Initial views on the FT-817

Created 16 December 2000

Updated 31 December 2000

Size comparison - TH-D7E, FT-817, FT-100

There's something about the FT-817 which I can't work out - why exactly do I need one?

Well I wanted something small to use portable for transponder satellites, most of all the downlink side. I have the uplink. I've struggled with several different HT sized SSB units (VR-500, IC-R10, AOR-8200) but the quality of SSB and strong signal handling is appalling. For marginal work on satellites you do not need intermod!

I don't need much in the way of HF. It's really the VHF/UHF I'm after. And after the success of the FT-290, 690 and 790 Yaesu had their work cut out to give us a worthy successor.

After the introduction of the IC 706 style all-mode all-band scenario it was only a matter of time before the FT-100 emerged and, of course, the portable version, the FT-817.

I don't pretend to understand Yaesu's naming/numbering conventions. On that note there was a slip with the radio explaining that from October 1 2000 Yaesu is to be known as Vertex-Standard.

Size comparison - TH-D7E, FT-817, FT-100

So first off, out of the box, there's something missing - no charger or NiCds. Well this is a US grey import so maybe when they get to Blighty they'll have this. Slipped in a set of AA's (eight in all) and switched on.

This is a _small_ radio. Big stubby fingers are not at home here. The rubber duck antenna gets in the way of the 'SEL' knob (used for channel change, clarifier and IF shift).

The rubber duck plugs into a BNC connector on the front panel. This BNC connector can only be used on 50MHz and above. There is an SO-239 at the rear for HF. 50MHz and above can also be switched through into the SO-239 if desired (there's a relay inside to do this for you). * **INCORRECT!! You can switch the BNC or SO-239 on any band, but the default is SO-239 for HF and BNC for 6m, 2m, 70cm. Tnx W7WJ Dennis for pointing this out.

The rubber duck has two different tips - one for 2m & 70cm and the other for 6m, 2m & 70cm. The latter is significantly longer at 13.5", 35cm. The shorter option is 9.75", 25cm.

The Rear of the FT-817 Power, Key, Data/Packet, CAT/Band, SO-239

User interface is very similar in use to an FT-100, so I was at home already. I have also had a 706MkIIG - very nice radio - but I just couldn't get on with it. I found I was much more at home with the FT-100... and now the FT-817. Only fault I can note is that the vol/sql knobs are on the other side of the radio to the FT-100, which confuses me a bit.

There's a piece in the manual discussing how to use the unit with cross band split frequencies in memories on the FM sats. Nice touch, but as the manual says, this radio is not full duplex.

Performance... in a word so far it is outstanding. In my basement apartment in Central London I can pick up the GB3VHF Wrotham Beacon so loud I thought at first it was some nasty computer hash or a birdie, and this is on the short rubber duck. Strong signals which upset my IC-706MkIIG do not seem to upset this little radio.

FT-817 Side view - RJ45 Mic, 3.5" Phone/Speaker & Phone/Speaker switch 

Working VHF/UHF full duplex satellite split with 50W out on 2m from an FT-100, the 70cm RX on the '817 was _completely_ unphased. And what a joy to operate compared to those HT receivers.

Battery life is rather sad - about 4 hours on RX only. But I would much rather have a decent RX than a long battery life - and this radio seems to have it.

A shoulder strap is included, but no protective case is currently available. For portable work this is almost essential IMHO.


o    No NiCds or Charger (probably because grey import)

o    No Tone burst 1750Hz (grey import) *** INCORRECT!! it does have one on US model - operator error meant my stubby fingers couldn't operate correctly.

o    Protective case would be very nice - not even an option (yet)

o    No WFM outside Band 2 (nice for high speed digital satellite downlinks)

o    Display _very_ small

o    Need small fingers

o    Battery life (or lack of it)


o    So far it appears that the RX performance is outstanding

o    Small size

o    Features

Although it looks like there's more dislikes than likes, I cannot over-emphasize how good the RX is! I'll gladly suffer all the dislikes for that RX!

More FT-817 pics

Mail Howard, G6LVB