Cool, thanks everyone. I’ve decided to bring the FT-817 as it’s the most versatile option. Good for SOTA and I can chuck a mag mount antenna on the vehicle and use it mobile as well. But, as Ed pointed out, I may have to trade up to an FT-818 so I can use 60m. Oh well, I was going to have to do something about that eventually anyway, assuming our licensing authority is going to get round to giving us access to the band at some point.
No need to buy an FT-818, rather you need to clip a diode in the rig to open it up (if you don’t feel confident to do this - find someone down at your club who is - you’ll find details on the web). Most likely if Australia ever gets 60m it’ll be the WRC15 band which is different to the UK bandlets, so by having the rig’s frequency range open you’re covered for both - but beware that you don’t operate out of band - something you have to watch on 40m in the UK in any case - as in Europe we only have 7.0-7.2MHz not 7.0-7.3 as in Australia and the US.
I did a quick search and found the mod described by Cees/PA1CA which seems straightforward, if a bit fiddly. I’m not sure I would attempt that without proper workshop facilities. The bench in my garage is not going to be appropriate for that job, I’m guessing!
PRIORITY #1 - good magnifying glasses or workshop illuminated magnifying glass - are you a member of a local club? Even if you aren’t a member, go to the local club as they are likely to have that kind of gear.
I believe there is one link to snip or desolder to, in principal just add 60m - try that first and if it doesn’t work, there’s one to remove to totally open the complete HF range on transmit - I ended up having to do that on my FT817ND.
There was a Reflector thread on the FT817 mod a few years ago:
It includes a photo of the front panel circuit board, showing the state of the solder links after the mod. These are printed circuit pads bridged (or not) with solder, seen just above the black circular component towards the left side (tuning encoder):
I carried out this mod on my 817ND. It wasn’t difficult, you just need somwhere clean to open it up, a fine soldering iron and solder sucker, and a steady hand so that you don’t melt any of the surrounding components!
Edit: I should say it is not my intention to provide full instructions, just pointing out that the mechanical work required is not too demanding…
When I carried out this mod on my FT817ND I didn’t even have a solder sucker (lent out but not returned!) but used a piece of braid successfully. It was surprisingly easy and from removing the first screw to testing the mod was only about a quarter hour.