The Case for the 817ND



s6cnrdude wrote: (in a comment on the last post)

…BTW, I believe there is a VHF contest that weekend. It’s the CQ VHF contest so there will be VHF ops on 50 and 144 MHz….

Which led to my reply:

Another great opportunity to let 2m SSB shine.

As we keep approaching the depths of the Maunder Minimum, HF will become less reliable over longer distances (although this is another topic of discussion) but VHF may become an interesting animal.

Recently one of the local repeaters has been keying another repeater with a shared frequency clear across the state, causing some confusion. Interesting properties…that shouldn’t be happening.

This is why I don’t tell anyone to dump the venerable 817 in lieu of the new(er) KX series or any of the other QRP HF rigs. The 817 is STILL the only QRP rig capable of all-mode VHF and UHF, in addition to HF. All-mode VHF/UHF rigs are getting fewer and further in between, and the utility of those extra modes often goes overlooked. So while it may be becoming a dinosaur in the receiver and interface department, it still offers a versatility unmatched by any other rig on the market.

It’s getting long in the tooth, and there’s doubts that the new model Yaesu offers on the horizon will indeed be an all-mode set, that is, if the 857 replacement is any indication of the direction Fox Tango is heading (the FT-891 lacks 2M/70CM, and appears to have a healthy current consumption), but the 817ND is still a fantastic rig and a very solid option for a Patrol Set. Aside from that, it’s been around so long that there’s a dedicated following and nearly every issue under the sun has a maker out there who’s resolved the problem with something cool, often having the ability to be homebrewed.

In the HF department, it’s easily outshined by it’s chief successor, the KX3, new KX2, and many of the newer SOTA-market oriented QRP rigs (LNR, and even the Xiegu X108G has a hotter receiver, in addition to 20w capability) but none offer the level of versatility of the 817 for presenting so many  options in the field.

SSB VHF/UHF offers a level of inherent protection against potential eavesdroppers running Baofengs; thinking outside of the box in this manner just might prove useful. To FM, a SSB signal will sound like interference, if they hear it at all. That and the fact that we’re approaching a serious solar minimum, which may go on longer than previous ones, meaning tough HF conditions will persist for a while. Doesn’t mean it won’t work, just means not quite as well or as reliably with QRP systems.

So, don’t dump that 817 just yet. It’s a great rig. While I don’t recommend it as a “my one and done ‘doompocalypse-prepper savior’ radio” (that award goes to the FT-857/897), it’s excellent as an option for the RTO on a team communicating reports to a fixed operations base.

Make sense? North/South, East/West? Roger. Out.

7 thoughts on “The Case for the 817ND

    1. It’s not a tuner. It’s another very old rig. Mizuho MX series SSB/CW set. They’re no longer made, but if you can find one, are pretty neat monoband HF sets.

      I use a LDG auto tuner for each of my rigs.

    2. If you’re interested in a small, simple rig very much like it, check out the KN-Q7A. It’s a crystal controlled single band QRP set, with a very similar form factor.

    1. You and I both brother, in addition to a few other QRP sets.

      I’ve gotten outstanding service from my 817, and plan on using it quite a bit in the future, including this weekend.

      It does things (and does them well) that other rigs in the same class won’t, and that’s a distinct advantage.

  1. Why…

    …Why can’t Yaesu release a new version with an internal TNC and bump the output to 20-watts?


    That said, the 817 is still a solid little unit.

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