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FT817 for HF Activations

Looking to get into HF within the next 6-8 months and was wondering what people thought of the FT817? Quite a few of my activations would be on multi-day backpacking trips, so weight is definitely a factor. Love that it has built in batteries. I’d be 3-4 days in between charging points at resupply points so I think that a 90 minute runtime between stops in civilization would work.

Is 5w enough on HF to hit some chasers from backcountry sites? Would probably be carrying a slim-jim antenna.

Thanks!

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Hi Richard,
The FT817 or 817ND or 818 rig is a very good trail friendly rig. If you are talking about the Yaesu internal rechargable battery it is a NiCD and doesn’t keep the rig going for as long as you might need. You can also power it from an external 11-14v supply but you may want to consider at some point upgrading from the Yaesu NiCD battery to a LIPO battery. There are either pre-made upgrade kits avialble in the US or you can do the upgrade yourself. See here: https://vk3yy.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/ft-817-low-cost-lipo-battery/

I have worked from Europe to Australia on 5 watts SSB from my FT-817ND on several occasions - you just need good propagation conditions and be on the right bands at the right time. Getting down from the summit into surrounding states should not be an issue on HF.

The FT817 doesn’t have a built-in ATU so you either need an external one or only use resonant antennas - which is the better option. Linked dipoles or off centre fed dipoles supported by a telescopic fishing pole, work very well.

You might want to look at a lightweight solar panel set-up to recharge whichever battery solution you decide to go with, for the length of time that you intend to be away from other power sources.

73 Ed.

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I predict that there will be people telling you that a KX2 or KX3 would be better, and they may well be right, but you asked about the FT817 so I’ll stick to that. In my first year using one with a G5RV antenna at about 25 feet I worked over a hundred countries in five continents on HF, and on six metres with a wire antenna I worked thirty four countries in my first sporadic E season. This was not at sunspot maximum, more like halfway down, but conditions were probably better than right now at a deep sunspot minimum, never the less, as long as you have a reasonably effective antenna I am sure that you will be impressed by the 817 - and the sunspot number can only go up!

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What ist the transceiver for? Do you carry it for safety reason, then (I think) the FT 817 is a good choice… because you have 2m and 70 cm for repeater contacts. The FT 817 is a tank… really outdoor equipment.
Is it for HF pleasure… there are lots of qrp transceivers with better power management, and smaler size and weight… especially if you can cw.

73 Armin

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817 Great Radio… dump the internal battery and take a LifeP04 type from “bioenno” or similar 2.5Ahr should run you for about 2hrs of ~50:50 duty cycle. Richard //N2GBR

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If you are concerned with weight, the Elecraft KX2 is 1/3 the weight with double the power. It is also a more recent design, with DSP filtering. Battery and ATU can be internal, so fewer cables to connect, lose, whatever. An HT and a KX2 might weigh less than an FT-817.

Seven years ago I bought a KX3 because I didn’t want to carry an FT-817.

There are 100 or so comments on this topic in this thread:

wunder

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For 700 dollars or less you have a ¨Victorinox¨ of the radios. A little tank wich you can work from HF to V/UHF all modes.

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There’s no perfect radio. There’s no best radio for SOTA. They all have different strengths nad weaknesses.

Pros:
FT817 is cheap secondhand, it does HF and VHF competently. It’s tough and they seem to stay working overall. There are loads of add ons.

Cons:
It’s expensive new, the internal battery is a joke, the usability is so-so especially in the field wearing gloves. It has high current consumption on RX.

But it’s the only all mode 160m-70cms compact radio.

The KX2 is a significantly better HF radio but doesn’t do VHF/UHF. It’s much more expensive than an 817/818 new.

So if you are a relatively new ham wanting to try HF and protable operation, buy a secondhand 817 and an external LiPo / LiFePo battery. It will be massively more than competent for a newcomer and in a few years time you can look at selling it and buying something better such as KX2. If you look after it, you’ll not lose anything over a 3 year period. Or you can keep it and buy something extra anyway because more radios means more fun.

Remember, the radio you actually have and use is significantly better than all the radios you want to own!

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Since weight is an important factor, I would consider one of the Mountain Topper radios. They’re the lightest commercial multiband radios I know of. The guy who designed them, Steve Weber KD1JV, designed them so he’d have a nice radio to take on his long backpacking trips on the AT.

If you really need VHF, just carry an HT too.

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Which HT does SSB ? :wink:

This one does

Take 2

Which VHF HT does SSB?

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None that I’m aware of, but I didn’t think having VHF SSB was a listed requirement. :man_shrugging:

The 817 is a good radio. I had one that I used for SOTA. I ended up selling it to help fund the purchase of a KX2. You should be able to find one for a great price. You will definitely be able to make a ton of contacts with it. I know I did.

Be prepared to be surprised when your 5w signal reaches a far away country!

Roland

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I used an FT817ND for the first year of my SOTA activities. I liked the ability to work up to 440 with just one radio. What I did not like was the need to carry an antenna tuner. But 5 watts is plenty for HF operations.
I currently operate with a KX3 with built in antenna tuner and I generally carry a 4.5Ahr LifePO battery to get 15 W.
Knowing what I know now I might chose a KX2 - small but powerful - less weight, built in antenna tuner, light batteries.
Good luck - Hope you enjoy SOTA!

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Just my .02 here.
Used 817 can be found really cheap. You can take the extra cash and buy an amp to get the extra power if needed if 5 watts is not doing it. An example look here http://www.kwarc.org/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/kwarc/arcdbs and search for 817. There is one in Ontario (Canada) for $450 cdn (about $20 us… joking) but if he is willing to ship, its well worthwhile
I have a KX2 and KX3 but with the current band conditions both are set to 4 watts driving a 50 watt amp. I have gotten skunked prior to the amp.

Malen
VE6VID

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Here is a list of options:

And there is a new one https://www.aerial-51.com/alt-512/

Maybe there are much more…

73 Armin

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That list seems a little out of date Armin, as it only has the one Chinese HF rig - the X1M, since then just Xiegu have added the X108G, the X5105 and now the G90 all suitable in different ways for portable operation.

BUT

This thread was asking whether the Yaesu FT817 a good radio for SOTA and I think from those replies that didn’t go off talking about other rigs, several of which don’t support the modes (e.g. SSB & FM) or bands (HF + VHF) that the 817 does, we can say that the concensus of opinion is that the FT817 is a good radio for SOTA (or backpacking portable in general) with one achilles heel of the supplied battery.

73 Ed.

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…and the size …and the weight - which can be important during a multi-day hike

73 Armin

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If you want to do SSB, rather than just CW then your going to have to make peace with a little extra weight no matter what you choose. I think that includes carrying a spare Lipo/LiFePO, as the supplied battery is, as said above, a complete joke. My advice is remove it and just use an external battery. However, add in a mobilinkd APRS module and you would have APRS spotting as well as everything else:
http://www.mobilinkd.com/
It’s not the lightest option, but it is far and away the most versatile.
73 de TF/OE6FEG/P
Matt

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