The Elecraft KX-3 and QRP Antennas

I have given this presentation several times to various radio clubs and ARES groups.

An excellent radio for field operations

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Yaesu FT-818 Review

I am doing a quick review of the new  FT-818 radio that Yaesu has released.

The new radio offers the following enhancements to the the previous FT-817 and FT-817ND model.

“What’s the difference between the original FT-817 and the FT-817ND?”

  • Inclusion of 60 meters:  No modification required.
  • Selectable blue or amber backlighting
  • New transistors for the PA deck to prevent the “Blown Finals Club”
  • High capacity FNB-85 battery (ND model)
  • Modification to the main board to minimize the 7240 birdy

“What’s the difference between the original FT-817/FT-817NDand the FT-818?”

  • Power increased to 6 watts with new transistors for the PA deck
  • TCXO-9 high-stability oscillator built in.
  • SBR-32MH 9.6 Volt 1900 mAh NiMH high capacity battery.

My FT-817ND has the optional TXCO-9 oscillator installed as well as the Collins CW Filter $200 USD) and I threw away the lousy batteries and installed the WindCamp 3000mah Lithium Polymer (3S) battery.

This is now a FT-818 radio based on the enhancements made by the Yaesu Engineers (Tak, Miso, Hiro, and Yoshi) because there is really no change to the radio except for some new bits included in the box.

The radio I can happily say works as good as the FT-817ND performs. The performance is identical across all the models.

In April 2001, the ARRL concluded with the following:

It’s a delightful transceiver package to take on the road or just enjoy closer to home, such as in the car, on the patio or while sitting on the river bank waiting for the big ones to start biting. Thanks to Yaesu for ratcheting up Amateur Radio portability a few more notches and for showing us that less sometimes really can be more. This little radio will put smiles on a lot of faces. As one user so aptly put it: “The FT-817 puts the fun back into ham radio!” Reviewed by Rick Lindquist, N1RL

The Yaesu FT-818 continues the tradition of the popular FT-817ND and FT-817.
The FT-818 continues all the great features of the FT-817ND and adds these enhancement:
 Power increased to 6 watts.
 TCXO-9 high-stability oscillator built in.
 SBR-32MH 9.6 Volt 1900 mAh NiMH high capacity battery.

The radio is a fully self-contained, battery-powered, low power amateur MF/HF/VHF/UHF transceiver for portable/camping/mountain top use. Providing coverage of of the 160-10 meter amateur bands including 60 meters, plus the 6 meter, 2 meter and 70 cm bands, the FT-818 includes operation on the SSB, CW, AM, FM and digital modes. This radio is designed for use either from an external DC source or internal batteries and provides up to 6 watts of power output when on external DC power. When using the battery pack or 8 AA cells (not supplied), the radio automatically switches to 2.5 watts. The multi-function LCD screen includes selectable blue or amber backlighting which may be disabled for battery conservation. This radio comes with:  MH-31A8J Hand mic, SBR-32MH Ni-MH 1400 mAh battery, FBA-28 Battery case (for 8 x AA cells not supplied), AC wall charger, YHA-63 Whip antenna for 50/144/430 MHz, E-DC-6 DC cable and shoulder strap.

Installation note: only one optional filter may be installed in the FT-818 and I strongly suggest you buy one – CW or SSB.

Yaesu has released the manual on their website

Yaesu will announce a FT-818ND model later this year and include a better battery pack – possibly a  2200Mah with no additional improvements.

Why the Yaesu engineers (Tak, Miso, Hiro, and Yoshi)  did not create a mini FT-891 in an 817 chassis is beyond me and a real market miss step. They took the 897 board and stuck into the 857 so they could have done similar here. A FT-819 being a 10 watt version of the FT-818 would have been awesome.

we can only hope!



Short Vertical Antennas – Pick 2 Features

Short Vertical Antennas are a common use case for Field Operators. If its too long it gets caught in a tree branch while hiking. Too short and it doesn’t get a signal out well.

They range from 6 to 17 feet in length. Common models are the Buddistick, Chameleon MPAS, PAC-12, SuperAntenna MP1 and a PackTenna vertical. SOTABeams and Outbacker could also be included.

You typically get to choose 2 features out of 3:

  1. Small Size
  2. Wide Bandwidth
  3. High Efficiency

Your choice will denote the selection of antenna design you will want to use

2+3= A PackTenna 1/4 wave on 20 meters or a Chameleon MPAS (17 foot version)

1+2= A SuperAntenna MP1

1+3= Most likely a Buddistick with the standard coil and a long whip due to the longer radiating element and more efficient coil design.





CounterPoise Directionality with Compromise Antennas

Many compromise antennas are the 6 to 12 foot variety. The Buddistick, SuperAntenna MP1, Pac-12, and a Chameleon (it has various variants) all offer a short antenna with multi band capability.

The key to these antennas is to have an elevated counterpoise. I have done several Field Strength Readings in the field and in a controlled location to try to understand if there is any directionality to its placement.

YES I have found that there is!

Point it towards the station you are trying to work. There is noticeable improvement in the transmit signal that it would be worth the effort to locate the counterpoise accordingly.

I dont think I am seeing much in the way of reception of signals.

A gain of 3 db is the equivalent of doubling or reducing by half your power.





Counterpoise Directionality


Ham-EX 2018 Action Report

nother great day to play radio in the Buy-Sell-Trade category.

I got a nice Sony FRS radio and found a World war 2 Code key. The Kenwood TS520 station I bought is not working so I need to bench it and see if its something silly to fix or a major headache.

Attendance was lighter than usual and there were empty tables but the social aspect of the show and the exhibit area made for a nice day.

I did miss out on the Yaesu FT-897 package for $500 and that was a bargain\

Check out the above link

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Yaesu FT-891 HF Mobile Current Drain and life as a Portable operator

You can wait forever to have the Yaesu engineers design a replacement radio for the FT-817**. It turns out they were too busy working on the brilliant FT-891 radio that has become my replacement for the FT-817 (I am still keeping my 15 year old radio). Yaesu sold a ton of 817s, 857s, and 897s to many hams that used it for mobile and qrp activity.

Why the 891 you ask?

At $600 USD its a steal. The new DSP chips make it a wonder to behold and fix all the DSP issues the previous models had. Add in the speech compressor, scope watch and a sensitive receiver at that price and there is no question why they were sold out by christmas time pending another production run. Thanks to my friends at HRO in finding me a radio in time for my 6Y5 dxpedition.

Sure there is no built in tuner and the offered tuner is somewhat weak but Yaesu has never ever offered an antenna tuner as good as LDG. Icom as well can be blamed. Forget Kenwood as they have refused to participate in this market segment. I have a better idea if you wish to travel light. It is a FT-891, Lipo battery and a dipole.

So why the 891 you ask again?

I can be out operating at 5 watts and if the band goes short or fades on me I can crank up the power to 80 watts and add 2 S units at the receiving stations S meter and continue the QSO. I can still draw a reasonable 14-15 amperes making it easy to use a smaller LIPO battery for power. I cannot do that with the FT-817. This is a big operating advantage. Plus I have the wonderful DSP and speech compressor built in that adds to operator enjoyment.

I am out working DX not checking into local repeaters so I do not miss the lack of UHF and VHF bands. You may not as well.

A great use case is where I was operating as 6Y5IPS in Jamaica on the beach and running 5 watts as best I could and if needed I found I had to jump to 20 watts to add some extra signal to be heard. I found that on SSB I did need to run 20 watts as my starting point and it was in range on my LIPO battery. I was able to make contacts on 40m and work Winter Field day. It was hilarious trying to work hams on WFD as they didn’t seem to understand the prefix and kept thinking I had a US prefix. I needed more power on a short band but I didn’t have enough current in my battery to go 80 watts.

Ft-891 Current Drain
Power Amps db Ref 5w S Units
Receive 1
5 5.6 0
10 7 3
20 8.5 6 1
30 9.5
40 10.5 9
50 11.5
60 12.4
70 13
80 13.8 12 2
90 14.5
100 15.4

I beat the tuner problem by using a linked dipole I made up for 20/30/40m with a Packtenna balun. However, I also had the Chameleon Hybrid with the Milwhip for 20m use (with the LDG tuner) and it netted a contact into the Canary Islands (57 report). I would have worked Norway but I was on the fringe of his receiving capability with qrm on either side of us and he did get my callsign ok except he did not have the 6Y5 prefix. If I had jumped to 80 watts I would have added 2 S units to my signal making me 55 and in the logbook. He was running a 5 element quad and a kilowatt so he had the best antenna available (maybe not pointed to me but he was working the east coast)

I also made contacts on 40m at night from the hotel room running 80 watts using a small power supply. I would not be able to do that with the FT-817. Using 5 watts is too low for regular contacts.

Throw the FT-891 in a go box and you have a easy to carry HF rig for use at the weekend resort or cottage. You can even run it as a mobile as the cigarette lighter plug will be happy with the 10-15 amp current draw.

So hundreds of contacts later the new replacement radio to the FT-817 is the FT-891.

**Yaesu did release a new FT-818 that is the same as the old one except for some add ons included in the new price. $850 US?  For the $200 difference you can get a LDG tuner.

LDG has confirmed that the The Z-100Plus, Z11ProII and AT-100ProII with the Y-ACC interface cable will work with the FT-891. THE YT100 will not.

I can confirm the Z11 Pro II works as it should.

My base HF radios seem neglected as I play with the FT-891.

Tip #1  SSB current drain swings with voice peaks where CW is constant

Tip #2 Manual tuners work great

Tip # 3 A doubling of power is 3db and an S unit is 6 db thus to make an impact you need to quadruple your power.


GTA Hams Take NOte CBers are Nicer on the Air

With all the nefarious activity I was informed about and UHF repeaters being shut down I recall how much nicer it was on CB back in the day. Everyone followed the CBers Creed.

Carps were dealt with quickly.

1). Listen before you speak or break on  a channel

2). Always be polite and repsectful

3). Minimize the “Slang”. When you talk to someone on the radio- don’t use profanity. It doesn’t take a BIG man to swear, it’s takes a BIG man to convey his thoughts and feelings WITHOUT swearing.

They say the best CB radio is the

Stryker Sr-655hp 10 Meter Amateur Radio

But I think the Magnum is the better one (tighter filters) or find a Cobra 19 made in the Phillipines (last of the hand soldered production run) OR

Galaxy DX-959 40 Channel AM/SSB Mobile CB Radio with Frequency Counter

Best Antenna for CB SSB Operations

Only use a 5/8 wave or the 0.64 wave antenna. The Solarcon Max-2000 is an example as is the Radio Shack series (if you can find them)

It will be 22 feet long and could have 8 foot radials. The matching coil is the key element to the design

If I recall didnt Hy-Gain make a killer antenna called the Penetrator? and a lot of local guys on the 16 group in rexdale were all using trick sticks off their balcony?

To really work the skip a low radiation angle is a must and the 5/8 wave design antennas did that in spades.

We all can recall working the Jamaicans back in the day. They used a Cush Craft Ringo antenna. Wow! $36.50 USD (noagv). That antenna is 17 feet and the Ringo design was to offer a wider matching across the Channel 1 to 40 but worked as good outside the band.

Breaker Breaker 11



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