX2/KX3 does remain as an option down the track for me.

My suggestion is that you have a radio for portable use and another for home use - more is better!



I did indeed Phil, thanks. I took it on a test run yesterday to celebrate the slightly above freezing temps. My wife and I hiked a few miles, climbed a dune, and made some contacts from there. Everything checked out. I REALLY like this radio. Too bad our dunes aren’t 50m higher – I’d have a slew of summits very close to home!


Congrats on your new rig Joe! Many of us Colorado Activators are now using the Kx2. I still have my 817 but use it mainly as by backup SOTA rig now.

73, Brad


Have you looked at this option? At the price point, it seems like it would be difficult to lose out too badly with this rig. We used it for a California QSO Party expedition and made about 80 QSOs in 4 hours.

Have not seen this radio mentioned on the list, so I’m curious to see what people have to say.