Tips for new FT-818 owner
I am a huge fan of the Yaesu FT-817/818 radios. My first brand new HF rig ever was a FT-817 not too long after their initial release. I took it on many portable, SOTA, and POTA adventures. It had both the W4RT CW filter installed and the compressor kit in the microphone. That is the only rig I’ve ever regretted trading off.
Now I have a couple of FT-818s with different configurations. One more fancy, bells and whistles, the other more budget oriented. Both tons of fun!
Yahoo groups are a thing of the past. Look for a groups.io group or a FaceBook group.
Also, we’ve gone from the 817, to the 817ND, and now the 818.
W4RT has long since gone out of business and their filters and compressors are no longer available.
Crystal filters are difficult to obtain for CW.
SOTABeams sells a digital filter that someone with advanced building/soldering skills can add into the rig. They also have an external version.
SOTABeams also sells an external speach compressor that is plugged inline with the microphone.
The 817 series has finals that are sensitive to high SWR and leaving batteries in them on the shelf. I recall reading something about how the finals stage was still getting power to it even when turned off (soft switch).
Check your output. Odds are that you will at some point in time join the blown finals club. Luckily, the 818 finals board works throughout the 817 series and is available from Yaesu. Fortunately, it is not an overly expensive part.
The 817 series is a power pig and won’t last very long on 1500mAh batteries. If you insist, know that not all AA NiMh are the same. Look for those with a capacity over 2400mAh. The NiMh will have a larger form factor and you’ll have difficulty getting them into the AA tray. You will also not be able to charge the NiMh AAs in the tray without doing a modification. Overall, skip on the NiMh batteries.
The best/most practical interal battery approach is to pick up an internal 3000mAh LiIon battery kit from WindCamp.
Check the 3D printing sites. There are some options for getting a 3S 18650 internal battery set up.
Print, make, or buy a Yaesu DC connector to Anderson Power Pole adapter that secures to the back of the radio. Be aware that if you leave the DC plug in all the time that you’re rig will think you have external power all the time. This means that your backlit display will not turn off when set to Auto.
I personally acquired a Bioenno LiFePO4 3Ah battery and charger for use with this radio.
Visit PortableZero products. They have battery cases that include a nice one for the 3Ah Bioenno. It also mates well with the 817/818 series. PortableZero also makes a bracket/bail combo that protects the front of the 817/818 series. The bail feature nicely positions the display and controls for field ops.
I typically used this with a wire antenna and tuner.
Otherwise, I have several vertical options including: BuddiSticks, SuperAntenna MP-1 variant, or GRA-7350T. I prefer to use an elevated radial with the vertical antennas. If that isn’t possible, then multiple ground wires.
My preferred portable coax these days is RG-316. Start with what you’ve got. RG-58 is fine, but bulky and heavy. UG-174 is lossy and fragile. RG-316 is flexible, resilient, low loss and more expensive.
When using a random wire antenna, you need to bring a tuner into the mix.
I built and use an Elecraft T1 with the 818. Add the control cable for some automated band switching. Not an inexpensive setup, but compact and very functional. Uses an internal 9V battery.
Another great option is to use the LDG Z817. Fits perfectly on top of the 818. Can be bungee cord attached to the portable zero rails. Connects with a control cable. Uses internal AA batteries.
Awesome Z-match manual tuner kit that is no longer available. Works 160m to 10m. Balanced or unbalanced antennas. Slim profile. Fits right on top of rig. No batteries needed.
Keyer and Paddle
This rig does not have a built in memory keyer. When I want that feature, I find an ultra-pico keyer is a great add on.
For keying the rig, I typically use an N0SA paddle with 3M Dual Lock on the bottom of the paddle. That can in turn be affixed to a weighted base (or jeweler’s bench). My logging clipboard also sports dual lock.
Check out PCBHobby and their HardRock 50 for a kit to build a 160m-6m 50-60w amplifier. There are options for an internal tuner and QSK operation. The 817/818 can be interfaced to the HR50 for band switching. This is a great addition for when you need more than QRP.