Category Archives: Grab And Go

Jim’s Icom IC-705 travel kit housed in a Nanuk 915 rugged waterproof case

Recently, I was in in touch with Jim (WA7VFQ) who was trying to decide which radio to take on a vacation to the North Carolina coast. He replied with details about the field kit he put together for the trip which will require air travel. Jim writes:

Last year in one of your QRPer posts you mentioned your search for a case for one of you radios. I commented that I had a Nanuk case that I liked and promised pictures.

Well, we are finally there!

It wasn’t until yesterday that I decided to take my Icom IC-705 over my Elecraft KX3 [on vacation]. I had new foam for the case and last night I did my “foam plucking” and I’m pleased with the outcome. I had a couple of Icom decals and since it wasn’t the Elecraft, one of them wound up on the exterior. Some guy on the internet was touting the Tom Bihn Travel Trays; we have 4 on them, 3 large and one small. All are headed to NC with us. One of them will carry my extra radio gear.

The Nanuk 915 (above) houses the Icom IC-705 (with cage), a RigExpert 230 Stick analyzer, Bioenno 4.5 Ah battery and Mat 705 Plus ATU. Continue reading Jim’s Icom IC-705 travel kit housed in a Nanuk 915 rugged waterproof case

Scott’s Icom IC-705 manpack built on a Condor MCR3 chest plate

Many thanks to Scott (KA9P) who writes:

Here’s a MOLLE-related [piece of field kit] you may not have seen yet.

My summer 2022 QRP /PM rig is built around a Condor chest plate – not really a pack although there is a plate carrier compartment that thinner things store in easily enough. And I often have a small accessory pouch in the chest plate.

The key ingredient is the IC-705 adapter plate, made from scrap 0.06 inch thick aluminum scrap.

The four tines that fit the chest plate MOLLE webbing are spaced per the MOOLE/PALS standard of every 1 1/2 inches, but the tines themselves are 3/4 inch wide rather than 1 inch to make them easier to insert in the chest plate.

 

The plate is attached to the 705 with M4 by 10 socket head screws. I first used a single quick disconnect 1/4-20 photographer’s knob, and it worked, but eventually would loosen enough that the radio would start to swivel.

The orange strap that retains the adapter plate at the top of the chest plate is riveted to the adapter plate with plastic POM rivets. The chest plate is a Condor MCR3, about 26 bucks on eBay.

The radio goes in and out of the chest plate in less than a minute, and the adapter plate can be removed in a minute or two. The radio is very stable and easy to operate.

As a bonus, the loops also hold a Buddistick mast section, then a Versatee with a Buddistick.

With the antenna in front, I can change bands and adjust the whip and coil while standing. The antenna also goes in and out of the chest plate quickly.

I’m finding it’s great fun to listen and operate on the way to and from my operating destination. Definitely the easiest /PM set I’ve had. Every control and jack, and the battery, is easily accessed with the radio attached to the plate.

It’s like the 705 was intended to be used this way!

72, keep up the great work.

Scott ka9p

Absolutely fantastic pedestrian mobile setup, Scott! I love how the custom IC-705 mounting plate makes such a stable surface for the IC-705 to be suspended as you operate. As you say, you also have very easy access to all of the station components.  Brilliant!

Thank you for sharing your design notes and photos!

Brent’s updated review of the CQHam TB Box

Many thanks to Brent (VA3YG) who writes:

Hi Thomas, hope you’re well.

Just a short message to bring you up to date on the performance of the new equipment.

In a nutshell, it’s brought me back to my old faithful friend, the FT-817. I bought my FT-817 20 years ago and it’s served me flawlessly all these years. It’s not the best at everything but it’s a perfect QRP shack-in-the-box.

The TB Box makes the little Yaesu a pleasure to use. The tuner tunes my 43’ vertical and K6ARK end fed random wire from 80-10 for the vertical and 40-10 for the ef random wire.

The battery tray slips out to reveal 6 Panasonic 18650 cells. The battery life is exceptional even with the 817 set on 5 watts. I’m just now in the process of topping the batteries up.

Attached are a couple pics of my operating situation today….it was such a nice day out on the driveway. I have a telescopic pole attached to the RV and strung the 41’ of wire up. Also, a closeup of the battery tray and one of the cells.

I can whole heartedly recommend this piece of gear to supplement an FT-817/FT-817ND/FT-818ND.

Loving it!

72/73,
Brent VA3YG

Very cool! Thank you for sharing the update, Brent! I’ll admit that I like the “old school” simplicity of this power and trans match system.

Click here to check out the CQHam TB Box on eBay. (partner link)

Leo’s complete QCX-mini field kit and ZM-4 manual tuner kit

Many thanks to Leo (DL2COM) who recently reached out after watching my livestream with Josh at HRCC on the topic of QRP/CW portable. 

Leo shared some photos of a complete radio kit he built around the QCX-mini along with a ZM-4 ATU kit he also recently built. Leo has kindly agreed to share these on QRPer.com.

Leo notes:

Attached is a photo of my ultra light kit.

It consists of a QCX-Mini 20m version (self-built), K6ARK EFHW, Palm Radio Pico Paddle, Eremit 2Ah LiFePo battery, headphones and a few cables.

I usually also carry a small arborist kit and if there is still room also the 6m mast from Sotabeams, depending on what I think will work best.

I chose a hard case and went for the Peli 1060 Micro. It has room for everything I need and it could easily hold a bit of RG316 coax in addition (even more if I chose to shorten the 30m arborist line).

The main benefit for me is that I really don’t have to worry at all about what’s inside – compared to a soft pouch. So I can just shove it into my backpack or glove box and forget about it since this configuration is a lot more rugged and water proof – while being slightly heavier. Continue reading Leo’s complete QCX-mini field kit and ZM-4 manual tuner kit

David’s field radio kit makes use of Tom Bihn packs and pouches

Being the hopeless pack geek I am, when David (AG7SM) shared photos of his many Tom Bihn bags and how he packed for a recent radio outing, I asked if he’d mind if I shared them here on QRPer.com. He very kindly agreed!

The comments below are my own, but I’ve put David’s descriptions in each image caption:

Brain Bag

The Tom Bihn Brain Bag.

I’ve often considered grabbing a Tom Bihn Brain Bag in the past for one-bag travel, but frankly it’s a little roomier than I needed so overlooked it. I never thought about using it for field radio, but it makes so much sense

“The writing implements and log I’ve stuffed into the Brain Bag.”

I have used a Tom Bihn Synapse 25 for both one-bag travel and as a field radio bag.  It also has side pockets for field notes/logbooks and pens/pencils, but I think the Brain Bag accommodates them even better. Continue reading David’s field radio kit makes use of Tom Bihn packs and pouches

My new MTR-3B Ultra-Compact Field Kit built in a Tom Bihn HLT2

I’m a bit obsessed with field radio kits (understatement alert).

If you don’t believe me, check out this episode of the Ham Radio Workbench podcast where they graciously allowed me to geek out about radio packs for a good two hours.

I should also note that I write, in detail, about my packing philosophy in this Anatomy of a Field Radio kit series.

There’s no cure for my pack obsession. I’m constantly in a state of assembling and testing the most efficient kits I can conjure up.

Since I rotate a fair amount of radios in my activations, the majority of my kits are modular; meaning, components like antennas, ATU’s, batteries, log/pen, and cables are packed in their own small pouches/pack. Before embarking on an activation, I simply assemble the components in a backpack along with the radio/s I might use that day. Over the years, I’ve developed a certain workflow with this process that ensures I don’t forget components or pack the wrong ones.

But by far, my favorite type of kit are those that are fully self-contained–proper grab-and-go kits that have everything I need inside to, for example, activate a summit.

Self-Contained Kits

Fully self-contained kits are reserved for the radios I use in the field most because, frankly, they’re stingy resource hogs: they  don’t share components with my other radios or kits. Continue reading My new MTR-3B Ultra-Compact Field Kit built in a Tom Bihn HLT2

Ham Radio Workbench Podcast: We take a deep-dive into the world of backpacks and gear bags

As many of you know, I’m a hopeless pack geek.

So when George (KJ6VU) asked if I would be interested in talking about backpacks and gear bags as a guest on the Ham Radio Workbench podcast, I agreed without hesitation.

What I love about the HRWB podcast are all of the truly deep-dives into a wide variety of topics. Quite often, topics are well outside my particular interest area, but the more I listen, the more I’m drawn in. The hosts’ enthusiasm is infectious.

It was an honor to join this fine team for a few hours of workbench projects, ham radio, and pack geekery.

If you’ve never listened to the HRWB podcast, I’d encourage you to check it out and subscribe. I think you’ll agree that the hosts–George, Mark, Mike, Rod, and Vince–have an amazing chemistry.

Thanks again, guys, for inviting me on the show. As I said after the recording, it was great “being on the other side of the lawnmower.”

My QCX-Mini Field Kit

So I just finished putting together a dedicated, compact field kit for the QCX-Mini. I’m planning to do a SOTA activation tomorrow, if the stars align. Hopefully, they’ll align!

Everything in the photo above, save the throw line bag, fits in my Spec-Ops Brand Op Order Pouch.

QCX-Mini Field Kit Contents:

One of the newest products in this kit is my high viz 2mm x 50M Marlow throw line. I learned about this throw line from Mike (W4MAF)–thank you, Mike! It is much less bulky than standard poly throw line and fits in my Tom Bihn small travel tray. We’ll see how well it works tomorrow. First impressions from having used it at the QTH once was very positive.

Again, with any luck I’ll have this kit in the field tomorrow on a summit. If you’ve nothing better to do, look for me on the SOTA Watch spots page!

KX2/AX1 Portability: How K8ZT worked the State QSO Party from Amtrak Platforms

Anthony (K8ZT) works two 20M stations from the Sacramento platform.

Many thanks to Susan (WB2UQP) who shared this piece by Anthony (K8ZT) which was originally posted to the Elecraft KX forum. Anthony kindly gave us permission to re-post it here on QRPer.com:


AX1 Success Story

All year I have been taking part in State QSO Party Challenge with the goal of working all 45 events.

The problem was I would be on an Amtrak trip on the California Zephyr during the entire California QSO Party (ironically arriving at my destination in Emeryville, CA just after CAQP ended).

So my opportunities to get the two required contacts would be on one of the platforms during one of the Zephyr stops (usually around 5 minutes, but with a few 10-minute stops) so there would be no way to set up an antenna. I was using my Elecraft KX2 and purchased an AX1 for the trip.

My first opportunity was 10 minutes at Glenwood Springs, Colorado Station.

Using the KX2 and AX1 with counterpoise I was able to work three stations in CA on 20 Meter CW: K6XX, W6FRU, and N6TV.

During my next opportunity, now as an in-state station, from the Sacramento platform I worked two stations on 20 Meters:
W0BH in KS on CW, and K2KR in CO on SSB

-Anthony Luscre (K8ZT)


I love this, Anthony! Combining rail travel and radio? It can’t get better than that!

I also love this because it points out the advantage of compact radio setups like the KX2/AX1 pairing: they allow you the flexibility to operate in time frames and conditions other setups might not easily accommodate.  

To think that you met your goal of working the State QSO Party from Amtrak platforms in 5 to 10 minute windows of time? Wow!

And it doesn’t even look like you’re breaking a sweat!

Thank you for sharing!

POTA Field Report: Welcoming party plus QRP DX fun with the Discovery TX-500 & MFJ-1984LP

On Friday, September 10, 2021, I made a detour to the Table Rock Fish Hatchery (K-8012) on my way back to the QTH.

I love this site: it’s fairly remote, has tall trees, loads of space to set up antennas, convenient picnic tables, incredibly friendly park rangers and, most importantly, a welcoming party.

Welcoming party

These two greet me each time I’m at Table Rock. They’re incredibly friendly and now that they know I’m a complete and total sucker for dogs, they hang around and get attention for quite a while.

This time, I think they even recognized my vehicle because they were there as I opened the door. Continue reading POTA Field Report: Welcoming party plus QRP DX fun with the Discovery TX-500 & MFJ-1984LP