I felt this rig deserved a page of it's own. I bought mine used from a local ham (Thanks Earl!). The rig was in great condition, and came with a couple nice extras. Earl had allready changed the battery to a Maha 1700 mah, and included an MFJ 3amp switcing power supply. The factory carrying case is a nice touch, and it has a nice little pocket on the side of it to hold the extension for the included rubber duck antenna.
For a couple years, I used the manual tuner mentioned on another page. This year, I finally bought the Elecraft T1 autotuner kit. The story for the construction of this kit was something right out of grade school. We all heard the story about the guy, or gal, who had thier homework devoured by the dog................ Well, the dog ate my kit! I am sure the gang at Elecraft were laughing themselves silly! Our wee puppy, a 10 month old Shitzu Pekinese cross loves to chew stuff. All kinds of stuff. I had the kit sitting on the bed behind me while I was working on another project. I must have been concentrating well enough that I did not notice her come into the room, jump on the bed, and grab the main bag of parts for the kit. Some time later, I headed out to the kitchen to get a drink and saw the dog on the couch with a new chew toy! I managed to find most of the parts, but some were damaged beyond use, and some just plain gone! I wasn't about to recycle her droppings for the couple missing parts! The gang at Elecraft sent out the replacement parts, and though I was delayed by a couple weeks, I assembled the kit over a few evenings. What a great little tuner.
The dog is fine by the way, but every now and then I am sure I hear something that sounds like "CQ 20" mixed in with her bark!
For an hf antenna, I have a couple plastic chalk line housings that each contain 64 feet of yellow insulated 24ga wire. I have Anderson power pole connectors on one end, and they connect to mating Andersons at an insluator where the rg58 feed point comes together. The wire is marked for 20 and 40 meters. The whole setup can be deployed in just a few minutes, and comes down as quick. All that is required are a couple trees to elevate the wire. My friend John, ve7cuu, lays his wire out on the snow when he is out backcountry skiing and has very good results.
A recent antenna project is my modified Radio Shack "back of set" cb antenna. I have had this antenna kicking around for many years. I had seen mention of this antenna being modified on the internet some time back, but could not find any construction information. What I did with mine is to remove the whip from the top, drill and tap the aluminum to accomodate a telescopic antenna from an old radio control aircraft transmitter. I have yet to make any contacts with it, but it does load up on 20 quite nicely. I am thinking that I can use this antenna to quickly check the various bands, then deploy the dipole.
I recently put together a nice little power conditioner kit for the FT-817. The design was the brainchild of Phil Salas, AD5X and it addresses a couple of wrinkles in the design of the '817. First off, it offers protection for reverse polarity and transient voltage spikes from the power source. The other great benefit is the low dropout regulator. It knocks the voltage down externally so that the 817's internal regulator does not put more heat inside the rig. The kit is housed in a nice little plastic box that fastens to the back of the rig. For external power connection, Anderson power poles are built into the box during the kit assmebly. A slide switch on the box allows for bypassing of the regulator to charge the internal batteries, but still leaves the protection components in line.
For portable use, I have a few options to power the rig. First would be the extra internal battery pack, a Yaesu 1500mah. It is very handy to be able to drop it into my pocket when out for a quick cruise around the bands during a brief portable excursion. If my operating time looks like it will extend any amount, I have 2 Lithium Polymer packs that i put together. They are 3 cell packs at 2000mah each. There is one note of caution I must make concerning lipo packs. If the cell voltage drops below 3 volts per cell, (some say 2.7 volts per cell) the battery pack can be, and most likely will be destroyed. These are pricey packs that can also be dangerous if not treated with respect. Another friend of mine, Earl, ve7zes ( not the earl who sold me the rig) had put together a nice low voltage cutout circuit on a board for another application, and was kind enough to pass one on to me. It will pass up to 5 amps of current, and has about 1 volt of hysterisis. The current is more than enough for the '817, and the 1 volt differntial will not cause the rig to cycle on and off as the current draw changes during transmit and recieve. A set of Anderson power poles for connectors on the input and output lines make it a snap to place in line with the lipo batteries. Thanks Earl! When I expect to be away from the mains for a length of time, I have a solar panel that helps bring the batteries up. I made up an adapter that goes from the anderson connectors to the oem battery plug for the internal batteries. I have a 12 volt regulator that I can place in line with the solar panel so I can plug the panel straight into the rig, or if I choose, I can run the panel directly into the spare internal battery to quick charge it.
A handy little extra for the '817 is a bnc right angle adapter. If you are using the rig on 2m or 70cm, this will orient the antenna verticle when the rig is sitting on a table. The trouble with the '817 when sitting on a table, is that there are no legs to prop up the radio. This makes seeing the front panel, and operating some of the controls awkward. The gang at Palm Radio came up with a great solution for this. They produce a retrofit kit that provides a pair of legs that can be folded down to lift the front of the radio to a more usefull position. When folded up they do not impede storing the radio or get in the way of any of the controls. I made up my own set, mostly because I like to tinker. They were a lot of work to make, but the usefullness of the end product was well worth it.