KX3 and FT817

Further to my earlier comments in a blog post yesterday, I have received several comments about both rigs. The general view remains that the performance of the KX3 exceeds that of the FT817ND although it is in many ways less suited to field use than the FT817.

I have never owned owned a KX3 as these are very expensive in the UK. I own both a very old FT817 and a recent FT817ND. For the modes I use mostly, the FT817s do a great job. I just wish Elecraft radios were not so expensive and looked, and were, more robust. I for one would think twice about using an expensive KX3 as a field radio. I am sure they work really well, but they look flimsy. A fully loaded KX3 is currently more than twice the cost of the FT817, which is a fine radio. My FT817 gets used from MF (with my homebrew transverter) all the way to 70cms. The FT817 has worked all over the world, including indoor handheld SSB QSOs with the USA.

For the avoidance of any doubt I love the FT817 radios and would like a KX3 for home use, if the latter was less expensive.  My views, others may not agree.

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

6 Responses to “KX3 and FT817”

  • Larry W2LJ:

    I can assure you Roger, that the KX3 is not a flimsy little rig that falls apart at the first signs of clouds in the sky. I have been using mine for portable QRP ops for the better part of 3 years now, in all kinds of weather and varied environments. My club also used KX3’s in last year’s Field Day effort, which was the rainiest and coolest in recent years. Granted, we were under a protected tent, but both units did their job like troopers and suffered no ill effects. Any myths that KX3s are delicate radios that melt like sugar in the elements are just that – myths.

    73 de Larry W2LJ

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    Have had a FT-817 and later FT-817ND and now a KX3, I can assure you the KX3 can take a lot of abuse. The KX3 is a desk top radio that has been crammed into a portable box. It is in the same performance class as the K3 or Ftdx5000. That said, if you are in he field do your really need that type of performance? Probably not. One of the down side of the KX3, if you want to call it that, is the RX is “too good” You can hear others that will never hear you. If you are home with a beam at 60 ft the KX3 will hear and work almost anyone one…But in the field with a compromise antenna and all the TX looses, it turns out the hot RX will pull in signals, but the peanut whistle power into a poor antenna will just not be heard. You might find the FT-817 less frustrating in the long run…. Just a observation. That said if you can pick up a pre-owned KX3 at a good price DO IT… You will never regret it….

  • jerry w5kaw:

    well I live on a very small fixed income and so I did without severly just to save enough money to buy a new yaesu ft-817nd as everyone wanted next to new for used modified radios that were used and showing signs of use so I just went new so I wouldn’t get modified radios with golden screwdrivers in it! but glad I have my new rig and have heard yaesu is soon going to discontinue this little rig! now that’s a shame!! I love mine wish I had one or two more 817’s for future radios!!

  • Ernest AA1IK:

    Radios I love to hate, The FT 817 is right at the top of the list. It does a lot, but does it poorly. I hate this radio so much that rather than get any money for it, I gave it away. This way, I would feel no guilt about passing such a detestable radio along. My main complaint, although not the only one, is that the receiver is noisy. If it had a better ‘less hissy’ receiver, I’d probably still have one.

    As a Kx3 owner, I assure you that this radio is far from fragile or flimsy. Optional side plates and dust cover make it a go anywhere radio. It also has a very fine receiver.

    Having owned both, the Kx3 is far superior to the 817, for many reasons.

  • David WB4ONA:

    The market is in a rut. The 817ND is long in the tooth and its performance shows it. The KX3 is outrageously over-priced. I think the Japanese manufacturers are in a quandry about how to fill this space because of SDR developments. They’re still cutting their teeth on SDR and that means we may be waiting quite a while for a new low-power radio to fill this gap. I’ve got enough money to buy a KX3, but I didn’t get that way by letting people take advantage of me – so there’s no KX3 on my horizon. I’ll wait it out…

  • Boots VK3DZ:

    I think it’s unfair to compare these radios. How many years apart are they in design philosophy & development? 10 years? 12?

    The FT817ND can be bought new in Melbourne for AUD$700 (US$500/GBP350) currently.

    I dragged a FT817 across the Pacific & PNG for years. Cooked it in backpack in NT sun (unit was too hot to pick up). Still working just fine – on frequency, 5 W PEP. Has never let me down. Hears everything my fancier rx do with the same aerials. Biggest complaint is the dc draw on rx.

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