The FT-897 Bob-O-Meter

(one of the perks of building something is you get to call it whatever you want)

Last year I picked up my first new HF radio, the Yaesu FT-897D. I wanted a radio that would work well as a base, and in a field situation. Being a new ham, I didn’t want to close any doors early on by getting something too big.

I’ve really been pleased with the radio, it’s done everything I’ve asked, and i’ve yet to find a situation where I say ‘Oh if only it would do _____’.. I work all modes, digital modes and it’s just great. A year later, I’m still very happy with my choice.

BUT, the price to pay to have a small-ish all in one radio is the screen size. The meter, while there, does’t give the level of detail I like to see. So when I read that the radio has a port to connect to an external meter, I set about digging through the junkbox (and google) to see what I could do.

I found a nice writeup by M0MTJ on his meter, and saw how quick this would be to put together. He even includes a meter scale to print and insert into the meter.

Turns out I had everything I needed in the junkbox, but only a 1-inch meter that would do the job. I tried this for a while, then splurged a big $7 on ebay and bought a 4-inch meter. The 897 also has a jack in back that lets you put a ‘tune’ button (sends out a carrier so you can tune your antenna).. So since I was building anyway, I added a tune button on top of the meter housing. What I came up with is this :



And here on the back, the meter and tune jacks, and the potentiometer to adjust the meter :



In terms of complexity, the project rates about 2 on 10, the toughest part was probably making the opening for the meter in the metal box. In terms of usage and satisfaction though, it’s 10 on 10, and I can’t see myself using the radio without it.