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Reviews - Yaesu FT-817ND

Pros - great all-band portable radio; great for outdoors, up a hill, indeed it can go anywhere you go

Cons - only 2.5W on supplied battery, which is weedy at best; needs to be ‘tricked-out’ to get the best from it, but that is part of the fun of owning one!

As a QRP radio, it works far better if you use CW. You could use digimodes, but there are newer portables that are much easier to use for that.

Get a Windcamp Li-Po Internal replacement battery if you want the full 5W (or maybe better still, use a high-capacity external battery). This radio won’t get far on SSB without a good antenna, except maybe on 10m - which seems to work with 1 watt and the proverbial piece of string if the band is open!

Don’t connect this radio to a large home antenna - the front end will collapse. It is designed to be used portable outdoors & the front end is optimised accordingly - connect it to portable antennas and it works great. 

Learn to use the radio properly - you can maximise your enjoyment by learning the finer points, such as using the IF shift, for example. For a small radio, it still has a good few interference fighting tools…

Don’t moan about the small controls - the trade-off of the small package is that you get less in the way of knobs and buttons, and those that exist have to be small - as does the screen.

There are lots of mods - good ones are… the internal mylar speaker replacement (sadly no longer available at the time of writing), various filter additions - necessary for CW in truth and the Leg-Pegs. Various Speech Processors are around too, some fit in the supplied mic, some inline - they all help to some degree on SSB.

It works great on VHF/UHF too remember, so is fantastic for those unexpected activations - carry one in the car with a small beam.  I won a 6m contest with one of these radios once and have done well in 2m contests with one too.

Some folk even use it as a mobile radio with a roof mount. You can even listen to broadcast stations on MF and LF as well as FM, if you don’t fancy talking much.

Every ham should probably own one of these - I’ve had 3! Trust me, it is a really silly idea to sell one…  yes it’s 20 years old and counting, but has it been bettered? 

The new Icom IC-705 is a technological marvel for sure, but I’m still not sure about the size or fragility of that radio compared to the FT-817ND. 

And how much does a replacement IC-705 screen cost again? I rest my case, m’lud…

G7DDN - October 2021

About me

Hi! I'm Chris G7DDN.

I am a professional musician
by trade. I combine composing,
recording, performing and teaching.

Please feel free to take a listen to my latest albums of relaxing piano compositions on Amazon, Google, iTunes or Spotify or visit my personal music website here

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