FT817++

Getting closer to being portable – not that I go anywhere! I now have an LDG Z817 automatic tuner. It seems to be working fine although it arrived with dead batteries, one of which had leaked a bit. That cleaned up ok and it now sports a set of Energizer Max batteries (ok, I had a box…)

Having run up FT8 on the Mac 40m was packed but I did manage a contact with an EA station on 80m with 2.5W via the random bit of wire in the loft.

Note to self: remember there are batteries in it!

Twice FT8

Having two radios, two SignaLinks and multiple computers I figured why not spread a little… so here’s 4m FT8 from the FT450D and transverter plus 2m FT8 from the FT817. Well, it would be rude not to use both together…

Mind you, the poor old i7 MacBook Pro does seem to have a whinge if I dare do something else at the same time – it seems to temporarily forget the USB and gives a rig control error. On the other hand it is quite convenient to have the Mac set up as now because it is always on and I can very quickly get onto 2m FT8 (or indeed 70cm FT8 but my best QSO so far has been all of 7km!)

70cm FT8

My first FT8 on 70cm. Only 25km, but still a first for me. No reply sadly, so no QSO this time. At the time I sent a few CQs while watching pskreporter and seeing nothing. I checked this morning just out of interest and there was this one reception report.

This was via the FT817 and 2.5W into a 70cm big wheel, which isn’t at all big at that frequency! I had only just installed it which itself was a bit of a comedy of errors. I had some M&P cable ready for it but just never got round to making it up, so soldering iron out, BNC at the shack end, cable pushed through the hole in the ceiling, N male at the antenna end. The centre pin fell out! So, picture me managing to pull the loft end of the cable back down the ladder and across there landing floor to the shack (hard enough feeding the cable through the hole so I really didn’t want to have to pull it put again!), supporting it with my knee, soldering iron at maximum reach and more heat… the NanoVNA showed the SWR to be just right where it needed to be so all was well. And clearly too much cable to be able to do that maneuver! But it reminds me I really do need to sort my coax feeds out, and sort out the ceiling hole by fitting some trunking.

Edit: I did manage one QSO later on, at just 7km. But hey, it’s my first on 70cm FT8.

FT817 upgrade

I plan to use the FT817 portable but also for VHF and UHF FT8 and other digimodes, so I wanted to upgrade the standard oscillator to the TCXO version (Yaesu’s TCXO-9). But these are scarce, at least in the UK. I’ve searched for a while and got nowhere so I ended up buying one from Wimo in Germany as they had them in stock.

The original TC1 unit (left) and the TCXO-9 (right) are, of course identical in size and sit on 7 pins. There are at least two variants of the TCXO-9 and I guess this one is the newer of the two.

The unit is easy to install. Obviously – or it should be! – disconnect the battery, wear an anti-static bracelet or take appropriate measures, then the old unit simply pulls off of the 7 pin connections and the new unit presses in to replaced it. With the set back together and given a little time to warm up, and set up for CW it holds steady just 2 hertz high. That should be good enough for data modes!

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