Field Radio Kit Gallery: Micah’s Flight-Ready Compact MTR-4B Field Kit

Many thanks to Micah (N4MJL) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page.

Mountain Topper MTR-4B Field Kit

by Micah (N4MJL)

I am a very, very new CW operator! I’m also an airline pilot who travels quite a bit. Many times when I’m out flying my company provided hotel rooms are within walking distance of POTA parks.

The MTR-4B is my travel radio. It lives in my suitcase nestled in a Magpul DAKA Utility Organizer pouch.

The DAKA pouch holds:

Everything has to fit nicely in my 22″ roller board.

As flight crew, our roller boards are typically from Luggage Works or StrongBags. I have found that I can always make room for more radio gear in my luggage by packing less undergarments. I mean, you can always make your underwear and socks last another 24 hours by turning them inside out for another wear. Lol

The SOTA beams Tactical Mini Mast fits diagonally in my 22″ roller board. Wrapped around it are some rubber coated heavy wire for securing it to a post/shrub if available.

The SOTAbeams Band Hopper III is my go to antenna. This antenna does it all!

  • rated 125W
  • it’s a a full size half wave dipole
  • with 33ft RG174 coax
  • guying system
  • resonant on (20m 30m 40m) no tuner needed
  • has a balun
  • only weighs 14oz

The wire/guying winders are awesome. I have used this system in the sand on a beach and on a mountain top above the tree line. I replaced the aluminum tent pegs with some plastic ones to keep TSA a bit more happy with me.

I use a Talent cell battery [affiliate link] everyday for a recharge while on the go. It is large enough to power my cell phone/iPad while also powering my MTR, and the voltage output is safe for the MTR to handle.

My CW skills are not yet to the point that I am able to activate a park by running a pile up, so I do a lot of hunting. If one day you have me in you log book from California and the very next day I’m sending from Massachusetts that’s not a mistake, that’s just my life. 73!

~ Micah J. LaVanchy N4MJL

9 thoughts on “Field Radio Kit Gallery: Micah’s Flight-Ready Compact MTR-4B Field Kit”

  1. Micah: oh hey, welcome to my favorite park(s)! Next time you’re at the Presidio, you could try for a threefer at Fort Point (K-0819, K-7889, and K-0647). It’s a fair bit further in than your operating position in the picture, but there’s a bench next to the restrooms that’s within the Historic Site, and I think it will work for your pole.

    Also, there’s a some picnic tables up on a berm by the Warming Hut, which is where I usually operate from. I’m running FT8/FT4, so having a place for the laptop is helpful.

    Those picnic tables are quite good for CW, too, with nice views of the Bay while you’re listening. A couple months ago, I decided to tune around the 20m band and heard a pretty loud W6/DL2COM calling CQ SOTA. I waited for a span of no replies and fumbled my way through a QSO. After the contact, i looked him up, and realized i was literally looking at him: he was up on Angel Island, which I was facing!

    Anyway, the Presidio is a great spot to operate, and I’ll keep an eye out for another pole up in the air when I’m out there.

    73 de AJ9BM

  2. The roller board is where you carry your eggcorns. Sounds like you have a good system for packing gear in your roll-aboard, though.

  3. The bench against the hill at Ft. Point does indeed work well with the fiberglass mast mounted antennas.

    Regarding Ft. Point, I don’t want to scare anybody off, but please keep a high level of situational awareness at this park. I’ve had some uncomfortable experiences there with people taking a little too much interest in my collection of technological things.

    Maybe activate early in the morning, if possible, when the only other people about are the exercise crowd and maybe some surfers.

    Also, the picnic tables at West Bluffs (near the Warming Hut) are in K-7889 and K-0647 but not in K-0819. You can still get a nice “twofer” from there however.

    I hope this local intel is of use to visitors and potential activators.

    73 de W6CSN

  4. Nice, compact, set-up!

    Gonna order one of the mini-poles…much more convenient than my 31 ft Jackite pole, for times there are no handy trees around, and would store more easily on my boat.

    I have a ham friend who is an AK Captain…going to sent this link to him.

    Thanks for posting!

    73, Vic KB7GL

  5. Thanks for the post. I’m looking for ideas for a very lightweight system to use during a 7 day Sierra backpack trip around August. High Sierra Trail. Ramping up on CW. Nice to have a “goal” it keeps me practicing. What’s the total weight of your components? Rich KN6HSR

  6. Love the article , your grandpa W0POW would have love reading an hearing about your adventures. Keep up the good work, love Dad. AC0UT

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