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.



  1. ve7hamradio · March 13, 2018

    Reblogged this on Coastal Ham Radio.


  2. Skip Waisner · April 9, 2018

    What battery are you current using with the FT-891? What is the model, etc.?




    • ve3ips · April 12, 2018

      Skip, the 1209 and 1212s from Bioenno.


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