Many thanks to Doug (KO4WDE) 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.
KO4WDE’s Dual Purpose G90 Field Kit
by Doug (KO4WDE)
I have always been an outdoorsman, and for all of my professional life I have been a teacher. It wasn’t until 2021 that I became a ham. I started out with my tech, and earned my general a few days later. I built a modest shack around an IC7300 and a Par Endfedz 80-10M EFHW. When these three facets of my life combined something sparked in me and I immediately did two things, took my radio with me outdoors, and I took it to school. Long story short, we now have a school radio club. (KQ4CWT), and I am a POTA junkie.
To go portable, I would take my 7300 with me, powered by a Bioenno 20Ah battery, packed neatly into a hard case, with the battery and Wolf River Coil SB1000 stuffed in the front pockets of a massive brown deployment style bag. My “go kit” was more like a “Hire a mover kit” and weighed a ton. This worked well, but I really wanted something different. I needed a portable field radio kit that would be small enough for me to use when hiking and camping, but also serve as a valid and friendly introductory platform for middle and high school students exploring ham radio.
I needed a radio that would provide some of the luxury of the IC7300, including the panadapter waterfall for seeing signals, as well as SSB, and digital mode capability. The kids, like me, really like FT8.
I settled on the Xiegu G90 radio. It was much smaller and lighter in weight, had less power consumption, and had many of the features that I thought would still hook kids’ interests, as well as serve me well in the field. An internal and capable tuner is much appreciated as well. I love the G90, and my students love the G90.
To build this kit, I started out with the basic components: the radio, the battery, and the antenna. To power the radio I use a Bioenno 9ah battery. It is a bit bigger than what I need but this comes in handy for FT8 activations and the demanding duty cycle penalty that entails, and gives me some slack for device charging. The Wolf River Coil antenna was replaced by an antenna that my club built as a project. It is a 3D printed chassis and winder for the antennas components and wire designed by (IU10PK) and listed online as “tactical end fed antenna winder” on thingiverse. In addition to these basic components I added an FT8 kit consisting of a DigiRig Mobile, needed cabling and a Evolve III notebook pc.
After reading all of the gallery builds here, I decided to choose a medium sized sling bag to fit the rest of the loadout. Again, I was looking for something to pull double duty for POTA and student work. My huge original “Hire a mover kit” taught me that I had a tendency to carry way too much. I wasn’t aiming for “Spartan Simple” but I wanted to cut as much as I could. I made a list of my radio critical components, and my support components and shopped accordingly. I intentionally chose a bag slightly smaller than what I thought I would need to force myself to trim the fat. I settled on the “Large Rover” sling pack by Red Rock Outdoors. I chose gray because it would look more at home in my classroom than FDE or OD green, but the color has really grown on me.
The Bag: Red Rock Outdoors Large Rover
(Meme dog talisman adds 5db to all antennas- a wonderful handmade gift from a student!)
The main compartment:
The main compartment of the bag carries the G90 (with the semi-attached and very bulky fan unit), battery and a Tactical Tailor shemagh I use as a table cloth or ground cover for my bum. I use the rolled shemagh as a protective layer between the battery and radio. The battery sits inside the main compartment nicely as well. Inside the main compartment, there are two sleeves, the rear is unused but the front sleeve houses my coax cable. The zippered “flap pouch in the top of the main compartment stores my hand mic. I use little 3D printed protective covers for the mic connectors.
(Little 3D printed protectors for connectors)
The other compartment(s):
The front of the bag has a medium sized pouch with several elastic loops and sleeves. I use this pouch for my EFHW antenna and my “K4SWL” style bare bones 25M arborist throwline. There is a small zippered sleeve on the outside that carries an additional 100 feet of 3mm Paracord divided into two sections.
(The front compartment is quite roomy)
At the top of the bag, there is a small zippered pouch that houses my Digirig Mobile and assorted cabling for the G90. It also carries my charger for the Bioenno battery, and a tiny Anderson Powerpole to USB-C PD charging adapter made by Tufteln that I use to top off the Evolve III’s battery.
The rear of the bag has a very nice sleeve for a device. The evolve III is a perfect fit.
Although I am new to ham radio and field operations I feel like this little budget kit works exceptionally well for its dual intended purpose. It’s capable for use in the classroom (or school grounds) as a teaching tool, but also small enough to not murder me on the trail.
The Kit Components:
- G90 radio with “H2” stand (note: this is an affiliate link that also offers a discount to QRPer.com readers)
- 9Ah Bioenno LiFePO4 battery and 2 amp charger
- 150A Power meter (Powerwerx clone)
- DIY 40-10m EFHW antenna (Link to 3d file)
- 25’ Rg8x coax
- 25 meters of Marlow Excel 2mm line and a 10oz weight.
- Digirig Mobile and cabling
- Tufteln Anderson to USB-C adapter
- Two 50’ foot lengths of 3mm paracord on scaled down 3d printed antenna winders
- Evolve III notebook
- 3D printed ethernet cable protectors for mic jacks
- Tactical Tailor Shemagh (Discontinued)
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