Interesting, but as an SSB user I do nearly all my tuning with the select button, set to 1 kHz steps. That goes for the 857, too, even though the feel of the main tuner is much better. In fact you can tune any ham band the same way and only very rarely find a station that is off tune, so I guess that this is a common practice! I suspect that only CW users would make much use of the main tuner.
The epitome of tuners for me was the famous Eddystone drive, a fantastic piece of engineering that was a joy to use. I remember a friend made the G2DAF pair of separates, each with an Eddystone drive - superb feel! Ancient technology now, of course, but still remarkable.
What other options are there for V/UHF multimode? You can add a very expensive 2 metre option to the KX3, or you can go to the FT857, or the older IC706 or FT100. Further back I suppose you could still get an FT290R I or II, and even the occasional FT790 might turn up, but realistically the FT817 is the only game in town for portable V/UHF multimode. That is why I hold the opinion that a “replacement” without V/UHF is not a replacement but something else entirely. Bearing in mind that 2 metres is the third most popular band for SOTA, a “replacement” without 2 metres is abandoning an important market.
The need for ruggedness puts a significant problem in the lap of the design engineer. Most of the weight of the FT817 and the 857 comes from the thick cast chassis. I reckon a small boulder could fall on top of the case and the rig would still work - though I wouldn’t care to prove this! The designers of the KX3 have decided that this is unnecessary and people will treat their rigs with care. They might be right, but I find the ruggedness of the 817 reassuring.
One thing to bear in mind when talking about weight is that if the activator is properly equipped for the mountains, the weight of the station will be only a small part of the weight of the pack. The 817 weighs approximately the same as a litre bottle of water for instance, and unless you are going to drink from streams (and risk liver fluke in sheep country!) you can’t cut back on water! Anybody who frequently treks above the tree line will be used to carrying loads.
I currently carry my Kenwood TS480 and they don’t seem interested in making anything smaller which is a pity as I like Kenwood rigs. It is too big and a bit too heavy at 4kg but more than most rigs. I am currently saving up for an FT817 and if the replacement doesn’t have 2m then I agree it’s not a full replacement as I want an all in one rig that’s smaller than my Kenwood and 2m ssb is a mode/band I want to try.
IC-7000, IC-7100, FT-991, FT-897, FT-847, TS-2000, IC-9100 etc. Not portable in the sense we understand it for SOTA purposes, but probably better suited than a FT-817 at most VHF/UHF multimode needs: DX, contests, satellites, transverters etc.
Sure, 2m portable is very popular, but most of those 2m activations were done on cheap, 200-gram FM radios, not multimode transceivers. Maybe Andy can help us with some database statistics, but I’d guess that cumulated 2m and 70cm SSB/CW activations won’t account for more than 5% of the total SOTA QSO’s, and a considerable part of those were probably done just because some contest was taking place. It’s not essential, it’s just a feature that gets used sometimes.
Anyway, it’s great we don’t agree on what the FT-817’s successor should be like, at least some of us will be happy when it comes out :).
No New rig when it comes out is a successor to a previous rig (at least not to start with), otherwise the stock that the companies and dealers have of the old model becomes worthless. So the FT991 is not a replacement for the FT-897 and the FT-891 is not a successor for the FT-857, at lest that is … until Yaesu dealers have cleared all their stock of FT-857 and 897 models.
Agreed - I’m trying to find out more, I’ll update one way or the other.
It would be different for a HT to have SSB nowadays, but if it’s SDR based, definitely a possibility - we’ll have to take a closer look at Friedrichshafen
UPDATE: OK, now I’ve found the info. The HT is a tri-bander 2m, 220MHz, 70cm running FM and supporting APRS and D-Star. Also within the rig is a wideband receiver, which can receive HF/VHF AM, FM, SSB & CW. Similar to what the Yaesu VX range does I believe.
Nice to see I would not be the only one missing 2m/70cm allmode in a FT-817 successor. Agreed besides contests 2m SSB and especially 70cm SSB are nearly empty. But there is a contest nearly every 1st weekend of the month in Germany. Especially 2m/70cm takes most use of a good location, so the ideal time to get up a mountain either in combination but also besides SOTA. Receiving “big signal” from a >1 kW contest station with a Yagi group while running the FT-817 on 5W with and a HB9CV from a high summit is always great fun. Having a rig without 2m SSB simply is no option for this use.
These are exactly the systems which detract you from traffic during use: You cannot use them without looking at some kind of display as you always have to check which variable is controlled by the knob currently. All functions (more or less) essential for driving are still dedicated buttons/knobs: blinker, light, wipers, gear stick/selector for manual transmission, engine start/stop and not to forget the most vital controls steering wheel, brake, accelerator and clutch for manual transmission. I just think about a single-dial concept for brake and accelerator
Btw: Even the BMW iDrive as a typical single-knob-solution has dedicated buttons for CD, RADIO, TEL, NAV, … .
Soft keys and an universal knob are good for parameters you only change occasionaly. But for volume, frequency, squelch (at least momentarily switching it off), notch filter, passband / IF shift, tuner I prefer individual controls I can use without watching some display. The FT-817 fails regarding a few of these but nothing is perfect.
Facing bright sunlight, darkness, rain, snow, a poor rig position and many other typical outdoor situations make reading any display a hassle.
To my mind successor rigs do exist. Especially for the FT-817 I can imagine one. The FT-817 seems to be selling well even today. No wonder, as it is the only model in this special segment of market. This is also the reason a 15 year old rig is not withdrawn by Yaesu. But once Yaesu cannot get the components (RF transistors, whatever) anymore they will not upgrade a 15 year old design but present a newly designed successor.
I can even imagine there will be a run on the last FT-817 units. Even if the successor will have all features of the FT-817 and even fix some of the FT-817 drawbacks (outdated internal power supply, poor DSP without notch filter, quite poor intermod) there will be one drawback of the successor: Price. A new design has to pay off for Yaesu so they will not start with 500 - 600 € retail price.
I fear the new Kenwood HT will only receive SSB and not transmit. That’s a common feature also for older Kenwood HTs. The description clearly says “multi mode reception” and “IF filter for comfortable reception (SSB/CW)”.
I can only find Razvan’s blog mentioning the possible FT-791 rig - there doesn’t ssem to be anything announced at Dayton about an FT-817 replacement, so this does appear to just be a rumour at the moment. While the other new Yaesu rigs seem to be replacments for the FT-857 and 897 (even if at the moment Yaesu say they aren’t), there’s no reason to presume that if two of the FT-8x7 rigs are replaced, the third one will be as well - or do you know more than you say in your blog Razvan?
I do have some other bits and pieces of info, but between what Yaesu is researching/planning and what makes it to the public eventually there always are some differences. Take the FT-410 for example, it’s been ready for a year but it never came out (or maybe it will never will).
Anyway, I’ve updated the blog post with some more news about the FT-891, it’s the smallest and lightest 100W HF radio ever built, only 1.9kg and 15mm shorter than the FT-857. Unfortunately, it takes 2A on RX, so not really a backpacker’s dream.
Who is still complaining about the FT-817 power consumption on RX ?
Well, the FT-891 seems to be built for car based operation as the FT-857 was originally. This also explains the 100 W of HF power output.
Going back to this, I notice from the database that we now list just short of 5,000 activators and are adding new activators at a rate of about fifty per month. SOTA is becoming a significant market sector and in my opinion it would be pretty remarkable if the major manufacturers were not starting to take the SOTA market into consideration when designing small rigs. It seems that Elecraft has taken this on board and as SOTA is developing in the Far East I would guess that the big three will be taking notice, too. It isn’t difficult for them to access the database and work out what our needs are!