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FT-897D for SOTA

Hi all
I have been looking at getting set up for HF.
So far I have only used VHF/UHF.
I have used (for and evening) an 857D and and 817 I found the 857D a lot nicer to use despite the extra weight.
I have found a reasonable price for an 897D but I am a bit concerned about the extra weight.
I gather that the 857 and 897 are electrically similar just with a different pannel and case.
The rigpix database quotes a weight of 3.9Kg for the 897 vs 2.1Kg for the 857. Thats nearly 2l of water difference !

Is this accurate?

Is the extra case really that much heavier ?
Is that its weight without batteries ?
i,e, using lithiums wouldn’t cut the weight down (http://uuki.kapsi.fi/fnb78li.html)

Thanks All

In reply to MW6DHN:

I wouldn’t buy an 897 if you intend to carry it far. Just too heavy.

The arguments of 857 vs 817 are complex and depend on many variables such as ergonomics/weight/battery choice/operating modes. There’s no right or even best answer.

One person who can give more info on the choice is Gerald G4OIG who predominantly uses VHF/UHF and has both an 857 and lightweight battery pack and an 817 + VHF/UHF PAs plus batteries.

I use an 817 but as I now do mainly HF and more CW than anything else so only having 5W is not an issue. It’s still an awkward radio to use especially with my big paws and when wearing gloves.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MW6DHN:

I owned an 897 for a short while. Personaly, I found it a bit too bulky for /p. The battery packs used to cost an arm and a leg, however, I think there’s a pack which is much cheaper and with a higher capacity available now.

73 Mike
2E0YYY

In reply to MW6DHN:

The weight given for the 897 is for the basic rig without either the battery packs or the PSU (both fit on the base) and the weight for this and the 857 is accurate. Using lithium batteries rather than SLABs will indeed cut the extra weight down. For reference the weight of the 817 with internal batteries is 1.17 kg, so it comes down to how much weight you want to carry and how much battery power you need.

I have both an 817 and an 857, and have to say that I love them! I don’t find the 857 + SLAB prohibitively heavy to carry, but prefer to use the 817 where the walk-in is long or on the higher summits. Occasionally I chase activations where an 897 is in use, but I think pretty well every 897 user has changed to a lighter rig! I suggest that you look for an 857D.

73

Brian G8ADD (typing in a thunderstorm!)

In reply to G8ADD:
…or an 817!

I like the smaller one myself and 5 Watts is more than adequate for most activations on ssb or cw. Works on data modes too.

Being limited to 5 W means you don’t eat batteries like its bigger brother can do - have a look at Rx current - and of course you’ll be tempted to up the Tx and drain something rather quickly.

Just my opinion.

Mickey (YYY) swears by his 857 and is happy to lug bigger batteries than I am.

You takes your choice…

However, the 817 is a bit better weatherproofed in my humble opinion and although a new one is not a cheap radio, it is still best part of £150 less to buy and/or replace when you have dropped in in a lake, kicked it over the side or simply reversed the polarity of the supply and fried it like an egg.

As has been already said - there is no right/wrong answer…depends on what you want and how you intend to use it.

Either way - they are both good radios and should bring lots of fun.

But buy an 817 :wink:

In reply to G1STQ:

“However, the 817 is a bit better weatherproofed in my humble opinion and although a new one is not a cheap radio, it is still best part of �150 less to buy and/or replace when you have dropped in in a lake, kicked it over the side or simply reversed the polarity of the supply and fried it like an egg.”

Good points, both rigs have limited protection against the weather, and not one of the family have reverse voltage protection so the owner should put a simple crowbar circuit in the power line for peace of mind!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

Good points, both rigs have limited protection against the weather,
and not one of the family have reverse voltage protection so the owner
should put a simple crowbar circuit in the power line for peace of
mind!

I’ve seen quite a few 817s for sale at rallies that have been fried, Brian.

73 Mike
2E0YYY

In reply to 2E0YYY:

I fried TWO 857s, Mike - one was my fault, the battery fell over and I was in a two metre Es opening so I was in a desperate hurry to get back on the air, what with sweat in my eyes I never noticed that I had reversed the leads. Finito! The other one was a PSU failure that gave it too high a voltage and fried some components, but it was repairable. Lesson: both reverse and overvoltage protection are a good idea!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to MM0FMF:

One person who can give more info on the choice is Gerald G4OIG who predominantly uses VHF/UHF and has both an 857 and lightweight battery pack and an 817 + VHF/UHF PAs plus batteries.

Basically it comes down to “horses for courses”. I am currently using the 817 + 2m 25W linear combination as I am activating the GM/SS summits. The advantage of this system over the 857 is one of battery drain. The 857 (and I assume the 897 also) takes significantly more current than the 817 on receive. Also I get the benefit of the preamp in the 2m linear module. All positive points for activating several summits that are relatively remote from the core of the chasers.

Now for an HF only activation, I am getting to prefer the 857 as it has a higher output which is useful on SSB (I think Steve G1INK will agree on that) or when conditions are poor. On CW, an 817 is usually sufficient provided you get spotted.

I wholly agree Andy about the 817 being fiddly with gloves - in my opinion, it is nigh impossible, so I always abandon my gloves when it is cold to operate and then have great difficulty getting them back on when my hands are cold and damp. The 857 is much better to operate when wearing gloves.

As for batteries, the 857 requires a 4S LiPO plus diode dropper or as I have, a 3S LiPO and large capacity single cell NiMH in series to get the 12V nominal required. The 817 just runs off a 3S LiPO. When running the 817 + 2m linear combo, the 817 runs off the LiPO alone and linear runs off the LiPO + NiMH.

It really all comes down to personal preference. I think having one of each allows me a measure of flexibility… and as to weight, well the radio is only part of the total. If I was that worried about weight, I would probably risk not taking the first aid kit, the bothy bag, the plastic tarpaulin, etc.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to MW6DHN:

I have all three of the Yaesu units. The 857 is a fixture in my vehicle so have not wanted to take it out.

As for the 897 and 817 both have been used portable.

The 897 is quite a heavy beasty with its internal battery ,which limits the rig to 20 Watts so it now only used on very easy hills or when I want two set-ups operating at the same time on activity days.

The main work horse is the 817 which I find the most versitile. Like Gerald on V/UHF I use Microwave Modules amplifiers for either 2m or 70cm.

On HF I add either a HF Packer amplifier or a Tokyo HL-50B (John GW4BVE has the same combination of Yaesu/Tokyo), both will happily produce over 45 to 50W with 11V Li-Pos if the 817 is set on high power. I usually use the 817 at 2.5W to drive the amplifiers which means they produce around 25 to 30W giving me loads of operating time from two 4000mAh batteries. The weight of an 817/amplifier is around the same as a 857 without the need to carry heavy SLABs or funny Li-Po combinations to provide the near 13V it requires to operate efficiently.

If the worst came to the worst I can always pop on the 817s rubber duck and make contacts on VHF with its internal battery; my first couple of activations were done this way till I knew better :o)

As you appear to be a M6 and limited to 10W I would start with the 817, you can make contacts on HF with 5W if you use good antennas, and then later add amplifiers.

Carolyn >250 activations

Thanks all very informative as always.
You have confirmed my thoughts // worries that the 897 would be too heavy.
I guess Ill just have to keep saving and waiting for a KX3!

1 Like

In reply to G1STQ:

However, the 817 is a bit better weatherproofed in my humble opinion
and although a new one is not a cheap radio, it is still best part of
�150 less to buy and/or replace when you have dropped in in a lake,
kicked it over the side or simply reversed the polarity of the supply
and fried it like an egg.

Or when Mickey stands on it…

Mickey - you sold me my 817 at a rally…

I have both rigs and, as Gerald says, it is horses for courses. My 857 sits in my shack now and I only ever use the 817 for activations. This because of the modes I use and the weight & power supply savings.

Best regards

Dave

In reply to M0TUB:

Or when Mickey stands on it…

Mickey - you sold me my 817 at a rally…

And a stunning example it was, Sir.

BTW, if there’s anything wrong with it, I’m afraid it was sold as seen :wink:

73 Mike
2E0YYY

In reply to MW6DHN:
As others have said on here it is purely a personal opinion!

I have the 857 and use it in the car/shack or when the walking is gentle, this is powered from the car battery or a SLAB! It works very well and is a joy to operate, however for proper walking it never comes with me.

I have used my 817 on HF and VHF/UHF and I am always amazed by the results. For HF if you are using a resonant dipole (Balun or no balun hi hi) it works really well, but if you use inefficient antennas and ATUs then I dont think for HF it is not that great! However HF is dependant on the Ionosphere playing ball and if it is not there then you can have all the power in the world but it is not going to help you!

In addition the weight of my 817 has been reduced by taking out the useless battery pack and alsways using it on external Lipo batteries!

For VHF/UHF 5 watts into a beam on efficient modes (SSB) works really well, on SSB from the Dorset Coast I was easily working Manchester on 5 watts! However the FM lads have lots of success as well, I just prefer SSB!

If you get either rig you have every mode on most bands so either way your winning, but give 2m/70cm SSB a chance you will not be dissapointed.

My two pence

Matt G8XYJ

In reply to G8ADD:

Interesting subject. I am planning to use my FT-857 from a SLA Battery. I have fitted PowerPoles but wanted to take the ‘belt and braces’ approach and add proper diode protection, as you recommend.

Searching around, I have found one or two protection circuits, including two ideas from Phil Salas, AD5X :

One uses a single 1.5KE15A 15-volt transient suppressor diode for simple reverse polarity and over voltage protection and there is a second circuit which is a full crowbar for over voltage protection when using on the shack’s PSU should that fail and deliver over voltage to the rig.

The article is here as a PDF: http://www.ad5x.com/images/Articles/Vprotect%20RevA.pdf

Would you recommend these ideas?

Thanks for the input. 73, Mike.

In reply to M0MTJ:

They seem good to me, Mike, I’ve made a note of them!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

Thanks for taking a look.

The 1.5KE15A is available from Farnell and RS - RS has a minimum order quantity of ten units at 37.5p each (presumably plus VAT). All plus, as yet, unknown delivery costs. (Rapid currently have a minimum order quantity of 1400 !)

The S2055W triac seems rather more tricky to obtain after an admittedly brief search.

I should imagine that all the other components such as the 15 volt zener diode, cap’s and resistors are very readily available.

Thanks again, 73, Mike.

In reply to M0MTJ:

when using on the shack’s PSU should that fail and deliver over voltage to
the rig
[snip]
Would you recommend these ideas?

I’d recommend using a PSU that had over voltage protection in the 1st place :slight_smile:

If I didn’t know of the abomination that is the EP925 (sold under many names and model numbers) I’d find it hard to believe that anyone could get away selling such junk. Under rated components, questionable build quality and no over voltage protection… they’re cheap for all the bad reasons.

Fit over-voltage protection to the PSU then everything is protected.

Also when using fuses and high current, ensure the fuse carrier is up to the job in hand. European style car fuses and their holders seem to do a better job at carrying high current compared to 1.25in cartridge fuses and their bright plated connections. (Ah, read the PDF and Phil uses them too!)

AD5X’s designs do the job. Any thyristor which can handle the current long enough to blow the fuse is all that’s needed. A rule of thumb I’d use is one with twice the PSU current rating. 25A PSU = 50A thyristor. Make sure the fuse is on the output side of the capacitors!

PA0FRI (of PL519 Frinear fame) has a nice design that uses a relay to interrupt the current when the crowbar thyristor fires. Saves having to replace the fuse and probably trips quicker. You can do an EP925 on the thyristor spec too in this case.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to G4OIG:

Just a quick note to power the FT-857 from LiPo batteries. Two years using 3S 5000mAh LiPo. I believe that I have a good signal in the full range of supply (start 12.6 V, 10.0 V end). IMHO it is not necessary to use a 4S LiPo plus diode.

73! Petr OK1FFU

In reply to MM0FMF:

In reply to M0MTJ: I’d recommend using a PSU that had over voltage protection
in the 1st place :slight_smile:

If I didn’t know of the abomination that is the EP925 (sold under many
names and model numbers) I’d find it hard to believe that anyone could
get away selling such junk. Under rated components, questionable build
quality and no over voltage protection… they’re cheap for all the
bad reasons.
Andy, MM0FMF

Andy, All correct of course.

Any recommendations for a good power supply that doesn’t cost the earth?

73, Mike.