Carnmenellis DC006 and an FT857D: A Sad Story

My wife decided that she wanted to go to Cornwall again this year, so Cornwall it was, and September 7th saw us pitching our tent a few miles from Hayle. I owed Carnmenellis DC006 a return engagement for an unqualified activation in the spring, so we headed that way on Sunday 9th, a blisteringly hot day (a change from the sea fog of the previous day on the North Coast!) I approached from the south via abandoned fields through waist deep bracken and gorse with enough spiders to furnish the cast for several horror movies, and set up for 2 metres as far from the transmitter mast as I could get, well out of sight of the fabled guardian!

At first it seemed that the black hole was going to win again, nothing could be heard other than an unidentified portable who was inaudible without the DSP, and CQs on SSB and FM went unanswered even at 50 watts despite posting an alert from the campsite that morning (£1 for 15 minutes, wow!) but at 1242 I heard a foreign voice and beamed south to make contact with EA2TO/1 at 5 and 7 each way. Nice! I now had visions of an all-DX activation!

We were just coming to the end of the QSO when the SLAB toppled on the uneven ground (granite boulders with a film of turf) and pulled off the crocodile clips. I hastily put one back on and picked up the other one only to have the first one slip off again. I cursed and replaced them only to find that, blinded by sweat, I had put them on the wrong way around. It was at this point that I discovered two things:

  1. the FT857D does not failsafe to off when the power is cut off, and
  2. the FT857D has no reverse voltage protection, unlike the FT817.

There was a faint whiff of magic smoke.


When I get the rig back, I am junking the crocs and fitting some sort of non-reversable connector, and will look at the possibility of some sort of diode protection (belt and braces), in the meanwhile I offer this sad story as a warning to other users of the FT857, BEWARE!!! It is a sweet rig, even if it is a bit on the ugly side, but it won’t stand for any messing about!


Brian G8ADD

PS A good friend (M3AOM) has lent me an FT290R, so I am now back on 2 metres QRP. Thanks Roj!

In reply to G8ADD:

Oh crikey Brian, I am splitting my sides here although I know it’s not funny, hi.
I’m so sorry to hear about your 857.

I wonder, did you manage to qualify it this time? or was it just the EA then smoke?

I think we will have to helicopter you in next time with a fool proof radio and a 40ft mast.

After all your trials and tribulations, I hope yourself and your wife had an enjoyable and relaxing time in that gorgeous part of our country.

vy 73 Mike

In reply to G8ADD:

One word Brian - “OW!”

One solution - Powerpoles

Hope you haven’t done too much damage. Been there (well not DC-006 but you know what I mean), done that and got the flash burns.

Hope the radio gets better soon.

In reply to GW0DSP:

Yep, just the EA then smoke…Carnmenellis 2, G8ADD nil.

I doubt that you will find a foolproof radio for me - like all fools, I am very ingenious!


Brian G8ADD

PS otherwise it was a great week!

In reply to G8ADD:

I use 30amp powerpoles the same as Steve.

They are virtually foolproof Brian and although a bit pricey for what they are, they do the job fine.

I now have all my radios fitted with them plus a lead in the car, so that any radio can be plugged in with ease, I have also fitted thm to my SLABS with a short link wire from the terminals.

Glad to hear that you had a great week Brian and hope the damage isn’t too bad on the radio

73 Mike

In reply to G8ADD:

Just an update.

The FT857D is beyond economic repair. I was told that the output transistors are blown, as is the Rx RF stage, the display is u/s and worst of all the processor is blown. Each processor is individually matched to the rig.

Whilst I am certainly to blame for being careless, it beggars belief that a two month old radio should be junked for want of a protection diode costing pence: the old saying, “spoiling the ship for a ha’pennyworth of tar” comes strongly to mind, because there is no doubt in my mind that this is a super radio for portable work.

I urge any users of the FT857D to take all precautions to make sure this doesn’t happen to them. A suitable diode would probably fit under the black plastic cover of the power socket on the flying lead. A none-reversible plug and socket for the battery connection is also vital.

I can’t remember whether it was Patton or MacArthur who said it, but “I shall return!”


Brian G8ADD

I see that Steve G1INK has recently activated this hill, in his customary style of very many contacts on several bands. It will be interesting to see what he reports regarding the dragon and the access situation. I have a vested interest - I am obliged to return there with Jimmy. If there was ever a SOTA summit that you wouldn’t return to…

In reply to M1EYP:

I made a mental note of Geralds route (on sotawatch) from the west. I didnt write it down but probably followed the same route. Although it wasnt raining, I got wet through fighting through shoulder high bracken. As the wind was strong from the NE, I set up on the West side of the hill to shelter from the wind & presumably out of view of the busy body. I did see 2 people during the activation, both of whom never gave me a second look. Having “ticked” this summit, I dont think Ill ever return - however it was a slightly more pleasant experience than DC-004 Hennsbarrow Beacon which I definitely will not do again.

In reply to G8ADD:

Sorry to hear about the rig Brian. This hill certainly has something negative going for it. I must have had my immunisation before I went since I qualified the summit in 12 minutes. Either that or the caretaker witch was asleep.

In reply to G1INK:

If you passed the black car bonnet with white painted “Polgear Beacon” on it, then you were on my track. I didn’t find the bracken that high as a quad bike had obviously crushed a track towards the trig. I went to the west side of the hill to get a take off to the NE without spraying the mast with 600w plus of ERP.

73, Gerald