[…]I came upon this interesting mount setup for the Yaesu FT-818 via Armando – KP4YO. I saw his setup on his QRZ page and was intrigued, as the rig seems to be able to stand up on its back side even with a pretty large whip installed.
Seems the gist of it is to bring all of the rear mounts and connections to the front.
The TPA pack frame provides a modular platform for configuring your Yaesu FT-817 and FT-818 into a quickly deployable base, mobile, field or mil style man pack configuration.
The concept was to design an effective, small form factor frame that when installed, would allow relocation of all rear inputs, minus power and ACC connection, to the front of the radio, provide standoff at the rear of the radio for permanent cable attachment, and also provide protection when used in the field.
The relocation platforms provide a sturdy mounting point for attaching commercial or mil type VHF/UHF whip antennas. All accessory mounts are interchangeable and can be oriented to suit your operating situation.
The TPA pack frame is a 2 piece frame that is secured to the radio via 8, side chassis mounts. The frame is CNC laser cut from 5052 aluminum and powder coated with a matte black finish. The TPA provides protection to the radio body and control head with a wrap around design while allowing access to the top oriented MODE and BAND buttons, as well as the battery compartment.
Thank you for sharing this, Phillip! I’ve never seen this pack frame/cage before and I’m not even sure how I’d use it for the type of field work I do, but I’m willing to bet that it’s the perfect solution for those wanting an uber-rugged cage for Emcomm and/or as a manpack. I love products like this that transform gear into military-grade kit!
Anyone out there use the TPA-817 B? Please comment!
As I was packing up my radio gear at the last activation I posted (click here for that field report), I paused to make a quick video and talk about my rucksack, my accessories pouches, and a winder I like to use with the MFJ-1984LP antenna.
Here are the products I mentioned:
GoRuck GR1 USA
This is one of my favorite rucksacks for SOTA activations. I like the fact that it’s low-profile, structured, and feels great on the back even during extended hiking sessions.
It’s also insanely rugged, weatherproof, and (frankly) over-engineered.
My GR1 was made in the USA by GoRuck. This company specializes in packs that are essentially designed to be used and abused. They’re all backed by a lifetime warranty. You pay for this kind of quality, though.
I purchased mine perhaps 3 years ago during a closeout sale on this particular color variant. When combined with my educator’s discount I think I paid around $210-220 US for it.
I originally bought it because I’m a huge fan of one-bag travel (read an article where I mention this on the SWLing Post). I discovered that the GR1 meets most airline regulations as a “personal carry on.” This means even with discount airlines and regional “puddle jumper” aircraft, I know I can always take it on board and never need to check it. I can easily travel one or two weeks out of this pack.
But in the field, the GR1 has the perfect amount of capacity for any of my QRP transceivers along with antennas, ATU, cables, and other accessories.
Being a one-bag traveller (and certified pack geek) I’m also a massive fan of US pack designer and manufacturer, Tom Bihn.
I have a number of their packs, pouches, and organizers.
Without a doubt, one of my favorite TB items is the Travel Tray. It’s a brilliant concept: take this with you on a trip, open it up as a tray in your hotel room, and place all of your valuables in it. By doing this, you don’t have to search your room for your watch, keys, wallet, glasses, phone, etc. When you leave the room, all of those easy-to-lose items will be in one place. If you’re in a rush to catch a flight, grab the whole pack by the drawstring, secure it, and throw it in your carry on! It’s a simple, genius little sack/tray!
I also use these to organize radio accessories in my field pack. For example, I have one now dedicated to the TX-500. In the Travel Tray, I store all of the TX-500 adapters and cords, the speaker mic, a set of CW Morse Pocket paddles, a PackTenna EFHW, some RG-316, and a 3 aH LiFePo4 battery. I even carry a spare Muji notepad in it in case I forget my logging pad. With this little bag and the TX-500, I have everything I need to hit the air!
Note that I much prefer the large TB Travel Tray. My wife has both a large and small travel tray, but I find that the small one is just a little too small for most everything I wish to put in it. The large one’s outer diameter is large enough that you can also store a short coil of RG-58 coaxial cable/feed line in it.
I love these so much, I purchased two more this week: one in black and one in coyote.
Thingiverse Wire Winder
Before we purchased a 3D printer (an Ender 3 Pro) I would make wire winders out of anything I could find. With a 3D printer, however, it’s so easy to make a winder sized perfectly for your application.
You may have seen winders in various colors in my video field reports–they all come from a simple project file on Thingiverse.
This winder is super easy to print and to enlarge or shrink. If you don’t have a 3D printer, likely someone you know does! Ask them to print this for you. They’re incredible useful.
Many thanks to Mark Hirst, who shares the following guest post:
Pick and Pluck Foam
The old adage of ‘measure twice and cut once’ is very apt when using pick and pluck foam. The inserts are not cheap and mistakes are hard to rectify.
Whether you are preparing a large case with several items in a shared insert, or focussing around a single item, planning the layout is key.
Item weight is also a factor to consider, as this will affect decisions on wall thickness between items and the case.
Finally, how hostile is the environment likely to be? Is the case going in your backpack or car where you’re in careful control, or is going to be subject to careless handling by others?
Planning the layout
Once you’ve settled on a case size and how much padding you need, a non-destructive way of planning the layout is to use cocktail sticks.
These can be inserted into the corners of the foam segments to trace the outline of the radio and any items such as controls and ports that may extend from the body.
Since the size of the segments is in fixed increments, matching the exact dimensions of the radio is down to pure luck. I would go for a slight squeeze on the radio body if feasible to make sure it’s always in contact with the foam, but give some breathing room around the controls and ports.
The example below is a case I use for backpack transport. It has rather thin but adequate side walls for that purpose. I prioritised wall thickness facing the front and back of the radio, and also on the side opposite the carry handle. Note how the foam comes right up against the body of the radio, but leaves the front controls with some clearance.
This has the benefit of keeping any sudden shocks away from the controls, and also reduces the number of places where foam is subject to tearing and compression when the radio is inserted and removed.
Separating the foam
The best place to start is along the planned route of a long side wall. Use your thumbs to separate the surface of two segments on one side from two segments on the other.
Once the surface tear has got going, you should be able push a finger down between the four segments, extending the tear till it reaches the bottom of the foam. At this point, you have a cut all the way through.
Now you can peel the foam apart at the upper surface in each direction, using your forefinger to again push down between the segments to complete the separation down to the lower surface.
Work carefully around the cutouts and protrusions accommodating the controls. The protrusions are potential weak points at this stage, so be sure to proceed slowly.
If you need to practice, you can always start by separating segments deep within the section that will be removed till you get the hang of it.
While pick and pluck means you don’t need special tools or templates to cut the foam, the remaining material in your insert is inherently weaker than a solid structure.
The solution I’ve used is to fill the residual cuts with a solvent free adhesive. Solvent free adhesives are often aimed at children for safety reasons, and while there are solvent based adhesives for foam, the one I used dries clear with a resilient flexible bond that is stronger than the foam itself.
I run a finger gently along the exposed walls, edges, and around the protrusions. This makes the potential weak points and stress areas immediately apparent as segments naturally separate along the pick and pluck cuts.
Armed with a tube of adhesive and a finger (usually a thumb), you can gently open the weak point and then run the nozzle of the tube down the cut, dispensing generous amounts of adhesive as you go. The two sections of foam close up as the nozzle passes by, with the adhesive soaking into both sides. As long as you don’t go overboard, the adhesive will stay within the join and you won’t have to wipe away any excess.
Side walls are not subject to the same stress as protrusions, but you will probably still spot sections with deeper cuts that need attention, and you will definitely want to reinforce the corners.
I’ve allowed at least a day to be sure the adhesive has set. It’s worth going over the insert again to see if you missed anything the first time round.
The Bostik solvent free adhesive resembles runny white toothpaste when dispensed from the tube, but dries clear when set.
Inevitably, when I tried to find more of it recently, I discovered that the easily recognisable colour and branding had made way to a confusingly generic scheme shared across a variety of different adhesive types from the manufacturer.
I found this old listing for Bostik 80518 on Amazon UK, and another here on Amazon US. Based on the product number, a modern equivalent seems to be here.
I’m sure there’s nothing unique about this particular product, other than I’ve found it to be foam friendly over the years. Aside from being solvent free, its ability to seep into the foam is a key asset.
Since the first step of creating an insert leaves you with a potentially discardable piece of foam anyway, you have plenty of raw material to experiment with if in doubt.
Even if you have been generous with the side walls of your foam insert, a heavy radio might demand some additional work to ensure the longevity of the foam.
While the example case shown above worked OK to start with, I noticed that the floor of the case and the side wall facing the back of the radio were taking a beating.
The problem was caused by the feet of the radio, cooling fins, power and antenna connectors. During transport, these were pushing into the foam with the full weight of the radio behind them. Subject to such concentrated point forces, I could see that the foam wasn’t going to last.
Using very thin and very cheap flexible plastic cutting boards from my local food market, I cut out panels which spread the point compression across a much wider area.
Now when I put the case into a backpack, I ensure that the radio is sitting on its tail with the cooling fins against the rear panel.
While it’s possible to create ad-hoc transport solutions for radios, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a sturdy padded case that is made to measure. The cases are forever, but the foam needs care and attention, so I hope these tips help you build a lasting solution for safely transporting your pride and joy.
It’s a very compact radio for being so incredibly feature-rich and I love the portability simply using the attached battery pack. Since I operate mostly 5 watts with all my rigs, I rarely bother bringing an extra battery with it in the field.
With that said, I worry about the IC-705 more than any other portable radio I take to the field.
For one thing, it’s a $1,300 US rig. That’s not chump change for most of us.
The IC-705 also has a large color touch screen display. In fact, it’s the only field portable radio I own with a touch screen display. The touch screen has a matte finish and is pressure-sensitive rather than capacitive like most tablets and smart phones. Many capacitive screens use something like Corning Gorilla Glass which is actually quite durable and resistant to scratching and puncturing. It’s not perfect by any means (I think we’ve all shattered or broken a capacitive screen) but they’re more durable than the pressure-sensitive screen on the IC-705.
The IC-705 chassis feels very solid and it seems to be sealed very well, but at the end of the day, the chassis is make of a durable plastic material which is prone to scratching and I have to assume easier to damage than, say, the FT-817ND’s metal chassis.
Ray Novak with Icom America is a friend and when I took delivery of the IC-705 I mentioned how I felt protective of it in the field, fearing I might damage it in my backpack or even tumbling off a rock during a SOTA activation. Ray basically said that, as with everything new, I’ll get used to it and become more comfortable in the field.
I’ve never completely gotten there, though, and I’ve had this radio for a good nine months now.
I mentioned in my review that I eventually wanted to find a better solution.
I’ve looked at a number of 3rd party “cages” and numerous readers and YouTube channel viewers have recommended the IC-705 Carry Cage by Peovi. From what I’ve seen, it looks to be the best of the bunch, but it doesn’t do a lot to protect the lower back portion of the radio–the part of the chassis that meets a surface. I feel like it’s not quite what I’d want, thus hard to justify $135 for it (Peovi, send me a loaner to try out if you wish to prove me wrong.)
Other aluminum and 3D printed cages seem to add too much bulk to the radio or obstruct some of the most common connection points on the sides (antenna, key, ATU control cable, speaker/mic, etc.).
The form factor of the IC-705 is otherwise fine, but its chassis design does make it a little more difficult to protect than, say the KX3 or FT-817/818.
I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the time I use the IC-705, it’s on POTA activations where it’s sitting on a picnic table. Although I’m a backpack guy, this is the perfect time to kit out a ruggedized, weatherproof case.
I started looking at cases last week and, being transparent, I’m a bit of a snob about these things. I want a case that’s made by a reputable company to protect the ‘705–I’m not going to hunt for one at a Walmart or Canadian Tire.
I’ve owned a few Pelican cases over the years. All have been smaller ones like the Pelican 1060 I’ve used with my KX1s. Pelican has a solid reputation and are certainly the best-known in this market and Pelican still makes all of their cases in the USA.
I’ve also been looking for a reason to try the case manufacturer, Nanuk. They design and manufacture all of their products in Canada and have a great reputation. Their pricing is the same or, at times, even slightly more competitive than Pelican for comparable cases.
Although I rarely care about the color, I decided I wanted a light grey or silver color for this case as opposed to black (my standard default), yellow, or another bright color.
In the Nanuk case line, their Nanuk 915 was probably the correct size to give the IC-705 enough padding, and allow space for all other accessories and items I’d need in the field.
I was just about to pull trigger on the Nanuk 915 via the Nanuk website and decided it would make sense to also check pricing on Amazon.com for both units.
The Nanuk 915 was about $76 (affiliate link) with the pick foam insert–a great price–but only that price in the black color. The silver color was about $97.
I then checked the Pelican 1400. The black case with foam insert was $95, but the silver one was $79.95. Since I really wanted silver and since I had a slight preference for the 1400’s dimensions, I purchased the Silver Pelican 1400 (again, affiliate link).
Amazon offers free no-hassle returns, so once I receive the 1400 next week, I’ll carefully measure and double check everything before digging into the pick foam!
A case for advice…
I’ve never kitted out a larger Pelican case with radio gear. I would welcome any and all advise from those of you who have. Since it’s easy to remove pick foam, but impossible to put it back if done incorrectly, I really want to follow best practices. Please comment!
Wow, Mark! I do love the size of this case and the fact that it fits the FT-891 so perfectly.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about building out a case to hold one of my smaller QRP transceivers (the KX1, KX2, or MTR3B) in the field to be used when it’s raining. Perhaps this has been on my mind because I’ve been enjoying nearly 5 straight days of rain and fog! A case like this would be an affordable solution and I wouldn’t feel terribly bad about drilling through the case to mount antenna, key, mic, and headphone ports.
Thank you again for the tip!
Note that the Amazon affiliate links above support the QRPer at no cost to you. If you’d rather not use these links, simply search Amazon for “Max MAX004S.” Thank you!
Typically, there’s a trade off with field antennas:
High-performance antennastend to take more time to install. Some of my highest performance antennas are dipoles, doublets, delta loops, and end fed wire antennas. All of them require support from a tree if I want maximum height off the ground. Some (like the dipole) require multiple supports. While I actually enjoy installing wire antennas in trees, it typically takes me at least 10 minutes to install a wire antenna if it only needs one support and one counterpoise.
Compromised or low-profile antennas may lack performance and efficiency, but are often much quicker and easier to deploy.
In my opinion, field operators should keep both types of antennas in their arsenal because sometimes the site itself will dictate which antenna they use. I’ve activated many sites where wire antennas simply aren’t an option.
That was not the case last Tuesday, however.
Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)
On Tuesday, December 29, 2020, I stopped by Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)–one of my favorite local state parks–for a quick, impromptu activation.
I had no less than four antennas in my car that day and Tuttle is the type of site where I can install pretty much anything: they’ve a spacious picnic area with large tables, tall trees, and parking is close by. Tuttle is the perfect place to deploy not only a large wire antenna, but a large radio if you wish since you don’t have to lug it far from the car.
But en route to Tuttle I decided to take a completely different approach. One of the four antennas I had in the car that day was the Elecraft AX1 antenna.
Without a doubt, the AX1 is the most portable antenna I own. It’s so compact, I can carry it in my pocket if I wish.
When I first purchased the AX1, I was very skeptical and assumed it would only work when “the stars aligned”–days with better-than-average propagation and lots of POTA hunters/chasers looking for me.
The first time I used the AX1 in the field, it impressed me (understatement alert).
In all of my AX1 activations, however, I had only operated on the 40 meter band where the antenna’s footprint looked more like a NVIS antenna than a vertical. Meaning, most of my contacts were in neighboring states like Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia (typically, those states are in my 40 meter skip zone).
The reason I hadn’t tried 20 or 17 meters with the AX1 is because I would start an activation on the 40 meter band and accumulate enough contacts to achieve a valid activation. Since I’m often pressed for time, I simply didn’t bother configuring the antenna for the higher bands.
Time for that to change!
The question I wanted answered at Tuttle: could the AX1 antenna work “DX” stations? By DX, I mean POTA DX, so distant states and provinces primarily–not necessarily other countries.
I paired the Elecraft KX3 with the AX1 at Tuttle. This was the first time I’d ever tried this particular transceiver/antenna combo.
After setting up, I started on the 20 meter band and called CQ for a few minutes.
The first two stations I worked were in Texas (KF9RX and K5RX).
The third station (W6LEN) was in California.
Honestly, it was/is hard for me to fathom how in the world 10 watts into a tabletop telescoping whip antenna could work a station exactly 2,083 miles (3,352 km)–and three time zones away–from my picnic table. I’m sure W6LEN has a great antenna on the other end, but I bet he would be surprised to learn that my 10 watt signal was being radiated by such a wee antenna.
I then worked stations in Florida (K2WO), Minnesota (N0UR), and New Hampshire (W2NR) and decided to move to 17 meters.
On 17 meters I worked W2NR in New Hampshire once again.
I should note here that each time you work a station on a different band or with a different mode, it counts as a separate contact in POTA. In other words, my contacts with W2NR on 20 meters and 17 meters counts as two logged contacts toward my overall QSO count. I’m very appreciative of hunters who go out of their way to work me on different bands and modes: those extra contacts help me achieve a valid activation in short order.
I then moved to 40 meters and worked stations from Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan.
Here’s a video of the entire activation. It’s a long video as it starts at set-up and continues until my last contact. There are no edits in this video–it’s a real-time, real-life deal and contains all of my bloopers:
Note that in the video I had the KX3’s volume maxed out so that it could be picked up by my iPhone microphone. The KX3’s wee internal speaker was vibrating the chassis ever so slightly. On the 40 meter band, it resonated enough that it moved the encoder slightly. Next time, I’ll plan to bring a portable external speaker (if you have any suggestions of good ones, let me know).
I should also add that I’m very pleased with my new Bioenno 3aH LiFePo 12V battery. You can see it in the photo above–it’s slim, lightweight, and very compact.
I purchased it during Bioenno’s Black Friday sale. I was a little concerned it might not have enough capacity to carry me through multiple activations–my other LiFePo batteries re 4.5 and 15 aH–but that does not seem to be the case at all! Not only did it provide nearly an hour of intense use on this activation, but it also powered three activations the previous day–all four activations on one charge! Brilliant!
As I mentioned in a previous post, this was one of those activations that reminded me of the magic of low-power radio. It was incredibly fun!
For all of those phone/SSB operators out there, I will eventually see how successful I can be doing a phone-only activation with the AX1 antenna. I’ll plan to make a video of it as well. I’ll need to plan this for a day when I have more time to spend on the air and at a site where I know I’ll have internet access to spot myself to the POTA network. SSB isn’t quite as effective as CW when operating with a setup this modest. Still–it can be done! It just requires a little more patience. Please let me know if this sort of thing would interest you.
The seller, who lives about 2 hours from my QTH, described his KX1 as the full package: a complete 3 band (40/30/20M) KX1 with all of the items needed to get on the air (save batteries) in a Pelican 1060 Micro Case.
The KX1 I owned in the past was a four bander (80/40/30/20M) and I already double checked to make sure Elecraft still had a few of their 80/30 module kits available (they do!). I do operate 80M in the field on occasion, but I really wanted the 80/30 module to get full use of the expanded HF receiver range which allows me to zero-beat broadcast stations and do a little SWLing while in the field.
The seller shipped the radio that same afternoon and I purchased it for $300 (plus shipping) based purely on his good word.
The KX1 package
I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous: I hadn’t asked all of the typical questions about dents/dings, if it smelled of cigarette smoke, and hadn’t even asked for photos. I just had a feeling it would all be good (but please, never follow my example here–I was drunk with excitement).
Here’s the photo I took after removing the Pelican case from the shipping box and opening it for the first time:
My jaw dropped.
The seller was right: everything I needed (and more!) was in the Pelican case with the KX1. Not only that, everything was labeled. An indication that the previous owner took pride in this little radio.
I don’t think the seller actually put this kit together. He bought it this way two years ago and I don’t think he ever even put it on the air based on his note to me. He sold the KX1 because he wasn’t using it.
I don’t know who the original owner was, but they did a fabulous job not only putting this field kit together, but also soldering/building the KX1. I hope the original owner reads this article sometime and steps forward.
You might note in the photo that there’s even a quick reference sheet, Morse Code reference sheet and QRP calling frequencies list attached to the Pelican’s lid inside. How clever!
I plan to replace the Morse Code sheet with a list of POTA and SOTA park/summit references and re-print the QRP calling frequencies sheet. But other than that, I’m leaving it all as-is. This might be the only time I’ve ever purchased a “package” transceiver and not modified it in some significant way.
Speaking of modifying: that 80/30 meter module? Glad I didn’t purchase one.
After putting the KX1 on a dummy load, I checked each band for output power. Band changes are made on the KX1 by pressing the “Band” button which cycles through the bands one-way. It started on 40 meters, then on to 30 meters, and 20 meters. All tested fine. Then I pressed the band button to return to 40 meters and the KX1 dived down to the 80 meter band!
Turns out, this is a four band KX1! Woo hoo! That saved me from having to purchase the $90 30/80M kit (although admittedly, I was looking forward to building it).
The only issue with the KX1 was that its paddles would only send “dit dah” from either side. I was able to fix this, though, by disassembling the paddles and fixing a short.
Although I’m currently in the process of testing the Icom IC-705, I’ve taken the KX1 along on a number of my park adventures and switched it out during band changes.
Indeed, my first two contacts were made using some nearly-depleted AA rechargeables on 30 meters: I worked a station in Iowa and one in Kansas with perhaps 1.5 watts of output power.
I’m super pleased to have the KX1 back in my field radio arsenal.
I name radios I plan to keep for the long-haul, so I dubbed this little KX1 “Ruby” after one of my favorite actresses, Barbara Stanwyck.
Look for Ruby and me on the air at a park or summit near you!
This weekend at Tokyo’s Ham Fair 2019, Icom announced an innovative transceiver to their line-up: the Icom IC-705 QRP transceiver.
The IC-705 introduces several industry firsts for a backpack portable radio:
It uses the same BP-272 Li-ion Battery pack as the ID-51 and ID-31 series D-Star handy talkies. To my knowledge, this is the only HF transceiver that uses battery packs that can be swapped so easily in the field–like one would swap an HT battery pack
It has a general coverage receiver that spans a whopping 0.5 to 148 MHz
It sports a full color, touch screen with spectrum and waterfall displays
It includes the D-Star digital voice mode
A GPS receiver
A MicroSD card slot for memory storage, screen captures and recordings
All of this appears to be included, not add-on options.
The only IC-705 omission, in my opinion, is an internal ATU (antenna tuner). Something I would have expected, but not a deal-breaker for those of us who could really benefit from the amount of features this radio offers.
There is no word yet on pricing or availability, but you can count on us to post these details once they’re available. If you would like to follow updates, bookmark the tag: IC-705
We will also review on the Icom IC-705 as soon as it’s available.
Video from Amateur Logic/Ham College
Ray Novak (N9JA) with Icom America did a live video interview with Amateur Logic/Ham College TV yesterday. The video includes a full announcement in English from the Icom Booth:
The “Big Three” transceiver manufactures–Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood–have not shown a lot of interest in backpackable QRP radios over the past two decades.
By “backpackable” I mean QRP transceivers specifically designed for portable use in the field–radios that typically have built-in battery options, internal ATUs, and designed to be lightweight shack-in-a-box units.
Yaesu introduced the FT-817 almost twenty years ago and it lives on today (with modest upgrades) as the FT-818. Kenwood has no portable/backpackable HF QRP radio at this point.
I bet the IC-705 is being introduced today because Icom sees a strong market among field-portable operators who enjoy travel and outdoor radio activities like SOTA (Summits On The Air) and POTA (Parks On The Air). In addition, many ham radio operators live in neighborhoods that are either plagued with radio interference (RFI) or don’t allow antennas to be installed outdoors. Portable radios liberate ham radio ops from their shacks and allow them to set up a station far away from noise or home owner’s associations.
Again, I’ll be in touch with Icom about the IC-705 and will share updates here when they’re available. I’m looking forward to evaluation this rig when it hits the market!
Battery Anker Astro Pro2 20000mAh Multi-Voltage (5V 12V 16V 19V)
Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank
Avoid look alike batteries and the next generation model from Anker. The newer Anker
battery is only capable of delivering 1.5A from the 12V supply. Two look alike batteries
I tried did not have the auto-off feature that the Anker does.
ACC2 and I/Q Jacks 2 x 2.5mm Stereo Jack Panel Mount (PH-666J-B)
Phone, Key, and ACC1 3 x 3.5mm Stereo Jack Panel Mount (High Quality) (PH-504KB)
Mic Jack 1 x 3.5mm 4 Conductor Jack Panel Mount (PH-70-088B)
12V IN and CHG IN 2 x 2.1mm DC Power Panel Mount Jack (PH-2112)
12V OUT 1 x 2.5mm DC Power Panel Mount Jack (PH-2512)
You also need plugs and wire for interconnects. I bought some 2.5mm (CES-11-5502)
and 3.5mm (PH-44-468 for stereo, PH-44-470 for 4-conductor) audio cables with right
angle plugs and just cut them to use for the signal lines going to the KX3. I did the same
thing for the 2.5mm (PH-TC250) and 2.1mm (PH-TC210) power cables. A couple of
caveats are in order. The Phone, Key, and ACC1 interconnects require low profile
right angle connectors. The cables I listed above won’t work. Vetco part number VUPN10338 will work. The power cables I’ve listed above use 24 gauge wire. This
is a little light, but the runs are small so I think it is OK. You can use higher gauge
cables if you can find a source.
USB OUT USB 2.0 Right Angle Extension Cable (RR-AAR04P-20G)
L Brackets 8 x Bracket Rt Ang Mount 4-40 Steel (612K-ND)
These L brackets are used to mount the KX3 to the panel and the panel to the case.
For mounting the KX3, I use a little piece of stick on felt on the bracket to protect the
KX3’s cabinet from damage. Replace the KX3’s screws with #4-40 Thread Size, 1/4”
Length Steel Pan Head Machine Screw, Black Oxide Finish (see below). For the panel
mounting, use #6-32 Thread Size, 3/16” Length self tapping sheet metal screw. You
may need to cut the tip off in order to not puncture the outside of the case.
RG316 BNC Male Angle to BNC Female SM Bulkhead Coaxial RF Pigtail Cable (6”)
This is not the original interconnect I used for connecting the KX3’s antenna output to
the panel. However, I think it is a better option for new designs. The caveat is that you
will need to verify the hole in the panel matches the bulkhead connector on this cable.
There will be a little loop in the cable when you are done, but that is fine.
This is optional if you want a built-in sound card interface for a waterfall display using iSDR. Make sure to eliminate the holes in the upper left corner of the panel if you are not installing. You will also need 2.5mm x 10mm screws to mount this to the bottom of the panel (see below).
In my opinion, the KX3’s noise reduction is totally ineffective for SSB communications. This external noise reducing DSP is one solution, albeit an expensive one, to that problem. It is only for SSB, not CW or digital modes. It is also available from GAP Antenna Products.
Scott: you have done a beautiful job here and have spared no expense to make a wonderfully-engineered and rugged go-box. No doubt, you’re ready to take your KX3 to the field and enjoy world-class performance on a moment’s notice.
Though I’ve never used them personally, I’ve noticed others who have taken advantage of the Front Panel Express engraving service–certainly makes for a polished and professional front panel.
Again, many thanks for not only sharing your photos, but also your bill of materials which will make it much easier for others to draw inspiration from your design!
Speaking of designs, when I looked up Scott on QRZ.com, I noticed that he also sports a QSL card (above) designed by my good friend, Jeff Murray (K1NSS). Obviously, Scott is a man with good taste!
“Just wanted to pass on a link to a few videos I put
together in case you’d like to share them, especially the Yaesu
FT-817ND kit I put together.”
Adam has also posted some SOTA activation videos where he uses his go kit (click here to watch). I’m amazed that Adam manages to fit so much in that small box. Certainly a handy kit for hiking to a SOTA activation!