In praise of the FT817(ND) and QRP

FT817ND QRP transceiver

I have owned an FT817 practically since it was first released in the UK back in 2000. The FT817ND was bought this spring as a second QRP rig along with a Z817 auto-ATU.  The transceivers are mostly used at home. They are ideal for digital modes.

In my view, the FT817ND is the very best rig available. My FT817ND was just under 500 pounds for cash, brand new with 2 yrs warranty. The nearest rig (about 5 times larger!) was the FT7 10W radio which did not cover WARC bands, much of 10m , 6m, 2m or 70cm.

The FT817ND could be further improved in several ways but if 5W (or less) is all you need, then this is an excellent radio. The KX3 is no doubt a better radio but is far more expensive (here in the UK) and is less suited for home use in my view. For the price of one fully loaded KX3 you can buy two FT817ND’s in the UK.

If you have never owned an FT817ND you don’t know what you’ve been missing.

As a plug for QRP, going from 100W to 5W is about 2-3 S-points. So if 100W would have been 59 you’d still be 56 at least with 5W. What’s all the fuss about high power? I have worked THE WORLD on SSB with just  2.5W to simple wire antennas (no beams!).

My FT817’s have been used on VLF,  LF and MF with home-brew transverters and on all HF and VHF bands working some impressive DX.

There is a myth that QRP is “hard”. Let me tell you that is rubbish. Sometimes power helps, but that is rare. Mostly QRP is just plain good fun – making the hobby all new again. The most I use these days is 5W, and more often far less. QRP is great fun.

Go for it!

Roger Lapthorn, G3XBM, is a regular contributor to and writes from Cambridge, England.

3 Responses to “In praise of the FT817(ND) and QRP”

  • Guido LU8EQ:

    The Kx3 is NOT a better radio…

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    I have both a KX3 and Ft-817 with W4RT SSB filter and TCXO. Side by side on a busy week-end, or contest week-end there is not comparison. The KX3 beats the pants off the 817. Not even close. For just playing around the 817 is really a nice radio and having vhf/uhf all mod is great to have. AM and FM radio also. But if money is a issue and you want a very good do it all QRP, I agree the FT-817ND is the way to go. If you want a competition grade radio and have deep pockets then the KX3 is the way to go. With the introduction of the PX3 panadaptor/bandscope and the very pricey KXPA100/KXAT100 110 watt amp/atu you can have a true station that is really now a mini K-Line for about 1/3 the price.

    I had one of the original FT-817’s and have had a few others on and off over the years. If it were a “bad” radio then I would not own one now. I do own one and still use it. But again, when the bands are bad the KX3 takes over. No competition..

  • Scott W0SGM:

    I had an a dummy I sold it just before I purchased the KX3.
    Sure wish I had kept the 817ND;there’s more I dislike about the KX3 than like about it

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