MFJ 4230MV Compact 25a Power Supply

MFJ-4230MV COMPACT SWITCHI love mobile radios! So far I have –

  • Yaseu FT-8800R
  • Yaesu FT-8900R
  • Yaesu FT-897D
  • Yaesu FT-2900R

Told you I like mobile radios! And yes…I like Yaesu brand mobile radios a whole lot as well.

But, having all these mobile radios I need to be able to power them when I am outside of the truck. And the only commonsense way to o that is with stable and readily available AC power from the utility company. But, a little tiny bit of a problem…the radios all run off of 12vDC power.

OK, so it is really no problem at all…you just use a power supply. Technically it is a “transformer” if my memory serves me right. You are taking 120vAC voltage -and through the magic of electronics- transforming it into 12vDC power. And that DC power can be used to run your mobile radios without a vehicle battery.

As always…my mission statement –

“Provide clean, stable, reliable DC power from an AC power source to run one or more mobile radios.”

Requirements and Restrictions –
  • Must not induce “noise” into the radio on any band above an acceptable (minimal) level.
  • Must be able to work continuously for years at a time without being turned off.
  • Should generate minimal heat when in stand-by.
  • Should generate manageable heat when being used continuously.

Well, here is the deal…I had already been using an MFJ SWR meter and I liked it a lot. My first power supply was from Radio Shack and it performed really well and I had no complaints. However, it just didn’t push enough amps for my new usage requirements. So I naturally looked to MFJ for a power supply option. I did my research and the 4230MV unit appeared to meet all my needs/demands. Then ti was time to do my research.

I carefully read all the reviews I could get my hands on. I really dug into it. What became obvious to me from the beginning was a couple things:

  1. The price point was excellent. Same could be said for the price to amp comparison.
  2. Users were reporting no real “noise” on the HF or any other bands.
  3. It was one of the most compact units on the market.
Here is some technical information –
  • 30 Amps Surge (up to 5 minutes), 25 Amps Continuous.
  • 4 to 16 VDC adjustable output, detent at 13.8VDC.
  • Light weight, only 3.4 lbs/1.35kg
  • Compact, only 5″ x 2 ½” x 6″ (W x H x D).
  • Backlit meter that displays amps or volts.
  • Five-Way binding post for high current radios
  • Over Voltage protection.
  • Over Current protection with “FAULT” LED.
  • QUIET Internal Cooling Fan with “FAN” LED
  • Super Regulation, works with AC input from 85 to 135 VAC (115VAC model) or from 170 to 260 VAC (230VAC model), 47-63Hz
  • Noise <100mV. AC Line Fuse( 6.3 Amps)
Findings –

I purchased my first unit several years ago and began my testing. Let’s not make this difficult…it performed exactly as it was advertised and met 110% of my expectations. Yup…a great little unit. But, let me give you a few more details –

  1. The unit will warm up a bit when using it continuously. There is a cooling fan that will spin up initally when you turn on the unit, then shut-down. Then it will come back on at about 70 degrees. It seems to spin faster as the temp rises. There was minimal sound from the fan, no problem at all.
  2. I could detect no noise on the HF side or any other band.
  3. While the unit is rated at 25amp, it can handle 30amp surges with no problem. But, it won’t operate continuously at 30amp.
  4. I’ve seen folks who have been running this unit for 3 – 4 years with ZERO problems.
  5. I like the adjustable vDC output, gives you some nice operating capabilities.
  6. I really like the clean face of the unit. It may sound silly, but it looks very professional. And I like that look sitting there on the shelf while it is working away for me.
Summary –

A great power supply unit!!

Yeah, there are some folks who like to poke fun at MFJ from time-to-time…but don’t buy into that. MFJ has a 1-year “no matter what” warranty. And that is very reassuring and tells you how confident they are in their equipment. Think about it…if a piece of electronic equipment it going to breakdown to poor quality it will probably do so in the first 30 days, undoubtedly within the first 120 days. MFJ has your back!

Buy It !Amazon - MFJ-4230MV

 

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Joining the Portable Ham Radio Box and the Power Box together into a complete system

integrated Ham Radio Set-UpAs you know I’ve been working on a series of highly portable, field going Ham radio boxes and the portable power boxes to juice them with. This article is branching off to renewing the power to keep your Ham radio outfit up and running far beyond simply a day or two. This article is about solar power. Specifically, I will share some information about solar power from a Glowtech60 foldable solar kit.

I have already covered solar power and the recharging of small batteries powering a small radio. I did a review of a SolPad7 and Nomad7 solar recharging kits for AA and AAA batteries as well as how those little solar pads can directly charge your Baofeng UV-5RA <click here to read about that>. Those batteries of course would be powering your Baofeng UV-5RA handheld radio. But that was all about small, now is time to look at larger radios, larger power needs, and larger solutions.

Going back to the original mission that started all of this was the need for radio communications capability in the field. That mission is outlined as…

“Compact and portable radio equipment providing the ability to communicate over standard radio frequencies among family and group members.”

Once the need was identified and a mission defined, then came the power to keep it going. Yes, the portable radio box has a battery and I also wrote a very brief article about using a Nomad7 or Boulder30 solar kit to recharge that battery. But you know me…one is none, two is one, and three is a good start. The next logical step would be an auxiliary power source to keep the radio operational for a longer period of time. That means a larger battery. Since the space is limited in the radio box, that means a box that holds that larger auxiliary battery.

OK, now we are getting somewhere. That lead to my design of the auxiliary power box < click here to read more >. It more than tripled the overall amount of time that the radio would stay operational.

But, as I mentioned in the beginning of the article, it all ties together to form an integrated “system.”

Here are the system’s parts:

It is way easier to stay on the same page while explaining this system to you if I show you the pictures as we go. So here is the first picture…

Next came the field test. Everything worked as designed, as built and as tested. Yea!!!!This is the portable Ham-In-The-Box that I built for emergencies, disasters, and grid-down. The unit is wholly self-contained, including its own 14Ah rechargeable AGM battery. The radio itself will shut down at about 10vDC protecting the battery from becoming completely discharged. The next step was to build a portable power box to give the radio more operational time. The radio box is not designed to be operated sealed up. Duh! You gotta be able to access the radio. So no need to get fancy with “through-the-box” connections. Powerwerx red-dee-2 (old style) 4-way power distribution

Part of the “guts” of the radio box build was a Powerwerx Red-Dee-2 4-way connector. I wanted flexibility to plug-in what I wanted and needed. The connector handles the radio, the voltage meter, and the battery. That leaves a connection open…and therein is the flexibility that I will show you.

The portable radio box is completely stand alone from an operational perspective. Open the box, connect the antenna, and plug the battery into the power distribution gadget. Then just turn on the radio and you are ready to go to work.

8900 Portable radio box

Note: The blue tape is holding a spare fuse that is protecting the battery. There is also a spare fuse that protects the radio. I carry a spare of each with the radio just in case.

The next step is to plug in the Boulder30 solar kit to recharge the battery. Well, technically, plugging the Boulder30 into the open connection on the power distribution block will provide power to the system and excess power will charge the battery continuously. Well, continuously as long as there is sun shinning.

8900 Portable radio boxWe now have the stand-alone portable radio box up and running, plus a charging system in-place to keep it running. But we are somewhat limited in the amount of time that the radio can be operational. That operational time is directly related to the depth of charge, power reserve, which the small-ish internal battery has. That leaves us with the task of increasing the operational time, meaning that we need a larger battery, which then also means we need more charging capability. And that means the “portable power box.”

looking at the box from the left front cornerSo the next picture shows that system hooked into the portable radio box. Notice the power cable connecting the two boxes? It is still just 10guage wire but it is heavily insulated by a durable cover that is resistant to the effects of the outdoors. It is a great choice in areas whose environment will not be kind to your equipment while ensuring it get the most power from the battery to the portable radio. Yes, it has Anderson Powerpoles on each end to ensure it connects to all my radio and power equipment.

8900 Portable radioThis power box has a 35Ah rechargeable AGM battery. To protect the battery from over discharge it also has a built in Low Voltage Disconnect. Notice the power box can be completely sealed up and cables can be plugged in from the external Anderson Powerpole chassis mount.

The GoalZero Boulder30 with Guardian charge controller is now charging the power box’s 35Ah battery in the power box. However, since I have a second GoalZero Boulder30 system I can now hook up that additional system directly to the radio box rechargeable battery. Since the battery is not being used to power the radio it will come back up to full charge rather quickly given adequate sun.

Here is a picture of just the heavy power cable. For the information on how I built the heavy power cable from a set of jumper cables you can < click here to read the article >

Heavy Solar Power CableHeavy power Cable with Anderson Powerpoles for radioAll right, we now have hooked up the portable radio to the portable power. You have the Boulder30 charging the portable radio box’s battery. Here is a suggestion and the reasoning behind the suggestion. I suggest you run the portable radio from the portable power box. You can be charging both batteries as you normally would. But, by not using the battery in the portable radio box it allows the Boulder30 to concentrate on recharging the battery in the portable radio box.

Why is that important? Because you never know when you might have to “run” and you might have to leave some equipment behind due to time constraints. By keeping the portable radio box’s battery fully charged you know you will have several hours of radio operating time even if you had to leave the portable power box and solar kits behind.

But don’t worry about connecting all the solar kits and the boxes, just follow this guide:

  1. Set-up the portable power box and plug in the solar charging kit into the “input” side of the portable power box. You should see the voltage meter reading a combination of the battery charge and the solar panel voltage input. As long as that voltage doesn’t start dropping you are charging the battery or at least staying even with the charging vs. usage.
  2. Set-up the portable radio box like you normally would. But, this time don’t plug in the radio to the Red-Dee-2. Set-up your solar charging system and plug that solar system into the open connector on the Red-Dee-2. You should see the voltage meter reading a combination of the battery charge and the solar panel voltage input.
  3. Now, take your heavy power cable and plug it into the portable power box. Take the other end and plug it into the radio connector in the portable radio box. You radio should be ready-to-go while running the radio off the portable power box battery.

The next picture will now show how to keep the portable power box’s battery charged up with a larger solar system, the Glowtech60 solar kit plugged into it. The Glowtech60 power cable connects to the power box via the chassis mount connection block on the side of the portable power box. The Glowtech60 system has double the charging wattage that the GoalZero Boulder 30 system has. This will allow you to keep the power box up and running far more easily.

Ham In The Box powered by batteries and solarAnd there is one last benefit from using the Glowtech60 system to charge the power box…I freed up the second GoalZero Boulder30 panel and charge controller. I can use it to daisy chain to the radio battery giving it 60w total charging capability. Or, I can use the second Boulder30 on another battery that is in need of charging.

NOTE #1: Yes, the portable power box “input” connections can also take the standard AC battery charger. I designed a special set-up to allow your battery charger to recharge the battery directly without taking the battery out of the portable power box. Please make sure you are using a high-quality battery charger designed to work with a AGM battery. Not all battery charges are designed to do so. I would suggest NOT using your AC battery charger while the power box is hooked up to and running the radio.

You may choose to have a system that you have designed, or maybe someone else’s design. But I hope this article has given you plenty to think about and put a thought or two into your head concerning what solar/power/battery capability and options are right for your needs.

Remember, communications is one of the primary faults that exists in virtually any disastrous incident where people are injured or killed while working in emergency and disaster situations. You have the power to overcome all, or at least part, of those communications issues rather simply and cost effectively should you so choose. I hope you  choose to.

And, if you haven’t already figured it out yet for what comes next…a BIG portable power box. Yup, the power box you see above I refer to “mini-me.” Its big brother is in the works and the article will be out fairly soon so stay tuned in.

Related Articles –

 

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My Truly Portable Power Box (Update – October 2015)

Truly Portable Power Box UpdateLast July I wrote about a “power box” project that I felt added a lot of capability and versatility to by Ham Radio operations. And I expanded it to give me great capabilities in other areas of prepping as well. Well, here are couple of those ideas for you to consider.

If you haven’t read the original 2-port article I would suggest you do. It will give you the background of w the power box can do and how it was designed and built.

truly portable poer boxI started with the basic “truly portable power box” and decided to test it on what has become a primary use…charging my portable handheld radios.

I hadn’t considered it for that purpose originally. I planned on using the larger power box for that mission. However, I thought I might this much smaller box out to see if it could do portable power box charging 2 baofeng radiosthe mission for just two handhelds. Recharging two handhelds would really be a big help for a limited “need” event. Why two? One for me and one for my wife. Or, one for me and one for my camping buddy. The result was extremely good!

First thing I did was top off the power box battery charge to 13.2v. Then I hooked up a dual cigarette adapter cable to the box. Cables dual cigarette

Then I hooked in the 12vDC vehicle adapter for the Baofeng UV-5R charging cradle. Next I hooked the charging cradles up to the adapter. Everything was looking good, nothing burning up, no blown fuses.

I had earlier completely discharged two 1800mAH radio batteries to give it a fair test. So I went ahead and popped the radios in the chargers. Three hours later I had two completely charged handheld radio batteries. Considering that in testing the same batteries took 2 – 3 hours charging on AC power, I felt like it was a complete success. Now I have proven that I can charge my handhelds from my truly portable power box giving me more flexibility in my radio operations. And, I only brought the charge on the batter from 13.2v down to 12.7v.

Well, then it came time to bring the battery charge back up to full. I already had my Glowtech60 set-up from some previous testing, I figured I would just hook it up and top off the battery. But then I started thinking…

I love flexibility and multiple options for everything, it’s called redundancy. Some might call it OCD 🙂

So I tried to figure out all the different ways I could charge up that power box using my solar options. And one stuck out to me that I hadn’t actually tried and tested . No time like the present!

Cables - cigarette adapterSo I gathered up my SolPad7 solar charger.My SolPad7 has a 12vDC outlet to the charge controller. It also came with a cigarette style adapter/outlet. Then I made a quick cigarette adapter cable and started connecting the equipment. SolPad7 & Power Box connection

At this point all that was left to do was plug the SolPad7 into the power box and see what happens.

I took a reading on the power box, 12.7v. I plugged in the SolPad7 in a sunny location and recorded the time, 11:00am.

I went back later, 1:00pm, and it was showing 12.8v.

Yo might be saying that it only went up .1v (1/10th of a volt) but that is OK with me. Notice the size of the SolPad? A mere 7″ x 10″ area, 70 square inches. And a maximum of 7w. I’ll take it!

Why? Because it gives me that much more flexibility that I didn’t have before.

SolPad7 & Power Box configuration

 

Related Articles –

 

 

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Yaesu FT-8800R Ham Radio : Storing and Case

Yaesu FT- 8800R ham radioIn this post I will go over how I store my 8800R and what I store with it.

In two previous articles I went over the Yaesu FT-8800R radio and accessories. Both articles are worth the read:

Yaesu FT-8800R Ham Radio – Part #1
Yaesu FT-8800R Ham Radio – Part #2

So let’s go over my standard format, what is the mission for all of this?

 

Mission –

To safely store the radio and all components with which to operate the radio.

Requirements & Restrictions –
  1. Cases must be sturdy, at least to military specifications.
  2. Cases musty protect against dust, dirt, and water impingement.
  3. Cases should protect the contents against damage due to reasonable heights and rough handling.
  4. Cases should be low profile and not draw attention to them.
  5. Case should be light enough for one person to easily carry.

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C.The case I chose was the SKB i-series 3I-1711–68-C. These cases are waterproof and as sturdy, if not more so, that Pelican cases. And they are cheaper that Pelican cases. They come with “cubed” foam ready to be cut to size for your equipment.

 

 

SKB iSeries hard case for a yaesu ft-8800r

 

So this is what my case looks like for my Yaesu FT-8800R.  The case is clearly labeled for easy identification.

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C for the Yaesu FT-8900RYaesu FT-8800R Radio Case –

Bottom Level:

  • 1 x Power supply, AC, 19amp
  • 1 x Mounting bracket, radio
  • 1 x Microphone, MH-48
  • 1 x Radio, Yaesu FT-8800R

 

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C for the Yaesu FT-8900RMiddle Level:

  • 1 x Power cord, AC

 

 

 

 

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C for the Yaesu FT-8900RTop Level:

  • 1 x 5′ Power extension cable, Anderson Power Poles on both ends
  • 3 x packages various mounting screws.
  • 1 x Mounting bracket, remote head
  • 1 x RT Systems Programming CD
  • 1 x RT Systems Programming cable
  • 1 x Power cable, Anderson Power Poles to hard soldier connection (AC power supply)
  • 1 x Cable, radio head to radio body
  • 2 x Fuses, 15amp

On top of the radio I place a 8800 user’s manual in a 1-gallon Ziplock bag with the latest copy of the US Amateur Radio Bands chart.

I have given you a list of the equipment needed to run the Yaesu FT-8800R Ham radio. Is it everything you might need?  This was meant strictly for the radio equipment itself and the essential equipment to get it going.

Take this list and use it as a starting point for your specific need and mission.

 

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See Content Use Policy for more information.

Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio : Storing and Cases

Yaesu FT-897DIn this post I will go over how I store my 897D and what I store with it.

In two previous articles I went over the Yaesu FT-897D radio and accessories. Both articles are worth the read:

Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio – Part #1
Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio – Part #2

So let’s go over my standard format, what is the mission for all of this?

 

Mission –

To safely store the radio and all components with which to operate the radio in HF mode.

Requirements & Restrictions –
  1. Cases must be sturdy, at least to military specifications.
  2. Cases musty protect against dust, dirt, and water impingement.
  3. Cases should protect the contents against damage due to reasonable heights and rough handling.
  4. Cases should be low profile and not draw attention to them.

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C.The case I chose was the SKB i-series 3I-1711–68-C.. These cases are waterproof and as sturdy, if not more so, that Pelican cases. And they are cheaper that Pelican cases. They come with “cubed” foam ready to be cut to size for your equipment.

 

So this is what my pair of cases looks like for my Yaesu FT-897D –

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-CYes, there are two cases for my 897D. One for the radio and equipment, and the other I call “support.” Each case is clearly labeled for easy identification.

Yaesu FT-897D Radio Case –SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C Yaesu FT-897D layer 1

Bottom Level:

  • 1 x 6′ Cable, power harness with 25amp auto fuzes, radio connector on one end, Anderson Power Poles on the other end.

 

 

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C Yaesu FT-897D layer 2

Top Level:

  • 1 x Yaesu FT-897D radio with AT897 Autotuner attached
  • 1 x Microphone, Yaesu MH-31
  • 1 x Cable, Data, 14″
  • 1 x Cable, Antenna, 12″
  • 1 x Cable, power, 35amp auto fuze, battery clamps on one end, Anderson Power Poles on the other end.

 

On top of the radio I place a 897D user’s manual in a 1-gallon Ziplock bag and in an other 1-gallon Ziplock bag I place a user’s manual for the autotuner and the power switch as well as a latest copy of the US Amateur Radio Bands chart.

Yaesu FT-897D Support Case –Yaesu FT-897D support hardcase contents

Bottom Level:

  • 1 x Wire antenna, 4:1 Balum, Buxcomm B2KC41
  • 1 x Lead PL-239, 50′

 

 

Yaesu FT-897D support hardcase contentsMiddle Level:

  • 1 x PL-259 male/male connector
  • 1 x PL-259 male/female connector with ground connector
  • 1 x ground wire pipe/stake clamp

 

 

 

Yaesu FT-897D support hardcase contentsTop Level:

  • 1 x Power Supply, AC, 30amp, MFJ-1230MV
  • 1 x Power Supply, AC power cord
  • 1 x Screwdriver, phillips head
  • 1 x Headphones, Yaesu YH-77sta with adaptor
  • 1 x RT Systems Programming CD
  • 1 x RT Systems Programming cable
  • 1 x power cable, 6″, Anderson Power Poles to eyelets

 

I have given you a list of the equipment needed to run the Yaesu FT-897D Ham radio. Is it everything you might need? No, it isn’t. I didn’t include the little things like some 550 Paracord to string up the antenna. I didn’t include the battery or solar panels. This was meant strictly for the radio equipment itself.

Take this list and use it as a starting point for your specific need and mission.

 

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See Content Use Policy for more information.

Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio – Part #2

Yaesu FT-897DAs mentioned in Part #1 of this series (Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio – Part #1), I really love this mobile unit!  The Yaesu FT-897D is an amazing piece of Ham radio technology wrapped up in a very compact and sturdy package for HF and UHF/VHF operations in the field or as a base station.  This thing does it all and exceeds my mission requirements and expectations.

In the last post (Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio – Part #1) I covered the specifics of the Yaesu FT-897D itself.  In this post I will go over the accessories, installation info and some other tidbits.

 

LDG AT-897 Plus  auto-tuner

LDG-AT-897 Plus : The AT-897Plus Autotuner mounts on the side of your FT-897 just like it is original equipment. They even added the ability to mount the “feet” on the side of the tuner so when you are transporting your rig by the handle, you can safely and securely set it down and not worry about scratching the case.

The AT-897Plus is microprocessor controlled. The tuner has a front panel button to initiate the tuning sequence while lowering the RF power to 25 watts and will bypass the tuner if pressed momentarily. The red LED lights during while the tuner is active.  The AT-897Plus takes control and power directly from the CAT port of the FT-897 (at 4800 baud) and provides a second CAT port on the back of the tuner so if you are using another CAT device, hooking it up couldn’t be easier.  The AT-897Plus does not need a fan, let alone one that is constantly running. Current consumption when it is tuned is in the micro-amp range. Autotuner specifications –

  •     Microprocessor controlled
  •     2000 fast memories arranged by frequency
  •     Switched L tuning network
  •     Mounts on the side of the Yaesu FT-897 with four M3-0.5×10 screws (included)
  •     Dual function tune control button
  •     Continuous coverage 1.8 to 54 MHz
  •     Power rating HF: 0.1 to 100 Watts, 30W on PSK
  •     Latching Relays
  •     CAT control at 4800 baud with extra CAT Port
  •     Tuning time: 1 to 7 seconds, 4 average
  •     Antenna impedance: 6 to 800 Ohms (Approximately up to 10:1 SWR, 3:1 on 6M)
  •     Tunes nearly any coax fed antenna. Use optional Balun for long wires.
  •     Power requirements: 11 to 14 volts DC @ 300 milliamps during tune
  •     Operating voltage supplied via the CAT Port (cable supplied with tuner)
  •     Enclosure sizes: 11.5D x 3.25H x 1.5W (measured in inches)
  •     Weight: 2 pounds

BUXCOMM WINDOM dipole antennaDipole Antenna :  Buxcomm Windoms (Includes 4:1 BALUN PoweRated @ 2000 watts PEP).  SuperFlex PVC covered wire, and covered connections to the BALUNs and end insulators. BALUNs use multiple cores, and are power-rated to handle 2000 watts PEP, and the hardware is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions.

The BUXCOMM Windom (OCFD) is well known for its 4 to 9dbi gain over the common dipole.  Field gain test has shown, when the BUXCOMM OCFD is chosen for the lowest band of operation, each harmonic related HF band above it will exhibit 2.0 to 3.75dbi greater than the next lower neighbor band.  All this great performance is achieved through the use of specially selected toroids we use in the manufacture of our BALUNs.  They use a uniquely designed BALUN that exceeds the bandwidth of any of the competitors matching device. Pick the model best for your operations:  160 – 2m  (268′) #166265, 80 – 2m  (137′) #802134, 40 – 2m  (70′) #40270.

Buxcomm Coaxial in-Line isolator B2KLISO

 

Isolator :  Buxcomm Coaxial in-Line isolator B2KLISO.  The BUXCOMM LISO (line isolator) inhibits undesired RFI by preventing feedline currents and re-radiation. In turn, the LISO forces all the RF energy from the transceiver, tuner, or amplifier, into the antenna.

 

 

Yaesu FNB-78 BatteryYaesu FT-897D

Internal Battery :  (Radio can accommodate 2 batteries internally) Yaesu FNB-78 Battery

 

 

 

Yaesu CD-24 Battery Charger Adaptor

Internal Battery Charger Adapter : Yaesu CD-24 Battery Charger Adapter

 

 

 

RadioAntennaCar

Vehicle external antenna for temporary dual band (2m & 70cm) operations : This antenna is a must have for temporary vehicle operations.  It is not a permanent antenna, it is a magnetic mount antenna.  You can move the antenna to other vehicles if needed.  You can also use it in a non-vehicle setting as well by placing the antenna higher than the radio would normally be located.  This antenna can only be used for the UHF/VHF bands but it does have its own antenna connection on the back of the 897D.

 

 

 

Yaesu MLS100 external speakerExternal Speaker :  I had to go with a Yaesu MLS-100.  You can buy other speakers but I like the idea of a speaker that is matched to the radio by the manufacturer. The Yaesu Vertex MLS-100 external loudspeaker is a high performance communications speaker matching the impedance and output requirements of most Yaesu transceivers. It mounts on a swivel stand that is supplied along with mounting screws and bolts. A 6.5 foot (2m) audio cable that terminates in a 3.5 mm mono mini plug is also supplied. Black plastic cased speaker and black metal mount. Impedance is 4 ohms and the maximum power input is 12 watts. Yes, the FT-8900r has an internal speaker, but for vehicle operations and the associated noise I think an external speaker is really needed.  Dimensions: Height: 3.75 in., Width: 5.5 in., Depth 1.75 in.

Heil Sound - PMS-6 & Headset Adapter for YaesuHeadset with Boom Mic :  Heil Sound – PMS-6 & Headset Adapter.  Why?  Because I believe that there are times when you want, or need, more privacy or the ability to hear/speak under adverse conditions.  A headset with boom mic is the right answer.  The Pro Micro Single Side is a very unique high performance single sided headset.  This headset is outfitted with the HC-6 element and is designed for commercial broadcast applications, the -3dB points are fixed at 100 Hz and 12 kHz with sensitivity of -57 dB at 600 ohms output impedance (centered at 1 kHz.).  The microphone audio for the Pro Micro series terminates into a 1/8” male plug while the head phone terminates into a 1/8” stereo with adaptor. To adjust the headset simply bend the stainless steel piece that is inside the black padded headband.

Mic Gain
Adjust the mic gain while watching the ALC meter. Adjust so that the audio peaks just fill out the ALC scale and do not go beyond the ALC scale.

Speaker
The 706 speaker works all the time. To turn that off simply plug an empty 1/8” plug into the front headphone jack.

Vox  (voice activated transmission)
Set the Vox gain controls for proper activation.

Carrier Balance
If your rig has carrier balance it acts as a type of mic tone control. It is best to listen to yourself in another receiver as you transmit into a dummy load. You are actually moving the carrier + or – 200 Hz above or below the center of the filter network, which causes your microphone audio to change its tonal quality.  The use of the AD-1 series mic adapters allow simple interface with popular transceiver inputs. The adapter is 6” long and has a 1/8” female input jack for the boomset microphone and a 1/4” female that is for the PTT (push to talk) line for the Heil foot switch or hand switch. The 1/4” stereo plug goes into the headphone jack on the transceiver front panel.  All Heil Pro Micro Boomsets are shipped with foam windscreen that fits over the microphone. The windscreen does not change the frequency response, just the breath blasts directly into the microphone.

RT Systems programming software for the FT-897DProgramming Software w/cable :  RT Systems FT-899D Radio Software.  While the radio is fully programmable from the front panel that is not the way you want to try and program this radio. I tried several different “free” programming software program; had problems with all of them.  RT Systems puts out a superb product that can’t be beat in my opinion. FYI – You can use the files from any of the RT Systems software to transfer to any other radio that you are programming.  So I can use all programming I did for my FT-60r for my Yaesu 8900 radio with a simple click of a software button.

 

NOTE: I will be posting programming files for different parts of the country as well as different repeater systems.

MFJ-4230MV COMPACT SWITCHAC Power Supply : MFJ Enterprises Inc. MFJ-4230MV COMPACT SWITCH (COMPACT SWITCH PS, METER, 4-16V ADJ. 110/220VAC).  This is a great AC power transformer, high quality and very reliable.

This is the world’s most compact switching power supply that also has a meter and adjustable voltage control. Just 5″ W x 2 ½” H x 6″ D, it weighs only 3 lbs. — it is the perfect pack-n-go power supply for field day, DXpeditions, camping, hiking or to pack for your next business trip or vacation to some far away place. MFJ-4230MV gives you 25 Amps continuously or 30 Amps surge at 13.8 VDC. The voltage is front-panel adjustable from 4 to 16 Volts. MFJ-4230MV also has a selectable input voltage: choose from 120 or 240 VAC at 47 – 63 Hz.

A simple front-panel push-button switch lets you choose either Ampmeter or Voltmeter — allows you to select Amps or Volts as you wish to read them. MFJ-4230MV has an excellent 75% efficiency and extra low ripple and noise, < 100 mV. Awhisper-quiet fan cools by convection and forced air cooling. Normal air-flow around the power supply is continuous and a heat sensor increases the fan speed when the temperature rises above 70 degrees Celsius. DC output is five way binding posts on the back of the MFJ-4230MV so you can power your dedicated HF, VHF or UHF transceiver with ease.

Charge Guard CG-MP

 

TIP – Battery protection when installed in a vehicle :  I also use Charge Guard CG-MP timer for my truck’s power installation.  This ensures that I won’t inadvertently run my battery dead using my Ham radio without the engine running.  Well worth the $’s.

 

 

Anderson Power PolesTIP – Power connectors :  I use Anderson Power Poles for all my power connections.  This makes hooking up my power “brainless” and quick.  Plus it gives me the added advantage of using power cables, fuses, etc. for more than one radio.  Basically allows for flexibility.  I chose Anderson Power Poles because there are essentially the standard for Ham radio operators.

 

So this concludes my review of the Yaesu FT-897D radio.  It is a solid “Buy!”  You will not be disappointed and it will serve you for a very long time, especially when the grid goes down and you need the ultimate Ham radio.

I will be posting an article in the future that shares some of my “power” ideas on keeping your radio rig up and running plus what my 897 “go kit” looks like along with a list of its contents.  Look for it!

 

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No reproduction or other use of this content without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio – Part #1

Yaesu FT-897D Yaesu has been putting out high quality products for a very long time.  The FT-897R is no exception. This was the HF radio I purchased and I am extremely glad I did. It meets or exceeds every expectation I have for a quality HF rig, then it throws in an added bonus – UHF/VHF.

I will go through my standard outline of reviewing this radio based on its designated mission and requirements.  But before I move on I want to tell you the best feature of this HF rig – it also handles my favorite bands 2m & 70cm as well!  The 6m band coverage is built-in as well.  Way more bang for the buck than I imagined.  Let’s get started on the rest of the info…

 

Mission –Yaesu FT-897D with LDG AT-897 auto-tuner

Provide reliable clear communications over the HF Ham frequency band for both disaster and ”grid-down” situations in the field or function as a base station.

Requirements & Limitations –
  1. Must be able to access all HF (High Frequency) band frequencies.
  2. Must be a sturdy radio fully capable of hard field use.
  3. Must be 12vDC compatible.
  4. Must be easy to computer program.
  5. Must have headset jack.
  6. Should have internal batteries
The Good & Less Good
  1. Absolutely great to have the added bonus of 6m, 2m, and 70cm bands in the 897!!  This unit is the ultimate “grid-down” radio.Yaesu FT-897D dual antenna hook-up.
  2. You can hook up two antennas to this unit.  One for the UHF/VHF bands, the other is for HF & 6m bands.  Really a sweet option if you are going for an “all-in-one” radio.
  3. Mic is a mini-remote control unit for the radio.  It can step through the menus just like using the front panel.
  4. Very solid and reliable.
  5. Easy to program via the RT Systems programming software.
  6. Read the manual and use on-line resources to understand the full capability and operation of this radio.
  7. Use an automatic tuner and this radio rocks!
There are some minor, very minor, drawbacks:
  1. I have heard of, but not experienced, some minor RF interference on the mic from being too close to an antenna.  My antenna is nowhere near my mic so I have not had this problem.
  2. The manual doesn’t cover everything this radio is capable of.  Use on-line resources for additional information.
  3. If HF is crowded and busy, the radio is not the best out there.  But it doesn’t cost $5000 either.
  4. The internal speaker is adequate but not the best quality.  Use an external speaker or headset for high-quality listening.
The Details –Yaesu FT-897D in the field

The FT-897D is a rugged, innovative, multi-band, multi-mode portable transceiver for the amateur radio MF/HF/VHF/UHF bands. Providing coverage of the 160-10 meter bands plus the 6m, 2m, and 70cm bands, the FT-897 includes operation on the SSB, CW, AM, FM, and Digital modes, and it’s capable of 20-Watt portable operation using internal batteries, or up to 100 Watts when using an external 13.8-volt DC power source (standard 12vDC operation).

The new FT-897″D” version includes coverage of the U.S. 60-meter (5 MHz) band, along with the 0.5 ppm TCXO Unit, at no additional charge. The coverage is HF 160 to 10 meters (including 60 meters) plus 50/144/430 MHz VHF/UHF. Receive coverage is:  0.1-56, 76-108, 118-164 and 420-470 MHz.

  • TX Frequency Coverage: 160-10 Meters, 50 MHz, 144 MHz, 430-450 MHz, plus Alaska Emergency Chan. (5167.5 kHz).
  • RX Frequency Coverage: 100 kHz-56 MHz; 76-154 MHz; 420 – 470 MHz. (Exact frequency range may be slightly different)
  • Power Output: 100 watts HF-6M, 50 watts 2 M, 20 watts 70 cm. (20 watts on battery)
  • Operating Modes: USB, LSB, CW, AM, FM, W-FM, Digital (AFSK), Packet (1200/9600 FM).
  • Digital Modes: RTTY, PSK31-U, PSK31-L, and User defined USB/LSB (SSTV, Pactor, etc.).
  • S. Weather Band reception.
  • Built-in 3-Message Memory Keyer.
  • Multi-Color LCD Multi-function Display.
  • Bar-Graph Metering of Power Output, ALC, SWR, Modulation.
  • Optional Narrow CW and SSB Filters.
  • AGC Fast-Slow-Auto-Off Selection.
  • RF Gain/Squelch Control/IF Control.
  • Built-in Noise Blanker.
  • AM and FM broadcast reception.
  • Dual VFOs, Split Capability, IF Shift, and R.I.T. (“Clarifier”).
  • Wide/Narrow FM Selection.
  • AM Aircraft Reception.
  • Dedicated SSB-based Digital Mode for PSK31 on USB/LSB, AFSK RTTY, etc.
  • Built-in CW Electronic Keyer and Semi-Break-In.
  • Transverter Interface Jack.
  • Built-in VOX.
  • Carry Handle.
  • Built-in CTCSS and DCS.
  • ARTS™ (Auto-Range Transponder System).
  • Smart Search™ Automatic Memory Loading System.
  • Spectrum Scope.
  • 200 Regular Memories, plus Home Channels and Band-Limit (PMS) Memories.
  • Alpha-Numeric Labeling of Memory Channels.
  • Automatic Power-Off (APO) and Tx Time-Out Timer (TOT) Features.
  • CAT System Computer Control Capability Cloning Capability.
  • Battery-Powered Field Operation
  • Base Station Operation
  • Rugged, High-Output Power Amplifier
  • Built-in Digital Signal Processing
  • Outstanding Features for the CW Expert

Battery-Powered Field Operation

The bottom side of the FT-897 contains a “power source tray” which can accommodate up to two of the optional 13.2 Volt, 4500 mAh FNB-78 Ni-MH Battery Packs, for completely portable operation without any external power source. Maximum power output is 20 Watts (all bands) during battery operation, and with two FNB-78s you may expect up to eight hours of operating time (TX 5%, RX 5%, standby 90%). What’s more, you can charge one of the FNB-78 Battery Packs while operating the FT-897 off the other pack—ideal for situations where solar or other power sources are available.

The optional CD-24 Charge Adapter provides the necessary voltage for charging, and it may be used in conjunction with an external 13.8 Volt source, or the optional PA-26 AC Adapter may be used to power the CD-24.

DC 13.8V Mobile Operation

Mobile operation, using the FT-897D as the cornerstone, is pure joy! The combination of the FT-897 and the ATAS-120 Auto-Tune Antenna System provides automated operation from HF through the UHF spectrum!

Using an external 13.8 Volt power source, you get a full 100 Watts of power output on HF and six meters (144 MHz: 50 W, 430 MHz: 20 W).

Base Station Operation

The FT-897’s outstanding fundamental performance invites expansion into a full-featured base station. The optional FP-30 Internal Power Supply provides operation from AC sources, and the clamp-on FC-30 Automatic Antenna Tuner option expands the impedance range of the transceiver. Round out your station with the MD-200A8X Deluxe Desk Microphone and the VL-1000 Quadra System Linear Amplifier for world-class performance at home!

The power source tray of the FT-897 is designed to accommodate the optional FP-30 Internal Power Supply, allowing full-power operation from 100-120 V or 200-240 V AC power sources. The quiet switching-regulator design of the FP-30 is tolerant of AC input voltage variations, making it ideal for DX-pedition use! And to extend the impedance bandwidth of your antenna system, the innovative FC-30 Automatic Antenna Tuner option clamps onto the left side of the FT-897 in seconds!

Rugged, High-Output Power Amplifier

Achieving 100 Watts of power output from such a compact package is a difficult mechanical and electrical engineering task. On HF, push-pull 2SC5125 Bipolar transistors driven by push-pull 2SK2975s provide the 100-Watt power capability, while on VHF maximum efficiency during battery operation is yielded by 2SC3102 bipolar PA transistors. The rugged aluminum die-cast chassis provides a solid foundation for the heat sink for the power amplifier, with a total of almost 40 cubic inches of heat sink surface area available. With its thermostatically-controlled twin cooling fans, the FT-897 will stand up to the rigors of DX-pedition or home contest use, with dissipation capability to spare!

Built-in Digital Signal Processing

The FT-897 includes a wide array of analog and DSP filters to help you dig out those weak DX signals on a crowded band! One-touch activation of the DSP filters, plus a convenient “DSP” LED on the front panel, enhance the ease of using the DSP. DSP Bandpass Filters, Noise Reduction, and Auto-Notch Filter circuits are included.

Look for Part #2 in this review of the 897 for information on antenna, accessories, etc. Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio – Part #2  <click here>

This is a “BUY!”

 

 

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No reproduction or other use of this content without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.