Yes I used the search and I know this question has been asked 1000 times. But I’m looking for a response from people that have used both. I’m also looking for experience, not just “it’s a better radio” I’m speaking of just using my 817 for HF SSB.
Almost every single post I’ve read has said , I had an 817 and I bought a kx2 and I don’t use the 817 anymore, or hardly ever. My question is, why? Convenience? Is the KX2 $1,000 better then the 817?
Of course I realize two reasons, Lion Internal battery and built in ATU. Currently I use an EHFW and so far have not needed a tuner. However was there a time where you found yourself needing one? Wet leaves, antenna orientation etc.
Was there ever a time where HF QRM was so bad that you couldn’t use your 817 and would the filtering of a KX2 save the activation perhaps?
I guess I’m trying to understand what sways people to go KX2. Considering you can get a used 817 for around $400 and a KX2 loaded is about $1300. How as the KX2 changed the way you operate or has it made the activation more enjoyable?
Have you had issues with the KX2 overheating? How has it held up over the long term (durability wise? Do you use the internal battery or do you find it inadequate?
Thanks for any help or experiences.
well, my two cents for the KX2 are:
the ATU will tune a barbed wire fence, and you can integrate it into the rig (one less item to carry)
it is a LOT lighter,
I think the screen is easier to read…
If I were backpacking with one of those two radios, it’s the KX2 that’s going b/c (when I had a KX2, have an MTR now) the kit was ~4 lbs… 817 is much heavier
My pros are more around asthetics, and there were some things I ended up not liking about the KX2 (like I hate the sound of Sideband on an SDR radio, sounds too…max headroomy). etc…
I own both. I haven’t used the 817 since getting the KX2. I also own (and still use when I want 100W) an FT857. I use linked dipoles (no ATU required), multi-band end-fed wire (needs ATU) and a super antenna (ATU helps). I normally use an external battery, but the (vastly superior) internal battery in the KX2 gives me the option for saving weight or ease of travel by plane. I’m not decrying the all-round capability (multi-band/mode) of the 817, but these days I prefer to carry a separate H/H VHF (better resilience if one radio fails for some reason - usually operator error!). KX gives me double the power capability in a more compact unit. KX should be supplied with protection such as the SideKX panels and cover (IMHO). 817 feels more rugged, but I haven’t harmed my KX yet! Price is irrelevant, because I own them both.
At the end of the day, they are both good radios - uniquely compromised, but offering individual advantages. There is no right answer. Choose which you prefer or can afford.
PS sorry forgot one of your queries - overheating - in the north of England?? I wish I sometimes try to keep it in the shade (oh happy memories), but I’ve never had a problem. I’m more worried about sheltering my radios from the rain (another advantage of the standalone waterproof HH VHF)
You’re currently using an EFHW - you picked from very few options - you have to use a resonant antenna so the lack of tuner forced your hand there. The tuner lets you make an actual choice with many options which is cool, the EFHW/dipole isn’t suitable in all locations.
If its worth the $1000 is down to how you value the advantages really.
Its a lot lighter, its a lot smaller, it has great ears, tuner, much much much much better internal battery (hours and hours of operation), the list goes on (I’m sure you’ve done your research there).
Ultimately the only advantages of the 817 are the price and UHF/VHF/top band access as far as I can tell having both of them (it also looks more rugged but that is hard to quantify, I’d rather drop my 817 but again - its a much cheaper rig…)
How you weight up the value of that is totally up to you!
I’ve told this story before but it is worth repeating. Some time ago I was activating Watch Croft, G/DC-007. The summit is a clitter of granite boulders with a trig point and a shelter ring of roughly placed stones. I had the mast on the trig point and feeder running to the rig on the floor of the shelter. The wind moved the mast, pulling the feeder, and it dislodged a lump of granite about the size of my head. The lump fell a couple of feet straight onto the top cover of my FT817. After I finished cursing I looked at the rig. The damage consisted of a small scratch in the paint and the rig was still working and on frequency. Now I’ve never used a KX2 but I’ve handled one, and though it is a nice compact rig with good specifications I really doubt that it would take a lump of granite weighing, I don’t know, 20 pounds? dropping a couple of feet onto it. The 817 is rugged, I would be OK with taking a KX2 onto a nice smooth grassy summit but for anything more rough I would prefer the 817/818. In the end only the questioner will know what sort of excursion that he will take his final choice on, but ruggedness should be included in the equation.
Both rigs have good things going for them, the out board Speech Compressor improves the FT 817 I have once you get the settings right on SSB. kX2 has internal tuner and a lot more “trimmings” needed or not jammed in a small tin box. I do use my FT 817 on SOTA but tend to use the Elecraft more. I only use resonate link dipoles on SOTA given up on all the other Wonder antennas that I have tried over the years LDP’s just give the best signal out for what they are. My bench marks are ZL and JA stations that I chase or work for S2S and the ones who use Dipoles are worked more readily than other antennas they choose to use. So my thoughts re which rig is better are more about what antenna is hooked up to it in the end.
We’ve been here before of course and you may want to review this topic as well …
I’ve had a FT817 for 19 years and a KX2 for 3 years. I use the 817 now only for 2m SSB/CW. My KX2 and 2m/70cm FM/C4FM FT1D weigh about the same as the 817 [and I like the redundancy of having two radios]. I endorse the many excellent points already made by 817/KX2 owners above.
If I had to single out only one feature of the KX2, it’s the excellent [optional] internal ATU which loads up my 40/30/20 EFHW well on 60m, 17m, etc. Yes, I could take my two linked dipoles and spend ages setting them up [and maybe get marginally better Dx], but at my age I value quick deployment in winter [so my fingers aren’t already cold before I need to paddle properly].
Highly relevant discussion as I’m in the process of getting a KX2 in an attempt to get the weight down a bit - My 817 / MXP50M amp / Speech compressor combination seems to work well, but when I was out last summer (Mickle Fell) I was feeling the weight. ( I also carry a FT270 for 2m as a plan B radio… ) I intend using the 817 combination on shorter walks and if I want 2m SSB. I’m wondering how much I’ll notice going from about 30w to 10w…
(PS Following Andy’s one in one out rule the FT450 in the shack is off to a new home)
(PPS Side panels are also on the way, at the moment according to USPS they seem to be taking a tour of the West Coast…)
TBH my second K2 is now sold. Down to a single fully loaded 10W K2 with an XV144 and an Anglian III in construction as well. I think the 706MkII is not long for this shack too. It never gets used. I’m also considering disposing of both Codans (8525B and X2 2020) as well for the same reason.
I owned an 817nd with the SSB filter, internal DSP, and mic-based compression. I bought it in 2008ish when I got my General ticket and only sold it this past Fall when I bought a used KX2 with ATU at a price that was impossible to say no to.
I do miss the option of doing 6m and 2m FM or SSB, not that I used them much in my 817nd…
Does everything. DC-Daylight in any mode you could want.
Well supported in the aftermarket
Not terribly expensive
Lacks built in filters and other audio controls found in the KX2.
Somewhat power hungry
Display and controls a bit tedious to use if it’s in your lap (ie sitting on a rock)
No internal ATU or even an option for one.
Poor internal battery life (though decent if you use the AA tray and high capacity NiMH batteries)
Light and compact
Internal ATU Option
Lots of audio controls and filters with which to tweak your signal
Controls and display great for operating from your lap or handheld
Decent internal battery life
Feels lightly delicate (but it’s not).
Doesn’t do 6m or 2m. If you use 2m for SOTA, you’ll need a 2nd radio.
ATU can sometimes be a bit flaky
Exactly what happened to G8ADD above, happened to me and my KX2. I have attached the photo. Owning the KX2 has been described as dancing with the prom queen. After dancing with her it is hard to dance with anyone else but is she really the one you want to marry and have children with? That is the question. By the way, just the repair of my KX2 was more than the cost of a 817.
Ouch! This why I feel the side panels and cover should really be standard fit on this radio (which is designed specifically for portable use in the great and wild outdoors). They offer some protection (though I still wouldn’t class it as robust as the 817).
I confess Paul that I’d never really considered my KX in that way! I wonder if my wife would let me bring it to bed with me?
First up if you are concerned with value for money why not pick up a used KX2? I see them on eBay and the Elecraft reflector more often than not for $800 plus. That also makes your comparison more equitable as your valuing your current 817 at $400 and a used KX2 at $800 plus for a difference of around $400.
BTW , the price difference between new base KX2 and 818 is about $180 in the US at present.
My KX2, which has endplates and a cover, has been on hundreds of activations, been thumped on when falling backwards on a trail, operated in really hot weather, really cold weather and been a champ. But to be fair, I sit between it and the direct sun to manage heating as I do for my iPhone, pack it in padding for when I take a tumble. Generally try and be mindful.
As someone else shared its your choice based on your requirements and how deep your pockets are.
Lets be honest. How many radios do you need?
Just one … … … more.
This is a great time for new portable radios with the IC-705, Xeigu X5105, MCHF and others also available.
The 817 has 3 issues for me.
No speech processor. I think this is the main actual performance issue for SSB with this radio.
Battery life on (old) factory batteries, easily fixed, and thereafter only really an issue for long (>1week) trips.
Weight: An issue for long trips more than day outings I think. (Same for size).
Get new NiMH e.g black eneloops which are 2700mAh. Twice what the factory ones were new, before they lost capacity, and >8hrs RX. (240g/set). Replacement NiMH means no change to the charging.
or, use L91 disposable lithium. (120g/set), and 3000mAh. You have the good fortune to live in the US, where you can get them for ~$10 a set.
Either of these is enough power for a couple of activations and a multi-day hiking trip.
If you are considering buying a new KX2, you can ask for a committed repair price / replacement part price for the display LCD, and simply refuse to buy if it’s silly.
I have done this on other equipment. They and I knew that the marginal cost of the custom LCD is <$50, and further there is only an X% chance of ever needing a replacement. The manufacturer gave me a firm price of $150 for a display replacement that I knew they were gouging 70% of the products list price for if you came along later needing one.
They weren’t happy, but in this case it can be do it, or lose the sale to Xeigu that has an industry standard display you can replace cheaply.
Another option is ask for a price including a spare LCD.
I have a KX3 and have used a KX2 on just one activation in Spain (thanks to Jorge EA2LU). I also own and have used many times, an FT817.
Comparing these rigs using technical characteristics, apart from transmit power (10/5 watts) shows them to be apparently similar on paper. However in the field where it counts:
Adjusting mike gain on ssb:
kx series has the mike gain on the front panel.
WIth the 817 it is a 2nd level menu adjustment
Setting power levels
front panel control on KX series.
Preset levels (5, 2.5, 1 and 0.5w) on 817 series
Adjusting speed on cw
Front panel control on KX series.
A 2nd level menu control on FT817, though there is a shortcut if the first level menu is positioned so that control C is KYR, in that case a long press of button C brings up the speed control.
Built in to the kx series.
Ft817 requires external compressor.
Not avail in kx2, 6m built into kx3, 2m option (not cheap!) avail for kx3.
Built into the ft817 (50/144/432)
Two antenna sockets - ideal for using the radio as a transverter driver and on the IF band for liaison
Not an option with kx2
Built into the ft817
Optional filtering for SSB and CW bandwidths
Continuously variable in the KX series.
Optional narrow filter for the 817 for either SSB or CW, but not both (unless you get a rare PCB and mod done to the radio (apparently no longer available) so that ssb uses the better spec filter and cw has a choice of 500 or 300 hz. Both filters no longer manufactured by original supplier (Collins) so this option is virtually nonexistent now as far as I know.
Headphones/speaker, external key socket, digital mode options, control of external amplifier or transverters
Basically available in both radios but implemented in different ways.
Form factor, Styling, what is it intended for?
KX series appear to be designed specifically for portable use, low current consumption on rx, big panel has an informative LCD screen and numerous knobs that someone like me with big fingers can readily access and use.
FT817 took over the role of the FT*90R series as a portable “handbag” style radio able to be used as a vhf portable on a shoulder strap, with an antenna sticking out of the front panel socket, so the front panel is small and has very limited space for LCD and controls, but with the added benefit of HF bands for QRP use. Did Yaesu expect it to last so long and be so popular? Possibly not. The 818 is possibly a stopgap measure before the release of a newer type of radio.
As you can see, both series of radios have their strengths. Many operators enjoy the additional features of the KX series and like having those features to use on a summit or in a park. The 817 though is hard to beat in terms of being an affordable multi-use radio. I do require an IF radio for microwave work and I do like 6m/2m/70cm ssb operations. Hence I’m not likely to dispose of mine any time soon, though I’ll keep using the kx3 for most of my HF activations.
If I had to choose only one, I would probably pick the one with the most bands as that gives me the most options.
A pity you don’t have 2 KX2 anymore. You could erect two antenna at right angles and couple one to one rig and the other to the other rig. Diversity operation. Ear buds from both rigs one rig per ear.
If in doubt buy an IC705. The extra weight and possible need for a small ATU are vanishingly small disadvantages against the pleasure of having an all band home station albeit at 10 W.
Inbuilt everything except ATU and microphone.
Auto sets time in the field to GPS UTC. Records QSOs. Talks to Death Stars. It needs 3 manuals.
I have a headset connected via Bluetooth. Ah the freedom. QSO from 15 m away (must stay in the AZ). I do have to connect the key by cable as my whistled CW causes hysterical laughter at the other end of the QSO.
I’ve dropped mine twice on hard surfaces and it did not break.