Confession time: I bought a brand new Yaesu FT-818ND

I know what you’re thinking:

“But Thomas, don’t you already have two FT-817NDs–?!”

Why yes, I do!

Before you label me as a hopeless radio addict (I am, but let’s shelve that for a moment),  let me explain myself…

First off, why two FT-817s?

If you’ve been a reader for very long, you’ll already know that I’m a huge fan of the FT-817/818.

I won’t go into the reasons here because I published a very long-format article on this topic last year.

Suffice it to say: I believe the FT-817/818 an effective, durable, versatile, and frequency agile multimode radio.

I purchased my second FT-817ND because:

  1. I wanted it for full-duplex satellite work (funny: many satellite enthusiasts call a pair of 817s the “Yaesu FT-1634”)
  2. The unit I purchased was like-new with all original accessories and side rails for $350 shipped.

Although my first FT-817ND has a Collins narrow CW filter installed, I decided to build one for this second unit as well. That way, I could grab either radio on the way out the door to activate a park or summit.

So why the new FT-818ND?

It was always my plan to eventually replace out one of my FT-817NDs with an FT-818ND. Here are the reasons:

  1. I was having difficulty finding a TXCO. The  FT-818ND has a TCXO-9 high-stability oscillator built-in.
  2. I wanted one of my two radios to be a late model.

I had planned to buy a Yaesu FT-818ND sometime in 2023. Possibly at the 2023 Hamvention.

When Gavin (GM0WDD) informed me that Yaesu was discontinuing the FT-818ND on December 28, 2022–only moments after the announcement was made–I immediately hopped over to DX Engineering and purchased one. I realized that the remaining inventory of new radios would be depleted in short order and I was right. By the following day, all major US retailers were out of stock.

Are FT-818ND prices going to soar?

No. I don’t think so.

The FT-817 and FT-818 have been on the market since 2001. In that time, Yaesu has sold bazillions of them. Seriously. These pop up in the classifieds and at hamfests all the time because there are so many floating around out there in the wild.

The FT-818/817 is sort of the opposite of a rare, limited-production-run radio. If you’re looking for a used ‘818, I think you’ll find that the prices are relatively stable.

I would discourage you from paying a premium for an FT-818ND.

Next steps with my ‘818ND

I am going to set this unit up for POTA and SOTA activations; it can do double duty for satellite work.

I’ll remove the Portable Zero side rails from one of my other 817s and attach them to the FT-818.

I initially planned to yank the narrow CW filter out of my 2nd Yaesu FT-817, but that just seemed cruel. If/when I sell that radio, I would like to give the buyer a narrow CW filter option.

I decided, instead, to order a Collins filter from Japan and filter board from Artur in Poland and build yet another 500Hz filter.

I also purchased RT System’s programming software and cable for the FT-817/818. I’ve adopted RT systems for all of my other VHF/UHF radios, so it’ll be easy to load, change, and clone all of the frequency memories. I’ll be nice having both SOTA calling frequencies and repeaters pre-loaded on my radios.

I’ve thought about actually making a no-edit video of building/installing the CW filter and side rails.

Speaking of videos about building a narrow CW filter, though, check out this one Jonathan (KM4CFT) published only recently.

Zero buyer’s remorse

While the announcement by Yaesu may have prompted me to pull the ‘818 trigger a few months early, I have no regrets whatsoever.

The only challenge I’m going to face down the road is trying to sell the “extra” FT-817ND.

Then again, I’ve thought about keeping the third one decked out in the TPA-817 pack frame (see photo above) and lending it out to local POTA/SOTA newbies who want to test out the healing waters of QRP.

36 thoughts on “Confession time: I bought a brand new Yaesu FT-818ND”

  1. I may be interested in your FT-817, I have the 818 but would like a spare. btw, congrats on the 818.

    72/73 de AI5DD Joe

  2. Well, I say it was a wise move! Congratulations!
    I just wish I had bought the one I saw at a hamfest last year; when I came back to it after surveying the whole market I saw the whole package (which included a nice autotuner) just being sold to someone else for $400. *sad-face emoji*
    oh well, I already have 3 of them, though one is still packed away in a box from moving a few years ago.
    I think that they might go up in value in the coming years; I guess we’ll see what happens. I might be quicker to get my wallet out for the next one I see!

    1. This is what I’m planning to do at this point. It’ll be nice to have a full and dedicated field kit to lend out to others.

  3. Thomas

    I did the same thing! I have a newly rediscovered 817ND. I saw your post about the 818 going bye-bye and impulse bought the very last one in HRO stock; an open box one for -$50 off new pricing. Having the 2nd one just opens up a range of operational options.

    Lee
    N5BE

    1. Me too! So far, I’ve just done a lot of listening. I’ve got almost all of the kit together. Just need to build the skill set now. Completely out of my comfort zone which is a good thing!

  4. I too thought to get another 818 and when I checked HRO they still had them in stock at $650. But I said “No, I don’t need another one.”

    Regrets? Not really. Saving my radio buying dollars for a KX-2. But with the lead time on those, I’m thinking to buy now before they are discontinued due to lack of parts.

  5. I get it, I do! It makes absolutely perfect sense to me…

    I only have one question. Does your wife know?

    Curious, and concerned.

    1. Ha ha!!! My strategy is to have so many new boxes coming into the house that she simply doesn’t notice. 🙂

  6. Having three is smart Thomas, the 1634 fails the “two is one, one is none” test without a spare! Have fun, and how about a POTA activation (with advance warning) with the 1634😜!

  7. I know…the devil made you do it!

    It will be fun playing with the new toy.

    BTW, Asheville Radio Museum opens in February for the 2023 season. Hope to see you soon.

    Ron 🦫 WB4OQL
    Clyde, NC

    1. Ha ha!!! No kidding!

      Great news about the museum. I may have a good working 1940s era morale radio to donate to the museum. I’ll contact you offline about it.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

  8. About 5-7 years ago on one of the FT817 FB pages it was determined at that time there had been over 250,000 FT817s sold. This was compiled from serial number data and some help from Yaesu (Yaesu would not admit to the number, but hinted it was close).

    There are a number of FT817s for sale on ebay ranging in price of $350 to over $600. The FT817 is probably one of the most popular rigs made, but with so many newer QRP rigs now on the market I am sure the competition is one reason the FT817 is being discontinued. If parts was an issue then Yaesu could easily do a redesign of the circuits as it did for the PA when parts for it were discontinued a few years back and adapt the radio to a FT819.

    73, ron, n9ee

  9. Tom,

    I have owned 2 817’s in my time and would not be too shocked if another made its way into the shack..

    One day I sat my 817 side by side with an SDR radio from a certain Italian company. Starts with an E and ends with a D and has Los Angeles in the middle. But for obvious reasons I will not name the company 😉

    Anyway the 817 had a far far better receiver and the Italian Job was listed on the Bay shortly after.

    Don’t feel too guilty. I have 3 KX3’s. One fully loaded plus 4M, another almost fully loaded with 2M and another with the Batt regulator and the ATU.

    Someone asked earlier if your wife knew about the new purchase so I will put a link to your post on Mums Net.

    Tom

    G0JSV

    1. Yes, thank you for posting on the Mums Net! 🙂

      The 817 has a surprisingly good receiver with a decent front end.

      But heck! I’m talking with a fellow that has 3 KX3s! I was feeling guilty about considering a second KX2! 🙂

  10. I bought a new 818 a few months ago…well before the Yaesu announcement. No regrets and no intentions of selling. Small and solid is what I need now. Pulled the cw filter from my 857D. DSP of that rig is good enough. It will be on the market anyway.

  11. My original 817 is complete with the W4RT accessories including filters and the amazing BHI noise reduction…etc. I wonder what happened to W4RT given they must have had a loyal following.

  12. I’m fairly new to the hobby and purchased my FT-818ND at the beginning of December. When I learned the model was going out of production, I purchased the Collins filter from a seller in Japan. I also purchased a set of ARMOLOQ rails with the CW relocation kit. If you make videos of your approach to adding these accessories to your new FT-818ND, I for one would love to see them.

  13. Yaesu MUST have a newer model waiting in the wings to make
    such a bold cancellation declaration about the FT-818. I have owned three 817’s and an 818 but currently have only the IC 705
    as my main radio and a stack of MFJ 90xx. I love the IC-705 for
    the ability to preset RTTY and CW phrases, but I had already
    decided to go back to the ‘818 a month ago before the
    announcement. So since I am basically happy with the IC-705
    I have decided to wait-and-see what Yaesu is going to do. They
    may have a wild new model waiting for us. AC9DN

  14. Gigaparts must have had a “hey look at these 818s in the back closet” moment because whatever stock they had in Alabama to start the day is gone. And some eBay sellers going for over $900 already.

  15. This does leave those of us who missed out wondering what the best alternative is to a new 818. Used 817/818’s will be available as you mentioned, but new units? Grab one of the various Xiegu rigs, or save our pennies for a bit longer and buy a KX2 or IC-705?

  16. I think coming into the qrp market now . . . If you can save up a bit you’ll never (at least in my experience) regret purchasing a KX2. It really is an outstanding small footprint rig. As others have called it here, it is the QRP Swiss Army knife. One advantage of the KX2 is that you can purchase a fairly base model and, as finances allow, add additional features. ATU, clock module, integral paddles, these are things that can be added down the road. It may not have quite the bullet proof robust build of the 818, but word is, at least from the Elecraft folks, US military special forces have thrown them into their rucksacks on training exercises for back up HF rigs. And it’s such a small rig for the features it brings to the table.

    Rigs like the Xiegu 6100 do offer an attractive feature set for a lower price, but there have been some quality control issues that have popped up and some challenging little idiosyncrasies (issues with receiver quality, for instance) that have left some people frustrated.

  17. Well this settles it then. 🙂 You own or have owned just about every QRP rig known to mankind but now own three FT-817ND/FT-818ND radios. This indicates to me that the FT-818 is the greatest QRP radio of all time. You vote with your wallet and your wallet has spoken! I don’t recall you owning multiples of any other radios that I can recall.

    I own a KX2 and don’t want a second, also own a 705 and am happy with one but I own an 817 and an 818 and am considering a third if I find one at the right price. Thy wallet speaketh the truth.

  18. When I bought my FT-817 around the turn of the century (!), I was very happy to get it, despite its flaws. When I bought the KX-3 in 2012, I figured the FT-817’s days were numbered. When I bought the KX-2 in 2016, I figured the FT-817 was as good as dead. And not without reason, there are a bunch of reasons that the Elecraft’s were better, more features better RX, no accessory filters needed, smaller (KX-2), lighter, more current efficient, could have a tuner installed, more modern circuit architecture and could even have a 2 meter xvtr installed (so it could be rarely used like the VHF/UHF in most owners FT-817’s). The best reason to own a FT-817 after the Elecraft’s hit the market was that you could buy one for about 350 to 400 dollars and save some money.

    Then Icom came out with the IC-705 and shoveled some more dirt onto the grave. I am on vacation in Nice, France. The 705 and my Surface GO allow me to operate with one cable (no cables if you are not an oldster like me) CW, SSB, FT8, RTTY, copy WEFAX, NAVTEX use GPS for whatever you would use that for in a radio, and not use it’s VHF-UHF features too! Oh, and have a spectrum display (I may be old but once I used a radio with spectrum display, that’s definitely my preference). And then there is the mcHF, TX-500 and the upcoming FX-4CR (can’t wait) doing dances on the 817’s grave. Soon, Yaesu, Kenwood or someone is likely to produce a rig that will do something unmentionable on a family website (think Scottish wake) on that grave.

    So, imagine my surprise when I find out that people hoard FT-817/818’s like rare wines (or Scotch) after all this time. My prediction: prices will escalate as more guys decide that only having 2 or 3 simply will not do, which removes the last really good reason to buy a FT-817, not spending the money for something better!

    Signed, an EX-FT-817 fanboy with tongue slightly in cheek, Kevin K3OX

  19. I just bought another ft-818 since they are no longer will be available. I think of it as the VW Bettle or the Trabant (what is that, you ask) of the ham radio world.

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