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Posted: 10/16/2015 7:27:06 PM EDT
This is how to QRP
Figured I’d show folks one of my QRP setups based around the FT817, I have others, but this is the most flexible setup. It basically does EVERYTHING in HAM world, and it does it for ~10lbs weight wise, it is easily portable. It covers 70cm-160m, can run up to 45W when needed, includes several different types of antennas which optimize efficiency vs speed of deployment. The only thing I'm not sure it can do is satcom, and thats only because I haven't tried it with the maldol antenna yet, it may actually be capable of doing that too, and if it can't all it needs is a better antenna. So from CW-SSB-digital it does it all, it does all the bands, its UHF,VHF, HF, multi-function, multi-role.  

So enough with the hype lets begin with the tour.
The bag is a one-tigris bag that was recommended here by a member whose name I forget, but am grateful to. It’s about the size of military butt-pack and can actually be used as such. But usually I just use the carry strap or handle to carry it around. Here is the setup all packed.

Front


Back


Removing the top, we find a 6-40m dipole system, logbook, and adaptors for working data.


The main compartment holds the radio, tuner, amp, and mic/speech processor, while the side pockets hold the external power and charging adaptors as well as the buddistick coil.


The front pocket holds coax, the high sierra jaws mount and and a buddistick counterpoise wire.


Now down to the nitty gritty: Starting with power, we have a battery charger for the internal windcamp LiPo battery which provides 3Ah of runtime for the radio in the 5W base configuration. We also have a wall wart PS for the 817 that will run the radio, as well as the Zippy LiFePO4 4.2Ah battery that can be used to run the amp or the radio or both all at the same time.



Next we have the antenna systems and interfaces. The buddistick with either the Sierra Jaws mount or the BP tripod provide a decent vertical on 6-20m. If some actual gain is desired and supports are available I have a ultralightweight homebrew dipole system (which can be used as an endfed too). For 2m/440/6m we have 18” maldol tribander antenna. For communication adapters we have a wolphi link for use with an Android phone for RTTY/PSK31, or if desired a set of plugs for a netbook/notebook for running other digimodes and a paper log.



Now for the actual radio system. We have the FT817 fitted with a windcamp 3aH Lipo battery which actually lets us run on 5W for some time. Above that a MXP-50m chinamart amplifier that is supposedly rated to 45W output, but for my uses I typically maximally run it at 25W which is plenty of power. And finally the LDG Z-817 tuner, which is rated for 20W and why I don’t usually use the amp at any higher power. Also pictured is the DYC-817 speech process which is pretty much a must if you want to any work on SSB.



Also please do note the rabid shitpile of cabling in the back, if someone has some suggestions or sources how to minimize this I’m all ears as it really really really annoys me and takes up a pile of room in the main compartment.


So there you have it 160m-70cm, .5-50W with three different antenna options. Multifunction, multirole, it can talk to any HAMhole. This is how I QRP.
Link Posted: 10/16/2015 7:39:22 PM EDT
Awesome setup!  Makes me want to add an FT-817 to the QRP stable!  
Link Posted: 10/16/2015 7:44:03 PM EDT
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Quoted:
Awesome setup!  Makes me want to add an FT-817 to the QRP stable!  
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Thanks, I've been meaning to post the setup for a while. Its quite functional, though I usually strip it down to what I need when operating portable, this is sort of the whole shebang/bug out bag/whatever you want to call it. I also realized I left the whiterook CW key and earbuds out of the pic oops. And I often also carry a paar EFZ trail friendly as well which replaces the Buddistick on top or in addition to it.
Link Posted: 10/16/2015 7:45:44 PM EDT
there is a 817 semi-local on Craigslist for $420...guess who don't have $420

Nice rig! thanks for posting
Link Posted: 10/16/2015 7:50:50 PM EDT
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Quoted:
there is a 817 semi-local on Craigslist for $420...guess who don't have $420

Nice rig! thanks for posting
View Quote


Honestly I'm not sure I'd pay 420 for one.

I paid ~250 for mine , but it was sold as "dead", turned out someone just left the alkaline tray full, they leaked and made a mess, 5 minutes of cleaning and bazinga, shiny new radio. I think I have about ~500-600 in the radio part of the setup at this point depending on what gets counted. Antennas obviously add a bit to that.

I just have to paint the whole thing GREEN now so it will be tacticool...


Link Posted: 10/16/2015 8:41:29 PM EDT
Thanks for posting as well, I can see I'm going to have to add to mine.






If you want to go with a desert scheme, I have a variety of Brown shades of Duracoat that need a home. I could also accommodate you with some Foliage Green Norrell Molyresin.








ETA:I can see now I'm going to want one of those amps






 
Link Posted: 10/16/2015 8:50:27 PM EDT
Nice setup! The 817 is on my short list. Maybe Santa Me will bring one for Christmas.
Getting rid of the rats nest of cabling would be easy. Basically just shorten all the cables to a bare minimum length to interconnect the units. 6 inch coax jumpers and shorten up the power wiring etc..
Link Posted: 10/17/2015 9:00:46 AM EDT
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Quoted:
Nice setup! The 817 is on my short list. Maybe Santa Me will bring one for Christmas.
Getting rid of the rats nest of cabling would be easy. Basically just shorten all the cables to a bare minimum length to interconnect the units. 6 inch coax jumpers and shorten up the power wiring etc..
View Quote


Yeah "simply" shorten. Its easy enough to do it with coax for me, but the din cables are another story. I'm not sure I can solder that small given the size of the pins. And I haven't found anywhere that sells din cables shorter than 1 foot. Then there is the strain issue.
Link Posted: 10/17/2015 9:40:54 AM EDT
Thanks for posting.
Link Posted: 10/17/2015 12:14:19 PM EDT


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Quoted:
Yeah "simply" shorten. Its easy enough to do it with coax for me, but the din cables are another story. I'm not sure I can solder that small given the size of the pins. And I haven't found anywhere that sells din cables shorter than 1 foot. Then there is the strain issue.


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Quoted:





Quoted:


Nice setup! The 817 is on my short list. Maybe Santa Me will bring one for Christmas.


Getting rid of the rats nest of cabling would be easy. Basically just shorten all the cables to a bare minimum length to interconnect the units. 6 inch coax jumpers and shorten up the power wiring etc..






Yeah "simply" shorten. Its easy enough to do it with coax for me, but the din cables are another story. I'm not sure I can solder that small given the size of the pins. And I haven't found anywhere that sells din cables shorter than 1 foot. Then there is the strain issue.












One suggestion, not elegant. Buy a DIN cable & chop the center section out leaving you with the pigtails to assemble for the final length. Order some self soldering heat shrink butt splices. They are TOG for working with small wires. Strip & splice all the wires using them and finish with one piece of heat shrink over the whole splice. If you stagger the splices, you'll have a relatively smooth splice instead of one big lump under the cable.  


 
Link Posted: 10/17/2015 12:53:27 PM EDT
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Quoted:




One suggestion, not elegant. Buy a DIN cable & chop the center section out leaving you with the pigtails to assemble for the final length. Order some self soldering heat shrink butt splices. They are TOG for working with small wires. Strip & splice all the wires using them and finish with one piece of heat shrink over the whole splice. If you stagger the splices, you'll have a relatively smooth splice instead of one big lump under the cable.    
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Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
Nice setup! The 817 is on my short list. Maybe Santa Me will bring one for Christmas.
Getting rid of the rats nest of cabling would be easy. Basically just shorten all the cables to a bare minimum length to interconnect the units. 6 inch coax jumpers and shorten up the power wiring etc..


Yeah "simply" shorten. Its easy enough to do it with coax for me, but the din cables are another story. I'm not sure I can solder that small given the size of the pins. And I haven't found anywhere that sells din cables shorter than 1 foot. Then there is the strain issue.




One suggestion, not elegant. Buy a DIN cable & chop the center section out leaving you with the pigtails to assemble for the final length. Order some self soldering heat shrink butt splices. They are TOG for working with small wires. Strip & splice all the wires using them and finish with one piece of heat shrink over the whole splice. If you stagger the splices, you'll have a relatively smooth splice instead of one big lump under the cable.    


Hmm, that might actually work, I've done some military adapter cables like that for my radios (they are no longer milspec after I get through with em). Though I was hoping for a more elegant solution i.e. someone who makes/sells 3-4" 8 pin din cables.

Link Posted: 10/17/2015 1:32:24 PM EDT
Looks like a nice setup. I'd like to put something like that together, some day.  I'm currently working on battery/solar backup for the home rig, and "pickup truck portable" for my K2.

For now, all I do for QRP is turn the power down on my K3.


Link Posted: 10/17/2015 2:01:01 PM EDT
What happened to all of the KX3 love???  

OP do yo have the narrow CW filter in your radio?
Link Posted: 10/17/2015 2:37:45 PM EDT
Awesome!



This should linked as one of the "Important Threads."
Link Posted: 10/17/2015 3:31:45 PM EDT
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Quoted:
What happened to all of the KX3 love???
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I can appreciate and desire more than one cool setup at the same time.  
Link Posted: 10/17/2015 4:47:09 PM EDT
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Quoted:
Awesome!

This should linked as one of the "Important Threads."
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Now you're stroking my ego...
Link Posted: 10/17/2015 4:48:26 PM EDT
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Quoted:
What happened to all of the KX3 love???  

OP do yo have the narrow CW filter in your radio?
View Quote


To the first point, the 817 is a more flexible radio

To the second point: I do, 300hz though I oft wonder if the 500hz wouldn't have been the better choice, it can be hard to find CW signals at times with the 300 filter on. I honestly usually use my KX1 for CW work more often.
Link Posted: 10/17/2015 9:28:37 PM EDT
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Quoted:...
To the second point: I do, 300hz though I oft wonder if the 500hz wouldn't have been the better choice, it can be hard to find CW signals at times with the 300 filter on. ...
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Find them wide, zero beat, then hit the narrow filter.

Link Posted: 10/17/2015 11:03:36 PM EDT
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Quoted:


Find them wide, zero beat, then hit the narrow filter.

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Quoted:
Quoted:...
To the second point: I do, 300hz though I oft wonder if the 500hz wouldn't have been the better choice, it can be hard to find CW signals at times with the 300 filter on. ...


Find them wide, zero beat, then hit the narrow filter.



I have trouble with that
Link Posted: 10/17/2015 11:40:11 PM EDT
Dammit - now you have me wanting an 817.



And a LiFEPo battery.




And a tuner....




....
Link Posted: 10/18/2015 8:38:27 AM EDT
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Quoted:
Dammit - now you have me wanting an 817.

And a LiFEPo battery.


And a tuner....


....
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Honestly I mostly only use the external batt when I use the amp. Same with the tuner as I have no idea how reliable the amp is. If 5W is all I plan to use the amp/tuner stay home since the antennas are resonant. Alternately I do have a ZM-2 lightweight tuner that I occasionally use at 5W as well for non resonant antennas as its smaller and a bit lighter than the LDG unit.
Link Posted: 10/18/2015 6:59:14 PM EDT
I have been meaning to sell my 817 for years. About the time I get serious about selling it, I read something that makes me keep it.

This happened to me again this morning.

I MUCH prefer the KX3 for my general operating. But for digital, the 817 is nice. Especially since I own one already. I dont use it much, but I just cant part with it.
Link Posted: 10/18/2015 8:12:44 PM EDT
Well I feel good for contributing to your continuing like of the 817 .

However, I'm a bit surprised to hear you say you prefer the 817 to the KX3 for digi modes, it strikes me as counter-intuitive based on what I've heard about the kx3.
Link Posted: 10/18/2015 10:12:09 PM EDT

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Quoted:
Honestly I'm not sure I'd pay 420 for one.



I paid ~250 for mine , but it was sold as "dead", turned out someone just left the alkaline tray full, they leaked and made a mess, 5 minutes of cleaning and bazinga, shiny new radio. I think I have about ~500-600 in the radio part of the setup at this point depending on what gets counted. Antennas obviously add a bit to that.



I just have to paint the whole thing GREEN now so it will be tacticool...





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Quoted:



Quoted:

there is a 817 semi-local on Craigslist for $420...guess who don't have $420



Nice rig! thanks for posting




Honestly I'm not sure I'd pay 420 for one.



I paid ~250 for mine , but it was sold as "dead", turned out someone just left the alkaline tray full, they leaked and made a mess, 5 minutes of cleaning and bazinga, shiny new radio. I think I have about ~500-600 in the radio part of the setup at this point depending on what gets counted. Antennas obviously add a bit to that.



I just have to paint the whole thing GREEN now so it will be tacticool...









 
Dude... that's CODE for I'll give you a radio I found for some weed.




ps- $250 + elbow grease... I'm pretty sure we all kind'a hate you.
Link Posted: 10/19/2015 9:47:04 AM EDT
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Quoted:

  Dude... that's CODE for I'll give you a radio I found for some weed.


ps- $250 + elbow grease... I'm pretty sure we all kind'a hate you.
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Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
there is a 817 semi-local on Craigslist for $420...guess who don't have $420

Nice rig! thanks for posting


Honestly I'm not sure I'd pay 420 for one.

I paid ~250 for mine , but it was sold as "dead", turned out someone just left the alkaline tray full, they leaked and made a mess, 5 minutes of cleaning and bazinga, shiny new radio. I think I have about ~500-600 in the radio part of the setup at this point depending on what gets counted. Antennas obviously add a bit to that.

I just have to paint the whole thing GREEN now so it will be tacticool...



  Dude... that's CODE for I'll give you a radio I found for some weed.


ps- $250 + elbow grease... I'm pretty sure we all kind'a hate you.


LOL, missed that... And yeah I have had a few good finds over the years, but that was one of the real bargains.

Link Posted: 10/19/2015 9:49:05 AM EDT
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Quoted:


ps- $250 + elbow grease... I'm pretty sure we all kind'a hate you.
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OOOO!  Me!  I hate him.

Link Posted: 10/19/2015 9:47:38 PM EDT
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Quoted:


OOOO!  Me!  I hate him.

http://files.gamebanana.com/img/ico/sprays/jay.gif
View Quote View All Quotes
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Quoted:
Quoted:


ps- $250 + elbow grease... I'm pretty sure we all kind'a hate you.


OOOO!  Me!  I hate him.

http://files.gamebanana.com/img/ico/sprays/jay.gif


And I hate mancow for the deals he's gotten
Link Posted: 10/20/2015 3:37:38 PM EDT
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Quoted:
Well I feel good for contributing to your continuing like of the 817 .

However, I'm a bit surprised to hear you say you prefer the 817 to the KX3 for digi modes, it strikes me as counter-intuitive based on what I've heard about the kx3.
View Quote


It wasn't this post that made me reconsider selling the 817. I don't remember now what it was, but it was something to do with some digital operation. Probably Winlink.

I really like the fact that the 817 has a data port and I am not doing audio through the headphone jack and the microphone jack.
I also really like the fact that the 817 has VHF/UHF on it.
Link Posted: 10/20/2015 4:30:23 PM EDT
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Quoted:

I can appreciate and desire more than one cool setup at the same time.  
View Quote View All Quotes
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Quoted:
Quoted:
What happened to all of the KX3 love???

I can appreciate and desire more than one cool setup at the same time.  



Same here.

My love affair with the KX3 is well documented here, but if I run across a deal on a used FT817, it's mine.
Link Posted: 10/20/2015 4:56:03 PM EDT
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Quoted:


And I hate mancow for the deals he's gotten
View Quote View All Quotes
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Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:


ps- $250 + elbow grease... I'm pretty sure we all kind'a hate you.


OOOO!  Me!  I hate him.

http://files.gamebanana.com/img/ico/sprays/jay.gif


And I hate mancow for the deals he's gotten



Yea but my kit is considerably larger.

Link Posted: 10/20/2015 5:43:15 PM EDT
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Quoted:



Yea but my kit is considerably larger.

http://i.imgur.com/cN1nhTq.jpg
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Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:


ps- $250 + elbow grease... I'm pretty sure we all kind'a hate you.


OOOO!  Me!  I hate him.

http://files.gamebanana.com/img/ico/sprays/jay.gif


And I hate mancow for the deals he's gotten



Yea but my kit is considerably larger.

http://i.imgur.com/cN1nhTq.jpg




I have nothing more to add.
Link Posted: 10/20/2015 5:54:31 PM EDT
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Quoted:



Yea but my kit is considerably larger.

http://i.imgur.com/cN1nhTq.jpg
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Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:


ps- $250 + elbow grease... I'm pretty sure we all kind'a hate you.


OOOO!  Me!  I hate him.

http://files.gamebanana.com/img/ico/sprays/jay.gif


And I hate mancow for the deals he's gotten



Yea but my kit is considerably larger.

http://i.imgur.com/cN1nhTq.jpg


Much Jealousy...
Link Posted: 10/20/2015 10:13:32 PM EDT
Quoted:
This is how to QRP
Figured I’d show folks one of my QRP setups based around the FT817, I have others, but this is the most flexible setup. It basically does EVERYTHING in HAM world, and it does it for ~10lbs weight wise, it is easily portable. It covers 70cm-160m, can run up to 45W when needed, includes several different types of antennas which optimize efficiency vs speed of deployment. The only thing I'm not sure it can do is satcom, and thats only because I haven't tried it with the maldol antenna yet, it may actually be capable of doing that too, and if it can't all it needs is a better antenna. So from CW-SSB-digital it does it all, it does all the bands, its UHF,VHF, HF, multi-function, multi-role.  

So enough with the hype lets begin with the tour.
The bag is a one-tigris bag that was recommended here by a member whose name I forget, but am grateful to. It’s about the size of military butt-pack and can actually be used as such. But usually I just use the carry strap or handle to carry it around. Here is the setup all packed.

Front
<a href="http://s5.photobucket.com/user/harlikwin/media/ECF928C2-DBE0-45FB-A5AA-90CFE93C2DDE_zpsspzuhxwo.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y158/harlikwin/ECF928C2-DBE0-45FB-A5AA-90CFE93C2DDE_zpsspzuhxwo.jpg</a>

Back
<a href="http://s5.photobucket.com/user/harlikwin/media/743DEF24-2980-473F-AF56-CE6D3D999D3D_zpsectkrubu.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y158/harlikwin/743DEF24-2980-473F-AF56-CE6D3D999D3D_zpsectkrubu.jpg</a>

Removing the top, we find a 6-40m dipole system, logbook, and adaptors for working data.
<a href="http://s5.photobucket.com/user/harlikwin/media/44A66372-AE05-42D2-9CA4-71C0962EBC45_zpskg4qmndw.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y158/harlikwin/44A66372-AE05-42D2-9CA4-71C0962EBC45_zpskg4qmndw.jpg</a>

The main compartment holds the radio, tuner, amp, and mic/speech processor, while the side pockets hold the external power and charging adaptors as well as the buddistick coil.
<a href="http://s5.photobucket.com/user/harlikwin/media/A8913187-11A8-4472-B1D0-E70D745AF384_zps0u20tzi5.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y158/harlikwin/A8913187-11A8-4472-B1D0-E70D745AF384_zps0u20tzi5.jpg</a>

The front pocket holds coax, the high sierra jaws mount and and a buddistick counterpoise wire.
<a href="http://s5.photobucket.com/user/harlikwin/media/438717D6-1FD5-4944-AA58-9DE3EC127E23_zpsbkyuvcge.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y158/harlikwin/438717D6-1FD5-4944-AA58-9DE3EC127E23_zpsbkyuvcge.jpg</a>

Now down to the nitty gritty: Starting with power, we have a battery charger for the internal windcamp LiPo battery which provides 3Ah of runtime for the radio in the 5W base configuration. We also have a wall wart PS for the 817 that will run the radio, as well as the Zippy LiFePO4 4.2Ah battery that can be used to run the amp or the radio or both all at the same time.

<a href="http://s5.photobucket.com/user/harlikwin/media/9DC15EF5-C933-4FE7-96AA-E32D6DC5CD7D_zpsysybsgtd.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y158/harlikwin/9DC15EF5-C933-4FE7-96AA-E32D6DC5CD7D_zpsysybsgtd.jpg</a>

Next we have the antenna systems and interfaces. The buddistick with either the Sierra Jaws mount or the BP tripod provide a decent vertical on 6-20m. If some actual gain is desired and supports are available I have a ultralightweight homebrew dipole system (which can be used as an endfed too). For 2m/440/6m we have 18” maldol tribander antenna. For communication adapters we have a wolphi link for use with an Android phone for RTTY/PSK31, or if desired a set of plugs for a netbook/notebook for running other digimodes and a paper log.

<a href="http://s5.photobucket.com/user/harlikwin/media/BAA83845-4384-4A21-AFC7-56E69FB40811_zpsgadjv4aw.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y158/harlikwin/BAA83845-4384-4A21-AFC7-56E69FB40811_zpsgadjv4aw.jpg</a>

Now for the actual radio system. We have the FT817 fitted with a windcamp 3aH Lipo battery which actually lets us run on 5W for some time. Above that a MXP-50m chinamart amplifier that is supposedly rated to 45W output, but for my uses I typically maximally run it at 25W which is plenty of power. And finally the LDG Z-817 tuner, which is rated for 20W and why I don’t usually use the amp at any higher power. Also pictured is the DYC-817 speech process which is pretty much a must if you want to any work on SSB.

<a href="http://s5.photobucket.com/user/harlikwin/media/2566F380-32C3-4149-B97F-22670BCDFE3C_zpsf4161ysc.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y158/harlikwin/2566F380-32C3-4149-B97F-22670BCDFE3C_zpsf4161ysc.jpg</a>

Also please do note the rabid shitpile of cabling in the back, if someone has some suggestions or sources how to minimize this I’m all ears as it really really really annoys me and takes up a pile of room in the main compartment.
<a href="http://s5.photobucket.com/user/harlikwin/media/D67EFAF8-3D06-402A-BD16-9A40B8E7348C_zpsfdyoydkd.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y158/harlikwin/D67EFAF8-3D06-402A-BD16-9A40B8E7348C_zpsfdyoydkd.jpg</a>

So there you have it 160m-70cm, .5-50W with three different antenna options. Multifunction, multirole, it can talk to any HAMhole. This is how I QRP.
View Quote



Alright, I've finally had time to look this over in detail.  Please excuse me if I sound like an idiot or condescending as that is not my intent.  This kit is nearly my exact "ideal" setup but I have a few questions:

1. Why the LDG-817 vs. LDG-817Z?  The LDG-817Z is rated to take full use of your amp.  I know that it is larger but is essentially the same size as the FT-817ND and isn't much bigger than the LDG-817 and only costs $20 more.

2. How do you modulate the amp output?  Are you simply dialing down the Tx output from the radio?

3. For the price of the radio, tuner, speech compressor and amp (running at approx 20w), you are close to more than a KX3.  While the KX3 has a far better display, the 817 is an all-band.  Once you figure in a Elecraft tuner and 2M module, it does cost more than your setup but your still running the same power (KX3 vs. 817+amp).  Not really a question in this, just an observation.

4. You mentioned cleaning up the rat's nest.  With the radio, amp and tuner stacked, do you have heat issues?  While other have mentioned simply shortening the cables, I'm curious if the subsequent vertical stack would cause other issues (heat buildup).

5. The bag looks looks like a perfect fit for everything but have you tried a Versapak?  

6. How does the 817 handle digital modes?  This is something I'd like to get into as well such as JT65, fldigi, etc.  This is especially important as I'm still, at a painfully slow pace, learning CW.

7. For the price of the 817 and amp, you could find a 897 that'll still run more power.  Beyond the obvious that the 817 is smaller and lighter weight, does the 817 have other advantages?

My winter project will be to get my Extra ticket and get my HF setup done by spring.  The primary use(s) would be field days, camping (at least monthly), similar camping-like travels, and base station until finances allow for a proper base station setup.  The only thing I'd probably add to your kit would be a 12" laptop for digimodes which is why I asked about the Versapak.
Link Posted: 10/21/2015 9:43:48 AM EDT
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Alright, I've finally had time to look this over in detail.  Please excuse me if I sound like an idiot or condescending as that is not my intent.  This kit is nearly my exact "ideal" setup but I have a few questions:

1. Why the LDG-817 vs. LDG-817Z?  The LDG-817Z is rated to take full use of your amp.  I know that it is larger but is essentially the same size as the FT-817ND and isn't much bigger than the LDG-817 and only costs $20 more.


Heh, this is actually a really complicated question.
Answer 1: Mainly due to the fact I built this kit up over time over a period of 4 years or so, so I had the 817Z first and then bought the amp.

Answer 2: In an Emergency the 817Z would probably survive the 45W out on SSB at least if the antenna it was matching was close to resonance since SSB is not a full power mode.

Answer 3: I don't really feel there is neccisarily a huge difference between 25W out and 45W when it comes to making contacts.

Answer 4: The power drain on the battery is much greater for the 45W power level (7-8amps) so the battery life would be greatly reduced for little gain.

Answer 5: I have no idea if the amp has any swr protection for its finals (probably not) so running it at a lower power level can help with that if there are any small mismatches, so its a balance.

If I were to do it again, I would either go with the 817H amp since as you say its better suited for the power of the radio, or more likely a Elecraft T1 due to its much smaller size and weight


2. How do you modulate the amp output?  Are you simply dialing down the Tx output from the radio?

Yes, its simply power level set in the radio, 5W=45W, 2.5W=25W 1W=15W etc...

3. For the price of the radio, tuner, speech compressor and amp (running at approx 20w), you are close to more than a KX3.  While the KX3 has a far better display, the 817 is an all-band.  Once you figure in a Elecraft tuner and 2M module, it does cost more than your setup but your still running the same power (KX3 vs. 817+amp).  Not really a question in this, just an observation.

Well it really depends on how you look at it, The KX3 can output ~12W max (with external PS) while my setup can put out double or quadruple that in a pinch if needed. Cost wise, I paid 250 for my 817 as I mentioned, 120 for the tuner, and 150 or so for the amp, 40 bucks for the speech compressor so price wise for all that I'm still ~$450 under a base config KX3 in my case for a more capable and durable radio system

4. You mentioned cleaning up the rat's nest.  With the radio, amp and tuner stacked, do you have heat issues?  While other have mentioned simply shortening the cables, I'm curious if the subsequent vertical stack would cause other issues (heat buildup).

No heat issues at all, just messy wires

5. The bag looks looks like a perfect fit for everything but have you tried a Versapak?  

No, but If you want to send me one I will take pics for you, and if I like it I won't send it back .

6. How does the 817 handle digital modes?  This is something I'd like to get into as well such as JT65, fldigi, etc.  This is especially important as I'm still, at a painfully slow pace, learning CW.

Works great digital, in fact almost all of my digi contacts are on the 817, Using the wolphi link I can just use my cellphone for PSK31 and RTTY, and if I connect up a netbook I can use FLdigi or HRD for other modes

7. For the price of the 817 and amp, you could find a 897 that'll still run more power.  Beyond the obvious that the 817 is smaller and lighter weight, does the 817 have other advantages?

I actually have an 897 setup that I use when I want or feel like more power is necessary, the 817 is entirely a size/weight thing vs the 897 also the 817 based setup is far more flexible if I want to ditch weight/bulk, the 897 is all or nothing

My winter project will be to get my Extra ticket and get my HF setup done by spring.  The primary use(s) would be field days, camping (at least monthly), similar camping-like travels, and base station until finances allow for a proper base station setup.  The only thing I'd probably add to your kit would be a 12" laptop for digimodes which is why I asked about the Versapak.

My 817 started as a camping rig, and kinda grew from there. The main advantage of the whole setup is that I can ruthlessly cut it down to just what I need in terms of antennas and power requirements. For camping I'd likely take the base radio, a CW key, and my dipole antenna and leave everything else. And IIRC that weighs under 4 lbs (I have cheat sheet with all the weights of components somewhere) or more likely these days I'd take my CW only KX1 rig which weighs ~1lb, maybe I should do a post on that one of these days

View Quote


My answers in red.

This is my 897 setup that I posted a few years back, portable it can up to 75W due to the modified battery setup, normally I run it at ~25W.


Link Posted: 10/21/2015 10:06:08 AM EDT

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Quoted:



My winter project will be to get my Extra ticket and get my HF setup done by spring.  The primary use(s) would be field days, camping (at least monthly), similar camping-like travels, and base station until finances allow for a proper base station setup.  The only thing I'd probably add to your kit would be a 12" laptop for digimodes which is why I asked about the Versapak.
View Quote




 
Want to toss my 2p in. If this is going to be your first HF radio, I'd go with a base unit of some kind and leave the 817 or KX3 for another day. Esp. since you're looking a substantial chunk of change if you go new. You'll get far more use and enjoyment from something that is intended for everyday vs. something geared toward camping.
Link Posted: 10/21/2015 10:28:36 AM EDT
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Quoted:

  Want to toss my 2p in. If this is going to be your first HF radio, I'd go with a base unit of some kind and leave the 817 or KX3 for another day. Esp. since you're looking a substantial chunk of change if you go new. You'll get far more use and enjoyment from something that is intended for everyday vs. something geared toward camping.
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Quoted:
Quoted:

My winter project will be to get my Extra ticket and get my HF setup done by spring.  The primary use(s) would be field days, camping (at least monthly), similar camping-like travels, and base station until finances allow for a proper base station setup.  The only thing I'd probably add to your kit would be a 12" laptop for digimodes which is why I asked about the Versapak.

  Want to toss my 2p in. If this is going to be your first HF radio, I'd go with a base unit of some kind and leave the 817 or KX3 for another day. Esp. since you're looking a substantial chunk of change if you go new. You'll get far more use and enjoyment from something that is intended for everyday vs. something geared toward camping.


Yeah, I agree. Actually if you want a dual use unit, go with an 897, it can also be used portable and its nice in the sense its pretty well integrated.
Link Posted: 10/21/2015 11:15:15 AM EDT

I see a fair number of well-priced 857Ds as well...I think this is because they are still in production.

Around the holidays you can find them real cheap as folks are wanting the next new thing, and vendors are running discounts on the same radios, but new.  So the used ones prices drop for both reasons.
Link Posted: 10/21/2015 12:49:47 PM EDT
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Quoted:


Yeah, I agree. Actually if you want a dual use unit, go with an 897, it can also be used portable and its nice in the sense its pretty well integrated.
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Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:

My winter project will be to get my Extra ticket and get my HF setup done by spring.  The primary use(s) would be field days, camping (at least monthly), similar camping-like travels, and base station until finances allow for a proper base station setup.  The only thing I'd probably add to your kit would be a 12" laptop for digimodes which is why I asked about the Versapak.

  Want to toss my 2p in. If this is going to be your first HF radio, I'd go with a base unit of some kind and leave the 817 or KX3 for another day. Esp. since you're looking a substantial chunk of change if you go new. You'll get far more use and enjoyment from something that is intended for everyday vs. something geared toward camping.


Yeah, I agree. Actually if you want a dual use unit, go with an 897, it can also be used portable and its nice in the sense its pretty well integrated.


Thanks.  I have a very bad habit of overthinking and second guessing when making larg(er) purchases.
Link Posted: 10/21/2015 1:24:58 PM EDT
The FT-897 has the option of using an internal battery as well or installing an internal AC p/s. Plenty of other first radio choices too. I think the IC-718 is a popular first radio around here. The bonus with the FT-8x7 is you get 6m, 2m, & 440 all in the same box.
Link Posted: 10/21/2015 1:33:03 PM EDT
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Quoted:
The FT-897 has the option of using an internal battery as well or installing an internal AC p/s. Plenty of other first radio choices too. I think the IC-718 is a popular first radio around here. The bonus with the FT-8x7 is you get 6m, 2m, & 440 all in the same box.
View Quote


IMO you are way better off home brewing batteries for the 897 as you can run more than 20w power. And home brew is cheaper
Link Posted: 10/21/2015 3:02:16 PM EDT
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Quoted:


IMO you are way better off home brewing batteries for the 897 as you can run more than 20w power. And home brew is cheaper
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Quoted:
Quoted:
The bonus with the FT-8x7 is you get 6m, 2m, & 440 all in the same box.


IMO you are way better off home brewing batteries for the 897 as you can run more than 20w power. And home brew is cheaper


I agree with both of these posts!!!
Link Posted: 10/24/2015 6:10:13 PM EDT
Just a quick update, on the rig. I just logged a pile of SSB DX from the international DX contest today using anywhere between 5W and 20W and simple 20M dipole. Even got into Ireland with 5W SSB...

Link Posted: 10/24/2015 10:38:05 PM EDT

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Just a quick update, on the rig. I just logged a pile of SSB DX from the international DX contest today using anywhere between 5W and 20W and simple 20M dipole. Even got into Ireland with 5W SSB...



View Quote



I've GOT to figure out what's up with my location/gear/antenna.... The furthest I've made it with 100w is from GA to NJ.

 



I hear about feats like yours and wonder what dark magic is being invoked for those results.
Link Posted: 10/24/2015 10:56:56 PM EDT
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Quoted:


I've GOT to figure out what's up with my location/gear/antenna.... The furthest I've made it with 100w is from GA to NJ.  

I hear about feats like yours and wonder what dark magic is being invoked for those results.
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Quoted:
Quoted:
Just a quick update, on the rig. I just logged a pile of SSB DX from the international DX contest today using anywhere between 5W and 20W and simple 20M dipole. Even got into Ireland with 5W SSB...



I've GOT to figure out what's up with my location/gear/antenna.... The furthest I've made it with 100w is from GA to NJ.  

I hear about feats like yours and wonder what dark magic is being invoked for those results.


Has to be antenna, Bro.

On 10W, from Afghanistan I made digital contacts from Iceland, to South Africa, to Japan and most everything in between.

On SSB with 100W I have made it from NW MT to Japan, Marshall Is, Spain and most U.S. States.
Link Posted: 10/24/2015 11:54:47 PM EDT
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Quoted:

I've GOT to figure out what's up with my location/gear/antenna.... The furthest I've made it with 100w is from GA to NJ.  

View Quote


100 watts should get you WAS and DXCC without trouble


Hell....100 watts and a good mobile HF antenna has yielded me a lot of good DX

I good antenna beats a kilowatt every time.



Link Posted: 10/25/2015 10:04:30 AM EDT
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Quoted:


100 watts should get you WAS and DXCC without trouble


Hell....100 watts and a good mobile HF antenna has yielded me a lot of good DX

I good antenna beats a kilowatt every time.

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Quoted:
Quoted:

I've GOT to figure out what's up with my location/gear/antenna.... The furthest I've made it with 100w is from GA to NJ.  



100 watts should get you WAS and DXCC without trouble


Hell....100 watts and a good mobile HF antenna has yielded me a lot of good DX

I good antenna beats a kilowatt every time.



Yeah, if you have any kind of decent antenna, you should be able to work plenty of DX. If you have a dipole, up 30 feet or more, you should be able to work anything in the world if the band is open and the frequency is clear of other traffic.
As was mentioned, I have worked several big DXpeditions, in pileups, on SSB, while mobile using an ATAS-120 antenna (not considered to be a great antenna) with 100 watts.
I worked 100 unique DXCC entities in 60 days running my KX3 at 5 watts into an 80 meter dipole at 35 feet (with a tuner).
So, it doesn't take any kind of fancy equipment, big antennas, or high power. Having all that stuff just makes it easier.

There is a certain amount of skill involved in working DX because most of the time, there are multiple stations calling the DX station. So you need to know where to call, and when to call. This just comes with practice and paying attention to what is going on. Listen to the other stations that are successfully working the DX station and do what they do. When a DX station goes back to someone, listen to find where they are (if possible, you might not be able to hear them). But if you are trying to work a relatively common country, there usually isn't a pileup and they are usually working simplex: so there isn't any technique involved.

Working DX is also a mindset. For years, I never really tried to work DX. The few DX contacts I had, I didn't bother to try to confirm. I just got on the air and called CQ and was happy to work whomever happened to answer me.  Then at one point I got into working DX and I found that I heard all kinds of DX on the bands. It was just a matter of me actively listening for DX.  They were there all the time, I just wasn't paying close enough attention.

Try getting on a website that spots DX.  There are lots of them out there like DX Summit. They will show you where the DX is. Tune there and listen. If you can hear the DX station, listen to what they say and where they say it. Then give them a call.

You absolutely can work anything in the world with a wire antenna and 100 watts.
Link Posted: 10/25/2015 10:21:22 AM EDT
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Quoted:


I've GOT to figure out what's up with my location/gear/antenna.... The furthest I've made it with 100w is from GA to NJ.  

I hear about feats like yours and wonder what dark magic is being invoked for those results.
View Quote


Location and antenna is my guess. If you have hills/mountains blocking your signal (i.e. you live in a valley) that can be a major problem. Secondly a poorly installed antenna is another likely problem. Many HAMs have no choice but to use compromise or stealth antennas due to where they live, or just don't have the room and supports to hang a proper one. If the latter is the case you might look into a vertical, since it will likely have better low angle radiation than a low hanging wire.

I will add to the fact this was the biggest DX contest, which meant there were tons of club stations looking for people to talk to. And with club stations that means they had piles of power and really really good antennas with which to hear my measly 5-20W. That IMO is the dirt secret of QRP, always understand that if some guy on the end has a yagi or something he will be able to dig you out of the noise, if he doesn't your chances aren't so good. And knowing that the contacts I'm most proud of in my log are to other portable QRP stations.

Link Posted: 10/25/2015 12:46:06 PM EDT
Not trying to derail this thread, so I'll try to reply completely here.



I'm not confident in my radio. I bought it used several years ago and am just now trying to get into HF.




I live in a bit of an RF hole.Even when I had a mobile 2m, I had problems getting out from my residence.




I have a high noise floor. It ranges from a low of S6 to an average of s7-9. I tried stringing up an antenna at a park a few days ago, and still had an s6 noise floor, though the 40m antenna was only 15 or so feet up. (see my issue about confidence in my radio) The only similarity in both locations has been a nearby high tension line.




I've tried a cheap homebrew camp clothes line reel antenna, 17, 20 and 40m antennas made from copper fishing line, and a 40m antenna from 12g stranded THHN. The last two used a real balun in the middle) All antennas were tuned up using a Rig Expert AA170.




I'm going to try a third location for another antenna, and see if I can talk someone into letting my plug my radio into their shack as a test.
Link Posted: 10/25/2015 3:31:48 PM EDT
Are you HEARING plenty of signals ?
Link Posted: 10/25/2015 5:48:25 PM EDT

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Are you HEARING plenty of signals ?
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Not really.

 



It seemed like I heard more when I setup at a park a day or two ago, but I had to break camp almost as soon as I got the radio fired up, so I can't say anything for certain. Well, I can say ONE thing for certain. Trying to get a pull cord over a branch is a real pain in the bottom..
Link Posted: 10/25/2015 7:08:44 PM EDT
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Not really.    

It seemed like I heard more when I setup at a park a day or two ago, but I had to break camp almost as soon as I got the radio fired up, so I can't say anything for certain. Well, I can say ONE thing for certain. Trying to get a pull cord over a branch is a real pain in the bottom..
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Quoted:
Quoted:
Are you HEARING plenty of signals ?


Not really.    

It seemed like I heard more when I setup at a park a day or two ago, but I had to break camp almost as soon as I got the radio fired up, so I can't say anything for certain. Well, I can say ONE thing for certain. Trying to get a pull cord over a branch is a real pain in the bottom..


The other question is have you tested the radio for output into a known dummy load?

Pull cord + 8oz pyradmid fishing weight is what I use. It takes a bit of practice but I can usually huck it 30-40 feet into a tree, and the weight pulls the cord right down. Other guys use wrist rockets (I broke the one I had, that was painful) or bows/arrows.
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