Monday, June 10, 2013

A dongle for the FT-817

If you have used a Yaesu FT-817 on SSB you'll have probably been annoyed by the lack of a TUNE button to generate a steady carrier for antenna tuning. You usually have to press the MODE button a few times to select FM or PKT, use PTT to send a carrier, then change mode back to USB or LSB. It isn't one of life's greater annoyances, but it's a nuisance all the same, especially if you use an antenna like the AlexLoop which needs retuning every time you change frequency.

A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from one of my blog readers, John G4HUK, enclosing a Quick-Tune Dongle that he makes for the Yaesu FT-817, FT-857 and FT-897 rigs. It's a neat little gadget that plugs into the ACC port on the back of the radio. What it does is let you generate a tuning signal in SSB mode by double-clicking the microphone PTT. Simple but effective! It won't be so useful for home users who have a CAT cable plugged into their ACC port already, but for SOTA operators and other exponents of outdoor radio (apart from CW operators who can just hold the key down) it could be a godsend.

The Quick Tune Dongle installed on the back of the FT-817
The dongle didn't work for me at first until I set the baud rate of my FT-817's ACC port to 9600. This is explained in the 'manual'. The instructions also explain how you can reconfigure the dongle to change the way it works. By default it will use PKT mode to generate the tuning carrier and ignore double-clicks made in any mode other than USB and LSB, which I think will suit most people.

I think it is an ingenious little gadget which you can get from HUK Electronics for £15.95 + postage. Here's a video of the dongle in action.
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