I’m often asked for advice on choosing radios, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, I feel like the decision is a very personal one–everything is based on an operator’s own particular preferences.
I’ve written formal reviews about most of the field radios in my collection. In those reviews, I try to take a wide angle view of a radio–to see how it might appeal to a number of types of operators. I highlight the pros and cons, but I don’t focus on my own particular take because, again, my style of operating might not match that of readers. I try to present the full picture as clearly as I can and let the reader decide.
The Getting To Know You series gives me an opportunity to highlight one radio at a time and showcase what I love about it and why it’s a part of my permanent radio collection. After we spend a bit of time talking about the radio, we’ll do a park or summit activation with it!
The Yaesu FT-817 and FT-818 Series
At the time, I was living in the UK and travelling extensively throughout Europe with my UK call (M0CYI).
The FT-817 hit the market and it blew my mind. Up to that point, there were no general coverage QRP radios on the market that small, that comprehensive, and that even sported VHF/UHF multi-mode coverage. It even had a small internal battery pack! What?!
I was an early adopter of this radio and travelled with it extensively–indeed, in all of the years I lived in the UK and Europe, the FT-817 was my only amateur radio transceiver.
Fast-forward to 2023–some 23 years later–and I still have an 817. Actually, I have two 817ND’s and one 818ND (although, I plan to sell one of my 817NDs soon–I don’t need three!).
I find the 817/818 to be an incredibly robust and capable field radio. It’s also a brilliant value–few radios offer you the capabilities of the FT-817/818 for under $700.
Yaesu discontinued the FT-818ND almost exactly one year ago. Retailers no longer have new stock, but there are loads of them on the used market. Keep in mind that the FT-817/818 was a cash cow for Yaesu for over two decades–the used price remains fair because there’s just so much supply out there. I routinely see 817ND and 818ND models selling for between $375-700 depending on how they’re configured and what’s included.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive article about the Yaesu FT-817/818 series, I would encourage you to check out this piece I originally wrote for The Spectrum Monitor magazine.
Time to activate!
Vance Birthplace (K-6856)
On Thursday, November 16, 2023, I decided to take my Yaesu FT-818ND to the Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace to film my Getting To Know You video and activate.
I paired my 818ND with the Chelegance MC-750 vertical which is a breeze to set up. The great thing about the MC-750 is that you can extend the whip portion of the antenna so that it’s resonant on any band 40M and above; this is perfect for radios like the 817/818 that lack an internal ATU.
I configured the MC-750 for 20 meters and turned on the FT-818! Time to hit the air!
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- Yaesu FT-817ND
- Yaesu FT-818ND
- WINDCAMP 3000mAh LIPO battery for FT-818/817
- WINDCAMP Anderson PowerPole Adapter for FT817/818
- CP Gear Tactical Aircrew/Pubs Bag
- Armoloq TPA-817 Pack Frame
- High Visibility Jacket ABR240-UF with PL-259s and 5 Ferrites (Use Coupon Code ABR10QRPER for 10% Discount!)
- Chelegance MC-750
- Begali Traveler
- GoRuck GR1 USA
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook
- Portable Zero FT-817 Side Rails and Bail
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 4 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
I started calling CQ POTA on 20 meters and was met with a pile-up.
I worked my first 10 contacts in eight minutes.
I continued working stations but also quickly realized that my time was somewhat limited.
All in all, I worked 21 stations in 25 minutes on the air before calling QRT and leaving a pile-up hanging. My apologies to any hunters.
Here’s what this five watt 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 always enjoy taking the FT-818ND to the field. It’s such a well-rounded radio.
I’m impressed, so far, with the WINDCAMP 3000mAh LIPO battery as well. So far, it’s taken me through two activations spaced nearly six months apart!
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 a brilliant weekend!
Cheers & 72,