Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

VHF Handheld Recommendation

Not recommended. It is waterproof (tested mine in a glass of water). But it’s a poor performer and rather clunky.

I guess the ft60 would be the dual band equivalent.


1 Like

One of those has accompanied me on nearly every activation I’ve done for the last six years, strapped to the outside of the pack in all weathers. Paint is wearing off the case in places but still works fine :slight_smile:

73 de Paul G4MD

Edit: Not that I’ve given it Andy’s “tent peg test” though…

How does the “Emergency Automatic ID system” work?

Pete :uk:

Oh, I had forgotten that. It was all mine was useful for today. The battery lasts so long I often forget to charge it. So it died during mid waffle with Iain MM3WJZ. Still it was last charged before I went up to Tongue in mid-August so I can’t complain.

Thanks for the all the advice, it has been very useful. I’ve
decided to go for the Yaesu FT-857 as it meets a number of my needs;
SOTA VHF activations, VHF contests (with SSB), satellite work and offers 100w when mobile.

Being a predominantly HF man I’m going to dip my toe in the VHF water and if I like it, I’ll get a HT at a later date. I still see the appeal of super light weight activations!

Thanks, James M0JCQ

Hi, James, the 857 is a nice rig, I love mine, but a word of warning: there is NO reverse voltage protection, a whiff of wrong-way-around voltage and it is dead beyond economic repair, so I suggest that you either fit connectors that cannot be reversed or hide a protection diode in the fuse sleeve. Bitter experience, mate, I was just completing with a Spanish station on 2 metres SSB and the battery fell over pulling off the plugs. The sweat was running into my eyes (these Cornish summits can be HOT!) and I never noticed that I was putting the plugs back the wrong way around! RIP.


PowerPoles are the way to go. Wire them the “standard” way and you will be compatible with everyone else. I still think of Brian’s plight every time I see someone’s activation photo showing a battery connected with crocodile clips. Sadly such photos still appear occasionally.

1 Like

Hi James,

The 857 is a fine rig, with all the bells and whistle you’ll ever need. If your budget will stretch to it, include the Collins SSB Filter (about 100 Quid) IIRC. This is a wonderful bit of kit.

The downside… It’s not light and will require a decent battery. :frowning:

Have Fun…

73 Mike

Hi James

The 857 is a very good choice, I went for an 817 with a small amplifier but the 857 will be great. I had a Ft-897 with dual batteries and it was just too heavy for Sota.

As far as h/helds go I have a Kenwood TH-D72A and as Mike G6TUH said these are a great radio. Great receiver and transmit also APRS etc. Just so much in one radio.


Look forward to a S2S soon.


John VK6NU

1 Like

Thanks Brian, that’s a good word of warning and sorry to hear that about your rig. My KX3 does have reverse voltage protection, but I’m in the middle of converting to PowerPoles instead of the crocodile clips, so I’ll speed up this process!

Nice to also work you on 60m from Wendover Woods back in October this year - maybe it’ll be on 2m next :smile:

James M0JCQ

I am about to put down money in one of these - 857 or 817. I am biased towards the 817 due to the weight/size reasons.
Main driver is to add SSB and high HF bands capability to the armoury for SOTA activations. The other, I was already planning to get a small PA - hardrock 50 to beef up my SDR at home.

What battery technology/size/weight people use with their 857 and 817s? I don’t have a feel for the difference.

For VHF I use a Kenwood TH22 HT, in need of a new battery (cooked the last one) and an efficient aerial. I have not touched VHF lately on my activations.

73s Angel

Hi Angel,

I use a 5AH 4S LIPO battery with diode droppers for my 857. I used to carry 2 x such LIPOs (just in case) but I found in a typical activation one 5AH more than sufficed so I stopped carrying the 2nd!

73 Andrew G4AFI

Hi Angel,

I went for the 857 as I already had a KX3 for a QRP rig and wanted one for 100w mobile work as well, otherwise the 817 is perfect for activations.

I’m in the process of building the HardRock amp at the moment :smile:

Regarding batteries, I’m moving from a SLAB battery to a LiFePo battery for the weight benefit, but I’m sure others here are much more qualified to talk about this!

James M0JCQ

Thanks Andrew. Having just checked the batteries specs, there is a ballpark 100grs per 1Ah relationship for LIPOs and LIFEs. If I remember correctly, the LIFEs are more robust and stable. Half a kilo seems pretty efficient for an 857, better than I was expecting.

The 817 on a 3Ah at 340gr should last for a while I suspect.

Hi James, the hardrock seems to be a popular choice for QRP rig upsizings…I will have to change though the name of my blog :smiley:

73 Angel

Hi Angel,

Both the 817 and 857 are excellent radios. I first got an 817 in 2001, and it has performed flawlessly ever since. I later got an 857 as a dedicated mobile rig, which has only been removed for major vehicle service or swapping to another vehicle. I’ve since picked up several more used 817s, and they too perform flawlessly.

I have used my 817 for all SOTA activations (admittedly only a few so far), powered by 8 AA NiMH cells (ranging from 2450 to 2700 mAh; in matched sets, of course). Even though I carry several spare sets, I have not yet needed to swap cells on any activation. I figure I get at least a good 3 or 4 hours of solid operating (squelch open, reasonably high volume, and a good bit of transmitting) on a single charge.

Someone I know uses an FT-897 with an AGM battery for SOTA activations. The higher transmit power available with such a setup can be helpful, but I don’t feel that it justifies the vastly greater weight and bulk. The 857 isn’t quite as bulky as the 897, but is still much larger and heavier than the 817, and has no provisions at all for internal batteries (not even nearly useless ones, as are available for the 897). Of course, the 857/897 will also draw considerably higher receive and transmit current, so even one of those running at 5 watts is far less efficient than an 817.

As to the original post, I would have to add that my favorite handheld ever is the VX-7. I have three of them, and they all perform beautifully. Fully waterproof, four bands (three useful across the pond, as you don’t have 220), wonderfully rugged yet refined design…such a shame that they discontinued it. The VX-8 series are plastic toys which don’t even come close to being a replacement.

For much greater detail and some potentially useful tips, see my reviews of the 817, 857, and VX-7 on eham.net (which are also linked from my qrz.com profile).

—73 Karl KA3RCS

The antenna is main element for succes. Look at http://www.hamshop.cz/anteny-c9/ultra-lehka-2-el-yagi-145-mhz-i264/
or http://blog.ok1cdj.com/search/label/anténa ZA-017, 1609 m

73 Miro OM7SM on ZA-017 1609 m

Hi Miro

I have that little Yagi and I’m really pleased with it. Love how the elements store inside the boom.
I actually have 2 as it was better value to buy 2 with the shipping cost to VK, on the first one I have a flying lead like it shows on the website . I may put a connector on the bottom end of the boom on my other one. make it even easier to carry. Also you get 2 different lengths of stand offs. I mounted the shorter one on the boom as it was less likely to catch stuff in my backpack and attached the elements to the longer ones. If anyone is home brewing this you probably only require one length of standoff.

This little antenna works well and is a keeper. Not sure if this is your design Miro, well done if it is.

John VK6NU

@G7LAS Nice to work you earlier Rob on 60m, forgot to mention it but I had been out this morning buying the Yaesu FT-270e based on yours and several others recommendation. Looking forward to some super lightweight 2m activations in 2015 :smile:

Cheers James… I hadn’t put two and two together and didn’t realize it was you! Getting old dont’cha know :smile:

I’ll be working 2m ssb from Wendover tomorrow, really looking forward to it.

I’m interested to know your plans for antennas to go with the 270e…