FT-857 club chat

12 April 2006

 FT 857D chat. April 06 

Q: Why the FT857?
A: I couldn’t buy every radio I wanted - but I got almost everything I wanted in one radio!

- It's the world’s smallest all band all mode transceiver
- Features and performance better than some base stations
- Price is good
- TX and RX when modded as follows:
  1. TX
    1.8 - 32.999 MHz (11m CB)
    34MHz - 55.999 MHz
    137 MHz - 163.999 MHz (VHF marine)
    420MHz - 469.999MHz (UHF CB is not possible)
  2. RX
    100KHz - 32.999MHz (FM telephones )
    33MHz - 55.999MHz
    76MHz - 108.99MHz (wideband FM)
    118MHz - 137.999MHz (AM aircraft )
    137MHz - 163.999MHz
    420MHz - 469.999MHz

a. All bands, all modes - means build one computer interface and it works for everything - SSTV, PSK13 .. whatever .. on every band.

b. Outstanding digital mode support:
- mini DIN plug for separate digital inputs and outputs, with digital VOX (as well as normal VOX), digital modes include built in settings for PSK31, RTTY, Packet 1200/9600, and a User Defined mode
- mini DIN plug for separate computer level analogue inputs and outputs

c. Menu control of all the settings you want to play with:
- power output digitally adjustable accurate to 1 watt or so
- 91 user settings control SSB mic gain, FM mic gain, and almost every aspect of the radio

Attractive features: not in any order (too many to list here)
- detachable front panel
- built in digital voltmeter continuously monitors DC input voltage
- built in morse training system at any speed, pitch, numbers V’s alpha or mixed
- beacon, time-out-timer, power-down timer, ARTS (range finder) feature,
- remote CAT software control from local computer or via the Internet.
- subtone ‘listener’ decodes and captures sub-audible tones sent to repeaters by other users
- useful digital signal processor (DSP) built in, auto notch, etc
- adjustable depth noise blanker, works well on power line hash
- 200 memories. I love the fact that they can be divided into 10 banks of 20 memories. It is great for dedicating bands and frequencies and scanning individual banks
- plenty of room for alphanumeric memory tags
- 20 different dial colours (shades of red, yellow, blue, white etc), the colours can be ‘attached’ to memory groups, or bands, or meter reading (SWR, power, S meter, modulation, ALC)
- socket for external analogue meter (use an external meter to measure any TX or RX value, eg. ALC, deviation, SWR, power, modulation etc)
- bandscope is not spectacular but useful
- easily change mechanical ‘drag’ of main VFO knob
- a small brown wire in the power plug, when connected to ground, places the radio in QRP low power mode suitable for F calls or battery/portable operation.

Factory Options
- Xtal filters from Collins and Yaesu work on both RX and TX (the FT 847 cannot do this); 3 different filters can be onboard at once and are selectable from front panel menu
- FC-40 remote antenna tuner works 160 meters - 6 meters using random/vertical wire (the Icom can't do 160m)
- remote control MH-59 microphone has it all: direct keypad frequency entry, DTMF, 4 programmable buttons, power on-off, remote volume control (hurrah!), etc etc
- high stability reference oscillator, temperature compensated
- ATAS 120, very compact remotely tuneable mobile antenna 40m - 6m
- remote kit for removable control head: mounting bracket and 5m cables for speaker, mic and radio head
- RS-232 cable for use with CAT software

‘Hidden’ or unusual menu features
a. Clone mode
- accessed by holding down the mode buttons and switching radio on

b. Service Menu
- Accessed by holding down the A B C keys while switching the radio on
- Calibrate and adjust 74 different items specific to your rig (eg. calibrate the digital voltmeter)

Negatives and downsides
- small front panel means menu must be used more often than big rigs with lots of buttons (Ham Radio Deluxe software fixes that and its free); the Yaesu does not have the more complicated multilevel menu found on the Icom.
- annoying scanning HF through VHF/UHF because of a tiny relay click on HF. (Similar to Icom etc)
- no voltage available on coax for mast head preamp (you can do this yourself easily enough)
- no separate 6m antenna connector (the FT-847 has one)
- no full duplex operation (the FT-847 has limited full duplex) but it does have great crossband operation, complete with any TX/RX offset split, so it works on marine VHF repeaters etc
- the optional MH-59 mic has too much drive and has to be throttled back using the mic gain menu settings

- Today the FT-857, tomorrow ... wow!
The competition between Yaesu and Icom in particular has resulted in a series of exciting radios for us to chose from.

Extra information
PDF: FT-857 operating manual   [file]
PDF: FT-857 service manual   [link] (link to a download site, the file is 13MB and too big to put here)
PDF: review by RSGB   [file]
PDF: review by QST   [file]
PDF: FC-40 remote ATU manual   [file]
DOC: menu cheat sheet   [file]

2007 update
Since writing this I've been around Australia again, travelling in a 4WD truck motor home for 8 months using an 857D for all HF work and it has been faultless. The *best* feature of all has been the volume control on the remote microphone; it is a tiny thumbwheel that lets you change volume so easily while bouncing around in rough country, marvellous!