Portable radio with the FT817ND
/P at Noirmont Point in Jersey EU-013
Well the time has finally come to take the plunge (after a bit of luck!) and get myself the long promised and anticipated FT817ND. Using the FT857d portable was a blast but meant taking it out of the car and it used to eat batteries! The FT817 is tiny, lightweight but packs a punch in terms of its ability and whilst a lot of more recent reviews laud it as being outdated and overdue for improvement the simple fact is there is nothing else as capable or portable (at least not without parting with a load more cash!). The Icom IC-703 would have been nice but lacked the all important (to me) 2 metre band on SSB, the newly announced Elecraft KX3 looks magnificent and has to be taken seriously but again lacked 2m/70cms and costs twice as much with a long waiting list! So it was time to order the Yaesu which arrived remarkably quickly from ML&S and has been a real hoot to use and to learn.
I have programmed up a lot of the memory channels with the UK 2m and 70cms repeaters as its always fun activating UK repeaters from Jersey or from France for a bit of a chat with the locals. The programming lead was about 20 quid from G4ZLP electronics who as ever come highly recommended and extremely helpful (especially in sorting out my IT connection woes!). The 817 connects up nicely to a laptop using HRD or the original 'FT-817 Commander' which works superbly and is freeware (at time of writing so is HRD but I understand that will soon change!).
Pseudo-portable - using the car as a shelter and convenient 'prop' for the 2m beam
Anyway the new little rig travels with me between France and Jersey and gets ample use when time permits either for ragchewing on the local repeater in Jersey or teamed up with the Buddipole where HF has already yielded excellent QRP results on 7MHz and 18MHz. For my skepticism about QRP 5 watts on external battery power and 2.5 watts internal has been working nicely. The other day I was chatting to someone on GB3PL using the homebrew 5 element Yagi from Col du Tredudon in Western Brittany (see above) when the battery died. Re-starting on the lowest power setting was enough to re-establish contact to at least conclude the QSO and that is only 0.5watts!
Brrr! This was a PW QRP contest one May from the north coast of Jersey, I was glad of the coat and flask!
Other bonuses, the rig can run off external battery power so I use a 7Ah SLAB which can run the rig all day when fully charged, the Heil headset works a treat using the same adaptor as my FT857d and gives reportedly punchy audio and for ease of use you can switch between front or rear antenna sockets. Yes I'm hooked and even if a new version comes out I'm pleased enough with this baby not to be unduly concerned.
73 de F4VPJ/MJ0RZD/p