The KA7OEI FT-817 pages

Front panel view of my FT-817
A Front-panel view of the FT-817 sitting atop the switching regulator described below, tuned to my "MedFER" beacon.

The Yaesu FT-817 is an extremely portable HF through UHF all-mode transceiver, capable of operation on all amateur bands from 160 meters through 70 cm (excluding, unfortunately, 222 MHz.)  It is also considered to be a QRP transceiver - being capable of only 5 watts output maximum.  In addition to transceive operation on these amateur bands, it also is a capable general-coverage receiver providing continuous coverage on all modes from 100 KHz through 56 MHz, 108 through 154 MHz, and 420 through 470 MHz.  It also provides "Wide FM" receive coverage from 76 through 108 MHz.

Note:  I do NOT own an FT-817ND and have not had the opportunity to examine one carefully to note the subtle differences between it and the original '817, especially when it comes to CAT programming and memory locations.

This page is divided into several several sections to make digesting the material more manageable:

Repeater coverage analysis using the FT-817 and GPS- This page describes using the FT-817 to accurately measure signal strength, interfacing the '817 with a computer, and using GPS to determine the coverage of an amateur repeater.

About the RF Power Amplifier Updated- This page talks a bit about the design of the FT-817's power amplifier section, and its properties.  Also included is info on how you can replace the final board yourself - if that becomes necessary!

The NiCd/NiMH page-  This page describes in some detail the care and feeding of NiCd and NiMH cells and batteries.  This explains how to keep NiCd cells going, and what that "memory" affect really is!  (Hint:  It's not the "memory" effect at all!)

"Customizing" the FT-817- There are a lot of accessories that you can get for your FT-817 - some external and others internal.  This page talks about the "internal" accessories installed in my FT-817...

FT-817 Correspondence-  Occasionally, someone who peruses these pages will email a question or comment.  Sometimes they are intelligent - other times they are not.  This page contains random bits on various topics that have been brought up.  Note:  This is not an online discussion board, but points of possible interest from email correspondence relevant to the '817.

The FT-817's 'Soft Calibration' Menu- This page describes in some detail (as much as is known) each of the 76 "Soft Calibration" parameters found in the "hidden" menu on the FT-817.

The FT-817's Schematics-  These are the schematic diagrams of the FT-817.  These are the diagrams that had been found on the FCC Type-Acceptance web site (see the link below) and converted to a more manageable (and smaller) raster format.

Quirks of the FT-817- Does the '817 do something that, in your humble opinion, is neat, odd, or just plain weird?  How about some "feature" that you like (or hate) that just isn't covered in the manual?  Go here to read about it - and if you have something to add, let me know!

The Receiver- This page contains the results of sensitivity tests over the receiver's entire frequency range.  It shows the Minimum Discernible Signal (MDS), S meter sensitivity for S1 and S9 for both SSB/CW/AM and FM, as well as the FM 12 and 20 db SINAD sensitivity of the receiver.  Further information is given on image response, IF rejection, and how the front end filtering is implemented in the '817, as well as a possible reason why the 222 MHz band wasn't covered on the FT-817.

VSWR/Reflected power metering on the FT-817- This page details how the "SWR" metering on the '817 works and how the meter readings reflect the quality of the antenna match.

A Detailed circuit description of the FT-817- This page describes in (hopefully) more detail the inner-workings of the '817 than the service manual.

Current Consumption of the FT-817- This page breaks down the reasons for the current consumption of the FT-817 as well as which features affect the current consumption and by how much.

Optimizing the power consumption of the FT-817 when using battery power and a switching supply- This page discusses a technique (using a buck-type switching regulator) by which power consumption may be optimally reduced - an important factor when operating the FT-817 on battery power.

Operating the FT-817 from Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) cells- This page is a followup to the one on optimizing power consumption (above) and describes how Lithium-Ion batteries (which have a better power/weight ratio than either NiCd or NiMH) may be used to power the FT-817.

Operating the FT-817 from other types of cells- This page describes how NiCd, NiMH, and Alkaline cells (to name a few) may (or may not) be used to power the FT-817.  (Does not include Lithium-Ion cells - see above.)

CAT (tm) Interface Programming with the FT-817- This page details interfacing with the FT-817 using the serial interface.  "Undocumented" commands and capabilities are also mentioned allowing greater control/monitoring of the FT-817.

FT-817 Bugs, Manual Errata and Omissions, and Birdies...- Anyone who has read the FT-817 operator's manual or tried to use the service manual  has noticed that there are a few errors and omissions.  (Note:  Noise blanker modifications have been moved from this page to the "FT-817 Radio modifications" page below.)
"What's the difference between the original FT-817 and the FT-817ND?"

Not having the "ND" version, I've had to go by what people tell me, but here are a few things:

- The addition of "ND" after "817"
- Inclusion of 60 meters:  No modification required.
- A "Violet" backlight setting.  This is a mix of both Orange and Blue being illuminated simulaneously/multiplexed.
- Modification to the PA deck to improve ruggedness, using newer devices to replace the original RF transistors that have been phased out by their manufacturer.
- Modification to the main board to minimize "birdies" (especially the "7240" birdie found on very early '817s.)

Please send email if you know of any other differences.

FT-817 Radio modifications - This page describes some minor modifications that can be made to the '817.  Such modifications include the "Green Wire" mod - and its hazards, improving the operation of the noise blanker, and (maybe) more.  Please read the first few paragraphs of this page!  (Note:  This page includes material transplanted from the "Manual Errata and Omissions" page.)

Work continues on these pages - please revisit soon!

Important Notice:  The information contained on this and related pages is believed to be accurate, but no guarantees are expressed or implied.  The information on this and related pages should be considered to be "as-is" and the user is completely responsible for the way this information is used.  If you find information that you believe to be incorrect, missing, or should not be here, please report it (in detail) via email.  Anonymous or vaguely-worded reports will likely be ignored.

Other FT-817-related web pages and groups:

Yaesu's own web page about the FT-817 - This page has some pictures and official specifications.  This page actually refers to the FT-817ND, which is pretty much the same as the "original" FT-817 except that it includes 60 meter operation "out of the box."

K6XX's FT-817 pages - This page has a lot of technical information about the '817 and accessories.

The Yahoo FT-817 E-group - This is a link to a group of those people interested in the '817.

While you are here, take a look at these other pages at this site:

Decreasing Intermod on the Kenwood TM-733A dual-band mobile transceiver - This describes a modification that can greatly reduce the suceptibility of this (otherwise fine) mobile rig to intermodulation response due to strong signals.

Updated (With software version 2.0x) - Circuit and software description of the PIC-based PSK31 MedFER Transmitter.  (Note that FSK31 operation is also possible!) - Operation via a 1200 baud serial port is now possible, and the intermod has been greatly reduced!

"Optimizing the 'Simple Beacon' Transmitter" by Mark Mallory -  This article originally appeared in the Western Update (#59, September, 1988).  This is the original article describing a high-efficiency Class-E LowFER transmitter.

The "CT" LowFER Beacon Archive - Some pictures/info about the "CT" LowFER beacon of the late 1980's.  (Includes QSLs and sounds from some other beacons of the time.)

A Line-Synchronous noise blanker for VLF/LF/MF use - This blanker produces very little intermod, compared to many others...

"QRSS and You..." - Using absurdly low-speed CW for "communications"

Using your computer to ambush unsuspecting NDBs - A brief description of how Spectran may be used when trying to receive NDBs.

Any comments or questions?  Send an email!

This page maintained by Clint Turner, KA7OEI and was last updated on 20150415.  (Copyright 2001-2015 by Clint Turner)

Since 12/2010: