Gator Case Project for the Yaesu FT-897D


Objective: Create a quasi portable, protective, easy to use, plug and go deployment bag for a Yaesu FT-897D Transceiver system.

Justification: The current system based around the existing Yaesu FT-897D Transceiver, originally configured as a “base radio” is presently valued in excess of $1,450.00. The role of this system has changed to that of ‘portable' or 'remote deployment' radio for special events or emergencies. The present solution provides for the equipment being carried to the destination in several different containers with various levels of protection, thus having the risk of loss or damage to various componants.

Solution: The proposed solution provides advanced protection for the equipment while also providing a single, quick, plug and play means of setup and deployment. Project costs alone are justified by offering protection of the equipment.

Exclusions: Computer(s), antennas, and antenna feed lines would continue to be handled separately.

The Gator Case line of products came about to serve the Live Music field, as a means to provide protection and portability to sound equipment deployed at various venues as large as concert halls, or as small as the corner bar. The Gator Case, which comes in various sizes, fits that need, and comes with a Lifetime Warranty. The Gator Case is well suited to serve the needs of not only electronics for live music, but for any electronic equipment which could be rack mounted.

Major Parts:

Click to Download PDF Copy of Parts List.

A detailed list, which includes costs, better descriptions of the item, and photos of the individual items can be found in the attached PDF File.

A word about the suggested retail price and “what I paid” as listed in the details. The SRP is the price of the item without shipping costs. You are strongly urged to shop around and compare prices. For instance, the price for the Gator Case from Pit Bull Audio is their retail price, however the price from the same vendor may be less if purchased via eBay.

You’ll note that I actually paid a higher than the suggested retail price for the power supply. This is for two reasons. A) The SRP does not include shipping, and most importantly, B) I have a strong interest in keeping my local ham radio store in business. Besides, all I had to do was drive over to visit the store, and pick it up myself.

A Word About Choosing the Right Gator Case for Your Project:

The Gator Case comes in three sizes. The GRB-2U, GRB-3U, and GRB-4U. Think of the number in the model as the vertical space to accommodate a standard size rack in inches. A single rack shelf with no equipment mounted on it, such as the Raxxes RAX has an up / down dimension of 2 Inches. What you attach to that rack may increase the demission, as in my case, the Yaesu FT-897D did. What you want to install may be larger or smaller. The Samlex SEC-R1 Rack for the power supply, actually takes up the vertical space of two normal size racks. I surmise this is to allow ample room for air flow to help keep the unit cool during operation. While I understand it is often difficult to know for sure what size you need until you start putting the pieces together, it is strongly advised to take some measurements of your toys before you buy the case. 

Outrigger 4 Power Distribution Unit:

Connections to and from the Outrigger 4 PDU are very straight forward, as indicated in the photo above. All incoming and out going connections must use Anderson Power Pole connectors.

In the event you wish to use a power source other than the Samlex Power Supply, such as an "off grid" source like solar, battery, etc. simply plug that power option in at the 30-Amp Fuse Connection.

The Out Riger 4 has a Green LED Indicator which will illuminate GREEN if incoming power connection is of the correct polarity. This also serves to indicate that power is present to the PDU. This LED will illuminate RED if polarity is incorrect.

The digital indicator located near the upper front of the console will illuminate the incoming voltage in BLUE regardless of the power source. The nominal voltage coming from this Samlex Power Supply is 13.7 volts. Voltage from any power source in excess of 14 volts may not be healthy for the transceiver and may likely start blowing fuses.

A Note About Wiring:

This note applies only to the Yaesu FT-897D and the LDG AT-897 Tuner. If you're using a different radio, this will likely not apply to your project. (Information about wiring can be downloaded as a PDF File here.)

Wiring from the Radio to the AT Antenna Turner is not very intuitive. I have adapted the diagram from the User Manual to help decipher this, in the event something becomes disconnected.

The most common mistake, is the connection of the CAT Cable from the radio to the tuner. The Blue CAT Cable goes into the top CAT Port on the Tuner, while the White CAT Cable connects to the PC Interface.

The next common mistake, is the black cable with 1/8 inch phone plugs on each end. The Red colored phone plug goes to the radio in the Accessory Port, while the Black colored phone plug goes into the tuner. There is small print on the cable to remind of this. If the connection is reversed, the tuner simply will not work on demand.

    NOTE: The Red and Black Plugs


There are a number of ground points for the system. All are connected with GREEN colored wires. Grounding points come from the back of the radio, from the back of the power supply, and from the rack chassis. It is recommended that these green grounding wires be connected to a common ground rod, connected to earth ground.


The completed project, including packing all the accessories into the case, also includes:

- Documentation
- Yaesu Hand Mic
- Heil Goldline Mic
- Mic Boom (for the Heil Mic)
- Heil Mic / Headset Adaptor Cable for Yaesu
- Line Master Foot Switch and Cable
- USB Computer Interface Cable
- 110 Power Cable for Samlex Power Supply

While all this is heavy, to my surprise it does not weigh as much as I expected it might. (I expected in excess of 50 pounds!) According to my scale, it comes in at 36.4 pounds. Case, radio, power supply, hardware, and accessories all included.

At 36.4 pounds, this admittedly might not be the best arrangement for back packing up to the top of a mountain, but with the attached handles and shoulder strap, this works well for carrying from your vehicle to your operating position.

73 and Have Fun!


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