The fight, FT817 or FT857 or FT897 or FT891 or FT450 or RS-918?

May 2017 - Updated January 2019 - Updated June 2019

Which of these radio setup would you choose?
Well…  it’s depend on the situations, the budget and where you will use the radio and so on. I will not make this post if you looking for a station at home (even if you can), instead a station out in the field.

I don’t need to ramble a lot of specifications, you’re probably familiar with them, so I will directly jump in with the positive and the negative parts.

Why these two radios?
Because they are small, light wight and good, a must in many cases when you backpacking out in the field.

Updated June 2019

Ok, I really tried to go from my 817ND to another field radio.. but I can’t! The “new” 891 that have everything, almost, is not that good that I was hoping for.

I did a receiving test on the FT891, FT897, FT817 and 918.

:: Well, the winning radio on SSB is the FT817, and its winning with a loot! Stations that you hardly hear on the 891, you hear clear on 817!

:: The second place is the FT897 with a small gap from the 817.

:: The third place is FT891. The stations come in more or less the same as the 897, but the sound is not that good.

:: The last place is the 918. If we don’t speak CW, then this radio rock! On CW this little radio is amazing! Really! You can’t compare this radio with the other.. no no!

The test is made with a single 20m wire antenna (split to the four radios) and the build in speaker.

First of, the big gun Yeasu FT897D

This is an old stations that you can pick up for a good price today even if many what a loot for them. The radio is a tank, very good build for heavy duty work. The handle is the best of them all, and I mean all radios even build! The radio have place for “in build” batteries, just like the small one 817. But, the batteries is really expensive, so an external battery is the way to go, or if you do an DIY.

It’s a heavy station, about 4 kg, and that’s just the radio. The RF power on HF is 100w, on 6m 100w, 2m 50w and 70cm 20w.

Like the 857, it’s not the best receiving on this old radios. They are noisy and there are better alternatives. The DSP is todays standard quiet bad, so I never used it. In the end, I really loved this radio even if I sold it. And that’s because it’s doesn't keep up. Yes.. it’s a OK radio, but there is better alternatives for normal use. I am not outside in the wild so much, so I don’t need a heavy duty radio, even if it’s nice to have.

I never measured the power consumption on this one, so I do not know how good / bad it is. But i should be less than FT857.

- Heavy duty, it's a tank!
- All in one box. No need for an external amplifier
- More RF power than FT817 with/without amplifier, on all bands

- it's a heavy radio! - Higher power consumption than 817, but les than 857.

The middle one, Yeasu FT857D

This is a popular station because it’s have all you need. HF (100w), 6m (100w), 2m (50w) and 70cm (20w) in a small box with a wight of 2.1 kg (4.6lb).

But I don’t like this radio! First of, it’s plastic and you feel it. The microphone connector is back of the front panel. Either you leave it there when you pack your radio, or you remove the front panel and disconnect the microphone and put back the front panel. The in build speaker is small and bad.

Like the 897, the receiving is not the best to todays standard. That’s the same for the DSP and other functions.

- All in one box. No need for an external amplifier
- More RF power than FT817 with/without amplifier, on all bands

- Plastic feel
- Higher current consumption than 817. 0.75 A in RX, and 4.5A in TX@5w, 9.5A in TX@45w
- The microphone connector.
- Heavier

The small sister, Yeasu FT817ND with MX-P50 amplifier

This is one of the most popular QRP station you can find. Why? Because it’s good! In this setup I use the MX-P50 HF amplifier. You can read more about the amplifier here.

- Really good current consumption 0.4A in RX, 2.0A in TX@5w, 7.6A in TX@45w
- Only 1.5kg with the radio and the amplifier
- Better sound (yes! I thing so)
- You can run it on internal battery and a QRP tuner for minimal equipment (se picture below)

- ”Only” 50watt on HF 160 to 10 meter with the amplifier and only 5w on 6m, 2m and 70cm.

The minimal setup with internal battery, QRP tuner and 20+10 meter wires as an end-fed antenna.

The HF, Yeasu FT891

This radio has the most functions and maybe the most filtertuning etc. of all of these radios (beside the 891), but it also the newest. It’s the best? Well... it’s deepness. Do you like the big screen, the filters etc. go for it. But, it consume more power, the 817 have a better receiver, the menu system is a disaster..

The menu system. No no no no... you are on 80m and want to switch to 40m. Then you have to press the band key, and fast rotate the VFO a bitt, but not to far to switch the band. If you want to switch the mode, well, hold the band key for a wile, then do the same. The RF power.. then you need to go into the menu, try to find SSB RF power, go into that and change. It’s way to many complicated steps.

The VFO.. I don’t know... it’s so plastic feeling and in some how, the corner is really sharp! The finger “possession” is to small... No, this VFO is probably the worst VFO knob that Yeasu have made.

As for the 857D with the microphone connector, this is the same. It’s located back of the front panel, so you have to remove that if you want to disconnect the microphone.

Otherwise, it’s a really nice radio. Small, robust and good.

- Many filtertuning options
- All in one box. No need for an external amplifier
- More RF power than FT817 with/without amplifier

- Plastic and sharp VFO feel
- Higher current consumption than 817.
- The microphone connector.
- Heavier than FT817

Yeasu 450

The FT450 is maybe not in the right position in this post. But it’s small, a nice radio and you can easy use it in the felid, so I bring it on in the competition. It’s the same size like the 879 with a weight of 3.6 kg.

First of.. this is a nice radio! It’s a small station with good sound with a current consumption like the other big once. This radio is better in both receive and transmit of all the other Yeasus here, in my opinion (if you don’t use the stock microphone). The DSP is not as grate as the FT-950, but that’s a big one. In the other hand, the DSP in the FT450 is smashing the other Yeasu radio in this post. In the end, I love this radio even if I don’t use it so much. It’s easy to use, a good radio and this radio is a better choice if you are gonna use it at home as well.

There is two models of the 450, one 450 and a 450D. The D model have a in build tuner and some other lights in the keys. The D model is probably a better choice, all depending on the antenna. The in build tuner will not match a bad antenna, an external tuner will.

But! This is only a HF and 6m radio.

- Best receive and transmit
- Better DSP
- OK current consumption 0.8A in RX, A in TX@5w, A in TX@45w
- The D modell have an in build tuner.

- Only HF and 6m

Recent mcHF RS-918 SRD

I say that this radio is a toy. It have a bunch of features that you can’t compare with the Yeasu above. It have waterfall, a audio and CI-V modem inside so no need for a Signalink beside of the radio, full SDR, you can adjust every settings and so on. This radio is quiet advanced, but it coms with a price! It’s not reliable. I hangs on low battery, it doesn't store all the settings every time, 5W is not 5W etc. Yo can do a loot with this radio, but it’s a toy!

- Full SDR
- A loot filters!
- Audio and CI-V modem inside
- Nice big color touchscreen
- Lower power consumption of all other radios above

- It’s a toy
- It’s not reliable
- The settings is all over the place
- The software crash and sooner and later you will need to do a factory reset

You can read about the FT-817 and the RS-819 here: QRP field radio, Yaesu FT-817 vs mcHF RS918

Here is the power (current) consumption of the radios (no data for the 897):
Radio Off
0.1 A
0.1 A
0.1 A
0.03 A
Radio On
0.4 A
0.7 A
0.8 A
0.4 A
Radio and amplifier ON
0.42 A
0.42 A
Radio and sound ON
0.45 A
0.75 A
0.82 A
0.41 A
TX 5 watt
2.0 A
4.4 A
1.66 A
TX 10 watt
3.9 A
5.7 A
2.95 A
TX 30 watt
5.5 A
8.4 A
0 A
TX 45 watt
7.6 A
9.5 A
0 A

I love the 817 in all ways. That’s the first radio I pick up when i go out in the field. I only take the other one when i need more than 50w, which is never! It’s for an emergency when I need the power and more power on the other bands.

So, which setup is better for you?