Yesterday, on QRPer.com, I posted an announcement from Yaesu stating that they are discontinuing the Yaesu FT-818ND and FTM-400 series radios. Here’s the actual message from Yaesu:
“Please be informed that the production of the FT-818ND and FTM-400XDR will be discontinued. We are forced to make this unfortunate decision due to difficulty we are having with the availability of some components. We appreciate your long-term patronage of the FT-818ND and FTM-400XDR.”
I’m quite a fan of the FT-818 and FT-817 series radios. I purchased the original FT-817 from the very first production run in 2001. At the time, I was living in the UK and traveling extensively throughout Europe. The Yaesu FT-817 was such a capable traveling companion and also well-suited for the shack.
The FT-817 was the first affordable QRP general coverage transceiver from one of the “big three” manufacturers (approx. $670 US from the very beginning) that not only covered all of the HF bands, but even VHF and UHF. It also had a rechargeable battery pack and two separate and selectable antenna inputs (SO-239 and BNC); a unique feature set to this very day!
Yeasu knocked it out of the ballpark so hard that over two decades later, this same radio (slightly upgraded as the FT-818ND) was still being manufactured. It was a QRP-sized cash cow for Yaesu.
As a ham radio operator that primarily plays radio in the field (click here to read some of my field reports), I love the FT-817/818’s audio, receiver, durability, and excellent full break-in CW operation. One negative is that it had become difficult to find Collins narrow mechanical filters for CW operation, but in this tutorial on QRPer.com, you can learn how to easily assemble on on your own.
As a shortwave radio listener, I’m incredibly pleased with the 817/818’s performance as a broadcast band receiver. When I lived in the UK, especially, it was my only shortwave radio connected to a proper longwire antenna and it served me incredibly well. Its main drawback was the tiny front faceplate and mini encoder, but its other features compensated for its ergonomics.
The Enduring 817/818
I wrote a long article that was originally published in the October 2022 issue of The Spectrum Monitor magazine entitled, “The enduring Yaesu FT-817 and FT-818 series transceivers.” This full article has now been posted on QRPer.com–click here if you’d like to read it.
While the FT-818ND is very much a legacy design and outdated when compared to modern SDR transceivers with built-in sound cards, spectrum displays, SWR analyzers, variable filters, etc. it still very much holds its own.
If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a new FT-818ND, now would be the time to bite the bullet. It’s your last chance to purchase one new from an authorized distributor, carrying a full factory warranty. Most Yaesu distributors still have inventory, but they are being depleted fairly quickly.
Click here to check inventory at the following retailers:
- DX Engineering
- Ham Radio Outlet
- Nevada Radio
- Amazon.com (affiliate link)
For over a decade I’ve seen rumors floating around about a replacement for the FT-817/818. While I should hope that Yaesu is in the process of designing another QRP radio (especially since QRP and field radios are such a hot segment of the ham radio market at present), they’ve been clear that they’ve no plans to announce a replacement anytime soon.
Too many qrp rigs in the game now, Yeasu probably won’t spend the R&D to take on the 705.
But if they do take on icom just beat them on battery and rugged case that is what’s most important in the field and the 705 lacks those features
Just an update re the FT-818ND.
Apparently they’re disappearing fast or already gone, DXEngineering lists it as no longer available.
HRO are completely out of stock but have some units on order.
Called HRO and was told that around 25% of that last shipment is already accounted for.
I pounced before they’re gone for good and ordered one.
Hope everyone has a great New Year!!
Going fast, and clicking through on the Amazon link all that’s left is on the “See All Buying Options” for (drum roll) $1,499.99 *needlescratch*
Went hiking yesterday with my FT-817nd, completely oblivious to this news. Had a blast. Came home and read about the discontinuation with both a heavy heart but gladness that I’d just had a good afternoon with my ‘817.
And to think, anyone could have picked up an open-box deal at MTC a couple of days ago for $555. I almost ordered one, just to have a spare and a newer replacement. OTOH, I’m glad that somebody else out there got a good deal and will hopefully treasure it as much as I do my ‘817.
Looking forward to my unit arriving and playing around with it.
This is a classic QRP rig, the last of the superhet design before the SDRs took over.
There’s a video from Yaesu over at Thomas’ other site saying although the 818 has been discontinued Yaesu will continue to service the rig so repairs should be no problem for the duration. The Yaesu rep also was mum about a follow-up version, didn’t say there wont be just that it’s company policy not to release any information until any new rig is going into production.
Fingers crossed that Yaesu decide to develop and release a new QRP rig.
>>>Looking forward to my unit arriving and playing around with it.
John, all the best in 2023 with your new ‘818!
In a weird way, I’m glad that I *didn’t* order that ‘818, because somebody else out there will get it and use it, rather than me treating it as a rainy-day spare. OTOH, with my ‘857d still functional but rapidly aging (bought used with an unknown history in 2015), I’m also very glad to have picked up a still-in-production FT-891 on sale this fall.
OK, my wish for 2023 or maybe 2024? Yaesu comes out with an all-mode lightweight QRP rig that does 6m, 2m, 1.25m, & 70cm (and maybe even 10m for Tech kicks). Then they come out with a QRP “little brother” to the ‘891. I’d be all in on those.
Thomas, you know I share your love for these two Yaesu QRP classics. The 817 I now have is one of my favorite SWL receivers, and when I pair it with my HB DSP filter I don’t miss the mechanical filters. It will be interesting to see what they bring out to replace it.
73 my friend.
I wanted to buy an FT-817ND for a long time. The more I read and learned about this radio the more I came to admire it, although I’d never even touched one. I bought a clone of a MONKA and was very impressed with it, but unfortunately I had to return it due to a defect that killed it. About two years ago, I finally found an 817ND in close to mint condition with the original box and accessories. The owner had bought it in the US and left it over there when he returned to Brasil. Recently, his daughter came to visit him and brought it. It smelled as brand new. The former owner told me he had imported it from the UK and it came unlocked for all bands, I believe it was because the 60m had just turned into a Ham band. It is also a great receiver. I just wished it had a narrower filter for AM reception, but I can live with that. I intend to sell some of my rigs, but the 817ND is a keeper.
I’m more than happy with the FT-891, I can have 5w or 100w when needed, it’s got an amazing receiver and a very low noise floor and super audio via headphones, it’s one radio that I will never sell.
I’m not even sure there’s much in the difference in size between the 891 and 818 ? the 891 is probably heavier but with an 8.4Ah LiFeP04 4 S battery, I can work for several hrs at 100W.
The 818 does look incredibly dated though.
I use my 891 for SSB and PSk21 and Olivia via the XGGCOMMS audio interface, great compact setup with 100W and a really good receiver and Audio via headphones.
I was sad to see the 450D go, I liked the look of it a lot, especially the way it lit up at night so decided to get a 2nd hand one and I’m really disappointed with the audio quality with speaker or headphones, it sounds awful compared to the 891, the 450D will be sold in the new year because the audio wrecks my head. However, there’s no real radio to replace the 450D, a simple traditional cheap radio is needed to replace the 450D for those who don’t care about screens and waterfalls. The 450D is a great radio but the extra buttons and knobs of the 450D are nice.
The difference in size and weight between the FT-818 and FT-891 is pretty significant (2.58 pounds vs 4.2 pounds). The FT-818ND is much smaller too, covers VHF/UHF (multimode), and has both an SO-239 and BCN antenna port..
That said, I’ve come so very close to grabbing an FT-891. It’s a brilliant radio. Since I primarily do CW in the field, though, I don’t need anything more than 5 watts. Even though the FT-891’s power output can be lowered to 5 watts, current consumption of the FT-891 in receive is almost four times that of the FT-818. It requires a larger capacity battery whereas I can get away with the FT-818’s internal battery pack or a 3Ah external pack.
The FT-891, I suspect, will enjoy some market longevity, though. It’s definitely a cash cow for Yaesu and for good reason; it’s a brilliant radio at a great value!
Mark, the Icom IC-718 is a good, solid radio still in production and available at a modest price. Its greatest shortcoming is the lack of a USB audio/CAT control port, but that is a limitation it shared with the FT-450D.
As for the sound of the radio, that is subjective.
Can anyone comment on what radios would be considered as substitutes, if perhaps not as desired?
There are so many QRP transceiver options on the market right now, it would be hard to advise without knowing what your specific requirements might be. There are no other HF/VHF/UHF portable transceivers on the market at present save the IC-705 which is an amazing radio but at twice the cost of the FT-818.
I am one of the long time owners of a FT-817. When the FT-818 came out I had the impression that it was hardly more than a redesign replacing unavailable parts. The performance differences were very minor. I am also one of those whose PA died. At the second day of my holiday!
Recently the LCD became next to unreadable. Then I got an IC-705 and never looked back.
If Yaesu wants to develop a successor for the FT-817/818, they MUST add a USB interface and at least Bluetooth. Both should be able to do CAT and audio. GPS would be another good idea.
Alternatively they could provide a socket in one of the Raspberry Pi form factors, preferably a compute module. But it would be a very bad idea to incorporate a Raspi clone! Who if us operates a 10 years old computer?
Another thing they should urgently change is the quiescent current draw. If you turn off the TRX, it really must be off and not drain the batteries! Power consumption is an important topic for a portable rig anyway.
“When the FT-818 came out I had the impression that it was hardly more than a redesign replacing unavailable parts.”
That’s exactly how Yaesu themselves described the FT-818 – the radio was externally identical, to allow for FT-818 owners to use almost any existing FT-817 accessory.
It was the FT-817 that hoped the FT-818 was a redesign/improvement over the FT-817, Yaesu never made any such promise.
The FT-817 was a perfect set of compromises, adjust any feature and the community would have howled! We saw this when the FT-818 slightly modified the various RF output choices and members of the community wailed over increased power consumption because their favorite low power setting was gone, or the ‘waste’ of a 6 watt setting that used more power than the previous FT-817 with its 5 watt setting…