I finally decided on a radio for my SOTA and ADK Fire Tower Challenge activations that will be starting soon. Based off of many reviews, some consideration to budget, and a lot of consideration on simplicity and usability, I decided on the Yaesu FT-817ND.
Coming from a having owned all Kenwood’s, I am taking a very deliberate approach to learning how to operate my new 817. With a little practice, I should be proficient on the rig and ready for the field within a few weeks.
However, I had one concern about the 817, that is, until I completed my first bench test today. The Yaesu FT-817Nd has a maximum transmit power of 5 watts and if you are using the internal rechargeable battery pack, it defaults to 2.5 watts of output. So today, I decided to do a bench test to see how well it would perform with a TX power of 2.5 watts. My first test was to see how far I could log a report on PSK Automatic Propagation Reporter using JT65. So I hooked my radio up my Buckmaster OCF 7 band through a Z817 Antenna Tuner. Using my SignaLink, my linux laptop running WSJT-x and FLRIG I started the bench test of my radio.
I started on 20 meters with JT65 by calling CQ a few times and by answering a few CQ’s from various places around the US. After about 15 minutes, I was not able to make a contact but I was quite happy to see the reports on PSK Reporter. I got reports across the US and Canada into Western Europe and into the lower part of the South America!! I conducted this test with only 2.5 Watts of power and with band conditions that were definitely sub optimal. I also conducted the same test on 40 meters and got very similar results. Unfortunately, I was not able to make a contact on that band either.
Overall I consider this a successful first test of my new radio. As long as the weather is acceptable this weekend, I plan to take it out in the field, perhaps up to Thompson Park and do some additional tests on this radio along with my buddipole.