FT-817 Chassis weight?

Just on the off chance someone has measured the FT-817 diecast chassis weight, or happens to have a bare chassis in the junk box they could weigh…


I’ve had the feeling for some time that the FT817 is too heavy to be portable. When I switched to a SW-3B, small, with an aluminium case and very light, I found out that I was right.



Unfortunately it’s what I have.
The question is: Should it make the acquaintance of Mr Mill and the Cutter Sisters?

Yes, it’s heavy, but I’m pretty sure that a big percentage is the heatsink and the 817 runs pretty warm, especially if it’s seeing more than about 11.5v which makes the regulators run hot.

An alternative might be to replace the (steel) top and bottom covers with aluminium ones.

If the 817 is too heavy, get stronger and fitter :slight_smile: Actually as I judge my SOTA pack against when I carried ropes, ice axes, ice screws and climbing rack in to the mountains I think the 817 is ok but I do remember the wise words of an old climbing buddy from years back who said the easiest way to carry less weight up the mountain is to improve your diet. :slight_smile:

73 and Merry Christmas



I’m with Colin here. Japanese manufacturers will have done a fair amount of cost engineering on that design and there wont be too much spare chassis included as it would lower profits. My 817 on a fully charged 4S LiFePO gets fairly warm even in Scottish weather so there may not be much spare aluminium. Replacing steel case covers would save something.

Or carry an 857 about for a while and then swap back to 817 and enjoy how much lighter it is!


As my uncle used to say: “The best thing about walking, is when you get tired of it, you can always run”


Indeed Dec. While the weight of the kit is something definitely to be considered, being leaner and fitter has certainly made it easier for me to carry my backpack. Since I had a heart attack, two stents and then 11 months later a triple bypass (elective surgery), my weight has dropped from 90kg to 82kg. Not quite a racing snake, but the reduction has definitely helped. Typically I carry around 12kg, which is probably 3kg too much! :grinning:

I honestly can’t quite understand the apparent obsession of some to reduce a few grams of SOTA gear in their rucksack up to the point of considering the milling/drilling of the rig frame.
Isn’t hiking mountains about getting oneself fitter and stronger?
Wouldn’t it be beneficial to that purpose the fact of carrying a bit more weight in the rucksack, rather than less?
What’s the point with reducing 200g of gear weight and carrying several meters of coaxial, various different antennas, 2 litres of water (i.e.2000g) a flask of tea/coffee and several other luxuries?
As Declan very well pointed the “words of an old climbing buddy, the easiest way to carry less weight up the mountain is to improve your diet” and get rid of some fat in our belly and around our waist.



Keep the 817 as it is; instead save weight by not carrying toilet paper and using sphagnum moss.

Also consider having any amalgam fillings replaced with resin.


Dam right! I used to carry loads of climbing gear, too!

Another approach is to take a good hard look at your rucksack. Not the contents, the design of it. Too many rucksacks are just basic bags that you carry on your back, a good rucksack distributes the weight and makes it easy to carry loads. You can spend as much money on a good well designed rucksack as you would on a pair of good well designed boots, and in both cases it is money well spent!


Also worth noting that a 60l backpack can weigh from just over 1kg (eg Exped lightning) to almost 2kg (eg Osprey kestrel). So this is often an easy way to save weight if you are willing to forego some features and comfort.

Perhaps you could remove the internal speaker? That would improve the 817 weight a little (althought you would then need to carry an external speaker). :upside_down_face:

I’d only use my 60 litre pack if I were overnighting. I’ve never used more than a 35 litre pack for day outings and I carry an 817, separate HF and 2m linears, HF dipole and 2m yagi, cabling and usually at least 8AH of battery power. I must say that I am certain that it is heavier than when I bought it due to the ingrained vegetation accumulated over almost 15 years of SOTA. :grin:


I agree, the alloy “chassis” contains most of the weight and much of it is providing the heat sink necessary when running the rig on voltages higher than 9.6.


The original internal batteries are wasted weight as lithium batteries are lighter per mAH. A 3S LIFEPO4 battery would weigh less than a 4S lithium and would provide sufficient voltage for an 817 to produce its rated output power, which it does with 8 x 1.2v Nicads. This could be made from 3 x 18650 if commercial 3S are hard to find. LIPO are slightly better than LIFEPO4 for mass/mah ratio, but LIFePO4 have better voltages.

Auditing the backpack for items that are unlikely to be needed would yield more savings, the multi tool, adaptors, spare batteries, GPS, logging tablet, second antenna, ATU, spare pen and pencil, etc etc. where do you stop?

As I noted in my FAQ, after the first few activations we all start looking again at our packs, wondering whether all that stuff is needed. About 10 activations later, we no longer worry.

Have fun.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH


If SOTA was only about day trips I would wholeheartedly agree. When it comes to multiday trekking, even the KX2 is little bit heavy. My advice is, as ever, learn CW. :wink:
73 Matt


If SOTA was only about day trips I would wholeheartedly agree. When it comes to multiday trekking, even the KX2 is little bit heavy. My advice is, as ever, learn CW. :wink:

Ditto. Mutli-day hikes are my main motivation to learn morse code… so I can leave behind my FT-818 which not only is heavy, but forces me to take a bigger and much heavier backpack on multi-day hikes. SW-3B is on the way. I hope to save up to 2kg if equipment this way :slight_smile: (lighter backpack, less/smaller battery, no microphone etc.)

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This is a 16 day trip. Last trip the pack was 34kg starting. The 817 is 1.4kg. Nah.

“Adipose tissue contains about 10% of water” , " Human fat tissue contains about 87% lipids"

vs ~35% water in cheddar cheese. Flab is pretty much unrivaled as a light weight food.

Of course, high proof rum is not too shabby either: “…alcohol contains lots of calories – 7 calories per gram, which is almost as many as a gram of fat.”

It’s that bone and muscle that you don’t need to be carrying. Osteoporosis anyone?


So the 817 exploded all over the bench today…

Total incl batt and mic: 1358g
Mic: 170
2700mAh NiMH: 249
batt cover: 15
strap plates: 12
bottom cover: 129
top cover+spkr: 203
spkr: 24
spkr bracket: 18
Anderson adaptor:11
Front panel+flex: 97
Main pcb: 131
SO239: 16
Chassis w/ bnc: 210
RF pcb+cables: 107

There is no sign of real thermal design of the casting, I think that only the back panel and area around the finals is actually heatsink. However the casting is pretty light already, and I think I will only get 50g out of it with the mill.

The covers are the biggie, so some carbon covers will save 300g

The Panasonic Eneloop pro batteries are surprisingly good at 245g (2550mAh) vs 3xNCR18650B@150g (3300mAh)

Anyway looks like I should be able to get it down to ~700g with carbon covers, a tiny microphone, and 3x18650’s . (If I could get 21700’s they are rated up to 4800mAh)


Some of the comments in this thread remind me that I joined the Backpackers Club immediately when it formed, in IIRC 1974, attracted by their motto “the Backpacker leaves no sign of his passing”. I didn’t renew the next year. Passing on information about routes and pitches and new gear was OK, but people were starting to obsess about weight. When it got to the point where people were advising you to take just a sliver of soap and cut off the handle of a toothbrush it was no longer all about the adventure, it was about the weight. Who could carry the lightest pack was the challenge. I tried some of the dehydrated meal packs that were so highly recommended at the time, add water and heat up. Only once! Chicken with the taste and texture of cardboard? Wellington said that “an army marches on its stomach”. Food is a necessity but it doesn’t have to be a penance! From that day to this my motto has been to take whatever was necessary to make the trip enjoyable, if it meant carrying a heavier pack, lose weight before the trip! A kilo lost is another kilo that can be carried! I would carry an 817 rather than a dinky little Altoids tin job because the 817 is robust, versatile and above all reliable, and it gives flexibility in both mode and band coverage. You pay for this with extra weight, but it is a fair exchange.