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817 or G90 HF SSB

I had a similar issues with weight using my IC7000 (2.3kg) plus 10Ah LiFePO pack another 1.5kg. Decided to switch to original M0NKA - mcHF QRP which gives me 12W on 80 & 40 and 10W on 20. I build mine, but you can order one, ready made from Chris M0NKA.co.uk.

My SOTA pack is now mcHF (0.6kg) plus 3Ah (0.5kg) and is good for 3-4hours on the summit. It draws 250mA on RX and 1.6-2.0A on TX depending on the band (SSB).

Good think about mcHF is that it is ready for DIGI modes, as it has all necessary bits inside. All you need is a USB cable to your tablet/laptop.

73, Marek

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I have a Xiegu G90 and I am reasonably happy with it. The built-in tuner allows me to attach whips with a right-angle connector directly to the radio (I am using a D-Original DX-HF-20 for the 20 m band, which is about 1.25 m tall), and a few meters of wire as a counterpoise. This comes in handy when I go to summits where it is not easy to erect an inverted-V dipole. I power my G90 with a car starter battery, which has an outlet labeled “12V-10A”. It does start at 12.0 V but then slowly goes down as power is drained. The Xiegu does not seem to care, and works happily with 11 V or less.


My current preferences.

For minimum weight, station in a pocket, MTR3.
Other backpack operation, IC705. Drive up IC7000.

I have two Xiegu radios, 5 W and 20 W. Both have some quaint characteristics.

And yes I’m trying to sell some excess rigs before my executor does.

If you want a complete hf station for SOTA buy a KX2. I bought the 705 for its VHF/UHF capability.



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Hi Mikel,
Do you get any RF noise from the car starter unit? I ask as they normally have a 5v or so LIPO battery as supply in them and then use an inverter to get up to 12v. Those inverters are often square wave RF signal generators and hence can add 3-4 S-points of base noise on your receiver.

You may have got lucky and found a quiet one - if so could you please post make and model here for others.

73 Ed.

If you operate HF and 6/2/432 all modes, and want to keep the weight down, the 817/818 is the best choice. I specifically bought if for the VHF capability, but since SOTA it is on HF mostly…except for the occasional 6M DX openings and VHF contests.

I have made 17000 contacts on mine from SOTA summits so far and it’s still going strong…mine is the original version bought in 2001 when they first came out…so I’ve had it forever. Originally I used it for portable VHF operations and VHF contests until I discovered SOTA in 2013…and the rest is history… Hi HI.

Had to replace the speaker once (I like it loud in my old age), and I had to replace the the power plug recently. It’s been rained on, snowed on, baked in the 115 degree heat, dropped, stepped on, etc…still going strong. It may outlive me at this rate…

I’m sure the other radios are also good ones, but hard for me to imagine they will ever outlive my FT817.



Allow me to give my 2c to the discussion:

Do you get any RF noise from the car starter unit?

I just tested my Xiegu G90 against an old laptop-type power supply (grabbed from the recycle bin, 12V/4A), a LiitoKala 4S battery pack and a Revolt car starter battery / USB charger / emergency light (Model PX-8830-675; 12Ah; German / Austrians / Swiss customers can buy this at pearl.{de|at|ch}). I attached a 50Ohm terminator to the antenna. With PREamp on and 50% RF gain (standard values -> the dBm values shown on display correspond well to a calibrated reference), the noise level was similar at about (-137 dBm to -140 dBm). (Note that for the test I removed the ferrite I normally have around the power cable).
Side Note: I haven’t used this one for activations yet, but once for its intended purpose: jump-starting an empty car. It works for my car (Diesel) only if the batteries are fully charged and then only once or twice.

As for the G90 itself:

  • is quite sturdy (except possibly for the display at the front)
  • has SWR scanner and antenna tuner built-in (I can use my 40/20m endfed on 17m and managed to do S2S Europe <-> North America)
  • waterfall display
  • has up to 20W power output
  • handling is quite easy
  • handles input voltages from 10.5V to 16.5V and maintains max output power until the low end of input voltage


  • a bit heavy (1.9kg)
  • not waterproof (but then, neither am I nor my paper logging. When it starts to drizzle, I cover the radio with a plastic bag and do my logging in a “tent” made of another big plastic bag. When it starts to rain, I call it a day)
  • controls are a little bit fiddly
  • power connection at the end is a mini-Tamiya or some such and doesn’t look very robust
  • operation is from the front only, there are (by default) no stands. On SOTA mountains with tables, I put the battery on the table and the G90 on the battery, if there is no table I strap the G90 to the top of my backpack
  • operation is from the front, the loudspeaker is on top: some guys have made a cone to redirect the audio to the operator. More problematic are the holes for the loudspeaker, this is problematic in case of wet weather.
  • digital modes need a control cable for CAT control and audio I/O, either via additional CE-19 board (not really useful outdoors) or with 3rd party stuff (I can recommend XGGComms stuff)
  • some people report problems in cold weather (a Canadian guy complained that it stopped / didn’t work well at -18C) or heating when subjected to prolonged digital operations. I don’t work in such low temperatures (in the last activation on Aroser Weisshorn HB/GR-155 at ~-3C my ballpoint pen froze, one replacement pencil broke - luckily I had another one). As for the radio getting hot I suspect that the operating voltage of those guys reporting it was higher than 12V and the radio regulates it down to 10V?, so the heat dissipation of the regulator is significant.

I can’t comment on CW capabilities, I’m not (yet) fluent in CW.

Hope this helps.
73 de Martin / HB9GVW

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Hi, Ed.

I use a Tacklife T6 starter I bought in Amazon, and I haven’t experienced any appreciable noise from it. But I would have to compare it to a proper battery to give a proper report of floor noise…

Best regards,


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Hi Ed,

The simple starter units I have seen don’t use an inverter for the 12V, but just consist of a 3S lithium-ions configuration, as well as a Schottky diode in series.
Therefore, these ones are quiet as a battery :slight_smile:

73 Stephan

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Re original question about G90 vs FT817/8, I use G90 and IC703 rigs and experience in the field is that when fed with a LIPO 3S, my IC703 achieves at least 60% greater operating time at 10w than the G90 also at 10w.

For search and pounce the G90’s display and filters are a big advantage

For normal running from a fixed frequency they seem much of a muchness.

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If u like to operate VHF SSB or CW, and/or VHF contests, the 817/818 is the way to go. If u never do VHF SSB/CW then the other radio is good.

I use a link dipole, 80 thru 6M, so no tuner ever needed…going to add the 2M link soon. Occasionally I carry a small yagi for 2 and 432 for SOTA events or???

I don’t find changing bands via manual links to be much of a problem. If that is an issue u could add traps…


I have been using a G90 for a couple of years and its an amazing radio. Solid performance, firmware upgradable and for me very reliable. That said I would never take it up a mountain. Just to heavey as they are built like a tank. I also have a Yaesu FT891 and to be honest think the reciever on the G90 is better sounding side by side.
I quite honestly cant understand people wanting to take an 891, G90 up a mountain plus battery, tuner etc… Just too heavey and bulky for my style. Like tiney low power gear that I can pack for multi day wild camping trip.

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If it was just a desire for more power on SSB, I can’t understand why people would take a G90, rather that an FT-857 / 891. The quality of the RX doesn’t make much odds to me, the 857 / 891 will do the job.
73 Matt

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To be honest I wouldn’t touch any Chinese junk (yeah i’ve had a play and tested. Their emissions specs are normally fudged for a start not to mention terrible build quality) especially when it’s going to fund the war machine!!! Give me Japanese any day!

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Yes of course its down to the Op what kit they would like to take to out. Just my preference not to carry that much when there are much lighter options, but if power is the driver then the limit is what you can pack and carry. The G90 has a built in tunner that works very well despite being Chinese! so saves a bit there.

Think the Japanese had a fairly good war machine back in the day, that spawned thier technical advances in industry that we have today.

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There are 3 parameters to manufacturing:

  • Cheap
  • High quality
  • Chinese

You can have cheap and Chinese you can have high-quality and Chinese but you can’t have cheap and high-quality and Chinese.

Apple iPhone is made in China and is a high quality product. It is not cheap.

This is not unique to China, the same applies to any manufacturing base.


And how many of the “Japanese” (or American for that matter) radios these days are made from components or modules out of China.

The three key points (IMHO) are good design, after-sales support and production quality assurance - no matter where it is made (or assembled).

To get the best of all three you have to pay more!

I’m happy with the Xiegu G90 for the price - especially as I have had good after-sales support when one button was not working the complete unit was replaced without any questions. They have also implemented some of my improvement suggestions.

Now I’m sure I would get the same response from Elecraft and probably the Japanese company’s European agents but I would be paying more for the radios initially.

As always YMMV.
Coming back to the question in the title between an FT817 (which I have owned) or a G90, I would choose the Xiegu. The extra power (20 w vs 5w) and the ATU makes a lot of difference.

So A.J. have the suggestions made helped or just made everything as clear as mud?

73 Ed.

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I take my Xiegu G90 to virtually every summit and I am quite satisfied with its performance, even when my car starter battery goes below 10.5 V. Weight is around 1.6 kg. But I don’t need to take a tuner: the Xiegu has a rather good built-in tuner.


I am a big fan of the G90. I have used it for the past year. I have also played with an 8l7 and a KX2. I do really like the waterfall on the Xiegu and miss it when i dont have it. In addition the ATU is excellent.

Just to confuse the issue, have you looked at the Xiegu X6100? It has a lovely screen, but is much lighter than the G90. Now for shorter walks i use the G90 and longer ones the X6100. I always carry a hand held for 2m, so I don’t need it on a HF transceiver.




I see this thread dates all the way back to Dec '20 so you may have made your mind up by now. So, assuming the original question still stands:

My response: The 5w will be sufficient if you are using say, a 20/40m EFHW and the conditions are good. I have found this out myself a few times when a US station answers my call with me sat in the UK.

The G90 was my first ever HF rig and was purchased during lockdown as I knew no better and couldn’t meet up with other Ops to try out their rigs. I still own it as it doesn’t display any of the problems the forums go on about. After some more research, I bought a used FT817 and would take both of them up to SOTA summits. Now… I usually only take the FT817 as it is lighter; more than capable; solidly built and has never let me down (… so far).

73, Lea M0XPO