I mentioned in a previous post that I purchased a new Yaesu FT-818ND from DX Engineering on December 28, 2022. It smacked of an impulse purchase only in that I had not planned to purchase the radio that very day.
Thing is, Yaesu announced they were discontinuing the FT-818 and I always planned to purchase one to replace out one of my two FT-817NDs. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to buy a new one under warranty, so I bit the bullet on short notice.
I planned to make the FT-818ND my primary HF radio and use the other FT-817(s) for full duplex satellite work (and HF too, of course, especially since one is now in a TPA-817 pack frame).
I had all of the upgrades in hand by mid-February, but that Yaesu FT-818ND sat in its box under my radio bench until late April. I was so busy evaluating other gear and keeping up with my busy family life, it had almost slipped my mind. Well, that and I received the incorrect narrow Collins filter from a seller on eBay; instead of sourcing a replacement, I decided to steal an original 500 Hz filter from one of my other radios while waiting on a replacement.
Those narrow Collins filters? They’ve become pure unobtainium over the past couple of months. At one point, eBay was chock full of them. No longer…
It had actually been a very long time since I pulled out a brand new (non-loaner) radio from the box. It’s funny because I remember opening my first FT-817 back in…what…2001? The box and packaging were identical some twenty one years later!
I unboxed then immediately opened the chassis of the FT-818ND to add the Collins filter, attach my Portable Zero side rails (stolen from my FT-817), add the Windcamp battery pack, and add the Windcamp Anderson PP adapter.
JNCRadio CS-818 ATU
Around the same time, Jesse, with Chelegance, also sent me his latest ATU: the CS-818 which is specifically designed to work with the FT-817 and FT-818 series radios. To be clear, Jesse sent the MC-818 at no cost to me to evaluate.
The CS-818 actually works with any radio, but it ships with the command cable for the FT-817/818 for full integration.
The CS-818 can handle up to 30 watts of power, so it’ll pair nicely with any QRP radio. If using it with a QRO radio, you’d have to be very careful not to push more than 30 watts.
In truth, ATUs don’t get me terribly excited. I’m quite content with my Elecraft T1 and Emtech ZM-2; these two portable ATUs match anything and everything I use in the field.
That said, I like the design of the CS-818. I especially like the 1.3 inch OLED display which shows SWR, Power, along with a battery level indicator. This, combined with my Yaesu FT-818ND’s voltage display, and I can see just how effectively the new Windcamp battery operates over time.
Zebulon Vance Birthplace (K-6856)
I had already charged the CS-818’s internal battery with a USB-C cable, so I only needed to connect my Chameleon MPAS 2.0 to the ATU, then connect the ATU to the FT-818 antenna port and, of course connect the FT-818 command cable.
Although my CS-818 didn’t ship with an instruction manual, it actually has one silk-screened on the ATU itself.
You can see how easy it was to operate in the activation video below. I’ve since learned (from Jesse at Hamvention) that the CS-818 has three different operating modes. In the field, I didn’t realize this, but discovered that the ATU would initiate a match when I keyed down in straight key mode.
Not surprisingly, it matched the MPAS 2.0 with ease.
Time to hop on the air!
- Yaesu FT-818ND
- WINDCAMP 3000mAh LIPO battery for FT-818/817
- WINDCAMP Anderson PowerPole Adapter for FT817/818
- JNCRadio CS-818 30W ATU
- Chameleon CHA MPAS 2.0
- Key cable: Cable Matters 2-Pack Gold-Plated Retractable Aux Cable – 2.5 Feet
- CW Morse “Pocket Paddle”
- Blue Ridge Overland Gear Gadget Bag
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook
- Rite in the Rain All-Weather Durable Clicker Pen
- Portable Zero FT-817 Side Rails and Bail
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 3 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
The bands were in pretty rough shape (in fact, that’s been the status quo the past few months), so I decided to QSY to the 40 meter band and check for activity.
For kicks, I then moved back up to the 20 meter band and worked two more stations in two minutes for a grand total of 12 contacts in 32 minutes. I would have played radio a bit longer, but I simply ran out of time!
Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map.
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
I enjoyed using the CS-818 ATU and it seemed to work very well. Next, I’ll attempt to use it with more difficult matches. Look for that in upcoming field reports and videos!
And the new FT-818ND? I think I’m going to like powering it from the Wincamp battery pack. It’s nice having a battery pack that can not only deliver the full potential power output of the FT-818/817, but can also be charged in a couple of hours. The stock FT-818 battery pack takes ages to recharge, unfortunately.
I never tire of this radio!
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.
Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me! Have an amazing week ahead!
Cheers & 72,