It was find a birthday present for one of my Amateur friends, well he is going to be 70 in a few weeks, so it was time to look for something useful or interesting. A bottle of Scotch maybe or a woolly hat? Then I had a thought he owns a Yaesu FT-897, and I had seen the Chinese selling external meters on ebay for this radio. There are two versions available, white backed scale, or black versions. I decided to take the risk and send for one in black, will it arrive here before his birthday? It did! It was delivered in less than 10 days from HK, although the sellers address was Shenzhen China?
The analogue meter replicates everything you see on the digital bargraph meter on the front of the FT-857/897 (S, PWR, SWR & ALC).
First thoughts not bad, quite weighty, excellent black anodised metal case, with a 3.5mm jack to plug into the external meter socket under the VFO knob on the front of the FT-897, or the left handside bottom front ext meter skt of the FT-857. It was time to take the roof off and have a look inside, well I did want to make sure it was ok for him?
There is plenty documented on the Web about making an external meter for these radios and really there is not much to it. But the Chinese have really made a very good job of this for the money, its not just a meter stuck in a box, they have taken their time to produce a little PCB with the calibration pot which can be easily accessed from the rear of the case through a small hole. The PCB has then been bolted across the two rear meter terminals and it is a real solid job.
There were no instructions in the box that it came in, but these are well documented at the bottom of the ebay sales literature, and reference to all of this is set out within the Yaesu manual.
Conclusion: Well made and produced for the cost, you would find it very difficult to get all the bits together including the case and build it for the price. I wasn't able to test it out as I don't own either radio, time to wrap it up and put some kisses on the birthday card.