First Impressions of the FT-817

A month ago I bought a second hand FT-817ND but for various reasons I couldn’t test it until now. Finally, I have the FT-817 in my hands. My very first impression: Oauw! This thing is really tiny, much smaller than I expected. It can almos fit into the pocket of my winter coat :))

I quickly rigged it up withe the ATX-1080 on 40 meter without radial, you know, just sitting in the living room. The noise level was already at S7-S8 and I could hear a lots of stations from whole Europe on CW. It’s obvious that there is no CW filter installed, but I wouldn’t say that the radio is useless without it, like many others have pointed out in the eHam reviews.

I turned on the IPO – Intercept Point Optimisation – which does nothing more than turn OFF the pre-amplifier: The noise level fell to S0 and the stations began to actually move the S-meter, even up to S9. Looks good! I switched to 80 meters. There were also some signals but the noise floor was much higher and the signals weaker – I guess it is normal for this band with this kind of antenna. On 30 meters there was a lot of interference; maybe from the television, which was 2 meters away from me. I only adjusted the antenna length by eye, still, I could hear some ham signals.

I noticed a nice feature concerning these menus. If you select something using the A/B/C buttons, the last menu-triplet will be remembered in the background. So, the next time you can just press A/B/C again without having to first press the F key and scroll to the desired menu-triplet. This way it is rather easy to toggle a single function like ATT. Also, if you press the F key, the last used menu-triplet will come up.

The CW filter is good! I agree with those who say that it should be stock, or even better, have both the CW and SSB filters mounted from the factory. It’s not difficult to mount but I almost broke the tape, which holds the wires to to the speaker. By the way, the speaker is not aligned with the drilled holes; there may be a reason for it but it surely looks strange.

While going through the menu to select the narrow CW filter, I played a little with the display settings. The contrast can be adjusted over a very broad range, from invisible to invisble in a different way… This is probably very good when one has to save the battery power. I left it on the default value, 5, for now.

The blue color looks very strange. It almost hurts my eyes. Maybe it is better in the darkness? We’ll see… By the way, I can only select between COLOR1 and COLOR2, blue and orange, while I recall having read that there are three possibilities.

I have also changed the SQL/RF knob functionality to RF, since that’s what I am used to on short waves. Now, you are not going to believe this: The RF gain is turned down clockwise and turned up counter clockwise. I don’t know, maybe I missed something in recent radio evolution, but I am used to the opposite. By the way, the SQL/RF knob is very inaccessible, even for someone like me with relatively small fingers.