Ft 817 newbie

I have just got myself a FT 817ND with the intention of doing more SOTA activations, mainly 2m FM & SSB. I have a few points that need answers.
I have installed the battery pack that came with the radio, and set the charger timer for 8 hours, and charged it with the mains charger, which all went OK. Presumably if I now use the radio until the battery icon flashes it will then need another 8 hr charge from the mains charger, using the radios charger timer.
If I use the radio for a shorter period and then want to recharge how will I know when the pack is fully recharged ?, and what do I do with the charger timer setting ?
When using the radio portable on the hills I intend using a 12volt 7Ah gel battery to give me more power and longer duration, when this is connected the battery icon indicates charging, again what do I do with the charger timer setting, and is it OK to use the radio continually in this state or would it be better to remove the battery pack from inside the radio and solely use the external Gel battery. Also any ideas on radio air time using 5w external 7Ah Gel.
Sorry to be a pain but I find the operators manual poor on this subject.

I think it is usually safe to use the radio while charging, but I tend not to these days. If you press the CHG button (button A, if on your quick-click F menu it says CHG over button A - if not, press F repeatedly until it does), the the charging cycle won’t continue when you connect your SLAB.

It depends what capacity your internal battery is. If it is less than 1400maH, then an 8 hour charge cycle won’t be far off. However, if it is one of the types that is 2300maH or 2700maH, then it will require 2 consectuive runs of the 8 hour charge cycle to be fully charged. If you have used only some of the charge, then you can leave it connected to your power supply or car battery for a few days - not on a charging cycle, just connected. It will receive a trickle charge, and keep it “topped up”.

Radio time with 5 watts from 7Ah SLAB - depends on mode of course - FM will eat more than SSB, which will eat more than CW. I tend to get 7 or 8 hours at least out of mine, more if avoiding FM mode.

Cheers, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M0SPC:

Hi Colin, If I use the internal battery, which is very rarely, I tend to charge mine on the ten hour setting which is usually ample.

From summits, I use 3ah slabs which is plenty for the 817 and much lighter than the 7ah. If your 817 is showing as charging when connected to the slab, you need to find the menu that shows CHG above the A button I think, and press the button below the CHG symbol to switch the charge mode off. You can confirm that charge mode is off by switching the radio off. When in charge mode with the radio off an indicator will glow. If it’s not glowing with the radio off it will not be charging. Hope this helps you.


In reply to M0SPC:

The in-built charger is a bit pants to be honest. You can set the time it charges for but unless it has changed in recent models the charger charges until the time is up whether the battery is charged or not. This reply is probably not the place to get into a discussion of the merits of batteries and charging but the way it’s done in the 817 (and many, many, many other radios) is not the way to get the most from your battery pack. But it’s cheap to implement!

Yes, you use the internal battery till the radio gives up and then recharge it. Trial and error will determine if 8hrs fully charges your pack. The later models come with a higher capacity pack but it still gives a pitifully short life. If you want to use internal cells you’d be best investing in a dry battery case, some high capacity AA cells and a parallel external charger. But for now, use your internal pack till it dies. Which wont be long :wink:

You can stop the charging process by press the charge button again. If you power off the radio and it is still charging the LED glows orange-ish on mine. Push the charge button to start a charge, push to stop the charge, push again and the timer resets the period you select.

When you connect an external supply, the internal batteries are trickle charged unless you select charge when they are bulk charged. My own 817 has a dry cell holder and 8x 2500mAH cells in it. I have no idea as to their charge as I use my 817 with an external supply. I suppose that in an emergency there’ll be enough ergs in them to give me a few QSOs. I have thought of ditching them as they are just extra weight I carry up hills.

There have been many hundreds of posts on this reflector about battery and life expectancy. You can search through the past posts and spend many hours reading what has been written. But to precis your last question, 5W equates to a ball park 2A of current draw but 7AH doesn’t equate to 7A for 1hr or 3.5A for 2hrs. That’s the 20 amp rate. You can pull 7A for about 35minutes. 2.8A for about 1hr45. That’s at 25C, temperature affects capacity. SSB is easier on the battery. A 7AH cell should give you more than enough life, you’ll either be too cold, too sunburnt, too wet or too windswept before the cell dies. In my case I have a 2.8AH and operate HF SSB mainly and I’ve never been concerned the cell will run flat too soon.

Search the old posts for more info.


In reply to M0SPC:
Hi Colin,
For what its worth and as a new SOTA activator, I’ve been down exactly the same road. The handbook is not very clear for such a feature packed radio. The bottom line is, don’t expect to work much for long, using the internal batts - they really are a waste of weight! Much better to use either a SLAB (I have the option of either a 4amp or 7.5amp) or if money is no object, one of the Hi-Tech (but expensive)battery options. The other problem is that the batts in the 817 are charged in series and as such will never operate at their best. Otherwise its a great little wireless and a great asset to operating /P.


Grant G4ILI

In reply to M0SPC:

If the FT817ND is provided with a seperate battery box to use dry cells with, as the original FT817 was, this battery box is wired so that you can’t try and recharge the dry cells. However, if you cut and insulate the green wire you can use the box for rechargable batteries. A set of 8X2500 mAh cells took 2 10 hour charging cycles to fully charge.

Incidentally, if you need high capacity NiMH cells in a hurry and don’t have a local Maplin, a pack of four 2650 mAh cells costs £6.99 from Sainsbury’s.

I found that if you left the battery pack in but operated from a gel cell, when the voltage dropped on the gel cell the radio automatically switched over to the internal batteries.


Brian G8ADD

In reply to M0SPC:

If you are thinking about buying the SLA battery, then you could look at the 3 Cell 11.1v Radio Control LiPo packs instead, they are much lighter (300g for my 4ah pack).

You would need to buy a LiPo balancing charger and its worth getting one of the small voltage monitors that plugs into the battery balancing port (to avoid discharging individual cells lower than 3v).

Nigel. G6SFP.

In reply to M0SPC:

Good afternoon, Colin.

Like everyone else, I agree that the trickle charger is not the way to charge or check the FT817’s batteries.

I remove the pack and charge it externally using one of the many modelling battery pack chargers that are available for NiMH cells. That way, I know it’s charged properly and I can keep an eye on the capacity. (Mine is a Kokam charger FWIW.) You will need to make up a lead but the mating half for the battery connector is available from Farnell. Care is needed not to damage it as it’s so fiddly.

I checked the capacity of my year-old 1400 pack the other day and it’s fine.

As has already been said, you will get more power from a higher voltage external pack - but is the extra 1 dB worth the extra weight?

I hope that helps.

72, Richard

From M0SPC,

Wow !, many thanks to all for the response to my concerns. I value all your advice and have taken it all onboard. I consider I am now ready to plan a few trips to try out my new purchase. Hope to catch up with you all soon.

Many Thanks to all