Recent 857d buyers. Any issues with your radios?

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio' started by K7POC, Oct 1, 2014.

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  1. K7POC

    K7POC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm thinking about picking up an 857d in the near future. Has anyone had any issues with with newer units? I bought a bran new 8800r 1.5years ago that had to go back twice. So I'm a little skiddish to buy yaesu again.

  2. K5UNX

    K5UNX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Mine is about 1.5 years old. Got a FT-8800R 4 months ago. No issues with either one.
  3. K5GHS

    K5GHS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have one that is close to 10 years old. No issues.

    I should note however that its only been 6m and above for transmit purposes for about 9 of those years. And I've never had it portable, its been my home station. Its been getting a lot of HF use though since my General upgrade 2 months ago, 35 contacts so far. I mostly have been using it on 20. It is now coupled to a tuner though, so I'm also using it on 10 a bit, but I only have a 20M dipole that only works on part of that band. A different antenna to rectify that is next on my list.

    I'm not having any issues with the display or anything like that either, though that seems to happen more in mobile installations, from what I've read. It does fold back at 3:1 SWR as well to protect the finals. Although it is internal, it has a fan just like the 8800 does that will kick on during transmission and stay on for a little bit after completing a transmission.

    I also own 2 8800r's. One is mobile (face mounted, radio under seat) and the other one is at home and used the same as the ft857, home use only. The radios themselves have preformed flawlessly. The one I have mobile is about 10 years old as well. The only issue I've had is the "strain relief" under the mic is mostly decorative, and the rubber fell apart about a year ago, so I taped it up with a little bit of electrical tape to reinforce it. I do cover the radio and face up when I'm not using it in the car, but sun exposure takes its toll. The microphone and radio still work fine though. I think the little rubber piece that came off was more decorative than anything.

    I have a friend who also has a third 8800r I had but I gifted it to him as I was not using it much anymore. He managed to break the little tab off of the connector from the mic to the radio. We just need to get another and replace it, but it does pull out of the plug in when hes talking sometimes with a sudden drop for obvious reasons. I think he broke it off on accident though, nothing to do with workmanship. Like I said prior, my oldest 8800r is in my mobile at 10 years plus, the newest is the one I have at home, its probably 7 years old now, I bought it after using the 857 for FM purposes for a few years-but then I wanted the ability to monitor repeaters while doing some HF listening and work on 2m SSB. The 857 worked well for repeater work...but using it for that "tied it up" for that purpose and it does so much more, so I got the other 8800 to monitor repeaters and for that. I bought the one I have given to my friend probably about a year after the first one for my second mobile. It did sit in a box for about a year and a half before I gifted it to him. But they have all preformed well, knock on wood, since then! They don't have some of the fancier features the newer ones have now (I wouldn't mind APRS integration if I ever get something newer) but they work solidly for repeater work, day after day.

    They have otherwise been solid, and I own a few Yaesu HT's as well. If I'm in the market for another radio, it will probably wind up being another Yaesu. I have been looking at some of their newer versions of dual band dual watch mobiles as well for my wifes vehicle, but that probably won't be happening for a while, as I have moved away from glass mount antennas and will have to come up with something I can put on a pickup, but move if need be when I need to haul stuff in it.

    Overall though, I haven't had any issues with them that were not human error or age related.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  4. K5GHS

    K5GHS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm adding another reply because there was one thing I wanted to add about the 857. You'll probably find that the "stock" microphone that comes with it is kind of "flat" when it comes to audio. Its not bad, per se, but it does leave a little to be desired. You'll probably want to get the "upgraded" microphone for it, which also allows you to control more aspects of the radio from it. Its not really something I needed since I'm using it at home and thus have access to all the controls in a non-mobile setting, but the audio quality on the "fancier" microphone is much better also. I didn't get rid of the old one, I do have it still as a backup, but the stock microphone is a bit "muffled" compared to the newer one. You have to be sure to turn the mic gain controls WAY down when you get the newer one-I believe the default is 50, and I have mine down around 25 or 20 I believe. It preforms a lot better though, for sure.

    That would probably be the only "complaint" per se that I'd have about the radio. The "fancier" mic cost me $55 I believe, but I got a $20 rebate on it at the time-HRO had a special going on or Yaesu did, either way.

    Good luck!
  5. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    be very gentle with it and keep it out of the hot sun. The displays are very delicate and can develop missing lines. MIne is missing one line. but some units lose alotta lines. Mostly don't let it get hot in the sun. Shade it well. and don't subject it to any serious shocks.
  6. KJ5T

    KJ5T Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I bought mine in early 2012. Used it mobile for about a year before I bought a new car and decided I didn't want to drill any holes (yet) until the vehicle gets more age. I have also used it portable and currently using it as my home radio (since it is easy to bring out when I string up the dipole). I haven't had any issues with mine, not quite sure how many contacts I have made with it but I would say in the hundreds of HF contacts. Not many because I am not extremely active outside of guest operating contests but I do love this little rig and do suggest it to anyone looking for a portable or mobile HF rig.
  7. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have mine in the ULTIMATE GO KIT, works great!! Every feature we could ever want!, other than the diplay issue, GREAT RADIO!!!
  8. KA3RCS

    KA3RCS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've had mine for a while, so while not exactly recent, it still performs flawlessly (with the exception of a few random lines on the display sometimes fading out). I got it specifically as a dedicated mobile rig, and it has always been installed in a vehicle. I have always protected the control head from direct sunlight (by different methods, depending which vehicle it was in).

    I have well over a dozen Yaesu radios, and have never had to send any of them back for repair. From anecdotal evidence, one is actually better off getting a Yaesu model which has been available for some time. For example, my VX-5 is a third-generation model, purchased after they fixed some of the issues with the original versions. That said, many of mine are early examples, and even they have no problems (such as my FT-817s, which were all built in 2001).

    I would make several recommendations to improve performance and longevity of the FT-857. For longevity, I never allow it to scan across band boundaries which cause any of the relays to switch for any significant period of time. I also jumpered the fans to run continuously at full speed whenever the radio is on, which improves the cooling immensely. For performance, the carrier insertion point adjustments are *ALWAYS* off from the factory in every FT-817, FT-857, and FT-897 I have ever checked. A bit of tweaking results in much better and more consistent transmit and receive audio between USB and LSB. Also, the stock MH-31A8J dynamic mic is an abysmal piece of detritus which really detracts from the potential of an otherwise excellent radio (note that some MH-31 samples don't sound as bad as others, even though all I have checked use identical-looking Foster mic elements, but all are bad). The MH-36E8J DTMF mic and MH-59A8J remote control mic use proper condenser elements and sound much better, but both have a tendency toward RFI susceptibility. The MH-67A8J (the stock mic from the original FT-450 as well as many Vertex commercial radios) has a proper condenser element, sounds excellent, and has no RFI problems. I suspect that many people would be shocked to hear the dramatic difference between one of these radios with the factory carrier insertion point adjustments and an MH-31, compared to the same radio with tweaked adjustments and an MH-67A8J. Additionally, I have added the optional TCXOs to all of my radios in this family (and zero beat them to WWV), which makes a tremendous improvement in frequency accuracy and stability.

    For more details, check my eHam review of the FT-857, as well as those of the mic models mentioned herein.

    In summary, there is still no other radio which I would choose over the FT-857 for a mobile (or high power portable) HF/VHF/UHF rig.
  9. W1GUH

    W1GUH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Used one in the car a LOT and didn't baby it & it just kept on working solidly. It wasn't fussy about anything.

    I had one problem that turned out to be a non-problem. In both my '817 and '857 I got "muffled" audio reports. As it turned out the solution wasn't anything that instincts or even knowledge would have found. It was caused by the mig gain setting. They come from the factory with that set to be way too high. A value of 20 or less was recommended to me and when I reduced the gain, the "muffled" reports went away. I verified this in one QSO that was good copy on both ends and asked the other guy for a critical audio report and he reported that it was fine. Again, I haven't heard why too much mic gain would resulte in "muffled" audio - good guess is the ALC action is doing the deed -- but it does happen but with an easy solution. This cost me a little bit. My first reaction was to get a Heil mic. That didn't fix it. I then checked the carrier adjustment. That didn't fix it either. Got that "muffled" report on both SSB and AM.

    One other thing....there's a little knob over on the lower left for coarse tuning and other stuff. It's an encoder with a plastic shaft and it can be broken. But reasonable care will prevent that. As I said before, I haven't babied that radio. As it turned out, that's pretty conventional stuff - no SMD's or anything so it's relatively easy to fix and the part is cheap from Yaesu.

    A CW filter is recommended if you're planning CW. I got the SSB filter but can't say I hear much difference at all. On most signals I hear no difference. On strong in the clear signals I hear a little bit of difference but not anywhere near enough to justify the cost.

    If you're planning mobile operation, the remote control mic is recommended. It will do anything you can do from the front panel and eliminates reaching over to the radio to diddle controls. It's lighted, but with a little practice you don't need to look at it to use it.

    When I got mine in '07 it was a hot seller! Took me 3 trips to Hamcity to finally get one. The first time they said the didn't have one but expect more the next Tuesday. On Tuesday afternoon they aid they'd already sold all that came in. Finally, I called ahead the next time to put my name on one and finally got it.

    The USB cable and programming software takes a LOT of pain out of the menus. I've used it on my '817 and it works good.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  10. KA3RCS

    KA3RCS Ham Member QRZ Page

    This sounds like what I experienced for years as well, on both the FT-857 with MH-59 and FT-817 with MH-36...before I learned that the actual cause was the RFI susceptibility of those microphones. Adding a number of ferrite cores to various cables in the mobile setup (including a few small ones on the wires inside the mic) virtually eliminated the problem. I just did some checks, listening to it on an FT-817 with no antenna. I normally run the SSB mic gain at 50 on that setup, but even cranking it to 100 did not result in anything other than a bit of audio overdrive. It is quite clean anywhere up to about 80. I also tried it with and without the processor, and while enabling it made the audio more punchy and less smooth and reduced the low frequency response, it still did not result in 'muffled' audio. On AM, it actually sounds best with the mic gain set to about 80, and it is OK even at 100.

    A setting of 20 on SSB is where the signal drops significantly on the modulation meter, as well as the monitor receiver, in my testing. It makes sense that this would appear to improve the audio in an installation where RF feedback were present. It would be interesting to see if reducing the RF power output instead of the mic gain would make a difference in your setup. As you also have an FT-817, you should be able to monitor it the same way I did. Another point just came to mind: before I added the ferrite cores, the RFI was worse at higher frequencies. I only actually received comments about it while talking to some locals on 10 meters, which prompted my investigation which led to adding the cores. That was before I learned about the mic itself being the culprit.

    I just tested an FT-817 as well, both into a dummy load and a BNC portable antenna. On the dummy load, the radio sounds totally clean with the SSB mic gain all the way up to 100 on an MH-31, MH-36, or MH-67. On the antenna (located near the microphone), it still sounds just as clean on the MH-31 and MH-67, while the MH-36 does indeed become 'muffled' as it picks up RF (and this is an MH-36 to which I have already added an internal ferrite core; it was even worse prior to doing so). Note that clean in the context of the MH-31 refers to a lack of added distortion, not decent frequency response. ;) I normally run the FT-817 at a setting of 80 on SSB with an MH-67. The optimum AM setting is about 30 for my voice with an MH-67. Note that someone else also used one of my FT-817/MH-67 setups configured this way during a SOTA activation while I listened on another radio, and it sounded very good. This eliminates the issues involved with listening to one's own voice live.

    The only part which doesn't appear to make sense is that the same problem would be present with the Heil mic. I haven't tried one myself, so I don't know how they are in terms of RFI susceptibility. Everything else points to the same issue...
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