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is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

FT-817 Power Connector Solution

The Yaesu FT-817 is probably the most important ham radio to be released in resent years. A whole amateur radio shack shrunk in to something that I could loose in my wife's handbag. It got millions of us out of the dark dingy Hobbit holes we affectionately called home and in to the countryside, out of the office chair and in to our hiking boots and out of our cars, trucks, and pickups into the thin mountain air. Plenty of us soon abandoned the 817 for more powerful rigs or something home built, but it was the 817 that started us on the portable radio adventure.

The 817 is a brilliant piece of electronic engineering but like anything it has its faults. Number one on the list would have to be it is not waterproof. Why Yaesu made a rig ultimately suited for portable work and then neglected to make it waterproof I will never know. There are other faults too but the main one is the flimsy power connector, which has given many of its users grief over the years. Finding a replacement power lead has been difficult to start with due to it not being a very common size. The connector you need is 4.0mm outer and 1.7mm inner diameter.

I had wanted two such connectors myself a while ago. One for connecting to a shack power supply and another with Anderson Power Poles to connect to the sealed lead acid batteries I use portable. I had no desire to butcher the one that came with it, that was fitted with a in car type plug that fits into the cigar lighter socket. My good friend Andy MM0FMF came to my rescue as he had bought a load of leads at one time and had a few left.

The latest victim of the of odd sized power connector was blogger Julian G4ILO and it was one of his commentators Graham VE3GTC lead me to The Shoppe at Wulfden and an intriguing solution to wear and tear on the Yaesu FT-817's power connector.

Way back in the June 2005 issue of QST magazine there was an article by Phil Salas AD5X, entitled "Input Voltage Conditioner - and More - for the FT-817". It details a project to add reverse voltage, over voltage, and over current protection, a more convenient power connector (Anderson PowerPoles) and an external voltage regulator to take the much of the heat dissipation from the inside of the rig to the outside. For over five years N1BQ has offering this project as a kit. So far the FT817 community has purchased just under 4000 of these kits at a price that should not break the bank. With this kit failure of the connector is highly unlikely and with the other advantages I wonder how it took so long to come to my attention.

All the details are included in these documents PDF (700KB) or Word DOC (200K) so if you have the bits there is no need to buy the kit, but The Shoppe at Wulfden offers a Basic Kit for $15 plus postage or an Enhanced Kit for $21 plus postage. Postage for the basic kit to the UK is about $5.00.


  1. Hi Steve, tnx for this interesting article. I recently bought a FT-817ND and read of course about the failing finals. This could be a nice solution and add some more protection. It shure is a nice radio. 73, Bas

  2. Hi Bas, I have not heard of failing finals for a long while. Yaesu seem to have sorted that one a while ago. The first ones were very prone to it but your ND should not be a problem. I think the problem was amplified by the type of use (abuse) the 817 gets. I use an FT-857 when portable but still have the 817, but the XYL uses it more than I do these days. I keep saying I will give it a blast on the digimodes but not got around to it yet.

    73 Steve

  3. Hey, I purchased the One Plug Power modification in 2003 and my battery pack finally gave up so I ordered the new larger 2700 MaH pack thinking it would be a direct replacement. Sometime in the past 9 years, W4RT upgraded the type of connector and the fusing so once I received the new pack I wrote to request their suggestions on the best way to incorporate the new battery pack. They replied indicating they were sending me a new battery door and connector cable for free! I don't know of any other company that would provide a free parts upgrade after nine years! Hats off to the W4RT team once again! Great product support! Thanks, guys!