Comparing Transceivers: A Personal Journey from Yaesu FT-817 to Elecraft KX2 and Beyond

Years ago, I owned a Yaesu FT-817, a fantastic transceiver that I even used as a mobile rig in my 1991 Ford Explorer. I have fond memories of using it during my ski trips to the Black Hills. With it and just a Hustler 40 Meter Hamstick, I could operate for hours while driving back to Pierre in the evening. I made contacts all over the country checking into the OMISS Net with 5 watts. Incredible transceiver!

Today I use the Elecraft KX2 and it is just as impressive on SSB. I was considering purchasing the FT-818 to add to the collection, but I stopped before pulling the trigger and decided to first look at a comparison between the FT-818 and KX2. Does the FT-818 bring anything to the table that I can use?

.elecraft kx2

In the comparison below I do not mention the FT-818 VHF/UHF capability. I can't say that I ever used it on my old FT-817, but it may be important to many Hams. I've seen Hams using two FT-817's for satellite operation (full duplex) and you won't be able to do that with the KX2.

Here's a comparison between the Yaesu FT-818 (newest) and the Elecraft KX2 based on various features and specifications that are important to me.

Size and Portability:

The Elecraft KX2, being roughly half the size of the FT-818, is more compact and handy for ultra-portable use. It weighs around 13 ounces, 60% lighter than the FT-818, thus reducing the total weight by more than a pound, a significant saving for backpackers or hikers.

Power Output:

The KX2 provides a maximum output of 12 watts on 80-20 meters and 10 watts on 17-10 meters, approximately double the maximum output of the FT-818, which is 6 watts. Unlike the FT-818, the KX2 incorporates effective speech compression.

*Battery Power and Current Drain:

The internal battery of the KX2 has a capacity of 24 watt-hours, which is half more than that of the FT-818's battery. The KX2 typically drains 150 mA in receive-mode, which is significantly less than the 400 mA drained by the FT-818. As a result, the KX2 can operate over 4 times longer in RX-only mode, or 2 to 3 times longer in a typical transceive operation.

*Antenna Tuner Unit (ATU):

The KX2 has a wide-range internal ATU option that allows multi-band use of ad-hoc field antennas without the need for a separate antenna tuner.

Digital Signal Processing (DSP):

The KX2, unlike the FT-818, features 32-bit I.F. DSP, which typically is only found in desktop radios. This feature offers adjustable noise reduction and noise blanking, auto-notch, variable filter bandwidth/shift, an audio peaking filter for CW, full stereo receive, and RX/TX EQ. The KX2 also has dual watch capability, allowing simultaneous listening on both VFO A and B frequencies.

These are some of the key differences. The Elecraft KX2 seems to be designed with a focus on portability and advanced features, while the Yaesu FT-818 is an update to the classic FT-817 with a bit higher power output. Your choice between the two would depend on your specific needs, such as the importance of size, weight, battery life, and advanced DSP features. Do you want VHF/UHF?

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Thank You

What do you think? Please comment below if you have a recommendation or questions for me. Whether it's about operating, equipment or anything else, I'd love to hear from you. To stay up to date with Mr. B and I on our travels, follow us at TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube. If you have any questions or comments about our journey, we invite you to join the conversation in our comment section here or at YouTube. It not only helps you, but other readers as well! Comments really help this website, so please comment below or on YouTube. What have you found to help receive quality? I'm incredibly thankful for all of our subscribers–their support makes this website possible. Stay in touch and warmest holiday wishes & best 73! – Rich, KØPIR

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I'm an Amateur Radio enthusiast. I love the hobby and experimenting with radios, antennas and software. On my YouTube channel I upload videos on the Icom 7300 and Icom 7610 along with Ham radio software programs. I hope to inspire people to try new things in Amateur Radio.

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1 month ago

Bonjour, j’ai eu moi aussi un FT817 et un KX3, après plusieurs année avec les 2 trx j’ai fini par me séparer du YEASU pour ne conserver que le KX3 que j’ai amelioré en lui offrant le 144mHz. je l’utilise en camping-car avec les antennes HUSTLER ou des dipôles.
Pour moi, préférence au KX3 avec ses 10 voir 15w, son ATU, pour le double VFO, son ergonomie ses fonctions faciles d’accès.

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