note: article first appeared in February 2015
As mentioned in Part #1 of this series that posted yesterday, 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 yesterday’s post 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 : 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
Dipole 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.
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.
Internal Battery : (Radio can accommodate 2 batteries internally) Yaesu FNB-78 Battery
Internal Battery Charger Adapter : Yaesu CD-24 Battery Charger Adapter
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. This antenna can only be used for the UHF/VHF bands but it does have its own UHF/VHF band antenna connection on the back of the 897D.
External 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.
Headset 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 adapter. To adjust the headset simply bend the stainless steel piece that is inside the black padded headband.
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.
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.
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.
Programming 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.
AC 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.
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.
TIP – 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.
Would I own this radio, or suggest you own it, even if you didn’t have a Ham license to operate it? Yes! You can still listen to what is happening whenever you want. Plus, during emergencies, to save a life, you can use it without a license. During a “grid-down”…well, whose going to come check your Ham license?
Tomorrow I will be posting an article 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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