A Buyers Guide to the FT-817ND and X1M

Posted on Monday, February 10th, 2014 at 12:26 pm in



So, you want to know about my X1M? Why I bought it? Actually, I wish I could tell you any bad news, and yes there are some annoyances, but generally speaking for the price I paid I have a very good radio. Do you mind if I tell you some background?

I have a Yaesu FT-857D as my all-time favourite radio, I use it as much as possible for voice and for experimenting, and when I need a bit of power I have a solid state HF amplifier that I can add to take the nominal 100 watts up to 600 watts or so – but that doesn’t happen very often. I am very happy with the FT-857D, and it gives me 6m/50MHz access when I want to.

But then I realised I was always having to fiddle with the knobs and settings when I swopped to digital (things like mic gain and compression), and so I decided to buy a second radio that I could dedicate to digital. I found a good second-hand FT-840 and set it up permanently for digital, my favourite mode is PSK31/64/128 with RTTY not far behind. I use HRD, the free version (v5.28) on my laptop. The radio doesn’t do 6 meters but that is not a big issue for me yet. And it has adjustable mic gain with ALC indication, so slowly I started using less and less power to have a cleaner output (less IMD).

So, with my radios nicely set up at home, I needed something for when I was travelling. I identified my choices as either another Yaesu (817) or
something else. The price of a new FT-817ND is very expensive, and around that time the local supplier started advertising that he had some Xiego X1M’s in stock at an attractive price point more or less a third of the price of a new Yaesu. Using the old saying “You get what you pay for” I immediately started comparing the two radios, and with other radios, to find out what I was losing by buying the cheaper radio.

At this stage I must admit that I really looked at competitive radios from all angles, and I included multi-banders like the Elecraft or
single-banders like the MFJ-9410/9420. I even drooled over a SDR radio, the SoftRock RXTX Ensemble Transceiver Kit. All of those options were very good in one way or another, but none were complete multiband radios (I like jumping bands to follow conditions). Some radios were too expensive, some were too restrictive (I don’t do CW, I only do voice and digital).

In fact, it soon became clear that the X1M was an excellent combination of features at a very attractive price. I will give you my summary of comparisons between the FT-817ND and X1M as follows:

X1M Pro: Cost about one third, runs off 12v wall adapter, has all traditional HF bands, is a complete solution, very easy to operate. Nice package.
FT-817 Pro: Added filtering, DSP, added WARC bands and 6m, very mature menu system.
X1M Con: no DSP, no AGC, no S-meter. Somewhat “basic” circuit (that is a subjective judgement), no WARC bands filtering (although you can listen)
FT-817 Con: Expensive.

Thus I decided to give the X1M a go and sent my money. A day later I had my radio, and I’ve been very happy about my purchase so far. I am not blind to the fact that I did not get the full package of features. The AGC is an issue, and the DSP is an issue. For the rest it is pretty good radio that has given me many hours of nice working, SSB as well as digital.

Specifically you are asking about the drifting. Now I didn’t do any specific measurements on WSPR, but I did check out my signal reports and other sources, and it seems stable enough. I warm up the radio anyway, and if it transmits a lot the case gets warm, but I have no idea if that has any influence on the performance. Depending on conditions and the band I can get 20 – 60 hits per day, all without complaints or comments.

The X1M is an “easy” radio to open and work on, but do remember it contains three rows of connectors with 0.5mm spacing that you have to push in very carefully. Having said that, I have opened mine several times to trace the location of some components, and as long as I am careful it seems to work every time I put it together. I also made a custom cable for my interface (G4ZLP DigiMaster Pro3) that goes into the speaker/mic sockets.

I hope this helps, but please do not hesitate to ask if you need more information.