I’ve owned an FT-857D for about six years now. I bought it for the same reason that I can’t bring myself to sell it – its diversity:
DC to daylight, a gazillion modes and all that…CW, V/UHF repeaters, satellite work, mobile operation, etc. Heavy on the etcetera.
The FM “easy-sats” were fun for a few days, APRS for a couple weeks and 2m FM for a few milliseconds.
Now there’s a new use for the ’857. An article in July’s QST talks about a way of converting the it (and other rigs) to a “psuedo SDR” radio. If the article were complete, it would be many pages long – but it did entice me to visit the relevant web page and join the Yahoo group to learn more about this possibility.
In a nutshell, the article is based on a small circuit (offered as an inexpensive kit) that plugs into a spare crystal filter socket, extracts the 2nd IF, converts it to 12 kHz, feeds it into a computer and, with dedicated software, presents a pan display and demodulates the signal rather than having the rig downstream of the IF do it.
No separate I and Q data as we’ve come to expect from true SDR – just the basic IF being demodulated and displayed. Doesn’t float my boat.
So what to do with the FT-857D?
I think its latest employ will be as a dedicated 6m rig. I’ve become more interested in that band lately and would like to explore it in some manner.
WSPR doesn’t seem too common on 6m – CW beacons seem to be the indicator of choice for propagation info.
The is a coordinator for 10m beacons (WJ5O) but, despite my best efforts with Google, I can’t find one for 6 meters so I guess folks do their own research of who’s on what freq & where they are geographically and go from there.
Another option is something involving Radio-SkyPipe which is also mentioned in July’s QST. Commonly used for observing Jupiter’s transit via signal strength on 20 MHz, I ran the program starting an hour before sunrise yesterday and was able to mark the time of sunrise on 25 MHz in the same manner. Other solar observations via SkyPipe are here (they need to adjust their clock to get DST to agree with GMT).
The FT-857D is a diverse rig with many possibilities – jack of all trades, master of none.
Now what to do with it…