Field Radio Kit Gallery: VE6VID’s KX2 SOTA Kit

Many thanks to Malen (VE6VID)Canada’s first SOTA Double Mountain Goat – who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, read this post.

Hello Thomas,

After being prompted by Vince (VE6LK) I am sending in my humble lightweight HF setup. The core of the setup is an Elecraft KX2 with a few goodies bolted onto it.

My station consists of KX2 with tuner, end plates with lexan cover, external 4s LiPo (1100mah) battery, power cable that is fused and has switched diodes (voltage reducer), an Amazon speaker and earbuds, a modified UV5R microphone (I’m an SSB guy for now), and a homebrew 65 ft EFHW. It’s all carried in a large water bottle case by Condor and weighs in at just under 3lbs. That case also fits an Icom IC-705 or the Elecraft KX3.

I have approximately 300 SOTA activations with this along with various masts. These activations range from easy 10 pointer strolls in Arizona and Manitoba to strenuous (over 1000 metres of gain) 4 pointers in the Alberta Rockies along with summits in VE5, VE7 lands tossed in as well.

By using old Altoids tins for storage for earbuds and the mic, everything fits into the case with the antenna laying on top. I ended up doing some trimming of the kite winder to fit with ease on top of the case.

Here is the basic setup laid out.

The battery will last me for two ten to fifteen minute activations without having to switch the diodes out of line.

When solo activating in VE6 land, I use the Amazon external speaker to make noise to let the local four legged critters know I am there.

After a few years of using a dipole on treed summits, which at times can be troublesome to setup, I built a 49:1 EFHW. When using the EFHW I typically set is up as an inverted V with a mast, invert L with trees. The antenna is a homebrew 49:1 using a non-standard size type 43 toroid, SOTAbeams antenna wire 65 ft long, bulkhead male BNC for connecting directly to the radio.

Trying to go compact, not necessarily light, I ditched the Elecraft mic for something with a small footprint, a mic that started life as an UV5R mic / earbud combo from Amazon . By replacing the cable with a Walmart 3.5mm TRS cable and adjusting the menu on the radio, it works great.

Take care,  Malen Vidler, VE6VID

Vince’s notes: Malen is Canada’s first SOTA Double Mountain Goat. You can check out his YouTube channel here. He is soft-spoken and deeply knowledgeable on SOTA and Amateur Radio. He is one of my go-to people when I don’t understand something in these areas.

11 thoughts on “Field Radio Kit Gallery: VE6VID’s KX2 SOTA Kit”

  1. Hi Malen, thanks for sharing details about your lightweight HF setup. Looks like you’ve come a long way and had many POTA and SOTA successes since we met back in the day in Allenford ON, where you bought my Buddipole package. I think I ended up buying it back from you a number of years later….
    73, Brent VA3YG

  2. I neglected to add one thing to my comments. Funny story.. on some livestream I’d quipped that “I’m in shape, round doesn’t climb summits so I’ll stick to POTA” and Malen told me he’d do a summit with me and it would be easy (it was as it was nearly a drive-up). I told him only if we do a POTA later that day and compare gear.

    So he shows me this kit and I’m amazed that so much radio fits in such a small space.

    I had dragged along my Go-Kit and my 30′ Military mast and a 50Ah LiFePO4 battery for use at the POTA site – about 50 pounds in total.

    We did a side by side comparison of the gear and capabilities, and save for power out, his was every bit as capable as mine. Along with Thomas’ encouragement, that event was the start of me getting into much smaller gear than I was using up until that time.

    Thank you Malen – for opening my eyes to the possibilities!

  3. Hi Malen,

    You’ve built a very efficient kit .
    Please tell me about the switched diodes in your power cable and why you’ve included them.

    Thanks you.

    73, Chuck, WD9EGW

    1. Chuck,
      I was interested in this part as well. The way Malen explained it to me is that there are two diodes in series with each other in line on the positive side. This gives him a voltage drop of ~1.4V from a 4-cell LiPo pack and keeps the radio happy. When his battery voltage drops down ~1.4V from full, the switch gets moved to the other position and essentially shorts/bypasses the diodes. The switched module is the little blue thing with the powerpole pigtails on it, so it’s not physically attached to any one battery pack.

  4. Malen is the man! He’s a great ambassador for SOTA and has a wealth of knowledge on VE6 and VE7 land.

    I like the Mic idea. I have UV5R headset I can cannabilize.

  5. Malen, after some 50 years QRT’ed, I wish to come back QRP cw
    And would like to get details abt your designed antenna.
    Thanks a lot
    Laval VE2QM

  6. Laval,
    The toroid is equivelent to two FT82-43 stacked together. Wire is 24 gauge magnet wire with a 3 primary, 21 secondary windings. The primary, secondaries are twisted together. A 100pF 3kv capacitor is on the input side of the toroid. All parts are from Digikey.
    Antenna wire is 24 gauge from Sotabeams.

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